Wednesday, May 30, 2012

+X Magic Items

This one is going to get ranty.  You have been warned.  Magic items that grant +X passive bonuses aren't magical.  Sure they are technically magical items by the system definition but they do not in any way produce a sense of wonder, awe, or amazement that you would expect when obtaining a magical item.  And trying to gussy it up in a fancy get up doesn't change that.  I don't care if my character had to go on a 3 month quest through exceedingly dangerous terrain and hazards to find it.  It's still just a +X item and I the player will be looking to trade it in when the +X+Y item (where Y is a positive number) comes along.  Sure my character might have some connection to the item from the quest, but that doesn't make the item magical to me the player.  Making the +X larger also doesn't make it magical.  I the player will be happy to have a better magical item than previously, but beyond adding the bonus in when relevant I won't give a crap.  As far as I'm concerned, all +X magic items should be dropped from D&D entirely.
You want to make magical items magical?  Here's what you do.  A magic item should be active, add to your capabilities, and encourage you to think laterally.  Portable Holes, Decanters of Endless Water, and Immovable rods should be the standard for magic items.  Not the exception.  Replace all of the need for +5 longswords with system math that doesn't require the bonuses for character competency.  4e had a good start with its inherent bonus system, but I'd like to see the system not need those bonuses.  I know we'll never get back the wonder we had of our first times playing D&D when we were younger but dammit we can make it easier for our older, more cynical brains to care.

Art from GIS for "pile of swords"
LooneyDM out

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