View Full Version : [4e] House rule for magic equipment

2010-08-31, 08:43 AM
So I've always had a problem with the way D&D characters are dependent on finding/making magic items. I'd like to do away with the heroes' dependence on magic items completely (something like Iron Heroes), but that's quite a sweeping change to the system, and I'm not up for it.

Instead, I'm dreaming up ways to let PCs get magic items via deeds, instead of loot and gold. Here's what crossed my mind the other day:

The Theory: Most magic items are not made by wealth, but by legendary deeds. A soldier could go into battle with a regular short sword; but if he heroically defends his comrades against a legion of orcs, then when he passes that short sword on to his kids, it will be a +1 Orc-bane.

The Goal: PCs should have their gear transform into magical gear as they level up. It should follow roughly the same progression as the standard treasure packages, i.e. five magic items at each level for a party of five, leveled 0-5 above the party.

The Rule: Let players turn their gear into magic gear, or increase its level, every time they level up. When a PC gains a level, she chooses one non-magical item she owns, or a magical item that is lower than her new level. She may then upgrade that item, as if using the Enchant Magic Item ritual, but without spending any ritual components. The character does not have to be capable of casting rituals, and the limit on the item's new level is 5 above its previous level, even if that is higher than the PC's level. If the item was nonmagical, it can become a magic item up to level 5.

The only problem I see is in getting items that don't have a version every 5 levels. I suppose the party could always just Enchant Magic Item make, say, Handy Haversacks, but I'm not sure how much that's going to screw with the wealth level.

As far as loot goes, you use the same treasure packages as normal, except without the 5 magic items at each level. You might even want to give out a bit less loot, as letting the players choose the exact properties of every item can give them a power boost over the current system.

So what do you think? I'm always open to improvements.

2010-08-31, 12:59 PM
Why not replace the gold values with "item experience points", or whatever you would feel like calling them. They would be earned in quantities identical to normal treasure progression, and are applied to level up and create magic items. You can add the limitation that you can only spend them on items used (or present) for battles you earned the experience in. This way, slaying the orcs gives you weapon experience instead of money, which could directly be applied to level up your equipment. This also would allow you to separate character wealth and magic item power, since money can still be used for other things.

2010-09-01, 12:24 AM
the idea is good, but some of the money youdo earn is from the 20% selling fee. and i really dont want to have to recharge a staff as a wizard when i want to switch from a staff of ruin to a light staff

we always run it as
"hey, you find a 17th level residuum crystal" or "a 17th level item, your pick"
it gives us the freedom to build our character andn ot have to worry about the treasure aspect as much. focus more on the story.

as for the item xp, it could very easily be run in this way
"You defended your friends from an orc army, choose an offensive item that has some anti orc or pro defense property"
this will require alot of attention when dealing with random items, defensive items, and anything super specific (i am a wizard with the staff of ruin which increases my damage, not anything very specific about a aoe controller doing more damage)

2010-09-01, 12:43 AM
A much easier way, which might be a good suggestion to start from:
Use the Inherit bonuses in DMG2 / Dark Sun. Now you don't have to worry about handing out the correct enhancement bonus. Now create a system to have your legendary items (Something like: Take a basic item, drop enhancement bonus, Increase in power every 5 levels, starting at 4/9/14/19/24/29).

2010-09-01, 02:57 AM
Honestly my group has always run low magic and I have found it easier to just nerf monsters slightly rather than come up with some other system. basically just drop 1-5 off of defenses and somewhere between 1 and 100 HP depending on level.

The whole magic items dependence is one of my only big problems with 4e mostly because the way we play a +4 or +5 is basically an artifact item appropriate for a level 21-30 character. People aren't even seeing +1s until late in level 4. 4e is really not conducive to a gritty game without house ruling.