View Full Version : [4e] Magic Item Balance

2012-01-06, 02:59 AM
I wanted to add some more unique items to my campaign and decided to try and use magic items from other games as inspiration . I only have existing 4e magic items to use as templates in gauging power balance but am still a little unsure if they meet the level I'm aiming for, so I'm bringing them here for some input.

1. A level 5 pair of shoes that let you meld with stone.

(Daily – Move Action) The wearer may enter a stone, stone object, or stone structure he is adjacent to that is large enough to accommodate his body. He simply walks into the stone and becomes a part of it. The character can remain hidden within the same stone for as little as a round or up to an hour before being expelled. The character cannot move to adjacent stone and is effectively immobile. The character may make another move action to exit the stone. Once the stone has been exited, the character cannot reenter without another use of this power. While within the stone, he is aware of the passage of time, and can hear what is happening around him. However, the character cannot see and cannot affect anything without first exiting the stone. The character may exit any face of the stone, allowing a person to “walk” through stone walls no more than 1 square deep. Destruction of the stone while the character is within results in the character being forcefully expelled and is dealt 5d6 points of damage.

2. A level 4 storm themed broadsword

Critical: +1d6 lightning
Enhancement: +1 attack rolls and damage rolls
Power (Daily): Standard Action. You summon a severe blast of air to buffet your foes. Make an attack: Close burst 1; targets enemies; Strength vs. Fortitude (apply a bonus to the roll equal to the weapon’s enhancement bonus); on a hit, the target is pushed 1 squared and left prone.

2012-01-11, 10:45 AM
Hope I'm not digging up something unwanted! There's not a lot of 4E homebrew threads here so I had to go back a ways. At least the original poster of the thread should be happy to finally get a reply. But I digress.

First : In my humble, but often very persistent, and currently sleep-deprived, opinion, items that only have a daily power on them and nothing else are almost always vastly inferior to ones with encounter or at-will powers, or even ones with properties and no powers. Unless you plan on making these play an integral role in a campaign and see plenty of situations where they'd be effective, they may need some adjusting. And these are very situational, marginal benefits, yet you only get to use them once a day. Think back to when there used to be a cap on how many magic item dailies you could use. Then re-examine your items. Would you really want to use these in place of whatever other item daily powers you might have? Daily powers are supposed to be these show-stopping, amazing abilities that can turn an encounter on its head or provide a significant out of combat utility (like a +20 bonus to a thievery check to open a lock, like the Skeleton Key). If it's a situational or marginal benefit (or god forbid both), then I have a few suggestions:

1. Put them in a much lower pricing bracket. Unless you plan on having them be used as vendor trash or broken down into residuum, make the price low enough that spending money on them is justifiable for the whole package. A daily power for a fairly weak effect isn't something I'd buy or feel thrilled about finding in a chest. They're nice gimmick items, sure, but I'd feel better if they didn't take up a slot.
2. Make them more frequently useable. They don't even need to be encounter or at-will. Just say they recharge within x time without needing an extended rest, or after reaching a milestone.
3. Make them do something that's less conditional in addition to the effect you already have. Add a property or at-will/encounter power to it that'll see some use on a consistent basis, or that's good enough on its own that the daily is just a perk in comparison. There's some phenomenal items out there where the daily powers are just the icing on the cake.
4. Make them much more powerful! You only get one use per day, it should be something spectacular and effective, or just incredibly good to have. A Steadfast Amulet is a daily power only neck item, but it has a daily power that lets you roll a saving throw against being stunned or dazed right after being subjected to the condition. That's nice. If you fail the save, the power's not expended. That's great. That's something you won't encounter all the time, yet is frequent enough to warrant carrying it around in an item slot, and useful enough that you'll be glad you have it on several occasions.

Okay, with that out of the way, let's examine the items in depth.

For the first one, the shoes, there's a similar druid power that was introduced in Heroes of the Feywild. It's a level 6 utility called Meld into Stone that allows the user to shift into an object made of stone or earth, but they can see normally. They don't have line of effect, and nothing has line of effect to them, and the user remains in that state "until the end of the encounter, until [the user] ends this effect as a minor action, or until the object is destroyed." And when it ends, you just appear in a nearby square. This is also a daily power, but it's more concisely worded (I didn't copy this verbatim, just the gist of the power) and probably "better" in a few than that of the boots by quite a long shot (for one thing, you can still see). If you insist on keeping the effect as is (since it lasts longer) consider making it a ritual instead that can be cast on a pair of boots or something similar. Or just make it less restrictive. It doesn't need to be as good as that power, since it's one level lower, but it should try to be more like it. Melding into stone is cool and all that, but if you have people who are trying to optimize, they won't even look at something at that price unless they're in paragon tier or higher (and by that time they often have better choices). It's an interesting ability, yes, but is it worth the price and the feet slot? Well, I wouldn't take it unless I knew it was going to see a lot of use, much like I wouldn't take an item that is effective against certain types of creatures (but otherwise no better than a regular magic item) unless I knew there was going to be a lot of those kinds of monsters over the course of that tier.
This might be too much, or not faithful to the original you're basing it off of, but if that doesn't bug you, here's a suggested alternative: A move action that has the character move up to their speed, and gain the ability to move through solid rock during this movement as though they were phasing. Or just treat solid rock as difficult terrain during that move action. I'm just throwing out possibilities.

And the storm sword. I can't really see this being worth the price, not as a daily power. It doesn't even have bigger crit dice, which is just a nice thing to have (but the lightning damage doesn't offset it since crits aren't a frequent enough occurrence for a damage type to have a noticeable impact. I may have just contradicted myself here). A level 4 sword with a meh daily power becomes a level 9/14/19/24/29 sword with a less and less useful daily power that's also in a high pricing bracket.
Meanwhile, in comparison, the often overlooked Sacrificial Weapon has a daily power that weakens an enemy until the end of their next turn, in exchange for you losing a healing surge. For characters with extra surges, this is actually worthwhile if you can use it on a monster that makes frequent, fairly damaging attacks (hydras come to mind). And it's level 6, or 6/11/16/21/26. It's vastly cheaper that the storm themed sword, which means a character can afford another high-level magic item come paragon or epic tier, or just come into a weapon with a good effect and a higher enhancement bonus that much sooner while still having money left over.
However, you did apply the enhancement bonus to the roll, which is something early 4e item designers forgot to do and made the attacks inaccurate, so I have to give you credit for that. Good job. My memory is fuzzy as to whether or not expertise feats apply to the attack roll, so if they do, you can skip the rest of this paragraph. If they don't, you're better off using a set attack bonus that scales with the level of the item at a similar rate a character's attack against that defense with a weapon/implement would scale to at that level, accounting for 18 in the attack stat, relevant expertise feat taken, and weapon/implement from that tier. For level 4 version, it'd be a +7 attack bonus for the daily power, level 9 a +11 attack bonus, etc. Just make sure it has a fair chance of hitting, because missing with daily powers sucks.
Now this power isn't bad, but it's a fairly weak effect, and fort is high on brutes and soldiers, two common frontline melee enemies that you might want to use it against, so its chances of hitting or even doing anything aren't that great. I'm not saying change the targeted defense, since wind/storm attacks would almost certainly be against fortitude (and would probably use the thunder keyword, not lightning :smallamused:). I'm saying it's not significant enough to be worth the risk or the price, or that the effect is against the wrong targets. Maybe give it a miss effect, or an effect line, or make the push scale based on the enhancement bonus + whatever. Just make it worth its daily status and lack of any other features besides that power. Or make it an area attack instead, maybe even put it on a ranged weapon.
Alternatively, you could just take away the attack roll, change nothing else about the power, and keep it at the level it's at, making it hit automatically. That's just barely enough to qualify it as a daily power, because it's useful in a lot of situations, like a melee character pushing away a dangerous group of enemies surrounding them, and reliable so it's good last-ditch save your behind power, yet powerful enough that having it every encounter would be too much.

But that's just my input, and I've been told I'm not very good at balancing things - and I agree with them. So if you disagree or are skeptical of my evaluations, try waiting for somebody else to give their two cents. If they agree with me or offer a better suggestion, you may want to redo your stuff to try and meet more of the given criteria. Hope this helps!

2012-01-11, 08:06 PM
These items are intended as rewards for level 1 and 2 characters. They wont be spending money on them, and even if the daily powers aren't amazing, they'll still be better than mundane equipment.

I like your suggested alternative for the shoes a lot. It allows them to be potentially useful during a fight, which the others were not really geared at, but still has great utility outside of combat too, which was the initial focus.

As for the storm sword, I wanted to avoid the "Free action. When you successfully hit with this weapon..." type daily power. So, I tried to balance the daily power with the daily power from the Sunblade (Adventurer's Vault), which I think I did ok with. But, the Sunblade also has other abilities, and I didn't make up for them with the storm sword. So, I may just have to bite the bullet and go with the "when you hit with this weapon" type power anyway.

I was considering adding blind (save ends) with a critical hit to match a lightning flash idea. The daily to push and leave prone is meant to replicate a blast of air, or whirlwind.

2012-01-11, 10:49 PM
Glad you found my input useful!

These items are intended as rewards for level 1 and 2 characters. They wont be spending money on them, and even if the daily powers aren't amazing, they'll still be better than mundane equipment.
Well, I personally expect higher level items to be nicer and stronger than lower level items. But if you don't care if the characters aren't attached to them, then I guess it's not a big deal.

I was considering adding blind (save ends) with a critical hit to match a lightning flash idea. The daily to push and leave prone is meant to replicate a blast of air, or whirlwind.
I think that would balance it out, though maybe you could just make it until end of next turn so that it doesn't disable something an entire fight because of a fluke or get saved against by a solo. And I pictured that's what it was, actually. A sword of storms, even watered down, does evoke a pretty cool image in my mind, so I'd say it's a keeper.