View Full Version : 4e Planescape Magic Item Distribution System

2012-07-12, 07:21 PM
In a few months I'm going to be starting a new campaign in Planescape. I was wondering if I could get some feedback on a different way of distributing magic items.

I have a few design goals in mind:

1) Reduce the total amount of magical items that the players get per the rules normally (through using Inherent bonuses, as per the DMG 2 and/or Dark Sun).
2) Introduce some reward system, tied to Planescape factions.
3) Reduce or eliminate the "magic item mart" portion of the game. Gold and gems (and whatnot) should be seen as a way of manipulating the world, rather than being seen as another potential magic item).
4) Ensure that the official character builder can still be used to keep track of a character.

I'm proposing this:

4e assumes that every level, a five player party will receive four magic items (lvl +1, +2, +3, and +4), along with a small amount of treasure. Using inherent bonuses however, the book suggests the DM remove both the first and last treasure found (i.e. just lvl +2 and +3), which cuts the value of magical items the party finds in half (albeit the value of gold/artwork/gems they find would stay the same). It ends up looking like this:


Hence, we can then roughly calculate how much each PC should get they gain levels. If (for example) we started at level 3, each PC should have 1855g worth of "value". Let's divide that into three chunks; "quest" value, "faction" value, and "monetary/other value" at a 40/40/20 split. Thus, a level 3 character would have (assuming nothing was spent):

742g worth of "quest" value, 742g worth of "faction" value, and 371g worth of "monetary/other" value.

(Note: I'm using these values for the examples below, but in practice I would probably round them off to something cleaner)

Quest Value

The "quest" value would work as the primary way of obtaining specific magical items, and would be obtained from leveling up. Players may, once a level, spend amount of this "quest" experience (equal to the value of a particular level of magical item) before undertaking a quest as if purchasing a magical item, ensuring that a magic item for them appears in the adventure. This item represents the result of your adventuring. If a player no longer wants it, they may sell it at an appropriate location for 20% of it's worth in gold, or donate it to a faction for 50% of it's worth in favours, along with receiving 20% of it's worth back in Quest value. Item depending, upgrades may be purchasable with quest value (although a quest will still need to be undertaken).

If the player asks for a specific item, they will "spend" the items worth in "quest" value, and in most circumstances undertake a specific quest to obtain said item. If players do not specify a specific item, I will secretly roll 1d4 and pick an item for that character, that they will obtain upon completion of a quest that is currently under way. Items that were randomly picked by me, the DM (with the +1d4 level bonus) are treated as being worth whatever quest value was spent to obtain the item, NOT the amount the item is actual worth.

(Note: perhaps there should be some sort of "cap" on how high a level an item a player can "spend" for, to encourage players not to hoard this number)

For example, Paul wants to obtain a Gauntlets of Ogre Power. Acquiring them requires Paul to obtain a somewhat uncommon metal found in the Elemental Plane of Earth, and then defeat an Ogre in an Arm-wresting match while wearing the bracers. He spends 1000 quest value points (the value of a level 5 item), and (alone or with the party) sets off on his quest. Meanwhile, Ringo wants a new item for his Wizard, and spends 1000 quest points (the value of a level 5 item). I secretly roll a d4 (getting +2) and choose a level 7 item I think his Wizard might find cool, and give him a Phrenic Crown as part of the reward for finishing a quest that the party is tackling if I think it's appropriate to do so (if not this quest, a future one).

Faction Value

Your faction will confer powers that represent the philosophy of your faction. These powers are usually represented by "magical" items, albeit you do not equip them. Players are limited to THREE faction powers at any one time, and may change/upgrade them every time they level. Players receive a static total that increases as they level, which represents a "pool" that they can spend on specific powers.

For example, the Athar faction represent characters who believe that the "gods" as they are known are frauds; a TRUE god would not desire to be worshiped. They fight an uphill battle trying to convince the population that they are being used, while being persecuted by many religions for their belief. The Athar therefore must rely on a healthy dose of secrecy to get their message out to the public. The following represent powers that might be suitable to apply to an Athar (albeit re-fluffed):

Level 1 (360g) Headband of Perception, Ioun's Parchment
Level 2 (520g) Bracers of Enforced Regret, Door of Alarm
Level 3 (680g) Circlet of Second Chances, Closed Mind
Level 4 (840g) Cloak of Distortion +1, Flickers of Faith
Level 5 (1000g)Cold Iron Shield, Lamp of Discerning
Level 6 (1800g)Bracers of Mental Might, Mind of Two Moons

At level 3, John would have 742g of "faction" value to spend. He may choose to obtain either two level 1 "powers", or either a level "2" or "3" power. Any excess gold can be spent on supplies (such as potions of healing, certain alchemical ingredients, etc.; these do not count towards the "3 powers" limit) or be "donated" to the faction to receive favours from it at a future time. John chooses to obtain the effect of a Circlet of Second Chances (680g), and an Elixir of Aptitude (50g), putting the remaining 12g back into the faction for help later (my current thinking is to double it, so + 24g worth of favour).

At level 4, John's amount of "faction" value becomes 1228g. He may continue to get the bonus from a Circlet of Second Chances, and have 548g left to spend on other abilities (such as a level 1 or 2 bonus), or he may switch his level 3 bonus for a "Cold Iron Shield" bonus, and instead spend the remaining 228g on other goods or reputation.

Other value

This is a catch-all. It might represent gold or other treasure, it might represent some sort of faction value. This value could be spent somewhat normally, within limits. Note that day-to-day expenses would likely come out of here as well.

Faction values could be potentially spent to help on quests, but also potentially to gain new rituals, services, etc that are appropriate ones for the faction in question. There is expected to be a certain amount of sharing here between PCs, and two PCs may potentially combine their respective "worth" with a faction together for a single favour.

A rough table

This is a rudimentary look at how character "wealth" might be distributed. Note that the "Quest value" and "Faction value" would be relatively constant.


I will probably just round off some numbers either up or down (i.e. "200" instead of "179") to make it look less messy, but this is the rough idea I have.

I would welcome questions and comments on the system.

2012-07-12, 08:27 PM
Use inherent bonuses. Then give them whatever the hell you want them to have. It's not rocket surgery. :smallwink: