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Talakeal
2014-10-22, 11:32 PM
Take your typical fantasy game world where magic items equal an increase in personal power. Also assume that magic items have some sort of a "market value", either because they can literally be bought and sold for gold, can be created or reduced to a tradable commodity, or are made from sort of universal magic essence that can be shaped into different forms.

Why wouldn't all the magic items in the world be hoarded by a select few powerful people?

If you were the ruler of an empire and a powerful entity in your own right, why wouldn't you spend massive amounts of your nations wealth in supplying you with all the magic items you could ever use?

Why would the BBEG ever equip his lieutenants with magic items rather than breaking them down to add another + to his own weapon?

Why wouldn't high level adventuring groups spend all of their time using scry and die tactics against other adventurers half their level to loot their magic?

And the biggest problem that would actually come up in an RPG, how do you have a "fair fight" against another party without the victor doubling their wealth (which = power) after every fight?

The Oni
2014-10-22, 11:37 PM
The ambient magic fields given off by some magic items might interfere with others, sometimes violently. I.E. the forcefield of your +3 magic armor might cause your +2 flaming burst katana to explode prematurely, searing your hand.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-22, 11:40 PM
Or if you are a Lovecraft fan for a slightly different twist, the more stuff you have bonded to you (i.e., affecting you) wears at certain barriers and lets things through who would love to set up a summer home in your brain. And hey, you can put an extra ring on that tentacle in your eye socket! Score!

Could come in abyssal flavors for traditionalists.

The Oni
2014-10-22, 11:45 PM
Righto. You probably want to pick a justification that fits your setting's tone. Eberron's all about dat magitek so "Magic Interference" makes sense. Likewise, a "spacial warp threat" that lets in Lovecrafties might be more at home in a World of Darkness or Exalted setting (can't think of a good D&D analogue).

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-22, 11:51 PM
Far Realm. The Abyss has a different feel, but well, its still not Happy Fun Place if you get my drift. Personally, I'd go with the idea that a being gave mankind (Or elf-kind, dwarf-kind, kobold kind) the ability to make magical items...And somewhat neglected to tell them that use of such would drain their soul, piece by piece until they were added to the armies of this being. Maybe make some big bads (Such as Dragons) actually souless abominations that wander eternally, a sham of their former glory.

The Oni
2014-10-22, 11:57 PM
...I like this. I like this idea a lot. Said being might even have an aspect that's worshipped among artisans who aren't aware of his true nature, and that's why all the best artisans and inventors go mad.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-23, 12:00 AM
Ooh! Good idea! But that would mean that your typical dwarf or dwarf like society would go mad pretty quick. Maybe they chain up their insane artisans, believing them to have magical powers and consult them like oracles despite them being frothingly insane. A secret they keep from the surface dwellers. (And yeah, I was inspired by Dwarf Fortress)

jaydubs
2014-10-23, 12:06 AM
There are all just extrapolations of why equipment is shared out in the real world as well:

There's some kind of law of diminishing returns, much like with mundane items. In the real world, a $2,000 rifle might be a lot better than a $50 rifle. But a $1,000,000 rifle wouldn't be that much better than a $10,000 rifle. Magic items might well run into the same issue.

There aren't a lot of passive magical items, and you can only actively "use" one at a time. The same way a fighter doesn't benefit from carrying 20 extra sheathed swords, big bad doesn't benefit from keeping 20 extra magic items in his belt.

Offense is vastly easier than defense. And offense is more than enough to kill characters. Doing 1,000 damage vs doing 10,000 damage is irrelevant if characters only have 50 hp.

While magic items do make a person more powerful, that power does not greatly overshadow the power of individuals. And the BBEG is not miles above his lieutenants. If any leader tried to hoard all the loot, his underlings would murder him and replace him with someone less selfish.

Concentrating that much power just isn't technologically (magically) feasible. The same way we can't build the power of a battleship into a soldier no matter how much money we spend, there's just no way to make +20 magic items or whatever.

The Oni
2014-10-23, 12:09 AM
Ooh! Good idea! But that would mean that your typical dwarf or dwarf like society would go mad pretty quick. Maybe they chain up their insane artisans, believing them to have magical powers and consult them like oracles despite them being frothingly insane. A secret they keep from the surface dwellers. (And yeah, I was inspired by Dwarf Fortress)

That's brilliant. You should write this. If you're not gonna write this, I'm gonna write this.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-23, 12:11 AM
I will look forward to your efforts. I personally have some ideas, but not enough for a setting. Go right ahead.

Another idea is that magical items are made out of souls, so if you have too many, you get too many voices in your head trying to take the driver's seat and you might get possessed by your sword. Most people can fight off one or two, but if you have too many you quickly get overwhelmed. In fantasy, sword wields you!

The Oni
2014-10-23, 12:12 AM
There's some kind of law of diminishing returns, much like with mundane items. In the real world, a $2,000 rifle might be a lot better than a $50 rifle. But a $1,000,000 rifle wouldn't be that much better than a $10,000 rifle. Magic items might well run into the same issue.

There aren't a lot of passive magical items, and you can only actively "use" one at a time. The same way a fighter doesn't benefit from carrying 20 extra sheathed swords, big bad doesn't benefit from keeping 20 extra magic items in his belt.

This is, in fact, quite logical - but optimizers and their tactics can sometimes subvert this rule in defiance of all logic.

The Oni
2014-10-23, 12:14 AM
Another idea is that magical items are made out of souls, so if you have too many, you get too many voices in your head trying to take the driver's seat and you might get possessed by your sword. Most people can fight off one or two, but if you have too many you quickly get overwhelmed. In fantasy, sword wields you!

Sort of a collective-ego-overload, like when a high-Ego item fights its wielder in standard rules. Non-intelligent magic items don't have enough ego to singularly cause a conflict, but add too many and they'll dogpile you into submission...neat.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-23, 12:16 AM
Aha! Another idea is that one must power items with a soul...And you only have so much to spare. Use too much and it can ripped out of your body too easily...Or worse.

The Oni
2014-10-23, 12:25 AM
Aha! Another idea is that one must power items with a soul...And you only have so much to spare. Use too much and it can ripped out of your body too easily...Or worse.

Well, then you're basically playing Shadowrun.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-23, 12:27 AM
Not terribly familiar with it, but it does the job. I take it that it is also the reason for limiting cybernetics too.

Arbane
2014-10-23, 01:27 AM
AD&D handled this by just not having that many magic items available, and no PC control over what stuff they had inflicted on got.

Exalted (which nobody sane has ever accused of being a low-powered setting) handles this problem with 'committed essence' - to use most man-portable magic items, you have to invest some of your essence (magic points) in them to attune them. This is fine, but then you don't have that essence handy for fueling your superpowers.
The 'kill them and take their stuff' problem is handled by the fact that using the magic material associated with another Exalted type costs double essence to attune if you want all the cool benefits. Aside from that, it's a perfectly valid tactic. (Also, magical items in Exalted tend to be very obviously magic - which can draw unwanted attention.)

One idea I've been noodling for a homebrew game: as you get more powerful, magic +stat items become redundant, because you're just too powerful for them to help. Sure, when you were only as strong as an ox, that magical belt of giant strength was amazingly useful. But now that you're as strong as a giant yourself, you don't need it.
(For D&D-ish games, just give the PCs bonuses to hit/damage/saves/casting stat that won't stack with magic items as they level.)

Altair_the_Vexed
2014-10-23, 06:48 AM
+1 for "attuning"

In my E6 game, characters can only have 1/2 their level in permanent magic items attuned. Any other items don't function as magical (a +1 sword is still a masterwork sword, but it doesn't bypass DR).
Attuning to items takes a 10 minute ritual, which is discovered during the identification process.

For a regular 20 level game, I'd maybe set the number of attuned items at 1/3 level.

(Items that you've crafted yourself don't count against your limit - you've spent the XP to make them, you should gain the benefit!)

Frozen_Feet
2014-10-23, 08:21 AM
Why wouldn't all the magic items in the world be hoarded by a select few powerful people?

In real life, wealth and land are distributed according to Pareto Principle - 80% of things are owned by 20% of people, and 50% are owned by 1%. You'd definitely see centrification of resources even when magic items are super-rare and hard to get. Some items would still roll around and swap hands simply due to trade and logistics.


If you were the ruler of an empire and a powerful entity in your own right, why wouldn't you spend massive amounts of your nations wealth in supplying you with all the magic items you could ever use?

Because a lot of magical items are redundant in application and eventually you hit diminishing returns. After a while, more magic simply won't give more utility, just like money ceases to matter once you can buy everything you want, or owning more land ceases to matter if you have plenty of room and the leftover are barren wastelands.

Then there's the fact that magic can't do everything in most settings and mundane things tend to be much cheaper. In later editions of D&D, you can outfit a small army with the cost of a single +5 weapon. Action economy alone means you can do more with the former than the latter.


Why would the BBEG ever equip his lieutenants with magic items rather than breaking them down to add another + to his own weapon?

in D&D, most bonuses scale linearily, but their cost increases exponentially. Ask yourself, which is more effective: increasing your own to-hit by 15%, or increasing to-hit of four of your underlings by 10%? There's also, again, action economy. Wand of Awesome Destruction might kill people, like, super dead, but a handful of people using a handful of ordinary Wands of Destruction will cover more ground and incapacitate more foes in the same unit of time.


Why wouldn't high level adventuring groups spend all of their time using scry and die tactics against other adventurers half their level to loot their magic?

Because magic of those "half their level" isn't actually useful to them. It could also be a simple matter of being on the same side. It's not smart to scrap half you armored divisions just to get one fighter plane.


And the biggest problem that would actually come up in an RPG, how do you have a "fair fight" against another party without the victor doubling their wealth (which = power) after every fight?

For one, resources, especially items, have a bad habit of being expended or destroyed in a fight. So it's almost never a straight doubling. Then there's the minor problem of people tending to die. A "fair fight" generally implies a 50/50 chance. From a military standpoint, that's awful! Even if you win, you're likely to have your own force decimated or destroyed (losing 20% to 50% of manpower). So you don't actually end up with more power, because you have less people capable of utilizing the stolen magic.

Beyond this, becoming wealthier and more powerful as a result of winning conflict isn't a problem. It's, you know, the whole point why it's done! All smart tactics, strategy and logistics aim to make the fight as unfair as possible towards your enemy precisely so you can annex their resources. If you don't want this to happen, the resources of the enemy have to be somehow unusable. For example, demonic items might require you to sell your soul to Satan, so you'll end up with a net loss if you try to use them. Or maybe they turn to dust in sunlight.

Angel Bob
2014-10-23, 09:40 AM
I avoid the Christmas tree effect by using inherent bonuses: PCs automatically get the bonuses to attack and defenses at certain levels. It allows me to give out fewer magic items per level, making each item I do give important and unique, and it alleviates the need to obsessively calculate exactly how much treasure to dole out for every encounter.

Tengu_temp
2014-10-23, 09:42 AM
Why wouldn't all the magic items in the world be hoarded by a select few powerful people?


Because those select few people cannot locate every magic item in the world, cannot reach many of those they can locate, and cannot obtain many of those they can reach (stealing a magic sword from a powerful king with a strong army and a court wizard and champion who are at least as good as you? Not a wise idea).


If you were the ruler of an empire and a powerful entity in your own right, why wouldn't you spend massive amounts of your nations wealth in supplying you with all the magic items you could ever use?


Because my nation's wealth is better spend on other things than giving me another small bonus. If there was an important artifact that would greatly benefit me and my kingdom (or save it from a catastrophe), then I'd make sure to get my hands on it - but every magic item? Not worth the bother.



Why would the BBEG ever equip his lieutenants with magic items rather than breaking them down to add another + to his own weapon?

Because it's better to have two guys with +3 weapons than a single guy with a +4 weapon. Also, the assumption that you can "disenchant" a magic item and then use its magic to power up another item is weird. I don't know any RPGs that let you do that.


Why wouldn't high level adventuring groups spend all of their time using scry and die tactics against other adventurers half their level to loot their magic?

1. Because scry and die is extremely hard to pull off outside DND 3e, for a good reason.
2. Because you have no guarantee the other adventurer party is actually "half your level", and that they won't kick your ass.
3. Because, as it was mentioned before, if these guys are weaker than you then it's unlikely you'll get that much mileage out of their magic items.
4. Because this is not something good guys would do. I can totally see a storyline where a team of bad guys decides to do this, and has to be stopped.


And the biggest problem that would actually come up in an RPG, how do you have a "fair fight" against another party without the victor doubling their wealth (which = power) after every fight?

Dissociate wealth with power. Get rid of the strange disenchanting idea I already mentioned, and get rid of the magic item market.

Psyren
2014-10-23, 10:09 AM
The answer to pretty much every "why" setting question in D&D is "deities."

Take FR - Yeah there are really powerful guys who can hoard the world's magic if they wanted to. Problem is, Mystra is against that and wants magic to be reasonable accessible to everyone. Her followers are commanded to craft, take down cabals and to liberate items from dragon's hoards etc. FaP:


Dogma: "Seek always to learn and create new magic."

Clergy/Temples: "The clergy actively seeks out sources of old magic, often from tombs, dangerous ruins - even liches. They consider it more crucial to know the predcise location of artifacts and items of magical power than to possess them, but wherever possible, they work to wrest control of such things from the aggressively evil, the irresponsible, or the unsound of mind."
...
"All clergy of Mystra are expected to devise their own new magic (whether it be spells or items) upon gaining sufficient experience."

Boccob is less altruistic but no less proliferating:


Clergy/Temples: Boccob's clergy actively creates magic items, which they usually sell to anyone with the cash to buy them. During war, Boccon's clerics happily sell magic items to all sides. Many of Boccon's clerics keep busy rooting out bits of magical lore, recovering lost magic items, and investigating mysteries. They adamantly oppose any attempt to destroy a magic item or any magical place."

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-10-23, 11:26 AM
Aha! Another idea is that one must power items with a soul...And you only have so much to spare. Use too much and it can ripped out of your body too easily...Or worse.
Well, maybe not your soul (at least not with low level items, or small numbers of them), but energy absorbed from your body. A low powered ring of protection? Maybe you can eat a little more without putting on weight. Maybe you feel very hungry after a fight. Or you find yourself catnapping because you're more easily tired out.

By the time you're wearing moderately powerful armour and carrying a shield with an ability, wielding a decent + weapon, toting the ring of protection on one hand and a ring of regeneration on the other, with magic boots, a handy haversack and a bag of holding, you might almost be at the point where you're having to permanently eat high calorie foods, or your body will start cannibalising itself to feed the energy demands.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-23, 11:33 AM
Or, the items are built directly into your body. Sure, you get a +1 item for giving yourself a tattoo, but the big stuff requires opening up your flesh and inlaying metal onto your very bones. As the very price of the magic is in pain, you do not get to use painkillers at all. And if you screw up, well...Hope you didn't need those eyes, buddy! Emperors or other leaders might balk, not just because it hurts like a mofo, but they need a lot of magical healing to do it and need to trust the chancellor to not decide to bribe the healers to give up mid-way.

At that point, doodling on your minions seems like a great investment.

Lord Torath
2014-10-23, 01:17 PM
Gary Gygax got around this by having his bad guys' weapons disintegrate in sunlight.

Galen
2014-10-23, 02:02 PM
I used to run a 3.5 game with Virtual Wealth rules. When people level up, they gain some amount of Virtual money that can be used to improve selected pieces of equipment or give themselves abilities as if using a magic item. For example, for 2,000 virtual gold, you can gain +1 to attack and damage with that ancestral greatsword you've been lugging (happens to be the same cost as an actual +1 weapon). For 4,000 virtual gold, you can increase your Constitution score by 2, as if wearing an Amulet of Health. And so on.

The thing is, those boons only work for you. The +1 ancestral sword is your ancestral sword. The Constitution boost is your constitution boost. Conversely, the bandit lieutenant's +1 armor is only a +1 armor for him. To anyone else, it might appear a regular tarnished half-busted plate armor that underwent one patchwork repair too many. (ie. "with authentic battle damage" :smallsmile:)

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-10-23, 02:31 PM
Solving the "christmas tree" effect is easy if you do the following;


Many magic items don't give combat benefits.
Let's face it, only a small percentage of people in the world actually cares about combat.
A) 60% of everyone in a medieval setting dies of mundane hazards like really bad weather, extreme temperatures, food/water shortages, mundane accidents, diseases, poisons, falling from great heights, smoke inhalation in fires and so on. So a good percentage of magic items would be crafted to prevent those problems. Never being subject to hunger, disease, frostbite, drowning and the like is a big deal - just ask Henry VII.
So many magic items would be Rings of Protection vs Hazards +1 to +10, with every point of bonus providing immunity to a hazard.
B) Another 20% of everyone dies of the gradual weakening that comes with old age and of old age itself. So I could see lots of powerful people buying magic items that make them ageless like monks (reduce or negate penalties from old age) or vitrually immortal (preventing them from aging at all or even reversing old age). Being able to live a full life of 60+ years with the vitality of a young man or woman is a bonus far more desirable than combat prowess. Doing so for longer than a lifetime is even better.
So many magic items would be Amulets of Agelessness +1 to +10, with the first four points reducing age penalties by an age category, the following five points extending your lifespan by your maximum age each and the tenth point slowly reverting your biological age to adult status.
C) Beyond hazards and aging, the needs people would have would be for items improving trade and travel (containers of holding, magical transportation), providing home security (repulsion and nonviolence wards), and providing education and communication (magical communication and information).
So containers of holding of +1 to +10 providing extradimensional storage of 1 to 1000 cubic feet, magical transports of +1 to +10 moving at speeds 2 to 11 times faster than their nonmagical equivalents, magical wards of+1 to +10 giving benefits to residents and penalties to attackers, and communicators ranging from +1 crystals that can send a message a mile away to +10 crystals that provide intelligent interactive personal assistants/computers that interface with your thoughts.


Magic items offering combat benefits don't give static bonuses.
A) Items that enhance abilities would replace your own instead of give bonuses. I.e. gauntlets of Ogre Power just give STR 18 while a Cloak of Resistance would give saving throws of +10. Eventually a high-level character would surpass the exchange and no longer need the item - especially in their specialty.
B) Magical weapons would give different attack types, not bonuses. I.e. a flaming sword would have its original damage also be fire instead of adding fire damage dice. A magic sword would negate armor, hardness or Damage Reduction instead of giving bonuses to attack and damage. A magic armor would apply its protection to attacks that would negate lesser armors such as incorporeal blows, ray spells, touch attacks and magic weapons rather than increase its bonus to AC.
C) Wands, rods and other spell completion would simply offer additional stuff to do with your actions, as always.


Sufficiently powerful items are hard to wield and control.
A) Sufficiently powerful magic implements throwing supernatural effects would need high willpower/intellect/force of personality to use correctly. Otherwise you might make that Rune of the Ram blow up at your feet instead of the enemy. And the more of them you try to wield at once, the higher the required ability.
B) Sufficiently powerful enchanted weapons would need high strength or dexterity to control. The hammer that strikes with the force of a thunderbolt might need a giant's strength to even lift and the weightless sword that can cut through anything needs perfect hand-eye coordination or you might cut off you own limbs by accident.
C) Sufficiently powerful protective items would need high constitution for your body to take them. The ring that makes your skin like stone might petrify you outright if your body is weak and the armor that sunders all weapons that strike it needs to be worn by someone tough enough to be immovable. And you need to be twice as tough to wear both at once.
D) Magic items that sufficiently alter how you function in combat require agility and coordination or tremendous focus to not lose your own skill while using them, because they don't come from your ownabilities you innately understand. A solar flies perfectly with her wings because she has inhuman dexterity - if you don't, wearing a ring of solar wings might cause you to crash. Using a ring of invisibility means you can't see where you're stepping or where your own hands and weapons are, making coordination impossible for the inexperienced.

Haldir
2014-10-23, 02:51 PM
In a setting with magic, coherent social structures and sufficient time any sentient being will probably become a magic user. Imagine Group A vrs Group B where A teaches it's young magic from the earliest possible age and B has a group of high and mighty Elites keeping all the magic to themselves.

Who is realistically going to win there? Magical knowledge, like scientific knowledge, will diffuse and magic items will become nearly impossible to horde without a concerted, BBEG style quest to stomp it all out and gather everything up for themselves.

Esprit15
2014-10-23, 02:58 PM
As has been said before, if I have a +5 longsword, why do I need a +1 longsword? If I'm going to be amassing magic items, it will be to outfit my army, since there are only so many places on my body to wear magic items, and I'll likely only want or need a small closet of things, not every magic robe ever regardless of how useful it is.

Also, scry and die tactics to amass weapons from any lower level adventuring party? Well that assumes that they have something I want. If so, sure, why not? If I'm Evil, that is. I can't exactly see a Good or Neutral character staying such for long if they would normally consider this.

Furthermore: Isn't that what bandits kind of do? The problem is that attacking people who kill nearly everything for a living has a surprisingly short life expectancy. Better off finding a level appropriate encounter and taking the inevitable loot that it's carrying around for unknown reasons.

The Insanity
2014-10-23, 03:20 PM
I used to run a 3.5 game with Virtual Wealth rules. When people level up, they gain some amount of Virtual money that can be used to improve selected pieces of equipment or give themselves abilities as if using a magic item. For example, for 2,000 virtual gold, you can gain +1 to attack and damage with that ancestral greatsword you've been lugging (happens to be the same cost as an actual +1 weapon). For 4,000 virtual gold, you can increase your Constitution score by 2, as if wearing an Amulet of Health. And so on.

The thing is, those boons only work for you. The +1 ancestral sword is your ancestral sword. The Constitution boost is your constitution boost. Conversely, the bandit lieutenant's +1 armor is only a +1 armor for him. To anyone else, it might appear a regular tarnished half-busted plate armor that underwent one patchwork repair too many. (ie. "with authentic battle damage" :smallsmile:)
We also do something like that.

TheThan
2014-10-23, 06:17 PM
The short answer is that is how the game is designed.

In dnd 3.5 the game forces the Dm to hand out magical treasure. By fourth level the players are going to start coming up against creatures with damage reduction and elemental resistance. So the players must have magical weapons and armor to punch through that.

Itís an intentional game design, the makers did not want magical loot to be an option, they wanted to force the Dm to start handing out magical gear to the players. While the DM does not have to shell out loot like in a Monty Haul game, the DM is still forced to do it or risk his players not being able to defeat the encounters he puts in front of them (contrary to popular belief, most DMs want to see their players succeed and progress forward).

Jay R
2014-10-23, 09:26 PM
Take your typical fantasy game world where magic items equal an increase in personal power. Also assume that magic items have some sort of a "market value", either because they can literally be bought and sold for gold, can be created or reduced to a tradable commodity, or are made from sort of universal magic essence that can be shaped into different forms.

Why wouldn't all the magic items in the world be hoarded by a select few powerful people?

If a few people own 90% of all the wealth in the world, then it makes sense that they would own 90% of all the magic items. But I don't know of any time in history, or any moment in any fantasy novel, in which this was the case.


If you were the ruler of an empire and a powerful entity in your own right, why wouldn't you spend massive amounts of your nations wealth in supplying you with all the magic items you could ever use?

Because all the other rulers of empires are trying to do the same thing. If there are eight empires, then on average, they only own one eighth of the stuff owned by empires.


Why would the BBEG ever equip his lieutenants with magic items rather than breaking them down to add another + to his own weapon?

Because a large number of +1 and +2 weapons exist. You can't melt them down to make something greater.


Why wouldn't high level adventuring groups spend all of their time using scry and die tactics against other adventurers half their level to loot their magic?

And the biggest problem that would actually come up in an RPG, how do you have a "fair fight" against another party without the victor doubling their wealth (which = power) after every fight?

Because two +2 weapons doesn't equal a +4 weapon. Two +2 Gauntlets of Ogre Strength don't equal +4 STR.

And because if you face equal odds 5 times, there's only a 1/32 chance that you will survive to double your wealth five times.

The Oni
2014-10-23, 10:46 PM
The other reason for adventurers not using scry&die is because adventurers are (usually) not just adventurers, at least not in theory. They have their own motivations, which may be slightly more complex than "murder everyone who has cool stuff, then take the stuff."

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-10-24, 02:26 AM
Also, "scry and die" doesn't work. Adding a thin coating of lead to your armor+helmet or hooded cloak is quite cheap comparatively and you can tell diviners to pound sand. In times you're not wearing armor, you're usually sleeping in a dark room and since none of the special detections that work through scrying can see in the dark, they won't be getting accurate enough description for a teleport. The more powerful Discern Location is similarly blocked by a helmet or hooded cloak preventing you from seeing the target well enough to identify. Contact other Plane isn't accurate enough for teleports and Vision is vague.


Now, if you're willing to spend a Wish on it, you can drop in unannounced on someone, kill them and take their stuff. This can be countered in several ways;
1) Have a contingency that teleports you to safety if someone attacks you by surprise.
2) Have your magic items be custom-made. It's actually cheaper to make an item that only people of your specific race and alignment can use so 99% of all people will find them useless; only a Lawful Good British man of a noble line could wield Excalibur. Or even lethal in some cases - Demron's elven Baneblades obliterated unworthy opponents.

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-10-24, 02:41 AM
In a setting with magic, coherent social structures and sufficient time any sentient being will probably become a magic user.
Nope. It takes exceptional ability scores to cast magic. Only those born with high enough intelligence can become wizards. Only a small percentage could ever become competent at it.


Imagine Group A vrs Group B where A teaches it's young magic from the earliest possible age and B has a group of high and mighty Elites keeping all the magic to themselves. Who is realistically going to win there?
The elites, obviously. Writing a single cantrip into a spellbook costs a pound of gold. Trying to teach magic to the whole population is going to bankrupt your nation real fast. Traditionally, even modern economies could not afford to have more than 1-2% of their population as highly expensive specialists, let alone medieval ones. That is why knights in the middle ages were only nobles - nobody else could afford weapons+armor+horse.



Magical knowledge, like scientific knowledge, will diffuse
Umm, what? When wa the lat time you knew how to end a rocket to the moon?

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-10-24, 03:15 AM
As has been said before, if I have a +5 longsword, why do I need a +1 longsword?
And maybe when you sell the +1 longsword, a few days later someone else buys it, goes adventuring, gets killed, and several months later you show up, kill whatever killed them, and discover a +1 longsword in their treasure stash. :smallwink:

NichG
2014-10-24, 04:39 AM
Take your typical fantasy game world where magic items equal an increase in personal power. Also assume that magic items have some sort of a "market value", either because they can literally be bought and sold for gold, can be created or reduced to a tradable commodity, or are made from sort of universal magic essence that can be shaped into different forms.

Why wouldn't all the magic items in the world be hoarded by a select few powerful people?

If you were the ruler of an empire and a powerful entity in your own right, why wouldn't you spend massive amounts of your nations wealth in supplying you with all the magic items you could ever use?

Why would the BBEG ever equip his lieutenants with magic items rather than breaking them down to add another + to his own weapon?

Why wouldn't high level adventuring groups spend all of their time using scry and die tactics against other adventurers half their level to loot their magic?

And the biggest problem that would actually come up in an RPG, how do you have a "fair fight" against another party without the victor doubling their wealth (which = power) after every fight?

Partly this kind of conclusion is due to how power scales in D&D in particular (its an exponential curve rather than, say, a logistic curve). Other systems don't actually scale the same way, which can change the answer. The other part of this kind of conclusion has to do with extra factors which incur a cost, but which are abstracted away in this analysis.

Lets look at the first. In D&D, individual power scales exponentially with level. Therefore, if you have a Lv20 character, it doesn't really matter how many Lv1 soldiers you can array against them. If you believe in the CR system, it estimates that you roughly need 1024 soldiers to match one Lv20 character - in practice, adding more soldiers has a diminishing return at some point with respect to attacking a single character since they get in eachothers' ways, and the advantages that the Lv20 character can field don't care about numbers (flight, invisibility, immunity to the soldiers' weapons, etc).

So the top priority is basically making sure that your Lv20 guys survive the fight against the other team's Lv20 guys. All lower level fights can basically be mopped up by the winners of the high-level fight. So it makes sense to concentrate resources. If magic item costs grew exponentially with their power level, and were a bigger contributor to power than character level, then you might find this reversed (e.g. a +1 item costs 1000gp, a +2 item costs 10000gp, a +3 item costs 100000gp). If a +X item effectively granted +4X levels to the wielder, then even with exponential power-vs-level it makes more sense to have an army of 1024 guys with +1 items (effectively 1024 Lv5 characters) instead of the one guy with a +4 item (effectively a single Lv17 character), at least by the CR system.

However, now lets go further and take something like the anti-D&D. In this system, power scales like the base-2 logarithm of equivalent-D&D-level+1. So a Lv20 character is effectively ~4 times as powerful as a Lv1 character, but a Lv3 character is ~2 times as powerful as a Lv1 character. Now the optimal thing to do is to field large numbers of characters who are boosted in small ways, because the return on investment for boosting a character is biggest between 'no boost' and 'any boost', and further investment beyond there doesn't achieve much. That Lv20 character was very expensive, but you don't get much for it.

Now if we add in extra costs associated with gathering magic items, that can also mess with the economics of it. If they take a long time to make, need to be customized, are rare enough that their supply/demand aren't well-described by the mean, etc, then all of those things can mess with the results.

Arbane
2014-10-24, 06:05 AM
Being the annoying nitpicker that I am, I'll just point out that this thread isn't in the D&D sub-section, so non-D&Disms are allowable.


Nope. It takes exceptional ability scores to cast magic. Only those born with high enough intelligence can become wizards. Only a small percentage could ever become competent at it.

D&D: In D&D3, all you need is 11+ Int to be a wizard. That's about 50% of the population. Not a terribly powerful one, mind you, but one good enough to cast Unseen Servant once or twice a day. And some people become warlocks, or the gods decided they'd make good clerics or favored souls....

NonD&D: In RuneQuest, practically EVERYONE knows a little magic. Magic items are still valued heirlooms & treasures because it takes a chunk of your SOUL to make a new one. (It can grow back, but still....)

In Call of Cthulhu, almost anyone can do magic... it's just a disastrously bad idea. Magic items tend to have been designed by madmen or alien beings for their own purposes, and if you use them, they use you right back.



The elites, obviously. Writing a single cantrip into a spellbook costs a pound of gold. Trying to teach magic to the whole population is going to bankrupt your nation real fast. Traditionally, even modern economies could not afford to have more than 1-2% of their population as highly expensive specialists, let alone medieval ones. That is why knights in the middle ages were only nobles - nobody else could afford weapons+armor+horse.

Given that most D&D characters are landless commoner nobodies who nonetheless have armor, weapons, and enough money to crash a small town's economy, that MIGHT not be the best example to use.

At one point in history, scribes were considered 'specialists'. How many people do you know who can't read and write?

And presumably, that gold doesn't just evaporate*. Someone's getting rich selling magic ink and blank books, and they can blow that money on ale and whores, putting it back in the economy.

* (I may be wrong about this.)

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-10-24, 06:54 AM
most D&D characters are landless commoner nobodies who nonetheless have armor, weapons, and enough money to crash a small town's economy
Because they used up all their other resources to become adventurers. Would you sell your house and all other property, give up your family, friends and stable life to buy a gun, body armor, traveling gear and supplies? What would happen to the economy if a significant percentage of the population tried to do that? Look at the economies of World War 2 countries and what happened to them when a mere 5% of their population had to become soldiers for a decade. Now consider what whould happen if you tried to turn everyone into a soldier or other equally expensive profession like wizards are in DnD.


At one point in history, scribes were considered 'specialists'. How many people do you know who can't read and write?
Yeah, but how many of those who read and write can do so well enough to support themselves on it, let alone be wildly successful? Take a hundred thousand fanfiction writers and a single Jim Butcher. Who accomplishes more with their writing? In the over six millennia writing has been known to exist, the percentage of good writers has remained very small, despite our higher levels of "education". So why do you think there'll be any difference with Wizards?


And presumably, that gold doesn't just evaporate*. Someone's getting rich selling magic ink and blank books, and they can blow that money on ale and whores, putting it back in the economy.
Doesn't work that way. Gold is actually worthless, beyond it being a measure of value. And that value is a measure of the time and effort it took to create a given resource, such as wizard inks and parchment. And once that resource is expended, that value is no longer part of the economy. That is why raising a person and educating a person is so freaking expensive: until their education is completed, all they do is consume resources without giving a value in return. And if after said education they fail and go and flip burgers instead of contribute and give back to the economy? That value is lost.

PS: and yes, gold does evaporate. Every form of matter does, down to subatomic particles. Takes a long time though.

Talakeal
2014-10-24, 06:55 AM
First, on the concept of attunements:

This is a mechanical change rather than a narrative one, which is what I was trying to go for wit this thread. Still, it is a very good change and something I have been kicking around in my head, but it has a couple problems.

First off, it limits both tactical and narrative opportunities. You can never steal, borrow, or loot a magic item in the heat of the moment. You could never have Beowulf pick up the magic sword from Grendal's mother's hoard and slay her with it or a dying Thor bequeath his hammer unto Captain America to strike down their foe.

Second, what about items who have innate powers but don't enhance their wielder? For example items that are weightless, indestructible, or emit light. What happens if someone wants to pick one of them up without attunement?

Third, it is really hard to police. There are a lot of items that don't need to provide active buffs to the owner to be to be cool. How do they interact with attunement? What about scrolls or potions or wands? What about limited use items, or items that heal a wearer or replenish their spell slots? What about stuff that effects the whole party, or enchanted places like a flying castle or a portable tower? What about utility stuff like a portable hole?


A couple of misc. responses if I may:

I am not sure if it isn't in an empire's best interest to load its head of state down with magic items. Although its hard to get an exact figure, the USA spends tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars and security for the president annually, I image it would be much cheaper to just load him with HP and AC boosting items, give him some damage reduction, and just let him go. Although, I would image magic items which boost their leaders mental stats would be a flat out win for any nation and probably the most efficient use of public funds.

A lot of the powerful people in my campaign setting, and most published works that I know of, are both evil and extremely capable in combat, and this is exactly the type of person who would hoard magic items.

To use a D&D example, a level 20 character was ~800k GP worth of items. Even just getting a +11 bonus to all stats, which every character would benefit from and is the most allowable pre epic, would cost more than this. Then stack on basic defenses (every type of armor bonus, DR, and fast healing / regen. resistance to saves), some sort of maneuverability item, basic immunities (true seeing, free action, deathward, fortification, mind blank, etc.) Then we add in a few miscellaneous bonuses to his skills. This is stuff everyone would benefit from, before we even talk about combat or class ability boosting items or items that replicate spells or misc. buffs. And if we go epic the sky is the limit, although even epic items would be a drop in the bucket for a large nation.

Disenchanting items is present in both Dragonlance Sage and D&D 4E iirc. It has also been a feature in virtually every CRPG I have played in the last decade. I personally use it in my setting because PCs need to be able to trade out items sometimes from a mechanical perspective and it seems much more respectful to the rarity of magic to require a powerful wizard to transfer, alter, or absorb an item's powers rather than just going down to your local magic-mart and trade it in for 50% of its GP value which you use to buy something else.

True, doubling wealth does not directly double power, and a "fair fight" does mean 50% chance of defeat. Still, it means that I can't ever send the PCs up against a "Linear Guild" style mirror match without doubling their WBL at the end, and even an equal CR NPC character will increase the parties wealth by 25%. That's a pretty extreme gap.

I personally run settings where magic items are really rare. The problem is, if every "hero" has even one, that means that if they fight each other frequently the magic WILL end up in the hands of a few guys who become increasingly more powerful and unlikely to lose. You get sort of a Highlander scenario, and in this case a level 3 adventurer who finds a magic item in a dungeon crawl is going to be an easy target for the nearest Baron von Badass NPC level 20 adventurer.
I don't know how many people play Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but in that game almost every hero has at least one magic item, but the strongest characters in the world don't have more than 4-5. I would like to replicate that in an RPG, it keeps magic special and unique but still has enough to give each character a special power. It works great in a tabletop war-game, but I can't find a way to replicate the dynamic in a narrative without resorting to fiat. Heck, even in Warhammer there are times when if I could loot just one or two items off of my slain enemies (or fallen comrades) I could turn my general into an all but unstoppable badass on the spot.

As far as giving lieutenants magic items, it seems cool, but in practice I don't make sense. In my current party the wizard always argues with the other players that they should just give him all of their loot in exchange for buffs because wealth in his hands flat out has a bigger effect than it does for anyone else. The thing is, he isn't wrong, and if the party were more concerned about efficiency than fairness they would almost certainly do just that. They don't because they are all PCs and equals, but if the wizard was the dark lord of an evil empire and the fighters were his lower level underlings it just makes sense for them to give him all their stuff.
Also take the story of Vecna and Kas. Vecna is your typical dark lord evil necromancer and Kas is his lieutenant. Vecna makes Kas an artifact quality sword. Presumably Vecna could have made himself an artifact as well that would have likely have given him more power over the world and kept him a lot safer. In the end Kas rebelled and killed Vecna, which he was only able to do BECAUSE of the sword. It makes for a cool story to give your lieutenants powerful magic, but I am not sure if it makes sense.

Jay R
2014-10-24, 07:17 AM
A high level wizard giving wands to a bunch of her subordinates rather than keeping them herself is no different from a modern general who gives rifles to her entire army, rather than keeping them herself.

Almost none of the high level items in a country's armory are in the direct hands of the president, king, chalkboard monitor, emperor, or whatever the alpha bunny is called.

If the BBEG has all the magic items, then they go off at a rate of once per round, instead of a thousand each round.

And the Vecna / Kas problem isn't the sword. It's the fact that an explicitly evil leader must perforce surround himself with explicitly evil lieutenants, and one aspect of evil is treason.

Throughout history, leaders have been vulnerable to their closest associates, and throughout history, they have nonetheless given their associates the best weapons available. And for every Caesar betrayed by Brutus or Arthur betrayed by Lancelot, there are a hundred leaders protected by their closest associates.

Talakeal
2014-10-24, 07:29 AM
Offensive items you give according to people's capabilities. It doesn't make sense to give the president a gun, even a magic gun, but it does make sense to give him stuff that boosts his mental attributes.

Defensive items on the other hand, I can grantee you that if they really existed every major politician in the world would wear a +5 ring of protection and +6 periapt of health darn near 24/7.

Jay R
2014-10-24, 07:57 AM
Offensive items you give according to people's capabilities. It doesn't make sense to give the president a gun, even a magic gun, but it does make sense to give him stuff that boosts his mental attributes.

Defensive items on the other hand, I can grantee you that if they really existed every major politician in the world would wear a +5 ring of protection and +6 periapt of health darn near 24/7.

All of that I agree with. I was arguing against the statement, "As far as giving lieutenants magic items, it seems cool, but in practice I don't make sense."

Also, I note that most heads of state today rarely wear bullet-proof vests, and instead wear a +5 ring of armed guards, with a nearby +6 helicopter of quick evacuation - which is once again giving items to lieutenants.

NichG
2014-10-24, 08:51 AM
For rare-yet-common magic items (e.g. only a few magic items per person, but everyone has them), there's a couple options:

1. Make magic hard to identify. If you cut out 'detect magic', then maybe that enemy general has magic stuff on him, but probably most of it is going to be non-magical. The guy who happens to pick his pinky-ring out of the treasure pile might notice six months later that at the threshold of death he gets a second wind that keeps him going, but without actually getting to the circumstances which activate the magic there's basically no way for him to know.

Even if it costs, say, 10% the resource cost of your average magic item to actually check a given item for magic, that means that lots of stuff won't get checked. The warrior will wield that sword he got off of the evil king because it has as good a chance as anything else of being magical, but it may end up just being a mundane hunk of metal with a cool story attached.

This'd suck in actual play, so you can fix it with a meta-game mechanic. All items looted off enemies are, by default, not the magic ones. However, players get a certain pool of dramatic editing points that they can use to declare 'this item was the magic one'. So from the player point of view, not only do they still get magic loot despite the difficulty of IDing it, they get to make it so that the items that they thought were cool are the ones that are in fact magical.

2. Lots of magic in one place together interacts badly, causing 'trouble'. I find this option a bit cliche and heavy-handed, if only because 'trouble' generally translates to 'more xp and loot!', which can lead the players wanting to pursue the exact opposite of the activity that the setting feature is supposed to explain/induce.

3. Items require maintenance, and most people can't afford the maintenance on more than a few at once. This doesn't even have to be money. For example, each magic item requires that the owner bathe it in a few ounces of their blood each day. If you have a lot of magic items, you're going to start taking Con damage or the equivalent. At some point the cost to your health/spare time/finances/etc becomes greater than the benefit of adding just one more item.

4. Related to the above: magic tends to fade. That +1 sword is actually only good for 20 whacks before the enchantment unravels. Sure adventurers are getting a constant influx of new magic, but half the time they're disenchanting the new loot to recharge the old loot they actually like.

5. The story of the world is asymmetric. Magic item-clad humans tend to not fight other magic item-clad humans nearly as often as they fight creatures who don't need magic items because of their natural advantages. Each magic item is then a precious resource that humanity uses to keep pace with the monsters, rather than a trophy that passes from hand to hand during battle.

There are additional ways I'm sure.

The Hanged Man
2014-10-24, 10:08 AM
The justification I've used in my current GURPS setting is that "attuning" a magic item to a wielder actually grafts it to their Identity in a metaphysical sense, editing their True Name.

So, for example, Battlebro the Warguy finds an enchanted sword. Typically, attunement just involves meditating and practicing with the item, but sometimes an item is built with more cumbersome conditions. In this specific case, the sword is the legendary Foeslicer, and it demands a blood sacrifice for attunement - it will refuse to be a part of him until he uses it to decapitate a foe who is widely regarded as his equal in combat prowess. If he doesn't attune to it, then it just functions as a mundane sword (although a finely crafted one). Once attunement is complete, he is now metaphysically Battlebro the Warguy, Wielder of the Foeslicer. This is both a positive and a negative.

On the beneficial side, hostile Wizards now have an additional piece of data they need to ferret out before they can get a "Knows the target's True Name" bonus to casting against him. And, of course, he gets access to Foeslicer's unusual properties - even in the hands of a clumsy swordsman, it strikes true and wounds deep. In the hands of a master like Battlebro, it can carve through armies. It also makes him resistant to pain, heightens his reflexes, and gives him prophetic dreams that guide him to glory in battle.

On the negative side, if he ever misplaces Foeslicer, sympathetic magic would treat it as an extension of his body, and enemy spellcasters could just heap curses on him from any range, so long as they had Foeslicer present. This is even worse than if they took a sample of his blood or flesh, because eventually, such a sample would lose its link back to Battlebro. Foeslicer will remain a part of his spirit until someone else attunes to it, though.

On the "could go either way" side, while Foeslicer is now a part of Battlebro, Battlebro is also now a part of Foeslicer. The sword has its own legend, in this case a reputation as an instrument of slaughter and mayhem. Battlebro will start to find his behavior influenced towards cutting dude's faces off, even when other options are more reasonable and beneficial. Even if separated from Foeslicer, so long as the link remains, Battlebro will impulsively escalate more and more situations to extreme violence. Of course, the best case scenario is to find magical devices whose characteristics already match your temperament. In this case, the allies of Battlebro the Warguy didn't really notice that big of a personality shift.

Multiple items can cause distress, if they have conflicting objectives. If Battlebro continues to wield Foeslicer, but adds the magic knife Nightstabber to his arsenal, he's in trouble. Foeslicer will continue to demand a straightforward, aggressive approach to all problems. Nightstabber wants its wielder to be subtle, cautious, and observant. Every time Battlebro charges into battle shrieking, this will clash with Nightstabber's legend, and cause him some distress. But if he starts skulking in the shadows waiting for targets to come to him, Foeslicer will throw a fit. Eventually, Battlebro will have to break attunement with one of them (a process that may be as difficult as forging attunement in the first place), or risk his sanity. Later, when he finds the magic axe Skullcleaver, he has no problems at all, because Skullcleaver's imperative to rampage across the nightmares of the general populace gets along perfectly with Foeslicer's goal of rampaging across the hitpoints of everyone else. Battlebro lets his friend Sneaklady the Murderqueen take Nightstabber, breaking his attunement to it when she attunes in turn. He then comfortably wields Foeslicer and Skullcleaver in each hand, fighting like a tornado made of sharpness, until the day that Lawfella the Peacekeeper tracks him down and puts a bolt through his eye with the enchanted crossbow Crimesmiter.

A minor magical device may provide only a minor influence, easily ignored, but if you stack enough of them together, all the conflicting impulses will still drive you mad. Folklore in this world is full of stories about individuals who grew so paranoid about hostile Wizards that they overloaded themselves with minor trinkets, polluting their True Names so thoroughly that they couldn't recover.

It's possible to create permanent magical items that don't require such a link to their wielder to function, but these usually retain a link to their creator instead. Enchanters charge pretty exorbitant rates for that, if they offer this service at all. In fact, generally the opposite is the case, and Enchanters are so cautious about scrubbing evidence of their handiwork from items that it becomes near impossible to actually find an Enchanter in the first place. Effectively, the only way for an Enchanter to avoid an item having a minor secondary attunement back to them is to erase all evidence that they exist. The best Enchanters do their work under communal pseudonyms shared by artisan's guilds, and usually work in identical masks and robes dedicated to that false identity. Effigies of the false identity are kept around their workshops, and if these start to show signs of malevolent magic being cast through the sympathetic link to one of the items forged under that name, the guilds will immediately retire that identity and commission another.

TheCountAlucard
2014-10-24, 11:28 AM
Righto. You probably want to pick a justification that fits your setting's tone. Eberron's all about dat magitek so "Magic Interference" makes sense. Likewise, a "spacial warp threat" that lets in Lovecrafties might be more at home in a World of Darkness or Exalted setting (can't think of a good D&D analogue).Exalted already has a setting justification for it - artifacts are both vanishingly rare, and attuning to them generally costs Essence, so a character with a dozen Artifacts is probably committing way too much of his character resources to shinies.

Arbane
2014-10-24, 02:19 PM
Doesn't work that way. Gold is actually worthless, beyond it being a measure of value. And that value is a measure of the time and effort it took to create a given resource, such as wizard inks and parchment. And once that resource is expended, that value is no longer part of the economy. That is why raising a person and educating a person is so freaking expensive: until their education is completed, all they do is consume resources without giving a value in return. And if after said education they fail and go and flip burgers instead of contribute and give back to the economy? That value is lost.

I regard economy as a blacker art than necromancy, but this doesn't sound right to me. "Resources" get expended all the time - you make it sound like people eating food should be driving a country to penury by 'expending resources'.

Sartharina
2014-10-24, 02:26 PM
Take your typical fantasy game world where magic items equal an increase in personal power. Also assume that magic items have some sort of a "market value", either because they can literally be bought and sold for gold, can be created or reduced to a tradable commodity, or are made from sort of universal magic essence that can be shaped into different forms.

Why wouldn't all the magic items in the world be hoarded by a select few powerful people?Because as powerful as they are, doing so would be a waste of time and money (Do they really need another two dozen +1 longswords?)


If you were the ruler of an empire and a powerful entity in your own right, why wouldn't you spend massive amounts of your nations wealth in supplying you with all the magic items you could ever use?Nope, because doing so would absolutely cripple your nation's economy. Seriously - 99.9999999% of a nation's vast wealth goes back into maintaining the nation's infrastructure, paying the civil servants, etc. They don't have 'massive amounts' of wealth available to waste of grabbing Magic Items.


Why would the BBEG ever equip his lieutenants with magic items rather than breaking them down to add another + to his own weapon?Because it's better to have a bunch of elites with minor magic items than one guy with a strong magic item. He needs enforcers.


Why wouldn't high level adventuring groups spend all of their time using scry and die tactics against other adventurers half their level to loot their magic?Because:
1. It's a serious **** move.
2. It's not worth the payoff.

Talakeal
2014-10-24, 02:41 PM
Nope, because doing so would absolutely cripple your nation's economy. Seriously - 99.9999999% of a nation's vast wealth goes back into maintaining the nation's infrastructure, paying the civil servants, etc. They don't have 'massive amounts' of wealth available to waste of grabbing Magic Items.
.

Historically the heads of nations have had massive amounts of wealth. Kings are exorbitantly rich. Some of the wealthiest people in human history have been heads of state. Emperors in the past have had massive palaces, thousands of wives and servants, and literally tons of gold to throw around. Read about some of the excesses of someone like Augustus Caesar, Czar Nicholas, Musa, King Solomon, or the Emperors of China. These people make a 20th level D&D character seem like a pauper in comparison, and if they put even a fraction of their wealth into magic items they would be all but unstoppable.


Because:
1. It's a serious **** move.
2. It's not worth the payoff.

It sure is a mean move, but then again you are an evil overlord, mean is what you are all about.
It absolutely is worth the payoff. A level 20 character is worth ~760k gp. A level 10 character is worth ~49k. A level 20 character should be able to take out a level 10 party of four with virtually zero chance of death and each time he does so he increases his total worth by over 25%.

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-10-24, 05:04 PM
@attunement:
Wealth-by-level and magic item slots are pretty much a soft attunement mechanic. You can only have X amount of magic items in a normal game, and you can use only Y of them at once. Thus, magic items having atunement requirements instead of wealth requirements doesn't actually change anything and neatly solves the issue of the wealthy having more magic items than they should - magic items would require a given level of personal power to wield correctly.

@magic item costs:
The most expensive nonepic items cost around 200.000 gp. That's equivalent to two tons of gold in game prices, or around $70 million in real life. It's also equivalent to two thousand cattle - all the livestock in an entire large village. Frankly, unless you're high level enough to benefit from such items fully, it's vastly less expensive to have a few guards with you. As in, several hundred. Even if they don't have magic items themselves, several hundred guards with heavy ranged weapons could dissuade even a high-level character. Hell, a single barrel of explosive and ethereal iron costs a lot less than that and could kill anything short of a Tippyverse-wizard.

Talakeal
2014-10-24, 05:17 PM
@attunement:
Wealth-by-level and magic item slots are pretty much a soft attunement mechanic. You can only have X amount of magic items in a normal game, and you can use only Y of them at once. Thus, magic items having atunement requirements instead of wealth requirements doesn't actually change anything and neatly solves the issue of the wealthy having more magic items than they should - magic items would require a given level of personal power to wield correctly.

@magic item costs:
The most expensive nonepic items cost around 200.000 gp. That's equivalent to two tons of gold in game prices, or around $70 million in real life. It's also equivalent to two thousand cattle - all the livestock in an entire large village. Frankly, unless you're high level enough to benefit from such items fully, it's vastly less expensive to have a few guards with you. As in, several hundred. Even if they don't have magic items themselves, several hundred guards with heavy ranged weapons could dissuade even a high-level character. Hell, a single barrel of explosive and ethereal iron costs a lot less than that and could kill anything short of a Tippyverse-wizard.


WBL isn't really any sort of limit. It completely relies on DM fiat and assumes that no character can have access to any source of revenue besides finding carefully balanced parcels of treasure in dungeons. Using in universe logic a first level prince would probably have access to more gold than even the highest level PCs, and there is nothing to stop PCs from going around robbing banks or lower level adventurers, or even bankrupting entire kingdoms once they get to a certain level of power.

Also, 70$ dollars isn't all that much when you are a world power. There are historical figures who had the equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods, and even 2 tons of gold isn't too much, Musa I is said to have taken an order of magnitude more than that with him when he travelled and crashed the economies of entire regions he went through.

Also, your price for cattle is off by about 10x, its actually 20,000 head. Even so, that isn't too ridiculous, the largest real world ranches have over twice that number in one place.

Haldir
2014-10-26, 11:58 PM
-snipping this as it just doesn't merit a response.-
Umm, what? When wa the lat time you knew how to end a rocket to the moon?

I don't know how to send a rocket to the moon, because I am a specialist in History and Philosophy, but many many many many more people do have this skill than ever before.

A much less inane analogy would have been these computers, which perform amazing feats of magic every instant of every day, and TONS of people have them.

Frozen_Feet
2014-10-27, 10:56 AM
Faulty analogy. Computers are the end product, not the knowledge how to make them. Far fewer people know how to make a computer, or even how to program one, than there are people using them. If we compare this to D&D, knowledge and skill to do something are class levels, skill points, feats and class features. Technological end products of those things, like computers, are magic items. Products of technology will always diffuse far wider than the knowledge to make them will. There are much more people alive today with ability to make computers, but that's as much a factor of population growth as it is of education.

TechnoWarforged
2014-10-28, 06:19 PM
1) The whole region is infested by zombies. Resources are scarce and most of the magic shops are closed and moved away for good, or looted by other people trying to survive and fend off the endless swarm of zombies. In fact you could barely find any food, clean water, or secure shelter.

2) The setting is in a post apolocyptic era. Anything that is actually sharp and not broken is a +4 weapon. People fight with anything they can find including pieces of lead pipes, broken glass bottles, 2x4s, sharpen pieces of wooden sticks, or just really worn and rusted weapons from previous eras.

or 3) Everything is fricking magical that it became mundane. Your 'average' sword which glows in the dark and slice through stuff like a hot knife through butter really isn't that great, can be had for 5 gp, and every household has one to chop vegtables and firewood. +1 is extrodinary magic and as such it is extremely rare.