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- Nov 2008
"Paying" for Magic Items with Favors .. E6 & 3.5 DnD
First, some ranting, theory, and definitions:
My Rant Regarding Gold in DnD...
Your team may need 50,000 gold pieces to afford a particular piece of equipment.. but they don't have any gold. QQ :(
Traditional games will then have you go out and earn the gold by looting monsters, or have someone hire them for a task paying 50,000 gold, which can then be spent to get the item... or the DM will arbitrarily assign a task that will earn them the item.
The real problem is DnD has never successfully placed a monetary value on what adventurers do... it's all left strictly to a DM... killing something can earn the party 1 copper piece, or an entire kingdom. It's arbitrary.
If you are content with this, then great. What I have below scales what a party does compared to what they want for it... an effective by-level barter system.
A Brief Rambling on WHY Arbitrary Rewards is Wrong
What happens when a 2nd level party gets 100,000 gold?
1. The party buys a bunch of OP gear and romps for the next 4 levels
2. the DM has to come up with all sorts of rationalizations as to why the party can't use the gold for #1 even though the somehow got it.
Both of these are Bad Gaming. The easy answer is, "don't let them get 100,000 gold"... but to maintain standard campaign integrity; the gold is out there. A savvy team WILL get it, and the DM is now backpeddling.
What really makes this trouble is that things like a pair of socks, a hot meal, or basic room and board is measured in the same currency as a scroll of resurrection... at the core, 10 years of upper class lifestyle costs the same as that high-level scroll.. which also means this scroll is worth 10 years of upper class lifestyle. (subtle inference there... the currency system is broken)
Core Mechanic: Influence Points:
A 3rd party company I highly recommend is Second World Simulations.
They developed a concept called "Influence Points"(IP) that replace coins... basically, one IP is worth 1000 gp. This allows game environments lacking currency to have something measurable to trade... that 50k item you want to acquire is now worth 50IP... but again; how many IP you get for playing is TOTALLY up to the DM.
It may be obvious, but is critical to note that a party can GIVE IP as well as receive it... your team may not ever have 50,000 gold... yet it is "required" to have it (or the equivalent) to get that 50k item.
So here is the solution:
All "big stuff" things like fortresses, fantastic vehicles, magic items.. the "non mundane stuff" that is typically beyond the reach of normal, non-heroes are measured by Influence Points(IP), while the mundane things stay in gold currency.
This means a 15th level wizard can have incredible gear, a posh tower, and only about 500 gold in his private bank (which is a fortune to nearly everyone else on the planet)
The trouble is the IP mechanic not scaling with levels... what a level 2 character can offer is nothing compared to what a level 15 character can offer... or a full TEAM of level 15 characters versus a single level 15 character
The proper use of Influence Points:Challenge Rating Matrix
IP should NOT be a direct ratio commodity.. it scales in relation to the appropriate level of power / acquisition for the item in question... IP for a low level magic item is "less valuable" than IP for a high level magic item. We use the Challenge Rating mechanic for right-sizing encounters to Right-Size things a hero can potentially obtain.
this "potential" is the real kicker... IP translates into, "what does it take" to get something.
TL:DR.. Let's look at some examples:
Rings of Protection
+1 = 2,000 gold, caster level 5
+3 = 18,000 gold, caster level 9
+5 = 50,000 gold, caster level 15
One Influence Point (IP) = 1000 gold
Caster Level sets the "CR" for the item...
Ring of Protection+1
ROP+1 = base CR5 for 2 IP
Using basic CR stacking from the DMG:
1 IP = CR5
2 IP = CR6
To "earn" a Ring of Protection +1, it will take completing a CR6 encounter.
Ring of Protection +3
ROP+3 = base CR9 for 18 IP
Using basic CR stacking form the DMG:
1 IP = CR9
2 IP = CR10
4 IP = CR11
8 IP = CR12
16 IP = CR13
To "earn" a Ring of Protection +3 requires a task equal to a CR13 challenge.
Ring of Protection +5
ROP +5 = base CR15 for 50 IP
1 IP = CR15
2 IP = CR16
4 IP = CR17
8 IP = CR18
16 IP = CR19
32 IP = CR20
64 IP = CR21
To "earn" a Ring of Protection +5 requires a task equal to a CR20-21.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
This system is designed to assign reasonable tasks for the team to perform to get things you don't have resources to use... all the above have been keyed off of an individual's efforts. Lets look at a team of 4 adventurers though...
for an individual:
ROP+1 = CR6
ROP+3 = CR 13
ROP+5 = CR 20
but we should assume the entire team will participate together (because DnD is a team sport)
This means more of the party resources are being devoted to achieve the task... this lowers the actual "cost"...
1 CR6 = 2 CR5 = 4CR4.
ROP+1 becomes a CR4 event for the party of 4.
ROP+3 becomes CR11 for the whole party .. or 2 CR10 or 4 CR9
ROP+5 becomes CR18 for the whole party.. or 2 CR17 or 4 CR16
These challenges could be anything, really... a particluar archmage is known to have a powerful Ring you could perhaps steal or win from him... who knows. whatever the DM wants regarding this...
what this does is quickly makes it too difficult or too tedious to get items that are above your current level... I'm running an E6 game right now, which is capped at level 6... but with circle magic and rituals, it is possible to make anything... but the amount of specialization and circumstances around, say, crafting a ROP+3 are extreme... you have to have a cabal of casters using circle magic to boost up to level 9 casting power for the length of creating the spell... this would mean even at level 6 (the highest level you can achieve); a team of 4 will need to defeat a CR11 challenge (nearly suicidal!) or
1 CR11 = 2 CR10 = 4 CR9 = 8 CR8 = 16 CR7 = 32 CR6 encounters!!!
It is either far too dangerous or too impractical to earn that ring!
This system can be used literally, or it can be used to simply gauge whether an item is "reasonable" for your characters to have.
A good "eyeballing" rule is that if it would take a challenge 3+ levels higher than the party / 4 encounters of equal level to earn an item at the current character level: it is too OP for a character to have now, and should not be in the game yet.
This does NOT scale well vs epic costs at all.. the ELH money system is further broken to keep epic equipment out of non epic hands... If you ignore epic costs, and simply extrapolate epic gear from non-epic equipment; this system will continue to scale properly.
Just more ideas to make DnD a bit more logical in processing.
Comments questions criticisms welcome.
Last edited by fil kearney; 2011-02-16 at 02:51 PM.