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    Default The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Who likes the "Christmas Tree" effect in 3.5? Raise your hands. Higher... higher... could that be none of you? Could it be that you just don't know what it is? Or maybe that I can't see you through your computer screen.

    The "Christmas Tree" effect refers to 3.5's intense item dependency. To be effective in higher-level play, characters have to drape themselves in magic items-- magic weapons, magic armor, amulets of health, cloaks of resistance... all those irritatingly boring little things you need to make your numbers matter at higher levels.

    It's there, and it's real, and I hate it. Magic items should be interesting and exciting. They should give you new things. They absolutely should not be bland, universal taxes. You lose too much flavor. Worse, with the math assuming that you have all those boring items, it's extremely difficult to play low-magic games.

    So. Let's fix that. Let's write some new rules for how your power grows as you level, which will hopefully emulate the current system's numbers.

    Combat Bonuses
    Raw numerical boosts to combat abilities (attack, damage, and AC) make more sense being tied to BAB than level, methinks. It also makes full BAB a bit more important (+1 attack and damage and +3-4 AC, with current math), which can't be a bad thing.

    • You gain a competence bonus to weapon attack and damage equal to 1/3 your base attack bonus.
    • You gain a competence bonus to armor class equal to one-half your base attack bonus. This bonus applies against touch attacks, and is lost any time you would be denied your Dexterity bonus to armor class.
    • If you wield a shield, the shield bonus is increased by one point per 3 points of base attack bonus.


    {table=head]BAB|Attack and Damage|Armor|Shield
    +1|||
    +2||+1|
    +3|+1||+1
    +4||+2|
    +5|||
    +6|+2|+3|+2
    +7|||
    +8||+4|
    +9|+3||+3
    +10||+5|
    +11|||
    +12|+4|+6|+4
    +13|||
    +14||+7|
    +15|+5||+5
    +16||+8|
    +17|||
    +18|+6|+9|+6
    +19|||
    +20||+10|[/table]

    General Bonuses
    Feats, ability score enhancements, and the like do get tied to level.
    • You gain a feat every odd-numbered level.
    • At second level, you gain a +2 bonus to one ability score. This bonus improves by 2 at 6th level, and again every 6th level thereafter (14th, 20th).
    • At 8th level, pick a second ability and gain a +2 bonus to it. This bonus improves by 2 at 6th level, and again every 6th level thereafter (14th, 20th).
    • At 14th level, pick a third ability and gain a +2 bonus to it. This bonus improves by 2 at 20th level.
    • At 20th level, pick a fourth ability and gain a +2 bonus to it.
    • You gain a competence bonus to saving throws equal to one-fourth your level.
    • Every 4 levels, you gain one special ability, drawn from the list below.


    {table=head]Level|Feats|Ability Score Boosts|Saving Throws|Specials
    1|1st|||
    2||+2||
    3|2nd|||
    4||+2 |+1|1st
    5|3rd|||
    6||+4, +2||
    7|4th|||
    8||+4, +2|+2|2nd
    9|5th|||
    10||+6, +4, +2||
    11|6th|||
    12||+6, +4, +2 |+3|3rd
    13|7th|||
    14||+8, +6, +4, +2||
    15|8th|||
    16||+8, +6, +4, +2|+4|4th
    17|9th|||
    18||+10, +8, +6, +4, +2||
    19|10th|||
    20||+10, +8, +6, +4, +2|+5|5th[/table]

    Special Abilities
    Special Abilities fall into two categories: Knacks and Tricks. Knacks are special talents stemming from training, experience, and character. Tricks are minor magical effects that the character has learned during his time adventuring-- less than a spell but more than mundane. The first time a character learns a trick, he must pick one mental ability score-- Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. All subsequent tricks use that ability score when relevant. A trick's caster level is equal to one-half the character's level.

    Knacks and Tricks are sorted by level. You must be at least the indicated level to chose an ability listed therein, but you may choose lower-level abilities if you so wish. Only character levels count for the purposes of qualifying for special abilities

    Level 4 Abilities
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    Knacks
    • Aquatic Knack (Ex): You gain a swim speed equal to your base land speed. You may move and attack underwater as though under the effects of a freedom of movement spell. Finally, you do not double armor check penalty when making swim checks.
    • Ascetic’s Vow (Ex): You no longer need to eat or drink, and you only need two hours of sleep per night. You still must rest for 8 hours to prepare new spells or regain spells per day.
    • Hero’s Courage (Ex): You gain immunity to fear effects.
    • Hurt Everything (Ex): Any weapon you wield counts as magic for the purposes of bypassing damage reduction. At 5th level, and every subsequent 5th level, pick one special material. Your weapons also count as being made of that material for the purposes of bypassing damage reduction.
    • Skill Knack (Ex): Pick one skill. You gain a competence bonus to that skill equal to your character level. You may choose this Knack more than once, picking a new skill each time.
    • Ultravision (Ex): You gain low-light vision and darkvision out to 60 feet, if you do not already have them. Your darkvision range extends another 60' every 5 levels. At 10th level, you gain immunity to any vision-associated penalties from [Light] or [Dark] spells.


    Tricks
    • Elemental Weapon (Su): Pick one elemental damage type (acid, cold, electricity, or fire). As a swift action, you may cause any weapon you wield to deal +1d6 damage of the chosen type until you take another swift action to turn the ability off. While active, your weapon sheds light like a torch. At 5th level, and every subsequent 5th level, this damage improves by 1d6. Beginning at 10th level, the weapon deals an extra d10 points of elemental damage on a critical hit, or 2d10 if its critical multiplier is x3, and 3d10 if its multiplier is x4.
    • Ghost Strike (Su): As a swift action, you may charm your weapon such that it can strike and damage incorporeal creatures until you take another swift action to turn the ability off. While active, your weapon sheds light like a torch.
    • Safe Fall Charm (Sp): As an immediate action, you may reduce falling damage to 1d6 points, regardless of how many feet you have fallen. After using this ability, you may not use it again for 1 minute.



    Level 8 Abilities
    Spoiler
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    Knacks
    • Dwarven Delver (Ex): You may tunnel so fast that it boggles the mind. You gain a 10 foot burrow speed. However, you must provide the appropriate tools— shovels for dirt, picks for rock. At 15th level, your burrow speed improves to be equal to one-half your base land speed, and you no longer need tools beyond your own two hands.
    • Energy Resistance (Ex): Pick one elemental damage type (acid, cold, electricity, or fire). You gain resistance 20 against this damage type. This improves to Resistance 25 at 10th level and 30 at 12th. At 15th level, you gain immunity to your chosen damage type.
    • Heart of Lies (Ex): You are immune to detect thoughts, discern lies, and any attempt to magically discern your alignment.
    • Invulnerability (Ex): When a foe scores a critical hit or sneak attack against you, there is a chance that the critical hit or sneak attack is negated and the damage rolled normally. The chance is equal to your level times three.
    • Legendary Climber (Ex): You gain a climb speed equal to your base land speed. You also gain the Skill Knack ability for Climb. If you already had that ability, you may choose a new 4th level special ability.
    • Legendary Leaper (Ex): When making a jump check, the maximum distance you can move is always equal to your check result, regardless of whether you are making a long or high jump. You also gain the Skill Knack ability for Jump. If you already had that ability, you may choose a new 4th level special ability.
    • Ricocheting Throw (Ex): When you throw a weapon, you may cause it to fly back to the air towards you after striking its target. Catching a returning weapon when it comes back is a free action. If the character can’t catch it, or if the character has moved since throwing it, the weapon drops to the ground in the square from which it was thrown.
    • Skill Mastery (Ex): Pick one skill. When making checks with that skill, you may always take 10. You may choose this Knack more than once, picking a new skill each time.


    Tricks
    • Aligned Weapon (Su): Pick one aspect of your alignment (Good, Evil, Law, or Chaos). Any weapon you wield counts as having that alignment for the purposes of bypassing damage reduction, and deals an extra 2d6 damage against foes of the opposite alignment. At 12th level, and every subsequent 4th level, this damage improves by 1d6.
    • Ghost Armor (Su): As a swift action, you may charm your armor such that its armor bonus applies against attacks made by incorporeal creatures for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier.
    • See the Unseen (Su): As a swift action, you may grant yourself the ability to see invisible creatures, as the see invisibility spell, and magic auras, as the arcane sight spell, for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. After using this ability, you may not use it again for 10 minutes.
    • Wall Walking (Su): As a swift action, you may cause your hands and feet to stick to any surface. You gain the benefits of a spider climb spell for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. After using this ability, you may not use it again for 1 minute.
    • Water Breathing (Su): You may breathe normally underwater, as though under the effects of a water breathing spell.
    • Word of Shielding (Su): As a swift action, you may cloak yourself in protective force. You gain a deflection bonus to AC equal to one-fourth your level, rounded down, for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. After using this ability, you may not use it again for 1 minute.



    Level 12 Abilities
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    Knacks
    • Iron Defiance (Ex): Whenever you would be stunned or dazed, you instead take 2d6 nonlethal damage and ignore the stunning or dazing effect.
    • Sense the Dark (Ex): You gain 30 foot blindsense. At 20th level, this improves to blindsight.
    • Spell Resistance (Ex): You gain spell resistance equal to your level plus your Constitution modifier. Unlike other forms of spell resistance, you may allow beneficial spells to bypass your resistance.
    • Will to Live (Ex): Whenever you fail a save against a death effect, you instead take 1d6 nonlethal damage per level of the effect, and are considered to have made your save. Whenever you would be affected by a negative level, you instead take 1d6 nonlethal damage per negative level.


    Tricks
    • Deny Gravity (Sp): As a swift action, you may grant yourself a fly speed equal to your base land speed for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. This ability may only be used (Int/Wis/Cha modifier) times per day.
    • Earthglide (Su): As a swift action, you may grant yourself a burrow speed equal to your base land speed for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. You may burrow through earth and stone effortlessly, and do not need to breathe while doing so, but you do not leave a tunnel. If you are still underground at the end of the duration, you begin to suffocate. After using this ability, you may not use it again for 1 minute.
    • Floating Shield (Su): As a swift action, you may animate your shield for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. You gain the normal benefits of wielding a shield, but may use both your hands. Non-proficiency penalties, armor check penalties, arcane spell failure, and similar effects still apply.
    • Free Yourself (Su): As a swift action, you may grant yourself the benefits of a freedom of movement spell for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. This ability may only be used (Int/Wis/Cha modifier) times per day.
    • Word of Warping (Sp): As a move action, you may teleport 5 feet per level. This ability may only be used (Int/Wis/Cha modifier) times per day.



    Level 16 Abilities
    Spoiler
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    Knacks
    • Hidden Fate (Ex): You do not exist for the purposes of divination spells cast by non-divine beings. Such spells cannot target you, and cannot take your actions into account when predicting past or future events.
    • Legendary Warrior (Ex): All melee and ranged attacks made against you have a 20 percent miss chance.
    • Reflection (Ex): Once per 5 rounds, you may cause a ranged attack to rebound and strike the attacker, using the same attack roll. Once per hour, you may cause a spell to rebound on its caster, exactly like the spell turning spell.


    Tricks
    • Brilliant Energy Weapon (Su): As a swift action, you may transform any weapon you wield into light for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. While in this state, your weapon ignores nonliving matter, such as armor and shield bonuses to AC, but cannot harm undead, constructs, or objects.
    • Dancing Weapon (Su): As a swift action, you may animate your weapon for a number of rounds equal to your (Int/Wis/Cha) modifier. While dancing, it cannot make attacks of opportunity, and the person who activated it is not considered armed with the weapon. In all other respects, it is considered wielded or attended by the creature for all maneuvers and effects that target items. While dancing, it takes up the same space as the activating character and can attack adjacent foes (weapons with reach can attack opponents up to 10 feet away). The dancing weapon accompanies the person who activated it everywhere, whether she moves by physical or magical means. If the wielder who loosed it has an unoccupied hand, she can grasp it while it is attacking on its own as a free action.



    Level 20 Abilities
    Spoiler
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    Knacks
    ...

    Tricks
    ...



    One last, important note: Magic Vestment, Greater Magic Weapon, Greater Magic Fang, and similar effects should have their durations reduced to 1 minute per level. When and if magic items are made available, +X weapons and armor, stat-boosting items, cloaks of resistance and the like should not be available. Unique items may be allowed. In either case, WBL should be cut way, way down-- 1/5 the normal amount or less.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2013-05-10 at 11:24 PM.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Personally, I love the concept of getting rid of the Christmas Tree effect, so I'll be keeping an eye on this.

    Though also personally, I hate how important flight is. I wish there were solid rules for clipping the wings of conventional flyers and that non-conventional ones could be grounded with something like a failed Concentration check when damaged in the air.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    I like where this is going. My usual anti-Christmas Rules* are:

    1. No one gets 7th level spells, or spells that I haven't approved
    2. Half the MM is gone. Just...gone. Most of the monsters can't be fought except by spellcasters, and they aren't terribly interesting. I could just write better monsters on my own
    3. If a magic item gives a flat +bonus to a player's skill/ability/whathaveyou, there will always be a hilarious downside, like a magic Sword that grants a +2 to all Dex rolls, but the player/character has to sing showtunes while he uses it (makes stealth/move silently checks...interesting).

    I'll keep watch as well!

    *oh god why would I do that!?
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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Who likes the "Christmas Tree" effect in 3.5? Raise your hands. Higher... higher... could that be none of you? Could it be that you just don't know what it is? Or maybe that I can't see you through your computer screen.
    Probably that last one, but I had both hands in the air and was frantically waving them back and forth. And now everyone in the office is staring at me funny.

    The "Christmas Tree" effect refers to 3.5's intense item dependency. To be effective in higher-level play, characters have to drape themselves in magic items-- magic weapons, magic armor, amulets of health, cloaks of resistance... all those irritatingly boring little things you need to make your numbers matter at higher levels.

    It's there, and it's real, and I hate it. Magic items should be interesting and exciting. They should give you new things. They absolutely should not be bland, universal taxes. You lose too much flavor. Worse, with the math assuming that you have all those boring items, it's extremely difficult to play low-magic games.
    Or maybe I just don't understand what it is...I agree that needing magic items to add to your numbers is boring. I'd be happy to see most of the numbers come from the character, or at very least a more basic level of equipment.

    But I think that players accumulating large numbers of magic items with a variety of effects is no less of a concern. Even for common things like flight.
    Maybe we can call this the "Hanukah-bush effect".

    I'll take a closer look at your full proposal later this evening, I just wanted to put that out there.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    It's not called common because the sense is common, it's called common because it's about common things.
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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    But I think that players accumulating large numbers of magic items with a variety of effects is no less of a concern. Even for common things like flight.
    Maybe we can call this the "Hanukah-bush effect".
    Heh. But that problem is much more easily controlled-- with a system like this, the DM can throw out as many rewards as he feels are appropriate without having to worry about characters dropping off the RNG scale.

    (I would, of course, recommend a substantial change to the WBL chart with rules like this-- maybe a 5th of what the DMG says)
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2013-05-07 at 04:29 PM.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    So, another vow of poverty fix? I like it, and it would be fun to use with the rules for class based armor bonus.

    I approve of using BAB to scale the ac/attack based things.

    I don't like alternative movement and +1d6 fire damage being in the same group. What about if at 5th level you get to chose a movment type, but you get the weakest version(flight requires you fall at the end of your turn, burrow is 5ft and no tunnel, teleport is a standard action and requires line of sight,effect, and the character could get there without teleportation and is a standard action). Then at 10th level the movement improves to decent(Flight with good maneuverability, tunnel at 1/2 land speed with tunnel, teleport is Line of sight and effect as a move action). Finally at 15th level, the movement becomes really good(Flight with perfect manuverabilaty, tunnel at land speed, teleport as a swift action with line of sight).
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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Are you trying to replicate 3e balance, or are you trying to make a balanced 3e without magic items?

    If the first, why? :) And you should include comparisons of your system built characters vs traditional characters at the same level.

    If the second, you should include comparisons of your system based characters against CR appropriate challenges (including NPCs that are PCs, and Monsters).

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjadeadbeard View Post
    2. Half the MM is gone. Just...gone. Most of the monsters can't be fought except by spellcasters, and they aren't terribly interesting. I could just write better monsters on my own
    This is an important point. If I'm thinking right, half of the reason (martial) characters need so many magic items is because so many monsters have so many incredible powers. Without those magic items, the mundane martial characters have little chance of combating them successfully, and the magic-users want them to preserve their available spells.

    Perhaps a ban-list is in order?
    Last edited by Grinner; 2013-05-08 at 05:22 PM.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    OK! Added a bunch of abilities. Tell me what you think, folks, especially ye of little faith who are pointing out that mundanes need abilities from magic items, not just numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjadeadbeard View Post
    I like where this is going. My usual anti-Christmas Rules* are:
    Those are... interesting, but not... really relevant? I'm not trying to do anything about magic-using classes; I'm just working on items. The last is certainly a way to make boring items distinct, but... I want 'em gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by bobthe6th View Post
    So, another vow of poverty fix? I like it, and it would be fun to use with the rules for class based armor bonus.
    I guess it could be considered so, but it's more of a systemic revision. I figure with this, Vow of Poverty could still exist as a feat, but would provide a lot less in the way of benefits.

    I don't like alternative movement and +1d6 fire damage being in the same group....
    Scaling was always going to be a part of it-- take a look now; the better abilities don't come in until later, and some of the lesser ones scale.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Are you trying to replicate 3e balance, or are you trying to make a balanced 3e without magic items?
    I'm trying to maintain the 3.5 "balance" relative to player-verses-monster. Special abilities to replace magic items-- think of it as a working VoP. Although you'd still have plenty of money, and would probably have some magic items. Just a lot less than normal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grinner View Post
    This is an important point. If I'm thinking right, half of the reason (martial) characters need so many magic items is because so many monsters have so many incredible powers. Without those magic items, the mundane martial characters have little chance of combating them successfully, and the magic-users want them to preserve their available spells.

    Perhaps a ban-list is in order?
    a) I recommend using fixed classes for all purposes, given how crappy and ability-lacking a lot of 3.5 classes are.
    b) I've used "Special Abilities" to give characters some magic back. Flying creature? Now you can jump really high to hit it! Or use a Word of Power to grant yourself flight for a few rounds! Or just whip out a bow and have it be just as effective as your sword. Caster type? You've got elemental resistance! Or spell resistance! Or can sometimes reflect spells back on their caster!

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    All the 4th level tricks are pointless.
    "I can stop 1d6 damage, deal +1d6 damage, or ignore the 50% miss chance of some enimies! well, only a few times per pay, but still fun!"

    elemental would be better at 1d6+1d6/4 levels all the time, to even compete with hurt everything(needed for anyone trying to do any amount of damage to most mid/high level enemies).

    I think the weapon related things should be separate and BAB based. Special abilities should be pure utility/tactical movement.
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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    I'd try something like "A level X fighter or barbarian with no magic items and without heavy optimization should be able to defeat a CR X melee opponent losing on average 1/2 of his HP", or something like that. Then test the level 20 fighter or barbarian against a Dragon, a Balor, a level 20 Hydra, etc. Just a rock-em-sock-em fight.

    Do the same at a few other levels with some random monsters.

    (I'm saying fighters and barbarians because spellcasters don't really need much in the way of this kind of feature to benefit).

    Another approach, rather than running off of BaB, would be to split BaB into BaB and Combat Expertise Bonus.

    Everyone gets 1/2 BaB. CeB acts like BaB for all purposes, but also grants extra bonuses (like damage-per-hit, combat techniques, AC boost, etc).

    If you want to be even crueler, "full casters" (druids, clerics, Eldritch Knight) gain no CeB, and just gain BaB.

    "hybrid casters" like Paladin and Ranger gain 1/4 CeB and the rest BaB.

    Non-casters (fighter, barbarian, rogue, monk) gain 1/2 CeB and the rest BaB.

    That lets you grant the bonuses to attacks/damage/attributes/AC/saves to the non-caster classes preferably. You could make these bonuses (Ex) enhancement bonuses, so buffs like Magic Weapon or Owl's Wisdom doesn't stack with them (and they can be much larger than either of those two if you'd like).

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by bobthe6th View Post
    All the 4th level tricks are pointless.
    "I can stop 1d6 damage, deal +1d6 damage, or ignore the 50% miss chance of some enimies! well, only a few times per pay, but still fun!"

    elemental would be better at 1d6+1d6/4 levels all the time, to even compete with hurt everything(needed for anyone trying to do any amount of damage to most mid/high level enemies).

    I think the weapon related things should be separate and BAB based. Special abilities should be pure utility/tactical movement.
    They're meant to be at-will-- I'll make a note of that. And you're right, they should scale, at least a little bit.

    Hurt Anything shouldn't be too necessary, I don't think-- this isn't Vow of Poverty, so you can carry around your adamantine weapon, and your silvered weapon, and your cold iron weapon, and you don't need to worry about enchanting them all. And a survey of 50 random monsters, 5 each from CR 5, 7, 10, and 12, found only 5 with DR magic, most of those dragons.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2013-05-08 at 08:22 PM.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    except incorporeal, were it forces it(difference between ghost touch and magic weapon, the later is necessary to fight some monsters, the first is nice when fighting said monsters.)
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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Some ideas from my own in-progress remake that were inspired by ideas of this sort (and may provide ideas to help here):

    1. Rather than ability score boosts with fairly complicated rules regarding caps, why not just give a certain number of points per level (probably proportional to the level) to be used to increase existing scores as per point buy (extending the existing progression, whether using D&D or Pathfinder point buy)? It would probably be better for MAD classes (and we know they need the help), by making it easier to increase your lower scores.
    2. If you do that, it might make sense for special abilities to draw from the same pool. This also allows special abilities to be more variable in value, so you can have abilities that can be taken more than once at an increasing cost each time. Some fairly weak non-fighter feats (such as Run) might also be made into special abilities; combat feats could then be based on BAB, with other noncombat feats either being strengthened enough to become class features (e.g. skill focus or non-overpowered metamagic), or ditched entirely (if they're too weak such as toughness or too strong such as Quicken Spell).
    3. Rather than increasing saving throws with character level, wouldn't it be simpler just to boost save progressions across the board?

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Handful of quick thoughts.

    On armour - you might look at the Defense Bonus variant rules.

    One thing I considered with ability score boosts by level is having a "At level X, boost Y scores" - something like "At levels 2 MOD 6, boost 1 ability score by 1; at levels 4 MOD 6, boost 2 ability scores by 1; at levels 0 MOD 6, boost 3 ability scores by one." Might be simpler to keep track of, assuming your players know what MOD means, as they wouldn't have to deal with "The last time I raised my INT was at level... uh... I forget..."

    I'm a little unclear on the entire "Tricks and knacks" section -
    Magic items should be interesting and exciting. They should give you new things
    - maybe I'm missing something, but that whole section seems to be trying to take the "New Things" out of items, as well.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    I like the idea of.

    Not next PbP, but maybe the next next one I start as DM: I'll playtest these with a houserule.

    There are +1 weapons and armor, can't get past that (barring Bane, GMW/MV, etc boosting spells [well GMW overlaps but it does bypass being +1]).

    Double gp market cost past +1 bonus to keep WBL balance (since they already get untyped level bonus). So most of wealth will be spent on utility since they already get defenses (well in theory, but they might just spend it on other defenses).

    Seeing as your level based bonuses to saves are competence bonus they stack with cloak: you should make them resistance bonuses.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    The idea is that +X weapons, cloaks of resistance, stat-boosting items and the like are not just expensive, but not available.

    Yitzi, not a bad point about remembering when you boosted an ability. Maybe I'll just copy VoP's structure (+X, +X-2, +X-4...).

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Yitzi, not a bad point about remembering when you boosted an ability. Maybe I'll just copy VoP's structure (+X, +X-2, +X-4...).
    That was FreakyCheeseMan's point; my idea was to use an extension of point buy.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Premise #1:
    Treasure is not bad; it is a good motivator when it is meaningful and not-boring.
    Premise #2:
    The christmass-tree effect makes treasure boring. That's because it focuses only on money, mostly on numerical bonuses and mostly on items that become more important than your character themselves.
    Premise #3:
    Your character being able to do awesome things is better than him having stuff. Awesome stuff -items that do truly magical things rather than boosting mundane things- further increase the awesomeness.


    Ergo;


    Rule of Heroic Prowess
    Due to training, magic, exceptional ancestry or divine favor, heroic individuals are plain better than common mortals. Each level they get 4 points to spend however they wish on the following bonuses; enhancement bonus to individual ability scores, enhancement bonus to attack/damage, enhancement bonus to armor AC, enhancement bonus to shield AC, enhancement bonus to natural armor AC, enhancement bonus to deflection AC, resistance bonus to individual saves and competence bonus to skills (1 point per +3 bonus on the latter)
    The maximum bonus is equal to 1/3 one's total level (rounded down). Points can be saved over levels to be spent later. Being enhancement bonuses, they don't stack with such bonuses from spells. Bonuses can be retrained at a rate of 1 point per week spent training, researching, praying and the like.
    Special: Characters benefitting from this rule cannot benefit from stat-boosting items and the reverse.

    Rule of Rituals
    Some sufficiently powerful magics can be learned as rituals, permanent magics that confer a given ability to an individual; an assassin might eventually learn how to become invisible, a wizard might develop telekinetic abilities, a blackguard might be bestowed with immunity to energy drain or poison, a fighter with a red-blue uniform could spontaneously develop flight under the light of the yellow sun.
    A ritual costs twice as much to learn and cast as an equivalent item and doesn't take up a specific slot on the body. A character might have a number of rituals active at a time equal to 1/2 her class level, max 6, though there is no upper limit to the number of rituals beyond the cost. A character can reconfigure active rituals after an 8-hour rest.
    Special: Only characters that use the "Rule of Heroic Prowess" can employ rituals.

    Rule of Artifacts
    A character can have one or more items of awesome power, gained as quest rewards or under special circumstances. Such artifacts usually don't boost a character's abilities directly but have powers that alter the campaign world or break specific rules. Examples include a warding stone that can protect a large area, a crown that allows a vampire and all its armies to walk in broad daylight, a strange book that can answer any questions about the Abyss or the Nine hells truthfully, an ancient armor that protects the wearer from the powers of gods/BBEGs so the god/BBEG can be fought in a standard fight and so on and so forth.
    Artifacts are awesome at a price; they all require a sacrifice or have some drawback in line with their benefit. A character may employ more or more powerful artifacts than is wise, if he's willing to pay such price.
    Special: If both the "Rule of Rituals" and "Rule of Heroic Prowess" are used, artifacts and intelligent items should be the only items in your campaign.


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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    That was FreakyCheeseMan's point; my idea was to use an extension of point buy.
    Whoops. FreakyCheeseMan, good point. Updated with a modified version of the VoP progression.

    Quote Originally Posted by Belial_the_Leveler View Post
    stuff
    Um... OK? Did you mean to post this in a new thread?
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2013-05-10 at 10:34 AM.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Some thoughts for you Grod. I'm not sure what balance you're aimed at though, so apologies if I'm suggesting things above what you're looking for.

    • Low light vision is a terrible level 4 benefit since you could have that at level 1 with proper race choice and not even care about the option here. It's especially bad next to things like "immune to fear" and "don't need to eat anymore". May I suggest "Ultravision: You gain low-light vision and darkvision out to 60 feet, if you do not already have them. Your darkvision range extends another 60' every 5 levels. Additionally, you may make a saving through against [light] and [darkness] effects to avoid suffering any penalties associated with vision." or something similar.
    • The weapon ones (elemental weapon, ghost strike, etc.) that require a swift action for a set duration seems a bit heavy handed. On top of being a nerf to any martial class that actually has a use for their swift actions, it's a weird power shift if a fight runs too long. I think you're maybe concerned about people stacking the weapon powers together, but if that's the case a "you may activate a weapon power as a free action, but it replaces any other active weapon power" style of line should cover it without causing them to lose power around half the time.
    • Ghost strike could probably use some scaling, as it looks a bit sad without it next to elemental weapon.
    • Same with Aligned Weapon.
    • Legendary Leaper is useless without Skill Knack because the jump skill scales that terribly. Please roll them together.
    • Energy Resistance and Invulnerability might benefit from an "every 5 levels your base value increases by X" style of scaling to reduce fiddliness.
    • Earthglide may as well have the int/wis/cha mod times per day limit like the other mobility options at that level. Seems out of place for a substantial benefit.


    More generally, I'm concerned about the lack of scaling AC bonuses and the availability of miss chances. Some of the bigger creatures have ridiculous attack routines, and there's nothing here to assist with that. It looks like an oversight that will turn into a melee nerf. I know you want to avoid the tree, but adding a built in magic and deflection bonus to AC progression to the chart is something worth considering I think, particularly since you have one for the removed save bonuses. Not sure the removed attack bonuses are worth re-adding though, since there's a few new damage sources in here.
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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by tarkisflux View Post
    Low light vision is a terrible level 4 benefit since you could have that at level 1 with proper race choice and not even care about the option here. It's especially bad next to things like "immune to fear" and "don't need to eat anymore". May I suggest "Ultravision: You gain low-light vision and darkvision out to 60 feet, if you do not already have them. Your darkvision range extends another 60' every 5 levels. Additionally, you may make a saving through against [light] and [darkness] effects to avoid suffering any penalties associated with vision." or something similar.
    I like it. I'm stealing it.

    The weapon ones (elemental weapon, ghost strike, etc.) that require a swift action for a set duration seems a bit heavy handed. On top of being a nerf to any martial class that actually has a use for their swift actions, it's a weird power shift if a fight runs too long. I think you're maybe concerned about people stacking the weapon powers together, but if that's the case a "you may activate a weapon power as a free action, but it replaces any other active weapon power" style of line should cover it without causing them to lose power around half the time.
    Actually, I was thinking more about flavor. Shout a Word of Power and your sword bursts into flame, that sort of thing. It felt like it should have a duration, and a swift action activation was kind of automatic. But if it's a balance issue... how 'bout if it's a swift action to toggle on and off?

    • Ghost strike could probably use some scaling, as it looks a bit sad without it next to elemental weapon.
    • Same with Aligned Weapon.
    Yeah. I could scale the damage on Aligned Weapon; not sure what Ghost Strike can improve to, though.

    Legendary Leaper is useless without Skill Knack because the jump skill scales that terribly. Please roll them together.
    Good idea.

    Energy Resistance and Invulnerability might benefit from an "every 5 levels your base value increases by X" style of scaling to reduce fiddliness.
    Every 2 levels it goes up by 5?

    [QUOTE]Earthglide may as well have the int/wis/cha mod times per day limit like the other mobility options at that level. Seems out of place for a substantial benefit.[/list]
    I'm sorry, I don't follow. Are you saying that it should or shouldn't have a limit?

    More generally, I'm concerned about the lack of scaling AC bonuses and the availability of miss chances. Some of the bigger creatures have ridiculous attack routines, and there's nothing here to assist with that. It looks like an oversight that will turn into a melee nerf. I know you want to avoid the tree, but adding a built in magic and deflection bonus to AC progression to the chart is something worth considering I think, particularly since you have one for the removed save bonuses. Not sure the removed attack bonuses are worth re-adding though, since there's a few new damage sources in here.
    The potentially-plus-16-competence bonus isn't enough? I guess I could add a scaling swift action deflect bonus thing. Miss chance... I went back and forth, but I decided not to. It seemed, I dunno, too good... but I can put it back in. A 16th level ability, do you think? Or does it need to go down to 12th?

    Also, not sure what you mean by "you have one for the removed save bonuses."

    Also also, any suggestions for 20th level abilities?

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Happy to have offered something worth stealing :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Actually, I was thinking more about flavor. Shout a Word of Power and your sword bursts into flame, that sort of thing. It felt like it should have a duration, and a swift action activation was kind of automatic. But if it's a balance issue... how 'bout if it's a swift action to toggle on and off?
    Depending on what happens to it when you sheathe it, you may be asking martial adepts to choose between activating a stance or their weapon, or just have them walk around with both active all the time. I don't think it's a large problem, but I'm not sure it's intended.

    Ghost Strike could get a specialized Bane style effect + minor scaling probably. Or that explode undead enchantment maybe, if you were willing to have it a bit undead focused.

    Boosting resistance by 5 from a base 5 every 2 levels would be ok, or boosting it by 10 every 5 levels. Either one really, it's just that the per level scaling was a bit odd and would give multiples not otherwise seen in writeups (not that there's anything wrong with that per se).

    On earthglide, it's useable per minute while the other ones are useable per day. The per day limit seems more appropriate I think, given the relative utility of earthglide vs. teleport 5' vs. flight. It was mostly a consistency change though, I don't actually have a problem with any of those on a per minute recharge at that level and would have gone that way instead.

    On AC, I made a rather dumb mistake. I completely forgot about the first table and just looked at the second because it had the save bonuses in there. So... yeah. You have plenty of bonuses and don't need deflection with your touch attack note. Please disregard my nonsensical comments on that part... though merging the tables for fewer things to look at might be nice eventually.

    Also also, any suggestions for 20th level abilities?
    Not off hand, but I'll let you know if anything comes up.
    Last edited by tarkisflux; 2013-05-11 at 12:27 AM.
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    I prefer higher powered games, do not consider magic to be "special", and want non-casters to have similar levels of utility. If you haven't clearly said what your balance goals are, my suggestions generally reflect that. I'm pretty good with other balance points too though, so if I'm offering OP advice, let me know and I'll fix that.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Um... OK? Did you mean to post this in a new thread?
    It was sort of a commentary through posting how I would do things. There are a couple of armor bonuses you didn't account for for example -deflection and natural armor- without which AC will lag considerably compared to monster attacks.

    Also, a standard list of a couple dozen bonuses only one of which can be chosen at a given level cannot account for the flexibility and utility expected by items; if a guy wants the utility provided by a Hat of Disguise, a Broom of Flying (giving overland flight for hours), a Ring of Invisibility or a Ring of Telekinesis, where will he find them? What about the hundreds of other similar items? Last but not least, if special item effects are time-limited and ability-dependent, then you greatly limit their utility and you also prevent specific character builds from getting some abilities.
    IMHO it is better to simply say "people can get item effects as rituals" than try to make a very narrow table.




    All in all, I'd really want to see the "Christmas Tree" effect gone, but not at the cost of characters losing access to all the utilities they can now get or to tying up said utilities in a very narrow table.


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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    So, a cursory look seems like most of these are pretty good. Haven't doublechecked the math in detail, but other than that it should be OK. One exception: Spell Resistance, at present, is basically uselessly useless. At the level you get it, having +4 Con is a pretty decent accomplishment for most characters, but having SR of 4+level is terrible; at best, that only stops 15% of an equal-leveled caster's SR:Yes spells, but a mere Spell Penetration cuts that to 5%, and adding Greater Spell Penetration, an ioun stone, an extra level, or whatever means it's 0%. Never mind the fact that, at higher levels of op, an enemy could just use true casting or assay spell resistance and negate your SR from 5-10 levels lower!

    Instead, I suggest 5+level+Con mod; this is not as good as most racial abilities for this, but it's not completely terribad either. Alternatively, if the balance point is "actually more awesome than part of an LA +2 race", 8+level+Con or 10+level+Con would probably work as well without knocking things off the RNG.

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    Ranged trip works OK to force winged flyers to stall. Does require a somewhat unusual setup, but it's not impossible.
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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    All the indicated levels for stat boosts need some loving, like where it says choose a stat at 8th level and improve it at 6 level.

    I assume that you get one special ability at every 4th level? So I have to choose 1 knack or 1 trick -- not 1 of each?

    A lot of these special abilities have scaling at strange levels, like gaining the ability at level 4 and then they immediately improve at 5. I'd like to see these progressions smoothed out if you get the time.

    EDIT:

    I've been thinking about this all morning. I really like these rules and would like to play a game under them, but I'm not sure I like where the Knacks and Tricks are going.

    To be in line with the rest of your fix, I think you should focus more of the special abilities towards the the items that are no longer available. Namely, weapon/armor enhancements. I see that you have a lot of that in there already, such as the elemental weapon, fortification effect, and skill boost. But it also has a lot of stuff that replaces the magic items of the "not boring stat tax" types.

    I would like to see the following purposes for special abilities in more or less this order of importance:
    -Replace lost gear enhancements
    -Replace lost skill enhancements
    -Some alternatives for character types who wouldn't invest in these sorts of things anyway -- this is mostly mages, though, who already have the lowest item dependence. Replacing Pearls of Power with bonus slot special abilities may not be a bad direction.

    A fighter with a +5 worth of weapon and armor enhancements (under normal rules, so at least a +6 total bonus to both) will actually have a lot of neat effects he can pull out, and I'm afraid he would be statistically superior, but with less tricks, under the current Special Ability system.
    Last edited by Pechvarry; 2013-05-11 at 09:12 AM.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by tarkisflux View Post
    Depending on what happens to it when you sheathe it, you may be asking martial adepts to choose between activating a stance or their weapon, or just have them walk around with both active all the time. I don't think it's a large problem, but I'm not sure it's intended.
    Yeah, I guess that's true.

    Ghost Strike could get a specialized Bane style effect + minor scaling probably. Or that explode undead enchantment maybe, if you were willing to have it a bit undead focused.
    Not a bad idea.

    On earthglide, it's useable per minute while the other ones are useable per day. The per day limit seems more appropriate I think, given the relative utility of earthglide vs. teleport 5' vs. flight. It was mostly a consistency change though, I don't actually have a problem with any of those on a per minute recharge at that level and would have gone that way instead.
    I didn't give it a per-day limit because it didn't feel as powerful as the others.

    On AC, I made a rather dumb mistake. I completely forgot about the first table and just looked at the second because it had the save bonuses in there. So... yeah. You have plenty of bonuses and don't need deflection with your touch attack note. Please disregard my nonsensical comments on that part... though merging the tables for fewer things to look at might be nice eventually.
    The tables are separate because one scales by BAB, and the other by level.


    Quote Originally Posted by Belial_the_Leveler View Post
    It was sort of a commentary through posting how I would do things. There are a couple of armor bonuses you didn't account for for example -deflection and natural armor- without which AC will lag considerably compared to monster attacks.

    Also, a standard list of a couple dozen bonuses only one of which can be chosen at a given level cannot account for the flexibility and utility expected by items; if a guy wants the utility provided by a Hat of Disguise, a Broom of Flying (giving overland flight for hours), a Ring of Invisibility or a Ring of Telekinesis, where will he find them? What about the hundreds of other similar items? Last but not least, if special item effects are time-limited and ability-dependent, then you greatly limit their utility and you also prevent specific character builds from getting some abilities.
    IMHO it is better to simply say "people can get item effects as rituals" than try to make a very narrow table.
    a) I'd rather see the bulk of your abilities come from your class
    b) You can still use rings, wondrous items, and the like along with these bonuses. They're primarily supposed to replace the "necessary" magic items.

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    So, a cursory look seems like most of these are pretty good. Haven't doublechecked the math in detail, but other than that it should be OK. One exception: Spell Resistance, at present, is basically uselessly useless.
    Whoops. I'll do something about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pechvarry View Post
    All the indicated levels for stat boosts need some loving, like where it says choose a stat at 8th level and improve it at 6 level.
    You find the scaling too slow?

    I assume that you get one special ability at every 4th level? So I have to choose 1 knack or 1 trick -- not 1 of each?
    Yes, you only get one.

    A lot of these special abilities have scaling at strange levels, like gaining the ability at level 4 and then they immediately improve at 5. I'd like to see these progressions smoothed out if you get the time.
    I'll take a look.

    EDIT:

    I've been thinking about this all morning. I really like these rules and would like to play a game under them, but I'm not sure I like where the Knacks and Tricks are going.

    To be in line with the rest of your fix, I think you should focus more of the special abilities towards the the items that are no longer available. Namely, weapon/armor enhancements. I see that you have a lot of that in there already, such as the elemental weapon, fortification effect, and skill boost. But it also has a lot of stuff that replaces the magic items of the "not boring stat tax" types.
    I did go through the lists, at least the ones in the DMG, and I grabbed the abilities I thought were interesting, and that could not be duplicated by feats (since you now get twice as many feats as you do powers)

    -Some alternatives for character types who wouldn't invest in these sorts of things anyway -- this is mostly mages, though, who already have the lowest item dependence. Replacing Pearls of Power with bonus slot special abilities may not be a bad direction.
    Worth considering.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I didn't give it a per-day limit because it didn't feel as powerful as the others.
    I guess I think diggletting is more awesome than you do. 120' (approximately) run through solid stone for a few rounds a minute is something I'd compare pretty favorably with a move action 60' teleport (at the level acquired) or a fly speed. It's useful in different situations, certainly (like the underdark or bank heists), but I don't think it's less powerful in general and it has a much more generous limit than the rest. Since I can still grab the rest of the effects in alternate item format, I'd probably take it most of the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    The tables are separate because one scales by BAB, and the other by level.
    Missed the scaling differences actually, or maybe actively ignored it because I think it weird. The implication is that wizards don't buy amulets of natural armor or rings of deflection at the same rate as their full BAB counterparts, rogues and clerics don't enhance their weapons at the same rate as the full BAB guys, and so on. It causes mid bab types to fall behind on their hits a bit, which they were already mixed on. There are also weird interactions with divine power and other BAB boosting thingies, where they have to go back and look up revised values. I'm not sure I see the point of scaling it separately like this when the BAB progression, armor proficiency, feat selection, and attribute differences are already there.
    Last edited by tarkisflux; 2013-05-12 at 06:12 PM.
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    I prefer higher powered games, do not consider magic to be "special", and want non-casters to have similar levels of utility. If you haven't clearly said what your balance goals are, my suggestions generally reflect that. I'm pretty good with other balance points too though, so if I'm offering OP advice, let me know and I'll fix that.

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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Can you give a definite treasure allotment under those rules so we can test how they work, especially at higher levels?


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    Default Re: The War Against the Christmas Tree-- Eliminating Magic Item Dependency (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjadeadbeard View Post
    I like where this is going. My usual anti-Christmas Rules* are:

    1. No one gets 7th level spells, or spells that I haven't approved
    2. Half the MM is gone. Just...gone. Most of the monsters can't be fought except by spellcasters, and they aren't terribly interesting. I could just write better monsters on my own
    3. If a magic item gives a flat +bonus to a player's skill/ability/whathaveyou, there will always be a hilarious downside, like a magic Sword that grants a +2 to all Dex rolls, but the player/character has to sing showtunes while he uses it (makes stealth/move silently checks...interesting).

    I'll keep watch as well!

    *oh god why would I do that!?
    Something important to note about #2:
    I feel that if you wouldn't allow a player to play a monster at a level equal to it's CR then it's CR may need to be evaluated.

    Also I strongly support the idea of the OP but I just can't think of much in the way of implementation.
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