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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Christmas tree effect

    What exactly is the christmas tree supposed to cover/provide by the time a character reaches 20th level?

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    +5 Resistance bonus to saves
    +6/+4 enhancement bonuses to various ability scores (PC dependent)
    24/7 Flight, Freedom of Movement, Mind Blank, & True Seeing
    Some more immunities (say immunity to Blindness and Stun)
    Tactical Teleportation
    Miss Chance

    Read The list of necessary items for more

    Edit: Later today if I remember I will copy paste my sample set for a 20th level Warrior type character.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2016-07-27 at 01:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Out of the loop.

    Christmas tree?

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Albions_Angel View Post
    Out of the loop.

    Christmas tree?
    Magic items glow (either under detect magic or naturally). D&D characters end up with so many magic items that they look like a christmas tree (which is similarly adorned with glowing decorations).
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
    \ˈgrā-tər \
    comparative adjective
    1. Describing basically the exact same monster but with twice the RHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Magic items glow (either under detect magic or naturally). D&D characters end up with so many magic items that they look like a christmas tree (which is similarly adorned with glowing decorations).
    This.

    In more classical high fantasy, the heroes have one or two magical objects that are closely tied to their legacy. Thor has Mjollnir. Arthur has Excalibur. Bilbo has the Ring. Some don't even have any magic items, and are still awesome.

    The derogatory term "Christmas Tree effect" refers to the fact that, compared to these epic, classic heroes, a high-level D&D character is blinged out like a badly-coordinated WoW avatar, covered from head to toe in magical this and epic that. Purples and oranges and greens, oh my! And it's necessary, too - as OldTrees points out, there's an entire list of stuff that you basically have to have to be truly effective at high levels, which means you need two rings, a necklace, a cape, a breastplate, some boots, and so forth, all with about six different adjectives on 'em. The system assumes this - implicit in WBL is the assumption that you are spending that money on equipment and items.

    All of which light up under pretty much any magical sensor.
    My headache medicine has a little "Ex" inscribed on the pill. It's not a brand name; it's an indicator that it works inside an Anti-Magic Field.

    Blue text means sarcasm. Purple text means evil. White text is invisible.

    My signature got too big for its britches. So now it's over here!

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    I am certain that using Magic Aura brings the effect sooner.

    The funny thing is that almost all of these effects come as class features for a Wizard.
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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    It might be interesting to see a setting that is not a deliberate D&D expy (and particularly is not a parody) wherein the standard adventurer is, in fact, decked out with lots of magic items. A handful he uses all the time, plus a lot of incidentals.

    Or where they simply explain things like the seemingly-standard ability to jump at least to building-roof height, to avoid more than cosmetic harm from blasts of extreme, steel-melting heat or the like, and otherwise shake off things which should be harmful or overcome obstacles with superhuman capability all be explained by static magic items.

    "I saw you jump over that wall on your way in! Why can't you get back out the same way?" "They took my boots of striding and springing."

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It might be interesting to see a setting that is not a deliberate D&D expy (and particularly is not a parody) wherein the standard adventurer is, in fact, decked out with lots of magic items. A handful he uses all the time, plus a lot of incidentals.
    I've only read a couple of Jack Vance stories, and those long ago, but my vague recollection is that, in addition to the more famous stuffing their brains with one-use spells, wizards also had a habit of wearing a fair number of magic items, too. But still not anything like a D&D adventurer.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It might be interesting to see a setting that is not a deliberate D&D expy (and particularly is not a parody) wherein the standard adventurer is, in fact, decked out with lots of magic items. A handful he uses all the time, plus a lot of incidentals.
    The urban fantasy Watches series by Sergei Lukyanenko is like this. The characters involved are mostly spellcasters, but the books explicitly state that they carry various charms, wards, and other enchanted items in addition to using their spells.
    Last edited by Flickerdart; 2016-07-27 at 04:04 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
    \ˈgrā-tər \
    comparative adjective
    1. Describing basically the exact same monster but with twice the RHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    OH! I understand. Never heard the term before but I obviously understand the concept.

    Interesting point about how true "high fantasy" chars dont end up looking like xmas trees. Couple of points to think of though. First is, sometimes that isnt true. Look at Frodo in just the movies. Mythril chainmail, magic ring of invisibility, with a tracking and farseeing spell on it too, a magical sword, cloak that gave at least +5 to hide and granted concealment in the open, a phial of magical star goo, a reskinned box of goodberries (the bread that seemingly provides endless nourishment). He fairly lit up.

    The second is that dont 3.5e games NOW almost always take place in super high magic settings? In the same way that 32pt buy was considered high powered when the DMG was written, but is now your basic, go to system, with games playing right the way up to 60pt buy gestalt? Sure, the christmas tree effect exists, and is necessary in current games, but isnt it also totally of our own making?

    In fact, I think our standard games are generally higher in magic in general. I mean I never saw gandalf downing nazghul with lightning bolts, but he was the most powerful wizard in middle earth at the time. Our wizards would just teleport the ring into the core of the planet, or onto another plane of existence, or laugh when someone said it can only be destroyed in lava and simply atomize it in some way. I cant think of many universes where people have that kind of power. Harry Potter is one, and most wizards there seem to have an almost endless supply of magical items in their pockets. Star Wars is another, and tech replaces most magic there. Again, most man chars have a handful of grenades, blasters, grappling hooks, tracking devices, med kits, etc.

    Seems to me, most high fantasy deals with different races rather than magical power. And the few that do have all sorts of aids for people.

    Even Mistborn did it. The alomancers were our sorcs and wizards, able to use magic directly. To keep up, the Feuchemists had bracers of strength, dex, con, wis, int and cha. Looked at from that perspective, it doesnt seem so bad.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Albions_Angel View Post
    The second is that dont 3.5e games NOW almost always take place in super high magic settings?
    This has always been the case.

    In the same way that 32pt buy was considered high powered when the DMG was written, but is now your basic, go to system, with games playing right the way up to 60pt buy gestalt?
    32PB provides stats that are comparable to rolled stats. The default stat generation method was rolled stats. So the total ability scores haven't changed.

    Sure, the christmas tree effect exists, and is necessary in current games, but isnt it also totally of our own making?
    No, it exists so that Mr No-Magic can adventure with the Sorcerer Supreme.

    In fact, I think our standard games are generally higher in magic in general. I mean I never saw gandalf downing nazghul with lightning bolts, but he was the most powerful wizard in middle earth at the time. Our wizards would just teleport the ring into the core of the planet, or onto another plane of existence, or laugh when someone said it can only be destroyed in lava and simply atomize it in some way. I cant think of many universes where people have that kind of power. Harry Potter is one, and most wizards there seem to have an almost endless supply of magical items in their pockets. Star Wars is another, and tech replaces most magic there. Again, most man chars have a handful of grenades, blasters, grappling hooks, tracking devices, med kits, etc.

    Seems to me, most high fantasy deals with different races rather than magical power. And the few that do have all sorts of aids for people.

    Even Mistborn did it. The alomancers were our sorcs and wizards, able to use magic directly. To keep up, the Feuchemists had bracers of strength, dex, con, wis, int and cha. Looked at from that perspective, it doesnt seem so bad.
    Gandalf was a fifth-level magic user.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
    \ˈgrā-tər \
    comparative adjective
    1. Describing basically the exact same monster but with twice the RHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    The following is my standard kit for a 20th level warrior or rogue character:
    Phoenix Cloak(MiC, 50Kgp)(Fly Perfect at land speed)
    Third Eye Conceal(Mic, 120Kgp)(Mind Blank)
    Banner of the Storm's Eye(MiC, 15Kgp)(Stun and Fear immunity aura)
    Hathran Mask of True Seeing(UE, 75Kgp)(True Seeing)
    Minor Cloak of Displacement(DMG, 24Kgp)(20% Miss Chance)
    Ring of Blinking(DMG, 27K)(Blinking at will)
    Dimension Stride Boots(MiC, 2Kgp)(Teleport 20ft 5/day)
    Soulfire(BoED, +4Armor/25Kgp Bracers)(Immunity to Death Effects, Energy Drain, and Negative Levels)
    Ring of Freedom of Movement(DMG, 40Kgp)(Freedom of Movement)
    Dispelling + Greater Dispelling(MiC, +2Weapon/18Kgp Backup weapon)(3/day cl 5 targeted Dispel Magic, 3/day cl 10 targeted Dispel Magic)
    Blindsighted(Und, +30Kgp weapon)(Blindsight 30ft)
    Raptor's Mask(MiC, 3.5Kgp)(Immunity to Blindness)
    Tooth of Leraje (ToM, 21.6Kgp)(1/day Greater Magic Weapon +5)
    Cloak of Resistance +5 (DMG, 25Kgp)
    534,850gp spent so far(under 19th level WBL)
    +Ability Boosts
    +Primary Weapon(would include some way of bypassing DR/magic, DR/damage type, DR/material, and DR/alignment, that might be the +2 Transmuting ability or Hank's Energy Bow)
    +Primary Armor

    Not so strangely it ends up as:
    Cloak, Mask, 2 Rings, Boots, Bracers, a Tooth, a utility weapon, a primary weapon, & armor
    So only 10 auras on this Christmas tree

    What might be more surprising is that certain items have multiple enchantments (more like items in stories):
    Cloak: 5 (Flight, Displacement, Stun Immunity, +Saves, +Cha)
    Mask: 3 (Immunity to Blindness, True Seeing, Mind Blank)
    Bracers: 3 (Immunity to Death Effects, +Str, +Dex)
    So I would rephrase it as: 3 Primary(2 weapons, armor) + 3 Major(Cloak, Mask, Bracers) + 4 Minor(2 Rings, Boots, Tooth) items
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2016-07-27 at 04:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    I linked this for you. If they don't know about the Christmas Tree Effect than they probably didn't catch this reference either.
    “No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style.” ― Steven Brust
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    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    So, first off I will admit that my groups and I tend to play lower power games. Secondly, because of the first, we don't seem to have such a crazy Christmas tree effect. In later game (Level 17-20) we are still fighting high level foes (Ancient Dragons, High level Demons/Devils/etc and their minions, Liches and their undead armies, etc) but the precedent has been set early that it will be challenging and you will have to use your resources regularly. I have played quite a few times where I'll only have one ring, a cloak, and 2 magic weapons at level 15, but we work together to overcome the challenge. It does force the wizard or cleric to be far more utilitarian, but that highlights the fact that the "Fighter" is just that, the fighter. That's not to say that the wizard does nothing but support and my group has never complained or said they feel under powered. If anything, we talk about how epic it was that we took down a dragon at level 15 with less gear than other people talk about with their WBL filled characters.

    I'm not saying that the Christmas tree syndrome isn't a thing, but I am saying that there is no rule that states it has to be. Isn't the underlying rule to D&D that the point is to have fun with friends? If fun for your group is no magic gear except the wizard at level 20, then you're succeeding at D&D, and you don't need every body slot and inventory slot full of magic items.

    Just my 2 coppers, and I am in no way trying to say that anyone else is playing wrong. You wouldn't all be here if you didn't enjoy the game (unless you're a troll... ). The way I play with my friends is not the precedent you should take when you play with your friends, but it is another viewpoint and is always an option.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Playing low-WBL means the non-casting classes become even worse at high levels, while the higher-tiered casters can solo the game at will without any magic items at all. Or they can craft themselves magic items and thumb their noses at the fighter and monk even harder.
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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Gandalf was a fifth-level magic user.
    That's because the LA on Maia is so outrageous, he didn't have much room left over for class levels.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Thor has Mjollnir. Arthur has Excalibur.
    I always find it funny when Thor and Arthur are mentioned since Thor has a magic warhammer, magic staff, magic belt, and magic gloves, while Arthur had multiple magic swords, a magic dagger, magic spear, magic cauldron, magic scabbard and a magic cloak.
    Last edited by Milo v3; 2016-07-27 at 06:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    PCs in the games I run love hoarding and carrying and buffing all day long- combat or not.

    Take for instance, the party cleric, an inquisitor of Wee Jas. He's ECL 13 and has the following buffs on:

    Spoiler: Just a regular day in the life...
    Show
    Heroe's Feast
    Greater Disobedience
    Greater Magic Weapon
    Protection from Energy
    Mass Conviction
    True Seeing
    Ebon Eyes
    Sign, Divine Insight
    Magic Circle Against Evil
    Persisted Righteous Wrath of the Faithful
    Superior Resistance
    Conviction
    Alter Self: Lizardfolk
    Heroics: Power Attack
    Magic Vestment on Shield
    Magic Vestment on Armor
    Energy Sub. [Electric] Burning Sword
    Divine Power
    Persisted Mass Lesser Vigor
    Fly
    Living Undeath


    He's the Rockefeller Center of Christmas Trees. And that's not counting his gear.

    So of course, normal people tend to freak out and run away when a rotten black void eyed hulking iguana man comes flying from the skies with a humming blade and preaches the virtues of Wee Jas in Infernal.

    It's come to a point where the villains he fight even make fun of him for his looks.

    And of course, it has happened that because they carry so much loot that brights up to divinations, clever rogues have used Sleight of Hand on him a few times to nab a few baubles.

    Amongst them, his favorite: The Nightstick.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxiDuRaritry View Post
    Playing low-WBL means the non-casting classes become even worse at high levels, while the higher-tiered casters can solo the game at will without any magic items at all. Or they can craft themselves magic items and thumb their noses at the fighter and monk even harder.
    I know that anecdotal evidence is, at best, not even evidence. I just want to point out that any one experience is not a rule for every experience of that type. In the case of Low-WBL games, I've experience high tier casting classes enabling the non-casting classes to be able to do their job, without crippling themselves. It costs very little for the wizard to scribe scrolls of Fly, give one to the rogue to use, have one on standby to use on the fighter, and one for themselves (If they even need it). It takes a standard action to activate most magic items (Spell Completion, Spell Trigger, Command Word, and Use-Activated items all have a Standard Action as the activation time) meaning that action economy isn't really effected by the rogue and the wizard using those scrolls to get the front line flying in round 1 of combat. Sure, that limits the wizard's "Cool" factor, but in the long run it barely hurts them and one action is rarely the make or break point of combat.

    Above everything it seems like there is a misconception (I truly feel that it's just the accepted norm at this point) that fighters can't be good, when in reality a wizard ultimately has limited resources, and has to take special precautions to be able to function effectively throughout an entire day and in bad situations. A Fighter can cast "Sword" every second of every day and is at a lesser risk of running out of the spell "Sword". A wizard is always consuming resources and I am constantly finding ways of wearing down my wizards to make them seriously think about how they use those resources. Even if a fighter's sword gets disarmed or sundered, they can cast "Fist". They may not be as effective at it as they are at casting "Sword", but that's an unlimited resource. Wizards just don't have that luxury. Additionally, wizards can effectively be beaten by antimagic and dispel magic. A fighter may feel the speed bump, but even when their magic sword of cut things up is suppressed, they can still cast "Lesser Sword" and hurt things where a wizard is reduced to "hmm... let me... run!" because the BBEG has just dispelled everything for 1d4 rounds and he's coming straight for you Mr. "God" wizard. You're going to love that fighter in those cases, because he is going to be the only thing that stands between you and getting your sorry hind side sent to the abyss.

    Look. I'm not trying to say any one interpretation to D&D is wrong, but that also means that no single interpretation of D&D is "right" either. From an optimization stand point, Christmas Tree Syndrome is a given because you're trying to make the biggest, baddest, strongest thing imaginable within a few guidelines. From my experience in normal games that go from level 5 to level 20, I don't think I can remember a single time when I've had all of the items that have been listed as "You need this or you're bad". I know I'm the minority in this discussion but my point is still valid that you don't NEED all of those magic items at level 20. What you do need is a good dialogue with your DM, and a good cohesive party and you will always "Win" at D&D, because you will always be challenged and you will always have fun.

    P.S. I'm not trying to start an argument, but rather bring a different viewpoint in to a discussion about the Christmas Tree Effect that I have found is supported by my personal experiences. In no way am I trying to force those view on anyone else. I'm simply sharing my views with the OP and the rest of the thread on how I view the whole Christmas Tree Effect.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    The argument goes that it's still unfair because the caster doesn't need the fighter to be awesome, but the fighter is wholly dependent on the caster for his awesome.

    Whether you find that a persuasive, or even accurate, argument is up to you; I am merely pointing out that it is what you will likely hear to dismiss your (rather good) point about a party being stronger for teamwork.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    The argument goes that it's still unfair because the caster doesn't need the fighter to be awesome, but the fighter is wholly dependent on the caster for his awesome.

    Whether you find that a persuasive, or even accurate, argument is up to you; I am merely pointing out that it is what you will likely hear to dismiss your (rather good) point about a party being stronger for teamwork.
    Thanks! I wonder what other views other people have on the topic and, if those views begin going outside the scope of this thread, I may start a new one just to discuss those. If it turns out that there are really on 2 or 3 other viewpoints, that's fine. It's still all nice to know and share in general.

    EDIT: The argument is compelling, to be fair. A party full of wizards doesn't sound particularly enjoyable to me, but my fun is not John Doe's version of fun. I won't say that a fighter doesn't need a wizard to be awesome, but there are some things a fighter can do that a wizard can't, like wear heavy armor (this is a joke I assure you).
    Last edited by AnimeTheCat; 2016-07-27 at 09:45 PM. Reason: Forgot something

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Thing is, spellcasters have lots of ways to replace a fighter with an even better fighter. Sure, summon monster and summon nature's ally have opportunity costs, but the planar binding line really just...doesn't have any real costs at all, and if chosen wisely, the bound creature can have all sorts of abilities that fighters can't match, while being able to do anything the fighter can do, oftentimes better than the fighter can. Proper usage of resources when dealing with the bound creature (ie, buffing yourself and debuffing your soon-to-be fighter) can get you a meatshield for practically nothing. Druids get animal companions for free, and they have abilities that no fighter can come close to matching. (Just try to effectively grapple the tarrasque without the party spellcasters buffing you, Mr. Fighter. I dare you.)
    Last edited by MaxiDuRaritry; 2016-07-28 at 05:04 AM.
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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    In 1e AD&D, there were class requirements on using a number of the more potent magic items. Fighters could use some of the best in the game, while magic users could not.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Would anybody mind if I created another thread to discuss the fighter? I feel like where that discussion is going kind of leaves the original question of this thread and I would rather not do that since it seems that the OP's question has pretty much been answered. If there are no objections or if the consensus is that the discussion will still fit within the original discussion I'll post my real reply in this thread.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by AnimeTheCat View Post
    Would anybody mind if I created another thread to discuss the fighter? I feel like where that discussion is going kind of leaves the original question of this thread and I would rather not do that since it seems that the OP's question has pretty much been answered. If there are no objections or if the consensus is that the discussion will still fit within the original discussion I'll post my real reply in this thread.
    Creating another thread is the standard practice for situations like this. Although I question how well such a thread will turn out (the forum is not always a paragon of rationality or reasonability).
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2016-07-28 at 11:30 AM.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It might be interesting to see a setting that is not a deliberate D&D expy (and particularly is not a parody) wherein the standard adventurer is, in fact, decked out with lots of magic items. A handful he uses all the time, plus a lot of incidentals.
    The issue with this is the CR system (fragile and unstable as it already is) completely destabilizes at the mid-to-high levels without proper WBL-usage. You end up having to adjust the entire campaign down 2 or more CRs just to allow a noncaster-oriented party to function. Low-item campaigns, by nature, have difficulty functioning in 3.X.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    If you want to avoid the Christmas Tree effect, Pathfinder Unchained had a pretty solid system for inherent bonuses you gained as you level up to avoid needing the big 6.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    If you want to avoid the Christmas Tree effect, Pathfinder Unchained had a pretty solid system for inherent bonuses you gained as you level up to avoid needing the big 6.
    Testing that against the example 20th level gear I listed, you would have no change in number of items. That is not to say the +ability scores & +saves are not important, just that they are not the source of the Christmas Tree effect.

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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by AnimeTheCat View Post
    So, first off I will admit that my groups and I tend to play lower power games. Secondly, because of the first, we don't seem to have such a crazy Christmas tree effect. In later game (Level 17-20) we are still fighting high level foes (Ancient Dragons, High level Demons/Devils/etc and their minions, Liches and their undead armies, etc) but the precedent has been set early that it will be challenging and you will have to use your resources regularly. I have played quite a few times where I'll only have one ring, a cloak, and 2 magic weapons at level 15, but we work together to overcome the challenge. It does force the wizard or cleric to be far more utilitarian, but that highlights the fact that the "Fighter" is just that, the fighter. That's not to say that the wizard does nothing but support and my group has never complained or said they feel under powered. If anything, we talk about how epic it was that we took down a dragon at level 15 with less gear than other people talk about with their WBL filled characters.

    I'm not saying that the Christmas tree syndrome isn't a thing, but I am saying that there is no rule that states it has to be. Isn't the underlying rule to D&D that the point is to have fun with friends? If fun for your group is no magic gear except the wizard at level 20, then you're succeeding at D&D, and you don't need every body slot and inventory slot full of magic items.

    Just my 2 coppers, and I am in no way trying to say that anyone else is playing wrong. You wouldn't all be here if you didn't enjoy the game (unless you're a troll... ). The way I play with my friends is not the precedent you should take when you play with your friends, but it is another viewpoint and is always an option.
    You can give fighters animal companions, let rogues manifest psionic powers like wilders and give clerics shapeshifting if that's what you decide to do in your game, but the rules still say they can't do that - just like they list the appropriate wealth a character of a given level should have.
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    Default Re: Christmas tree effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Fau View Post
    The issue with this is the CR system (fragile and unstable as it already is) completely destabilizes at the mid-to-high levels without proper WBL-usage. You end up having to adjust the entire campaign down 2 or more CRs just to allow a noncaster-oriented party to function. Low-item campaigns, by nature, have difficulty functioning in 3.X.
    I was more getting at a fictional setting for a story to take place in, not a game setting. We have that game setting/system already: D&D 3.5/Pathfinder.

    I was suggesting that it would be interesting to see a piece of fiction wherein this was the norm, without it tying directly into being "a D&D setting."

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