View Poll Results: Should magic items be more rare in Birthright than in standard D&D?

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18. You may not vote on this poll
  • 1. Yes. Change the order of default and variant in Chap 8 to have the default be rare magic items.

    12 66.67%
  • 2. No. Keep the default the same as the core rules and retain the variant in Ch 8 to have alow magic item setting.

    6 33.33%
  • 3. Other - please be as specific as possible.

    0 0%
  • 4. Abstain

    0 0%
Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Here is something that has been popping up with increased frequency and I think it is time we tested the waters to find out what the majority think on this subject.

    In 2nd ed Birthright was supposed to be a low magic item setting, even though not all of the publications reflected this the "rules" strongly leaned that way - well the descriptive text at any case.

    Our sister site, Athas.org, the Official Dark Sun site has altered their world from the standard core rules to recognize differences from the setting. For example in Dark Sun metal is extremely rare, so in the DS 3 rules (check out their site for the download) they made the cost of metal items 100 times as much as normal. This increased the time to craft any item made of metal, including magic ones.

    Note that this poll is not to determine exactly how we make them rarer but only that being rarer is the default or not. The exact mechanics can be worked out later, but this will give us an idea of how to build and conduct discussions on things like wizrds with wands of fireball being common.
    Duane Eggert

  2. #2
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    I have really mixed opionions on the idea of magic item rarity.

    On the one hand, making all magic items rarer, say by increasing the market value (200% seems like a logical default here), seems to fit with the campaign setting.

    On the other hand, the D&D system is meant to have a careful balance between magic items and power levels of classes and monsters. If the average PC or NPC has less and/or weaker magic items than the D&D standard, they are that much weaker relative to their level, and thus the CR's of many monsters really should be adjusted to account for this. Talk about a can of worms!

    Also, the power of spellcasters in particular, but also any class or monster with magical abilities, becomes more pronounced. Mundane classes, particularly fighters, suffer the most, as they tend to rely the most on gaining and upgrading magical items to keep them at a comparable level of power to their opponents.

    In my Birthright campaign, I tried to keep magic items fairly rare and unavailable on the open market, though I did allow for special exceptions like contracting a friend at the Royal College of Sorcery to make a PC a wand, or the PC's having item creation feats of their own and thus burning the xp and gp to make their own magic items.

    What happened, though, is as the PC's became higher level characters, the gap between the haves and have-nots of magic became more and more apparent. A high-level cleric or mage, for instance, can duplicate the effects of many magic arms and armor, so they don't suffer all that much. A high-level fighter without a magic weapon is screwed, though, when facing a monster with DR/magic. And they are at a constant disadvantage against supposedly well-matched monsters with higher CR's in general.

    What ends up happening then is that most high-level parties become highly dependent on having spellcasters in the group - and thus PC groups almost require a mage and cleric to be have a chance of defeating equal CR monsters. This makes true mages and clerics more common in the PCs' worlds, rather than rare. It also then requires that human/humanoid NPC enemies also have spellcasters to be a suitable match for the PC's - making them seem even less rare from the players' perspective.

    Duane said it well earlier: tweak one thing in the 3.5 system, and the effect cascades throughout the entire campaign setting. Which makes this whole issue a very delicate one indeed.

    Osprey

  3. #3
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Yes it is a tricky thing to do no doubt about it, but it was in 2nd ed also.

    In actuality among humans clerics should not be all that rare, considering how clerical magic is given such importance in the war with the elves.

    Likewise amongst elves arcane magic users shouldn't be rare either - to make up for the lack of clerics.


    One thing 3.5 did in regard to magic items though is that now any spellcaster can make them assuming they take the appropriate feats, so rangers, paladins and bards are in the pool. Let us not forget the magicain - a very likely magic item creator, especially for divination items, IMO.

    While increaseing the market value would make it more difficult to create items, likewise it would make it a more profitable undertaking - albeit costly and time consuming.

    Pretty much no matter what we come up with here it will entail some DM attention to make sure that encounters are not imbalanced. There are guidelines for adjusting the EL in the DMG based on circumstances - that is the most logical place to start, IMO.

    We also must keep in mind the insertion of blood abilites (minor ones require no scion class level so they are not accounted for EL wise, but shouldn't be a huge difference). Other intangeables come into play also - the extra hit points (if the option is used) for regents (this can add up to a fairly large difference for regents with low hit dice and lots of holdings (a wizard comes to mind here)).

    Something else to consider is the frequency of monster oriented encounters vice human/demihuman oriented ones. Birthright is a domain influenced game and IMO there should be a much higher occurance of bandits, other regents, etc. than in a standard D&D game.

    While undead encounters should be at least as common as the standard game, these are pretty much not affected by the magic item issue. Most have DRs with material susceptabilities. These special materials don't require the weapon to be magical, but ususally only masterwork.

    Also since the typical PCs will most likely involve at least one who is a regent, income is not as drastically a limiter as is in the standard game - so masterwork items will pop up more frequently (at least in the heroes' hands).

    No matter it is a tightrope that must be considered carefully whenever this path is taken, regardless of whether or not it is the default norm.
    Duane Eggert

  4. #4
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    The most typical monsters with DR/magic are outsiders of various sorts: fiends, celestials, and elementals spring immediately to mind.

    A few of the more potent undead do have DR/magic; vampires have DR 10/silver & magic; nightshades have DR/magic & silver, too.

    In general, I've noticed a tendency for many monsters with high CR's to have DR/magic...because in "normal" (by the book) D&D, magic weapons are the norm for higher level PC's anyways, so it really only affects lower-level followers, minions, and extras. These creatures have this DR so they can wade through hordes of such "lesser beings" and basically ignore them - meaning the heroes must be the ones to deal with them.

    One thing 3.5 did in regard to magic items though is that now any spellcaster can make them assuming they take the appropriate feats, so rangers, paladins and bards are in the pool. Let us not forget the magicain - a very likely magic item creator, especially for divination items, IMO.
    True, but this was a 2e/3e change, not a BR-specific one. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember magic items being any more difficult or expensive to make in BR than they were in any other D&D setting. The major difference was the rarity of true mages, not the multiplied expense of item creation.

    In the BR setting, magicians will definitely be major producers of lesser magic items, and of more powerful illusion, divination, and some enchantment items. I also require alchemical production to require a touch of arcane magic IMC, a specialty of magicians as producers of special goods.

    Rangers and paladins, well - if they really want to waste a precious feat slot to make what pitifully few magic items they're capable of crafting, let the fools do it. Not even close to worth it IMO.
    Similarly, bards and sorcerers are also poor artificers because of their limited knowledge of spells - it makes most item creation feats a waste for them. The possible exception is Craft Magic Arms and Armor, since it doesn't take any spell knowledge at all to make them with basic enhancement bonuses. This is a flaw in the system, IMO - I think it should require a Magic Weapon spell to make +1 weapons, Greater Magic Weapon to make +2-5 weapons, and Magic Vestment to make magical shields and armor. I am assuming here, though, that mages would gain access to the Magic Vestment spell if there were such a requirement.

    Wizards, of course, are probably the best all-around artificers, with clerics a close 2nd, and magicians 3rd. Mainly because they can take a single feat to gain the ability to craft a wide array of different items. All it takes is the proper caster level and spell knowledge to do so.

    In BR, I expect the most common magic items are crafted with clerical magic, and low-power items of magician-make should be right behind them in frequency. More powerful items crafted by wizards are the ones that will be the rarest.

    Now, in anything like a market economy, what that would mean is that the actual market value (but not the creation cost) of any item that can be crafted only with true magic should be vastly inflated due to scarcity - elven realms being the exception, of course (normal market values would work just fine there).


    I have always been slightly uncomfortable with the idea that market price determines creation costs. I actually think it's an OK system so long as the market values of magic items in the DMG or elsewhere are understood to be an absolute market value, one not adjusted for inflation, scarcity, etc. Item creation costs shouldn't fluctuate unless it really is actually more difficult, draining, and expensive to make an item in that campaign setting than in the default [Greyhawk/FR] D&D setting.

    I think making magic items more expensive in terms of market value and creation costs will have the main effect not of making them so much rarer, but of lowering their average level of power due to the exponential cost increase of higher-powered items.

    Personally, I think lesser items are kind-of cheap in 3.5, but more potent items are plenty expensive - so much so that the typical pC or NPC will only make 1 or 2 items of great power in their careers thanks to the xp drain.

    As far as greater profits go, well...so what? Sometimes it matters, but more often than not it's the XP cost that is the prohibitive factor (for PC's especially), not the gp cost or potential profit. For regents this is even more true, as money tends to be less of an issue for them than for non-regents.

    Doubling or tripling the xp costs is a sure way to put a heavy damper on PC item creation. It's also extremely harsh, and will tend to create even larger level gaps between spellcasters and non-spellcasters...which is OK if you want your PC spellcasters to be a level or three behind the other PC's, bad if you want the whole party to stay abreast of one another in character level.

  5. #5
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    Rarer and/or more expensive magic items also has the effect of keeping the world at a lower level. For a 6th level party short on magic items, the CR 5 may replace the CR 6 as the standard creature to fight which also gives respectively less xp.
    Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a night. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

  6. #6
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    Osprey schrieb:



    >This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.

    > You can view the entire thread at:

    > http://www.birthright.net/forums/ind...ST&f=36&t=3033

    >

    > Osprey wrote:

    > The most typical monsters with DR/magic are outsiders of various sorts: fiends, celestials, and elementals spring immediately to mind.

    >

    >A few of the more potent undead do have DR/magic; vampires have DR 10/silver & magic; nightshades have DR/magic & silver, too.

    >

    >In general, I`ve noticed a tendency for many monsters with high CR`s to have DR/magic...because in "normal" (by the book) D&D, magic weapons are the norm for higher level PC`s anyways, so it really only affects lower-level followers, minions, and extras. These creatures have this DR so they can wade through hordes of such "lesser beings" and basically ignore them - meaning the heroes must be the ones to deal with them.

    >

    Even a simple CR 4 Gargoyle has DR 10 / Magic,

    bye

    Michael

  7. #7
    Member Bokey's Avatar
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    I believe that magic should be rare. I also believe this makes the fighter a more powerful character, as a general lack of magic items effects him very little. Sure, he no longer has a +3 sword at 8th level, but he might have a +1, and enough feats to make up the difference. The lack of magic items also tends to make skills more important, because a lot of your magic items imulate skills.

    Of course I run a low magic campaign where you aren't encountering beings from other planes and vampires at every turn. Generally, they fight other PC type races. I even went so far as to make all item creation feats have a prerequisite "gateway" feat. This gateway feat did nothing, except to allow you to pick item creation feats with your next feat. This could be used to explain the increased cost of magic items, as not all wizards would have the ability to make all items. It also weakened mages, as they no longer could run onto the battlefield with a fully charged fireball wand, or even dozens of scrolls. Those mages that did pick up Scribe Scroll (they all started with the gateway feat for Scribe scroll at first level) were very rare and powerful indeed; which is the flavor I felt the game designers were after.

    Rarer and/or more expensive magic items also has the effect of keeping the world at a lower level. For a 6th level party short on magic items, the CR 5 may replace the CR 6 as the standard creature to fight which also gives respectively less xp.
    That is exactly correct. A good DM learns what kind of challenges a particular group can handle, and challenges them accordingly. If the CR is a little lower compared to a "standard" D&D group, it makes them work a little longer to gain the necessary XP for those levels, which in turn could explain Birthright's relatively low power level.

    I know my gateway feat probably isn't a popular option, but it can be useful. Also, low magic PC's are much easier to predict, and therefore easier to accurately assess there capabilities, which is always good news for any DM.
    Kill 'em all, let the God's sort them out!!

  8. #8
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Time to close this poll. Here are the results:

    Should magic items be more rare in Birthright than in standard D&D?
    1. Yes. Change the order of default and variant in Chap 8 to have the default be rare magic items. [ 12 ] [66.67%]
    2. No. Keep the default the same as the core rules and retain the variant in Ch 8 to have alow magic item setting. [ 6 ] [33.33%]
    3. Other - please be as specific as possible. [ 0 ] [0.00%]
    4. Abstain [ 0 ] [0.00%]
    Total Votes: 18


    The "Official" stand will be that magic items (at least anything other than scrolls and potions) are to be "rare" in the BRCS. There will be a variant to allow the "normal" occurrence of magic items though.


    Finally a clear majority for a poll (it has been too long since we had one of those).
    Duane Eggert

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