Power Creep
  • Power Creep


    I was reading about the level cap increasing from 60 to 70 in an online game, with many new possibilities/abilities. "How do people keep track of so many abilities at such high levels?" I thought. Then I realized yet another reason why I prefer simple games: "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Another version, about Japanese gardening, is "Your garden is not complete until there is nothing else that you can remove."


    Games are sets of artificial (separated from the real world) constraints, even games as "loosey-goosey" in rules as RPGs. Players agree to use and abide by these constraints. The best players are usually those who cope best with those constraints.

    "Power Creep virtually always leads to a Broken Base, with the most ‘conservative’ players stating that the new unbalanced content is an insult to the original game (which might be true or not, depending on the case)." --TV Tropes

    Good play comes not from having lots of things you can do, many of them really “OP” (overpowered), but from making good use of what you've got. Another case of creativity benefitting from constraints.

    Power creep is a common online (video) game problem that we can see in tabletop RPGs. The cause isn't online play, it's the frequent changes and additions to rules and to "content". New "stuff" is more attractive when it's better than the old stuff (duh!), so that's what the makers produce, and over time the entire game sees an increase in power, in what the players can do. (See “The Dilemma of the Simple RPG.”) This must be matched by an increase in the power of the opposition (more dangerous monsters) or the game becomes too easy. Some games handle the escalation better than others, but if the game was well-designed to begin with, power creep is likely to hurt the design.

    Make no mistake, I like blowing things up with tac nukes - well, fireballs anyway - and megawatt lasers (lightning bolts). But when you get up into Timestops and other Immense Godlike Powers, I think the GAME suffers in favor of the POWER TRIP. And at the same time it becomes less skillful, less clever, and harder to GM.

    I’ve often said, about 1e D&D, that the “sweet spot” for play was 3rd-9th level. Early on players were too fragile (not a problem in recent editions), and later on the game couldn’t cope well with double-figure levels. It got to the point that (as in WW II armored battles) whoever fired first usually won, because the attack capabilities were so strong. This is especially obvious where surprise is involved. If a game then “power creeps” to where 9th levels are as strong as 11th used to be, the situation worsens.

    Of course, many players and GMs don't care about skill or cleverness, they care about other things (among them, power trips). What I’ve said is descriptive, not prescriptive. I don't care how you run or play your game (unless I'm involved!).

    contributed by Lewis Pulsipher
    Comments 108 Comments
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      That there's the full range of inocuous, to 'Just better' to game-breaking, though.... There is that. It also makes it easier to say 'no' to players wanting to make/buy...
      Typically, outside of simple "things that just make you better" I've found that magic items should be more like The Matrix. It only functions to resolve a certain special scenario and only performs its function when certain conditions are met, not to give you more spells or a crazy new mount or whatever. I really dislike any entries for things like the Hand of Vecna or the Eye of Orcus, these are artifacts literally made from pieces of gods.
    1. CapnZapp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
      If every other weapon in the game had it's current stats, but the longsword did d4 damage instead, so that it was obvious to everyone that the longsword was subpar, then it would not be power creep to change the d4 to a d8. Suppose the designer of the game made a statement, "We're sorry but the d4 on the longsword was a misprint. There was an error introduced in the printing process that changed the d8 we had intended to a d4. We apologize. As official errata, the longsword should use a d8." That would not be "power creep" because it did not unbalance a game by the introduction of new content.
      Now you're just making up theoretical constructs to avoid having to accept the general definition of power creep.

      Adding "Broadswords" that work exactly like Longswords but with a bigger damage die is power creep.

      Anything else is just you trying to muddle an otherwise very easy and straightforward issue.


      Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      And you could do without those if the campaign uses inherent bonuses... Magic item dailies didn't compare to class dailies, which players had complete control over, so items weren't that significant.
      Yes, they were, but they became utilitarian and boring.


      A stark contrast to other editions, and something that mapped with player focus - items were more potent, comparable in power to PC spells in 3e, while in 5e, like the classic game, item can arbitrarily do things no character ability can match.
      In 1E and 2E there were lots of items that had no parallel so this is a return to that form, but at least they had a (very rudimentary) economy indicating how much things were worth and a (very rudimentary) method for construction.


      It also makes it easier to say 'no' to players wanting to make/buy...
      True, but DMs need to grow a spine and learn to say no. I know that was WotC's stated reason for not providing creation rules or prices, but I think that was simply a dodge for not doing something they couldn't figure out how to do or simply didn't want to figure out. They left non-combat interaction really sketchy, and with tools proficiency being a catch-all, it's even more messy. 5E was a good revision but it's definitely got some warts.
    1. billd91's Avatar
      billd91 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
      No economy means it's hard to design an item as DM, too. I've DMed for close to 40 years now so I'm decent at deciding such things, but I know people who aren't nearly so good at it must find it hard to operate in the areas of the game that provide little or no guidance, most notably the lack of an economy and the lack of concrete guidance on skill usage.
      I disagree with that assertion. Most of the angst I've seen online about designing an item is how to price it, how to rate it against other magic items with known prices so that you make it a reasonable choice and not one that's either dominating or dominated for its price point. That's a completely moot issue in 5e.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by billd91 View Post
      I disagree with that assertion. Most of the angst I've seen online about designing an item is how to price it, how to rate it against other magic items with known prices so that you make it a reasonable choice and not one that's either dominating or dominated for its price point. That's a completely moot issue in 5e.
      It's a moot issue only because the designers decided to stonewall IMO. Obviously for some people this is a feature, for me it's a major bug. What to do with unwanted items? How do we reasonably judge who gets what in terms of valuing items? How can potions be brewed? etc. Without an even suggested system it's all ad hoc. We've obviously had topic drift here, but I do think it's relevant to power creep.
    1. Celebrim's Avatar
      Celebrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
      Now you're just making up theoretical constructs to avoid having to accept the general definition of power creep.
      Once again, I'm the only one in this thread that has actually quoted the general definition of power creep. So how am I the one avoiding it.

      Adding "Broadswords" that work exactly like Longswords but with a bigger damage die is power creep. Anything else is just you trying to muddle an otherwise very easy and straightforward issue.
      Assuming longswords are well balanced, viable, weapons that bring lots of utility to the game, then yes, that is power creep. But, that's not how power creep usually works. Power creep generally happens by other mechanisms.

      So imagine a surface that represents all the possible components of the game - whether it be elements of chargen or playing cards in a collectible card game.

      Somewhere on that surface is a line representing the most powerful a particular type of component can be without impacting the game play negatively - either by speeding the game up until their were no choices (and thus no deep strategy) or making the game choices trivial and repetitive. Somewhere below that line roughly parallel to is a line that divides interesting playing pieces from choices that are so suboptimal that no one would ever willing make those choices. In a collectible card game, they either are not played at all, or they are played only by new players before they understand how to evaluate the game, or else they are only played by players that have such limited collection they have nothing better to play. In between is all of our interesting design space, which is initially empty.

      At the beginning of the game imagine the designers have thrown some 'darts' into the space trying to hit the interesting design space, but above all, not landing in the broken space above the line. The result is a bunch of points that represent the playing pieces, but largely empty space. There are still hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of possible new entries - whether cards or classes or feats or whatever. Lets imagine that because they are good designers and the play tested that they nerfed all the overpowered stuff before going to production and that the game - whatever it is - is a success.

      It's at this point that the fact that power creep is tied to unbalancing the game is inherently important. Because if it is not, then the startling result is you can add nothing new to the game.

      Lets examine a case in point. Suppose you had a 'Ranger' in your introductory set, and as a typical ranger the class was optimized for operating in the wilderness.

      You now start exercising your creativity and you see that there is some design space near the ranger - off to just the side of it really - where you can create a 'Bounty Hunter' class that is much like the 'Ranger' but better suited to operating in urban environments and less well suited to the wilderness. So you set about creating a 'Bounty Hunter'.

      Most people would agree that 'Bounty Hunter' was good design if it didn't completely invalidate the 'Ranger' and replace it. That is, you'd be making trade offs between the two classes, and one wasn't clearly better than the other. However, almost certainly before we introduce the 'Bounty Hunter' class, there was someone out there who was already playing a 'bounty hunter' by taking a Ranger and making it as suitable to an urban environment as possible within the rules. The minute we introduce the 'Bounty Hunter' class, his character is invalidated because any character made with the new class would be strictly better at doing what his character does than any character made with the old class. I think you'll agree though, this isn't power creep. In fact, you are probably a bit angry with me about this point, and wondering where this is going. You're probably going to start going on about of course it isn't because it isn't strictly better, and so it isn't power creep.

      But, power creep almost never comes about by just strictly better. Most games are far too complicated for that, and most designers far too 'woke' for that to just create things that are strictly better. In MtG, Necropotence wasn't strictly better than Greed, but for practical purposes it was much better even though that was far from obvious just looking at the card. Secondly, most of the time when you do see a strictly better card, it isn't power creep - it's creating a playing element in design space that is valid by our earlier definition because play testing has revealed our original designs weren't aggressive enough. That's not power creep either. It's only power creep when it goes over that line defining the maximum utility a card can have without being game breaking.

      Again, let's look at another realistic example. Imagine in our introductory set there was also a Wizard class. In theory, the Wizard was supposed to represent anyone that used arcane magic, and everyone used it generally for that purpose. However, if the designers notice that players want to play Summoners and Necromancers, but few people are actually doing so because the limitations in our original design make those choices too subpar to be enjoyable for most players, it's a perfectly valid thing to do to introduce new Summoner or Necromancer utility even if those new classes are absolutely better at being Summoners or Necromancers than the Wizard and completely obsolete any summoner or necromancer build made with the wizard. Yes, the Summoners or Necromancers are better and more 'powerful', but it would be ridiculous to call this process by a negative term like 'power creep', particularly if (for example) the new classes while more effective Summoners or Necromancers were still perhaps even underpowered compared to any non-summoner or non-necromancer wizard.

      What would be power creep is if the divination based Wizard was already arguably the most powerful character in the game, and we made a new specialized Oracle class that was obviously even better than that - even if it was not strictly better than the divination based wizard.

      And that's a good example of how real power creep comes about - not usually with strictly better cards, but by well intentioned attempts to explore new design space that end up creating playing elements that aren't strictly better than some existing playing element, but are functionally much better. Only rarely is power creep just a cynical attempt to sell new playing elements by creating a strictly better "longsword". Power creep usually comes about by untested synergies, and aggressive exploration of design space that hadn't been aggressively explored before.

      Using the example of MtG, the printing of cards that make 'mill' deck (wins by removing the opponents library) viable isn't (necessarily) power creep (especially if never before was such a deck viable). That's a valid exploration of design space, even if it was previously possible to make a weaker 'mill' deck and this one is strictly better. It's only power creep, if the new deck is now faster and harder to disrupt than other decks that are already considered viable. (But again, magic is so complex and often has an ever evolving meta as cards age in and out, that even that definition would need caveats and nuance.)

      You know power creep has happened ultimately because it changes how the game is played in negative ways. It's not just a matter of "this is better than that". It's a matter of characters of this level can now handily defeat monsters of a level that are supposed to be too difficult of challenge for them. It's a matter of contests taking on average one or two rounds less than they used to take, or players starting to build characters that completely neglect aspects of the game that were previously interesting because winning this one element is enough to insure success and only by contesting that one area can you be successful.

      Or to put this more simply, power creep is an inherently negative term that describes the (usually) gradual erosion of game balance as designers exercise less caution, or do less play testing, or decide to break the game to obtain short term profits. If you are describing any process that introduces new powerful playing elements, but which doesn't harm game balance, we aren't talking about "power creep". And that is backed up by my quotations of the general definition of power creep.

      Finally, this so called 'straight forward' issue is something that tends to create all sorts of argument, which I think ought to prove that it isn't straight forward. It's not just me arguing about the definition, but all sorts of arguments that have occurred over the course of say D&D's history, and which generally occur in just about any complex games history. For example, when the Monk was introduced, many people in Dragon magazine commented on the fact that though it superficially looked quite powerful, with many different abilities, in point of fact it was rather weak. You even saw attempts to fix different classes like the Monk in the 1e era (at least one I seem to remember being in Dragon Magazine) using theory crafting and math to show why the original needed an upgrade. That wasn't power creep. Giving all the powers of a Cavalier to a Paladin was power creep. If someone printed a strictly better Thief class, that wouldn't have been power creep. The ever expanding array of spells was power creep. But of course people would argue over things like that. Purists would argue that the game was ok how it is, and that because something historically had been useless then that is the way it should remain. Similar arguments occurred in 3.5 - which don't get me wrong, had all sorts of brutal and even cynical power creep in it. For example, almost everyone knew that the Fighter was so underpowered that it wasn't even very good in combat and couldn't even shine in the area that was supposed to be its thing. But you had people defending the existing fighter anyway, and you had people declaring Bo9S wasn't power creep and that martial classes absolutely needed something like that to compete with spellcasters, and you had people claiming that no the Bo9S was just horrible power creep. So no, the evidence is that in fact this isn't simple and straight forward.
    1. Tony Vargas -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
      Yes, they were, but they became utilitarian
      Enhancement bonuses were ultimately dispensible with the option of inherent bonuses, and items powers didn't compare to class powers, so, no, no, they were at their least significant.

      In the classic game, items went far beyond PC abilities, and could be character-defining...
      .
      this is a return to that form, but at least they had a (very rudimentary) economy indicating how much things were worth and a (very rudimentary) method for construction.
      5e's method for construction is comparable.
      I think the lack of economy is helpful, though - it eliminates expectations, item-based 'builds, and let's the DM run campaigns with themes that the fabulous-wealth-in-items of other eds could undercut...

      I think that was simply a dodge for not doing something they couldn't figure out how to do or simply didn't want to figure out.
      They'd done it twice before.

      They left non-combat interaction really sketchy, and with tools proficiency being a catch-all, it's even more messy. 5E was a good revision but it's definitely got some warts.
      Sure, but, again, they'd managed workable non-combat structure/resolution and finite skill sets before, so it was clearly a design decision...
    1. Saelorn's Avatar
      Saelorn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
      Once again, I'm the only one in this thread that has actually quoted the general definition of power creep. So how am I the one avoiding it.
      Power Creep is defined as "A term used in any kind of multi-player game (including Video Games, Collectible Card Game, and Tabletop Games) to describe the process in which newly-added-content can be played along with the old-content, but with the new content being far more powerful/useful in every sense. This process leaves old-content completely worthless, save for a few exceptions and for Cherry Tapping." It's been quoted against you several times, and you continue to ignore it because it doesn't support your position that the old-content being replaced must be relevant to the meta-game.

      In cases where your definition disagrees with the recognized authority on the issue, you must yield to consensus if you hope to continue any meaningful discourse on the subject. Admit that you're wrong, lament the general unreasonableness of the world if you must, and then continue your point using the terminology that everyone accepts.

      Power Creep is when new-content is strictly better than old-content, rendering old-content obsolete, regardless of outside factors. It's usually seen as something bad, if it disrupts what was previously balanced. It can be a good thing in some situations, such as when it allows for a more-interesting balance of content.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      Enhancement bonuses were ultimately dispensible with the option of inherent bonuses, and items powers didn't compare to class powers, so, no, no, they were at their least significant.
      I lost you there with the double negative, sorry. Inherent bonuses didn't come around for a while, though... I think in the Dark Sun book.


      In the classic game, items went far beyond PC abilities, and could be character-defining....
      Yes they could, though many of them really didn't. I've run a ton of 2E (still am) and it's certainly the case that better items mattered for the character, but your character fundamentals still mattered quite a bit.


      5e's method for construction is comparable.
      I'm not sure I agree completely. For instance, the 1E DMG had some basic alchemy rules and it did have item prices. There were spells (albeit high level spells) such as Enchant an Item and Permanence that were part of item creation. They certainly did the whole "don't bother to make permanent items" by requiring Wish for many of them, but still, there was a basic system.


      I think the lack of economy is helpful, though - it eliminates expectations, item-based 'builds, and let's the DM run campaigns with themes that the fabulous-wealth-in-items of other eds could undercut...
      The problem is that some kind of economy could be intermediate between the fabulous wealth and items of 3E and 4E but they chose to go to absolutely no economy at all. As you said elsewhere, they often over-react to the perceived flaws of previous editions and I think this is very much the case here. Yes, this makes other kinds of campaigns possible than the "wish list your items out" of 4E or the "save your pennies and buy what you want" of 3E, but removes the possibility of a game that does involve an economy, or at least makes it difficult design labor on the part of a DM wanting to run such a game.

      I was hoping that the DMG would actually have some alternate rules for some of their choices, most notably item attunement, concentration, skills, economy, and creation, but quite frankly it was one of the weakest books they wrote, and highly disappointing. They do have some "how to build monsters" advice but from looking at the MM they don't even follow their own advice all that closely!


      They'd done it twice before.

      Sure, but, again, they'd managed workable non-combat structure/resolution and finite skill sets before, so it was clearly a design decision...
      True, they had, and I'm sure you're right that these were design decisions. But kicking the can down the road is, of course, a decision of a sort.

      Not putting any detail into something like the skill system or the economy devalues them. Yes, "freedom for the DM" and that's true, but without at least some suggestions of how one might use a skill like, say, Arcana combined with Alchemist Kit, how do you know that it would even let you make potions? They didn't even list how much brewing the simplest of potions cost.

      Presumably someone makes them. The Common and Uncommon potions aren't aren't so amazing that relatively ordinary folks couldn't buy them or want them (as is hand waved on pp. 135-136 of the DMG5E, with whatever creation rules are provided being on p. 128; I might have missed something but did check the PHB5E, too). I have absolutely no clue why anyone would want to buy Alchemist's Supplies (which are listed and cost 50 gp) and, ironically, if you brew a Potion of Healing according to the DMG5E's rules you are actually paying 100 gold for something that you could, mysteriously, buy for 50 gold! That's a Murphy's Rule if I ever saw one, and a sign of very little thought being put into this part of the game. (This is to say nothing of the various gaming set proficiencies, which are assuredly booby prizes.)

      IMO giving people actual options would be very, very helpful. One option would be the "DM makes all the decisions, no magic item sales, too bad." If that's the game I want to run, I should just decide and say so. Another would be to have some basic creation rules and a basic economy better than the ad hoc Common/Uncommon/Rare/Very Rare/Legendary. There's a lot of space between the excessively detailed 3.X magic item creation rules and essentially no rules at all.

      There's a lot about 5E I feel is right and they did a good job speeding things up for combat, but the design team's general level of "we decided this, so screw you if you don't like it, followed by some weak-kneed rationalization" is not an endearing feature to me.
    1. Manbearcat's Avatar
      Manbearcat -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      Well, this is generally an issue in many RPG's, and particularly in any level based one. As you level your PC, you get more powerful at what you do, but, you don't, generally, do anything new. It's all height and no breadth.

      It would be nice to see a system where you branch out further and further "sideways" rather than upwards. Imagine a D&D level system where you only gain HD every three levels (forex) and attack bonuses and damage don't really change very much. Small, incremental increases once in a while.

      But, instead, you gain all sorts of "first level" powers

      The only problem with that is, everyone's character winds up being pretty much identical after enough time. Everyone has the same stuff, even if they started from different points.

      It's a very hard thing to design around.
      Quote Originally Posted by Imaculata View Post
      An interesting idea, but I think this would also undermine the feeling of a power curve, which many players are fond of in RPG's. Then again, it would be interesting if the power curve is represented by skill, rather than just raw numbers. Guild Wars 1 achieved this to some degree, where the players were only as strong as the skill combinations they made with their limited bar of 8 skills, and the way they used those skills. The sideways progression in this case, is all about obtaining more powers that you can mix and match.

      It would be interesting for a game like D&D to not have certain level spells become completely useless after a particular level this way. Just an increasing pool of options to mix and match, and the players are only as strong as they are resourceful.
      You're pretty much describing the Apocalypse World family of games and Dungeon World specifically.

      There is very slight, but relevant enough, y-axis growth (+1 stat per level very slightly perturbs the neat Bell Curve of results in favor of the PC). However, the overwhelming majority of growth is x-axis (each level grants new archetypal/thematic moves and discovered treasure does the same).

      HP don't grow after 1st level unless you increase Con (1 to 1) at level gain (which may happen once or twice in 10 levels of play).

      Each race/class playbook is extremely distinct at a glance and certainly in play.

      Wizards (and spellcasters generally) have considerably less apex spell power and considerably less number of spells. Meanwhile, Fighters have much more "player fiat" than in standard D&D. That formula manages to yield balanced, engaging play from beginning obstacles to those of mythical proportions (shocker!).
    1. Saelorn's Avatar
      Saelorn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
      Interesting what people see as a feature is IMO one of the giant glaring weaknesses of 5E, the lack of prices or crafting rules. Combined with attunement, lots of times I find that I hand out items as DM that seem cool but the PCs have no use for and can't even sell... because there are no prices. Well they can sell them, but I have to do a lot of hemming and hawing and winging it, and looking in my 1E DMG for some guidance.
      That's just a case of personal preference. The magic item economy, similar to multi-classing and the feat system, is a game mechanic that shifts the focus of the game away from being purely class-based and toward being a point-based game. Purchasing equipment for a character in 3E is a lot like building a character in HERO or GURPS, with many of the benefits and drawbacks that go along with it.

      Not that there's anything wrong with HERO or GURPS, mind, but it's a vastly different experience from AD&D. I'm glad that they didn't take the game in that direction.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
      That's just a case of personal preference. The magic item economy, similar to multi-classing and the feat system, is a game mechanic that shifts the focus of the game away from being purely class-based and toward being a point-based game. Purchasing equipment for a character in 3E is a lot like building a character in HERO or GURPS, with many of the benefits and drawbacks that go along with it. Not that there's anything wrong with HERO or GURPS, mind, but it's a vastly different experience from AD&D. I'm glad that they didn't take the game in that direction.
      I agree that there's a personal preference issue but for my money (literally!) I'd think that having options would be worthwhile, because there are players who do like that kind of detail. They got nothing. I'm with you about feeling that the 3.5 system was too detailed, but what happened was it went from way too detailed to essentially nothing. Even 1E and 2E had more information on how to build, buy, and sell items than is in 5E.
    1. pemerton's Avatar
      pemerton -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
      Even 1E and 2E had more information on how to build, buy, and sell items than is in 5E.
      Couldn't you just use the AD&D system, then? Right down to using its prices for potions?
    1. pemerton's Avatar
      pemerton -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
      4E was filled with lots and lots of marginally useful to crappy items. A guy I used to play with put it well when he said that "4E simultaneously made magic items both utterly necessary and amazingly boring."
      I've found that the main solution to this is to do what the 4e DMG suggests, and ask players what items they would like and then arrange for their PCs to get them (whether by finding them, as gifts from allies or from the gods, etc).

      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      4e tried to get away from 'overpowered' items and put more 'build' customization in the character rather than the items, it worked, but the items stopped being exciting. Though, to be fair, they weren't necessary, at all, either - you could flip on Inherent bonuses to cover their contribution to expected scaling with level and dispense with them entirely.
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
      Inherent bonuses didn't come around for a while, though... I think in the Dark Sun book.
      Inherent bonuses are set out in the DMG 2.

      And the maths is quite straightforward. I saw people posting the idea well before it was published.
    1. CapnZapp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
      Interesting what people see as a feature is IMO one of the giant glaring weaknesses of 5E, the lack of prices or crafting rules. Combined with attunement, lots of times I find that I hand out items as DM that seem cool but the PCs have no use for and can't even sell... because there are no prices. Well they can sell them, but I have to do a lot of hemming and hawing and winging it, and looking in my 1E DMG for some guidance.

      I get that they were trying to avoid Ye Olde Magic Shoppe, but no system at all isn't really a solution, it's just pretending there isn't a problem. Of course, that's a common one for the current 5E design team, who just do a lot of things by fiat without providing any kind of in game reasoning for them. Just sticking to magic items: Why only 3 items for attunement? Why does this never change? Why are some items attunement and others not?
      I hear you, brother.

      Don't listen to those saying that for their personal enjoyment they need our want to go unfulfilled. It's just egotistical bullcrap.

      WotC could have updated the d20 magic item creation and pricing economy and if they didn't want it to be core, published it in the first supplement for the game, years ago.

      The truth is that the DMG gives you heaps of gold you can't use without downtime, and then all the official adventure modules don't give you any downtime.

      But they do give you heaps of magic items.

      I really loathe the insane amounts of self-deception going on here.

      The game absolutely needs an "uptime" outlet for gold (something to spend gold on that doesn't involve downtime), it absolutely needs a magic item economy, and it absolutely needs to take all this into account for balance.

      The notion "if you care about balance, don't hand out magic items, and don't play with feats or multiclassing either" is an absolute joke.

      These are things that make the game fun! It is perfectly reasonable to expect the design team to assume balancing responsibility for them!



      Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
    1. CapnZapp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
      That's just a case of personal preference. The magic item economy, similar to multi-classing and the feat system, is a game mechanic that shifts the focus of the game away from being purely class-based and toward being a point-based game. Purchasing equipment for a character in 3E is a lot like building a character in HERO or GURPS, with many of the benefits and drawbacks that go along with it.

      Not that there's anything wrong with HERO or GURPS, mind, but it's a vastly different experience from AD&D. I'm glad that they didn't take the game in that direction.
      Are you seriously trying to argue magic items aren't part of Dungeons & Dragons? Don't make me laugh.

      Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
    1. CapnZapp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
      I agree that there's a personal preference issue but for my money (literally!) I'd think that having options would be worthwhile, because there are players who do like that kind of detail. They got nothing. I'm with you about feeling that the 3.5 system was too detailed, but what happened was it went from way too detailed to essentially nothing. Even 1E and 2E had more information on how to build, buy, and sell items than is in 5E.
      Yes but you see he isn't talking about keeping such a system optional.

      He needs it denied to us entirely.

      One of the shirtiest sentiments I've seen, and unfortunately it's not that uncommon around here.

      It's absolutely preposterous, as if you can't stop yourself from buying a supplement you don't like.

      Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
    1. CapnZapp -
      Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
      Couldn't you just use the AD&D system, then? Right down to using its prices for potions?
      Can't you just use classes and monsters from AD&D?

      Why have ANY supplements for 5th edition?

      Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
      Couldn't you just use the AD&D system, then? Right down to using its prices for potions?
      To some degree I could, but it would require a good bit of calibrating to get right. I won't say that the 1E system was perfect, just that it's there. I shouldn't have to. That's what I pay game designers to do. It's not some kind of weird monster that only appeared in 2E, it's fairly core functionality.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
      I've found that the main solution to this is to do what the 4e DMG suggests, and ask players what items they would like and then arrange for their PCs to get them (whether by finding them, as gifts from allies or from the gods, etc).
      Good point. DMs have always done this in various ways, often just listening to the players or knowing what would be a cool item. 4E made it kind of crass with the wish list I think. I actually find that attunement makes doing it in 5E tricky because I can hand something out only to find that nobody can use it.

      Still there are times when an economy would be nice. For example, if you need to get another Bag of Holding (an Uncommon item, so presumably not that difficult to get) for some reason, the DM needs to have the serendipitous drop happen, force casters into creating it during "downtime" (that never seems to happen in most games), or wing it on prices. Vice versa if you found a cool new sword with an interesting property and want to move your old +1 sword, you can hang it on the mantlepiece, give it away, dump it in a ditch, etc., but there won't be any buyers! Not only is there a reasonable pragmatic need, but IMO it kind of messes up the secondary reality of the game. I posted elsewhere the fact that a wizard brewing a Potion of Healing costs 100 gold; this is the one and only item you can regularly buy (from some unknown sources who presumably know how to manufacture for about 25 gold per) for 50 gold! Situations like this tell me that they made a design decision not to develop such a system at all and just put in a sketchy patch in the DMG5E.


      Inherent bonuses are set out in the DMG 2. And the maths is quite straightforward. I saw people posting the idea well before it was published.
      I think the Dark Sun book came out first, actually, but I'm not sure. Either way. You're right, the math isn't difficult, but for some players, including a number of people I play with, if it's not published by WotC it's not real. Without fully sharing it, I understand the sentiment. With something like monsters it's not a huge deal to have third party content, but with core functionality it's more worrisome. Their aversion to non-WotC content comes from having been burned during the D20 era.
    Comments Leave Comment