5E Magic Item Inheritance
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  1. #1

    Magic Item Inheritance

    So, I've been thinking about the backgrounds from SCAG, and I always found Inheritor interesting. The thing is, I never really could figure out a way to make the inheritance not just sentimental or quickly outpaced. I think an inheritance should be something that is a core part of a character that uses this background, but not gamebreaking. I'm just not sure how to do that. I think it might also be cool for it to be a magic item, but that maybe either a little cheap or a little to easily outpaced, depending on how you look at it.

    I like the idea of a magic item, and, to keep it somewhat balanced, is to use Matthew Mercer's Vestige system, a way that is even suggested in the book. If a weapon, it starts out as just a +1, and as time goes on, the DM, getting a good understanding of the characters knowledge of the nature of the inheritance, can make it more powerful over time, so it keeps pace with other weapons. This makes it so it starts out not too OP, but lets it not quickly become useless from a statistics standpoint.

    I'm open to other methods or critiques on this one. Thoughts?
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  2. #2
    One of my players is playing a half orc with an inherited battle ax, and we're playing ToA. He doesn't actually have the weapon yet. He'll be getting it around level 5, and then I had plans on having it gain in power when he hits each new tier. But not just + bonuses. I'm still working it out, but I'd prefer something more flavorful that hits on hit being a family heirloom rather than a basic magic item.

  3. #3
    I'd say it probably shouldn't be a magic item if its just from a background. If you're using another system that allows other players to gain guaranteed magic items though, the inheritor is an interesting way of flavouring it.

  4. #4
    You could make it a magic item that enhances roleplaying rather than offering mechanical advantage in combat or whatnot.

    That would only be useful if the current campaign is the type to offer ample opportunities for roleplaying though.
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  5. #5
    I only allow Ĺinheritenceĺ if a retired character is handing something over to a new level 1 character.

    If a magic item, Ĺattunementĺ only unlocks it when the character reaches the appropriate level.

    Most of the time, inheritence means lifestyle during downtime.

    The narrative benefit of in-world connections that tie characters together in relationships, is priceless.

  6. #6
    My case was a little different. We finished our 3 year campaign of Age of Worms, and a few months later we played Tomb of Horrors. I had the players create descendants of the original herores, and they could have one magic item from the original heroes.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herosmith14 View Post
    So, I've been thinking about the backgrounds from SCAG, and I always found Inheritor interesting. The thing is, I never really could figure out a way to make the inheritance not just sentimental or quickly outpaced. I think an inheritance should be something that is a core part of a character that uses this background, but not gamebreaking. I'm just not sure how to do that. I think it might also be cool for it to be a magic item, but that maybe either a little cheap or a little to easily outpaced, depending on how you look at it.

    I like the idea of a magic item, and, to keep it somewhat balanced, is to use Matthew Mercer's Vestige system, a way that is even suggested in the book. If a weapon, it starts out as just a +1, and as time goes on, the DM, getting a good understanding of the characters knowledge of the nature of the inheritance, can make it more powerful over time, so it keeps pace with other weapons. This makes it so it starts out not too OP, but lets it not quickly become useless from a statistics standpoint.

    I'm open to other methods or critiques on this one. Thoughts?
    I don't like the idea of the magic item, I think it's too much compared to other background's benefits, which are mostly meant to be a downtime benefit.

    I think as an "inheritance" I would rather grant the PC some estate, like a country house or even a small keep or tower. A place where the whole party can retreat during the downtime, somewhat similar to the hospitality-like benefits of other backgrounds, only that this one is in a single specific location obviously, but it might provide some permanent benefits (e.g. storage, supply replenishment, equipment mending facilities).

    The "vestige" system can work with any magic item in your game, although I don't know why it was called this way since the term AFAIK refers to something that is leftover or even left behind, rather than something that grows... Anyway if you grant a magic item AND make it grow, that's even less balanced against the other backgrounds' benefits.

    If you insist with something magical, how about a magical location? Perhaps the inheritance consists of a magic well or shrine (and the corresponding ability to unlock its power exclusively) that does in fact grant a temporary magical benefit, but is tied to its location and therefore can be mostly used between adventures.
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  8. #8
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    You give the char a goodie from the beginning, but otoh you spoil the fun of deserving and gaining (by victory over a mob, as a quest reward etc.) a magic weapon during gameplay.

    I would not do it, only eventually for RP reasons, but it is not a good topic for that either. Either it has the depth of Elrics Stormbringer, which requires a shitload of work and preparation from the DM, and it does clearly create a focus on one of the characters who owns that thing, or it is simply not worth it.

    Also depending on the maturity of your group, some of the other players would want a magic item from start also and sooner or later your group is more defined by their equipment than by the characters themselves.

  9. #9
    Dearest kin,

    I am dead. Hence this will. I leave to you my magical sword of hurting and several thousand gold pieces. Knowing that you share my blood, I recognize that you would never willingly accept a handout, even from one you loved such as I. As such I have ensured my legacy is situated in a really horrible and nasty dungeon, surrounded by all manner of beasties, that you'll need to be at least 5th level to survive. A map of its location is attached below. Good hunting, spawn of my loins!

    Hugs,

    Dead Relative
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coroc View Post
    You give the char a goodie from the beginning, but otoh you spoil the fun of deserving and gaining (by victory over a mob, as a quest reward etc.) a magic weapon during gameplay.

    I would not do it, only eventually for RP reasons, but it is not a good topic for that either.
    This doesn't sound like the main reason to me, because the same can be said for the "Feature" benefit of every background. They are all meant to represent the results of having already interacted with the world and gained something tangible, but useful only between adventures.

    The real problem with a background giving out a free magic item, is that it will be directly useful in adventure situations including possibly combat. This would make that background potentially more valuable than others, unless such magic item is specifically restricted to something mostly useless while adventuring (e.g. one of the new common magic items in Xanathar's Guide to Everything).

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