Magic Items Preference: flavor, or mechanical bonus?

Poll: Flavor or mechanical?

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 32
  1. #1
    Member
    Pit Fiend (Lvl 26)



    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Aloha, or
    Posts
    5,557

    Magic Items Preference: flavor, or mechanical bonus?

    Preference question, and no wrong answer. In your games, do you prefer magic items to add flavor to the game, or do you prefer magic items that offer mechanical bonuses.

    For example, what sounds like it would add more fun to your game, getting a +1 sword, or getting a sword that illuminated upon command with the brightness of a torch. Would you prefer a suit of +1 armor, or armor that never needed repair and was always gleaming?
    XP 77IM, TarionzCousin gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    Member
    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    575
    My wish for a magic item is "This item makes me feel cooler." If it can't accomplish that then it's no better than mundane gear.

    A +1 in combat always makes me feel cooler because combat power is satisfying in a combat focused game like D&D. Utility items that let me do something I couldn't before, like fly or breathe underwater, make me feel cooler because I can do something most other characters can't. Flavor items, like armor that's always gleaming, are the least reliable because they depend on the DM describing them having an impact on the world.

    Gleaming armor only makes me feel cool if NPCs are occasionally impressed by my appearance. Getting Advantage on a social roll now and then would help close the deal. If it fades into a trivial background detail that never impacts the game, what's even the point?

    Might I consider assembling the Dread Lord cosmetic item package from XGtE? (Cloak of Billowing, Smoldering Armor, and Dread Helm.) I might in theory, but the problem is there's no mechanically enforced benefit to it. It depends on DM whim if and when it gives me Advantage on Intimidate or the like. Unless my DM is really on the ball about describing how peasants cower and drunkards hesitate to pick a bar fight it's never going to be as satisfying as a magic item that does something. Even if that something is as prosaic as a simple +1 to attack and damage.
    XP Dausuul, Mort, Yardiff, 77IM, Saelorn and 2 others gave XP for this post

  3. #3
    Member
    Titan (Lvl 27)



    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    San Jose/Santa Clara, CA
    Posts
    14,808
    Not a fan of TotM, but, since I don't see how it actually has any bearing, went ahead and voted for da Flavah. Bland bonuses are bland.

    Of course, in the olden days you didn't have to choose: your +1 sword most likely glowed (thanks, Tolkien), and your +1 armor was feather-light and needed no maintenance. 5e, likewise, has some cool options for adding extra seasoning to otherwise bland bonus items.
    XP Yardiff, 77IM gave XP for this post

  4. #4
    Member
    Lama (Lvl 13)



    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    1,203
    As a player I would rather survive than be cool, so give me a bonus.

  5. #5
    Flavor above cold numbers. I play the game to have a good laugh, and flavored items allow for new jokes.


    Btw, I dislike abbreviations like TotM. I forgot what it means and first thought that it's another adventure, like Tomb of the Mummy or Tales of the Mighty. Takes me forever to realize it means Theatre of the Mind, and I actually had to use a search engine to get to its meaning.
    XP Kinematics gave XP for this post

  6. #6
    Member
    Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)



    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    London England
    Posts
    18,439
    Bonuses beat flavour, but bonuses + flavour beats just bonuses.
    XP Shiroiken, KahlessNestor, ccs, Yardiff gave XP for this post

  7. #7
    Member
    Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)



    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Posts
    2,131
    I think the question is better as "would you rather have a lesser bonus to get a cool, useful ability, or a higher bonus?" I'd rather have a sword of wounding than a +2 sword, even though both are rare. I'd give up +2 to hit/damage for cumulatively add 1d4 necrotic damage per round with each hit. I'd rather have either than sovereign glue, which is legendary but of limited utility.

  8. #8
    Member
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

    MarkB's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    England
    Posts
    5,798
    I voted for mechanical bonus because I want to feel like the item is actually being of use to me, but with that said, I'd far rather have something I can use creatively than something that just changes a number on my character sheet. If it's materially useful, I wouldn't classify it as "flavour", even if its usefulness is situational.

    Then again, in a recent low-level game I played, the most highly coveted item was the Cloak of Heroic Flapping, whose only effect was to always flap and billow dramatically, regardless of the weather conditions.

  9. #9
    Member SILVER SUBSCRIBER
    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

    SkidAce's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Hampton, VA
    Posts
    3,520
    Can't vote...usually create both.


    "My favorite part of DMing is making whatever interests the characters important. Or at least seem important." - James Wyatt

    Unconquered Kingdoms, Obsidian Portal July 2016 Campaign of the Month
    XP ccs, Ralif Redhammer, Laurefindel, Azzy, Yardiff gave XP for this post

  10. #10
    Member
    A "Drizzit" Type-Thing (Lvl 28)



    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    The Stately Pleasure Dome of Xanadu.
    Posts
    7,119
    Quote Originally Posted by Raith5 View Post
    As a player I would rather survive than be cool, so give me a bonus.
    But is that really life? Is that worth living?


    Of all the Monk subclasses, I prefer The Way of Cool, whose tiny and exclusive monastery is hidden in a really amazing and laid-back valley.


    The Way of Cool has a passing-out test for initiates at the third level. The third level monk is taken into a room full of all types of clothing and asked: Yo, which of these is the most stylish thing to wear?

    And the correct answer is: Hey, whatever I select.


    (h/t Pratchett)
    XP Yaarel gave XP for this post

Similar Threads

  1. XGtE: are any of those flavor magic items any good?
    By Minsc in forum *Dungeons & Dragons
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: Monday, 22nd April, 2019, 04:32 AM
  2. Mechanical Impacts of Altering the Flavor of Magic
    By Asmor in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: Saturday, 17th September, 2011, 05:56 AM
  3. Do you like stat-bonus magic items?
    By Kunimatyu in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 55
    Last Post: Wednesday, 13th September, 2006, 09:27 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •