D&D (2024) 2024 needs to end 2014's passive aggressive efforts to remove magic items & other elements from d&d

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
2014 includes a lot of passive agressive design choices to place awkward hurdles in the way of using magic items as if there was an effort to pressure away from using them. Magic items have always been a pretty core part of d&d gameplay for various reasons & the DMG once even included a few pages about their importance to gameplay with a good chunk of chapter10 even beyond the rather clear & uncertain insight into human nature described on pg115. Despite multiple new editions & a wildly different set of mechanics that section is still largely 100% accurate to what was released in 2014. It's been said many many* times how magic items are not required or needed for PCs in 5e by design with no indications of being outright in either direction since 2014.

No matter how often someone at wotc says otherwise magic items are clearly an obviously a core pillar of d&d, just a quick page count shows just how true that is/ It's odd for an unneeded optional feature to consume 92 pages of the DMG 12 pages of XgE 19 pages of TcoE 7 from GGtR 6 in Theros & countless pages of the various hardcover adventure books. Without even counting eberron's rising from the last war or Spelljammer's magic item pages in even a single adventure that combines to a page count of magic item related content that is edging in on something close to some of the hard cover adventures themselves (especially if you subtract the title page, various publishing legaleese &OGL pages, index & what are often charitably dubbed an "appendix"),

As shown above magic items are obviously magic items are not a discardable "optional" pillar of d&d and yet there are a wide range of rather odd choices that 2014 5e implemented that do little more than hamstring the GM in their use as what seems to be a primary goal.
  • Starting with one thing that 5e did add (attunement & attunement slots). These are split across DMG136 & 138. The word attune or attunement cal also be found on PHB pg50 66 80 8192 178 &246 &252 & 266 & 271, none of those actually explain attunement & the only ones referencing magic items that require attunement are spells that can do something noteworthy with it. There's no reason to detail what they do here in this post since anyone reading this forum almost certainly knows what attunement:yes magic items & attunement slots are. The people who don'tknow what magic item attunement is should be obvious from the fact that at no point in the PHB is it actually described in any way.
    • The passive aggressive hurdles thrown in the GM's way continue from there to the character sheet itself (wotc pdf download link). After nearly a decade wotc has still not taken steps to correct the fact that nowhere on the character sheet is there a place players can write down what they are attuned to where their GM could hypothetically glance at with the extremely reasonable "let ne see your sheet(s) for a second Bob" type overview. The omission appears deliberate at this point given that none of the ease of releasing a new PDF & the fact that none of the setting & adventure books tried to correct it with an updated sheet like page 286 of the Magic Item Compendium did in 2007 with this second problem.
  • The 2007 Magic item sheet wasn't built for attunement since it predated the 2014 5e publication by several years, but it demonstrates an additional passive aggressive roadblock. I wanted to be sure if 4e included a magic item sheet or not rather than just going with my vague memories of minimal experience & found several attempts to update it (like this) but 2014 5e DMG 141 provides a pretty significant passive aggressive roadblock thrown in the way of updating such a sheet to 5e in the "multiple items of the same kind" section. Although body slots are implied to exist & there have been at least two entirely different sets of them, at no point do any of the 5e books actually list them or describe their use like 3.5 pg288 does masterfully on page 288 in the slot affinities sidebar.


It may not have been perfect originally in the 3.5 PHB but at least the 2006(?) revised character sheet added sections for possessions on/not on person, & magic items worn with spaces marked out for item, location & weight. None of those are represented in the 5e character sheets. Digital distribution & at the table use of PDF editing digital devices back then was nowhere near as simple as it is today, but it demonstrates an additional passive aggressive hurdle thrown at the GM in the 2014 rulebooks in how it treats & omits parts of encumbrance.

Not only are body slot locations left undefined by the ruleset of 2014-today, so too are key details of how actually carrying stuff works. Container capacities are found on phb153, but on no page of any 5e book is it explained how they work. Obviously without body slots being defined those containers can't be restricted to specific body slots to the joy of every GM who has tried to require container use only to crash into debates over why ## strength should allow Bob's PC to wear multiple backpacks 4 sacks & 47 pouches plus a two handed weapon or sword & board. If the container omission were limited to that we could point to the dmg141 entry to limit that kind of situation, but the GM is already treading on thin ice just by trying to require container use given that nowhere does it really say that a PC needs to use them or more importantly how they work. Do items in a container count against encumbrance? If so is it full or partial weight after weight distribution of backpacks & such? How many of a given container type can a player wear on their PC?... Nobody knows the answer to any of those because the rules for those containers don't exist& the closest you can find to rules related to them is on PHB190 where the sidebar helpfully shoots the GM's case to require container use by eliminating any costs & risks to interacting with them in combat. Sure PHB176 has some rules related to carrying capacity but those too shoot the GM's case to require containers, unlike past versions where such rules created meaningful choices, these ones either make every effort to ensure they will never matter or will always matter in an annoying way without actually creating meaningful choices that differentiate one build from another that chose differently.



*I'm not watching through hours & hours of Wotc folks to find videos that happen to mention it but seem to recall Crawford mentioning it as recently as the last couple months.
 

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For me I got enough options for my characters and don’t need to add more with numerous magic items. 2024 Ed will add more options so I would need even less magic items.

I never heard a comment or a requirement about encumbrance and carrying capacity in 10 years of playing 5ed. There are rules that fall in a bottomless pit over the years.
 
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Reef

Hero
Anecdote, not data, but in my 40+ years playing, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a campaign where we cared about encumbrance. I know we never asked where a specific item was being carried. At most, it was lip service, in that the only time it came up was when someone was egregious about it (“Wait, how many pole arms are you carrying?”). So, the lack of container info never even registered for us.

As for magic items, I’m not against adding wonder to the game. I am against making numerically powerful combat items plentiful or required. I don’t want to go back to a game where people are expected to have a set amount of +s to be considered ‘average’ for their level. I don’t personally like the feel of characters swapping out their favourite sword every level because they find one slightly more effective. And since tracking specific treasure was never a draw for us, I’m happy to tone down the looting of every corpse. But like I said, I don’t mind using wondrous items that do cool things, but not necessarily combat specific ones.

(Although of course, everyone has awesome stories about someone who used a completely non-combat related magic item to save the day in a glorious, an probably violent, display of creativity…)
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
No, we prefer to play low / no magic item D&D so I want that to remain. I could see improved guidance for incorporating magic items, but I am really happy with the no need for magic items in 5e
Are you just declaring Badwrongfun to defend poor design rather than actually trying to defend the design itself on whatever merits it might have? Even if fixing the examples of passive aggressive design noted above leads to an additional page in the character sheet and/or a core rulebook I think you will be fine

A standard sheet of laser-printer paper of the usual thickness, either US "letter" size or international "A4" size, weighs 4.5 grams. That means 100 sheets weighs almost exactly one pound. One sheet is 0.16 of one ounce (28.35g); there are 6.3 sheets per ounce.
By your own admission it sounds like you wouldn't be using the character sheet s& completed rules sections much or at all. Having a section you don't use much or at all on the character sheet with fleshed out rules in the ruleset for people who do use them doesn't negatively impact you since you aren't using them much or at all. Not having them significantly impacts those who do need them.

You've done an excellent job of demonstrating just how petty & passive aggressive these roadblocks of omission come off
  • Q:Should the PHB explain attunement & attunement slots so players will understand them & be able to reference the section if they gain an item that requires attunement?
    • A: No because @Uni-the-Unicorn! prefers to play low / no magic item D&D so they want that to remain.
  • Q: Should a standard set of Body slots or similar be defined somewhere so that concepts like slot affinities and slot conflicts can be explained?
  • A: No because @Uni-the-Unicorn! prefers to play low / no magic item D&D so they want that to remain.
  • Q:Should the character sheet include a page that some groups can use to track magic items a character has on them & has chosen to equip or somehow keep active in a way relevant to the magic item?
    • A: No because @Uni-the-Unicorn! prefers to play low / no magic item D&D so they want that to remain.
  • Q: Should there be actual rules of any sort for containers rather than just capacities?
    • A: No because @Uni-the-Unicorn! prefers to play low / no magic item D&D so they want that to remain
  • Q:Should there be useful carry capacity rules that create interesting choices rather than two awful ones that do neither while discouraging their use?
    • A1: No because @Uni-the-Unicorn! prefers to play low / no magic item D&D so they want that to remain
I didn't expect such a clear example that simultaneously confirms fixing these omissions won't particularly impact them while showing the sort of petty & passive aggressive tone these kinds of omissions set for the hurdles they throw at a GM choosing to engage in what someone deemed to be BadWrongFun back in 2014
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
I'd like to see more do cool things not do more numbers magic items. That way, they are not assumed as given in any particular campaign. Leave that decision firmly in the DM's purview.
I strongly agree with that bolded bit & consider the rest a different enough tangent from the OP that it's not really relevant. The GM shouldn't be sandbagged by hurdles like the omissions I described if they decide "this choice is right for the particular campaign I'm running now" & that's especially true when the biggest defense for the omissions seems to be some flavor of "well I don't use it so it should remain an omission".

Back in the 3.5 days it was common for people to talk about getting specific magic items when going for a particular build, but it was very well understood that actually doing so was totally up to the GM & shouldn't be expected. I can't even count the number of times i've seen 5e players act as if they or another player was owed specific magic items even when told they wouldn't or that they wouldn't unless xyz. I feel like some of the omissions that I noted above directly contribute tothat video game player mentality.
 

Reef

Hero
How is that any more passive-aggressive (which is an odd take to begin with) than saying you want all those additions to the character sheet and more robust rules because that’s your preferred game?

They aren’t going to write rules and subsystems that they think the majority of people will ignore, and encumbrance is the prime example of that. Sure, you can say that people can just ignore them if they want, but WOTC aren’t going to spend valuable time on that in that case.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Back in the 3.5 days it was common for people to talk about getting specific magic items when going for a particular build, but it was very well understood that actually doing so was totally up to the GM & shouldn't be expected. I can't even count the number of times i've seen 5e players act as if they or another player was owed specific magic items even when told they wouldn't or that they wouldn't unless xyz. I feel like some of the omissions that I noted above directly contribute tothat video game player mentality.
That was a very big problem in the 3.5 era. It was assumed that players would achieve a certain level of wealth and have particular items regardless of build. GMs assumed it was like the old days and that magic items were a luxury for the players. It doesn't work that way in 3E, and I'm glad it does work that way now in 5E. Avoiding this is of utmost importance, however magic item economies are done.
 

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