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D&D General 5e, the least magic item impacted edition?

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I was going through many of the older adventures from various editions, and it seems that 5e has a significantly lower amount of magical items in the published adventures than previous editions.

For example, in B/X and 1e, it seems there is an average of 29 magic items per module (it varies quite a bit, like Palace of the Silver Princess having roughly 10, while Keep on the Borderlands is pushing 40, and Temple of Death having 65!). But most are between 25-30, with roughly half of those being potions or scrolls.

5e seems to really have pushed the "magic" part of the game into class abilities, and away from magical items. Let's say a typical campaign in B/X starts with B2, goes to X1 Isle of Dread, then X4 and wrapping it up at X5. That puts the PCs at around level 8-9ish. In that one campaign, there are 141 magical items. how many are there in an equal 5e adventure path from levels 1-10? How many does HotDQ have? Rime?

Does 3e, known for its Christmas tree magic item lists, have more magic items per adventure than AD&D, or is TSR era D&D the king of magical loot?
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I'm not sure. I have not run any strictly 5E modules. I do know that in every edition previous (including BECMI but not 4th, which I never ran) I have crossed out 90% of all magical items in modules.
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
As written, Rime of the Frostmaiden has a fairly generous amount of potions, scrolls, and wizard spellbooks but is quite stingy with everything else. I count 90 total magic items for a level 1-13 campaign - the majority are potions & scrolls. 24 of the magic items are in the last 2 chapters, which is pretty much the endgame.

In particular, most DMs will probably want to add a couple of magic weapons for martial characters. As written, there are exactly two: a +2 trident and a cursed berzerker axe. There is also only one suit of magic armor in the entire campaign (mithral chainmail).

In general I think the character abilities compensate for the paucity of magic items - and magic items in the hands of certain characters can be dramatically game-changing in a way that wasn't necessarily the case in past editions. However, fighters, rogues, barbarians, paladins, and rangers with no reliable means of doing magical damage can get screwed starting in tier 2 if you don't give them some magic weapons.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Is it possible older versions of the game had more loot in the modules, in part, because you just weren't expected to find it all? What kind of savage searches for secret doors in a pit anyway?!
I don't think so. I mean, yeah, there were some like that, but most could easily be found. It was kinda the point ;) (XP for treasure). Granted, well over half of the magic items in TSR era D&D were consumables, largely placed in the module to counteract a "gotcha" moment. Like scrolls of stone to flesh because the adventure had a medusa in it. Also, there were a lot of monsters who were immune to non-magical weapons. not just non-magical, but at various tiers: +1 or better, +2 or better, etc. And lots of potions of healing because magical healing was not as available as future editions.

so it seems like TSR era was more of an arms race, and 5e is more "let's put all the magical powerz into the class design, and thus make them less dependent in the adventure which makes balancing harder.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
As written, Rime of the Frostmaiden has a fairly generous amount of potions, scrolls, and wizard spellbooks but is quite stingy with everything else. I count 90 total magic items for a level 1-13 campaign - the majority are potions & scrolls. 24 of the magic items are in the last 2 chapters, which is pretty much the endgame.
I'm playing in it right now, and we are just hitting level 4. The only magic item we've come across is the lantern (doesn't really count), and the cauldron (also doesn't really count). No PC has any magical items yet.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
I've also noticed that even within 5E, the official adventures were more generous with magic items earlier on than the more recent ones are. Lost Mine of Phandelver is a bonanza in comparison to what level 1-5 characters can get their hands on in Tomb of Annihilation or Rime of the Frostmaiden.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
I'm playing in it right now, and we are just hitting level 4. The only magic item we've come across is the lantern (doesn't really count), and the cauldron (also doesn't really count). No PC has any magical items yet.

Your DM might be holding back some potions and scrolls tbh. As written, most of the starting quests include at least one potion or scroll in a pretty find-able area.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Yeah, I think that's believable. There's a lot less that's gatekept by magic items. You generally don't need magic weapons to hit creatures like in 1e/2e or bypass absolute values for damage resistance that were fairly punitive in 3.0. And the numbers game is made easier by magic, but is never out of reach for characters without it. Magic helps but the lack doesn't cripple in 5e, and I appreciate that.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I've also noticed that even within 5E, the official adventures were more generous with magic items earlier on than the more recent ones are. Lost Mine of Phandelver is a bonanza in comparison to what level 1-5 characters can get their hands on in Tomb of Annihilation or Rime of the Frostmaiden.
HotDQ is pretty sparse too, and it was one of the first adventures. Granted, it's been awhile, but outside of a super powerful greatsword that caused major balance issues early on, and a dragon's tooth dagger, I don't recall many magic items in that adventure that went all the way up to level 15.
 

jgsugden

Legend
There are three angles to consider: 1.) Yes, 5E is designed to have less magic items than prior editions, 2.) Stock modules, like Lost Mine of Phandelver, have more magic items than would be expected under the guidelines for hoards in the DMG, and 3.) this is the first edition that has very limited guidance on how to buy magic items.

In my experience, the game is most fun if you follow the DMG guidelines for number of items to be found, if you allow items to be purchased with gold if you can find a market for them, and that you keep things rare enough that each item is meaningful. When PCs for get they have an item, it usually means they have too many.
 

Bolares

Hero
Phandelver is a bonanza in comparison to what level 1-5 characters can get their hands on in Tomb of Annihilation or Rime of the Frostmaiden.
Tomb also has a disproportional division. My players are going in to the Tomb next session, and they will encounter more itens inside the tomb than they have found until now. (If you don't count the magic item shop in Port Nianzaru)
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Tomb also has a disproportional division. My players are going in to the Tomb next session, and they will encounter more itens inside the tomb than they have found until now. (If you don't count the magic item shop in Port Nianzaru)

That was my experience as a player - up until entering the Tomb, I think my 8th or 9th level bard had a +1 dagger, a ring of jumping, and a scroll of protection vs undead as the sum total of his magic items. But he grabbed a BUNCH in the Tomb. We couldn't afford anything in Port Nyanzaru.

On the other hand, my current paladin in Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus had more and better magic items at level 4 than my bard had at level 8.
 

Bolares

Hero
That was my experience as a player - up until entering the Tomb, I think my 8th or 9th level bard had a +1 dagger, a ring of jumping, and a scroll of protection vs undead as the sum total of his magic items. But he grabbed a BUNCH in the Tomb. We couldn't afford anything in Port Nyanzaru.
My players returned once to Port Nyanzaru, so they had the cash to buy some stuff there. Other than that and sparse itens they found in the jungle, the first thing they got was the loot on the boss in Omu:
Ras Nsi's Flametongue and bracers of defense
.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Hmmm...that gets me thinking about attunement limits. I recall when it first came out, several people were upset that they could only attune 3 items.

As a player or DM, I've completed HotQ, ToA, SKT, DiA, and several shorter adventures, and not once did anyone run into an issue with having more than 3 attunable items for their PC. :unsure:🤷‍♂️
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
My players returned once to Port Nyanzaru, so they had the cash to buy some stuff there. Other than that and sparse itens they found in the jungle, the first thing they got was the loot on the boss in Omu:
Ras Nsi's Flametongue and bracers of defense
.

Ah

We negotiated with him so didn't end up killing and looting him. My bard did find the Instrument of the Bards (Canaith mandolin) in the Tomb, which is the best item I've ever found with a 5E character). We still TPKed in the last fight with Acererak.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Hmmm...that gets me thinking about attunement limits. I recall when it first came out, several people were upset that they could only attune 3 items.

As a player or DM, I've completed HotQ, ToA, SKT, DiA, and several shorter adventures, and not once did anyone run into an issue with having more than 3 attunable items for their PC. :unsure:🤷‍♂️

I hit the limit towards the end of ToA, but only because I had one slot occupied by a cursed, un-removable item.
 

Bolares

Hero
Ah

We negotiated with him so didn't end up killing and looting him. My bard did find the Instrument of the Bards (Canaith mandolin) in the Tomb, which is the best item I've ever found with a 5E character). We still TPKed in the last fight with Acererak.
One of my players is a Yuan-ti Warlock, with Dendar as a patron so:
Fenthaza talked to him in his dreams (making him think Dendar was speaking to him directly) and asked him to seek her out. So they made a deal where he would kill Ras Nsi and find the opal crown in the tomb and later both would go on the mission to free Dendar. The player is divided in what he will do when he finds the crown, and I'm rubbing my hands waiting for him to decide :devilish:
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I was going through many of the older adventures from various editions, and it seems that 5e has a significantly lower amount of magical items in the published adventures than previous editions.

For example, in B/X and 1e, it seems there is an average of 29 magic items per module (it varies quite a bit, like Palace of the Silver Princess having roughly 10, while Keep on the Borderlands is pushing 40, and Temple of Death having 65!). But most are between 25-30, with roughly half of those being potions or scrolls.

5e seems to really have pushed the "magic" part of the game into class abilities, and away from magical items. Let's say a typical campaign in B/X starts with B2, goes to X1 Isle of Dread, then X4 and wrapping it up at X5. That puts the PCs at around level 8-9ish. In that one campaign, there are 141 magical items. how many are there in an equal 5e adventure path from levels 1-10? How many does HotDQ have? Rime?

Does 3e, known for its Christmas tree magic item lists, have more magic items per adventure than AD&D, or is TSR era D&D the king of magical loot?
It's actually one of the most magic item impacted editions. The reason for so few items in published adventures is that the 5e math doesn't take magic items into consideration at all, so they are pure bonuses that serve to increase the PC power level. Too many and it will unbalance the game considerably.

3e and 4e were christmas tree editions, because you had to have those items just to keep pace. I hated it. Magic items should be special and additive, not required for a treadmill.
 


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