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

Bolares

Hero
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.
I kind of agree with this (having played only 3e and newer editions). I like that in 5e magic items are really magical. My players really feel like they have something special when they get one. That said, it makes a slippery slope when DMing. How many are too much? How many are too few?
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I kind of agree with this (having played only 3e and newer editions). I like that in 5e magic items are really magical. My players really feel like they have something special when they get one. That said, it makes a slippery slope when DMing. How many are too much? How many are too few?
Since you started with 3e, you might not be aware that 1e and 2e were like 5e in this regard. You had to be careful, because if you gave out too many magic items or items that were too strong for a particular level, you caused a lot of imbalance. It was trial and error to learn and 5e seems the same in this regard.

In my first 5e campaign I gave out a number of +1 weapons and it made many encounters too easy for everyone to be able to hurt monsters with resistance to normal weapons freely. Live and learn. This campaign I let it be known that magic weapons that are not +1 or better cannot hurt those creatures. That way I can hand out magic weapons without messing that balance up again.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
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?
According to the guidelines from XGTE (which pretty closely match the average results if you award treasure according to the guidelines in the DMG), a 10th level party should have around 45 magic items, of which about 8 should be major items and the rest should be minor (the major/minor distinction isn’t well defined, but generally consumable items are considered minor, whereas permanent items could be either depending on their utility).
How many does HotDQ have? Rime?
No idea, though I suspect most 5e modules probably don’t match these guidelines, but probably do fall within the realm of possibility given the DMG guidelines, even if they deviate significantly from the average.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
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.
That doesn’t surprise me, as I think HotDQ was trying very hard to distance itself from the 4e modules. Making magic items magical again was one of the major selling points of 5e, and a big part of that was the promise that the DM could hand out as much or as little treasure as they wanted without upsetting the game balance. HotDQ emphasized this by giving the players heaps of gold and very few magic items.
 


billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I came to love a lot of things about 4e, but baking magic items into character progression was not one of them. It always feels like a chore to make my "wish list", and takes almost all of the wonder of receiving a magic item.
So did the magic item economy of 3e. Anything that was weird, quirky, or useful under certain circumstances was fodder for conversion into the Big 6 that were consistently useful.
5e, at least with respect to magic items, plays a lot more like 1e/2e than 3e/4e. And that's right where I want it to be.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
According to the guidelines from XGTE (which pretty closely match the average results if you award treasure according to the guidelines in the DMG), a 10th level party should have around 45 magic items, of which about 8 should be major items and the rest should be minor (the major/minor distinction isn’t well defined, but generally consumable items are considered minor, whereas permanent items could be either depending on their utility).
"Should have" isn't entirely accurate. It's more like, "could have." The game itself doesn't expect any magic items to be present and is designed to run smoothly with none at all. However, since people love magic items, the default is to use items and the DMG table will generate about that many magic items if you use it.

Even with that, you still have to be careful. Not all major items are in the same league. If the group has the wrong 8, it can still make things very hard for the DM.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I came to love a lot of things about 4e, but baking magic items into character progression was not one of them. It always feels like a chore to make my "wish list", and takes almost all of the wonder of receiving a magic item.
It’s one of my least favorite parts of 4e too. Though, I think 5e may have swung a bit further than I would have preferred in the opposite direction - it’s all well and good to say I can give out as much or as little treasure as I want, but a little advice on how my choice of how much treasure to award will impact the game would still be appreciated. I think Xanathar’s guide did eventually give us that, but that information really should have been in the DMG in my opinion.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
One thing that Xanathar's Guide did that helped me a lot was introducing the idea of whimsical common magic items, that don't need to be impactfull to the combat part of the game to be fun to distribute.
Yep. A weapon that sharpens itself and cleans away blood and dirt, so it's always shiny and new is a fun one.
 

Bolares

Hero
It’s one of my least favorite parts of 4e too. Though, I think 5e may have swung a bit further than I would have preferred in the opposite direction - it’s all well and good to say I can give out as much or as little treasure as I want, but a little advice on how my choice of how much treasure to award will impact the game would still be appreciated. I think Xanathar’s guide did eventually give us that, but that information really should have been in the DMG in my opinion.
Xanathar is the best DM guide in 5e
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
"Should have" isn't entirely accurate. It's more like, "could have." The game itself doesn't expect any magic items to be present and is designed to run smoothly with none at all. However, since people love magic items, the default is to use items and the DMG table will generate about that many magic items if you use it.

Even with that, you still have to be careful. Not all major items are in the same league. If the group has the wrong 8, it can still make things very hard for the DM.
Yeah, good point. I meant “should” as in that’s what the guidelines say is typical, not as in that’s what the combat math expects them to have.
 



toucanbuzz

Legend
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....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?
By design.

In OD&D and AD&D, adventures were crafted around 6-8 characters, it was not uncommon to equip underlings to boost those party numbers, and characters who died restarted at level 1, but could catch up in the unique XP system fairly quickly if they could stay alive...which would be due to having magical items handed down to them. Because of that, a well-geared 1st level fighter could hang with a 6th level party. Magic items and weapons were commonly found at level 1. Bounded accuracy and balanced class design were not part of the conversation. Finally, magic items could be broken and destroyed, and if a DM wanted to ensure no players returned to his or her table, see Mordenkainen's Disjunction.

3rd Edition: the "Christmas tree" effect where numerical magic items to boost stats became a necessity. Wealth by level replaced hoards of gold with hoards of "plus" items that would be sold towards the next tier of stat-boosting items. Easily my least-favorite time of magical items.

4th: skipped

5E: because of bounded accuracy and power imbued within the classes, magical items are less necessary. Because of the math, stat boosting items have more impact than before. There was/is a push to make each and every magical item you put into the game special so players don't yawn, toss it onto the heap of +1 swords, and so on.

I do recall a thread years ago about adventure design and the expectation not all encounters would be had, so if one were to scour the entirety of a prefab adventure, there would tend to be more magic than written into the DMG/Xanathar's expectations.

Summary: the TSR era handed out magical items like candy at 1st level and never stopped. Without attunement, the only thing stopping you was the 2-ring limit.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
I love that 5e doesn't assume magic items.

I play published adventures and have players make treasure board rolls in appropriate places to see if they get anything.

The relative scarcity means that every item is special.

A +1 shortsword for example is a special unique item when there aren't any others.

I disagree that martial characters need magic weapons unless the campaign is filled with fiends or such.

If all characters are assumed to bypass resistance why bother having it?
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
I love that 5e doesn't assume magic items...If all characters are assumed to bypass resistance why bother having it?
If gamers love their magical weapons, then it's fairly easy for the DM to scale up foes by going back to old-school ideas, e.g. replacing resistance to weapons with immunity to non-magical attacks, for stronger foes resistance to weapons of +1 enchantment, and so on. It all works out as the table/DM wants it to work out, but if I'm running published adventures, they're not scaled that way.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Summary: the TSR era handed out magical items like candy at 1st level and never stopped. Without attunement, the only thing stopping you was the 2-ring limit.
Most of the low level monster treasure types didn't have magic items on them or it was hard to roll one on it. It wasn't until 5th level or so that monsters started hitting the the treasure types that had a decent percent chance of magic items.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If gamers love their magical weapons, then it's fairly easy for the DM to scale up foes by going back to old-school ideas, e.g. replacing resistance to weapons with immunity to non-magical attacks, for stronger foes resistance to weapons of +1 enchantment, and so on. It all works out as the table/DM wants it to work out, but if I'm running published adventures, they're not scaled that way.
I thought about that, but it was a bit too complex for me to want to figure out, so I went with magic weapons that don't have a plus can't hurt creatures that are resistant or immune, but magic items that do have a plus can. Simpler and accomplishes the same goal.
 


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