D&D 5E Analysis of "Typical" Magic Item Distribution

FireLance

Legend
The number of rolls on the table are a very bad estimate and I'd ignore it. They don't come close to matching how many monsters you will be killing, and thus hordes you will come across, based on the XP requirements to level. For instance it's quite likely you'll be killing over 60 legendary monsters from 17 to 20, many of which are dragons and should each have a horde and you only end up with 8 rolls. This is why the treasure the published adventures is handing out is higher.
I think the distribution of monsters and treasure is definitely going to vary from campaign to campaign. That said, it is not entirely clear to me that high-level (levels 17-20) PCs have to fight legendary dragons. There are are other types of high-level monsters, such as demons and devils, and the DM could also choose to use large numbers of lower-level monsters instead.

In any case, regardless of the monsters he uses, a DM could choose to be as generous or stingy with treasure as he wishes. It even says so in the rules: "You can hand out as much or as little treasure as you want." (DMG, p. 133, first sentence of last paragraph, just before describing the treasure found in a "typical" campaign.)
 

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Blackwarder

Adventurer
On a related note, does anyone know how much I need to roll to determine treasure? Is there a guideline somewhere?

For example, I got a mini dungeon for 1st level group (a prison break scenario) where the main enemies are goblins and a bugbear, and the lair/prison is a small laboratory of a blood mage, what should I roll no how many times?

Warder
 

Chocolategravy

First Post
No.

Magic weapon yes; +3 weapon no, not a given at all.

You have been repeatedly told not to assume that the character is having a +3 sword. ANY magic sword will overcome magic resistance.

Simply stop it, Choc. If you feel the game breaks if you hand out +3 items, then don't.

You're the only one mentioning +3 weapons.

The post I responded to made no mention of it, neither did I. This seems overly personal.

As for not handing them out... the magic weapons being handed out in the published adventures and in official play are BETTER than +3. YOU are welcome to not hand them out at your personal table, but WotC tables DO. Obviously the people that WROTE the game think they're fine, and as I was pointing out in my post, the RATE they're handed out at is GREATER than the rate the DMG says is typical, meaning it's a bad estimate not in line with the previous paragraphs or how WotC is doing it.
 


It is built into the math of the game and it does assume the players will have this stuff. Monsters requiring magic weapons for full damage are very common but they receive no penalty from having such a potentially powerful ability due to the fact that parties are assumed to be carrying the magic weapons to bypass it and only things like pets and NPCs will be losing damage.

What the math of the game doesn't account for is how much more powerful, even completely without magic items, a higher level party is, and doesn't work for them.

No, it's not included in the math of the game, and it does not assume the players will have this stuff. In fact, quite the opposite! The math assumes that there won't be any magic items in the party, which is evidenced by the higher level CR monsters have magic resistance, but not immunity. Resistance gives them the CR that they have, and if the developers had assumed that there were magic items in the party at all times, then that CR modifier would be worthless. I'm having this problem after converting people from 4th and 3rd edition to 5th, as they have way too many magic items and thereby pass the magic resistance all the time. This was clearly not intended.

I'm assuming you've played other editions that did have the magic included in the math of the game, and it should be obvious to you that this edition does not do that.
 

Kraydak

First Post
No, it's not included in the math of the game, and it does not assume the players will have this stuff….

I'm assuming you've played other editions that did have the magic included in the math of the game, and it should be obvious to you that this edition does not do that.

All editions have magic items included in the math of the game. Whether or not there is a table of "should have X magic items at level Y" or a table of "should have about Z GP value in total magic items at level Y" included in the DMG has absolutely no effect on the game math (a +2 sword is a +2 sword, whether or not the table exists). The only sense in which magic items can "not be included in the math" is if the designers never settled on an appropriate level of magic gear (which is sadly plausible). In that case magic items are still part of the math, just poorly defined, and things like caster/non-caster balance and setting monster CRs get even more problematic than normal.
 

All editions have magic items included in the math of the game. Whether or not there is a table of "should have X magic items at level Y" or a table of "should have about Z GP value in total magic items at level Y" included in the DMG has absolutely no effect on the game math (a +2 sword is a +2 sword, whether or not the table exists). The only sense in which magic items can "not be included in the math" is if the designers never settled on an appropriate level of magic gear (which is sadly plausible). In that case magic items are still part of the math, just poorly defined, and things like caster/non-caster balance and setting monster CRs get even more problematic than normal.

That's not what part of the math means. It means that when designing monsters and abilities, the designers did not anticipate the PCs having magic items. I.E. In fourth edition, the enemies damage, AC, and to hit scaled with the knowledge that PCs would be getting certain magic items at certain levels. Fifth edition assumes for monster design that the PCs won't have any magic items when facing them, which was a decision made to make monsters more viable across all levels, low and high. In turn, this makes magic items more magical as well, as they are a complete advantage, and not something you need just to keep up with monster scaling.
 

FireLance

Legend
That's not what part of the math means. It means that when designing monsters and abilities, the designers did not anticipate the PCs having magic items. I.E. In fourth edition, the enemies damage, AC, and to hit scaled with the knowledge that PCs would be getting certain magic items at certain levels. Fifth edition assumes for monster design that the PCs won't have any magic items when facing them, which was a decision made to make monsters more viable across all levels, low and high. In turn, this makes magic items more magical as well, as they are a complete advantage, and not something you need just to keep up with monster scaling.
All this means is that in 5e, once you hand out your first magic item to the PCs, the suggested encounter guidelines become that little bit less useful. The more magic items you hand out, the less and less useful they become. It is the reverse of the problem you would encounter if you decide not to hand out magic items in 4e: instead of the PCs finding it harder to "keep up" with the monsters, the monsters now find it harder to "keep up" with the PCs.

The difference between 4e and 5e is that in 4e, a DM can easily adjust for PCs not having the magic items the game assumes they do by using monsters of lower CR. If the PCs don't have any magic items, and the game assumes that they have +3 magic items, the DM just needs to use monsters with CR 3 less than party level. Since the monsters' AC, defenses and attack bonuses increase by about one point per level, a fight between a level 15 party that has no magic items and CR 12 monsters should play out similarly to a fight between a level 15 party with +3 magic items and CR 15 monsters.

5e, on the other hand, does not provide any guidelines on how to adjust encounter difficulty for magic items. So, assuming a CR 17, 18,000 xp Adult Red Dragon is a Medium difficulty, moderately challenging encounter for a party of four 17th-level PCs with no magic items, how would it change if the PCs have, between them, 9 uncommon, 4 or 5 rare, 3 very rare and 1 legendary permanent magic items? Would the encounter difficulty remain Moderate, or would it now be Easy? If the encounter difficulty does change, and the DM wanted to adjust the encounter difficulty to make it Moderate again, how much more xp worth of monsters should he add? Would another Adult Red Dragon be enough? Would it be too much? It really isn't clear to me.
 

All this means is that in 5e, once you hand out your first magic item to the PCs, the suggested encounter guidelines become that little bit less useful. The more magic items you hand out, the less and less useful they become. It is the reverse of the problem you would encounter if you decide not to hand out magic items in 4e: instead of the PCs finding it harder to "keep up" with the monsters, the monsters now find it harder to "keep up" with the PCs.

I don't see how this is a problem. We aren't playing a tactical video game here, where every encounter must be perfectly balanced in order to provide an adequate challenge curve for the player over the course of the game. This is an RPG, where monsters exist not where they would be the most balanced challenge wise, but where they would be most likely to exist. Yes, there should be some sort of balance so there isn't a TPK every encounter, but the reason a lot of people didn't like 4th edition was because it was too clean and perfect. There was none of the messiness of real life, and you always knew what you were getting when you reached a certain level because that happened to be the balanced monster at that level. This mindset is what made magic items in 4E, if not useless, than completely meaningless. "Congrats, you found a +1 Sword! Well, unfortunately at this level, all of the monsters have had their AC raised by 1 to compensate for your magic item, so we can keep it balanced. Yes, this means even the 1 hit point minions will have 22 AC."

The difference between 4e and 5e is that in 4e, a DM can easily adjust for PCs not having the magic items the game assumes they do by using monsters of lower CR. If the PCs don't have any magic items, and the game assumes that they have +3 magic items, the DM just needs to use monsters with CR 3 less than party level. Since the monsters' AC, defenses and attack bonuses increase by about one point per level, a fight between a level 15 party that has no magic items and CR 12 monsters should play out similarly to a fight between a level 15 party with +3 magic items and CR 15 monsters.

As above, this effectively makes magic items meaningless. Magic items should provide you an advantage, and make you feel more powerful, not make you feel like you're just keeping up with the monsters. The wonderful thing about 5E is that it's flexible. You don't have to throw the exact CR monster at a party to challenge them, you just have to make sure not to throw one so much more powerful it becomes a TPK.

5e, on the other hand, does not provide any guidelines on how to adjust encounter difficulty for magic items. So, assuming a CR 17, 18,000 xp Adult Red Dragon is a Medium difficulty, moderately challenging encounter for a party of four 17th-level PCs with no magic items, how would it change if the PCs have, between them, 9 uncommon, 4 or 5 rare, 3 very rare and 1 legendary permanent magic items? Would the encounter difficulty remain Moderate, or would it now be Easy? If the encounter difficulty does change, and the DM wanted to adjust the encounter difficulty to make it Moderate again, how much more xp worth of monsters should he add? Would another Adult Red Dragon be enough? Would it be too much? It really isn't clear to me.

Because 5E doesn't care to provide guidelines on encounters with magic items. In my mind, the encounter guidelines are there to do just as they describe, add lines to guide the DM into making an encounter. They are not there to provide perfectly balanced challenge. They are there to make sure you don't destroy everyone with an ultra powerful monster. Easy vs Moderate vs Hard is meaningless in my opinion, and is impossible to dictate anyway. Consider a brand new group to a tactically minded group that's been adventuring for 20 years. How do you compensate for their knowledge base changing the difficulty of the encounter? I've seen both of these, and a group that knows the ins and outs of the system swings the difficulty into their favor much more heavily than any magic item can. Heck, a string of 20's on a d20 is far more powerful than any magic item in the game, and a string of 1s is worse than the most powerful dragon. But those situations are impossible for a rules system to anticipate. All you can hope is that new DMs won't kill everyone, which is why they are considered guidelines, and why to me, the Deadly guideline is the only one that truly matters.
 

FireLance

Legend
I don't see how this is a problem. We aren't playing a tactical video game here, where every encounter must be perfectly balanced in order to provide an adequate challenge curve for the player over the course of the game. This is an RPG, where monsters exist not where they would be the most balanced challenge wise, but where they would be most likely to exist.
Apart from the usual caveat of "it depends on the game", this is a false dichotomy. The monsters encountered by the party can be selected both to present a good challenge and based on where they should exist logically (within the context of the game world). That said, the DM can always come up with some explanation for, say, why a manticore could be encountered somewhere other than its favored terrain (if the game even defines this in the first place).

Yes, there should be some sort of balance so there isn't a TPK every encounter, but the reason a lot of people didn't like 4th edition was because it was too clean and perfect. There was none of the messiness of real life, and you always knew what you were getting when you reached a certain level because that happened to be the balanced monster at that level.
I realize that it is apparently not a popular opinion, but I did enjoy the greater precision and predictability of 4e. Not total predictability, of course - even I would find that dull, but a smaller range of potential outcomes. To me, it changed the gameplay by increasing the importance of tactical and strategic decision-making and reducing the importance of luck. It's probably fair to say that my ideal game would be one in which your decisions determine if you win, and luck determines how you win.

This mindset is what made magic items in 4E, if not useless, than completely meaningless. "Congrats, you found a +1 Sword! Well, unfortunately at this level, all of the monsters have had their AC raised by 1 to compensate for your magic item, so we can keep it balanced. Yes, this means even the 1 hit point minions will have 22 AC."

As above, this effectively makes magic items meaningless. Magic items should provide you an advantage, and make you feel more powerful, not make you feel like you're just keeping up with the monsters.
Frankly, I think that whether or not magic items appear to be "meaningless" is a matter of how they are presented. The difference is psychological, not mathematical. If I were to change the 4e CR guidelines based on 5e's philosophy, I would simply define CR as the level the PCs need to be to defeat the monsters without magic items. So, the previously-mentioned CR 12 monsters would now be CR 15 and a suitable challenge for a party of 15th-level PCs without magic items. Then, if the PCs happen to have +3 magic items, they are actually able to take on CR 18 monsters! (CR 15 under the old system.) This would make the magic items seem like they are making the PCs more powerful and providing them with an advantage, right?

The wonderful thing about 5E is that it's flexible. You don't have to throw the exact CR monster at a party to challenge them, you just have to make sure not to throw one so much more powerful it becomes a TPK.

Because 5E doesn't care to provide guidelines on encounters with magic items. In my mind, the encounter guidelines are there to do just as they describe, add lines to guide the DM into making an encounter. They are not there to provide perfectly balanced challenge. They are there to make sure you don't destroy everyone with an ultra powerful monster. Easy vs Moderate vs Hard is meaningless in my opinion, and is impossible to dictate anyway. Consider a brand new group to a tactically minded group that's been adventuring for 20 years. How do you compensate for their knowledge base changing the difficulty of the encounter? I've seen both of these, and a group that knows the ins and outs of the system swings the difficulty into their favor much more heavily than any magic item can. Heck, a string of 20's on a d20 is far more powerful than any magic item in the game, and a string of 1s is worse than the most powerful dragon. But those situations are impossible for a rules system to anticipate. All you can hope is that new DMs won't kill everyone, which is why they are considered guidelines, and why to me, the Deadly guideline is the only one that truly matters.
If that is your philosophy, then I am sure that the 5e encounter guidelines are exactly what you deserve.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Interesting analysis, [MENTION=3424]FireLance[/MENTION]

The end result seems very low, particularly if magic items have a chance of being destroyed during the run of play (which if they don't, they should); and really skimpy on the permanent items at low-mid levels - which is, let's face it, probably where the majority of play will occur based on the evidence from all prior editions.

Also, for the per-character breakdowns you're assuming a 4-character party. Big assumption, as some of us would run old-school 8-12 character parties in all likelihood, and either have to tweak to suit or have dirt-poor characters (and, in my case, annoyed players).

But the biggest non-factored variable in any analysis like this is, in my experience, character death. If a PC has got to level 10 and has acquired the expected magic, then dies, the party are almost certainly going to loot the corpse for its goodies. So now you've got an extra "character's worth" of magic in the party...plus whatever the replacement character comes in with. (and saying the replacement comes in with nothing is a bit harsh, unless you're starting all replacements at 1st-level; and even then there's a problem as her levels will catch up to the party's faster than her treasure will).

The inevitable result is that on average the long-term survivors are going to become much wealthier than the rookies, and stay that way unless your game allows for the possibility of magic item destruction and meltdown...which at least makes it a bit more random as to who can retain their wealth over time.

Which all means, unfortunately, that while this is an interesting numerical exercise it's really not going to stand up in the run of play.

Lan-"he who dies with the most toys can best afford revival"-efan
 

Apart from the usual caveat of "it depends on the game", this is a false dichotomy. The monsters encountered by the party can be selected both to present a good challenge and based on where they should exist logically (within the context of the game world). That said, the DM can always come up with some explanation for, say, why a manticore could be encountered somewhere other than its favored terrain (if the game even defines this in the first place).

This is optimistic, but unrealistic. There aren't enough monsters to cover that wide range of levels, and the entire point of this edition is being able to use monsters that aren't in the Correct CR. The challenge isn't always going to be perfect, but that's ok, because we're playing an RPG, not a video game. The game reflects the world, not perfect representation of it.

I realize that it is apparently not a popular opinion, but I did enjoy the greater precision and predictability of 4e. Not total predictability, of course - even I would find that dull, but a smaller range of potential outcomes. To me, it changed the gameplay by increasing the importance of tactical and strategic decision-making and reducing the importance of luck. It's probably fair to say that my ideal game would be one in which your decisions determine if you win, and luck determines how you win.

I apologize, but by that statement, a dice based RPG doesn't seem to be the ideal game for you. The point of the dice is to add in the very real element of chance, because people are not perfect and will not react the same way every time. Failure can happen even when you make the perfect decisions every time, and I'm sure you know all of this.

Frankly, I think that whether or not magic items appear to be "meaningless" is a matter of how they are presented. The difference is psychological, not mathematical. If I were to change the 4e CR guidelines based on 5e's philosophy, I would simply define CR as the level the PCs need to be to defeat the monsters without magic items. So, the previously-mentioned CR 12 monsters would now be CR 15 and a suitable challenge for a party of 15th-level PCs without magic items. Then, if the PCs happen to have +3 magic items, they are actually able to take on CR 18 monsters! (CR 15 under the old system.) This would make the magic items seem like they are making the PCs more powerful and providing them with an advantage, right?

Nope, it isn't psychological, thanks to the bounded accuracy. AC doesn't increase in a linear fashion, or really in any fashion in this game, so any increase in attack will be beneficial across all levels. Higher level creatures, excluding the Tarrasque and such, cap out at around a 19 AC. So a +1 bonus will be beneficial against all creatures, not just the correct CR. So instead of the previous system, where once you got a magic item you automatically started fighting higher CR creatures in order to match it, you now have an advantage across all levels. It becomes actually worthwhile to have a magic item, rather than just a key to unlock the gate to higher CR monsters.

If that is your philosophy, then I am sure that the 5e encounter guidelines are exactly what you deserve.

Maybe it's just the writing translating that wrong, but that seems a tad bit condescending. Perhaps you can actually address my point instead of brushing it off?
 

FireLance

Legend
This is optimistic, but unrealistic. There aren't enough monsters to cover that wide range of levels, and the entire point of this edition is being able to use monsters that aren't in the Correct CR. The challenge isn't always going to be perfect, but that's ok, because we're playing an RPG, not a video game. The game reflects the world, not perfect representation of it.
The number of new and variant monsters you can use in a game is limited only by your imagination. In addition, you can use the same monsters multiple times in different fights. I think a game in which you encounter each monster once and once only is even less realistic than one in which you encounter tougher and tougher monsters as you get more powerful.

As for using monsters of the "correct" CR, CR is just a tool to allow you to judge the relative difficulty of an encounter. There is nothing to stop you from making the encounters more or less challenging if you want. That said, if you consistently make the encounters less challenging, that may not suit the tastes of certain players (but more on this later).

I apologize, but by that statement, a dice based RPG doesn't seem to be the ideal game for you. The point of the dice is to add in the very real element of chance, because people are not perfect and will not react the same way every time. Failure can happen even when you make the perfect decisions every time, and I'm sure you know all of this.
I think it all boils down to how you use the dice. A bad roll could simply mean that you need to use Special Ability X to recover, and it takes you one round longer to activate Special Ability Y and win the fight.

Nope, it isn't psychological, thanks to the bounded accuracy. AC doesn't increase in a linear fashion, or really in any fashion in this game, so any increase in attack will be beneficial across all levels. Higher level creatures, excluding the Tarrasque and such, cap out at around a 19 AC. So a +1 bonus will be beneficial against all creatures, not just the correct CR. So instead of the previous system, where once you got a magic item you automatically started fighting higher CR creatures in order to match it, you now have an advantage across all levels. It becomes actually worthwhile to have a magic item, rather than just a key to unlock the gate to higher CR monsters.
Bounded accuracy is not the issue. The fact is, magic items make fights easier in any edition. The sleight of hand pulled by 5e is that the system tells you that even though the PCs have magic items, you should not change the number and toughness of the monsters they are expected to face. You can achieve the same effect in any edition. For example, using the revised 4e CR system above, if 15th-level PCs with magic items face CR 15 monsters (previously CR 12), the fight is going to be easier as well. The magic items only seem like a benefit because the encounter guidelines don't take them into account. Over time, the accumulation of magic items is going to make the recommended fights easier and easier, and unless you have players that aren't bored by easy fights, they are going to lose interest.

Maybe it's just the writing translating that wrong, but that seems a tad bit condescending. Perhaps you can actually address my point instead of brushing it off?
I was just making the point that if you don't expect much from the encounter guidelines, then you don't need more than what is currently available in 5e.
 

The number of new and variant monsters you can use in a game is limited only by your imagination. In addition, you can use the same monsters multiple times in different fights. I think a game in which you encounter each monster once and once only is even less realistic than one in which you encounter tougher and tougher monsters as you get more powerful.

I just said the exact opposite of that. These encounters allow you to use monsters at any level, regardless of the magic items the players are using. 4E only allows you to use those that are the perfect CR, because they are so powerful that the magic items are required.

As for using monsters of the "correct" CR, CR is just a tool to allow you to judge the relative difficulty of an encounter. There is nothing to stop you from making the encounters more or less challenging if you want. That said, if you consistently make the encounters less challenging, that may not suit the tastes of certain players (but more on this later).

"You can house rule it" Isnt a very good avenue for discussion. Of course you can house rule it. You can do that to anything. This is a discussion of the rules as they are.

I think it all boils down to how you use the dice. A bad roll could simply mean that you need to use Special Ability X to recover, and it takes you one round longer to activate Special Ability Y and win the fight.

That sort of removes the reason for dice, doesn't it? Dice offer the possibility of failure in the face of good odds. If the characters are always going to succeed and the dice are just offering setbacks, why not just play a game that eliminates random chance altogether?

Bounded accuracy is not the issue. The fact is, magic items make fights easier in any edition. The sleight of hand pulled by 5e is that the system tells you that even though the PCs have magic items, you should not change the number and toughness of the monsters they are expected to face. You can achieve the same effect in any edition. For example, using the revised 4e CR system above, if 15th-level PCs with magic items face CR 15 monsters (previously CR 12), the fight is going to be easier as well. The magic items only seem like a benefit because the encounter guidelines don't take them into account. Over time, the accumulation of magic items is going to make the recommended fights easier and easier, and unless you have players that aren't bored by easy fights, they are going to lose interest.

As I said before, if we're going to go by the houserules, there's not really any point in continuing this discussion.

Here is what it all boils down to: in previous editions, such as 3rd and 4th, magic items were expected. The was a certain amount of magic that the players had to have to progress through the game normally. 4th edition was the culmination of this, as some monsters had such large stats tht to defeat them without magic was impossible, regardless of the level of the PCs and their skill. 5E does away with this by eliminating the assumption that characters would gain magic items at all. This makes magic items mean something, as they are not just a gate to higher monsters, but an advantage overall, because the monsters were not created with the expectation that you would have magic items at all. That's the bottom line.
 

keterys

First Post
I just said the exact opposite of that. These encounters allow you to use monsters at any level, regardless of the magic items the players are using.
It's just that the horde of low level monsters will still be looking for 20s (or near 20s), even with bounded accuracy, when you roll out in your top defensive magic items, while they murder the groups who don't give lots of high magic. (Ex: Fighter in +3 Plate and +3 Shield with a Ring of Protection vs. one with +1 Plate and a normal shield)

And that's "Okay" because the system didn't try to account for it and only barely tried to stop it.

Similarly, it's "Okay" that Mines of Phandelver gives out exponentially more treasure than that table. I guess? It's certainly odd from an Organized Play perspective.
 

FireLance

Legend
Responding out of order for better flow.

That sort of removes the reason for dice, doesn't it? Dice offer the possibility of failure in the face of good odds. If the characters are always going to succeed and the dice are just offering setbacks, why not just play a game that eliminates random chance altogether?
Because the random setbacks help generate a different experience each time you play and this helps to keep the game interesting.

I just said the exact opposite of that. These encounters allow you to use monsters at any level, regardless of the magic items the players are using. 4E only allows you to use those that are the perfect CR, because they are so powerful that the magic items are required.
I think you are conflating bounded accuracy with encounter guidelines that do not take magic items into account. Bounded accuracy is what gives a 1st-level PC a non-trivial chance of hitting the Tarrasque, and conversely, a CR 1/2 orc a non-trivial chance of hitting a 20th-level PC. The encounter guidelines are what tell you that the 1st-level PC is likely to get squished by the Tarrasque, and that you are going to need something like 60 orcs to present a moderate challenge to a party of four 20th-level PCs.

The fact that the encounter guidelines do not take magic items into account means that 5e tells you that those 60 orcs are a moderate challenge for a party of four 20th-level PCs regardless of whether they have no magic items, or whether they have 9 or 10 uncommon permanent items, 5 or 6 rare permanent items, 5 very rare permanent items and 4 legendary permanent items between them.

As I said before, if we're going to go by the houserules, there's not really any point in continuing this discussion.

Here is what it all boils down to: in previous editions, such as 3rd and 4th, magic items were expected. The was a certain amount of magic that the players had to have to progress through the game normally. 4th edition was the culmination of this, as some monsters had such large stats tht to defeat them without magic was impossible, regardless of the level of the PCs and their skill. 5E does away with this by eliminating the assumption that characters would gain magic items at all. This makes magic items mean something, as they are not just a gate to higher monsters, but an advantage overall, because the monsters were not created with the expectation that you would have magic items at all. That's the bottom line.
It seems to me that this is a rather odd position for an advocate of 5e to take because the implications of following the rules as written seem to me to be much worse for 5e than for 4e. As mentioned, since the encounter guidelines do not take magic items into account, every magic item that you give to the PCs will make all subsequent fights easier. And if you keep handing out magic items, as mentioned before, over time, the accumulation of magic items is going to make the recommended fights easier and easier, and unless you have players that aren't bored by easy fights, they are going to lose interest.

On the other hand, it seems to me that the 4e system as written keeps things fresh and interesting for the players because the PCs get more powerful, the find new and better magic items, and the difficulty and challenge of the fights keep pace with what the PCs are capable of.

"You can house rule it" Isnt a very good avenue for discussion. Of course you can house rule it. You can do that to anything. This is a discussion of the rules as they are.
And for those of us who think that flexibility, adapatbility and ease of houseruling are key advantages in an RPG, I would just like to re-iterate the point that it is trivially easy to adapt the 4e encounter guidelines to re-create the 5e approach of ignoring magic items when determing what is an appropriate challenge for the PCs. The key failing of the 5e encounter guidelines, to me, is that they are not able to advise the DM on how to maintain the challenge level of his game (if he wants to) after he has started handing out magic items.
 

pkt77242

Explorer
It's just that the horde of low level monsters will still be looking for 20s (or near 20s), even with bounded accuracy, when you roll out in your top defensive magic items, while they murder the groups who don't give lots of high magic. (Ex: Fighter in +3 Plate and +3 Shield with a Ring of Protection vs. one with +1 Plate and a normal shield)

And that's "Okay" because the system didn't try to account for it and only barely tried to stop it.

Similarly, it's "Okay" that Mines of Phandelver gives out exponentially more treasure than that table. I guess? It's certainly odd from an Organized Play perspective.

LMoP was most likely written before the treasure tables were created, so it is completely understandable that it doesn't conform to it.
 

keterys

First Post
5th edition claimed to be less about magic items then its showboat introductory adventure has folks walking out of it like a Christmas tree with a whole party having several permanent magic items each, a couple of which are fairly game altering.

It's an otherwise excellent adventure, and I'm not convinced that its magic item level isn't actually the correct level to play 5E at... but it definitely creates a logical disparity between what you say and what you do. And it certainly means that if monsters aren't balanced to account for both sides of the magic item spectrum (and AC can raise to the point where you need 20s to hit characters with lower level monsters) then it feels like a screwup of bounded accuracy.

Edit: It is perhaps worth note that the Belt of Giantkind and the Shield +3 are particularly good examples of the magic item system taking bounded accuracy out in back and shooting it.
 
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5th edition claimed to be less about magic items then its showboat introductory adventure has folks walking out of it like a Christmas tree with a whole party having several permanent magic items each, a couple of which are fairly game altering.

As pkt77242 said above, LMoP was written way before the magic items were finalized. It also is more of a one off, and thus allows for more treasure than a party would typically have, presumably just to have some fun with handing out treasure.

It's an otherwise excellent adventure, and I'm not convinced that its magic item level isn't actually the correct level to play 5E at... but it definitely creates a logical disparity between what you say and what you do. And it certainly means that if monsters aren't balanced to account for both sides of the magic item spectrum (and AC can raise to the point where you need 20s to hit characters with lower level monsters) then it feels like a screwup of bounded accuracy.

That's.... that's the point. Magic items are supposed to screw up stuff; if they didn't, why bother having them be magic? Magic items are rare, special, even unique. If everything in the world becomes more powerful the second you pick up a +1 sword, what was the point of that sword? Say that a 20th level fighter has a 28 AC (18 from plate, +3 from magic, +2 from shield, +3 from magic shield, +1 from defender feature, +1 from ring of protection). This is theoretical maximum that a fighter would ever be able to get, or really, anyone would be able to get in the game. The lowest level CR creature that would be able to hit you on a 19 would be a 5CR, a Triceratops that has a +9 to hit. Now sure, you may think that this means bounded accuracy is broken because a Kobold can't hit you with lower than a 20, but let's compare this to other editions shall we?

In 4th edition, the highest maximum value (gleaned from the internet) seems to be a 52 AC. A 52!!! That's insane. What's the lowest CR that could hit that? Looking through the old MM, looks like... well frankly I can't find anything with a +33 on a quick glance, but only the most powerful dragons can hit that AC with less than a 20. 3.5 is... well it's broken. Just broken. However, this quick little thought study seems to indicate that even with massive, game breaking, horrendously powerful magic items, characters will be able to be taken down by anything down to a CR5 monster.

Edit: It is perhaps worth note that the Belt of Giantkind and the Shield +3 are particularly good examples of the magic item system taking bounded accuracy out in back and shooting it.

That's the nice thing about 5E. If you're that worried about magic items breaking bounded accuracy (which they don't) then don't give them any magic items. The game doesn't assume it, the characters will do just fine, everyone will be ok with it.
 

keterys

First Post
I'm not entirely convinced that bringing up old editions that didn't use bounded accuracy to show how improved things are is really the way to go. I guess it's like the democracy theory about how Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others that have been tried.

Yes, 5th edition is the most bounded randomness of all the editions of D&D. That doesn't mean that its internal design covers the corner cases of 5+ unplanned for swings in hit or defense. Therefore, it either shouldn't have made such things possible (stop at Gauntlets of Ogre Power, don't have a 21-29 stat version for just one of the stats / don't have +3 armor _and_ +3 shields; shields can be magical without further +s, honest), or delivered appropriate and sufficient guidance in the relevant books for the effect of magic items.

People like getting magic items. There's nothing wrong with a Phandelver level of magic item awards; in fact an idle look at pretty much the entire history of D&D is that not only do people like getting magic treasure, adventures like _giving_ magic treasure. You're not going to find a lot of adventures that give out a single magic item only every 10 encounters or so, but that's exactly what the game is suggesting you do. It's disingenuous to balance a game around no magic items, suggest that folks keep to a drastically low number of magic items (remember that +1 sword you get at 4th level might be the only weapon your character gets ever), actually give out buckets of magic items, _then_ claim that balance problems from magic items are no big deal because the DM has to decide to give them out in the first place.
 

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