5E Attunement

KarinsDad

Visitor
Has anyone run into the issue of attunement allowing for too few of magical items?


As a DM, I like handing out magic items. I probably hand out one or more out every 3 to 5 encounters (sometimes more than one, especially in more deadly fights against named NPCs where I can then use those items against the PCs). But, that means that PCs start getting a lot of items. Most of them are not that powerful of items, just something for the group to get and assign to some player. Some of the items do not even necessarily fit the group.

But I am running into the 3 items per PC ceiling. Each PC at the moment has anywhere from 1 to 3 items at level 6.

Note: the PCs even have an attuned artifact at this point. It's not too powerful, but it does give them a few extra go to the well abilities (and it has a few drawbacks). I prefer a game not so much where items are handed out like candy, but rather I enjoy a game where all of the players (and we have 7 players) do not feel like the game is super stingy on magic items. I play the game to have fun, not to follow someone else's strict regiment on magic item distribution.


The whole attunement thing seems artificial and forced, and designed for a specific style of D&D. So, I'm looking for some suggestions on how to up the number without going too crazy over it. My first thought is to have the number of max attuned items equal to the proficiency bonus. That way, 2 to 6 based on PC level.


Any other thoughts on how to handle it?
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
You could always include magical items which don't require attunement. Other than that, you could just go with proficiency bonus or (proficiency bonus + 1). I think the playtest used Charisma as the limit, so maybe something like (Charisma modifier +2, minimum 1), although that will benefit your bard and sorcerer more than your fighter or rogue.
 

DaveDash

Explorer
At high levels - Yes. Many interesting items are going to waste in my campaign because of attunement.

Once my group hits 17 I think I'll unlock a couple more slots for them.

I think I'll first attempt a more CRPG style attunement system, by allowing a dedicated wand/staff alot, because I'm noticing wands are basically unused at higher levels, and that's a shame.

I might also open up the second additional slot to another wonderous item, due to interesting items gathering dust.

I wouldn't say I'm quite ready to do away with attunement entirely yet. Some items are very powerful and have a massive impact on the difficulty curve. For example, my group found an Ioun Stome of reserve, which the Abjjrerer pumps full of shield spells for the Paladin. It's been an incredibly powerful item for the group.
 
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Kobold Stew

Adventurer
I've not found it a problem, though I haven't played ultra-high levels. I like the limit, as both a player and a DM. I think making a player wrestle with a limit is a good thing -- it makes decisions more meaningful. Though I can easily imagine a feat ("Sensitive"?) that allowed an extra two slots. Again, that makes it a player choice; and requires player investment, rather than just something handed to them.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
I've not found it a problem, though I haven't played ultra-high levels. I like the limit, as both a player and a DM. I think making a player wrestle with a limit is a good thing -- it makes decisions more meaningful. Though I can easily imagine a feat ("Sensitive"?) that allowed an extra two slots. Again, that makes it a player choice; and requires player investment, rather than just something handed to them.
In a campaign like mine where quite a few magic items are handed out, a feat like Sensitive becomes a must have feat for many players. It basically becomes a feat tax and punishes the players for me handing out a bunch of attunement items. Kind of like the opposite of fun.

In a campaign where the DM hands out 1 or fewer attunement magic items total to the group per level, a feat like Sensitive becomes a never take feat except maybe at a real high levels.


I tend to avoid feat solutions to campaign style mechanics issues because they can be either great or lousy depending on campaign, and because it puts the burden of campaign style on the players instead of in house rules where such modifications belong. But, thanks for the suggestion anyway.


I was also toying with the idea of having a relatively easy to create magic item called a Ring of Attunement which would allow a PC to have an additional attuned item. This gives the players a choice (like you suggest), but the investment is in magic item creation time and expense, not in a feat slot. But although this gives the PCs an outlet for their gold and such, it still feels like penalizing them with a gold/time tax just because I like handing out items. But I could see the concept of a Ring of Attunement (uncommon, 1 more slot), a Greater Ring of Attunement (rare, 2 more slots), etc. But meh.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
It seems we have very different relationships with our players.

Your solutions place the onus on the characters (investing gp to craft items, for example), not the players. This devolves entirely to what you as DM give them. In the same way you suggest that the number of items they receive is somehow fixed and that they are incapable of making decisions between them, so that there are only 3 (or 4 or any number) at a time. There is no actual resource management by the players.

What you call a feat tax indicates to me that you cannot imagine your players thinking differently than you do about the deployment of player resources. You know your players, I don't.

Back to your question: no, I do not feel attunement is either stingy or forced. It makes perfect sense in-game to me, and more closely aligns to the majority of the fantasy fiction I have read. It just happens not to align with some previous editions of D&D.
 

pming

Adventurer
Hiya!

I'm gonna side with what Kobold Stew said above. If you are handing out bucket loads of magic items on a regular basis, then yeah...you'll need to up the expected number of magic items that D&D 5e assumes. That is...zero. ;) So, as the game is based on no "magic items expected", their limit of 3 attuned magic items is 3 more than is needed.

You handing out 1 item every 4'ish encounters is waaaaaay above the curve, IMHO. If I was you and saw the Sensitive feat as a "tax" (as do your players), I'd just ignore the whole "attunement" thing completely then. The amount of magic items is already likely to throw the whole "balance" thing under the bus anyway, why stop there? Go big or go home I say! :)

If you are under the impression that somehow upping the attunement 'too high' is going to break your game....I'd suggest that simply contending that you actually need to up it is the root of the problem. e.g., stop handing out so many items that need to be attuned...problem solved. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

DaveDash

Explorer
Hiya!

I'm gonna side with what Kobold Stew said above. If you are handing out bucket loads of magic items on a regular basis, then yeah...you'll need to up the expected number of magic items that D&D 5e assumes. That is...zero. ;) So, as the game is based on no "magic items expected", their limit of 3 attuned magic items is 3 more than is needed.

You handing out 1 item every 4'ish encounters is waaaaaay above the curve, IMHO. If I was you and saw the Sensitive feat as a "tax" (as do your players), I'd just ignore the whole "attunement" thing completely then. The amount of magic items is already likely to throw the whole "balance" thing under the bus anyway, why stop there? Go big or go home I say! :)

If you are under the impression that somehow upping the attunement 'too high' is going to break your game....I'd suggest that simply contending that you actually need to up it is the root of the problem. e.g., stop handing out so many items that need to be attuned...problem solved. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
I'm handing out .5 of what the DMG recommends and I'm awash in items.

The game does assume magic items and even has rules around it. The maths doesnt assume magic items, which is different.
 

Warunsun

Visitor
I would never have came up with attunement on my own. However, I like it a lot as a DM and don't see myself ditching it. It allows a DM to give out a few more items yet still have a control on the big ticket ones. Each PC can have three awesome items. Very reasonable I think. At the Epic tier (levels 17–20) I could potentially see trading a feat slot to allow one more attuned item. In a very high magic setting perhaps allowing it in the Paragon tier (levels 11–16) maybe allowing it. But I don't think it is needed. I could potentially change my mind when my characters get there but so far I am not worried about it.
 
S

Sunseeker

Guest
I am notoriously stingy with magical items. So the attunement limitation has not slowed me down. I definately do not like editions where I feel like as a DM I need to ensure players are fully decked, and also on the playerside that I need to be fully decked or I am gimping myself.

There are fortunately, a variety of cool magical items that don't need attunement at all.

Though if you like to hand out a lot, or have several dual-wielders, I would not increase the limit beyond 5.
 

S'mon

Legend
IMC there is one attuned item, an artifact sword, among the three 6th-7th level PCs, so not an issue for me (they only just got that sword and the wielder will need to return it to its tomb eventually or fall to demonic corruption).
There are only a couple non-attuned permanent items, and one of those likewise needs to go back to the tomb after it's been used to defeat the demons.

I think for the OP, as you are running a high-magic campaign the best thing would be to not use attunement. Alternately make most items not require it.
 

S'mon

Legend
I'm handing out .5 of what the DMG recommends and I'm awash in items.

The game does assume magic items and even has rules around it. The maths doesnt assume magic items, which is different.
What's the DMG recommendation? I never noticed that.
 

DaveDash

Explorer
What's the DMG recommendation? I never noticed that.
There's a tiny little paragraph at the bottom of the page, where the Treasure Hoard section begins.

I'm not actually following those guidelines, but rather doing it based on what feels right, and I'm tracking about 1/2 what they say in that paragraph.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I have ran into the problem of people passing up magic items because of Attunement.

At lower-mid levels the problem can be mitigated by allowing people to remove the enchantment off of that +1 longsword nobody wants and placing it on a greataxe or something.

At higher levels, you might want to consider making magic item sets: You attune to the set, a bunch of magic items at once, but you can't mix and match magic items.
 

S'mon

Legend
There's a tiny little paragraph at the bottom of the page, where the Treasure Hoard section begins.

I'm not actually following those guidelines, but rather doing it based on what feels right, and I'm tracking about 1/2 what they say in that paragraph.
You mean the paragraph "over the course of a typical campaign a party finds treasure hoards amounting to..."
I didn't think that qualified since the contents of a rolled hoard are wildly variable. My group probably has had much more cash than that at times, enough for two of them to buy nice little town villas, but at 6th-7th level they only have three permanent items, and two of those are recently acquired 'on loan' (Demonslayer the artifact greatsword, and a wand of lightning bolts); the third being the +1 dagger found on the first level of Dyson's Delve.

From what I can tell my campaign looks to fit well within the 'low magic' paradigm for 5e, currently each of the three main PCs has one permanent magic item but they are either minor (+1 dagger) or loaners with flaws (Demonslayer can corrupt its wielder; the lightning bolt wand has a 1 in 12 chance per use of zapping the user). I like it that this works fine in 5e, the PCs remain well-balanced and three level 6 PCs can take on CR5 monsters just fine.
 

DaveDash

Explorer
You mean the paragraph "over the course of a typical campaign a party finds treasure hoards amounting to..."
I didn't think that qualified since the contents of a rolled hoard are wildly variable. My group probably has had much more cash than that at times, enough for two of them to buy nice little town villas, but at 6th-7th level they only have three permanent items, and two of those are recently acquired 'on loan' (Demonslayer the artifact greatsword, and a wand of lightning bolts); the third being the +1 dagger found on the first level of Dyson's Delve.

From what I can tell my campaign looks to fit well within the 'low magic' paradigm for 5e, currently each of the three main PCs has one permanent magic item but they are either minor (+1 dagger) or loaners with flaws (Demonslayer can corrupt its wielder; the lightning bolt wand has a 1 in 12 chance per use of zapping the user). I like it that this works fine in 5e, the PCs remain well-balanced and three level 6 PCs can take on CR5 monsters just fine.
Like I said, I've been adding hoards where it makes sense to add them. Dragons, BBEGs, etc. Also like I said, I've probably had about 1/2 the hoards the "typical" campaign has (according to the DMG). I've rolled for every single one, and now at level 16 my group is getting a pile of magic items that are gathering dust. *See below.

Yet there's a huge amount of consumables in there that ironically are incredibly powerful (potions), yet you end up collecting a massive number of them - and they stack. The Paladin in my group drank a few (oil of speed, potion of storm giant strength, etc) then went off to solo a CR18 Dragon at level 14.

Besides that, after a while there's a few nice items they're simply not attuning. A couple of Ioun stones are gathering dust, a pearl of power, a cube of force, slippers of spider climb, staff of frost, a lot of wands, a Cli Lyre, boots of winterkind, and gloves of swimming and climbing. All sitting there gathering dust in various bags of holding.
The cube of force I'm especially disappointed about, would be nice to have seen them put that to more use.

Anyway, I've come up with a revised Attunement table which I am going to try out in my next game, which adds an additional specific item type slot at levels 11, 14, 17, and 20. This is based on item types I see never getting attuned.

*
Party Resources.JPG
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
We haven't had any problems, but we don't hand out a ton of magic. If you like to hand out magic, you'll have expand attunement slots or hand out items that don't require it.

It's another reason why I like 5E. Zero magic items is the default. It's very easy to expand magic items without hurting game balance.

My personal taste for magic item distribution is what you would find in Lord of the Rings. A few magic items that are very dear to the character.
 
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I have not run into a problem with the limit. In fact, players can only attune to one item, plus one for every 5 levels.

Low levels few items, and at 20th a possible, but highly improbable, 5 items. No christmas trees in my games :)

Also, rolling for items can create issues with items you might not like. Have them make three rolls, and take the one out of the three you feel is most appropriate.
 

Hussar

Legend
You have seven players, which means to hit the ceiling you need to hand out 21 attunement items. It sounds like you're giving out 2-3 per level (given 3-5 encounters) which means the party should be about 10th level before the limit is reached. Then again, you've given out somewhere around 14 by level 6, so, that's a LOT of attunement items.

Why not start giving out a lot more non-attunement items? I thought that attunement items were the special ones, those ones that make the group go "golly gee"when you find one.

You don't have to follow someone's strict regiment on magic item distribution. But, perhaps a bit of thought about what kinds of items you're giving out might be in order.
 

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