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Do you like stat-bonus magic items?

Kunimatyu

Villager
One consistent pattern I've noticed in D&D -- Living Greyhawk or homebrew -- is that players spend a -lot- of their treasure on basic stat increase items. These come in several flavors:

-Direct stat boost items (ioun stones, periapt of wisdom, gloves of dex, etc etc)
-Save boosters (cloak/vest of resistance in particular)
-Attack booster (straight pluses on weapons)
-Defense boosters (rings of protection, amulets of natural armor, pluses to armor/shields)

I have to admit, I don't like these. All of these items modifiy a character's intrinsic stats, and are the primary reason that D&D characters are a walking pile of magic items. Remove them, and characters still retain cool weapon/armor abilities (flaming longsword, returning warhammer) but without the direct statboosts.

As a 3.5 variant(or 4e thing, whatever), would you prefer a system that removes these items (and percentage of the character's average gold per level) in exchange for a system that allowed them to apply intrinsic bonuses to their character, say, every 2nd or 4th level?

It still retains the "cool" magic items -- holy swords, bowls of water elemental summoning, animating animal figurines -- but reduces or eliminates the number of vanilla stat-boosters that would otherwise be a necessary part of a character's equipment.
 
It's not the players' fault. The game rules are set up so you have to do it. ("Have to" here meaning "strongly recommended and assumed" rather than "instant death for failure to optimize".)

I'm not going to spend $ on a holy water bowl if if means missing out on boosting my low saves or my AC (which is a huge $ sink). Cool items are worthless if my character dies.

Magic items that aren't power-ups would be cool. If DMs made those available, there might be an enthusiastic reaction. There might also be a good reaction if you took the lumpy +1 flaming widget and also gave it a non-powerup ability, but you'll have to make upgrading it easily available, instead of having to wait around for ten days to get the upgrade.

And IME, items that are a bit cool (eg +1 flaming sword vs +2 sword) are more popular. Of course, flaming is still giving a good metagame benefit, in addition to being cool-looking :) In fact, if they weren't so common, they could even be a distinctive part of your character.

As a 3.5 variant(or 4e thing, whatever), would you prefer a system that removes these items (and percentage of the character's average gold per level) in exchange for a system that allowed them to apply intrinsic bonuses to their character, say, every 2nd or 4th level?
Hell yes! It's already been done. Iron Heroes is a great example of that and was designed that way. I'd be just a tad hesitant to do that to DnD, but that would still be a qualified yes.
 
I despise stat-boosting items for mental stats for flavor reasons. For physical stats I'm a little more tolerant, but I do think they should be rarer than they are.
 

Lanefan

Hero
While stat-boost (via a straight +x) items can be fun, I've always preferred those items that fixed a stat at a specific level e.g. 1e Girdle of Giant Strength. This can easily be applied to 3e; instead of finding a Girdle of Strength +6 you find a Girdle of Strength 24.

That's one big difference between 1e and 3e, in fact: in 1e, a permanent stat change was a Big Event, and even a temporary one was noteworthy. In 3e, stats seem to change on a nightly basis...

Lanefan
 

Gold Roger

Villager
I find almost all staight bonus items to be way undercosted and bland compared to other treasure.

The only exceptions are Magic armors/shields, which I somewhat expect to be mostly increased in armor bonus and weapon enhancement boni, which, while still bland, are overcosted.

But I'm have a strong dislike to stat boosters, nonarmor AC boosters, Cloaks of resistance and co.

I'd rather have a fighter clad in +3 Fullplate with a flaming burst greatsword (yes, I believe weapons should be made magic without requireing enhancement bonus), cloak of mountebank andflying carpet rather than one wearing a +1 fullplate, a +1 flaming greatsword, a +1 Ring of protection, a +1 amulet of natural armor, a +2 cloak of resistance, and a +2 strength booster.
 

Woas

Villager
Hmm.. I mostly just don't like the direct stat boosting items. The gloves of dex +X, cloaks of charisma +x. I sort of see them as cheap.

Magic weapons and armor are great story tools and are fine. I'd much wrather give a warrior a sword that gets a +1 bonus to hit and damage through using the sword than have the warrior get a direct +2 Str bonus and be all around more strong (see above). Same applies to save boosters since some of those items can be cool and be part of a stor. And I'd wrather have a player get a +1 on just their saves than a +2 all around Con, Dex or Will stat.

But I don't mind bumping up actual stats. What I like to use is one-use items. Potions of Bull Strength are wonderful. Always-On stat boosting items I feel are for the most part bland. But single use items like potions, oils, charms (things any class can use. so not just spell-compeletion items like scrolls/wands) that can magically 'empower' the fighter to be stronger or give the rogue a keener, quieter step and sneak better for half a day or some limited time are great. I try to use them over always-on magic items whenever I can.
 

JohnSnow

Villager
Log me into the "hates stat boosting items" camp. I find it leads quickly to my least favorite part of D&D - the "Christmas Tree PC." This character has magic shoes, shirt, gloves, amulet, belt, bracelets, sword, armor and knickers.

Okay, maybe not quite.

The point is that I prefer characters who have one (or maybe two) significant items. My favorite example is the Lord of the Rings, where each of the characters in the Fellowship, with the notable exception of Frodo, has like 3 useful magic items. Sam has 4, but one is of really questionable use until later.

Gandalf (a freaking Wizard!): 2-3 (Wizard's Staff(?), Glamdring, and Narya)
Aragorn: 3 - Anduril, scabbard of Anduril & Elven Cloak
Boromir: 2 - Horn & Elven Cloak
Gimli: 3 - Dwarven mail, axe & Elven Cloak
Legolas: 3 - Elven Bow, Arrows, & Elven Cloak (maybe his knives too)
Sam: 4...sorta - Barrow blade, box of magic dirt, Elven Cloak, and walking stick
Merri: 3 - Barrow blade, elven cloak, and elven knife
Pippin: 3 - barrow blade, elven cloak, and elven knife
Frodo: 6 - "Sting," mithril coat, phial of Galadriel, elven cloak, walking stick & One magic ring

That's um...not many. Most of the swords could best be described as "magic." The elves give the Fellowship each a Cloak. They also get, I believe, three coils of semi-magic rope. Most of the items in the story are just "well made" - that is, masterwork.

I don't mind skill boosting items (like the elven cloaks), but they shouldn't be exactly "common." I also have no problem with "magic" weapons or armor (or those made of unusual materials), but I don't think we need 5 grades of them. I also don't object to "plot device" items - boots of speed, flying carpets, and the like. To my way of thinking, stat bonuses should be permanent (like Hercules, or the Ent Draughts Merri and Pippin quaffed) or very temporary (like Asterisk's potions of strength).

Stat boosting "items" should be rare in the extreme and, basically, artifacts. They'd be comparable to Thor's belt or gloves (the inspiration for the early belt & gloves, I believe). Fantasy Flight really hit the nail on the head with Midnight. There are covenant items, which unlock more powers as the character goes up in level. In addition, there are charms, usable by anyone, that can provide a one time or short-term bonus to some skill or stat. What you won't find much of are lots of permanent little items.

And I share people's disdain for items that boost mental stats. I have no problem with an item that boosts a caster's spellcasting ability...but a +6 headband of intellect? :\

I'm working on a suitable list of magic items for use in an Iron Heroes campaign. And since they don't NEED those stat bonuses, all the items are being designed principally to provide flavor and coolness. I'm pilfering Midnight, The Wheel of Time RPG and The Black Company Campaign Setting for some ideas, and various other sources as well.

Including First Edition AD&D.
 
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ThirdWizard

Villager
I'm ambivalent. Doesn't really matter to me. They get their stat boost and the item is largely forgotten, so its not like it has a large impact on the actual game. I do use a lot of non-standard magical items, though, so I can get my cool magic fix through those instead of the stuff listed in the DMG. The + items don't really hinder my enjoyment.
 

Storm Raven

Villager
JohnSnow said:
The point is that I prefer characters who have one (or maybe two) significant items. My favorite example is the Lord of the Rings, where each of the characters in the Fellowship, with the notable exception of Frodo, has like 3 useful magic items. Sam has 4, but one is of really questionable use until later.
Three that you know of. Most of the items being talked about here would work without anyone knowing they were magical in the context of the story. I am fine with stat boosting items because they don't bog down the game. The player puts the item on, and it affects him. There isn't a lot of need for recalculating things or making modifications on a regular basis, just the one time pretty much.

Plus, I consider it a great weakness of the 1e system that improving ability scores was such a huge deal. Your abilites are not set in stone, why should your character's be?
 

Ringan

Villager
I prefer non-stat-bonus magic items. Magic items seem more fantastic and unique to me when they grant more exotic powers such as invisibility, water breathing etc. than when they just act as steroids for your stats. Maybe the prevalance of stat-boosting items contributes to people's perceptions of "Wal-Mart" magic items?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Kunimatyu said:
As a 3.5 variant(or 4e thing, whatever), would you prefer a system that removes these items (and percentage of the character's average gold per level) in exchange for a system that allowed them to apply intrinsic bonuses to their character, say, every 2nd or 4th level?

It still retains the "cool" magic items -- holy swords, bowls of water elemental summoning, animating animal figurines -- but reduces or eliminates the number of vanilla stat-boosters that would otherwise be a necessary part of a character's equipment.
The thing is, as class abilities go, flat boosts to specific stats are as boring as stat boost magic items. You see folks go "Great, I can cast 3rd level spells! Helloooo Fireball!" But almost never do players get excited by their BAB going up by one.

Basically, you're just shuffling the source of the power, without making the power itself more interesting. Trading vanilla magic items for vanilla character abilities -> net gain of player interest = zero.
 

Kelleris

Villager
I just let people spend their gold on inherent (not Inherent) Enhancement and Resistance and whatnot bonuses. Can't be taken away and isn't tied to an item - represents some special event occurring to them or a costly training regimen or a magical ceremony or an in-game reward or something. I figure the inability to take the item off or resell it makes up for the fact that it doesn't take up an item slot, and it just makes things so much cleaner IMO. And it's not like the Craft Wondrous Item doesn't still cover all the cool items even if you take the vanilla stuff out, so it doesn't really tread on the toes of crafter types.
 

Kelleris

Villager
Umbran said:
The thing is, as class abilities go, flat boosts to specific stats are as boring as stat boost magic items. You see folks go "Great, I can cast 3rd level spells! Helloooo Fireball!" But almost never do players get excited by their BAB going up by one.

Basically, you're just shuffling the source of the power, without making the power itself more interesting. Trading vanilla magic items for vanilla character abilities -> net gain of player interest = zero.
Exactly why I just prefer to make them a non-issue. People spend however much gold on them and then they can forget about them. Perhaps some kind of limit on gp expenditure would be a good idea, though, to encourage picking up the fun items. Like only half of your gold can be vanilla stat boosters or something.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Okay, I'm officially taking the contrarian stance. I love stat boosting items. I love them as a player, and I like them as a DM as well. I think they're a fun, interesting way to make characters more effective. I can also think of a whole lot of ways to make them more quirky, if you think they're boring.

"Andraxus? I wanted to give you this as a gift. It contains the concentrated soul of the archmage Vinxisis: his knowledge, his skill, and his foibles. You may find that he's hard to understand at first, but if you let him guide you, you probably won't regret it. And don't worry; that last owner would probably have gone mad even without this."

Headband of intellect +2, rises to +4 at 8th level, rises to +6 at 14th level; gives additional +5 competence bonus to craft (alchemy), and a -2 penalty to will saves.
 

Matafuego

Villager
I do almost as Kelleris do except I give those away as rewards for adventures, RP and reaching a milestone.

Currently IMC

A barbarian, defender of the elemental plane of fire, with a fire arm that grants him a +6 enhancement bonus to both str and con and a +4 deflection to ca. Plus some uses of magical firey spells per day.

A cleric, saint (BoED), of the god of healing. He can lay on hands, he has a +6 enhancement bonus to both int and wis and can fly at will (summon angelic wings as a free action).

A paladin, dragonslayer. He has some draconic tattoos on him that grant him a +6 enhancement bonus to both str and cha and and can fly at will (summon draconic wings as a free action).

Of course, my campaign is at epic levels now, but i feel this way the players have earned these divine/draconic/elemental boosts to their characters and are not clones walking around wearing the latest fashion in str improving belts...

I do the same way with Skills BTW granting from a +2 to a +10 depending on whys.
 

whydirt

Villager
Piratecat said:
Okay, I'm officially taking the contrarian stance. I love stat boosting items. I love them as a player, and I like them as a DM as well. I think they're a fun, interesting way to make characters more effective. I can also think of a whole lot of ways to make them more quirky, if you think they're boring.

"Andraxus? I wanted to give you this as a gift. It contains the concentrated soul of the archmage Vinxisis: his knowledge, his skill, and his foibles. You may find that he's hard to understand at first, but if you let him guide you, you probably won't regret it. And don't worry; that last owner would probably have gone mad even without this."

Headband of intellect +2, rises to +4 at 8th level, rises to +6 at 14th level; gives additional +5 competence bonus to craft (alchemy), and a -2 penalty to will saves.
Heh. I like this a lot and shows that stat-boosting items don't have to be boring.

However, I do think it takes more work on the DM's part to make stat-boosting items interesting in this way than with items that produce unique or unusual effects.
 

reanjr

Villager
They're boring and bad for the game, in my opinion. One campaign I ran, I forced all pregened magic items to include other effects on top of their enhancement bonuses. For instance, if someone wanted a Str enhancing item of +4 (32,000 gp I think), they had to add another effect to the item worth at least 32,000 gp (and spend the money, of course).

This really cut down on the +X items and made for some creative equipment.

When I hand out items, I almost never make it a simple +Y weapon of Cool Effect, but give it strange abilities that come out slowly over a campaign.
 

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