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5E Frustrated with 5E magic items

toucanbuzz

Adventurer
I'm curious how other people have made the transition from more structured magic item and treasure editions like 3E and 4E over to a looser system like 5E.
I first celebrated the death of "wealth by level" structuring with a drink. Then I observed that yes, players accumulate wealth and D&D isn't designed to use that wealth to buy bigger and better magical items. In AD&D, you'd buy a castle, finance your army, pay your butler, open a thieves' guild, and so on. If you're looking for rules on that, recommend the "Pathfinder Ultimate Campaign" book (OGL is largely free online). It has a complete set of prices and rules for that type of stuff, and because it's a mini-game within the game, there's no conversion issue. You can run it largely as-is.

I've run RHOD in 3.5, and it's got a timer, so lugging around hoards of coins isn't really what the adventure is about. I roughly have been knocking 3rd/Pathfinder conversions to around 10% wealth and making rough use from Xanathar's about how many magic items should be in my campaign. If the players have accumulated items they can't use, then use this as a roleplay opportunity to find others who might be willing to trade for something they have. Or, let them use their wealth to buy a treasure map or research a "recipe" into making an item.

Lecture Part: Just be aware that with the rarity of magical items, most people should be loathe to give one up. They should be an awesome thing to find (holy crap, a magical weapon?) that might redefine how you play your character. And if they aren't rare in your setting, then they aren't as special, and that was a major issue raised constantly on the forums when I played 3.5 and Pathfinder.
 

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Eltab

Hero
Is it important that you limit player downtime during this adventure or is that something on which you can bend?
RHoD in essence puts the PCs in front of BBEG's blitzkreig.
They have to warn The Authorities, delay the enemy's oncoming might, and contact potential allies to send aid. There are two possible climaxes: a defensive fight at the regional capital city, or taking the fight to BBEG personally in his lair - as he brings in reinforcements.
I recognized the parallels to Rise of Tiamat, which is basically a larger version of this scenario. (I was weird and discovered / read them in reverse order of publication.)
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
There's also this book, if your PCs really have a lot of money and ambition:


I backed the Kickstarter, and I really like the book. Haven't had a chance to use it in play (yet), though. It's also available in hardback.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I think in the specific case of Red Hand of Doom, large sums of money can be quickly spend if the players want to invest in the defense of the region. Money does not need to be spend ON the characters.

  • The dwarfholds to the south can be recruited for a large sum of money (only vaguely hinted in the adventure's description of the region).
  • The players could also send money to artisans and builders outside the region, so they come to fortify Thindol (the city besieged at the end of the adventure),
  • commandeer ships or caravans to evacuate the next large town on the horde's path should Thindol fall,
  • recruit mercenaries,
  • recruit assassins or saboteurs to weaken enemy forces,
  • bribe goblinoid forces,
  • create a hoard for a good-aligned dragon so it would defend the region,
  • buy their way out of a failed recruiting mission: buy a powerful druidic item for the elves should the player fail the mission to recruit them, offer a better phylactery for the ghost-lord so he will create ghostly lions to help you instead just being neutral.
  • Stockpile diamonds to resurrect civilian casualties.
  • Offer a cache of magic items to the defending forces.
  • for an incredible sum, field an actual army to face the horde.
  • Ridiculous (yet fun): offer such a large treasure hoard that Tiamat would remove her favors to the Warlord in the last battle in her temple.

just create a vague table stating the cost of an investment and the number of Victory points each one adds to the final ranking.
 
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Undrave

Hero
That might work once, but if you aren't hosting and attending social functions or being seen on the town, it will quickly wear thin. Plus, after your bath and new clothes buying, how do you possibly keep them clean?

In other words, it's not what you look like that gets you access, it's your reputation and contacts, both of which require more than a bath and new clothes (all of which are bespoke at that level). It's a matter of what matters.

But, yeah, if you're playing wandering heroes and structure your game so it doesnt matter, it doesn't matter.
Ah yeah if you're staying at the same place all the time it's different, but if you're just passing by you don't need much.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Just as a tangential note: Consider adding magic items (and spells) to your world that non-adventurers would want (although they may still be of use to adventurers, the idea is that the wealthy would have these created for themselves). It gives the world a more 'lived in' feel - and a lot of them do not need to require attunement, allowing the PCs some extra things to spend funds on that do not overpower them.

My magic items table is the one from the DMG, but it adds in dozens of items that would benefit the wealthy enough that they'd spend their wealth to have it made. Simple examples:

Wand of counting: You point it and say what you want to count, then it counts them for you. Count a pile of coins, a crowd of people, etc...

Mirrors of passage: Two 6 inch mirrors. When you put something into one, it comes out of the other. Invaluable for shipping small goods, securing your money, etc... Usable for 3 rounds per day.

Rod of vibration: It vibrates on command.

Librarian's Tome: This magical book is attuned to a user and a location. Regardless of where the book is, the attuned user can name a book in the library and the Librarian's Tome will alter to become a copy of that book.

Tenser's Transport: This is a round disk the size of a Tenser's Disk. When you step on (or place objects on) it and name a location, the disk will start floating towards it at 60 feet per round. It will move towards the direction of the target location using the most direct route it can observe (60' sight), but will take verbal commands to alter the path to go around obstacles.

Axe of Mining: This mining axe is similar to a dancing sword, except it mines rather than fighting.
 

I dislike "sane magic item prices".

It has a number of structural errors (magic shields cost the same as armor, for example, and many items are priced based on utility to L20 PCs).

Instead, use random magic item tables to find what items are for sale. Price them randomly in the DMG price range. Divide consumable prices by 10. Finding the item may require checks.

"Higher level" areas have better treasure charts.

Sometimes fudge to help PCs out (if a PC uses a polearm, or whatever), but not always.

No magic mart.

As noted, there are other things that they can spend gold in. Make those better deals...
 


Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
Search for "Sane Magic Item Prices"--it's a free PDF, and I believe ENworld has a copy for download somewhere. It can help you get a handle on how much things should cost.
Sane grossly underestimates the usability of a lot of magic items in 5E, basing it way too much on hold overs from 3.X. I'd suggest you use Blacky the Blackball's excellent treasure supplement.
 

Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
Hiya!

If your Player's Character's are walking around with tens of thousands of GP's (in various forms) and "don't know what to spend them on", well, imnsho the problem isn't that THEY don't know what to spend them on...but YOU (the DM) don't know what to spend them on.

PC's stagger back to town, wounded, depleted of equipment, and ready for a rest...
Guards: "Ho ho...! Looks like adventurers have returned...barely! Congratulations! You look like you all need a good sleep and some food and wine in your bellies, no? Well, we'll make this quick then. Standard adventuring treasure recovery tax is a nice, flat 20% here in our fine, prosperous country! Be glad you didn't go to Yonderville, it's in Uthercountry...they're on rough times...heard their adventuring treasure recovery tax is at 50%! Heh...probably know that, huh? Probably why you came here. Anyway...lets get this done. Gotta keep the tax man happy, right?"
..
PC's get to the Golden Horn Inn:
Proprietor: "My Stars! You folks look downright disheveled! Here, let us get you the finest rooms...in fact, it's an entire floor, all to your selves. Four bedrooms, a spare one you can use as another bedroom or for storing gear, two private bathrooms, full hot-bath services and laundry, food, two sitting rooms and a large room with a large fireplace...even get a healer to come help you guys if you want. No no no....don't worry about the price! I'm sure you fine adventurers can easily pay the meager fees! You won't regret it! Finest service in the city!"
..
PC's are having Brunch at Golden Horn Inn after a nice nights rest:
Proprietor: "Good sir's and madam's, sorry to intrude, but I have been inundated with messages from some of your...friends? Favoured shopkeeps and artisans? Here's the list of them...14 to be exact! Busy...and popular you are! And don't worry about paying for brunch. I've managed to get some good deals on that Sweet-Honey-Wine that Mistress Beatrice was sipping on last night! You staying here has brought in new customers, for sure! In fact, I have two free bottles of that Sweet-Honey-Wine for you from the local winery...'Teebles Brews and Distilleries'...best alcoholic craftsman...er...crafts-halfling...in the country I'd bet! ...I believe he's number 3 on your list there..."
..
...and so, the PC's pay taxes, pay for room and board, get requests from other patrons/businesses offering "deals" on their wares, and I'd fully expect various religious people to come a'knocking, as well as artists, bards, torchbearers, porters, etc...etc. The PC's should have no trouble at all finding things to spend their money on....because others will help them. (or at least try!)

If your Players are anything like mine, they'll be out of coin in a matter of days. Spending it on food, wine, parties, new equipment, hirelings, fancy new clothes, getting their various pieces of equipment "fancified" (coated in silver, gilded, gem-encrusted, carved/engraved, etc). Oh, sure, they have have a few thousand left, but that won't last either.

If you want to really make your Players "get into" the world...you need to provide them the means to, uh, 'invest' in it. The best way to do that, in my experience, is to offer them opportunities to spend it on 'the world' in stead of a boring new magic item. You can always find a +2 Dagger in a dungeon...you can't find a good carpenter who is willing to help build your new house for 25% off! ;) The dagger won't help develop "ties" to your campaign setting or it's NPC's...that potential friendship with a good carpenter will. And, IMVNSHO, the later is infinitely more desirable than the former!
(in other words, "Ye Old Magic Shoppe" is a cop-out if you ask me...which is why there are almost none in any of my campaigns...ever...).

^_^

Paul L. Ming
So invent money sinks, it is then. Might as well just refrain from giving them gold then, and save the time spent on the money sink "roleplay".
 




Sane grossly underestimates the usability of a lot of magic items in 5E, basing it way too much on hold overs from 3.X. I'd suggest you use Blacky the Blackball's excellent treasure supplement.
He puts armor +1 and shield +1 in the same category. Which means he fundamentally doesn't understand that (a) shields are worse than armor because far fewer can use them, and (b) magic shields are one of the ways S+B keep up with greatweapon/archery builds.

It was a simple test, and he failed it. Checking everything else he does is going to be a lot of work, and if he failed that one, I cannot have much faith.

Wow. Cloak of Invisibility is cheaper than a +2 suit of armor?! This guy is nutz; CoI is a top tier legendary item!
 

Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
He puts armor +1 and shield +1 in the same category. Which means he fundamentally doesn't understand that (a) shields are worse than armor because far fewer can use them, and (b) magic shields are one of the ways S+B keep up with greatweapon/archery builds.

It was a simple test, and he failed it. Checking everything else he does is going to be a lot of work, and if he failed that one, I cannot have much faith.

Wow. Cloak of Invisibility is cheaper than a +2 suit of armor?! This guy is nutz; CoI is a top tier legendary item!
Because +2 armor breaks bonded accuracy. And cloak of invisibility is an at will 2nd lvl spell, that's why. You can't use magic item rarity for anything, as is well described in the document.

I suggest you read it, and perhaps this thread as well, where you can see the very valid reasoning behind the pricing. Now, it might not be perfect, but it's way better than Sane or anything WotC has offered us. I'm using it in my campaign, and so far it's working out fine (around 9th level).
 

S'mon

Legend
Because +2 armor breaks bonded accuracy.
I think if I were using the DMG monster building rules, statting +3 armour & shield as 'priceless' would make sense. As it is I'm used to monsters with +15 to +19 attack bonuses and PCs going up to +20, so an AC in the 26-30 range doesn't break anything.

I do think he over rates those items considering how an Eldritch Knight can just spam Shield spells for +5 AC.

Edit: But the general approach is sound, it's just that attune/non-attune is not the enormous power gap mooted, and getting high AC armour at high level is still an important thing for heavy armour PCs IME or they'll be out-AC'd by naked barbs and by some DEX-based PCs.
 
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Depending on the campaign and the availability of high level NPCs in the campaign and the general alignments of the PCs, the tax rate might not be such a good idea.

Here is what my mainly neutral group would say (Greyhawk, not that much high level NPCs)
Dear captain, are you really sure you want us to pay such a tax? We did kill that ancient dragon you know? Do you really make us angry, go away, and spend our treasures in an other city. Are you aware that the lich Narzuk has awakened and that your lordship wants us to take care of it? Maybe we should pass on this mission for now...

At low level, it would be easy to enforce such a tax. But adventuring is not a revenue in itself and it would be very hard to tax a high level adventurer that does not want to pay such a tax. Income tax was not really a thing. It was usually a fixed amount of money based on the live stock and the properties that you owned. Barring money, a lot of taxes were paid through working for the liege or in live stocks or in fabricated goods instead of money. Treasure would hardly be taxable as you could not prove it was not previously taxed.

As I see things, adventurers are providing a service to the crown by removing threaths fromthe country. The best way to get the money they make is by letting them spend their cash in your city/country and to tax the commoners/artisans. It is less risky, it makes adventurers happy. Your artisans gets money from them and so do you. If there are common fee to enter a city, most characters will pay the fee but they might not return to that city. And a city entry fee is usually a few copper per persons and live stocks anyways.

The tax shennanigan would only work a few times then the characters would quickly either change the zone in which they are adventuring, start hiding their treasures to avoid taxes or simply start to slay the soldiers trying to tax them. Especially high level non good PCs.

There are zones of ways to separate players from their money. Tax is the least appealing of them.
Im not a huge fan of taxing PCs for other reasons. Its a game. Its supposed to be fun. Taxes are not fun. Not for me anyway!

I dont have too much of a problem with money. I tend to run longer adventuring days as default so a lot of money gets spent on healing potions to press on when those HD are expended. I also tend to rule most valuable material components of spells are expended with use as a HR so that places a resource drain the casters.

Plus, my group likes to spend money on big parties and living the life of luxury in any event. Like most real people would.
 

werecorpse

Explorer
Because +2 armor breaks bonded accuracy. And cloak of invisibility is an at will 2nd lvl spell, that's why. You can't use magic item rarity for anything, as is well described in the document.

I suggest you read it, and perhaps this thread as well, where you can see the very valid reasoning behind the pricing. Now, it might not be perfect, but it's way better than Sane or anything WotC has offered us. I'm using it in my campaign, and so far it's working out fine (around 9th level).
Thanks for this reference. I have been using Sane as a help, now I’ll use this as well. I don’t agree with all of it but I like to see the reasoning. I’m surprised armour isn’t broken down into armour types, especially given it’s usefulness. I mean +2 chainmail is only marginally better than non magical plate so surely its value is no more than a few thousand?
 

werecorpse

Explorer
Im not a huge fan of taxing PCs for other reasons. Its a game. Its supposed to be fun. Taxes are not fun. Not for me anyway!

I dont have too much of a problem with money. I tend to run longer adventuring days as default so a lot of money gets spent on healing potions to press on when those HD are expended. I also tend to rule most valuable material components of spells are expended with use as a HR so that places a resource drain the casters.

Plus, my group likes to spend money on big parties and living the life of luxury in any event. Like most real people would.
Tax, like anything, needs a game purpose. I run two games at the moment. One is a short time frame standard 5e exp, levelling up after every couple of days adventuring. In that game tax is irrelevant the party spends their money on potions and scrolls. One is long term slow exp (1/10th) The party just spent 6 months downtime, just after their city had to defend itself and hired mercenaries to do so. As such I doubled the daily cost of living expenses above comfortable to reflect increased taxes. By the end a few of the characters were in debt and it was a good in game motivation for them to go on a risky treasure hunting adventure - the players enjoy that motivation existing.
 

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