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5E Frustrated with 5E magic items

Xeviat

Adventurer
Round up for a plain item.
Round down for an item with a property.

Then adjust to taste.

So a +1 flaming sword becomes a +0 magical flaming sword.

A +5 sword is a +3 sword. A +5 holy avenger becomes a +2 holy avenger.
Sounds like a good solution!
 

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MikalC

Villager
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
yeah this is what causes players to create murder hobos. When they’ve done the hard work and earned the cash and weak npc peons think they can chisel the PCs, you’ll soon have dead npcs and newly minted murder hobos.
 

pming

Adventurer
Hiya!

yeah this is what causes players to create murder hobos. When they’ve done the hard work and earned the cash and weak npc peons think they can chisel the PCs, you’ll soon have dead npcs and newly minted murder hobos.
But not for long. Folks in civilized (or even uncivilized) countries tend to get a bit "defensive" when murder hobo's start killing all their friends and family members.

But, on the plus side...I guess?... this will fix the 'problem'; the PC's will be far to busy trying not to get killed by all the bounty hunters, avenging angles (possibly quite literally), and other adventurers intent on succeeding at their latest adventure (re: "THE MURDER HOBO'S, An Adventure for 4 - 6 Characters. // A group of savage PC's has been ravaging the countryside! The poor townsfolk are no match for them, the trained soldiers can barely hold their own...but the Kings and Queens of three countries want these murder hobos stopped...and they are willing to grant money, fame and land to those who can bring The Murder Hobo's to justice. Is your party up for the task?" ;) ).

Or the Players could luck out with a bad or lazy DM who just lets it slide. Anything's possible.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If you're looking for a money sink, have the PCs receive a strange note: "Greetings! I am the prince of (insert country) and I need your assistance in moving a large quantity of gold to Waterdeep. For your efforts you will earn 10%...."
Heh. My two favorite scams were from before internet scamming took off.

The first one was a letter I got informing me that I had won more than 100 million in the Mexican lottery. All I had to do was mail a small processing fee to Amsterdam. No red flags there!

The second was one I got from New Mexico or Arizona. It contained an ace of spades, one dollar, and a letter telling me that I had psychic powers. If the card I got was a spade, it meant I had the most powerful type of psychic gift. If it was an ace, I was the strongest in that suit. Then it asked me to mail back the dollar and wait for more instructions. I pocketed the dollar and went on with my business.
 

Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
Heh. My two favorite scams were from before internet scamming took off.

The first one was a letter I got informing me that I had won more than 100 million in the Mexican lottery. All I had to do was mail a small processing fee to Amsterdam. No red flags there!

The second was one I got from New Mexico or Arizona. It contained an ace of spades, one dollar, and a letter telling me that I had psychic powers. If the card I got was a spade, it meant I had the most powerful type of psychic gift. If it was an ace, I was the strongest in that suit. Then it asked me to mail back the dollar and wait for more instructions. I pocketed the dollar and went on with my business.
And thus one dollar saved the world from the thralldom of the Mind Tyrant.
 

MikalC

Villager
Hiya!



But not for long. Folks in civilized (or even uncivilized) countries tend to get a bit "defensive" when murder hobo's start killing all their friends and family members.

But, on the plus side...I guess?... this will fix the 'problem'; the PC's will be far to busy trying not to get killed by all the bounty hunters, avenging angles (possibly quite literally), and other adventurers intent on succeeding at their latest adventure (re: "THE MURDER HOBO'S, An Adventure for 4 - 6 Characters. // A group of savage PC's has been ravaging the countryside! The poor townsfolk are no match for them, the trained soldiers can barely hold their own...but the Kings and Queens of three countries want these murder hobos stopped...and they are willing to grant money, fame and land to those who can bring The Murder Hobo's to justice. Is your party up for the task?" ;) ).

Or the Players could luck out with a bad or lazy DM who just lets it slide. Anything's possible.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
yeah the point went over your head.
It doesn’t matter what happens as a consequence, you know why? Because your behavior as a dm has caused the players to get into the murder hobo mindset.

instead of creating constructive ways to spend cash that allow the players to be involved with the world, you literally try and shake them down, making them protective of their gains and seeing these npcs as only enemies seeking to steal from them.
 

pming

Adventurer
Hiya!

yeah the point went over your head.
It doesn’t matter what happens as a consequence, you know why? Because your behavior as a dm has caused the players to get into the murder hobo mindset.

instead of creating constructive ways to spend cash that allow the players to be involved with the world, you literally try and shake them down, making them protective of their gains and seeing these npcs as only enemies seeking to steal from them.
Hehe...no, no it didn't. ;)

I decided to play it "straight faced" to give you a chance to reflect on what you said 'between the lines'. Which was basically what you just said now.

My behaviour as a DM has done the exact opposite of what you said. Two of the 6'ish players (it fluctuated between 3 and 7, but usually there were 5 or 6 players) were definitely of the "murder hobo" mindset when they first bellied up to my table back in 2005. They were used to 3e, where money and magic are plentiful. The world I DM is Greyhawk or one of my personal campaign settings...and in them, large cities with walls have taxes/tithes. Entry into the city costs a certain amount of coin, usually based on the wealth of the individual entering. Adventurers are typically rich. My players PC's were not...I'm an admittedly stingy DM, but my players were NOTORIOUS for getting so excited and wrapped up in a battle or situation that after it was all over...treasure was the last thing on their mind. They wanted to 'bask in the glory of victory', or quickly get home so they could lick their wounds and recover. It was only after I started pointing out all the times they just "found the leader...defeated said leader...and left". It was a very amusing after session, for sure. They all suddenly realized that for YEARS (literally...YEARS) they were just 'leaving'. We discovered it was likely because their previous DM used only "adventure path style" adventures (3.x and even 2e before that). Things were always "handed to them" or they were "spoon fed" where to go next. They never actually ever played a real (IMNSHO) Campaign...just 'adventure paths' and 'single, long adventures'.

Anyway, once I started to get them used to thinking for themselves, they started asking normal questions...like... "Can I buy some land in this town? Maybe a nice house in the Garden District?", which lead to the details of taxes/tithes, expected military support from them due to their particular "expertise" (re: actual Adventurers with actual Levels in an actual Class), and all that stuff you so wonderfully described as...ahem... "..you literally try and shake them down...".

Did you ever stop to think that the reason YOUR players may perceive this style in such a negative way is because you have 'trained' them to just accept only things you 'give' them and only positive things? That any negative/detrimental 'thing' that is out of their hands that happens to their PC's is seen as a direct attack by you, the DM? My players didn't and still don't. They understand that I'm the DM...I run "the world". They understand that the world doesn't care about their feelings, and it sure as heck doesn't "owe them anything"; they are not "destined to be hero's, loved by all" simply by writing down "Cleric, 1st Level, NG". .. .. .. Maybe ask yourself why you think of my suggestions as "screwing with the PC's and turning them into murder hobo's".

In a Nutshell: If the Players are fixated on hoarding everything they get...or see any non-positive thing that happens to them as the DM trying to 'screw with them'....perhaps everyone at the table needs to sit down and talk about how they see the game and the role of the Players, and the DM, when playing it.

EDIT: I just thought of another thing that might be a factor: player age/maturity. My players are all in their late 30's or 40's. They have/had significant others, husbands/wives, kids, jobs, responsibilities, car payments, rent/mortgage payments, food bills, fuel costs, etc. So maybe the idea of paying taxes/tithes isn't seen as 'stealing' or 'getting screwed', but just something that simply "is". It adds believability to the world and helps them relate to their PC's and NPC's. .. .. Maybe you and/or your players are younger and not used to doing that yet? Anyway...just a thought. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
Somehow I've never met a person in real life who couldn't find ways to spend money and I live in a world without any magical items at all.
If monsters were very real you'd be spending some of that money on the best anti monster equipment available, and a market would emerge. So I don't think using real world analogies really solves anything.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
Sounds like a good solution!
If you do go with 3E levels of equipment, just be prepared to buff up your encounters a lot. Magic items can make a pretty huge difference to a fight in 5E, as I found out when I let my players go magic item shopping in my first campaign. (They all bought winged boots, and about 15% of the planned encounters suddenly became trivial.)
 
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If you do go with 3E levels of equipment, just be prepared to buff up your encounters a lot. Magic items can make a pretty huge difference to a fight in 5E, as I found out when I let my players go magic item shopping in my first campaign. (They all bought boots of flying, and about 15% of the planned encounters suddenly became trivial.)
If you treat "magic item shopping" as another treasure parcel, with a random (or selected) set of items they can find for sale (maybe more if they make better checks/complete adventures to get access to them), this problem sort of goes away.

"I bought the best items in the game at this price point" is way, way, way stronger than "I bought the items I could find for sale that didn't suck for the price". In a game like D&D, width of options is power.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
If you treat "magic item shopping" as another treasure parcel, with a random (or selected) set of items they can find for sale (maybe more if they make better checks/complete adventures to get access to them), this problem sort of goes away.
I dd make them roll to see what they could find and how good the price was. I also restricted items from "rare" onward in frequency. But winged boots are only an uncommon item.
 

I dd make them roll to see what they could find and how good the price was. I also restricted items from "rare" onward in frequency. But winged boots are only an uncommon item.
Sure, but all items should be restricted in frequency.

You should see more winged boots than rarer items on average, but a roll to find them should find 1 of them.

Then each item gets a random price within the range (I am tempted to discount consumables significantly). Sometimes you'll find great deals, sometimes crappy ones. Sometimes a +1 dagger will cost a few gp less than a flame tongue pike.

Once you say "you can buy unlimited number of X" or "any item from a long list", you are magic-marting, and that is a huge power increase. Choice is power, and saying "buy any number of uncommon items" is probably a bigger power upgrade than handing them a single random legendary weapon for free.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
Sure, but all items should be restricted in frequency.
My point is that even stuff that seems relatively harmless at first glance can have a huge impact on a campaign, so the OP should plan for that if giving out the same quantity of magic items as a 3.X campaign would have. Even if they're scaled back in strength.
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
If monsters were very real you'd be spending some of that money on the best anti monster equipment available, and a market would emerge. So I don't think using real world analogies really solves anything.
Right, so in D&D world you should want to buy cool magic items AND all the stuff you want in real life.

In which light, given how D&D characters behave, I think their largest expense should be lawyer's fees.
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
I have magic items be tradeable rather than buyable (always at a disadvantage to the players), allowing players to get rid of items they have no use for in exchange for something they might.
Same. Eventually, the players in my game will come to know that there's an old elf in the coastal Elven village that runs an "antique store" which is really a front for a barter-only magic item shop.
 

Same. Eventually, the players in my game will come to know that there's an old elf in the coastal Elven village that runs an "antique store" which is really a front for a barter-only magic item shop.
Even there, you should roll randomly for what treasure the Elf has to trade. Have items "age out" and new ones show up every few weeks.

And, naturally, next to none of it is on premises. He just knows people offering stuff.

Magic Item Merchant Mechanics:
The elf has 5 item "slots". You roll for it on a level-appropriate table. Fill 4 of them to start.

Every week, roll 1d6 for an item that ages out (on a 6, roll twice more, exploding).

Then, every week, roll 1d6 for a new item to arrive (on a 6, roll twice more, exploding), replacing any item in that slot.

If a month or a bit more has passed, roll 1d6 to see what item(s) haven't been replaced (same method as above), then replace every other item, leaving 1 slot blank.

If significantly more than a month passes, just restart it with 4 random items.

---

If the players buy out the merchant, it takes weeks to restock. So this isn't a source of unlimited items, it is just a source of some variety and customization.

When you get a consumable, consider having 1d6 of them instead of 1. Decide on a case by case basis.
 
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der_kluge

Adventurer
Even there, you should roll randomly for what treasure the Elf has to trade. Have items "age out" and new ones show up every few weeks.
If I did something like this, it would be my luck that I'd roll a Portable Hole, or something else game-breaking like that. I'm much happier actually deciding before-hand what he has, so I have control over what the players have access to. Because I learned a long time ago that certain "benign" items like rings of invisibility, portable holes, and a few other items like that, are just really problematic, and I'd rather not deal with them.
 

I mean, the Ring of Invisibility is legendary. So unlikely to show up early on, and as it is a swap shop they will have to swap a legendary item for it.

Portable Holes are rare, so could show up earlier. And yes, they can change the game, but the "change the game" from items should happen slower than the change the game from spellcasters getting higher level spells.

At level 5, spellcasters can (with resources) fly. A single flying item doesn't break the game, but having one for everyone could warp it.

By level 11, everyone flying isn't all that unusual; at level 13, Paladins get Greater Steeds, Bards can get it at 11, a 5th level fly slot targets 3 creatures, moon druids have flying dinosaurs, polymorph at level 9 lets you change an ally into a flying dinosaur, etc.

PCs will have to swap a +2 sword (or similar rarity item) to get that portable hole as well (plus commission fee!)

In short, personally, I'd embrace the chaos. Even if I hand-crafted items for adventures, having a source of random items they can purchase would be fun, from the DM's side.
 

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