• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

D&D (2024) How to bound the bounded accuracy in magic items for 1D&D?


Bounded accuracy in 5E works very good. Most of the time.

Problems start with +X items for attacks, ACs, saves and DCs.

Sure, magic items are optional, but people do love them. And DMs like to design and hand them out.
Also every published adventure has them. So it is hard to keep them out of the game.

Instead of +X to attack and +X to damage, weapons should give +1d6 damage per X.
That is, a +2 weapon should add +2d6 damage per attack.

Magic armor should reduce all damage taken.
Damage reduction of 2 per +X of former AC bonus seems OK, too much DR and it would make small attacks non-issue.

for items that raise DC and spell attack, +1d6 per damage/healing roll of the spell could be enough. or scalable with spell levels:
+1d6 per former +X for cantrips and spell levels 1&2
+2d6 per former +X for spell level for spell levels 3,4&5
+3d6 per former +X for spell level for spell levels 6,7&8, and
+4d6 per former +X for spell level 9

+2 bloodwell vial would give sorcerer +2d6 damage for firebolt cantrip or burning hands,
+4d6 for 3rd level fireball
+6d6 for 6th level upcasted fireball, and
+8d6 for 9th level upcasted fireball.

non damaging/healing spells could have their duration increased instead. If necessary at all.

1min spells would add 1 round per +X
10min spells would add 1 min per +X
1hr or longer spells would add 1hr per +X to max of 24hrs

all other items with +X AC or saves should be removed.

Cloak/ring of resistance/protection could be:
after a short rest pick a saving throw you are not proficient.
you gain proficiency in that save while you are attune to this item or you change type of save on next rest.

log in or register to remove this ad


Craft homebrewer
There's also a bit of an issue from the increasing number of abilities and effects that can give bonuses (usually a bonus die) to d20 tests. We've started playtesting reduced stacking:
  • Attack rolls:
    • Only your own “always on” effects stack (e.g. Foe Slayer, Fighting style: archery +2, etc)
    • Other bonuses (from others, or limited use, or with durations) don't. Just use the highest roll/value (e.g. fixed bonuses like Sacred Weapon, Guided Strike, War God’s Blessing, Focused Aim, certain Epic Boons, etc; or dice rolls like Bless, Emboldening Bond, Bardic Inspiration, Precision Attack, Bend Luck, Favored by the Gods, certain Epic Boons, etc)
  • Saves (same):
    • Only your own “always on” effects stack (e.g. Paladin's own Aura)
    • Other bonuses don't. Just use the highest roll/value (e.g. Resistance, Bardic Inspiration, Flash of Inspiration, Favored by the Gods, Paladin's aura on others, Bless, Bladesong, Emboldening Bond, etc)
  • Ability check (same):
    • Only your own “always on” effects stack (e.g. Paladin's own Aura)
    • Other bonuses don't. Just use the highest roll/value (e.g. Guidance, Bardic Inspiration, Paladin's aura on others, Bless, Blade Song, Emboldening Bond, etc)
  • Equipment:
    • Bonuses to d20 tests from equipment (yours or others) don't stack. Just use the highest roll/value.

Back in 2e someone had made a (homebrew or maybe early 3pp) rules for 'hackmaster' weapons. Each weapon had a +x to hit but delt damage equal to the plus as weapon dice... (I don't think I am explaining this well)

so a Longsword normal long sword deals 1d8/1d10 (small and medium/large+) and a +1 weapon gets +1 to hit but no additional damage... BUT a +2 would get a +2 to hit and deal 2d8/2d10 damage... meaning the big +5 hack master longsword would have +5 to hit and deal 5d8/5d10 damage.

In 3e we ported it over. and we didn't port that over to 4e or 5e... although I do think I should.


The game is not really balanced for magical items. Personally I would just make everything +0 or +1 with special abilities and then stand alone +1 or +2.

If you are going to allow bonuses from magical armour and shields to stack then shields should require attunement. The system needs to be balanced so that a permanent AC25 is only achievable with magic.

Rings of Protection should not stack with magic armour but I'm unconvinced that they are good enough to requireattunement (and bring back cloaks of protection for unarmored characters). Bracers of Defence need clarification as well. They should probably stack with Rings of Protection but not armour.

Alternatively, maximum AC in 1e was -10. I'm not sure why they didn't officially cap AC at 25.


Yeah, AC in 5e is notorious for scaling poorly, being super powerful at low levels and almost a non-factor at higher levels.


There have been damage reducing armor systems in the past & they never really caught on well. The only time I've seen damage reducing armor work well was in systems where you have opposed rolls with weapons & armor adding to each side with the amount of overflow being the ultimate damage taken. That is unlikely to work in d&d whiteout massive rewrites.

As to bounded accuracy itself... rm -rf on the concept would be a good start


TBH I think AC is not given enough range... 10- -10 is a 20pt range but we don't do 10-30 really (and in 2e some monsters went up to -12) I wish more monster had 23-26 ACs
The low AC of monsters is a feature, not a bug. It's not fun for players to keep missing and AC30 would be really difficult to hit. There is also potential for DMs to 'enhance' monsters by upping dex, adding potions or spell effects, lair effects, parrying, and legendary actions.

That said, I do think there is room for improvement. I thought the official write up of the quickling was really sloppy. They totally missed the mark for hard to hit and easy to kill if you do hit. They were simplified down to pointlessness for me.

If you want to expand the AC range to the point where every level 1 character needs a natural 20 to hit, you have gone too far. Just play a game without bounded accuracy instead.
Last edited:


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I dont have a problem with a bonus 1D6. Maybe it bumps to D12 on a crit even. I do not want to see 2D6, 3D6, 4D6, etc.. I think to keep it bounded you need to keep the power level within reach as well.

Just ditch +X bonuses and give magic items actually interesting features.
This. Make magic items do more interesting things and less numbers.

Remove ads