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D&D 5E Increasing/Modifying Attunement

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
So I LOVE attunement. I think it is one of the best new features in 5E D&D and took a shine to it right away. However, I find that having to have something attuned is already kind of limiting and thus further limiting it to 3 attuned items max felt like too much.

So what I am considering for my current games is to increase the limit to 5 attuned items (I also tend to give out items that have multiple powers, some basic ones you need to be attuned for some you don't) but placing the limit on not being able to be attuned to more items than you have places on your body to actually use the item. So kind of a hard limit/body slots hybrid.

Thus, unless you are an ettin, you can only have one necklace attuned and one magical hat attuned. The typical two arms, two legs humanoid could be attuned to no more than two magical bracelets. They could be attuned to five magic rings (sure they have 10 fingers, but the maximum is still five of any kind total) and other limits are determined by the slot they take up - only one cloak or one kind of magic shirt, only one pair of boots (since magical boots usually need to work in a pair - but I guess if there were singular magical boots you could be attuned to two), etc. . .

Furthermore, you cannot be attuned to more than three weapons or other non-wearable magical items (total) of any kind at time.

This gives slightly more access to different kinds of magical items but serves to still tamp down on swapping between characters without some effort or even swapping out different items of the same time on the same character.

The slots thing provides a simple rule to follow just by asking yourself, does this item I am about to attune to use the same part of my body to activate? And if it does, attuning to it would de-attune the previous item.

I don't think the self-swapping thing is much of an issue - but flavor-wise I like the idea of limiting it.

Thoughts?
 

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J-H

Adventurer
I have increased the attunement limit to 4 for my players (currently level 14) and it will go to 5 at 18. Too many attunement slots were being tied up by armor and weapons and it was cutting down on their ability to be versatile.
 




ehren37

Adventurer
I personally think attunement should be inversely based on the amount of magic you command. So full casters get maybe 1-2, and non-casters get unlimited.
 

Your table, your game.
I like limited to 3. Doesn't mean I might not give my players a boon for a fourth attunement slot granted by some diety when they get to a higher level. But it will always be at a cost, or a trade-off for some other benefit. Choices are important. Limits are critical for making choices be important and meaningful.
 


Mort

Legend
I've kept the 3 item limit - and so far no issues. But campaign hasn't gone too high level (8th)

That said, I love the attunement mechanic and have added a few things. Specifically, crafters of items have agendas and the items often reflect that.

For example: The party found a ring of freadom of movement in the sewers of the city of Greyhawk. The ring was emblazoned with the seal of the city. If one attunes to it they get the full benefits of a ring of free action. BUT with the attunement the ring also imparts a sense of duty and loyalty to the city of Greyahwk. If the wearer ever acts directly against an authority of greyhawk (say the city watch, but since the ring is attuned to the wearer, basically if they think they are acting against a person in authority, so does the ring, it's not intelligent) then the ring will hold monster them (save at disadvantage).

And items similar to that - basically add flavor and substance - not just a balancing mechanic.
 


ehren37

Adventurer
Isn't that logically the opposite of how it should work? Wouldn't a wizard be the ideal candidate for breaking the limit?
No, because they're so used to wresting control they're bad at letting magic flow through them. Or the weave decided they have enough plot coupons. Or whatever fanwank you deem acceptable to improve the caster/non-caster balance situation.
 

No, because they're so used to wresting control they're bad at letting magic flow through them. Or the weave decided they have enough plot coupons. Or whatever fanwank you deem acceptable to improve the caster/non-caster balance situation.
Balance and sense are entirely different things.
 


the Jester

Legend
I feel like increasing the base number of attunement slots- or for that matter decreasing it- is a great way to tweak the feel of a given campaign.

Personally, I like the way the three slot limit works, and I've got a couple of ways that I've been tweaking it via how I design or convert magic items.

The first is to give real thought to whether a given item should require attunement at all. I'm actually in the middle of a major revision of my magic items right now and one thing I've found is that now, years into running 5e, I'm erasing "requires attunement" from about 25% of the items that I originally gave it to.

The second is to address attunement requirements within specific magic items themselves. I was converting the magic items from Adventurers Vault 2 (4e), and within it are a bunch of item sets- for example, the "Raiment of the Phoenix" item set includes a cloak, crown, mask, and scepter, and you get extra powers out of them the more pieces of the set you have. I gave these item sets the following special trait: "You only need one attunement slot to attune to this set of items, in whole or in part. However, while it is split up, different creatures can attune to its different pieces."

I also converted a bunch of items from the 3e Magic Item Compendium that are crystals that you attach to weapons or armor to give them extra powers. For these, I added this trait: "If you clip it onto a weapon [or armor, depending on the item], you can attune to both the weapon and the crystal with the same attunement slot."

I also have a few items that modify the attunement rules, for instance:

Ring of Rings
Ring, legendary (requires attunement)
While you wear this magic ring, you can wear one magic ring on each other finger without needing to attune to them, even if they normally require attunement.

(This is a conversion of a magic ring I used in 2e to make a villain modeled after the Mandarin.)
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Isn't that logically the opposite of how it should work? Wouldn't a wizard be the ideal candidate for breaking the limit?
Any mortal can only control so much magic flow within their spirit. Most of a wizard's spirit is spent attempting to control the magic of their prepared spells; a totally non-magic fighter has the ability to bear much more magic on them as they aren't burdened with their own.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
You're kind of eliminating a major ability for Artificers, for one thing.

I only use core rules/classes/lineages in my game (+ some few house rules, obvi). So I have never even read the artificer or know what book it is in - thus had not considered it, nor am I concerned. If I run a different game with artificers, I'll be sure to keep that mind, tho. Thanks.
 

J-H

Adventurer
The first is to give real thought to whether a given item should require attunement at all. I'm actually in the middle of a major revision of my magic items right now and one thing I've found is that now, years into running 5e, I'm erasing "requires attunement" from about 25% of the items that I originally gave it to.

I'll be doing this for my next game.
 

ehren37

Adventurer
Balance and sense are entirely different things.
'Cuz magic cuts both ways. I gave an answer that makes sense. Here's another. The god of magic wants to limit how much can be in any mortal's hands and casters already wield too much. Or how about a nearly full vessel can take on less? Or this was part of the 1984 Jock-Nerd accords.

Mechanically, non-casters need more to be brought up to par. In 1E, fighters could use spell scrolls, wands, whatever, and this helped close the gap. Then 2E decided what D&D needed was a "rich get richer" style, and removed that. This columnated in the absurd level of caster dominance of 3E we're still suffering from today.
 
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I've increased the number of attunement slots in my first campaign, which went from level 1 to 18. Unfortunately this turned out badly, so I'm unlikely to do so again. In future campaigns, 3 worked out quite well. It forces the party to abandon weaker magic items, which I allowed to barter for non-attument/consumable items. It really cuts down on the Christmas Tree PCs.

There is also the houserule idea I have seen posted that Attunement Slots = Proficiency Bonus.
If I did adjust again, this seems much more reasonable. It weakens options at lower levels, puts it to standard for the "sweet spot," then slowly allows more as the party moves to epic tier.
 


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