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Iron Heroes threaten my GM style of low magic items...

Von Ether

Adventurer
I've got some players who are getting a tad too insistent that I consider using Iron Heroes, saying it will free the "game" from dependence on magic items ... in a campaign where my players complain they don't get enough of what ... you guessed it, magic items.

If I ran DND RAW, this might have some credence, but I use "mission-based" XP instead of encounters, and do a lot of eyeballing on the CR system (which I consider to have less weight once you allow 3rd party products, which I have on a case-by-case basis.) There are two magic items in a group of six 9th level PCs, no TPK yet. We have had people get into single digit hit points near the end of the fight and then they complain my fights aren't tough enough.

I see magic items as another form of tweaking for my campaign. The idea of instilling all those bonuses into innate abilities/tokens for the PCs means I have to run my game more by the rules than I do, when it's not really neccessary for my style.

So from my viewpoint, I'll be taking any promtion of Iron Heroes with a grain of salt from players. It might not be the "game" they're thinking about when they talk about being dependent on magic items.
 
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ThirdWizard

First Post
Of course they're complaining that they don't have enough magical items. They're 9th level characters and only two out of six PCs have a magical item! Now, I'm not saying you should slavishly follow the wealth guidelines, but when you say you are following RAW, I would expect that they would have somewhere around what characters within 2-3 levels are supposed to have. The book does say it expects 9th level characters to have 36,000 gp, you know? Mostly in magical items.

Now, its no wonder they want to run Iron Heroes. They are already playing a low item game, and Iron Heroes would allow you to run a low item game with the same power level as a normal D&D game. Iron Heroes gives PCs a boost of power in exchange for not having magical items, rebalancing them with this in mind.

It isn't about your players wanting magical items. They just want to have the power that is implied by the game, to meet the average of the curve. Iron Heroes will allow them to do this without having to rely on magical items, which they don't have anyway.
 

Glyfair

First Post
A tricky situation. The campaign seems balanced (or unbalanced in the opposite direction most would assume), but it also doesn't seem to be what the players are looking for. The players aren't dying, are looking for more of a challenge, but want more options and/or power.

The bottom line question is - are the players having fun?

While it's the GMs campaign and he should have the most say in the campaign balance and world, if the players aren't happy then it will soon be a DMs campaign without players (or with less and less players). If the combats are balanced, but 9th level players big battles are with low level monsters (by standard D&D balance), the players might not be happy. They want the challenges that 9th level characters are expecting to face.

If the players aren't enjoying themselves, you really have three choices. Either move somewhat in the direction they want to go, find a new direction that you both like, or else hang it up for a while and let someone else run a more traditional game. The only other option is to continue a game where you are enjoying yourself, but the players aren't, as long as they stick around.

If they are enjoying themselves, you should still consider moving somewhat in the direction they want to go. Clearly they are dissatisfied. You don't have to assume that just because they say it's one thing that changing to that will fix it. However, you should certainly consider changing things to give them something of what they are looking for.
 
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Varianor Abroad

First Post
I kept my D&D game very magic-light. My players complained. They had a hard time of it with some monsters. I realized that the system was meant for them to have the magic. Then I thought more and realized that it wasn't as fun for them. I made up for it. They had more fun and I got to throw tougher stuff at them.

I'm playing an IH armiger right now. In an Arcana Evolved game. I don't have any magic. Just a sword and some armor and some non-magical equipment. I'm kicking butt and loving every minute of it! If you like a game without magic, why not try it out? Your PCs want to have fun.

(In other words, this post second's ThirdWizard's thoughts above. I just feel compelled to post something in my own words. ;) )
 


Von Ether

Adventurer
ThirdWizard said:
but when you say you are following RAW, I would expect that they would have somewhere around what characters within 2-3 levels are supposed to have. The book does say it expects 9th level characters to have 36,000 gp, you know? Mostly in magical items.

I didn't
Von Ether said:
If I ran DND RAW, this might have some credence, but I use ... "

During play, they have fun and we haven't had any difficulty yet. But the guys who complain after the fact are my min/maxers. You know guys who petition to get their first levels in barbarian after three levels of playing a city theif.
 

ThirdWizard

First Post
I'm biased (toward RAW run wealth) because I had a bad time in a low item game before. The campaign itself wasn't bad, but by 8th level, all my fighter had to his name was a +1 sword and a ring of protection +1. It completely threw the CR system out of whack and we would have a hard time with CR 5 opponents. Basically, while the campaign was well constructed, it felt like we weren't getting anywhere in terms of power. Players feel like they should have good odds against an equal CR opponent. When they don't, it hurts morale.

Then, of course, the druid joined the party. Don't get me started on by the book spellcasters mixed in with non-spellcasters who don't have magical items. His summons were more effective than I was. And, he could heal, nuke, and all sorts of other things. I was basically dead weight. And, the DM wondered why I complained. *sigh* It was his first time DMing so it was a learning experience for him, however. No hard feelings. Sometimes its easy to forget what its like to be a Player. I know I can.

By the way, I love Iron Heroes!
 

helium3

First Post
ThirdWizard said:
I'm biased (toward RAW run wealth) because I had a bad time in a low item game before. The campaign itself wasn't bad, but by 8th level, all my fighter had to his name was a +1 sword and a ring of protection +1. It completely threw the CR system out of whack and we would have a hard time with CR 5 opponents. Basically, while the campaign was well constructed, it felt like we weren't getting anywhere in terms of power. Players feel like they should have good odds against an equal CR opponent. When they don't, it hurts morale.

Then, of course, the druid joined the party. Don't get me started on by the book spellcasters mixed in with non-spellcasters who don't have magical items. His summons were more effective than I was. And, he could heal, nuke, and all sorts of other things. I was basically dead weight. And, the DM wondered why I complained. *sigh* It was his first time DMing so it was a learning experience for him, however. No hard feelings. Sometimes its easy to forget what its like to be a Player. I know I can.

By the way, I love Iron Heroes!

But isn't the point of the game (well, one of the points anyway) to be challenged by monsters? In other words, who cares what the CR of the monster was. Look at it this way, if you hadn't read the monster manual and didn't know that the CR of the monster you were fighting was lower than your character level, would you know? Wouldn't you just assume, "I'm a 10th level fighter and that 'troll' thingy we just fought was tough but we eventually killed it, so it' must've been CR 11 or so?" Obviously this breaks down when the DM blindly puts the party up against opponents that are far too tough to beat. Playing a low magic game just means that monsters with lower CR's become correspondingly tougher. In effect, their CR's are increased.
 

tetsujin28

First Post
It's not just that. The CR of everything is effectively increased, including life. Iron Heroes is the way to go in this situation, without a doubt.
 

S'mon

Legend
ThirdWizard said:
Then, of course, the druid joined the party. Don't get me started on by the book spellcasters mixed in with non-spellcasters who don't have magical items. His summons were more effective than I was.

Yeah, this is why the 3e classes as written only work with near-to standard magic item levels (or more). I run a lower-magic-item setting and it's always a challenge. My solution is a minimalist one of constraining spellcaster class power somewhat (mostly by nerfing specific spells, plus making Divine spellcasting spontaneous from a limited list) while somewhat boosting non-spellcaster class power - Rogues get d8 hd, Fighting Styles for fighters etc - and, most importantly, be reasonably generous with magic items, especially items for use by non-spellcasting PCs. There's still a problem with NPCs IMO, above low level the spellcaster PC classes with NPC wealth are considerably tougher than the non-spellcasters; a Fighter-6 NPC is very hard to make a CR 6 challenge, whereas a Wiz-6 NPC easily can be.
 

IronWolf

blank
The next campaign I run will be a little more magic heavy. The one I ran earlier in the year was on the stingy side of magic items that were not charged or single use items (i.e. wands and potions). Now having played (the campaign I was running ended in a near TPK) in campaign with more use of magic items I realize I probably should have been a little less stingy. The game is about having fun and sometimes getting some magic items in the group's hands is what they want.

Iron Heroes sounds like it might be a better way to go in this situation if you want a low magic campaign. In the end it will probably make the DM's job a little easier and help out with any frustration the players may be having.
 

sword-dancer

First Post
Von Ether said:
I didn't


During play, they have fun and we haven't had any difficulty yet. But the guys who complain after the fact are my min/maxers. You know guys who petition to get their first levels in barbarian after three levels of playing a city theif.

What`s wrong with that?
The Street tough who goes berserk, the man from civlization who is a berserker, who preferred the wild, rougher cultures...
 
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Psion

Adventurer
That's fairly close to the reason that I am ambivalent towards IH. I never bought into this "MUST... HAVE... LESS... MAGIC... ITEMS" sensibility that some seem to have. As it is, 3.xe puts a lot of power in the players' hands. I see magic items as my tool to introduce capabilities to the party that I want them to have to face challenges I have in store. Taking the power alotted to players via magic items and putting it all in there court seems as if it makes the game all the more chaotic and managing PCs all the more like herding nuclear powered cats.
 

Varianor Abroad

First Post
Interestingly, the IH characters seem to just tip the fight structure from 4 short ones to one to two really grand ones. The DM for our group specifically threw a bunch of mooks out there for us IH types to fight, and plenty of casters for the AE types to fight. Worked out great. The IH abilities are not at all overpowering because all they do is feed your ability to do damage. Against some star oozes in the first adventure I was pretty terrible. Against a lot of 3rd level types I was great. Fireballs still suck when they take out a chunk of your hit points.

Put differently, IH abilities are no better or worse than Incarnum, just quite different. (And in the final analysis a lot lower powered I think.)
 

CCamfield

First Post
Psion said:
That's fairly close to the reason that I am ambivalent towards IH. I never bought into this "MUST... HAVE... LESS... MAGIC... ITEMS" sensibility that some seem to have. As it is, 3.xe puts a lot of power in the players' hands. I see magic items as my tool to introduce capabilities to the party that I want them to have to face challenges I have in store. Taking the power alotted to players via magic items and putting it all in there court seems as if it makes the game all the more chaotic and managing PCs all the more like herding nuclear powered cats.

It sounds to me like the players in the game of the original poster might be attracted to the idea of their characters having a greater variety of abilities. After all, in D&D, that's covered in part by magic items.

I would say, though, that the abilities that Iron Heroes characters get are more mundane than magic items. They don't get the ability to fly, spider climb, blast large groups of enemies at a time, phase through walls, move absolutely silently, etc. Iron Heroes characters aren't D&D characters with spell-like abilities.

Personally I prefer the style that the heroes succeed based on their own ability to kick butt and do stuff, rather than the equipment they are carrying.

IH is more than just that, though, in that it adds ways to reduce attack or defense for special benefits, use skills in combat, etc.
 

ThirdWizard

First Post
helium3 said:
But isn't the point of the game (well, one of the points anyway) to be challenged by monsters? In other words, who cares what the CR of the monster was. Look at it this way, if you hadn't read the monster manual and didn't know that the CR of the monster you were fighting was lower than your character level, would you know?

Who knows, but after DMing 3E for two or so years, I was pretty well versed in the monsters, and fighting monsters that I would have sent at a party half our level, and the tough time we were having with them, was just sad. I like being challenged. I don't like being challenged by monsters that I perceve as weaklings. Where does that put my character? It's a hit to morale.

At level 8 a barghest killed a party member and we were forced to retreat. Now, I didn't know the exact CR of a barghest, but I remembered using it before for a party much lower level than we were. We stood no chance. It was frustrating.

How long do you have to fight run of the mill goblins before you want to move up to something else?
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
ThirdWizard said:
Who knows, but after DMing 3E for two or so years, I was pretty well versed in the monsters, and fighting monsters that I would have sent at a party half our level, and the tough time we were having with them, was just sad. I like being challenged. I don't like being challenged by monsters that I perceve as weaklings. Where does that put my character? It's a hit to morale.

At level 8 a barghest killed a party member and we were forced to retreat. Now, I didn't know the exact CR of a barghest, but I remembered using it before for a party much lower level than we were. We stood no chance. It was frustrating.

How long do you have to fight run of the mill goblins before you want to move up to something else?
Well, the question to that depends on the campaign. Are you in a game where goblins are speed bump in the quest for more levels or reminicent of the frightening critters in fairy tales.

If a GM wants to design a whole campaign for an "orc invasion" you either have it only for the first five levels, give orcs levels and toys too (which some people consider cheating) or you tweak the rules somehow. It's sort of the nature of the beast with a leveling system as compared to other XP styles.
 

Rystil Arden

First Post
If a GM wants to design a whole campaign for an "orc invasion" you either have it only for the first five levels, give orcs levels and toys too (which some people consider cheating) or you tweak the rules somehow. It's sort of the nature of the beast with a leveling system as compared to other XP styles.

How is giving orcs levels and toys too cheating? I run orcs with levels in some class other than Warrior more often than I run them straight from the MM, and you can bet that a big group of 1st-level Orc Barbarians using the Elite array to rage to 23 Strength are a dangerous threat, even to a higher level group.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
IMHO, monsters of any kind are as weak or as tough as you (the DM) wish them to be.

A poorly run dragon can be a pushover as easily as a warren of crafty kobolds run with care can annihilate a mid- to high-level party.

I have no problems with monsters taking levels in classes as long as they are appropriate to the setting and storyline. So, while you might find Orc Barbarians or Goblin Sorcerers, you probably WON'T find too many Stone Giant Monks, Minotaur Rangers, or Quickling Necromancers.

On the other hand...if the plotline DEMANDS a Stone Giant Monk- look out!

But I also give my players fair warning. They go into my campaigns knowing that monsters may have class levels.
 

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