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5E Items that scale with level, discussion

Lanliss

Explorer
I like the idea of giving my players unique magical items, which work only for a single character, which increase in power as they get stronger. For example, I will be playing in a Party of 2 game soon, and the DM said she didn't care what we did with our characters. Any combination of homebrew, official, multiclassing or feats was allowed. So, the other player wanted a pair of fist/shields* that get stronger as he levels. I simply gave them monk scaling, and +1 AC per shield worn. So he can swing a Longsword, and have his Fist-shield on the other hand for some defense, but he will be dual wielding them for +2 AC and 1d6 damage for each one.

Have you ever done anything like this? A sword that slowly gets stronger, a Bow that unlocks new abilities as you use it over time? Maybe a shield that attains more defense as it is hit more? It would be cool to have weapons with "Experience points" that they gain by dealing or taking damage depending on the weapon type.

Anyway, just a thought I have been thinking on for a while.

*Basically, imagine bending a coin at 90 degrees, about 2/3 through it. The 1/3 is bent in front of his fist, while the 2/3 extends back along his arm. No comments on realism please, this isn't going to be that type of game.
 

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Dualazi

First Post
I did this once in a campaign a while a go, it works just fine so long as the scaling isn't too aggressive. My words of caution though would be to make sure that the other players don't spend too long without magical items, since the disparity can begin to grate on people's sensibilities. Also, make sure the requesting player is really married to the concept. If another magic item drops down the line and they bail for it, it creates a sense of powergaming at worst and inconsistent fad characterization at best.
 

Lanliss

Explorer
I did this once in a campaign a while a go, it works just fine so long as the scaling isn't too aggressive. My words of caution though would be to make sure that the other players don't spend too long without magical items, since the disparity can begin to grate on people's sensibilities. Also, make sure the requesting player is really married to the concept. If another magic item drops down the line and they bail for it, it creates a sense of powergaming at worst and inconsistent fad characterization at best.
The "Magic" is just to explain the scaling aspect. They do not bypass resistances, unless that is a key part of the item. The example I gave wasn't even technically magical, just a couple of really heavy Shield-fists, and he would get better at using them as he gains levels, getting strong enough to swing them more effectively or learning techniques to handle them better.

Another idea I had was for a robe that increased the power of a specific spell element, and gained themed bonuses along the way as you dealt damage of that element. Turn Immunity into resistance, later ignore resistance, gain resistance, and later immunity, buff damage, or trigger key effects upon hitting with that element. Things that the character (maybe) gets to learn throughout their career.

Also, I wouldn't generally do this for one person out of four. If I was going this route, they would be the chosen ones and would all gain items to match the role.
 

S'mon

Legend
I definitely use scaling items. For 5e typically +1 item > +2 at 11th and +3 at 17th. May add other powers too.
 

patwil

First Post
I have done this in recent games that I have DM'd and have specifically asked for this in games I have played. I love the concept of items that grow with you rather than be cast aside at the first glitter of something new (WoW I'm looking at you).

Some that I have created: Rapier of Deception - started off simply as magical (so it could damage those pesky immune to non-magical creatures). Next it gained a twinkling guard so that once per opponent you could attempt to blind them for a round (only works on each person once, afterwards they learn to shield their eyes). Finally it gained a shadowy appearance such that enemies had to roll a perception versus his stealth check to realize he was actually drawing a weapon- failure caused opponents to be surprised (which worked well as he is an assassin rogue). I created this for a party member that left but forgot to write it down, so I recreated for this new guy.

Clothing of obstruction - reduces all target damage by 3 as it gets caught up the robes. Not armor so it will work with other special abilities.

Dual Lightsaber - (a thread here someone was asking about his character that was modeled on the Jedi concept, something I found intriguing so I made a Stout Halfling Barbarian Wizard). This is an 18 inch rod that when the button is pushed becomes a magical quarterstaff. It has the ability to cast Searing Smite (right now twice, then add more times) as a bonus action. In all ways it functions like the spell so it lasts for 1 minute and requires concentration rolls when hit. Finally, I said that when Searing Smite is active and he wields the quarterstaff with 2 hands it provides the protection of a shield.

For a warlock I gave him a rod of the pact keeper reskinned as a dagger with a jade spell gem in the hilt. My plan is to add bonuses as he advances and maybe allow him to find more spell gems. (As an aside - spell gems are pretty powerful for warlocks)

Ring of Phantom Steed - as characters advance they have a percentage chance when using it to call a flying creature, but as a baseline they can summon any medium creature they want - large cat, snake, etc.

A fiddle for a bard - provides a +1 to spells cast, when played provides +1 to AC, also forces the attacker to make a will save to even attack the bard. Finally it will gain spells like a ring of spell storing as the bard advances.

Almost every character I make I try to create a magical weapon and magical armor that will grow with the players. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive.


Sent from my iPad using EN World
 

Lanliss

Explorer
I have done this in recent games that I have DM'd and have specifically asked for this in games I have played. I love the concept of items that grow with you rather than be cast aside at the first glitter of something new (WoW I'm looking at you).

Some that I have created: Rapier of Deception - started off simply as magical (so it could damage those pesky immune to non-magical creatures). Next it gained a twinkling guard so that once per opponent you could attempt to blind them for a round (only works on each person once, afterwards they learn to shield their eyes). Finally it gained a shadowy appearance such that enemies had to roll a perception versus his stealth check to realize he was actually drawing a weapon- failure caused opponents to be surprised (which worked well as he is an assassin rogue). I created this for a party member that left but forgot to write it down, so I recreated for this new guy.

Clothing of obstruction - reduces all target damage by 3 as it gets caught up the robes. Not armor so it will work with other special abilities.

Dual Lightsaber - (a thread here someone was asking about his character that was modeled on the Jedi concept, something I found intriguing so I made a Stout Halfling Barbarian Wizard). This is an 18 inch rod that when the button is pushed becomes a magical quarterstaff. It has the ability to cast Searing Smite (right now twice, then add more times) as a bonus action. In all ways it functions like the spell so it lasts for 1 minute and requires concentration rolls when hit. Finally, I said that when Searing Smite is active and he wields the quarterstaff with 2 hands it provides the protection of a shield.

For a warlock I gave him a rod of the pact keeper reskinned as a dagger with a jade spell gem in the hilt. My plan is to add bonuses as he advances and maybe allow him to find more spell gems. (As an aside - spell gems are pretty powerful for warlocks)

Ring of Phantom Steed - as characters advance they have a percentage chance when using it to call a flying creature, but as a baseline they can summon any medium creature they want - large cat, snake, etc.

A fiddle for a bard - provides a +1 to spells cast, when played provides +1 to AC, also forces the attacker to make a will save to even attack the bard. Finally it will gain spells like a ring of spell storing as the bard advances.

Almost every character I make I try to create a magical weapon and magical armor that will grow with the players. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive.


Sent from my iPad using EN World
Wow, good stuff. I feel like the main benefit of this is to help customize the PC for the player. If the player has a single niggling mechanic that just won't fit into the class, it can be relegated to the relevant item as a small, but able to grow, magical benefit. That is the key purpose of the Shield-fists I mentioned above, as the player wanted some shield-like punching weapons that got stronger as he leveled. It will be an interesting, and very violent, character. I did it previously as well, for a different person who wanted a fist-fighter without the monk chassis. A Simple fighter, with a scaling Unarmed Fighting style got the job done in that case.

That rapier sounds quite fun, and fairly similar in the vein of items I am talking about. I actually have a plan for a full campaign built on a set of these items.

PCs all ordered unique magic items from a Magic Shop. They all go to pick up on the same day but, as they reach the street with the shop, it explodes. When they reach the location all that is left is a smooth hemi-spherical crater, and their weapons. When they pick up the gear, a portal opens above them and sucks them into a Chaotic hellscape. Cue Adventure, where most days are spent pushing through a few miles of terror, camping for the night (which will probably be interrupted by a fight), then doing it more the next day.

I would probably aim for the items to have something like 6-8 distinct tiers. For example, a Longsword is just a plain Longsword until you have dealt 200 damage with it, at which time it Awakens into Excalibur, and deals 1d4 Slashing+1d4 radiant instead of just slashing. Later on it gets bonuses like a single maneuver from the battle master list, and then some sort of defense buff. The end goal is to make the Player into King Arthur, through a combination of their class abilities and the Weapon abilities.
 


MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I've never done this, but I like the idea. I could an intelligent weapon that grants boons only when you are deserving/ready for them. Tie it into various class bonuses and abilities. Until they reach the necessary level to earn a specific class feature, they do not get to benefit from the weapon's symbiotic boon.
 

Lanliss

Explorer
I've never done this, but I like the idea. I could an intelligent weapon that grants boons only when you are deserving/ready for them. Tie it into various class bonuses and abilities. Until they reach the necessary level to earn a specific class feature, they do not get to benefit from the weapon's symbiotic boon.
That is one way to do it, and essentially what I am working on right now for the player I mentioned in the OP. A sentient weapon could be an interesting thing, with a little meter of "hate"-to-"Love", to decide which abilities the player gets as they progress.

However, for the purposes of a campaign based on this, I am more leaning towards them being separate, but beneficial. For example, a Rogue based Magic dagger would not upgrade to say "You can use Uncanny dodge twice in a round", it would say "You have two reactions per round", in case the player accesses that tier off the weapon before they actually get Uncanny Dodge.

This means that the player can get bonuses as they hit the appropriate Dagger Level, rather than having a skill they can't use until later.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
I've had a few items develop more powers over time, but only a few stages (2 or 3). I like using this with sentient items. As the item and the wielder get to know each other and experience the world together, the item bestows more power.

In keeping with 5e bounded accuracy, I'd be careful about adding too many +X.

In my experience, players enjoy unlocking new powers or abilities more than just scaling "to hit" and damage. It might be cool to have the item/weapon/armor bestow "feat" like benefits or special maneuvers/magic effects that get more and more powerful as time goes on.
 



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