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Leveling and Items

Moon_Goddess

Villager
Not a proposal, just a discussion as I have no clue what to propose.

I'm noticing a problem with the way 4e handles items and the way L4W leveling works.

The basic assumtion with 4e is 5 players in a group, and an adventure lasting 1 level is supposed to have 10 treasure parcels. 5 of those parcels are magic items and 5 are money, so we can reasonable assume that each character will have a magic item by the time they hit level 2.


The problem is with our open party system and bonus time xp we can't count on when someone will get an item or when someone will level.

My adventure I ran I orginally intended it to give 5000 xp, enough for 5 characters to level, I didn't include time xp into the calculation becuase I had no way of knowing what the time would be. Since I intended the adventure to level 5 characters I included 10 treasure parcels. However they players I got some already had experience, some did not, some already had items some did not.

I stoped the adventure short due to the way the plot ran down, and thus there was no reasonable chance to award all the treasure parcels, So no some of the characters will be lvl 2, some still lvl 1, some with items some with not. and who is 2 and who is not, and who has and who doesn't don't match up like they should.

Larinza has reached level 2 now, though with 2 adventures, as such the number of treasure parcels just havn't fallen her away. If I award all my dm credits to her rather than save them for my second character she's gonna be pushing close to level 3 without anything.


Let me reiterate, I'm not saying this is a problem now, but I think it's going to be a problem that expands as we go up in levels
 

Lord Sessadore

Explorer
Good points, and ones that I've thought about before.

One small clarification is that the 10 parcels are supposed to be 4 items and 6 parcels of monetary loot for a 5-man party, meaning that one character every level doesn't get an item. Looking at it from the other direction, this means that a character should expect to get an item roughly 4 out of 5 levels, assuming that the DM rotates the "odd man out" each level (which they should).

The items, in my opinion, are easier to handle. If the characters have a decent treasure tracking section in their sheet, it should be fairly easy to look and see who has items, who doesn't, and when (meaning which level) they got their items. (Maybe we should make that a standard? Noting what your level was when you got a given magic item in adventure loot?) From there, you can award items to those who still need them.

The trickier part is the money. It's nearly impossible to hand-pick money for specific PCs, so all the coinage and other valuable non-magical treasure in the adventure is probably going to be split evenly. Since not every character joining an adventure comes with a clean slate or comparable past loot, you won't be able to even them up with money rewarded in your adventure. Which obviously isn't ideal, if we're trying to stick to the DMG guidelines.

And then there's the whole can of worms of DM credits, which is essentially loot-free XP, which throws the whole system out of whack. I'm not sure what to do about that, other than recommend that the character's future DMs try to retroactively compensate ...

Thoughts?
 

renau1g

Villager
The other issue is with the way the DMG/PHB handles making PC's above first level, which is give them a magic item of their level+1, their level, and level -1 (IIRC), so this flies in the face of the parcel system and grants PC's starting above level 1 (not sure when/if that'll happen) a bonus over those who start lower, plus they get to pick their items.
 

stonegod

Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
The other issue is with the way the DMG/PHB handles making PC's above first level, which is give them a magic item of their level+1, their level, and level -1 (IIRC), so this flies in the face of the parcel system and grants PC's starting above level 1 (not sure when/if that'll happen) a bonus over those who start lower, plus they get to pick their items.
In the long run, such characters actually have less effective loot that those through the parcel system, though level 2/3 they have the advantage, sure.

This is something that will need to dealt with in LEB 4E as well.
 

KenHood

Villager
The trickier part is the money.
And then there's the issue of characters like Palindrome, who pack-rats anything he can steal. He's got a few magic items that don't do anything game-wise and would probably sell for decent GP, but he's too much of hoarding mentality to dispense with them.

That said...

I prefer to think of the parcels as guidelines, not laws. When you try to legislate everything and create a 'fair' system, you end up increasing the workload on players, DM's, and judges. Like the old saying goes, "Players that dwell on making sure everything works exactly right suffer a -5 penalty to the Will defense against attacks from hobgoblins." ("A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." -- Emerson)

I think a DM that knows the players can get around all of this and set up fair dispensations of treasure. There's a powerful human element in the game structure that can smooth out these problems in-character, through play.
 

Lord Sessadore

Explorer
<snip>

I think a DM that knows the players can get around all of this and set up fair dispensations of treasure. There's a powerful human element in the game structure that can smooth out these problems in-character, through play.
But what is a fair dispensation of treasure? In my experience, it usually ends up as equal shares for everyone, or if only one or two got magic items they give up their share of the money and everyone else gets equal shares. Is that a fair dispensation? Or does that just propagate the "rich to become richer", so to speak?

[Edit] Also, in a setting like this I don't think we can assume that the DMs are going to know their players. Usually they won't before they start the adventure, and maybe not even by the time it ends. I think the DMs that have the same group of players for more than an adventure or two are going to be more of an exception, rather than a rule. [/edit]

FWIW, I'm not particularly concerned about money for my characters. As long as they end up with enough appropriate magic items that they're not gimped compared to what they're supposed to face, I don't care. I'm not everyone, though.
 
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renau1g

Villager
Murphy wants to be like Scrooge McDuck and have enough gold to swim in.

As an aside, I agree with you Lord S.
 

Atanatotatos

Villager
I think a DM that knows the players can get around all of this and set up fair dispensations of treasure. There's a powerful human element in the game structure that can smooth out these problems in-character, through play.
Yes. All true. The point is, in a living world you're not supposed to continue adventuring with the same DM (or at least, you're not guaranteed to). So getting to know your players well might not be a given.
 
I'm having a similar problem in Fire! - I wanted to hand out some small personalized bonuses during the action itself, because that's a lot more fun and makes the players feel like their specific character is more involved in the adventure, but I ended up giving more to some than others. (Because for some I just didn't have any inspiration for anything cool that connected with their character, and for others their moment to shame came at a moment when it would have been awkward to throw a reward at them due to the pacing. And some people turned around and gave the treasure I gave to them away...)

So, obviously at the end I'm going to give a flat amount of reward to everybody, but I can't really arrange it that the people who missed out on treasure during the adventure, through my own poor scheduling, get more at the end. (At least not without feeling really artificial.) In a continuing campaign I'd just mark them for a reward at a later date, but in a self contained adventure it feels a bit unfair.
 
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Moon_Goddess

Villager
That was my point moving from DM to DM makes this a problem...

I know some of your are staying in the same party adventure after adventure, but the thing I love about living world is meeting new characters every adventure.

mainly I'm just worried about the fact that as some point the AC of monsters is going to assume that everyone has a +1 weapon and it really seems like we arn't going to assume that at the same speed as a offline campiagn does.
 

KenHood

Villager
Ah!

But you've just proven my point, Joe.

As a conscientious DM, you recognized that a problem existed, and you developed a means to address it within your game, in a manner that is fair to your players.

---

To me, it appears that a many of our proposals boil down to people desiring to ensure fair treatment of their characters, so they want to create rules that enforce that treatment. The underlying implication of this is that people don't necessarily trust DM's to be fair or treat them as they desire to be treated. They want something to enforce equality.

However, during the time that we've been playing, how many people have been mistreated by their DM's and apportioned unfair amounts of treasure/XP/etc.? I don't think it has happened in our community with any regularity, if at all.

We've already got a mechanism in place to support and reward fair treatment. Players and DM's play by consent. Judges provide oversight.

I don't think we need rules to force people to act in a fair manner. I think our community reinforces it by its very nature.

I think many of our proposals attempt to address theoretical or extreme abuses of the system, but I don't think we need rules to address those. We have people for it. Honestly, how many players would refuse to address a problem if their DM or a judge said, "Hey, I think this is making the game less fun..."?
 

Atanatotatos

Villager
as some point the AC of monsters is going to assume that everyone has a +1 weapon and it really seems like we arn't going to assume that at the same speed as a offline campiagn does.
Yeah...
*glances at Phoenix*

joking. Sorta. :p
 

KenHood

Villager
mainly I'm just worried about the fact that as some point the AC of monsters is going to assume that everyone has a +1 weapon and it really seems like we arn't going to assume that at the same speed as a offline campiagn does.
I understand, and it's a valid worry. But let me ask: If you, as a DM, had a player in your game that had this problem, would you address it? If so, do you believe that the majority of DM's (perhaps even all of them) would attempt the same thing?
 
I agree with KenHood. I don't think there's a good way to solve this with mechanics and rules. When DMs start adventures they should look over their players' sheets and see if anyone really needs a magic item more than anyone else. It's something to watch out for, but not something to be fixed.
 

Moon_Goddess

Villager
Well, you'll note that at the top of the thread I mention it's not a proposal it's a discussion

I didn't want to propose something as much as just have a the community talk about it. The more we talk about it the more aware of it we all are.

The only proposal I might even have would be to allow DM credits to be spent on items INSTEAD of XP and even that I don't know if it's a good idea.

I wasn't trying to enforce anything. I saw a problem and thought we'd best look at the problem, I didn't say it was a problem that couldn't be fixed by DMs
 
I was thinking that if your character reaches a new level and they're substantially behind the suggested wealth given in the PHB, they be allowed to take some items (from approved sources) to top up. (Off the top of my head, I'd say something like, if your wealth is more than 2 levels behind where it should be, you can take enough so that it's 1 level behind - want to be sure that finding stuff in an adventure is still the default way to get items, because it's just more fun.)

The problem with this is that we (at least I) haven't been giving as much thought to items when looking at proposals, because we figured the judges need to look at them during adventure submissions anyway. If players are allowed to pick their own items, we'd have to either approve all their selections or start validating the entire list.
 

Lord Sessadore

Explorer
Note to self: learn how to click that little button that actually submits posts, rather than writing them up, then getting distracted for an hour and coming back and realizing, "Hey! I've got a post all written up here waiting for me to click the button!" That is to say, I had this written up about an hour ago, and forgot to post it.

An idea that occurred to me was that if a DM notices that a certain character is exceptionally far behind their party mates on the money front, they could just award them a low-level magic item or two to make up the difference. The idea is that the DM awards the sort of item that said character would have bought if they had the cash to do so. Basically the same as Joe's idea, except in the DM's hands instead of the player's. Thing I like about this version is that (in my opinion) it doesn't require a proposal or any extra fiddling with character approvals and such. DM notices it, asks the adventure judge if it's ok if he rectifies the problem, and away we go. Done and done.

Now, I know we're not all fans of the armchair theorist approach, but I think some figures and landmarks could be beneficial to get some perspective here, since we're basically talking about spreadsheet magic ;)

Being short on money isn't likely to make a difference before level 3 at the earliest. With a 5-man party, using the parcels out of the DMG, a PC is expected to have gotten 352gp in monetary treasure through levels 1 and 2, which means that they shouldn't have the cash to buy a level 1 magic item yet. (L1 item = 360 gp.) By the end of level 3, PCs should have recieved a total of around 620 gp, so they could buy an item somewhere during level 3. Also remember that a lot of characters tend to spend a bunch of that cash on new equipment, potions (or some of the "cash" of the adventure comes in the form of potions), and other single-use expendables, so most PCs probably can't afford to buy a magic item with cash until late level 3. Of course, that's if you have the "ideal" party, and follow the parcel system to the letter. I agree with Ken that they're more of a guideline, at least as far as the money part.

Even in a normal D&D game, if you're following the parcel system reasonably close, I think that realistically it would take until around level 4 or 5 before all the PCs had +1 weapons/implements. Unless the DM purposefully gives them out first (as opposed to armor or whatever other items).

Basically all I'm saying is that shortage of money won't really affect a character's power level until level 3, at the earliest. Ignoring the character's mindsets and motivations, that is the prime concern with awarding treasure fairly - making sure that no one falls behind the curve.
 
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weldon

Registered User
An idea that occurred to me was that if a DM notices that a certain character is exceptionally far behind their party mates on the money front, they could just award them a low-level magic item or two to make up the difference.
This is a good argument for having a detailed history of money and items acquired and lost over time so that DM's could acquaint themselves with why a particular PC has the money and items that they do.

I'm a little unclear if there is already a standard way to do this on the character sheet that has already been worked out. If not, I'd be happy to try and come up with something. Just a little busy this weekend, though.
 

Lord Sessadore

Explorer
Well, that's what the treasure tracking section is intended to be for. It doesn't have a structured template or anything, so it's basically up to the player to come up with or steal a system of noting treasure that makes it clear.

For example, here's Raiyek's treasure tracking section.
 

stonegod

Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
I'm a little unclear if there is already a standard way to do this on the character sheet that has already been worked out. If not, I'd be happy to try and come up with something. Just a little busy this weekend, though.
As Lord S said, that is exactly what the loot tracking is for. I remember for 3.5 artificers, that section got really complicated... see Tondrek for an example (see Logs).

But yes, DMs should have a look there to see what's what.
 

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