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D&D 5E Magic Item Math of 5e

MwaO

Explorer
Thanks so much for the math to OP and the resurrection. This is a good baseline to operate off of.

What I tend to do is 1 tailored magic item at some point in the campaign for each player and the rest random. Seems to work out as the player is happy and randomness creates interesting situations.

Thanks! As a good guideline, you should expect to roll 9 times on Table F, 5 times on Tables G, H, and I each.

You'd be surprised over a party of 4 just how often people ought to end up happy with what they get.
 

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S'mon

Legend
Either PCs getting 5 items over 20 levels is a problem - because things will break and the DM will need to up the challenge of the game dramatically or PCs barely getting any items is a problem - because the game will be far too tough and the DM will need to downgrade the challenge of the game.

No, it doesn't work like that IME. Items don't make that much difference.
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
Either PCs getting 5 items over 20 levels is a problem - because things will break and the DM will need to up the challenge of the game dramatically or PCs barely getting any items is a problem - because the game will be far too tough and the DM will need to downgrade the challenge of the game.
It's the first one, in case anyone is wondering.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
It's the first one, in case anyone is wondering.
No it isn't.

At least, not unless you are being specific as to which 5 permanent items each character is getting. If the 5 items involve +s to this and that, bonus damage, or significant amounts of extra combative spells every day, that one thing (and it may or may not be a problem, depending on how the DM runs the game and what the goals of play are where encounter design is concerned) - but if the 5 items are things like a bag of holding, amulet of proof against detection and location, boots of speed, cap of water breathing, and a decanter of endless water that's an entirely different thing (not the only items that fit, mind you, just the first five I thought of), and it's almost certainly not going to cause any kind of problems.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Where 5e actually falls down is that there aren't good guidelines for how to adjust to more or less magic even though that necessity is acknowledged. Fortunately, IME it actually isn't very hard at all to adjust to additional magic in the party (Lvls 1-12), but a good set of guidelines should have been provided without me needing figure out for myself as I go along.

Where is that necessity acknowledged? My understanding is that magic items are optional and you can run the game just fine without them, not that I would.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It's the first one, in case anyone is wondering.

Magic items are gravy, not required from what was told to us by the game designers. You can get 0 magic items and the game won't be too tough and the second option is not true. Aaron stated why the first isn't true.

Just be careful with what you hand out and when.
 

aco175

Legend
How does it seem to be too much? What complaints are your players making regarding how much magical stuff their characters have?
Can you elaborate on the problem? If it is that the players are feeling they have to make hard choices between attuning to this item or that, that is a large part of why the attunement rule exists in the first place - so that there is actually a choice being made, rather than every item the party finds being an automatic boost to the party's capabilities.

None of the players are complaining, I was just commenting on the math provided.

The problem with 3 attuned items is that the items are not that powerful in my opinion to make them limited to only 3. I know I can do away with the rule if I do not like it, but in theory I do like the rule. I may change it to 4 or 5 items or something like 4e with slots for each location.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Either PCs getting 5 items over 20 levels is a problem - because things will break and the DM will need to up the challenge of the game dramatically or PCs barely getting any items is a problem - because the game will be far too tough and the DM will need to downgrade the challenge of the game. You don't need to have a +X weapon to cause mathematical shifts in party effectiveness.

OR, neither one is a problem because the game isn't balanced on the head of a pin, it's balanced with a broad field of acceptable results that break nothing.

A party gets a bunch of powerful items and feels awesome and kicks butt? Sounds fun. If it gets to be a problem, that's why magic items are in the DM's hands: you stop giving them out and you even consider what could make you lose them.

A party gets a few low-powered items and has to rely on class abilities instead? Just fine. If it gets to be a problem, that's why magic items are in the DM's hands: you give out more.

And if magic items are always extra sauce and the DMG identifies the typical campaign as getting 24 helpings of extra sauce, you'd think the DMG would call that out so no one got surprised...

Also, I'd note that you might expect about 1 in 10000 games to only find a single +1 weapon - and that's in the context that you might expect 2000 out of 10000 games to not only find +3 weapons, but belts of giant strength or books that further bend or break the expected values...
If YOU'RE that 1 in 10,000 game, it doesn't really matter to you what other tables might be doing.

And 24 helpings of extra sauce isn't a problem, in part because it's not reliable. Sometimes you get +1 gear. Sometimes you get a half-dozen driftglobes. Getting an item that is perfectly suited to your character is RARE.
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
No it isn't.

At least, not unless you are being specific as to which 5 permanent items each character is getting. If the 5 items involve +s to this and that, bonus damage, or significant amounts of extra combative spells every day, that one thing (and it may or may not be a problem, depending on how the DM runs the game and what the goals of play are where encounter design is concerned) - but if the 5 items are things like a bag of holding, amulet of proof against detection and location, boots of speed, cap of water breathing, and a decanter of endless water that's an entirely different thing (not the only items that fit, mind you, just the first five I thought of), and it's almost certainly not going to cause any kind of problems.

Well, yeah, obviously items that don't affect the math don't affect the math. I thought that went without saying.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
No, it doesn't work like that IME. Items don't make that much difference.

True. Even items with a +3 bonus have less impact than Adv/Dis. And most other items tend to expand a PC's abilities in a lateral manner, rather than upward.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
Well, yeah, obviously items that don't affect the math don't affect the math. I thought that went without saying.
Well, it kind of can't go without saying since "you'll probably end up with 5 permanent magic items by 20th level" doesn't actually include any kind of estimation how many of them will be math-affecting and how many will be non-math-affecting, especially because a significant piece of the guideline for providing items is for the DM to not blindly adhere to whatever dice rolls indicate, but actually assess "Does this fit for the campaign I envision?" and intervene if the answer is "Not as well as I'd like."
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
True. Even items with a +3 bonus have less impact than Adv/Dis. And most other items tend to expand a PC's abilities in a lateral manner, rather than upward.

Not when those items are armor and a shield. Advantage doesn't matter if you just plain can't hit. +X to hit is less relevant, but it still makes a significant difference. You will often not have advantage, and advantage plus +X to hit is much better than advantage and no +X to hit.
 

S'mon

Legend
Magic items are gravy, not required from what was told to
us by the game designers. You can get 0 magic items and the game won't be too tough and the second option is not true.

I've found that giving out even quite powerful items (eg +3 to AC) makes no noticeable
impact on play. I certainly don't need to rebalance my encounters to take account of the items I've given out. I can imagine that handing out +3 plate & +3 shield would make a noticeable difference compared to no magic items, but +1 and the occasional +2 item doesn't, and magic weapon pluses
certainly don't.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'm incredibly cautious about awarding defense items.

Offense is much less of a problem - there are always more goblins and dragons than the party can handle.

But stratospheric AC? Not a good idea.

I suggest to everyone to hold off the plus AC items until at least third tier.

At double-digit levels, it feels more okay if ordinary foes like thugs and Orcs can't actually hit you except on a 20.
 

MwaO

Explorer
Sometimes you get a half-dozen driftglobes.

bag of holding, amulet of proof against detection and location, boots of speed, cap of water breathing, and a decanter of endless water

If you reread the first post, you should note that items that are either duds or from tables A-D are taken into account already. The average PC finds 6 permanent items over the course of 20 levels, 1 of which is either from tables A-D, not particularly effective, or cursed in a permanent way. The other 5 permanent items shift the math in some significant way.

And I wouldn't underestimate how Boots of Speed change encounters - its presence means that a typical party can focus fire any opponent in the first round, regardless of where it is in the room. Unless the room is very big.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I guess it's all about "what are those 5 items"? If a level 20 fighter has a vorpal long sword, a +2 shield, armor of invulnerability, belt of fire giant strength and Daern's instant fortress... then heck yes the items are going to have an enormous impact on the character and his/her performance!!!

This kind of thinking assumes, for whatever reason, that the 5 items will all be "worthy" of a level 20 character, when in reality the "collection of 5 items" were accumulated over a long adventuring career, and some of these won't be so potent.

If the level 20th fighter is now sporting a flame tongue, a +1 shield, a ring of spell turning, a cape of the mountebank and a bag of tricks... he's not going to break the game, yet his/her items clearly enhance the character and allow it to do fun things.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
If you reread the first post, you should note that items that are either duds or from tables A-D are taken into account already. The average PC finds 6 permanent items over the course of 20 levels, 1 of which is either from tables A-D, not particularly effective, or cursed in a permanent way. The other 5 permanent items shift the math in some significant way.

And I wouldn't underestimate how Boots of Speed change encounters - its presence means that a typical party can focus fire any opponent in the first round, regardless of where it is in the room. Unless the room is very big.

You're still missing the big point here which is that any individual PC isn't going to be "average." There's a TON of variance. I mean, in my DL campaign, which is pretty high-magic-item, there's a swashbuckler with a flametongue and a ranger with an oathbow and two fighters with dragon-slaying weapons and a sorcerer with staves and then me....I've got bracers of defense, an accurate dagger and a wand of wonder. These things up my power a bit, but it's not like I'm wiping the floor with encounters that I'd be struggling with without them.

...and if that swashbuckler with a flametounge fell off a cliff and couldn't have their body recovered, our party's damage output would be reduced, but it's not like the game would be any harder, really.

The math for "average" doesn't produce a specific reliable outcome. 5e's comfortable at either end of the bell curve or somewhere in the middle - its balance does not rely on magic items to "work."
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
OR, neither one is a problem because the game isn't balanced on the head of a pin, it's balanced with a broad field of acceptable results that break nothing.

If this is true (still haven't played... and not for many months sigh...) this is excellent news. Robustness is good.

Getting an item that is perfectly suited to your character is RARE.

Exactly! It should happen once or twice in a campaign.
 

MwaO

Explorer
which is pretty high-magic-item, there's a swashbuckler with a flametongue and a ranger with an oathbow and two fighters with dragon-slaying weapons and a sorcerer with staves and then me....I've got bracers of defense, an accurate dagger and a wand of wonder. These things up my power a bit, but it's not like I'm wiping the floor with encounters that I'd be struggling with without them.

Multiple dragon-slaying weapons in a party in a DL game? And your Sorcerer has plural magic staves? Or an Oathbow in a game with flying Solo Dragons?

Not sure what your PC is or what level you are, but if you think you wouldn't be struggling against the encounters you're playing against without your magic items over the course of a day, there's something really wrong there.
 

MwaO

Explorer
If this is true (still haven't played... and not for many months sigh...) this is excellent news. Robustness is good.

Exactly! It should happen once or twice in a campaign.

And it happens more often than that, if you roll randomly, simply because there are a lot of items out there that change the math and are perfect for a wide variety of characters. Even if they're not the item you happen to want.
 

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