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D&D 5E Magic Item Math of 5e

S'mon

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.

None of the PCs in my campaign (levels 11-14) are anywhere near 'only hit on a 20', despite defesive items:

Thuruar, warpriest Cleric-12 has +1 plate & shield for AC 21, recently improved from AC 18
Hakeem, barbarian-14 has CON 20 DEX 14 & +1 shield for AC 20, recently up from AC 19
Rey, Rogue-12 has DEX 20, ring of protection, and a +1 mithril chain shirt that stacks
with his DEX - so equivalent to +2 studded - for AC 20, recently up from AC 17.

The PCs didn't feel underpowered with lower AC (3 pts lower in 2 cases) and they don't
feel overpowered now. Most foes have around +4 to +7 to hit so are hitting on a 13-17.
 

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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
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.

Level 8 now, and I'm a wild sorc. None of the items IMXP have made as big an impact as Action Surge, Polymorph, Hypnotic Pattern, and Bless.

Like, if we lost our Dragon Lance, we wouldn't deal super damage against flying dragons anymore, but it's not like we'd end up losing those encounters. We'd just adjust our tactics (provoke saves to set them up for a polymorph, forex, or buy a net), but the outcome would basically be the same. And a sneak-attack crit with a flametongue is a sight to behold, but it's not like it decides whether we get a TPK or not. Over the course of a day, we have say in how we rest and recover - we're rarely facing encounters that test our Hit Die limits now. Maybe they would if we didn't pump out the big booms. But it's not like they're a cakewalk now, and it's not like we wouldn't still win with a challenge if we didn't have these things.
 
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MwaO

Explorer
Level 8 now, and I'm a wild sorc. None of the items IMXP have made as big an impact as Action Surge, Polymorph, Hypnotic Pattern, and Bless

Right. Why do you have as many of those spells per day as you have...if you're not taking as much damage as you should, you need less Cure spells in combat. Which leaves additional spells for Bless. If your other Sorcerer has +6 spell slots per day due to 2 staves and you have about +4 slots due to your Wand of Wonder, that's a lot of extra spell slots for Polymorph/Hypnotic Pattern.

If your two fighters can attack a Dragon or Draconian 8 times in a round with a Dragon Slayer with Action Surge, that's probably about +52.5 damage.

Just because you don't have an easy to look at numerical bonus....you're still getting one heck of a kick from your magic items. Just try to adventure without using them for a day and tell your DM to not put the kid gloves on. See just how tough those encounters really are...
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Right. Why do you have as many of those spells per day as you have...if you're not taking as much damage as you should, you need less Cure spells in combat. Which leaves additional spells for Bless. If your other Sorcerer has +6 spell slots per day due to 2 staves and you have about +4 slots due to your Wand of Wonder, that's a lot of extra spell slots for Polymorph/Hypnotic Pattern.

If your two fighters can attack a Dragon or Draconian 8 times in a round with a Dragon Slayer with Action Surge, that's probably about +52.5 damage.

Just because you don't have an easy to look at numerical bonus....you're still getting one heck of a kick from your magic items. Just try to adventure without using them for a day and tell your DM to not put the kid gloves on. See just how tough those encounters really are...

That kick doesn't result in substantially different outcomes in any encounter or over the course of a day.
 

MwaO

Explorer
That kick doesn't result in substantially different outcomes in any encounter or over the course of a day.

As I said, go to your DM, say, "Hey, the party isn't going to use any magic items for an entire day. Run the encounters exactly as you planned to run them if we had magic items. Don't pull any punches."

You've got PCs with 12 spells each gaining an average of 5 spells per day. In a 7 encounter per day environment, that's going from not assuredly being able to cast 2 spells in any given combat to guaranteed being able to cast 2 spells in every combat even in an 8 encounter per day environment with a little wiggle room.

PCs behave really differently when they can cast an additional extra spell per combat on average. Especially from 1 to 2.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
As I said, go to your DM, say, "Hey, the party isn't going to use any magic items for an entire day. Run the encounters exactly as you planned to run them if we had magic items. Don't pull any punches."

Why? I'm already confident in my assertion, and if you don't want to take my word for my experience, I'm not inclined to jump through hoops in a quixotic mission for some "proof" that is going to satisfy you.

You've got PCs with 12 spells each gaining an average of 5 spells per day. In a 7 encounter per day environment, that's going from not assuredly being able to cast 2 spells in any given combat to guaranteed being able to cast 2 spells in every combat even in an 8 encounter per day environment with a little wiggle room.

PCs behave really differently when they can cast an additional extra spell per combat on average. Especially from 1 to 2.

Encounter outcomes still fall into four camps: You lose catastrophically, you lose after a fight, you win with a challenge, or you win easily.

The encounters my high-magic-item group faces are still "you win with a challenge." Not having magic items wouldn't turn them into "you lose."
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That kick doesn't result in substantially different outcomes in any encounter or over the course of a day.

There no way that kick can't. Take those items away and you MUST use extra resources to compensate. That prevents you from being as effective in future encounters that day, making them more dangerous and eventually causing a TPK or the party to flee before you could complete as many encounters as you would with the magic items.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Why? I'm already confident in my assertion, and if you don't want to take my word for my experience, I'm not inclined to jump through hoops in a quixotic mission for some "proof" that is going to satisfy you.

Encounter outcomes still fall into four camps: You lose catastrophically, you lose after a fight, you win with a challenge, or you win easily.

The encounters my high-magic-item group faces are still "you win with a challenge." Not having magic items wouldn't turn them into "you lose."

This is only true if you guys face one appropriately leveled encounter a day. If you do, then the fights are only incredibly easy (without items) and absurdly easy (with items). If you face multiple encounters in a day, or one encounter that is designed to be hard, the loss of those items will have a significant impact on your ability to win through.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
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.
Alright, I admit my 5 items don't fit the not from tables A-D clause that I didn't actually notice before.

So let's change those five items to amulet of proof against detection and location, hat of disguise (from table F), boots of speed, vicious weapon (from table G), and adamantine armor (from table H) so that they are the first five items I can think up which barely affect the math at all.

As for underestimating the boots of speed; I estimate them as boots that are roughly as helpful in effect as a riding horse which your enemies decide not to attack.
 

S'mon

Legend
There no way that kick can't. Take those items away and you MUST use extra resources to compensate. That prevents you from being as effective in future encounters that day, making them more dangerous and eventually causing a TPK or the party to flee before you could complete as many encounters as you would with the magic items.

I guess items may make the difference between being able to complete 6 encounters and being able to complete 8 encounters before being utterly drained.

Most 5e groups don't fight 6-8 encounters per day so the somewhat increased resource attrition is not an issue. IME encounters are usually about "Will we win" or "will we win without anyone dying", and (probably due to bounded accuracy) magic items seem to make only a marginal difference. Whereas in high level 3e & 4e items (or inherent bonuses in 4e replacing items) are vital.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I guess items may make the difference between being able to complete 6 encounters and being able to complete 8 encounters before being utterly drained.

Most 5e groups don't fight 6-8 encounters per day so the somewhat increased resource attrition is not an issue. IME encounters are usually about "Will we win" or "will we win without anyone dying", and (probably due to bounded accuracy) magic items seem to make only a marginal difference. Whereas in high level 3e & 4e items (or inherent bonuses in 4e replacing items) are vital.

If the DM is not giving those 6-8 encounters a day, he will have to make what challenges he does use much more difficult in order to compensate. That means that if he reduced to 4 a day, you should be running out of resources by encounter 4, even with those magic items. Take away those magic items and encounter 4 will likely kill you given the increased difficulty.

If the DM has not increased the difficulty to compensate, then he might as well just be handing out free exp, because those fights will be so easy with or without the items that there is no point in wasting the time to "fight" them.
 

Prism

Explorer
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.

Yes, and in fact the random magic item generation tables hold to this. The chance of finding decent magic armour (by that I mean magic studded leather, half plate, plate mail etc) is very slim compared to finding magic weapons or pretty much any other type of item. I stick to that concept when placing items as a DM
 

MwaO

Explorer
If the DM is not giving those 6-8 encounters a day, he will have to make what challenges he does use much more difficult in order to compensate. That means that if he reduced to 4 a day, you should be running out of resources by encounter 4, even with those magic items. Take away those magic items and encounter 4 will likely kill you given the increased difficulty.

If the DM has not increased the difficulty to compensate, then he might as well just be handing out free exp, because those fights will be so easy with or without the items that there is no point in wasting the time to "fight" them.

+1.

Something has to counterbalance, because one of the biggest guidelines of 5e is the focus on strategic use of resources over tactical. If a caster with 12 spells knows he's fighting 4 or less combats every adventuring day, then he can spend 3 spells per combat without fear. If he thinks he might fight 8 combats in a day, then he needs to be careful about using more than 1 spell per combat. Unless he has +4 slots from somewhere - say a Wand of Wonder or a pair of Staves...
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yes, and in fact the random magic item generation tables hold to this. The chance of finding decent magic armour (by that I mean magic studded leather, half plate, plate mail etc) is very slim compared to finding magic weapons or pretty much any other type of item. I stick to that concept when placing items as a DM
Though I feel that's more a result of 1) magic armor isn't that common 2) all the other types are also on the table...

Why would anyone ever create Leather +1? Or Ringmail?

That's LOL.

I wouldn't read into it a deliberate decision to withhold "better than max" armor. For that I would turn to published modules with "prerolled" loot, that is to say regular specified loot.

Do writers of official adventures include "useless" armor like Leather +1 or Ringmail +2 (useless in that they're no better than armor you can buy from the PHB)?
 

Prism

Explorer
Though I feel that's more a result of 1) magic armor isn't that common 2) all the other types are also on the table...

I wouldn't read into it a deliberate decision to withhold "better than max" armor. For that I would turn to published modules with "prerolled" loot, that is to say regular specified loot.

I do think there is a little of that going on though. If you look at table H you get +2 leather next to +1 studded next to +1 splint. So the table designer certainly recognises that armour types are different. On table I +3 leather is as rare as +1 plate. Table G is the silly one where you get to find +1 leather and +1 chainmail
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I do think there is a little of that going on though. If you look at table H you get +2 leather next to +1 studded next to +1 splint. So the table designer certainly recognises that armour types are different. On table I +3 leather is as rare as +1 plate. Table G is the silly one where you get to find +1 leather and +1 chainmail
Well, to me "leather +3" is an oxymoron.

Sure, it's useful, but it makes absolutely no sense.

Then, on the other hand, trying to make sense of the current 5E magic rules is a descent into madness.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
[MENTION=463]S'mon[/MENTION] Since you just laughed at my post, we can all take that to mean that you have no good response to the well reasoned argument I put forth.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
[MENTION=463]S'mon[/MENTION] Since you just laughed at my post, we can all take that to mean that you have no good response to the well reasoned argument I put forth.
Aside: I brought it to the attention of the mods that the Laugh button doesn't always work as intended and that it can (and is) used to bully other posters. The complete opposite of the intended function, basically.

Laughing *at* somebody is not the same as laughing *with* that person.

I was dismissed.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Aside: I brought it to the attention of the mods that the Laugh button doesn't always work as intended and that it can (and is) used to bully other posters. The complete opposite of the intended function, basically.

Laughing *at* somebody is not the same as laughing *with* that person.

I was dismissed.

Yeah, but you can only be bullied if you let people bully you. Being laughed at doesn't bother me, so nobody here can bully me :)

Heck, if the only response someone gives is a laugh, it's kinda sad, really.
 

MwaO

Explorer
I do think there is a little of that going on though. If you look at table H you get +2 leather next to +1 studded next to +1 splint. So the table designer certainly recognises that armour types are different. On table I +3 leather is as rare as +1 plate. Table G is the silly one where you get to find +1 leather and +1 chainmail

I think that's in part to hit the numbers that seem to be showing up. Namely, you should expect to find about 1 permanent magic item every 4 levels. Having essentially dud and consumable items helps kick the 24 rolls on Tables F-I back to the right numbers.

Btw, going back a bit and clarifying some of the numbers - expectations of a magic weapon in Table F, +1 equivalent in Table G, etc...
 

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