D&D 5E Magic Item Stacking

The mightiest monster in the game, Asmodeus, has an attack bonus of +10. And that's pretty much what you'd expect from a level 20 monster, given the math they're using and bounded accuracy. An AC of 30+ means even Asmodeus can only hit you on a roll of 20. So I can confidently say that magic item stacking as it is currently written breaks the game.

If they do what they should and give monsters proficiency bonuses to attack, Asmodeus would be +13. It's interesting to note that many of the lower-mid range monsters are getting attack bonuses right now (using the currently arbitrary system) that are the same bonus they would get from a standard proficiency bonus. It is primarily the very low level monsters (and those inconsitently) and the high level monsters that differ by 2 or more points from what proficiency from what the proficiency bonus would grant.

I sincerely hope they switch them to all use the same proficiency bonus as characters. It works for both simulationist desires and better game balance.

/tangent
 

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jodyjohnson

Adventurer
Is an absolute upper limit of 25-26, with possible temporary boosts to 27-28 for a very lucky character who was specialised into defence at every available option and has managed to find the exact most optimal items (going against the "magic items are rarer" defaults in the system) too much? Why?

I'd like to see a general soft cap at 25 (Level 20 creatures attack of +10 with a 15 on the dice) for stock Bestiary and +10+Level-based proficiency (+6) for my preferred Boss/Elite/Solo for a 9+ on the dice to hit. Basically a +9 to +15 range against the best ACs which provides a solid effect for Advantage/Disadvantage on the roll.

If the soft cap is 25 then a highly situational cap of 27 for the short duration effects - not including the biggest modifier, advantage/disadvantage, which stacks with the numeric bonuses.

Armor, Dex, Shield, and an off stat get you in the 18-22 range, class/race can add 2, then finally magic items or spells for an additional +1 to +4 depending on duration/level.


On the other side I think a no Magic stacking rule would work on the Attack bonus side too. If Bless is +1d4 then all the other bonuses hit within that from Magic. +1 to +3 Weapon, or +3 from Magic Weapon, or +3 from Magic Fang or whatever but the Magic bonus range is +1 to +4 (so oddly 25% of the time Bless is better than a +3 but 25% of the time it doesn't have an effect).

So max attack without class bonuses is +6 Prof +5 Stat +4 Magic for +15 which hits our hypothetical AC 25 on a 10+ ot 13+ or our stock Bestiary Level 20 creature on a 3+ to 6+.
 


jodyjohnson

Adventurer
Christmas tree effect is needing a Magic item for each defensive, offensive, or saving throw bonus type.
Usually best seen in AC: Armor+Enhancement+Shield+Natural Armor+Deflection+Dodge+Dex+Sacred/Profane+Luck+Morale+and I'm probably missing a few.
Repeat for attack bonuses and Saving Throws.
 

delericho

Legend
Nah. The "Christmas Tree" effect is to do with magic item slots. If the character has a magic helmet, gloves, boots, armour, belt, etc, etc, etc, then when he's under the effect of a detect magic spell, he'll light up like a Christmas Tree. Technically, it doesn't actually matter if those items cover all the bonus types, or even if they're completely useless, only that they're there.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Yeah, no stacking seems fine to me. If we're really worried about magic shields, let them do something different, like provide temporary hit points that renew each round. I'd also change cover to imposing a penalty on the attack roll instead of a bonus to the AC. The rest of those formerly stackable magical effects - I really don't need them to stack. Your ring of protection and barkskin and magic armor all do essentially the same thing with simply a slightly different description, and I am fine with being able to benefit from one armor-like protection at a given time.
 
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Li Shenron

Legend
Nah. The "Christmas Tree" effect is to do with magic item slots.

Well, if the game doesn't have magic item slots, but still the amount of magic items per PC is high, instead of "Christmas Tree" you'd get a "Christmas Sock" (e.g. 10 amulets stuffed on top of each other), but the problem for me still remains, that you get a lot of additional calculations, and that spells like Detect Magic and Dispel Magic are going to slow the game down much more.
 

delericho

Legend
Well, if the game doesn't have magic item slots, but still the amount of magic items per PC is high, instead of "Christmas Tree" you'd get a "Christmas Sock" (e.g. 10 amulets stuffed on top of each other), but the problem for me still remains, that you get a lot of additional calculations, and that spells like Detect Magic and Dispel Magic are going to slow the game down much more.

Agreed. IMO, 3e would have done better to make the armour enhancement, ring of protection, amulet of natural armour, etc all the same type of bonus (so they don't stack), but instead have removed the cap of +5 to any one of the three. If the character wears +15 armour, it's (almost) identical in effect to wearing three +5 items, so balance-wise it's the same, but it means a whole lot less calculating...

For 5e, I really hope the "few big(ger) items" is more viable than the "many small items" favoured by 3e.
 

Quartz

Hero
I can only speak in 3E terms, but I dislike the stacking of 3E, so would suggest the following: things stack if their type would stack in an anti-magic field. So shield and armour stack, as do feats, dodge, circumstance, and synergy, but enhancement, divine, etc do not.

BTW what's this about attunement? I though that c**p went out with MERP.
 

I'd prefer to delete the term "type" for bonuses altogether, and only refer to the bonus source. So "no stacking" means "bonuses from the same source do not stack." Sources are equipment (armor, shield base capability), ability score, race feature, class feature, feat, magic, and circumstance (this last to give the DM the ability to "adjust on the fly", and account for things like cover).

That way you can still get the benefits of things like race and class bonus, and there's a value to magic items of increasing proportion, but it doesn't get out of control, and it's not so prohibitive that it makes the game boring. Someone above interpreted "no stacking" as nothing ever stacks, ever, so that for example there's no benefit to wearing armor and adding a shield, or from taking cover behind something if you're already wearing armor -- that's certainly not what I meant by "no stacking".

So for example, a mountain dwarf fighter in +1 plate armor carrying a shield would get an AC benefit from his race (+1), armor (+8), shield (+1) and magic (+1 on plate). If he put on a +1 ring of protection, his AC would remain the same; if the party druid cast barkskin on him his AC would go temproarily go up by 1, since the +2 bonus from magic would not tack with the existing +1 magic bonus from his armor. If he took cover, he'd get the additional +4 bonus, since that's a circumstance.

I think this is simple enough to keep track of in practice, since most bonus sources are not situational, and still leaves room for creativity in character choices, but keeps down synergistic bloat from stacking of bonuses from multiple magic sources or multiple feats.
 

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