2E Magic items in AD&D, making them and getting them.

wingsandsword

Villager
Something I've been thinking about regarding magic items in AD&D.

I sometimes wonder if the groups I played with were "doing it wrong". . .because while I had a pretty consistent experience between all the various groups I played with. . .I sometimes see people talk about AD&D with a totally different concept of creating and obtaining magic items.

So, with that in mind, this is how I always saw it played. . .

Making Magic Items: It's so hard to do, that almost all PC's don't bother to try. For example, making any kind of permanent magic item like a +1 Sword ect. requires not just casting the Enchanted Weapon, Enchant an Item and Permanency spells. . .but since the Permanency spell is 8th level, unless you can somehow get a scroll of it (which I never saw done, see the next paragraph about obtaining magic items), being at least 16th level (which, in my experience, games almost never got to, and NPC's that high level were insanely rare).

. . .then you had to deal with the permanent loss of a point of Constitution for casting Permanency, meaning no Wizard wanted to lose Constitution permanently just to make a magic sword for his party member. Also, losing a point of Constitution, because of Permanency, to make expendable magic items like a Necklace of Missiles ect. meant nobody in their right mind would make those items.

. . .and even if you did have Enchant an Item and any other spells that were needed, then you had to somehow do all the other stuff to make a magic item, that you couldn't just cast those spells on any sword and make a magic item, that you needed it to be a special sword of some kind (with all kinds of requirements laid out by the DM, for example, a +1 sword might have to be forged by a Dwarven Master Smith using metal taken from a mundane sword that killed a magical creature of some kind, with the hilt having small chamber in it housing a portion of the dust of a slain vampire or lich, the hilt wrappings being made of leather made from some specific magical creature, and the sword being quenched after being forged in Holy Water blessed by a priest of a God of War or Smithing with at least one tear of a Valkyrie mixed in.

Making even one "routine" magic item would require 3 or 4 high-level adventures, at least. . .and your "reward" would be losing a point of CON to get a +1 sword. Those requirements would start going up rapidly to make things with more plusses. . .I remember being told that making a +5 item would require virtually an entire campaign worth of adventures to assemble it as it would require a couple dozen special treasures.

Potions and Scrolls were similarly insane to make, but at least you didn't have to lose the point of CON.

Finding Magic Items: I don't know where the idea of so-called "Monty Haul" games came from, because I never saw anything like it. . .magic items were doled out with an eyedropper, it felt like. DM's used the treasure tables in the DMG, rigorously and strictly. . .and it always felt like that meant we got jack squat, especially for magical treasure. Most of the magic items were in lair treasure. . .and you never could find a lair.

We'd play campaigns that would last a year or two, get up to somewhere between 10th and 15th level. . .and typically you could count every magic item in the entire party on one hand, the party fighter would have a magic weapon of some kind they found (and if it wasn't a weapon they had spent a weapon proficiency slot on beforehand, they learned that weapon later, so the Fighter might have his +1 Guisarme or +1 Khopesh instead of a longsword or broadsword). There would be a nice little supply list of potions/oils and scrolls. . .but very few weapons and armor or other permanent items.

Bracers of Defense were never, ever found. More than one group I met called AC 10 "Armor Class Mage" or "Armor Class Magic User" ect. to refer to the fact that even high-level Wizards/Magic Users had a bog-standard 10 AC because AC boosting items were so super-rare (and in AD&D, Dex bonuses to AC were hard to get).

. . .and of course, in AD&D it was strictly forbidden to sell magic items. The DMG and other books went at length denouncing the concept. I remember the very condescending artwork in High Level Campaigns of a Wizard shopping at a "magic mart" complete with a bargain bin of wands. . .to illustrate that if you allow any selling of magic items by NPC's in a campaign, that it meant there was no difference between that and letting NPC's open up magic stores indistinguishable from modern "big box" stores complete with bargain bins, closeout sales, coupons, and customer loyalty cards. . .every DM I knew took those instructions seriously, so you could have parties with 100,000+ GP. . .but they couldn't buy a +1 Dagger for all that money, it just plain was NOT on the market for any price.

. . .yet, in talking with others, they talk about going into dungeons and coming out with cartloads of magic items, of low level parties where everyone has a magic weapon and most have magic armor or bracers, of games where it was easy to make potions and scrolls and DM's didn't enforce the CON loss requirement for Permanency in making magic items.

The changes to magic items with 3.0. . .not requiring permanent CON loss, just predictable amounts of XP and gold costs, and assuming that magic items can be bought or commissioned in big cities if you have enough money were player friendly enough, and much more like the prevalence of magic items in D&D fiction and video games that it helped speed acceptance of the transition to 3e, in my experience.

Were those things more common, did I just play with particularly hardcore/tough DM's and gaming groups? What was everyone elses experience about magic item creation and obtaining in AD&D?
 

WASP007

Villager
I feel that magic items add style and flare to a campaign. Obviously it shouldn't be over done but they do keep the game more interesting. As far as selling or trading, it's part of the game. If you sell your item you most likely won't be able to get it back. And as far as buying, lower level items for hefty coin, why not.
I've played it both ways and just find the game play to be more enjoyable with MAGIC.
 

trancejeremy

Villager
"Monty/Montie Haul" was apparently Jim Ward's tongue in cheek nickname for Gary Gygax as DM. Mr. Ward had a column in early issues of Dragon detailing some of the early adventures, some of which are recognizable as published modules, and are fairly treasure laden. (I'm not sure how accurate the articles were, I'm not sure I believe EGG really allowed a magic sword character wielded by an iron golem, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were true, either.)

I actually don't think the changes to magic in 3.0 were initially that big a deal, especially compared to the Basic D&D line which had even more generous magic item creation, it's just that people handwaved away the xp requirements and assumed there was a factory of wizards working away in factories creating anything they wanted, and thus they could buy whatever, whenever they had money.

But I do think EGG probably was overgenerous in his early D&D games with treasure, realized that power gaming could get out of hand, especially with newer DMs, and overcorrected in AD&D (also seen in the section advising DMs to not allow monsters as characters, something the opposite of what he had said in the original D&D books).

Similarly, Mr Ward wrote that he liked power gaming and Monty Haul games, as long as the challenges were equally as high/epic as the loot.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
Back in the day, while the Permanency spell was out there, I always focused more on using quests for crafting magic items. For example, if someone wanted to build a Flametongue, I might say “okay, you need to know how to cast Fireball and Protection from Fire.” But then they’d also need to find magma from a volcano in the Abyss, or the blood of a Remorhaz. Few PCs went that route, though, especially since (being a young and still learning DM at that time) magic items were fairly plentiful in my campaigns.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Were those things more common, did I just play with particularly hardcore/tough DM's and gaming groups? What was everyone elses experience about magic item creation and obtaining in AD&D?
My experience with AD&D was similar to yours. The benefit of acquiring a new magic item was rarely commensurate with the risk involved with the process, so it was hardly ever done.

The only time I ever recall it coming up, it was a campaign built around the idea of going out to acquire the various components, on behalf of an NPC enchanter. I don't think that campaign lasted long enough for the item to get built, though.
 

Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
Guess my groups always enjoyed playing AD&D in the mega-gamer.

We luv'd getting, trading, buying (at 3x cost via black market) and selling (at standard GP value).

Of course, we also used lots of potions of extra healing, weapon damage points, and critical hit/fumble charts.

Once, we tried a low magic items campaign, and the group hated it.

As for creating magical items, we used the understanding that to create a magical item in our current campaign, we need to use the procedure as described.

But, the items we find, buy, etc, we all made by an ancient civilization where such restrictions (loss of CON by the spell caster), was not a problem. That was what slaves, criminals, and captured NPCs were for. They had to get the life force from someone (see sci-fi stories about such), just not necessarily that of the spell caster.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
I differed in that many non-permanent magic items did not need to have permanency in order to create them. For example, the Aforementioned Necklace of Magic Missiles would not need a Permanency spell at all. Once expended the Necklace would be used. A similar idea was with wands in spells and wand making.

For example, let us say a wizard wanted to make a low level wand, or one that would cast a low level spell. Let's say sleep. To make the wand they'd need the branch of a Hickory and get the scale of a basilisk. They then would have to enlongate the scale somehow and make it as the core of the wand (put it inside the branch). Thus, they now have the wand itself. In order to get it to accept the sleep spell on it they would then need to get the dried intestine of a Carrion crawler to wrap around the core and then enchant an item on the entire thing and they'd have a wand of sleep which would gain one charge per every sleep spell they cast on it.

Complicated to a degree? Yes. But not too difficult to accomplish as a wizard that could cast Enchant an Item.

How about a Wand of Fireballs?

First you'd need a wand made out of petrified wood that had been exposed to the ash of an active volcano. Then you'd need to obtain the core which would be composed of the dried throat strands of an ancient Red Dragon. Thus you now have the wand.

Next, to be able to actually cast the Fireball you'd need to get the blood of a Huge Fire Elemental and the eyeball of a Salamander. Once all these are collected, you can create the wand. Like other wands it accepts one charge per fireball spell you cast on it.

A little harder than to create a wand that casts 1st level spells, but not impossible and much easier than creating a magic item which would have a permanent effect such as a +1 item.

Even then, with items that had permanent effects on them I may allow them to be made without permanency spells but the according challenge to make them would be much harder.

Potions are MUCH easier. For example, a potion of levitation...get the wings of a hummingbird, mix it with the blood of a bumblebee and mix with water and cast a spell (we could feasibly require enchant an item or not...depending) of levitate on it.

Thus there is an incentive to create magic items that have a more temporary nature and potions far more than many other items.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
. . .then you had to deal with the permanent loss of a point of Constitution for casting Permanency, meaning no Wizard wanted to lose Constitution permanently just to make a magic sword for his party member. Also, losing a point of Constitution, because of Permanency, to make expendable magic items like a Necklace of Missiles ect. meant nobody in their right mind would make those items.
Yeah. And then I would read the background on some magic item in an official supplement and it would tell me that the great Sage Inventor McMagiccrafter spent his life making hundreds of items and this was one of them.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Yeah, making magic items in AD&D was not for the faint-hearted. A lot depended on working with the DM to come up with a method and a cost for the whole affair. Most players, as far as I experienced, never bothered trying to make anything. They made do with whatever items they were able to find in their adventures - which, if you played modules, were actually fairly common. And yes, if you played 2e, the game discouraged selling items (though that was never an issue in 1e which expected PCs to be selling items fairly regularly and had prices listed).

The shift to 3e and the ability to easily make items based on a formula without DM-devised quests and challenges was a massive change in the game's ground assumptions. And it led to big changes in player behavior. When magic items are easy to make or buy, what do you do with the fairly valuable but conditionally-useful items like rings of shooting stars? You sell them for items that are reliably in operation most or all of the time - the Big Six (armor bonus, deflection bonus, natural armor bonus, resistance bonus, prime stat enhancement bonus, magic weapon).
 

wingsandsword

Villager
Yeah. And then I would read the background on some magic item in an official supplement and it would tell me that the great Sage Inventor McMagiccrafter spent his life making hundreds of items and this was one of them.
. . .and this is part of why 3e really took off instantly among all the gaming groups I knew.

2e seemed to have a huge gulf between the rules-as-written (and the world they'd logically create) and the way the rules actually performed. Magic items were dirt-common in published adventures and the rules seemed to imply they were fairly common in some places (like monsters needing a certain number of "plusses" to hit). . .but it was nigh impossible to actually make magic items and the rules lecturing DM's on how players should never, ever buy or sell magic items no matter what and no matter how rich you are they aren't for sale.

With 3e making magic items creation simply a matter of being high enough level, having the right feat and spells, and spending the time, money, and XP to create it, it felt a lot more like what the game implied magic item creation should have been like all the time. . .given how common magic items were in so many parts of setting lore.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Well, I'll concur with all the concurring voices.

In 1e and 2e AD&D, the barriers to making magic items were so high that most groups never made even a single item.

The barriers to making potions and scrolls were less high, but they imposed a fairly high burden in preparation and play on the DM to lead the players toward the conclusion that they could make potions, scrolls, and the like. As such, even if you desired to be a DM that empowered the players, the amount of effort required to produce recipes and organize quests around acquiring rare ingredients, and the fact that to a large extent this catered only to solo play during party 'down time' generally presented a hurdle even well intentioned groups wouldn't pass.

The barrier to the manufacture of permanent enchanted items was so high, it represented a huge disconnect between the relative abundance of magic items in even the most stingy magic-light campaign and what the demographics of the campaign suggested should exist. Moreover, there was an even more subtle issue of the relative abundance of magic items specifically geared to fighter classes that existed in the magic item tables, and the risks and costs the actual makers of magic items were incurring to make magic items. If the abundance of magic items for fighters was meant to maintain game balance, the simulation implied by the rules suggested that the vast majority of magic items would be items manufactured by very high like magic users for their own use, and magic baubles for fighters ought to be rarer.

This was always a source of discomfort for me as an AD&D DM, and I very much welcomed 3.0's reform as striking an excellent balance between availability and scarcity.

That said, I have always run a relative low magic campaign (compared to something like Forgotten Realms). By that I mean that though magic at some level may be pervasive, truly potent magic is extremely rare, and magic is not pervasive enough that it substitutes for technology (as for example in 'Harry Potter' or 'Disq World'). I've always been very skeptical of AD&D's balance of magic on the basis solely of dungeon crawling utility, and generally overlooking the economic impact of magic. As such, magic that has truly profound economic impact tends to be something that I nerf to one extent or another.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Next, to be able to actually cast the Fireball you'd need to get the blood of a Huge Fire Elemental and the eyeball of a Salamander.
That's a lot like what I remember, in as much as fire elementals don't have blood, so the players were left scratching their collective head in trying to interpret anything.

The example I remember is from a magic item formula that needed "the essence of speed," and the players in that example decided that the heart of a stag should qualify. I don't remember whether the DM was supposed to just go along with it, or make a judgement call on how accurate their answer was and use it to inform the percentage roll for the chance that the formula would be successful.
 

Celebrim

Legend
On the subject of acquiring magic items, my experiences differ in a lot of ways from the original author.

First, my experience is that beginning at around 8th level, it would take about a year of weekly play to gain a level. The original poster asserts that he reached "10th to 15th level" in about a year and managed to do this despite not acquiring many magic items. I find it hard to believe that if you were playing any DM as fussy about the rules as is claimed and who was continually denying lair treasure that the characters could advance in level at all. Even if the DM is a stickler about the rules and sticks to the treasure type placement in the Monster Manual, about 2/3rds of all XP is going to come from treasure. If that ratio fell to less than 1/2 of all XP was from treasure (because there were no lairs) and in particular if magic items weren't forth coming, I don't see how the PC's could survive it much less advance at a good pace.

The nice thing about a DM sticking to the magic item generator tables, is the treasure would be much more diverse, esoteric, and at times impactful than if the DM stuck to his instincts and placed treasure. The first treasures a player might encounter would be (rolled randomly):

Wand of Flame Extinguishing, Elixir of Life, Philter of Persuasiveness, Spell Scroll (Mage: Wizard Lock), Sword -2, Robe of Useful Items, Mace +1, Ring of Sustenance, Ring of Jumping, Boots of Elvenkind, Wand of Fire, Scroll of Protection - Possession, Bow +1, Longsword of the Planes [Unusual Abilities: Int: 12, Alignment: Lawful Good, Communication: semi-empathy, Powers/Abilities: detect precious metals, kind and amount in a 2" radius], Sling of Seeking +2, Spell Scroll (Mage: Transmute Rock to Mud, Item, Tenser's Floating Disk, Repulsion), Potion of Polymorph (Self), Ring of Protection +2

That to me looks very much like the sort of things I'd place, right down to the early access to a powerful intelligent sword that got more powerful the higher you level up (indeed, I can't believe I've never placed a Sword of the Planes to acquire in the first 3-4 levels of play, as it seems so obvious once you see it). The only item(s) that I might overrule in that list is the cursed sword -2, as it would be crippling to encounter this early and seems almost cruel, and the wand of fire which would turn any wizard that found it into a powerhouse. But I might solve this problem by giving the wand just a dozen charges, which would give the wizard something to do before hitting 5th level.

I don't have a strong sense how many lairs or how long it would take to acquire that much loot, but my feeling from experience is that a 5th level party ought to have about that much, and it would take 6 months to a year to get that far, with a couple of character deaths along the way.

I note also that the Wizard would almost certainly be allowed the Ring of Protection +2, thereby finally getting his AC below 10. While Bracers of Defense were quite rare and super valuable, there are a number of other options for a wizard to boost AC, some rarer and some more common. Once the Ring of Protection was acquired, for example, the Wizard might hope for either the bracers or a lucky Robe of the Archmage. If we continued generating treasure until we generated a pile sufficient for a 15th level party that had acquired millions of XP, I think we'd end up with a lot of cool loot.

Zagyg's Spell Component Case, Potion of Invisibility, Potion of Flying, Scroll of Protection - Air Elementals, Leather Armor +2, 11 Sling Bullets +1 (note: What's with the sling treasure in this campaign?), Longsword +2 Dragon Slayer, Leather Armor +2, Buckler +2, Cursed Backbiter Spear, Pouch of Accessibility, Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location, Potion of Super-Heroism, Necklace of Prayer Beads [18 semi-precious gems, 12 fancy gems, 6 Precious/Special: 3 x Bead of Atonement, 2 x Bead of Blessing, Bead of Karma], Potion of Heroism, Potion of Diminution, Two-Handed Sword +3, Shield +1, Potion of Healing, Shield +1, Short Sword +4 Defender, Ring of Anything, Zagyg's Flowing Flagon, Ring of Protection +2...

Can you tell I just love random 1e magic items?

The interesting thing about this run through it is that it hasn't yet dropped a good armor for the fighter(s)...

There are a lot of possible distributions of the treasure, but at this point I'd expect the party to be 9th-10th level, and look something like this:

Fighter #1: Full Plate, Two-Handed Sword +3, Bow +1, Ring of Sustenance, Boots of Elven Kind
Fighter #2: Leather Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Longsword of the Planes, Buckler +2
Thief: Shortsword +4 Defender, Leather Armor +2, Ring of Jumping, Pouch of Accessibility, Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location,
Cleric: Plate Mail, Shield +1, Mace +1, Sling +2 Seeking, Sling Bullets +1, Necklace of Prayer Beads
M-U: Wand of Fire, Wand of Flame Extinguishing, Ring of Protection +2, Ring of Anything, Zagyg's Spell Component Case, Robe of Useful Items

Various and sundry consumables and esoteric items treated as collective party treasure and doled out as needed for the mission. By this point, much of it might have been used overcoming problems, but at least how I ran my campaign, in larger cities there were alchemists, hedge wizards, and temples where a small selection of random potions and scrolls could be purchased (supplies renewing about every game month) and as such I'd still expect the party to have quite a bit of minor scrolls and potions.
 
My experience also was that magic item creation was a non-starter in 1E and 2E. Technically there was a method but it put the requirements at such a high level that it was impractical, especially when the amount of magic coming in by other means was generally quite sufficient. The admonition to never have "magic shops" didn't stop us from selling items in the slightest. Who'd we sell to? It just didn't matter. There was a gp sale value and if items WERE being sold by the PC's there was therefore a market. Our DM's rightly concluded that it might not be a good idea to let PC's just go down to Magic-R-Us and buy whatever they happen to be able to afford, but it was eminently logical that there WAS a market and for about half the items in the DMG there was at least a chance each week or each month that particular items would become available for purchase.

The best source for items, however, was still just going out adventuring - and THAT was rightly perceived to be the best approach, but the game rules and attendant campaign settings provided no in-character support (or even suggestions) for how the ECONOMY of magic items should ultimately work. When our 1E/2E PC's reached the lofty heights where we knew spellcasters powerful enough to make items for us and willing to do so, or on a few occasions when PC's made their own, the number of items made was still VERY few. With the methodology in the rules it was just too expensive. Too time-consuming. If making the items yourself it was unprofitable to be sidelined doing that rather than actively adventuring. If you were having items made for you, the cost was kept very high even in our treasure-obsessed power-gaming campaigns, and the wait to get things in your PC's hands was interminable.

3E had the magic item creation system we always wanted. Or THOUGHT we always wanted. It was great to actually have some kind of reference point for how much magic any PC should expect to have at a given level, and of course there was fun to be had in simply being able to buy what you want when you want it because it was nearly all just waiting on a literal shelf to be bought. But there was a serious loss of tone to the game overall by making magic a routine commodity little different than buying a backpack or a horse. As Spock said, having is not always better than wanting - it is not logical but it is often true. 3E thus swung too far in the opposite direction from 1E/2E.

With only limited tweaking the 3E system could simply be applied directly to 1E/2E rules and thus have PC-made items a much more viable possibility at less-than-epic levels, but I still hold that "magic shops" are still a bad idea. Yes there's a market for buying, selling, and making items, but it still has to be a struggle, a sacrifice, a choice between getting exactly what you want and paying an attendant cost for it in both time and money. Availability is NOT just a flat GP community sale and ready cash limit. You can't always get what you want even if you have gobs of coin to throw at it, or if it IS available... it'll sometimes cost you more than just coin or more coin than you may be comfortable spending.
 

Lord Crimson

Explorer
Put me in the group of people who seemed to have no problems with the amount of magical treasure found by 15th level. Both in games I ran or played in, there were plenty of magic items by way of random treasure gen.

That said, I 100% agree with the OP concerning the overly-difficult, costly, and/or GM-arbitrary method of magic item creation presented in 1E and 2E. I like the idea of "needs some questing" but it was never clear how difficult or time-consuming it should be to make an item of a given power-level. A +1 weapon should be MUCH easier than a +3 weapon or one of the special weapons... and all of those should be easier than a +5 weapon. But how much easier? No idea per the RAW.

On the other hand, I actually HATED how easy it was to make magic items in 3.x. Any spellcaster worth their salt picked up Craft Wand ASAP and used it to basically become an at-will caster for a whole bunch of their more common spells (and there goes the HP economy once the cleric or druid makes a wand of CLW).
 

S'mon

Legend
Published adventures certainly had a lot of magic items, so the OP's experience does not seem typical.

1e Permanency only had a 5% chance of CON loss if used to make a magic item.

Still, IME 1e & 2e PCs pretty much never crafted magic items, and the extreme ease of item creation in 3e & 4e was a major shift. 3e's 750gp (half cost if crafted), 50-charge wands of cure light wounds changed the whole game right off.
 

Orius

Adventurer
Published adventures certainly had a lot of magic items, so the OP's experience does not seem typical.

1e Permanency only had a 5% chance of CON loss if used to make a magic item.
Ah yes, but in 2e that whole 5% thing is buried in the spell description for enchant an item, and isn't often repeated in the rules for magic item creation themselves, and isn't mentioned at all in the description for permanency IIRC. I didn't even know about some of this detail until a discussion about this a few years ago over on Dragonsfoot.

Still, IME 1e & 2e PCs pretty much never crafted magic items, and the extreme ease of item creation in 3e & 4e was a major shift. 3e's 750gp (half cost if crafted), 50-charge wands of cure light wounds changed the whole game right off.
Honestly, it should be somewhere in between. I think I prefer 3e's approach, but compared to AD&D it definitely feels overpowered at times. Wands for example, maybe would be better balanced if the number of charges were reduced by a factor of 2-4. In the 2e DMG, base charges for a wand are 1d20+80, but most of the time, found wands only have about a dozen uses (to be fair, the DMG DOES state that found wands will typically have far fewer charges). I'm thinking of just adapting some of 5e's approach to basic magic item creation like potions and scrolls in my 2e game.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Honestly, it should be somewhere in between. I think I prefer 3e's approach, but compared to AD&D it definitely feels overpowered at times. Wands for example, maybe would be better balanced if the number of charges were reduced by a factor of 2-4. In the 2e DMG, base charges for a wand are 1d20+80, but most of the time, found wands only have about a dozen uses (to be fair, the DMG DOES state that found wands will typically have far fewer charges). I'm thinking of just adapting some of 5e's approach to basic magic item creation like potions and scrolls in my 2e game.
Wands are a particularly notable example because in 3e, virtually any spell can be put in one - a distinct contrast with 1e/2e where the wands covered a narrow slice of magical spells, often odd utilities that weren't even regular spells or combat. This is why, I think, 1e/2e never really had the same problem with spell casters (mainly wizards) encroaching too far onto other class (mainly rogue) territory. A wizard could potentially duplicate a rogue with various spells like invisibility and spider climb, but did so only at a significant cost of spell slots being tied up to do what a rogue could do all day. Once 3e's wands came around and almost any spell was fair game with 50 charges, wizards could encroach cheaply.
 

Jef Gorbach

Villager
been awhile since cracking the early books, but IRC the custom magical items in v1,v2 used rules similar to the spell research section - which like much of the RAO of the time were extremely vague and relied on RAI so consequently were ignored by the majority.

v3 substantially clarified the situation with vastly improved guidelines which enabled both GMs/PCs to develop ideas using codified mechanics which could actually be discussed and expanded upon.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Wands are a particularly notable example because in 3e, virtually any spell can be put in one - a distinct contrast with 1e/2e where the wands covered a narrow slice of magical spells, often odd utilities that weren't even regular spells or combat.
Yeah, I 'fixed' this issue by ruling that wands were arcane only devices. You could not create a wand for divine spells. While some limited range of staffs from the older editions could be used by Clerics, the vast majority were M-U only. Opening up wands to divine casters not only made wand creation easier, it provided options that they'd never had before.

In my opinion, given the buffs to Cleric and Rogue in 3e, adding divine wands to the mix was entirely unnecessary.

This is why, I think, 1e/2e never really had the same problem with spell casters (mainly wizards) encroaching too far onto other class (mainly rogue) territory.
It has, IMO, always been a problem and it's something that was certainly discussed back in 1e/2e days.

A wizard could potentially duplicate a rogue with various spells like invisibility and spider climb, but did so only at a significant cost of spell slots being tied up to do what a rogue could do all day.
This argument misses the mark on two important points in my opinion. First of all, the Wizard's spells you mention are vastly more reliable and impactful than equivalent thief (or later Rogue) abilities. For example, spider climb according to the 1e and even 3e texts allows the user to cling to even the ceiling, a feat which in both 1e and 3e required epic levels of climbing ability. Additionally, it has basically no chance of failure. Invisibility is vastly more capable than 'Hide in Shadows' and allows a degree of concealment that application of mundane skill does not and in situations where the mundane skill would not be allowed. See also for example the Cleric's 'Find Traps' ability or the 'Knock' spell for opening a door. Suffice to say that there is nothing that a 1e/2e thief can do that a spell-caster can't do much better.

This leaves you arguing that the thief has broad though not deep application, but in practice this is almost never the case. The truth is that most of the time, during the course of an adventuring day, you run into obstacles of a particular sort only a few times. The thief is rarely if ever called on to "do things all day". There is probably only that one wall that really needs climbing, that one trap to disarm, that one locked door that really needs opening, and so forth. While a thief might save a spell-caster a couple of spell slots per day, quite quickly tables tended to realize that the number of slots that a thief was saving was less than the number of slots that a character might have were the thief replaced with another spell-caster. And since a high level thief had basically no utility beyond freeing up a couple of spell slots, and had basically no impact on combat to speak of (if you could backstab for every single attack, an unrealistic expectation, you'd still be inferior to the fighter or M-U's normal damage output).

Once 3e's wands came around and almost any spell was fair game with 50 charges, wizards could encroach cheaply.
Sure, but there were plenty of wands that encroached cheaply even before 3e, and more to the point, Rogues became vastly more useful in 3e than they had been in 1e. Their combat ability significantly improved, with better (effective) THAC0, sneak attack replacing backstab, and iterative attacks like a fighter. They acquired a handy range of defensive abilities like uncanny dodge, trap sense, and evasion. And skills generally became much broader in scope and more useful than they had been in earlier editions. There was still problems with spells completely replacing skills or trivializing them, but that was more a problem with spells written to be absolutely reliable and otherwise written with naïve backwards compatibility with former editions than a problem with the rest of the system.
 

Advertisement

Top