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Magic Items Preference: flavor, or mechanical bonus?

Flavor or mechanical?

  • Flavor! Inspire the TotM

    Votes: 20 51.3%
  • Give me the bonuses!

    Votes: 19 48.7%

  • Total voters
    39

CleverNickName

Adventurer
Always Flavor over Mechanical Advantage. But as others have said, they aren't mutually exclusive. You can have pure mechanical advantage and add lots of backstory, history, and other flavor to it fairly easily with a little bit of world-building. Sure, you could place a generic "plus two longsword" in that tomb...or you could place Salazar's Fury, the glittering steel weapon that turned the tide of the battle at Orc's Rout and gave another victory to the Silverglade clan of elves (+2 longsword if wielded by an elf, +1 otherwise). Which one would you rather have on your character sheet?

I think flavor will always be more awesome than pure mechanical advantage.
 

Staffan

Explorer
I believe the poll is missing the best thing to do with magic items: adding new abilities. Things like ring of the ram, boots of levitation, or claws of the umber hulk.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
As far as my own preferences, I've always preferred whatever helps lend a sense of wonder, or something that describes the manifestation of the magic. So I voted flavor. I am a very analytical person by nature (and in my day job), so I suppose when it comes to gaming, I like to not think about the numbers and crunch and math, and focus on the atmosphere since I crunch numbers all day long anyway
 

Draegn

Explorer
I prefer story enhancing over the term flavor. In the game we are telling a collective story, not baking tarts for Sunday tea.

How much an item enhances the story largely depends on how many times it can be used.

A single use potion.
A wand with five uses.
A ring that works X per year.
........................ X per month.
........................ X per week.
........................ X per day.
an item with unlimited uses.

Items with more uses should be harder to find or create. They should be better described to have more of a "wow" factor. The difference between the potion you can only hear inside the flask which turns you invisible for an hour, that after drinking you then discard the empty flask. Or the sword that always glows forest green as it slays the enemies of the fae and elves while slowly turning the wielder into a fae being or elf, yet will never strike a fae or elf.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
I'm not sure why you're deciding between A and B when A+B is the best course.

* I want magic items to have meaning. If a PC tosses it into their inventory and doesn't think about it again, it was a bad insertion into the game. It needs to make a difference, and mechanical impacts are the best way to make an impact.
* Every item can be tweaked to add flavor. My warlock just made a quarterstaff for a cleric/fighter in a game in which I am a player. He crafted it from the mast of the first ship of the cleric's people that sank along the shores of their island. It weeps saltwater from the eyes of all the figures on the staff, including his God, Leviathans, Krakens, and the invaders that the sea is swallowing up. My PC is a native of the island where the cleric's people have come, and has a lot of subtle pent up rage as they enslaved his people before he won his freedom. The staff is a manifestation of the anger over their incursion. That provides a lot of favor, IMHO.
 

Len

Prodigal Member
I'm not sure why you're deciding between A and B when A+B is the best course.
To find out about player attitudes to A and B, I'd guess.

It's not always A+B, not in the games I've played in anyway. I've had plenty of characters that have had some generic magic items and one or two special ones with a story behind them. So, given that A, B and A+B are in the game, it could be helpful for the DM to know how much we players value A and B.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
To find out about player attitudes to A and B, I'd guess.

It's not always A+B, not in the games I've played in anyway. I've had plenty of characters that have had some generic magic items and one or two special ones with a story behind them. So, given that A, B and A+B are in the game, it could be helpful for the DM to know how much we players value A and B.
Pretty much. I had a feeling if I put an option for both, it would be overwhelming in votes. I wanted to find out which of the two sounded more appealing.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I've never had a DM describe a +1 sword as bland and nondescript. It's usually at the very least "the fine blade has elven script, the ornate guard and hilt are gold, and there is a ruby in the pommel." That's more than enough flavor for me, so I voted for bonuses.
 

mortwatcher

Explorer
Bonuses, because I can always make up a flavor to make the item at least look cool. I've never had a DM tell me - "No no, it's just bland +1 weapon, don't add any flavor to it." There is also plenty of items that give you both, like cloak of displacement - can you imagine the headaches traveling with someone who is almost all the time slightly displaced, what a fun flavor.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
I vote flavor.

For me, an item without flavor is by self-definition devoid of ‘magic’.

That said, I require the flavor to have mechanical enforcement. One cant ‘pretend’ to fly, one must have the actual mechanics to do so. Otherwise, a leap off a cliff wont end well, regardless how much ‘method acting’ one puts into it.
́
So, I appreciate the design self-restraint of ‘bounded accuracy’, thus avoid attack and save bonuses (and I wish it was possible to avoid skill bonuses like expertise). I want magic items to do interesting things, and have the mechanics to do these interesting things.
 

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