D&D General Making magic items have a buff that puts them at risk of destruction

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Pondering this - current DnD has many magic items as near-indestructible, contra to AD&D days where they were only marginally less vulnerable to rust monsters, fireballs etc. Pondering the idea of a buff that might put them at risk of destruction - allows for more magic item circulation story-wise plus gives the players some agency in their use if need be.

e.g. A Flame Tongue weapon might have an emergency once-daily buff of increased fire damage with a risk of overloading and permanently extinguishing the weapon, but if this takes place in at a do-or-die point in the campaign may be memorable. Question is, what numbers for what risk?

So:
  • triple fire damage for 1 in 6 risk of destruction
  • quadruple fire damage for 1 in 8 risk of destruction
  • more for (say) in in 10 risk?

Thinking of risk great enough to make it a real worry, but damage high enough to Make A Difference in a big battle. Anyone have any ideas about what numbers they'd use here?
 

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ichabod

Legned
In 5E, this is a property of wands and staves. For them, if you expend the last charge they die on 1 in 20. I would start with that for consistency, and then match the powers to the risk. So they wouldn't be too powerful. Maybe double damage with a hit, but you decide after the hit, so you can save it for a critical.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
In 5E, this is a property of wands and staves. For them, if you expend the last charge they die on 1 in 20. I would start with that for consistency, and then match the powers to the risk. So they wouldn't be too powerful. Maybe double damage with a hit, but you decide after the hit, so you can save it for a critical.
Hmmm...doesn't seem hugely high but much more value if you can choose after a critical I agree...

I have a few 1-in20 risks in my campagin and I never seem to roll them :LOL:
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
So:
  • triple fire damage for 1 in 6 risk of destruction
  • quadruple fire damage for 1 in 8 risk of destruction
  • more for (say) in in 10 risk?

This looks backwards - the higher damage should lead to higher chance to destroy the item.
So more like:

Double fire damage for 1 in 10 risk = 10% chance of destruction
Triple fire damage for 1 in 8 risk = 13% approx.
Quadruple fire damage for 1 in 6 risk = 17% approx.
Quintuple fire damage for 1 in 4 risk = 25%

Not that those exact numbers are ideal - they are just demonstrative of the concept.

More importantly, though, I am not so sure that small values of this is going to be particularly attractive.

You have a sword that does an extra 2d6 fire damage - that's nice. On average an extra 7 damage on every hit. Over time, that's a lot.

Is it worth trashing that sword forever to get 7 more damage on one particular hit, once? It'd need to be a very critical moment, when that 7 points would make all the difference. Dramatic, maybe, but usually tactically unwise.
 


Casimir Liber

Adventurer
This looks backwards - the higher damage should lead to higher chance to destroy the item.
So more like:

Double fire damage for 1 in 10 risk = 10% chance of destruction
Triple fire damage for 1 in 8 risk = 13% approx.
Quadruple fire damage for 1 in 6 risk = 17% approx.
Quintuple fire damage for 1 in 4 risk = 25%

Not that those exact numbers are ideal - they are just demonstrative of the concept.

More importantly, though, I am not so sure that small values of this is going to be particularly attractive.

You have a sword that does an extra 2d6 fire damage - that's nice. On average an extra 7 damage on every hit. Over time, that's a lot.

Is it worth trashing that sword forever to get 7 more damage on one particular hit, once? It'd need to be a very critical moment, when that 7 points would make all the difference. Dramatic, maybe, but usually tactically unwise.
Epic maths fail....yeah it's trying to find a sweet spot that makes sense.
 

aco175

Legend
Like what @ichabod was saying, my players never use the last charge from a wand or staff. Wand of Magic Missiles- shoot 6 charges all at once, then put away until tomorrow. Heck they do not like to drink potions for fear that it might be needed "later".

I also agree with @Umbran in that if I have a sword that does +2d6 fire every time, why risk it? It would have to be something epic and then the reward needs to be worth it. Maybe look at the Staff of the Magi retributive strike below.

1701208798163.png
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I actually don't like that charges come back in 5e.

I like wands and staves that have a set amount of charges. They're like more powerful multiple use potions.
Ditto.

When I first started running 5E, I gave out a staff with the replenishing charges and very quickly came to dislike it because unless we happened to be very granular about time (which only happens sometimes), using it seemed like no big deal. For all future items with charges I went back to 1E/2E rules for number of charges and prefer it that way.
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
Brainstorm: On a natural 20 critical hit, roll a d20. If you roll a 1, the sword instead explodes into a 10d6 fireball centered on the wielder. The wielder is immune to this damage, but the sword is destroyed and will reform randomly on some other plane in 1 year.

It's 1 in 400, but since weapons are constantly used versus wands/staves, more likely to see a chance at it proccing.
 

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