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D&D 3E/3.5 Playing in a DND3E game with no magic items


First Post
Greetings brother and sister dnders.

My game master has the idea of not giving out an magic items that would give pluses to attack or defense. So, we will more than likely never see anything beyond masterwork. That is: no +1, +2, +3, .... magic items.

We are at 5th level now. My AC is 15 with studded leather masterwork leather. I am playing a barbarian.

I figure by 10th level I will still at AC 15, maybe AC 17, if he finally gives us something.

I tell him that at 10th level at this rate, I will be just as easy to hit as I was at 3rd level, but he says I will have more hit points by then and I will last longer. My argument to that is that by 10th level we will be fighting 7th level critters that have bonuses to HIT and DAMAGE!

Can some one come up with some kind of rational argument that I could give him telling us to give us some kind of defense bonus. I have sent him 3 links to problems that occur when you run a low magic campaign, and how games like wheel of time fixes the defense problems.

Maybe when they put out the new DMG this summer they can make some kind of comments in the book about running low magic campaigns.

His idea of a magic item is to give further fire or cold protection. Like 5pts.

Any Takers?
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First Post
If that's the game the DM has planned and prepared to run, then more power to him. Maybe a better question for you is how to construct your character(s) to deal with this situation, instead of finding ammunition to browbeat your DM with that he's somehow "mistaken" in his campaign choices.


First Post
Well, you might want to go buy better armor and use a shield. Why is he not giving bonus items? Has he also gotten rid of DR? Has he altered the monsters to reflect that you are not as powerful as an average 5th level character should be?

Basically this really hurts the non casters. Casters at least have magic that can compinsate some of the lose of these types of magical items.


First Post
Anything that gets DR/+? should have it's CR increased by 2 for every five points of DR and +1.

i.e. a 5/+2 DR would yield CR +6.


Well, if there's a spellcaster in your party, he/she should take some Craft xxx feats. Imagine-you'd be the only people in the world with magic items! Fame and power would be yours!

Good thing none of those NPC clerics and wizards thought of that, eh?


Your DM should try a different gamesystem --GURPS, HERO, or even RuneQuest would all work FAR better for a low-magic game. Why try to "brow-beat" D&D into something it wasn't meant for?


serves Gnome Master
Get your party casters to help you out with Mage Armour, Haste, Cat's Grace and most importantly Greater Magic Weapon and (Greater) Magic Vestment

Also, does your DM seem to be knowing what he is doing, ie: he knows he is affecting balance a lot, and won't be able to use the CR system? If he does, no worries: He is probably jsut trying a different flavour of campaign. Has he restricted the wizard spell list as well?

Otherwise, if he has not: when you get a blow that drops half of your hitpoints away, immediatly disengage and stand behind the spellcasters, which should be shielded, mage armoured or Barkskinned and hence have a kick ass AC compared to you. get a longspear or halberd and fight from behind them. As soon as he sees you resort to that, he should see the error of his ways.



First Post
spelll casters???

I have tried that already. He tells me that we have 3 spell casters alread... cleric, druid, ranger. Albeit, the ranger has one spell i think at fifth level.

I tried getting him to let me me play a mage. he said he prefered not.

One thing that he hints at is items becoming magical on their on thru use. We are at fifth level now, and I asked how long it is going to take in levels, from now, and he said it takes a long time before it happens.

I am still looking for a solid argument explaining why dnd3rd edition breaks down with out the pluses to defense at highter levels. Maybe some one from WOTC can explain it in a note?



First Post
Rav: good suggestion dropping back when my hit points tank.

When i told him my barbarian wants to go and get a plate shirt, he suggested i take a master work studded leather. I will take him up on it, so that when I charge and rage my AC will drop to 11. Then I can use the spell casters as shields.

Maybe after I loose a few characters he will get 'it'


First Post
jodasi said:
I am still looking for a solid argument explaining why dnd3rd edition breaks down with out the pluses to defense at highter levels.

Here's the deal. If your DM tones down the encounters, taking into account that you are a far less powerful group than normal (i.e. wimpy), then you actually won't run into a problem. It can work. It would be boring for me though.

However, if your DM does not tone down the encounters, and he does not take into account that you are a far less powerful group than normal (i.e. wimpy), then the death rate will be staggeringly high, the game will seem impossibly difficult, and your DM will be scratching his head wondering what went wrong. No doubt he'll figure it out quick.

Either could be the case.


First Post
I'm of two opinions.

First, stop whining. Nothing wrong with a low-magic 3E game, as long as your DM can adjust. CRs of various creatures will go up, and in general mages will outpace fighter-types more unless their spell selection is restricted.

Second, your DM doesn't sound like he's adjusting. So you *should* be whining, and I take it all back. I get the feeling he really doesn't understand that in 3E, unfortunately, magic items make the man. They certainly make the fighter, especially at high levels. Like your own. You're going to get chewed up and but good. You may end up simply having to leave the campaign -- he definitely sounds like a wanker. Until then, I'd just charge into combat blindly, get mowed down, die . . . and then roll up a non-meat character. Or at least someone that can wear heavy armor.

Paladin might not be a bad call. You get spells, you have good reason to have full plate . . .


First Post
Ravellion said:
...the spellcasters, which should be shielded, mage armoured or Barkskinned and hence have a kick ass AC compared to you.

Strangely enough, this got me thinking...if spellcasters are the only people that can beef themselves up this good in this homebrew setting, then it would stand to reason that spellcasters would be feared across the lands. Heck, they might even rules the lands, so that effectively eliminates all non-spellcasting classes, relegating them down to meager NPC commoner-type classes. How wierd.


First Post
CR 1 and 2 creatures will continue to be challeging through character levels 6-12 with no arcane caster and no magic items. Feats like great cleave will be important to have since you will fight low level creatures for almost all of your adventuring career. The way to balance xp is always use the 1-3 level row for every encounter. I'd say divide the party level by 3 and round up to get the effective party level.


First Post
dcollins said:
If that's the game the DM has planned and prepared to run, then more power to him. Maybe a better question for you is how to construct your character(s) to deal with this situation, instead of finding ammunition to browbeat your DM with that he's somehow "mistaken" in his campaign choices.

You know a DM is 'mistaken in his campaign choices' when his own players don't want to play that kind of game.

We had situations like this in the past and the best way to solve this is to talk to the DM about what YOU expect as players. Otherwise (or if he doesn't change his mind after that discussion), people will slowly stop showing at the game and the DM will be left alone.

A Dm is the god of his own world, true.... But a god without followers is a sorry sight...
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First Post
I've played in such a campaign. There is really no reason that it can't work well. The GM just has to keep in mind that creatures with damage resistance are much tougher. This should be less of a problem when the revised rules come out.

I'd be willing to bet that most of the people who say it doesn't work well haven't played in such a campaign. It can work. You just have to keep in mind that some creatures are going to be a little tougher than their CR would imply. I would recommend that character be given higher than normal ability scores to compensate somewhat for the lack of magic items. Perhaps increasing a score every 2 levels instead of every 4 would be a good idea.


First Post
I've played in such a game twice. Once, it worked out cause the DM knew what he was doing and worked hard to make effective challenges. The other time, well, you can guess what happened.

The CR system is based on a balanced party of four PC's with normal stats and appropriate gear for their level. Since most gear ends up being magical, not having said magic gear makes you much weaker than a regularly equipped person. (As has been noted many a time already.)


The major problem ISN'T that - it's the fact that a lack of magic which isn't reliant on spellcasters means that the comparative power level of a spellcaster goes through the roof.

Take a look at some of the threads debating how 'overpowered' the cleric is when he spells himself up. Now take all the magic items out of the comparisons... The cleric ends up vastly superior.


I have played in several "low-magic" (and even "no-magic") campgains and, IME, they simply don't work well. DND is NOT designed for that sort of campaign. Yes, a DM could force the game to work for that type of game -- just like he could make DND work for a Vampire game. But why would you want to go to that much trouble to rewrite DND when there are plenty of games better suited to low-magic fantasy?

If someone is dead-set on running such a game anyway, here are some things to consider addressing:

(1) CR (as mentioned by others) is based on the assumption that the party will have a certain level of magic available. Moreover, some abilities (flight, DR, spell-like powers, etc.) are FAR more valuable in a low-magic setting and so CR should be adjusted accordingly.

(2) Combat in DND is built around defensive and healing magics being available. I would strongly suggest implementing a variant combat system (perhaps defensive bonuses and vitality/wound points from Star Wars D20). Otherwise, combat will both be less deadly and more poorly simulate the genre. Another option may be Ken Hood's "Grim and Gritty" combat system.

(3) Characters in DND rarely have the type of unusual abilities and breadth of skills that heroes in fantasy novels possess. Feats in 3E help but, given the limited number of feats and skill points, magic items really fill this role in DND. You should consider boosting the number of skill points and feats since magic items are rare.

(4) If the classes are unaltered, be aware that they will become less-balanced in such a campaign. Classes with spell-casting and innate magic abilities will have a clear advantage over those who don't.

If you're willing to take all these factors into account and alter DND so that it will work for such a game, more power to you! Seriously, if you go to this much effort consider publishing your work -- there is obviously a market for "low-magic D20" (really more accurate than "low-magic DND", I think).

Fenes 2

First Post
I DM 2 campaigns where the first magic items were received at approximately level 10. Specifically, even at level 14 our barbarian has no magic armor, so his AC is 15 when raging (Mage Armor and Dex). It works. As a DM I just adjust the foes accordingly. I don't use the CR system for more than a rough guideline, use mor classed humans as opponents and less monsters, and always go through the PCs options when building an adventure. I don't assume that they will be able to handle a cr14 encounter without thinking it through.

As far as AC is concerned, even with few magic armor items you can, with expertise and fighting defensively, reach a respectable AC - since no one has much magic, the foes are easier to hit as well.

We don't have many spellcasters, and no clerics, and have adjusted the spells as well, so it is balanced.

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