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D&D 5E Sane Magic Item Prices

Doctor Futurity

Adventurer
Anyone not using the selling rules in the "downtime" section of the DMG is missing out on the fact that it's pretty hard to get full value on magic items.

Although I agree that the economy of the game is borked, I feel this is nothing unusual for every edition. After four and a half years of a default magic-item economy and massive escalating gold earnings in PF I have thoroughly embraced 5E's distinct non-economy. When PCs go out to find magic items they find that every item generally has an unwilling owner or a quest involved with it. "Want an Alchemist's Jug? Sure, i know a guy in the Capitol who owes me....I just need some gold to get the jug imported, and as a favor I'd appreciate it if you took out a local gang of assassins for me..." "Oh, a broom of flying? I heard that the Witch in the North Mountains knows the secret of how to make one. You'll need to seek out the old cursed duke who knows the secret path to her hut, but he'll probably want you to deal with the banshee that haunts his lands..."

I live in glorious ignorance of concern about everything that the OP has problems with by fully embracing the creation/selling rules and emphasizing the true worth of magic items in my game, such that no one ever sells them. Just pretend it's a gun economy....in a world where almost no one knows how to make guns or bullets, and those who do need to go mine for ore and find the right chemicals on their own in a monster-haunted land.*



*Yes, a gun economy where a saturday night special might be very rare while a bazooka might be uncommon. I'm not sure there's a rule that says you can't have it that way....and even less so now that it seems these are carry-overs from 3.5
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
My players aren't paying me to DM.

I AM paying someone to write the rules.

There's a bit of a difference in expected standard there.

Further to that, it's far more useful to me if the D&D community admits that there's something screwy with the magic item prices and actually assess the impact of house rules in those areas than crusade onwards with the attitude that since a good DM can fix all the rules themselves the rules are perfect and noone should publish improvements to them.
From a 3e standpoint, the 5e magic item creation and economy rules are a cruel joke and completely unusable.

That doesn't mean the 5E approach is objectively wrong or can't be used.

It does mean 5e is completely unsupportive of your preferred playing style; which to me, is a significant omission.

There's no need quarreling whose playstyle is better, and the long threads on "magic shoppes are evil" are merely exhausting.

The constructive path forward would be to recognize that the players who wish to play without a functional magic item economy have everything they need, while the players who like such an economy don't.

So when the conversion guides finally come out, I want an updated d20-style pricing and creation subsystem to top the list for the 3e-to-5e document.

Finally there's a group of posters who actively want to deny us these rules merely because they can't resist it once it's there, but those negative fun-killers can go xxxx themselves.
 

I accept the rebuke. The meat of the post was written as an introduction for the forum where I'm maintaining the tables, but looking back at it I can see how it would be less effective where people have to go to the extra effort of deciding to click on a link rather than automatically being presented with the more calmly worded readme and tables. In my defense, actually describing a representative example of the DMG system's failure is rather more convincing than just saying "Hey, I think the DMG's magic item prices are bad, take my word for it". The latter would likely have lead us along a different, but not particularly more productive path.
The fly problem is a good example of some of the pricing quirks. Leading with the link piques the curiosity and the fly item extended example could be the follow up justification for why the change is needed.

A different tone would have also made a world of difference. It's a harsh critique and comes across as aggressive. Confrontational. Being lighter and more flippant makes it easier to accept ("What is the deal with potion of fly? It's 25,000gp for one use. You can buy an airship for that price. Is it a brand thing? Does Nike have exclusive rights? Is the primary ingredient saffron? You know, I bet it's a TSA thing. All that security screening is expensive and you can't just let anyone fly.")
 

jgsugden

Legend
....The thing is, that model produces much, much higher prices for a lot of basic magic items than those in the DMG. And it still doesn't explain all the items that are in blatantly the wrong place relative to one another. I can absolutely accept that the dagger of venom sells for 5,000 gold(enough to buy a guildhall). I can't really accept that the dagger of venom is selling for a guildhall while the broom of flying is only worth a good horse. Even with each being priced individually without full context or full information that just doesn't make much sense.
When someone tells you to ignore the prices in the DMG and treat it like a free economy - with the DM setting the prices to fit the situation - saying the approach doesn't work because the prices are not well placed relative to each other doesn't really line up.

Think of it this way: Magic items are big purchases like jewelry, cars and houses. Although you might find some channels where these have a fixed price, it is more common for these things to be sold via negotiated pricing. Role play the sale.
 

Saidoro

Explorer
[MENTION=37579]Jester Canuck[/MENTION]. Yeah, replacing crass humor with odious corniness is not my take-away here. I do appreciate the thought, though.
When someone tells you to ignore the prices in the DMG and treat it like a free economy - with the DM setting the prices to fit the situation - saying the approach doesn't work because the prices are not well placed relative to each other doesn't really line up.

Think of it this way: Magic items are big purchases like jewelry, cars and houses. Although you might find some channels where these have a fixed price, it is more common for these things to be sold via negotiated pricing. Role play the sale.
When you tell your dealer which car you would like there is an amount of money that they will expect to be making off of you and an amount of money below which they will not be selling you a car at all. You may not know what these amounts are, they obviously aren't going to tell them to you since they hope to increase the first number as much as they can, but they still exist. My lists are perfectly compatible with negotiated prices, the numbers I'm giving just becomes a starting point rather than an absolute.
 


jgsugden

Legend
...When you tell your dealer which car you would like there is an amount of money that they will expect to be making off of you and an amount of money below which they will not be selling you a car at all...
Not entirely true for cards and not true for other items that share the key traits with magic items: High value and uniqueness.

Let's say they get a 2015 Pinto and it doesn't sell at cost. Does a dealer hold it on the lot forever? Does it fill up valuable real estate on the lot until someone eventually buys the hunk of junk? No, they sell it at a loss to make room for something they can move at a profit.

The same is true of a House or Expensive Jewelry. Sometimes you sell it at a profit, sometimes at a loss - it all depends on how much you think you can get and how badly you need to move it.

In the end, these unique high value items are sold for what the sellers believe they can get for them. The car is a bit more stable in the pricing, but that is because it is a bit more cookie cutter of a product than you see with jewelry or houses.... or magic items. High value and unique items, like magic items, houses, expensive jewelry and antique furniture have prices determined by what the market will allow.

If a standard guideline for prices gives DMs an easy out to just say, "Pay the list price". DMs don't have to do it, but it is easy to do and I've seen it in the 5 decades I've played this game. It makes magic items feel more cookie cutter and less special - more Blue Light Special and less Secrets of the Mystic Arcana. More, "Would you like Fries with that Giantbane Longsword +2?" and less, "You hold in your hands the Blade of Algalorn, last of the Giantslayers and King of the Dead Marshes... a treasure beyond compare."

A list of prices is easy. Easy is not always better.
 

Saidoro

Explorer
Let's say they get a 2015 Pinto and it doesn't sell at cost. Does a dealer hold it on the lot forever? Does it fill up valuable real estate on the lot until someone eventually buys the hunk of junk? No, they sell it at a loss to make room for something they can move at a profit.

The same is true of a House or Expensive Jewelry. Sometimes you sell it at a profit, sometimes at a loss - it all depends on how much you think you can get and how badly you need to move it.

In the end, these unique high value items are sold for what the sellers believe they can get for them. The car is a bit more stable in the pricing, but that is because it is a bit more cookie cutter of a product than you see with jewelry or houses.... or magic items. High value and unique items, like magic items, houses, expensive jewelry and antique furniture have prices determined by what the market will allow.
Yes, occasionally a car or house or other expensive item will be sold at a loss, but that is quite obviously not the typical expected case. Most cars are sold for a profit. And if you evaluate a house you will find that it has a price. And if you evaluate a piece of jewelry you will find that it has a price. And if you evaluate a piece of furniture you will find that it has a price. Several people may disagree about what that price is, but they are likely to be clustered somewhat rather than randomly distributed across the entire number line.

A list of prices is easy. Easy is not always better.
There already exists a list of prices in the DMG. I am not making more of a list of prices than already exists. I am making a list of prices which is better.

EDIT: Or rather, the items are already priced, since the phrasing above was a bit unclear.
 
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Saeviomagy

Adventurer
If a standard guideline for prices gives DMs an easy out to just say, "Pay the list price". DMs don't have to do it, but it is easy to do and I've seen it in the 5 decades I've played this game. It makes magic items feel more cookie cutter and less special - more Blue Light Special and less Secrets of the Mystic Arcana. More, "Would you like Fries with that Giantbane Longsword +2?" and less, "You hold in your hands the Blade of Algalorn, last of the Giantslayers and King of the Dead Marshes... a treasure beyond compare."

... well, except for the fact that it's only worth about twice what a potion of flying is worth. Along with any other number of comparisons you can make, some of which may not be glowing. "Beyond compare" is a literary construct that really means nothing.

Also - your example defeats your argument: the existence of a price list doesn't cause the cookie cutterness. The importance of the item, and the rarity of it does. It doesn't matter if I can sell Algalorn for 25,000 gold. It matters that I can't buy it, and that I don't have a sword that is better than it. If my party already has weapon options that are better than Algalorn (which can include non-magical options - a polearm specialist likely won't use it even if the alternative is his non-magical halberd), it's history won't stop me from putting it in a golf bag of weapons for a rainy giant hunting day and forgetting about it. Neither will a lack of a price to buy/sell it.

No matter what, very few people are going to be excited if they get a potion of flying without an awful lot of setup from the DM. So there is really no harm at all in sticking a price on it.
 

Hussar

Legend
Having seen this come up before, I really have to ask, why not simply use 3e prices? The Hypertext SRD has pricing for every single 5e magic item. Poof, done.
 

Saidoro

Explorer
Having seen this come up before, I really have to ask, why not simply use 3e prices? The Hypertext SRD has pricing for every single 5e magic item. Poof, done.
1) No it doesn't. Check Wand of the War Mage, Sword of Sharpness and staff of the adder within the first 15 lines of my weapon table.
2) The rules for how a massive number of those items which are common to 3e work have changed. The old prices are not necessarily useful. Check Vicious Weapon, Adamantine Armor, Mithral Armor, Sword of Life-Stealing, Dagger of Venom, Ioun Stone Protection, Bracers of Archery, Circlet of Blasting, Javelin of Lightning and the Prayer bead of smiting within the first 15 lines of my weapon table.
So there are...2 items out of 15 to which the old prices might reasonably apply.
 

Hussar

Legend
Meh.

Vicious weapon, minimum 8000 gp in 3e, 5000 gp in 5e. Close enough. Since it does less damage, and no backlash, I'd say you're about right.
Adamantine armour: ok, fair enough. That one's a lot more expensive in 3e.
Mithril armour: +500 gp in 5e, Mithril shirt 1100 gp in 3e. Yup, close enough.
Sword of Life Stealing is yanked from 4e, use those prices.
Dagger of Venom - 3e 8000 gp, 5e 5000 gp. Close enough.

I'm too lazy to go through the rest of the list, but, sheesh, how picky are you going to be here? If you want fungible magic items in 5e, you're probably going to want to raise the prices anyway, just to keep things in line. I'm really not seeing the issue here.
 

Wik

First Post
You know what I've been doing? At the end of every adventure, the PCs get invited to a "night market" held by the magic item smugglers known as the Gray Wizards. These events have a couple dozen items (mostly magical, but also weird things, like a petrified pseudodragon) for sale. I list a starting cost for the item (I use the item's base price as a starting point, but have the Gray Wizards modify this based on what they think they can get for it).

I then have the PCs put in a bid, like a silent auction.

Before this, I figured out what the max bid on each item was going to be, using a random system that's a bit convoluted to explain here. But, basically, it turns buying magical items into a fun game. And it turned last week's session into one where the PCs got together all of their funds to make sure they'd get the Doss Lute (base price 500). They spent over 1K to get the thing, and now they're super low on funds.

Highly recommend this system as a way to get rid of excess wealth. And it keeps the spirit of 5e rules, by having one less section to reference to keep things solid. Prices for magic items SHOULD fluctuate wildly, in my own opinion.

But still, if it works in your game, more power to ya.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Meh.

Vicious weapon, minimum 8000 gp in 3e, 5000 gp in 5e. Close enough. Since it does less damage, and no backlash, I'd say you're about right.
Adamantine armour: ok, fair enough. That one's a lot more expensive in 3e.
Mithril armour: +500 gp in 5e, Mithril shirt 1100 gp in 3e. Yup, close enough.
Sword of Life Stealing is yanked from 4e, use those prices.
Dagger of Venom - 3e 8000 gp, 5e 5000 gp. Close enough.

I'm too lazy to go through the rest of the list, but, sheesh, how picky are you going to be here? If you want fungible magic items in 5e, you're probably going to want to raise the prices anyway, just to keep things in line. I'm really not seeing the issue here.
That means your opinion holds little value.

I can tell you for a fact that you are severely underestimating the work and diligence required to implement 3e style pricing and creation guidelines in 5e, and how dismissive you come across when you tell us you don't see a problem while openly admitting you haven't studied the issue at depth.

But I won't, because you have ignored that message in the past, and show zero inclination in listening now.
 

Hussar

Legend
Sorry but I am missing the difficulty. Most 5e items fall within 3e price ranges. We've had this discussion before. Yeah there's some flinch factor but they're close enough.

Do you honestly think that if wotc did do a full price list for 5e items, the prices would be radically different from 3e?
 

Saidoro

Explorer
Meh.

Vicious weapon, minimum 8000 gp in 3e, 5000 gp in 5e. Close enough. Since it does less damage, and no backlash, I'd say you're about right.
Adamantine armour: ok, fair enough. That one's a lot more expensive in 3e.
Mithril armour: +500 gp in 5e, Mithril shirt 1100 gp in 3e. Yup, close enough.
Sword of Life Stealing is yanked from 4e, use those prices.
Dagger of Venom - 3e 8000 gp, 5e 5000 gp. Close enough.
I put vicious weapon at 350 gold, a full order of magnitude less than in 3e. This is because it does over an order of magnitude less damage per hit than in 3e. Adamantine armor in 3e gave damage reduction. In 5e it only negates critical hits, again, having an effect which is less powerful by orders of magnitude. Hence why I put it at 500. 4e is not OGL so I, along with many other people can't actually use that, and I suspect that even if I could the price for the sword of life stealing would be wrong. In 3e, the Dagger of venom was a free action to activate while it's an action in 5e. Additionally, the 3e version provided a debuff using the poison spell while the 5e version just tacks on a bit of damage. Do you really think that those are doing the same thing?
Do you honestly think that if wotc did do a full price list for 5e items, the prices would be radically different from 3e?
Given that my prices are radically different? Yes. Obviously. That is an absolutely absurd question to be asking given the things that you know.
 

Hussar

Legend
I understand that your prices are radically different Saidoro. Fair enough. That wasn't my question. My question was do you honestly think, considering that the 5e prices right now, more or less follow 3e pricing, WOTC would come up with the same pricing that you do? Really? I have my doubts. I think that if they did actually bring out a price list, it would look suspiciously like 3e (with a bit of 4e tacked on) and you'd still be very unhappy.

I mean, you talk about the Dagger of Venom. 5e Dagger of Venom carries the Poisoned rider for one minute - disadvantage on attacks and checks. The 3e version deals temporary Con damage, an expression that doesn't carry over. Again, not seeing the huge difference. DR2 for Adamantine armour or Negates Crits in 5e seems pretty much on par. And doesn't negate the Heavy Armor Specialization feat. Cool. And Vicious does "an order of magnitude" more damage? Bit hyperbolic no? In 3e, Vicious deals 2d6 damage with a d6 to the user. In 5e it deals 7 extra damage on a crit. Seems pretty on par to me.

But, hey, like I said, I don't see the problem here. I think you're picking nits and trying to make things a lot more complicated than they need to be. I like to keep things simple. For me, the simplest answer would be to use the 3e SRD prices. For the majority of items in the DMG, the prices are a bit higher than 5e, but, again, if you're buying these things, and giving away money like water, that's probably a good thing.

Me, I'm in a 5e Dragonlance game right now and we're 8th level. Our biggest haul was recently with 3000 gp for each PC. Before that, I think no one had seen more than 500 gp at one time. We've managed to buy a grand total of 2 uncommon items for any one PC. I prefer a setting where every random lizard man doesn't carry rubies. Where you actually have to adventure a long time to make a living. The whole 3e thing where you had thousands of gp in personal wealth by 7th level never made much sense to me. Why am I continuing to adventure? I've got enough personal wealth to retire, so, why am I not retiring?

Someone earlier mentioned how Horde gave so little treasure. To me, that's the way it should be.
 

Saidoro

Explorer
I understand that your prices are radically different Saidoro. Fair enough. That wasn't my question. My question was do you honestly think, considering that the 5e prices right now, more or less follow 3e pricing, WOTC would come up with the same pricing that you do? Really? I have my doubts. I think that if they did actually bring out a price list, it would look suspiciously like 3e (with a bit of 4e tacked on) and you'd still be very unhappy.
Let's put it this way: I think it's possible that it might look like the 3e lists, but only through massive ineptitude on WotC's part.
I mean, you talk about the Dagger of Venom. 5e Dagger of Venom carries the Poisoned rider for one minute - disadvantage on attacks and checks. The 3e version deals temporary Con damage, an expression that doesn't carry over. Again, not seeing the huge difference. DR2 for Adamantine armour or Negates Crits in 5e seems pretty much on par. And doesn't negate the Heavy Armor Specialization feat. Cool. And Vicious does "an order of magnitude" more damage? Bit hyperbolic no? In 3e, Vicious deals 2d6 damage with a d6 to the user. In 5e it deals 7 extra damage on a crit. Seems pretty on par to me.
I actually did miss the rider on the dagger of venom. I'll revise its price to reflect that. It would still, however, be an extraordinary coincidence if a price designed for one effect just happened to also be the correct price for another effect. DR 3 from adamantine armor in 3.5 prevents 3 points of damage per attack (and it was terribly overpriced for that effect, I don't think I've ever seen someone buy it). Assuming a weapon that deals 2d6 base damage, 5e adamantine armor prevents 7/20 damage per attack. Likewise, 3e vicious deals literally an order of magnitude more damage. 7 damage on a natural 20 is 7/20 damage per attack. 2d6 damage per hit with a 50% hit rate is 7/2 damage per attack. That was not the slightest bit hyperbolic.
 

Hussar

Legend
Let's not forget our vicious weapon in 3e is dealing a d6 damage to the user each hit as well. Sure, it's doing ten times more damage, maybe, but, it's killing the user to do that. Compare the effect to other similar weapons and off you go. There is no absolute value here, it's all relative. What's +7 on a crit worth? Well, considering getting +7 damage in 5e isn't easy, it's worth quite a bit actually. And, in the hands of a Champion, this is a weapon that's no longer 7/20, but now 7/19-20, or 7/18-20. Depends on who's using it doesn't it? Combine that with Action Surge, at higher levels, that's likely popping up every combat.

Calculate it this way. A fight generally lasts 4 rounds. That's 12 attacks for my 15th level Champion. Give me one round of advantage, and that's 15 d20 die rolls. With a crit range of 18-20, that mean I'm pretty sure of getting one crit. Considering it's not unreasonable to get advantage at least once in a given combat, that means Vicious will kick in most combats. What's a +7 to damage worth when it happens every combat? It's a rare item, which is reasonable for a 15th level character. So, again, how much is a highly likely +7 to damage every fight? Sure, it won't kick in every round, but, it will kick in most fights.

Not a bad little item anymore. Bit situational, but, in the right hands, works very sweet.

Is a Holy Avenger worth more or less because only Paladins can use it?
 
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Saidoro

Explorer
Let's not forget our vicious weapon in 3e is dealing a d6 damage to the user each hit as well. Sure, it's doing ten times more damage, maybe, but, it's killing the user to do that. Compare the effect to other similar weapons and off you go. There is no absolute value here, it's all relative. What's +7 on a crit worth? Well, considering getting +7 damage in 5e isn't easy, it's worth quite a bit actually. And, in the hands of a Champion, this is a weapon that's no longer 7/20, but now 7/19-20, or 7/18-20. Depends on who's using it doesn't it? Combine that with Action Surge, at higher levels, that's likely popping up every combat.

Calculate it this way. A fight generally lasts 4 rounds. That's 12 attacks for my 15th level Champion. Give me one round of advantage, and that's 15 d20 die rolls. With a crit range of 18-20, that mean I'm pretty sure of getting one crit. Considering it's not unreasonable to get advantage at least once in a given combat, that means Vicious will kick in most combats. What's a +7 to damage worth when it happens every combat? It's a rare item, which is reasonable for a 15th level character. So, again, how much is a highly likely +7 to damage every fight? Sure, it won't kick in every round, but, it will kick in most fights.

Not a bad little item anymore. Bit situational, but, in the right hands, works very sweet.
It does not activate on a critical hit, only on a natural 20. Furthermore, even if it did work, it would only deal 21/20 extra damage per attack, just barely more than 1. Which makes it about as good as a +1 weapon. A +1 weapon adds ((1 * hit chance)+(damage per hit/20)) damage per attack, which works out to a pretty similar number. And yes, the self damage was absolutely a drawback of the old one, but it wasn't and isn't nearly enough of one to make the prices at all similar.
Is a Holy Avenger worth more or less because only Paladins can use it?
Precisely the same. Most of the price is from being a mantle of spell resistance for you and all of your friends at once.
 

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