The limiting drawback of character customization

R_J_K75

Explorer
I have to admit I am super-skeptical of all the "I don't customize at all!" people. I strongly suspect that in 9/10 cases if I looked at the sheets of the PCs in your groups, many would have exactly the items they might want.
Why is that so hard to believe? Last treasure I gave out was from the PCs robbing a rangers grave from which there was a +1 bow, bracers of archery and a ring of animal friendship. I gave way more consideration to what would logically be in a rangers grave rather than if Im making sure that my players can use or want the items. One of the party rogues ended up with the ring, talking to porcupines wasnt very high on his list of priorities.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I have to admit I am super-skeptical of all the "I don't customize at all!" people. I strongly suspect that in 9/10 cases if I looked at the sheets of the PCs in your groups, many would have exactly the items they might want.
I'm sure nothing I post will change your mind; I know how internet forums work ;). But it's not all that unusual. Look at many of the replies here? And for my table and group, we like finding the unknown treasure and finding out what it is. It gives more mystery to the game, and reinforces the living world concept we all prefer. If we knew we'd get magic items we all wanted, it would make the game feel just like an exercise in optimization, and we don't like that.

So we're either all lying here, or we do in fact don't customize 🤷‍♂️
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
I'm sure nothing I post will change your mind; I know how internet forums work ;). But it's not all that unusual. Look at many of the replies here? And for my table and group, we like finding the unknown treasure and finding out what it is. It gives more mystery to the game, and reinforces the living world concept we all prefer. If we knew we'd get magic items we all wanted, it would make the game feel just like an exercise in optimization, and we don't like that.

So we're either all lying here, or we do in fact don't customize 🤷‍♂️
I agree 100% with every word youve said here. Ive been playing D&D for 35+ years, and randomly generating treasure has always been the way weve run games, whether it be by rolling on tables, or using the treasure provided in modules. Are there rare occassions that an item has intentionally placed in a game, of course but it is very few and far between. I legimately (as I suspect most of the replies have) gave an honest answer to the OP question. What would I get from lying, nothing. Its skepticism like this, or the arguments that inevitably creep into most threads that makes me question more and more with each passing day whether participating in these conversations is worth my time. Its just a game, one we all play to socialize and have fun, shouldnt be taken too/so seriously.
 
I've done it both ways, depending on the genre, the rules used, and table preference.

If the PCs are implicitly destined to be Heroes! with elaborate backgrounds and high-AC plot armor, they'll eventually get most of the stuff they need to flesh out their character as they envision it. If the party is a bunch of faceless interchangeable zeroes haplessly wandering though a whimsical old-school nightmare, they're stuck with what they find. And in reality, games I've been involved usually in fall somewhere in the middle.

It's all good. It just boils down to whatever game experience the tablefolk want for that campaign.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
Here’s my contribution: When running D&D, I’ve always rolled for treasure or stuck with what has been placed in a pre-written adventure, and I still do that in 5E with one exception: If a PC has an personal characteristic, particularly a bond, that relates to acquiring a particular item or type of item, or even just has such a short or long term goal, then the availability of such an item is going to be an issue that comes up in that character’s dealings with NPCs and the world in general, which can eventually lead to the item itself manifesting in the fiction.
 
So we're either all lying here,
Couldn't pick a better place to do it. Shield of on-line anonymity, forum policy that insulates us from being openly /called/ liars. "You, sir, are factually incorrect!" :lol:
I have to admit I am super-skeptical of all the "I don't customize at all!" people. I strongly suspect that in 9/10 cases if I looked at the sheets of the PCs in your groups, many would have exactly the items they might want.
The old-school random tables were weighted to fighter-useful items (by extension, cleric-useful armor and thief-useful weapons), and many items had hard limits on who could use them. (OTOH, old-school, low level modules seemed to have an inordinate love of healing potions, +1 daggers, and +1 rings of protection). So, over time, things would sort themselves out. The fighter & cleric would have magic platemail, the fighter the best magic sword they'd found so far (the thief squabbling with equally expendable henchmen over the second best), possibly an intelligent sword (the old joke went, quite possibly /more/ intelligent than fighter wielding it), the magic-user would collect bracers of defense and other protective items and any wands/staves/scrolls specific to that class (likewise the cleric rods/staves/scrolls specific to his class... illusionists & druids tended to fall through the cracks, but there was a chance to find a couple things specific to them, and they could generally piggy-back on their parent class.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen... Be nice plz n_n
Good optimizers optimize themselves to the table they're playing at, not expect the table to conform to their play style. If you know magic items are both prevalent and random, focus on concepts that aren't weapon-limited.
Not everybody customizing is an optimizer though. Maybe I just envision my character with a glaive and want to eventually have a magic one? There is a point in the game where you really need to have a magic weapon just to keep up (because monsters start being immune to non-magic weapons). Call me entitled, but I would expect the DM to work with me to facilitate the kind of character I want to play -of course table variation and stuff-. I really would talk to the DM if I had been playing with a glaive from day one and we hadn't found a magic one yet we were drowning on +1 swords that nobody in the party wanted to use. Ok, hyperbole, but still...
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I do a little bit of both when it comes to magical items when building adventures. I will roll up random treasure for most of it, but then I might also throw in 1 or 2 items that will be picked up by a PC, like the magical lute I threw into an adventure for my bard player. On the other hand, the party has a suit of +1 chainmail that none of them can make use of because none of them have heavy armour proficiency.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Craft requiring a Feat is basically the Wizard or whoever getting screwed over so the rest of the group can have stuff. It would make far more sense to force investment in some sort of "group project", probably in terms of cash and downtime (and adventures?) building a lab/forge to make items than to mechanically steal from a single PC.
You're making a huge assumption here: that it's a PC doing the crafting.

In our games, if someone wants something custom built they can commission it from an artificer - provided they're willing to pay up front and maybe wait a long time (often well over half a year in-game; during which adventuring almost always continues as normal) for completion*.

* - unless the item is something simple like a spell scroll or common potion; those don't usually take long at all.

That's actually a good example of how in many games there aren't three options - there's only find.
Maybe in your experience. In mine there's a very small bit of 'craft' and the rest is about 50-50 split between 'find' and 'buy'. Towns usually have a (completely random!) smattering of items on the market.

I have to admit I am super-skeptical of all the "I don't customize at all!" people. I strongly suspect that in 9/10 cases if I looked at the sheets of the PCs in your groups, many would have exactly the items they might want.
Which would make sense, given that those PCs have probably had lots of time to find what they want/need. The question is, how long did it take them and-or how much effort was involved?

And don't forget that sometimes the character ends up being customized to the item rather than the other way around: some spectacular item is found and a character decides to do whatever has to be done in order to use it. (e.g. change alignment, change proficiency, even change class)

Personally in 5E I use a mix of random and heavily customised (including building new items). This seems to work very well. People don't get entitled but they often find cool or surprising things.
Yeah, I dream up new items as well, but without any idea of who's ever gonna find 'em. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Not everybody customizing is an optimizer though. Maybe I just envision my character with a glaive and want to eventually have a magic one? There is a point in the game where you really need to have a magic weapon just to keep up (because monsters start being immune to non-magic weapons). Call me entitled, but I would expect the DM to work with me to facilitate the kind of character I want to play -of course table variation and stuff-. I really would talk to the DM if I had been playing with a glaive from day one and we hadn't found a magic one yet we were drowning on +1 swords that nobody in the party wanted to use. Ok, hyperbole, but still...
Artificers are your friend.

Take a few of those surplus +1 swords in and ask how much they'll get you toward a custom-built magic glaive. :)
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Why is that so hard to believe? Last treasure I gave out was from the PCs robbing a rangers grave from which there was a +1 bow, bracers of archery and a ring of animal friendship. I gave way more consideration to what would logically be in a rangers grave rather than if Im making sure that my players can use or want the items.
Of course, the logical possessions of an NPC ranger would also correspond strongly to the types of possessions that a PC ranger would want. There is no variable within the chain of logic that cares whether someone is a PC or NPC.

It does raise the question of why there are so few enchanted hand crossbows and rapiers, though, if NPCs have the same priorities that PCs have. My running theory is that most magic weapons are very old, while these weapon types represent newer technology.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen... Be nice plz n_n
And don't forget that sometimes the character ends up being customized to the item rather than the other way around: some spectacular item is found and a character decides to do whatever has to be done in order to use it. (e.g. change alignment, change proficiency, even change class)
Well, if I found a holy avenger, of course I would do everything to be able to use it. No problem with this. My only issue would be if the DM expected me to change my character just to fit the loot by depriving me of the loot I need to keep my character viable.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, if I found a holy avenger, of course I would do everything to be able to use it. No problem with this. My only issue would be if the DM expected me to change my character just to fit the loot by depriving me of the loot I need to keep my character viable.
That implies a lot more specific intent than I suspect many DMs would have.

For my part, if you found yourself being deprived of useable loot it'd be through no other reason than one or both of a) you've made your requirements so esoteric that no random table is ever likely to hit 'em, or b) sheer bad luck. And of these 'b' is by far the more likely. :)
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Well, if I found a holy avenger, of course I would do everything to be able to use it. No problem with this. My only issue would be if the DM expected me to change my character just to fit the loot by depriving me of the loot I need to keep my character viable.
I'm not sure that "viable" is the right word to use here. I can't imagine what kind of escalation would require you to have a Holy Avenger in order to keep up.
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
I'm sure nothing I post will change your mind; I know how internet forums work ;). But it's not all that unusual. Look at many of the replies here? And for my table and group, we like finding the unknown treasure and finding out what it is. It gives more mystery to the game, and reinforces the living world concept we all prefer. If we knew we'd get magic items we all wanted, it would make the game feel just like an exercise in optimization, and we don't like that.

So we're either all lying here, or we do in fact don't customize 🤷‍♂️
It's not binary, and pretending it is, is well, a terribly naughty straw man.

The reality is, I would suggest, that almost all DMs customize treasure, including magic items, for their group. But how much they do it varies wildly. It's this false claim of "purity" I object to. Claims of purity are not only almost never true, they're toxic to honest discussion.

Your post here is a good example of that kind of toxicity (though I accept this is likely accidental and not malicious on your part). You present a totally false binary. You say either it's all totally random, or "we get all the magic items we all want". Neither is the truth. DMs who customize what they give out obviously do not give players "all the magic items they want", do they? Come on. You know that. I know that. We all know that. DMs who rarely "customize" loot, do, in fact, re-roll hoards they think are too generous, or too boring, or inappropriate to any number of things - including the group. I know because I've been at both ends of this spectrum, and I've seen many other DMs who were all over the spectrum, in the last thirty years.

What you also seem to be doing is conflating two different things:

1) Wish lists.

2) Customizing loot.

You seem to think these are the same thing? You talk about "unknown loot", and like that's the only explanation I can see for you saying that - you think these two things are the same thing. They aren't.

Wish lists are a 3.XE/4E phenomenon from when the game hard-expected a certain amount of magic items at a certain level (in 4E it was easy to remove this expectation - they even had optional rules for it - in 3.XE you just had to work around it, and it didn't work well because all the numbers expected certain items at certain levels, particularly the infamous Cloak of Resistance). They lead to customizing loot, but customizing loot does not lead to them. I customize loot, these days, to ensure the PCs get items I know funny shit is going to happen with, or that's going to be really cool, or that's going to cause some sort of amazing crisis or the like (or a narrowly-dodged crisis, which players love). That doesn't mean a player goes "Gee golly Ruin, I sure as heck wish I had a Holy Avenger +5!" and lo and behold, a few sessions later, what should they find! It means I look at the group, and the players, and the characters, and whilst I randomly roll a lot of the loot, I might replace an item here, or add an item there, to make it more fun for everyone involved.

But you're equating this directly with giving people exactly every item they want, and that is simply not how it has ever worked.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
We all know that. DMs who rarely "customize" loot, do, in fact, re-roll hoards they think are too generous, or too boring, or inappropriate to any number of things - including the group. I know because I've been at both ends of this spectrum, and I've seen many other DMs who were all over the spectrum, in the last thirty years.
If you've only encountered DMs who customize their loot, with varying frequency, then you haven't actually been at both endpoints of the spectrum. You might have been to one endpoint (always customized), and spent a lot of time in the middle, but you admit that you've never been to the other endpoint (never customized). Just because you haven't personally encountered it, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

The same can be said of most dichotomies which are claimed to be false. It really is possible to draw a line, just on one side of "never", and claim that everyone on one side belongs to a different group than everyone on the other side.
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
If you've only encountered DMs who customize their loot, with varying frequency, then you haven't actually been at both endpoints of the spectrum. You might have been to one endpoint (always customized), and spent a lot of time in the middle, but you admit that you've never been to the other endpoint (never customized). Just because you haven't personally encountered it, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

The same can be said of most dichotomies which are claimed to be false. It really is possible to draw a line, just on one side of "never", and claim that everyone on one side belongs to a different group than everyone on the other side.
I see someone didn't actually read my posts, but ok.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
I see someone didn't actually read my posts, but ok.
I read this one, at the very least:
The reality is, I would suggest, that almost all DMs customize treasure, including magic items, for their group. But how much they do it varies wildly. It's this false claim of "purity" I object to. Claims of purity are not only almost never true, they're toxic to honest discussion.
You're wrong here. Claims of purity are often true, and failure to believe such claims is what often dooms discussion.

Unless you're being sarcastic or something, and I'm not reading this as intended. If that's the case, then I'll apologize and move on.
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
Unless you're being sarcastic or something, and I'm not reading this as intended. If that's the case, then I'll apologize and move on.
Nah, still missing it, but it's not worth discussing.

I agree that claims of purity are very occasionally (i.e almost never, as I said) true, but when they are, the context around them is incredibly important, and typically completely excluded from the discussion, which leads to them being staggeringly disingenuous. Often the person making the claim is also the one hiding the context, too, in order to, they mistakenly believe, better make a point.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen... Be nice plz n_n
I'm not sure that "viable" is the right word to use here. I can't imagine what kind of escalation would require you to have a Holy Avenger in order to keep up.
Let me explain myself.

I used Holy Avenger as proxy for "Cool rare weapon not everybody can use and is worth customizing the character to." And I said it was ok, given the circumstances I would gladly customize my character to the loot in a case like that.

On the other hand, imagine I have a character that is defined as a glaive user from day 1. It is part of my character's story and a very important part of the identity. I likely went out of the way to gain proficiency with it. I also likely multiclassed or something in order to get the combat style that goes with it. Then we reach a level in which we need to start having magic weapons or in which every standard weapon user already has two attacks and I need a magic version of my weapon to keep contributing. Regardless, tons of magic daggers start showing up in treasure, but no magic glaive ever shows up. (This might sound contribbed, but remember, I hate pew-pew and find blasting extremely boring). At this point I need a magic glaive to at least keep contributing somewhat, that, or throw away an important part of my character and start dualwielding daggers in order to keep up.

Changing my character concept for a holy avenger? likely and very fun. Doing the same out of desperation for a pair of +1 daggers? There's no fun in it.
 

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