The limiting drawback of character customization

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
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...
Sure, but as you said, table variation. Someone who wants to give out purely random treasure is arguing that the game needs to prioritize the campaign verisimilitude over the individual character. Arguing that prioritizing character concept (by giving out a tailored magic item) is more important is fundamentally a difference in play style.

Obviously, it's quite possible to meet in the middle (maybe a small side quest to get a magical glaive crafted by sacrificing some other magic item), but there's a deep distinction between those viewpoints that requires a compromise to be reached.

The tricky part is recognizing when a player is building towards concept (I like glaives!) versus when a player is building towards power (I want to use a glaive because Polearm Master is a really strong feat!), and then the power player argues that their power build is actually simply their "character vision", and deserves the same leeway that you might give to a pure concept builder in terms of special campaign tweaks.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Or, talk to your friendly party spellcaster and ask said person to keep some variant of "Magic Weapon" or "Bladethirst" (or whatever equivalent the game has) prepared, to be cast on those occasions when you really do need your glaive to be enchanted e.g. you're fighting something that needs magic to hit. The rest of the time, just rock on as you always have.

Meanwhile, hopefully you've already put some of your accumulated treasure toward commissioning an enchanted glaive to be custom-built for you by the local artificers... :)

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.
Agreed. But think outside the box, and all is never lost. :)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Every time you create an ability for a specific class or a specific feat, you are limiting the ability of others to try and do that same kind of thing without having taken that ability or feat.

So before a player could say "I try to mimic the speech of that guard we met earlier to this other guard" and a DM might say, "OK make a Charisma (Deception) check against his Wisdom (Insight) check to see if he can tell it's a fake" However, once you make the Actor feat, which has that exact language as an aspect of the feat, a DM is far less likely to allow you to try that or at least try it in that way. Because what was the point of spending a highly limited resource like a feat slot to get that ability if anyone could just try it without the feat in the same way?

And this applies to most "customization" options in the game. The more "options" provided to "customize" characters, the less free choice people have to try something on the fly which isn't an option they chose.

Which is why people who play OD&D say it's the game with the most ability to freely play. It lacks the restraints that come with customization options in a massive tome of rules, which has the unintended consequence of limiting those without those options.
I know this behavior isn’t uncommon, but it absolutely boggles my mind.

Anyone can try to trip someone in a fight. The Battlemaster just has a feature that makes them better at it. Same with the skill feats. Some of them were things a lot of people already allowed, but just as many were definite upgrades from what any DM I’ve ever seen would consider allowing without magic or some sort of special feature.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
And this applies to most "customization" options in the game. The more "options" provided to "customize" characters, the less free choice people have to try something on the fly which isn't an option they chose.
Which is why in the Martial Practices redesign I am including without the practice enumerations and the price of said practices is a fungible. (way less limited than feats)
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
In my games there are no long swords. For renaissance setting tech level You get great swords, bastard swords (=long swords), arming swords, Rapier, Katzbalger (short swords), daggers (That's the straight blades), Kriegsmesser (two handed Messer), Langes Messer (one handed Messer), Scimitar, Knife that's the single edged curved ones.

And elves get proficiency in Rapier short sword eventually but never in Longswords.

Long sword stat (= 1d8 /1d10versatile) are the stats I use for bastard sword.

Long sword correct name = Great sword

Long sword mental image (The slender blade things fitting for elves) = rapier
thumbs up for proper naming ...
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
This has some reasons e.g. to provide a character with a useful magic item which would make this character well rounded, but another one would break balance if he got it.
I made a magic ring that would only work for someone with a weak such and such I cannot even remember what it was exactly sheesh it was early 90s because 2 out of 3 player characters were too friggan awesome and the one needed something big. The item was made by a contrarian mad god and this was back in the Stormbringer game so there was no lacking of those.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I like heirloom magic items or rather items which grow with you...
or ones that absorb magic out of what they kill (Stormbringer style again).
or where this item is a +2 because it was wielded by a hero (inherent bonuses and you rub off on it)
I also like Fated Wielders where you are weapon Xs fated wielder and it is your fated weapon of course you find the special one just made for you.
I have had players that wanted to design their own weapons too (so a game with flexible proficiencies where I could declare a bonus for one you designed yourself is fun too) .
I like magic items that will transform to fit the wielder like a one ring that changes size.
I like magics that allow enchantments to be transferred from one magic item to another.

Making "magic" and magic items inflexible out of some simulationist urge (what are you simulating science?) doesn't appeal at all.

And of course character retraining is also on the table and i will sometimes allow pretty dramatic shifts (rebuilds) during downtime even more than the game system normally allows.
 
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Yaarel

Adventurer
I like heirloom magic items or rather items which grow with you...
or ones that absorb magic out of what they kill (Stormbringer style again).
or where this item is a +2 because it was wielded by a hero (inherent bonuses and you rub off on it)
I also like Fated Wielders where you are weapon Xs fated wielder and it is your fated weapon of course you find the special one just made for you.
I have had players that wanted to design their own weapons too (so a game with flexible proficiencies where I could declare a bonus for one you designed yourself is fun too) .
I like magic items that will transform to fit the wielder like a one ring that changes size.
I like magics that allow enchantments to be transferred from one magic item to another.

Making "magic" and magic items inflexible out of some simulationist urge (what are you simulating science?) doesn't appeal at all.

And of course character retraining is also on the table and i will sometimes allow pretty dramatic shifts (rebuilds) during downtime even more than the game system normally allows.
In my settings, all magic items are ultimately psionic magic items. The creator of an item imbues it with ones own mental force, and may do so intentionally or unintentionally.

The item is an extension of the mind of its creator, and inherently furthers the purpose − ideals and goals − of its creator. A particularly sentient item might also exhibit the personality quirks, flaws, and bonds of the creator.

To bond with a magic item, means to be in tune with the mind of its creator. If the item is cooperating, then the new user can further imbue it with ones own mental force, becoming a community of minds working toward its founding purpose.

In this way, a magic item can gain more power as its current user advances in levels. The influence of the new user can even modify the item to some degree.


An example of a magic item, is an heirloom sword that has been passed down thru previous generations, and now exhibits the protective will of ones ancestors.
 

S'mon

Legend
I don't tailor 'random loot drops' to what a player wants; but PCs are free to go out and seek to acquire an item they want. I definitely find an un-tailored approach more interesting. Obviously some editions do have balance concerns around magic items too, though.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen... Be nice plz n_n
The tricky part is recognizing when a player is building towards concept (I like glaives!) versus when a player is building towards power (I want to use a glaive because Polearm Master is a really strong feat!), and then the power player argues that their power build is actually simply their "character vision", and deserves the same leeway that you might give to a pure concept builder in terms of special campaign tweaks.
I'd argue than one is demolishing the game already and the other not?

Edit: Besides if you have a powergamer, the answer is never to just cripple the character
Sure, but as you said, table variation. Someone who wants to give out purely random treasure is arguing that the game needs to prioritize the campaign verisimilitude over the individual character. Arguing that prioritizing character concept (by giving out a tailored magic item) is more important is fundamentally a difference in play style.
Just like we can take my example above in good or bad faith, in this case we can also ask: Is it about game verisimilitude or the DM is just too lazy to change what is written on the adventure? (Also while swords are memetic, spears and polearms are historically the most common kind of weapon, they not showing up even once in magical loot could be argued to be inverosimile too)
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I like heirloom magic items or rather items which grow with you...
or they might be ones that might absorb magic out of what they kill (Stormbringer style).
or where this item is a +2 because it was wielded by a hero (inherent bonuses and you rub off on it)
I also like Fated Wielders where you are weapon Xs fated wielder and it is your fated weapon of course you find the special one just made for you.
have had players that wanted to design their own weapons too (so a game with flexible proficiencies where I could declare a bonus for one you designed yourself is fun too) .
I like magic items that will transform to fit the wielder like a one ring that changes size.
I like magics that allow enchantments to be transferred from one magic item to another.

Making "magic" and magic items inflexible out of some simulationist urge (what are you simulating science?) doesn't appeal at all.

And of course character retraining is also on the table and i will sometimes allow pretty dramatic shifts (rebuilds) during downtime even more than the game system normally allows.
In my settings, all magic items are ultimately psionic magic items. The creator of an item imbues it with ones own mental force, and may do so intentionally or unintentionally.

The item is an extension of the mind of its creator, and inherently furthers the purpose − ideals and goals − of its creator. A particularly sentient item might also exhibit the personality quirks, flaws, and bonds of the creator.

To bond with a magic item, means to be in tune with the mind of its creator. If the item is cooperating, then the new user can further imbue it with ones own mental force, becoming a community of minds working toward its founding purpose.

In this way, a magic item can gain more power as its current user advances in levels. The influence of the new user can even modify the item to some degree.


An example of a magic item, is an heirloom sword that has been passed down thru previous generations, and now exhibits the protective will of ones ancestors.
Maybe psionic sure but I think animistic and organic and ameniable to the living world (captures the thought maybe better), but also tied to the forces of fate like reincarnating heros are, completely distinct from modern and technology driven objects we are used to. It works very well with the attunement concept in 5e.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
In this way, a magic item can gain more power as its current user advances in levels. The influence of the new user can even modify the item to some degree.
An example from Norse Mythology, there was a ring that could duplicate itself effectively providing the individual with liquid funds the duplicates would appear periodically. Now this might be done as just a simple static N gold/silver/coppers per day.

However as a more psionic/daemonic/karmically attuned item the value and nature of the ring itself grows as you level and may tap into karma converting it to gold in a direct way evoke it and create a particularly appealing ring which is appropriate to bribe (I use Karma points as a form of "not gold" Treasure). In 4e terms you gain some level appropriate wealth with some max which creates a progressive standard of living and other things.

There are definitely those who see norse magic as having psionic style foundations btw.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Maybe psionic sure but I think animistic and organic and ameniable to the living world (captures the thought maybe better), but also tied to the forces of fate like reincarnating heros are, completely distinct from modern and technology driven objects we are used to. It works very well with the attunement concept in 5e.
I view psionics as the most accurate way to represent reallife animistic worldviews.

Animism is entirely this-worldly. If it isnt humans that one sees, the wind that one breathes, the plants that one eats, the stones one walks on, the corpses in sacred ancestral burial grounds, the animals roaming − then it doesnt exist. The breath of the dead becomes wind, the bodies of the dead become soil. Human sacred ancestors are all around remaining conscious even while no longer human. There is nothing except this world. And if it isnt in this world, there is nowhere else to go to.

Animism is a worldview where humans experience a personal conscious presence, of meanings, of dreamlike visions, and for some of outofbody projections, and outofbody interactions that influence other minds and objects. Human bodies are minds. Likewise, thunderstorms have conscious presence, birds have a conscious presences, mountains have conscious presences, and an heirloom sword is a conscious presence. Any salient meaningful feature in the world is an influential mindful presence.

Animism is a material world with a mental overlay of interacting conscious minds, whose mindforces mutually influence each other.

Animism is what D&D terminology calls ‘psionics’. (By the way, the Norse call this Hugar ‘mindforces’.) All features of this cosmos have a psionic presence. Especially those places that feel majestic or deadly, sacred or spooky. All minds interact in the same ways within the mindscape, whether human or nonhuman.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
An example from Norse Mythology, there was a ring that could duplicate itself effectively providing the individual with liquid funds the duplicates would appear periodically. Now this might be done as just a simple static N gold/silver/coppers per day.
Right but these mythic symbols arent objects, per se, they are (psionic) mental symbols.

For example, Óðinn has a gold ring that ‘drips’ other gold rings. Óðinn himself is the presence of the astronomic calendar, that synchronizes the order and consistency and repetition of the skyey objects.

The ring also relates to the gold rings (armbands if I recall correctly) that the Alfr Vǫlundr makes over and over again.

In both cases, these gold rings are aspects of the endless cycles of seasons, over and over again. The ring especially relates to the corona of the sun, and the reference to nine is essentially a pregnancy of nine months of winter birthing a sunny summer.

The point is, no ‘magic item’ exists in isolation. Each one is a manifestation of a mind − and is a meaningful symbol − whether the mind is human or nonhuman.
 
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Yaarel

Adventurer
D&D psionics always tends to feel sterile or even as Tony puts it out of genre.
That is because of the modernistic technobabble. Where ‘psionics’ equals ‘psyche + electronics’.

These were modern parapsychology attempts to quantify scientifically human worldviews that continue to exist since prehistoric times even until today.

But ultimately, the word ‘psion’ seems redeemable because it literally means ‘the moving of the soul’ (psykhe - ion). The personal conscious soul can make things move. The form of the mind can influence.

It might be closer to animistic worldviews to use the term ‘mindforces’ or ‘dreamtime’ or so on, instead of ‘psionics’.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
‘Psionics’ is still the preferable term. Because animism is entirely about minds and mental influences.

And the only way to make mental powers clear in D&D is the word ‘psionics’.

Otherwise they just start worshiping ‘gods’ − and F that!
 
Every time you create an ability for a specific class or a specific feat, you are limiting the ability of others to try and do that same kind of thing without having taken that ability or feat.

So before a player could say "I try to mimic the speech of that guard we met earlier to this other guard" and a DM might say, "OK make a Charisma (Deception) check against his Wisdom (Insight) check to see if he can tell it's a fake" However, once you make the Actor feat, which has that exact language as an aspect of the feat, a DM is far less likely to allow you to try that or at least try it in that way. Because what was the point of spending a highly limited resource like a feat slot to get that ability if anyone could just try it without the feat in the same way?
This is why I much prefer feats and abilities that improve upon things that can already be done. Like an Actor feat that said something along the lines of, "When you use Charisma (Deception) to mimic someone's speech, those observing you have disadvantage to their Wisdom (Insight) check to tell that you are a fake."

That is not always what we get out of feats or class abilities, but it is by far what I'd prefer to see.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Right but these mythic symbols arent objects, per se, they are (psionic) mental symbols.
I think of them as Daemonic perhaps as in having life of their own and being part of the worlds cycles like living being are as well. Keying them as symbols abstracts a bit far for me.
 

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