Wand of the War Mage, Rod of the Pact Keeper, and Saving Throw DCs

MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
So the rod of the pact keeper grants a bonus to both spell attacks and spell DCs but only works for Warlocks. Wand of the war mage be attuned by any spell caster, but it only grants the bonus to attack. The two have the same rarities. Is there a clear design reason for this?

Does anybody see any issue with house-ruling wand of the war mage to also improve spell DCs?
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
One thing to consider is that Wizards have many more area effect spells than warlocks, so the improvement of save DCs will go further than improving a warlock‘s save DC, whose spells are typically more focused on one or two targets. so a wizard with an item that improves save DCs is a great find for the wizard. Other than that, I don’t see a lot of harm caused by allowing such a house rule.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
The magic item rarity categories are pretty broad, so not every item is supposed to be perfectly equal to other items of the same rarity. You can have one rare that stretches toward legendary status, and another that barely rises above being uncommon. In which case, you can buff the latter item a little bit and it will still only be rare.
 
Magic items are far from balanced. You can create any variation you like. Might I suggest a different kind of arcane focus item, maybe an orb, that boosts save DCs instead if attack rolls?

Orb of Incantation (wonderous item, rare, requires attunement by a wizard or sorcerer) When you use this orb as your arcane focus you add +2 to the save DCs of all your spells.

Magic staves often boost attack rolls + DCs + have spell effects.
 

Coroc

Hero
Tbh. DIY is my best advice for DMs. As with CR of mobs, the rarity of magic items and their impact depends on context, namely what is the party composition, what is the general frequency of magic items what (if) are the predominant kind of opponents a party encounters.
e.g. a wand of hold person is of no use in a campaign where mainly animals, demons or undead are encountered, so every classification via rarity and any possible item-power deducted thereof is a rough guess at best.

Some items to be especially careful about to hand out:

Any items which drastically alter AC and worse might stack e.g. ring/amulet/cloak of protection
Any magic armor with high plus e.g. +3 shield.
Any items which allow for easy or uncommon way to travel (e.g. bag of holding, boots of flying, ring of featherfall, waterbreathing items etc.)
Any items which allow trivial access to other planes like foldable portal, codex of infinite planes.
Any items which expand senses, like a crystal ball or a gem of seeing.

Items which have no big impact on settings: +1 weapons, +0, weapons with a +1d4 damage, 1 shot spell scrolls, items which give up to +2 on a single attribute items of <energy>- resistance, magic ammunition etc.
 
Tbh. DIY is my best advice for DMs. As with CR of mobs, the rarity of magic items and their impact depends on context, namely what is the party composition, what is the general frequency of magic items what (if) are the predominant kind of opponents a party encounters.
e.g. a wand of hold person is of no use in a campaign where mainly animals, demons or undead are encountered, so every classification via rarity and any possible item-power deducted thereof is a rough guess at best.

Some items to be especially careful about to hand out:

Any items which drastically alter AC and worse might stack e.g. ring/amulet/cloak of protection
Any magic armor with high plus e.g. +3 shield.
Any items which allow for easy or uncommon way to travel (e.g. bag of holding, boots of flying, ring of featherfall, waterbreathing items etc.)
Any items which allow trivial access to other planes like foldable portal, codex of infinite planes.
Any items which expand senses, like a crystal ball or a gem of seeing.

Items which have no big impact on settings: +1 weapons, +0, weapons with a +1d4 damage, 1 shot spell scrolls, items which give up to +2 on a single attribute items of <energy>- resistance, magic ammunition etc.
I mostly agree.

However, something like a bag of holding is only an issue if you want encumbrance to be important. If you'd prefer to handwave encumbrance, it's a fantastic item that you'll want to introduce as early as possible. Similarly, water breathing items enable adventures that would be difficult or impossible without them. As such, I would view such items as less something to be wary of than toggles that can be enabled based on preference and interest.

I'd also point out that +2 stat items fall under the curtain of stacking bonuses that one should be careful with. Giving a +2 Dex item to a character isn't much different than giving them a ring of protection wrt AC. Even if the item is capped at 20, it is effectively a bonus ASI/feat.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Does anybody see any issue with house-ruling wand of the war mage to also improve spell DCs?
Only with what @Henry noted about other spellcasters and their larger AoE's. Increasing the spell DC of a Sorcerer or a Wizard is potentially more powerful than for Warlocks.

I'd be more inclined to just do away with the Rod of the Pact keeper and just the wand of the war mage in my game. Boost to attacks is good enough and is in line with magical weapons at the same rarity level. I might keep the function of the Rod to recover a Spell slot of up to 5th level once per Long rest as well and fold that into the Wand of the War Mage.
 
I figure that the wand helps with aiming spells, since wands are usually pointed at the target. Rods on the other hand are usually held into the air to channel magic, powering up all spells.
 
Can you elaborate? In addition to Rod of the Pact Keeper, there are a number of other items that also add to save DCs.
I think what he means is that because caster DCs rise with proficiency and stat, and monster saves typically don't, caster DCs don't generally need any help.

IME, it's not that bad with warlocks because they can't cast many spells (unless your party short rests after EVERY encounter).

As for other DC boosting items, I could be mistaken but I believe they are all high in rarity. Meaning that they won't even see introduction to the campaign until high levels in most cases.
 
Can you elaborate? In addition to Rod of the Pact Keeper, there are a number of other items that also add to save DCs.
I'd have any item that added to save DCs or to save DCs & attack rolls add only to attacks. Attack rolls tend to just do damage, and ACs can be plenty high, a caster's likely to be able to choose between two or three saves to target, so can often target a poorer save, 'just better' magic item bonuses on top of that may be a bit much. (Alternately, I might consider letting a bonus apply to both attacks & save DCs, but only for cantrips.)

Also, it's just habit because such things were very rare back in the day (AD&D) - and not rare at all, and DCs were very broken, in 3e.
 

Gwarok

Explorer
The magic item rarity categories are pretty broad, so not every item is supposed to be perfectly equal to other items of the same rarity. You can have one rare that stretches toward legendary status, and another that barely rises above being uncommon. In which case, you can buff the latter item a little bit and it will still only be rare.
That part in bold for sure. I always laugh when I think about "Staff of Fire" vs. "Staff of Power". Both are Very Rare, yet the staff of power can do everything the fire one can, plus a zillion other awesome things, including adding +2(!) to AC, spell attack rolls, and Saving throws while having twice as many charges. I made Stave of Fire do what they do now, but also have a +2 bonus that adds not just to hit, DC, but also increases any fire spell cast through it by 2 levels. Obviously there are +1 and +3 versions as well. But balancing is not exactly a science.
 

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