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What's the game balance reason for needing a +1 weapon before enchanting further?

Kid Socrates

First Post
I understand that in the rules that a weapon must first be a +1 before you can put special enchantments on it like flaming, shock, keen, so forth and so on on it. I'm assuming this is for low-level balance, that a lower-level character dealing an extra 1d6 elemental damage per round might tip the scales of balance. I'm just not sure it's that much of a difference.

The rules weigh an enchantment like flaming and shock (+1d6 elemental damage on successful hit) equally with a standard +1 bonus (+1 to hit, +1 to damage). The rules just say you have to have a +1 sword/hammer/what-have-you first before you put a special enchantment on it. Since the rules don't say you have to have a +2 weapon before putting special abilities equal to +2 on it, I assume it's for low-level balance.

The first thing that came to mind is someone putting flaming, frost, and shock on a sword and doing an extra 3d6 of elemental damage per round, and that could add up very quickly. Not sure if that's much beyond 2d6+1, but I'm also not that deep into the math of it.

My reason for asking is that low level magical weapons strike me as boring. I don't know when wealth level recommendations bring it up to +2 equivalent weapons, but all the abilities you can put on a weapon are much more interesting to me than a flat +1-5.

Is lower-level balance the reason they made that design decision, and would removing that enchanting restriction upset that balance?
 

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Nail

First Post
What's the game balance reason for needing a +1 weapon before enchanting further?
So that the special abilities (flaming, holy, etc) aren't too cheap. Although Flaming is only a +1 ability, it's effective cost is +2, because of the prereq. That's a good idea.
 

Nonlethal Force

First Post
And that's about right, since the +1d6 absolutely guarantees the minimum of the +1 to damage that you would get on just a +1 enhancement item.

I know that you don't also get a +1 to attack like you would with a +1 enhancement, but we all know that BAB doesn't scale with AC anyway. If you didn't force +1 enhancements, my guess is that most people woulnd't take too many of them, especially at the start.
 

Rhun

First Post
Because a +1 weapon is only giving you +1 damage, and not a +1 to hit. You already have that because the weapon must be masterwork.

So a Masterwork Flaming longsword is quite a bit better than a standard +1 longsword, if you don't balance things out by saying a weapon must have the +1 enhancement bonus before adding other enchantments.
 

The_Ditto

First Post
Nonlethal Force said:
I know that you don't also get a +1 to attack like you would with a +1 enhancement, but we all know that BAB doesn't scale with AC anyway. If you didn't force +1 enhancements, my guess is that most people woulnd't take too many of them, especially at the start.

yes you do ... that "+0" flaming sword is masterwork .. which gives you the +1 to attack .. ;)
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
In other words, if you don't, the "flaming" or "keen" or whatever is about 6,000 gp cheaper for the same item... :)
 

MINI

First Post
Cost aside I think magic items also get a much greater hardness and resistance to damage (Each +1 adds 2 hardness and 10 hp's). Sinking you money into the item might as well afford you a bit more protection against having it ruined.

Also, flaming or keen are coined as magical abilities but not 'magical'. You can magically enhance something that is first 'magical'. While this may also be related to item cost you just cant simply expect to enhance something not magical with a magical ability. That said you could employ technology in your games to make a sword is designed so that when it clangs it lets out a sonic noise disrupting to the ears of humanoids, dealing an extra d6; its just a mechanical source of damage vs magical.
 

irdeggman

First Post
Don't forget overcoming DR/magic

A flaming weapon that didn't have any + enhancement wouldn't count - sinct the magic refers to an enhancement bonus.

Or would this new type of system bypass that restriction also?
 

Slaved

First Post
I would prefer if the +1 was not required to get more. It would make for more interesting options for magical weapons early on.

A weapon without the +1 would not overcome magic damage reduction I believe so that is a penalty for it.

Flaming itself averages out to being less effective overall than a simple +1 according to some thread around here so the balance issue there should be ok too.

If the +1 to hit from masterwork winds up being a problem then it can be modified to do something else, but I do not think that it would be. It still costs a lot of gold to get there. Although I would prefer for it to make some difference after the first +1. Perhaps the +1 to hit could be replaced with some other minor option once the weapon gets its first magical +1.
 

Nail

First Post
Slaved said:
A weapon without the +1 would not overcome magic damage reduction I believe so that is a penalty for it.
Not at low level it isn't. The balance comes about because of Fire Resistance. As a rule of thumb, +1 atk = +2.5 damage for expected damage calculations.
 

3d6

Explorer
I don't think that there is, honestly.

Compare flaming to a simple +1 enhancement bonus. If you're using a greatsword (and most people seem to be), a +1 enhancement bonus is simply better. You can use Power Attack to convert that +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls into a +3 bonus to damage rolls, which is only 0.5 points of damage less than a flaming weapon, except that the enhancement bonus is multiplied on critical hits, isn't affected by fire resistance, and doesn't require a standard action to activate. The best argument in favor of a flaming weapon is greater magic weapon. Without that, I don't think magical special abilities that give a bonus to damage rolls really have a reason to be, other than the alignment properties use in overcoming damage reduction.
 

Slaved

First Post
You still have to be able to get the weapon. Low levels for having something that is worth over 2300 gold pieces is still at least a few levels in.

Mephits are not out of the question, summon monsters start getting damage reduction around summon monster III, and maybe other things too. Those are just off the top of my head.

Fire resistance is also a factor of course.

Power wise I would choose the +1 weapon. Character wise I would like to have more options. Sometimes having all you really want is a sonic burst weapon because that is what the character would love but you cannot get one until much later because of needing that extra +1 in the front.
 

Elethiomel

First Post
Then there's the popular choice of making a weapon +1 with +9 worth of special abilities and casting Greater Magic Weapon on them. If you don't have to get that first +1 to enchant things at all, this is viable from level 1 with Magic Weapon. Allow Flaming on "+0" weapons and hey presto, you have a +1 flaming weapon for important battles that you know are coming up.
 

SlagMortar

First Post
I'm pretty sure Rhun got it exactly right.
Rhun said:
Because a +1 weapon is only giving you +1 damage, and not a +1 to hit. You already have that because the weapon must be masterwork.
The first +1 enchantment only gives the weapon +1 to damage and allows it to overcome DR/magic.

I know that you don't also get a +1 to attack like you would with a +1 enhancement, but we all know that BAB doesn't scale with AC anyway. If you didn't force +1 enhancements, my guess is that most people wouldn't take too many of them, especially at the start.
This seems to be a popular misconception. Unless you always power attack for your entire base attack bonus, then a +1 to attack is worth at least +2 damage for a two-handed weapon.
 

You know, I understand the balance arguments. I'm not arguing against them.

But to me, it's just cooler if you don't require the +1 enhancement first.

I mean, a sword that's only magical against evil creatures? (Holy, no other enhancement.) Or only magical against the swordsmith's traditional foes? (Bane, no other enhancement.) Or is capable of bursting into flame on command, but no more useful at penetrating a demon's hide?

To me, these are just cool, flavorful concepts for magical or legendary weapons, but they only work if you houserule out the +1 requirement.
 

Croesus

Adventurer
Mouseferatu said:
You know, I understand the balance arguments. I'm not arguing against them.

But to me, it's just cooler if you don't require the +1 enhancement first.

I mean, a sword that's only magical against evil creatures? (Holy, no other enhancement.) Or only magical against the swordsmith's traditional foes? (Bane, no other enhancement.) Or is capable of bursting into flame on command, but no more useful at penetrating a demon's hide?

To me, these are just cool, flavorful concepts for magical or legendary weapons, but they only work if you houserule out the +1 requirement.

Agreed. In our last adventure, one party member got a dagger that can dazzle an opponent on a successful strike, and another found a "life blade" that improves his ability to turn undead. No other abilities - just a couple of effects with some decent flavor.
 

Nonlethal Force

First Post
SlagMortar said:
This seems to be a popular misconception. Unless you always power attack for your entire base attack bonus, then a +1 to attack is worth at least +2 damage for a two-handed weapon.

I suppose - or perhaps I am misinterpreting your post?

But I can't honestly tell you the last time I played with a two-hander. If this was a damage optimalization thread I'd totally support this argument. But, the significant majority of weapons in D&D aren't two-handers. Since they aren't two handers, for the significant majority of weapons the +1 is still a +1 under power atack.

However, like I said. For two handers, I totally support the same conclusion!

If you are playing with a one hander, then except for DR why would you choose a +1 over a +1d6? If the weapon is masterwork, a +1 only guarantees the minimum result of what a +1d6 would give you.

For the record, if the alteration to allow magic options on a weapon without a +1 base, I would allow DR/magic to be overcome by a +1d6. I realize that it would totally make the +1 useless (except for getting to +2) ... but +1d6 anything is still a magical effect. It still makes the weapon a magical weapon, after all.
 

SlagMortar

First Post
I suppose - or perhaps I am misinterpreting your post?
Actually, I may have misinterpreted your post. I thought you were saying that the +1 to hit was irrelevant, not that it was already present in a +0 flaming weapon because the weapon is masterwork. I agree with what you say 100%, if you get the +1 to hit from masterwork anyway. If you already have the +1 to hit from masterwork then there is not much reason to take a +1 enhancement bonus over a +1d6 elemental bonus.

The part about power attack is just pointing out that to-hit bonuses are almost always important even if attack bonuses are as high as AC's because it allows for more power attack with the same chance to hit. Most the time in groups I've played with at least one of the main fighters have wielded two-handers, or at least switched between one and two-handed grips depending on the situation.

I think you are right that, in general, straight plusses benefit a two-hander more and +d6 enhancements benefit a one-hander more.
 

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