Level Up (A5E) What's Your Unofficial Errata?

Ondath

Hero
i don't think anyone said they didn't?
Wasn't the comment you quoted earlier saying that they allow people to increase any stat they want regardless of the kind of stronghold they built? That's completely against what I said I prefer (that is, strongholds only increasing stats that are thematically related to them). I may have misunderstood what they're saying, though.
 

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Wasn't the comment you quoted earlier saying that they allow people to increase any stat they want regardless of the kind of stronghold they built? That's completely against what I said I prefer (that is, strongholds only increasing stats that are thematically related to them). I may have misunderstood what they're saying, though.
i took it to mean you could get the ASI boost from multiple strongholds instead of just your first (though id still limit it to only getting a boost for each individual score once).
 

Timespike

A5E Designer and third-party publisher
I sort of agree for anything post-Tasha's (since 5E's design philosophy changed around that point), but some stuff in O5E I just couldn't do without.
I realize this isn't an option for everyone, but if there's something from a WotC book that I really want for some thematic reason, I'll throw together a new A5E version with the same narrative role/flavor. (A non-trivial amount of content in MoAR and Spells from the Forgotten Vault is borne out of that practice.)

I should also say that I have no particular attachment to WotC's product identity monsters, so if one of the things you can't do without is githyanki or something, I agree that'd make it much more difficult.
 


Well, yes, but leaving the limiting of rare materials to the DM isn't suitable for every table IMO. My players in my last 5E campaign were really into crafting, and when I tried to limit their access to crafting, it'd make the game unenjoyable for me and for them, and they tried to circumvent the limits in every possible way. For instance, when the players wanted to craft a Headband of Intellect, I said they'd need to go on a side trek to an island full of psionic monks. So the main quest was put on hold since the party wanted this item really badly. Not only that, but when the players found the psychic crystals out of which they could craft items, they didn't try to get one. They wanted to harvest enough materials to make multiple items, and I (unwisely) said they could roll to see how many they could get. The result was that the party got not just one, but two Headbands of Intellect.

Later in the campaign I tried to limit their crafting (because I was following O5E's treasure guidelines, they were swimming in cash pretty easily) and said most of the materials they would need were in far off lands, and they didn't have time to go get them. That just turned them off from the system entirely, as they felt like they were no longer allowed to use a tool I had given them to its full functionality.

Especially in a story driven game, I feel like a crafting subsystem where the players can suspend everything they're doing and go mass-produce some Uncommon items feels immersion breaking to me. For my future games, I might allow the crafting of consumables and common items, but any permanent magic item of uncommon or higher rarity won't be craftable. I might add a Legacy Weapon/Vestige of Divergence system where they can upgrade their magic items, but I just don't think allowing players to freely craft items like 3E (where magic items were included in the game's math) is a good idea.
There are different aspects of this problem.

Crafting as presented makes sense in a sandbox style campaign, where the players may even decide the challenge they want to face, and equipping themselves properly can be an integral, fun and rewarding part of the game. Crafting and strongholds also work wonderfully as gold sinks, and as long as you can create the appropriate time pressure with external events and are willing to accept that important encounters can become easier because of their planning, the game will be fine, even great.
This also requires you to accept that part of the power growth of the characters is decided by themselves, in part, as they can decide to invest their hard earned money, which is one of the best and most rewarding signs of players' investment in the game.
In this kinds of game, depending on the setting and of course on everyone's preferences, it can make sense to show the PCs the "menu" of options of stuff that can be crafted, including material components. If done organically, this can help shaping up the economy of the world and make it feel more organic, and can of course propel characters to explore other areas of the world.

Story driven games, especially those coming from published modules, tend to have much stricter deadlines, worldbuilding, logic etc. They may not be "railroady" but for sure they are not conceived as sandboxes.
In these kind of games, finding or crafting the X magic item is part of the quest as written, maybe even a task given them by some NPC. There is a predicted power level that of course you as a DM can alter, but it can be progressively more laborious to do since you'll have to scale up everything. You can't just let them "win" easily with the right preparation, because it's not a sandbox adventure, here defeating the BBEG (or whatever other task is the conclusion of the main story) is everything and shouldn't be something that characters can accomplish by buying and manufacturing the right stuff.
 

Anselm

Adventurer
My stronghold tweaks: A stronghold of luxurious quality or better can choose which ability to increase, rather than using the default. At grade 7 the character receives a free feat of their choice. At grade 8 the chosen ability score increases by 4 and the maximum increases by 4.

I don't see anyone getting up to those levels because it's just so much money, but if someone invested that much they should get something amazing.
 

At grade 7 the character receives a free feat of their choice. At grade 8 the chosen ability score increases by 4 and the maximum increases by 4.

I don't see anyone getting up to those levels because it's just so much money, but if someone invested that much they should get something amazing.
your rule is impressive.jpg
 

Ondath

Hero
There are different aspects of this problem.

Crafting as presented makes sense in a sandbox style campaign, where the players may even decide the challenge they want to face, and equipping themselves properly can be an integral, fun and rewarding part of the game. Crafting and strongholds also work wonderfully as gold sinks, and as long as you can create the appropriate time pressure with external events and are willing to accept that important encounters can become easier because of their planning, the game will be fine, even great.
This also requires you to accept that part of the power growth of the characters is decided by themselves, in part, as they can decide to invest their hard earned money, which is one of the best and most rewarding signs of players' investment in the game.
In this kinds of game, depending on the setting and of course on everyone's preferences, it can make sense to show the PCs the "menu" of options of stuff that can be crafted, including material components. If done organically, this can help shaping up the economy of the world and make it feel more organic, and can of course propel characters to explore other areas of the world.
I agree in principle that giving players the freedom to craft the items they want and face challenges with the preparation they come up with is very rewarding, and integral to sandbox style play. In a system where the power level of magic items is properly factored in, I'd have absolutely no worries keeping such a system (even in a story-based game, where I might try to leave some free downtime to craft this sort of thing).

But 5E's magic items are horrendously imbalanced, and allowing the players to craft whatever they want just breaks the game too quickly. The game's encounter balance has no way of accounting for the number and power level of magic items the party might have. Level Up tries to address it somewhat, but even their advice boils down to "Make the encounters a bit harder". In contrast, 3E had very exact calculations on how powerful each magic item was, and could factor in the magic items in a PC's possession to their overall strength, and you could then balance your encounters around that.

The main problem with the crafting system is the fact that A5E has to be compatible with O5E's rarity system, and the rarities are just terrible indicators of power level. Ring of Protection and Cloak of Protection have different rarities, despite having the exact same effect (and yes, the ring is more valuable because you could technically wear multiple rings but you can only wear one cloak, but with the attunement limit keeping the number of meaningful slots capped at 3, this doesn't really matter). Furthermore, some uncommon magic items like the Headband of Intellect fix your stat to a certain number. So technically the entire party could dump their intelligence, survive until Level 5, then mass produce Headbands of Intellect so that they all have 17 Intelligence, and all their other stats are also higher because they all dumped INT. I know this is an exaggerated example, but I'm trying to show how the lack of granularity in the rarity system makes it so that a lot of insanely powerful items can be crafted with too much ease, simply because they are Uncommon.

This becomes a bigger problem at higher levels, due to the logarithmic progression of gold acquisition and magic item costs. So uncommon items usually cap at around 500 gp. If you're following the treasure guidelines in Trials & Treasures (which I generally find to be sensible), a PC can craft their first Uncommon magic item only at Level 3, and it takes almost all of their wealth doing so. I still think Level 3 is a bit early, but it's still reasonable. But at Level 11, you get 5000 gp just from your adventures at that level, and at the end of the level, the total gold you've accumulated over your career should be more than 18000 gold. With 18k gold, you can make one cheap Very Rare item and run out of money. But you can make THIRTY SEVEN Uncommon magic items. I'm sorry, but one Very Rare item is nowhere near as powerful as thirty seven Uncommon items, especially when there are really busted items that shouldn't be Uncommon in that list.

So even for a sandbox campaign, I think A5E's crafting system is too open for abuse. I've got no problem with crafting consumable magic items, even stuff that would be counted as a minor magic item in O5E (so things like Bags of Holding, Nolzur's Marvellous Pigments and so on). But I feel like a reasonable campaign cannot allow a player to craft more than one or two permanent items. So I'd much rather move those out of the crafting framework, and into something like "You find broken pieces of the legendary sword Narsil. You might spend the equivalent of a crafting activity to craft this into a great weapon of fame, and you might do a similar activity later on to upgrade the weapon into something even stronger. But don't expect going out crafting a new Flametongue or Frost Brand after every downtime."
 

But 5E's magic items are horrendously imbalanced, and allowing the players to craft whatever they want just breaks the game too quickly. The game's encounter balance has no way of accounting for the number and power level of magic items the party might have. Level Up tries to address it somewhat, but even their advice boils down to "Make the encounters a bit harder". In contrast, 3E had very exact calculations on how powerful each magic item was, and could factor in the magic items in a PC's possession to their overall strength, and you could then balance your encounters around that.
Yes, in this aspect o5E completely dropped the ball wrt 3E. On one side they probably wanted the game to work also without magic items, which is a good design goal IMO, but then they completely failed to account for what having some magic items can do to the game. They also wanted magic items to be special, which again is a good point and a bit against having a precise formula for each item, but then we still have a lot of generic +1 items.
The main problem with the crafting system is the fact that A5E has to be compatible with O5E's rarity system, and the rarities are just terrible indicators of power level. Ring of Protection and Cloak of Protection have different rarities, despite having the exact same effect (and yes, the ring is more valuable because you could technically wear multiple rings but you can only wear one cloak, but with the attunement limit keeping the number of meaningful slots capped at 3, this doesn't really matter).
Yes, the rarity system is something that should just belong to the trash bin IMO. Reasonable idea, horrible execution
Furthermore, some uncommon magic items like the Headband of Intellect fix your stat to a certain number. So technically the entire party could dump their intelligence, survive until Level 5, then mass produce Headbands of Intellect so that they all have 17 Intelligence, and all their other stats are also higher because they all dumped INT. I know this is an exaggerated example, but I'm trying to show how the lack of granularity in the rarity system makes it so that a lot of insanely powerful items can be crafted with too much ease, simply because they are Uncommon.
This is quite an extreme example, but sure drives the point home. My main argument against that would be that level 1 characters should have no idea that such items can even be crafted, and then surely a party of dimwitted PCs will probably not be smart enough to craft those items.
Depending on your players' attitudes it may be better to have them find "recipes" for crafting items as part of the treasure, so they don't have the full menu of craftable items from the get go.
This becomes a bigger problem at higher levels, due to the logarithmic progression of gold acquisition and magic item costs. So uncommon items usually cap at around 500 gp. If you're following the treasure guidelines in Trials & Treasures (which I generally find to be sensible), a PC can craft their first Uncommon magic item only at Level 3, and it takes almost all of their wealth doing so. I still think Level 3 is a bit early, but it's still reasonable. But at Level 11, you get 5000 gp just from your adventures at that level, and at the end of the level, the total gold you've accumulated over your career should be more than 18000 gold. With 18k gold, you can make one cheap Very Rare item and run out of money. But you can make THIRTY SEVEN Uncommon magic items. I'm sorry, but one Very Rare item is nowhere near as powerful as thirty seven Uncommon items, especially when there are really busted items that shouldn't be Uncommon in that list.
Action economy is the other bottleneck, on top of attunement. For a given number of actions or bonus actions, rarer items should provide a better option. Or not require attunement.
Also, I'm not fond of how consumable items can be compared to permanent items. I struggle to see how an 11th level fighter, that may quite likely have consumed a dozen healing potions, could have his magic item budget significantly reduced because of that.
 

Ondath

Hero
Yes, in this aspect o5E completely dropped the ball wrt 3E. On one side they probably wanted the game to work also without magic items, which is a good design goal IMO, but then they completely failed to account for what having some magic items can do to the game. They also wanted magic items to be special, which again is a good point and a bit against having a precise formula for each item, but then we still have a lot of generic +1 items.

Yes, the rarity system is something that should just belong to the trash bin IMO. Reasonable idea, horrible execution
Well, we agree on these points at least! But I wonder whether you think A5E's crafting system overcomes these issues then.
This is quite an extreme example, but sure drives the point home. My main argument against that would be that level 1 characters should have no idea that such items can even be crafted, and then surely a party of dimwitted PCs will probably not be smart enough to craft those items.
Depending on your players' attitudes it may be better to have them find "recipes" for crafting items as part of the treasure, so they don't have the full menu of craftable items from the get go.
So maybe this is something specific to my table, but I did attempt something similar to this at some point. I said they couldn't go find materials for any item wily-nily, that some items might not be available in the general area that they are in, and that getting it might be a whole endaevour that acts as a side adventure.

And they... did not like that. Notably, they said it felt like I was arbitrarily limiting their choices by having the authority to say that the items I don't like don't have collectable materials in the area. Sure, perhaps with a group of complete newcomers to D&D, I can introduce recipes slowly, and they might not have any item expectations. But once players gain some degree of experience, they'll know (form cultural osmosis) what a Bag of Holding is. Or that their sword could be a +2 sword. And they start asking about how to get that item. Thing is, as a near-forever DM, I would be in such a position. I know a good portion of the magic item list. When I'm a player, I might start thinking how an item would be really cool for my concept. But if I had no way of obtaining it because the DM didn't want to have the recipe appear in the next treasure trove, I'd be a bit miffed. So crafting theoretically allowing every kind of item, but in truth being limited to DM's whims through recipes/materials within adventuring distance doesn't feel like a good solution to me. I'd much prefer being upfront and saying "Look, you won't get every single Major item you want. But I'll add signature, iconic items, one per character, that you can craft. You can even upgrade it over time. But that's it."
Action economy is the other bottleneck, on top of attunement. For a given number of actions or bonus actions, rarer items should provide a better option. Or not require attunement.
Also, I'm not fond of how consumable items can be compared to permanent items. I struggle to see how an 11th level fighter, that may quite likely have consumed a dozen healing potions, could have his magic item budget significantly reduced because of that.
I think healing potions are almost always left out of this equation, precisely because they're too commonly used to be on the same level as other items.
 

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