D&D 5E Will items Break 5E?

Reynard

Legend
I am not generally a "Monty haul" GM and most of my 5E campaigns have been pretty magic item light since 5E isn't designed with requiring items in mind. However, I am running a personal conversion of the Pathfinder 1E "Iron Gods" AP and I kind of want to let loose with the tech and give the PCs particle beams, power armor and regen nanites. In other words: I kind of want to have a high magic item 5E game.

What are the consequences and concerns in piling on the gear in 5E? What sort of items are more likely to break the math or otherwise disrupt the game in a way that is no longer fun? I don't mind just having to increase the difficulty (I do that anyway) but I don't want to make it unworkable.

Have you played 5E with lots of items? Better yet, have you inserted high tech into your 5E game? Where is the line between over the top and broken?

Thanks.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Have you played 5E with lots of items? Better yet, have you inserted high tech into your 5E game? Where is the line between over the top and broken?

Thanks.

Before we moved on to the current campaign, I DM'd a very heavy "high tech" magic item group. Battlemaster fighter had power armor (lost laboratory of Kwalish) ranger/rogue had a funky laser rifle, monk had a tattoo with with several of Dragonmark like powers, and several other "big" things ,(liked ioun stones).

Players had a blast with the different feel of the adventures.

Didn't feel too over the top, the players were feeling more powerful, BUT the stuff they had - lots of other groups/organizations wanted. So lots of excuses for chases and the group running from people/organizations more powerful than they were.

As long as the items are fun and flavorful, they seem to really add to the experience.

One thing to watch out for. "Plussed" items (+1 swords, +1 armor, etc.) First, they're magical but kind of boring. Second, they mess with the math much more than interesting stuff. Meaning encounters are more thrown off. I started avoiding plussed items completely.


A great control for "high tech" stuff is power source; the stuff needs one. The power armor guy was deathly afraid of running out of his power cells, the armor could function without them, but would then drain HP. The guy with the laser rifle? I gave it a burst mode and a full auto mode that did Ridiculous damage, BUT he only had something like 3 clips and burst and full auto would exhaust the clips really fast. So he only ever used single shot mode. Which essentially made the rifle a fancy looking long bow.
 
Last edited:

payn

Legend
Before we moved on to the current campaign, I DM'd a very heavy "high tech" magic item group. Battlemaster fighter had power armor (lost laboratory of Kwalish) ranger/rogue had a funky laser rifle, monk had a tattoo with with several of Dragonmark like powers, and several other "big" things ,(liked ioun stones).

Players had a blast with the different feel of the adventures.

Didn't feel too over the top, the players were feeling more powerful, BUT the stuff they had - lots of other groups/organizations wanted. So lots of excuses for chats and the group running from people/organizations more powerful than they were.

As long as the items are fun and flavorful, they seem to really add to the experience.

One thing to watch out for. "Plussed" items (+1 swords, +1 armor, etc.) First, their magical but kind of boring. Second, they mess with the math much more than interesting stuff. Meaning encounters are more thrown off. I started avoiding plussed items completely.


A great control for "high tech" stuff is power source; the stuff needs one. The power armor guy was deathly afraid of running out of his power cells, the armor could function without them, but would then drain HP. The guy with the laser rifle? I have it a burst mode and a full auto mode that did Ridiculous damage, BUT he only had something like 3 clips and burst and full auto works exhaust the clips really fast. So he only ever used single shot mode. Which essentially made the rifle a fancy looking long bow.
I do recall my time in Iron Gods that some of these things need power cells. The world was not plentiful with them, and had very few charging stations available, so you had to choose how often to let loose. That could be a way to limit the power of some tech items.

I agree that giving items that do cool stuff but stray from the +x is a good idea.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
One thing to watch out for. "Plussed" items (+1 swords, +1 armor, etc.) First, their magical but kind of boring. Second, they mess with the math much more than interesting stuff. Meaning encounters are more thrown off. I started avoiding plussed items completely.
This. What I did was make magic weapons with no plusses not go through weapon resistance. That way I could give out the weapons that have interesting abilities without disrupting the math or making the encounter easier than the game intended.
 


Mort

Legend
Supporter
Attunement seems to keep things in check pretty well. IME

Yeah, I love attunement.

First it gives the players meaningful choices to make even though you're handing out lots of stuff.

Second it's actually a cool mechanic to expand. I had attuned items have consequences. For example, a ring of free action that was aligned to the city of Greyhawk (if the person attuned to the ring acted against anyone visibly aligned with the city (sigil, Mark, whatever) they would, themselves be subject to a hold monster at disadvantage.)

Bit of a spoiler for Ghosts of Saltmarsh, which also ran with the idea:

there's a captain/qaurtermaster from the empire of Iuz who sells very powerful magic items, but they have a catch. She can target anyone attuned to one of the bought items with a detect thoughts, with no limit on range and any save automatically fails).
 


Odysseus

Explorer
Attunement keeps most things in check. The only thing I noticed the higher level you go the more i had to use higher CR monsters to challenge the players. For example when the party was at 10th level, instead of using a CR 10 monster I was having to use a CR 15.
 

While +X weapons will throw off your math a little, encounter design compensates for this fairly easily, you mostly just need to provide a little more meat to hit. Anything giving a bonus to AC or spell save DC throws off the math a lot more.

This is not to say don't do it, but you have to be conservative. I once made the mistake of allowing a +1 shield, +1 plate armor, and a ring of protection in the same party, thinking they would spread this AC love around. They gave them all to the same fighter, who then had an AC of 23 at level 5. Suddenly low level enemies, that 5e is great about keeping at least a little relevant in sufficient numbers, only had a 15% or 10% (or for zombies 5%) chance of hitting that dwarf. Yes PCs hyper-optimizing for AC may get up to this kind of number at low levels, but that involves serious opportunity costs. I, meanwhile, had just let them do it for free. These days I only do +1 armor at higher levels, when characters have gone a long time without an AC upgrade, and if I ever give out a ring of protection again it will be a special one only attunable by whatever character is in dire need of it.

I doubt any of your high tech items are giving +X to spell save DC, but if they do make sure it is a +1 only.
 


Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
Magic items are power creep that can break 5E or any other editions of D&D / RPG if given out too much. Attunement is a rule that help balance this but if you bypass it with magic items that don't require attunement or that have too high power curve the party will inevitably get powerful, may be too much depending if the challenges they face are of no match to them anymore.
 

Define "break".

If you mean: "players feel awesome because you are now stronger than the enemies!" it works as intended.
If you think, every encounter must be perfectly balanced, so that players feel as they had a 50-50 chance to win, yes they break the game. But you can compensate by giving enemies also magic items or just have more enemies or more powerful enemies.
 

Reynard

Legend
I feel like folks are answering the thread title without bothering to read the OP and answer those questions too, which is kind of frustrating.
 

Art Waring

Redlined Ratrod
Just putting my opinion out there: +1 weapons don't throw the math off for martials, because they were always lagging behind. The Dnd Next playtests had separate proficiency bonuses for martials and casters, and they opted for a uniform PB that is used by every class. This puts the martials a step back, when they are already suffering in many respects in the martial caster disparity.

If you dont give your fighters toys, they will not be able to contribute to combat as effectively, Creatures with resistance to non-magical weapons are pretty common.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Just putting my opinion out there: +1 weapons don't throw the math off for martials, because they were always lagging behind. The Dnd Next playtests had separate proficiency bonuses for martials and casters, and they opted for a uniform PB that is used by every class. This puts the martials a step back, when they are already suffering in many respects in the martial caster disparity.
Throwing the math off is the minor issue, and easily dealt with - if it even needs dealing with.

The bigger issue is - "just" plussed items are boring. They just add a number to a roll and not much else.

If you dont give your fighters toys, they will not be able to contribute to combat as effectively, Creatures with resistance to non-magical weapons are pretty common.

So give the fighters fun toys. There are lots of actually fun magic items that ALSO help the fighter contribute.
 


Reynard

Legend
Yep, they really are, but why did they require fighters to have them to be effective against monsters with NM resistance?
Magic weapons don't require a + before adding the "good stuff" like they did in previous editions. You can have a weapon with no bonuses or powers at all and it can be magic (moontouched as an example). The real problem is that all spells are considered magic damage when they probably shouldn't be in the 5e resistance design paradigm.
 

I feel like folks are answering the thread title without bothering to read the OP and answer those questions too, which is kind of frustrating.

Ok. Yes, we have a great amount of good items. No they did not break anything.
Attunement is quite limiting the powerful items. I can't put on both gloves of strength and headband of intellect.
Also helm of thoughts has to stay kn the bag of holding.
Each and everyone of those items is a great asset but I have to choose.
Even more impactful than magic items is clever use of low level magic (up to level 3) and skill use in a level 11 game.

We feel powerful, partly because of our items, but we don't ever feel like stomping every encounter.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Yep, they really are, but why did they require fighters to have them to be effective against monsters with NM resistance?
As @Reynard said, they didn't.

A frostbrand or flametongue are not "plussed" but are magical.

And I'm not just talking about weapons. Plussed armor is also magical but boring. There are LOTS of more fun options for armor and shields than just the plussed variety.
 
Last edited:

Art Waring

Redlined Ratrod
Magic weapons don't require a + before adding the "good stuff" like they did in previous editions. You can have a weapon with no bonuses or powers at all and it can be magic (moontouched as an example). The real problem is that all spells are considered magic damage when they probably shouldn't be in the 5e resistance design paradigm.
I didn't say they needed "plus weapons", I said they need a magic weapon period to deal damage to creatures with non-magical resistances. I am aware that magic weapons in 5e dont always provide a plus bonus, but fighters still need a magic weapon to be effective.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top