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Magic Item Coupons

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Magic Item Coupons

4th edition’s suggestions for magic item distribution has never been entirely satisfactory to me. Even as a player, I hate digging around to find enough things to fill out a wish list.

A lot of people also don’t care for the idea of the PCs always finding exactly what they want. There are various arguments for it, from matters of verisimilitude to those who enjoy the unexpected.

While reading through the new Essentials Rules Compendium on the train today, I had an epiphany.

First, a brief tangent. Schrödinger’s Gun is not my cat’s firearm, but rather the idea that until you, the DM, describe something to the players, the exact details can be changed without them ever knowing. Joe guesses that the kindly baron is really the BBEG as soon as he’s introduced? Change it!

So now we can apply the idea of Schrödinger’s gun to magic items. 4e assumes that PCs can figure out most magic items after spending a few minutes with them… Scratch that! From now on, the PCs simply get “some armor,” “a weapon,” or “some bracers.”

Then you give them a coupon with a slot, rarity and a level. The bearer of the coupon may turn it into any item for that slot, at that level or lower and that rarity or lower.

In game terms, when the PC finally decides what the item is, they’ve ‘identified’ it.

This adds some randomness back into the process, since the PCs have no control over what slot the item is for. It also adds some more competition for items. No longer does the set of plate armor go straight to the fighter. Rather, everyone has an interest in the generic, unidentified armor that was just found.

For players, it also gives them a lot more direction. Having to find an item of a particular level can be daunting, given all the choices. It’s much easier to pick something out with the slot so constrained.

Here are some tables you can roll on to determine type and rarity.

d20 Type
20Other (Wondrous item, mount, companion, etc)
d20 Rarity

Posted in House Rules Tagged with ,,

4 Responses

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  1. Yuriel said
    My DM side(newbie DM, but DM nonetheless) has nothing but contempt for "wish lists" and anyone who uttered those two nouns within my Passive Perception score would be laughed out of the dungeon. I just can't get behind the idea of player's always getting whatever they want. I'm not their Mum. :PIt takes all the surprise out of finding treasure and gives annoying min-maxers the chance to power-game some more. Not to mention giving regular players the chore of going through a huge list of items to pick what they want(that's with the CB, I shudder to think what going through several books must be like). Also, I think standard 4E item distribution is too generous. I want each magic item to be special and for them to have that "oh sweet!" feeling when they finally find one.So, in my campaign, magic items aren't found every two or three encounters and the players never know what they'll find. Neither do I, in a way. I use a randomiser to see if they'll get a weapon, implement, armor, neck item, potion, etc.; then I narrow it down further to a weapon or implement group, type and/or level and finally to each specific item. All random, except when it's fair to apply the DM's Guiding Hand(tm). I mean, it would be cruel to magically starve the players and take so much control away from them gear-wise, and on top that ending up giving them a greatbow when no character uses ranged weapons, plate armour to an all-arcane group, or a totem with no shaman or druids in the party.I'm always interested in new ideas for awarding treasure, magic items in particular, but I can't say I'm convinced by the coupons. It's still giving them a choice I don't think they should have. In my games, they should only be able to choose when buying an item(and, aside from simple +X items, availability for purchase is a big "if" too). Maybe I'm just a jerk, but I'm not doing anything that I wouldn't also consider fair as a player. I hate wish lists even when the DM is telling to pick what I want.
  2. Asmor said
    The only thing I should say is that it's fine to have preferences, but it's also important to keep in mind that D&D assumes certain things about the players' equipment.If you want to be stingy on the magic items, you should consider using the inherent bonus rule, which makes magic items significantly less important.
  3. Yuriel said
    First things first, thank you for allowing me to have a preference. I like having an opinion so I was glad to see you had no objection with me possessing one. :DI assumed you knew about Inherent Bonuses already so I didn't add more to an already long-winded post. :PBefore knowing about them, though, I would've just given out simple magic items, The point is that they don't amass a huge number of item properties and powers since players get rather OP in Paragon as it is.
  4. Asmor said
    Personally, I really dislike 4e's magic items just because they seem so fiddly. Especially with the whole limited daily uses rule.That's one of the things I really like about Essentials, players are assumed to only have easy access to 'common' items which only give static bonuses.

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