Endday, part eight

I’m really digging the High-Speed D&D concept; 30 sessions, 30 levels, one kickass campaign. It’s as simple as it is elegant, and promises to be one heck of a ride from start to finish. But there is just one wrinkle that needs a little more thought: magic items.

Your regular run-of-the-mill 4e D&D progression involves gaining XP, steadily progressing through the levels and amassing treasure along the way in the form of Treasure Parcels which are shared evenly among all your team-mates (or less evenly if one of them happens to be a Rogue). That doesn’t work when you’re increasing a level at the end of every single session, and especially not when we’re playing in the Modern Day where wooden chests piled high with gold pieces aren’t quite so thick on the ground.

Instead, what we’re going to do is this……….

Each character gains magic items whose total level equals their new character level. They can replace existing items they possess with more powerful versions after they reach a high enough level.

For example, at second level Annette Weber (Human Wizard) could select a Staff of Fiery Might +1, a level 2 item. When she reaches third, she could take a new third level item, a 1st and a 2nd level item or three 1st level items. When she reaches 7th level, she could replace her Staff of Fiery Might with the +2 version (a level 7 item) and use her 2nd level “slot” for something else.

That’s all well and good, but where to these magic items come from? I’m not going to litter the modern landscape with long lost powerful swords, enchanted armours and the like. That would be silly.

No, these magical items are manifestations of the character’s power, drawn from the same Source that provides their Powers and Abilities. Annette’s magical Staff is a creation of her willpower which grows, shapes and becomes more powerful as she herself does as the campaign progresses. The Fighter’s sword and armour springs into being when it’s first needed, becoming as much a part of him as his skill with the same.

In the first scenario, it’s a mere Longsword, but later scenarios may well see it transform into a Vicious Longsword +1, or a Flaming blade or even a completely different weapon altogether depending on how the player’s vision of the character grows.

Sounds awesome-powerful, right? Conceptually, yes – I mean, the hero’s magic items are manifestations of their will, how cool is that??! – but in truth they’re just gaining level-appropriate[1. Actually much less, but that’s splitting hairs] magic items just as they would in any other D&D scenario. A lot more quickly, granted………..

Next: The End of Endday. For now, at least.

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5 Comments on “Endday, part eight”

  1. Sounds brilliant. This is how I first envisioned dealing with the Treasure Parcels in 4e – just throw them out, run fun games, and use the metagame aspects of the parcels between games when leveling up the party.

    Even if the magic items aren’t the direct results of the character’s power sources (which I think is a brilliant idea), some can be “legacy items” that become more powerful as the character becomes more powerful. This gives you the game system’s expected power levels without ever having to hand out magic items. The young knight’s sword becomes more and more awesome as he becomes more and more awesome, eventually becoming the equivalent of Excalibur once in the hands of the new King Arthur.
    .-= Dyson Logos´s last blog ..[Ghostbusters] Mark Rein·Hagen, Paranormal Researcher =-.

  2. @Dyson Yeah. In previous games I’ve handed magic item selection over to the players with good result. Just being able to say “You find 150gp and a level 5 magic item of your choosing” has the players scrabbling for the PHB like it’s Christmas all over again. They squabble over who deserves the item, what it should be and how THIS Flaming Waraxe +2 would most benefit the party as a whole.

    And y’know what……. it works. The players end up more proud of their magic items because they’re FOUGHT for ’em – not against monsters, but against the wills of the other players. And they’re the toughest foes of all.

    Sure beats me throwing out a lame-ass magic item no one wants, and it’s less work for me too. Perfect!

    @Samuel You could try jumping 5 levels per session to make it a 6 session mini-series. That would work if each session is a slice of time several months apart. Hmmmm…………………..

  3. Found you while Google-trawling for reviews of Adventurer’s Vault 2. This sounds interesting… both the campaign concept (not something I’d care to run or play, but sounds like an interesting story) and the explanation of the items. I’m in favor of anything that gets players personally invested in their gear and that lets you give them what they need while freeing yourself from the necessity of working a regular progression of magic items that happen to be useful for the characters into the flow of everything else.

    In my tabletop game, I gave up trying to work “randomly found” magical items in for the party’s Barbarian, who isn’t interested in treasure at all in-character… instead her own equipment has become empowered by primal spirits as her legend grows. A similar approach works well for divine or arcane characters… martial characters, too, though you have to fill in a blank somewhere to explain who’s blessing them and why. :)

    For a couple of games I’m running online with large groups, I decided to let everybody choose to start with the first few slots of magic items they’d otherwise find along the way just so that things don’t bog down with me having to plan out the magic items and then them having to write them down. Everybody got a level one, two, and three item that had to be taken from the categories of weapon/implement, armor/neck, or wondrous/other. Everybody picked items that fit their character concept and background, and they worked them into their own stories as hereditary items or hard-won prizes, and so they added a lot even before we started.

    One player wanted custom items that would actually have made them almost exactly equivalent to higher level gear… I told him that if he still wants the same things when he levels up, I’ll allow him to unlock their “true powers”.

    You could do this stuff (spontaneous enchantment/creation instead of finding items, items coming into their full power along with you as you level) in any previous edition, but the Adventurer’s Vault actually throws them out as suggestions, which I think is great. It definitely fits the model of heroic adventuring pretty well.
    .-= Alexandra Erin´s last blog ..Strange criticism of the moment… =-.

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