Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Crafting dilemma

Phew! Finally finished making this uber magic item of sheer awesomeness! Now I'm gonna kick some serious ass. What? Whaddya mean I lost a level?

That's the crafting dilemma. You buy all those feats. You gather up the gold pieces. You might even do a few side quests to collect the materials you'll need. All so you can have that dream magic item. The one that'll make your character truly l33t.

But then you get the bill. As in the cost in experience points. It's a price that makes any gamer turn a ghastly pale. We work so hard for those xp, losing them for any reason... seems, well... blasphemous.

To be honest, I do see some merits behind having an xp cost for crafting magic items. Besides the time (either of which can easily be glossed over with the DM's magic wand of instant time advancement) and the money, crafting a magic item should involve some sacrifice. No more waiting for the capricious treasure tables to spit up what you want. For a bit of xp you can have that magic item you really need for a fraction of the market price. I'd even suggest that it's a little more realistic in that there's a visible drain on your power.

On the other hand, I think that the downside is pretty severe. Casters, and the wizard in particular, don't really shine until the upper levels. To handicap that advancement so that they can craft items is borderline cruel. If the party wizard churns out custom items for all his buddies he could easily fall a level behind. Or more. Sure, everyone has shiny armor and protections and vorpal blades, but the poor wizard is still two levels away from Power Word: Kill.

Now, 4e promises to make magic items far less important than they currently are in 3.5. So this whole crafting issue might be totally irrelevant. However, I'm hoping that they do something other than just adding nifty new materials you can use, or tinkering with the math.

Specifically, I think that with the talent trees there's a real possibility of having something pretty cool and light on mechanics. Basically make a crafting tree available to certain classes. Then as the character advances up the tree he can make bigger and better items, or add powers to existing items. Make the character hunt down certain materials (might make for some fun side quests) and gather up a bunch of cash, but let him keep that hard earned xp.

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