Monday, January 28, 2008

One ring to bind... oops, sorry, hobbit, you're not l33t enough

Ever since they mentioned that 4th edition is going to attempt to reduce the need for magic items, I've been a bit concerned. Granted, there were some issues with the current 3.5 system, with so many slots, remembering that you have such items at the right moment, and trying to decide, as a DM, whether to tailor the treasure (even once in a while) to the players, or just give them random junk which they're going to be laden with and will just have to sell to then try and find what they really do want.

In the latest Design & Development article, they talk about the magic item slots, and start off my saying they've reduced the number of them, yet still have the rule of one item per slot. Right off the bat, this, to me, means a weaker character, but I have to remember that the idea is that the race and class play more of a role now in a character's abilities. So does that mean that some of these racial and class abilities can truly take the place of a magic item? We shall have to see.

They've left your hands in as a slot, which is a bit of a relief. *:^) To armor they've added the cloth armor - the sense I get from this is that a wizard can have +5 cloth, to at least get an armor enhancement bonus to AC (or whatever the new 4e terms will now be). This is good for the general need of wizards for a little more defense, and I suppose this just means that all of the fancy robes they used to wear will now come in +1 to +5 versions?

"An item in the neck slot increases your Fortitude, Reflex, and Will defenses". Only? There has been an unwritten (unless, perhaps, the Magic Item Compendium spelled it out and I didn't notice) set of rules about what kind of effects should go where (speed-boosts are on your feet or rings; mental abilities were helms/crowns/tiaras, maybe necklaces, and of course rings; strength or dexterity was usually in the bracers, or the gloves, or ... yep, the rings). But I don't think it was a strict rule. Having a crown of fleet-footedness didn't make sense, but if the DM allowed it, then fine (of course, the DM can do whatever he pleases, 4e rules notwithstanding).

Bracers and shields are in the "arms" category now. Can't have both. Interesting that the start of the "secondary slots" section states that "[t]hese items don’t have enhancement bonuses." No enhancement bonus on shields? Tell me more!

There we go - feet are movement and speed. Again, is this a strict hard-and-fast rule? Sure, it makes sense, but I'm curious whether that's an official stance now.

Ioun stones have lost their special place around the head, now taking up the head slot (as a new item type called an "orbital"). And only one allowed! What a shame. What happens to those 3.5 characters with a solar system around their head now?

Rings. I don't like this at all. "A starting character isn’t powerful enough to unleash the power of a ring. You can use one ring when you reach paragon tier (11th level) and two when you’re epic (21st level)." What is this power that they have that lets them unleash this? Base it on intelligence, or your will save, or ... something more tangible than "you've done a lot of adventuring, and now this ring will work for you." Item level requirements are a CRPG concept that have no place in pen-and-paper. If rings are too powerful for low-level characters, then they just shouldn't be available to them. Boo. Hiss.

Waist. Yeah, belts, whatever. I'm still miffed about the rings. Oh, what's that? Protection and healing is in the belt? Yeah, whatever. Give me my rings.

Oh ho; see how even the author laments at the end of the article?:

Rings: None right now, sadly

Sad indeed.


Adrian said...

I certainly like that they're attempting to take focus away from having bags of magic items. It can get a bit labourious keeping track of which item does what.

The idea of level dependent items does trouble me though. This looks like a very blatant attempt to put a rule over something in order to keep things away from characters. I though this was something the DM was meant to do through roleplaying.

I agree that if you don't want players to get rings at a certain level just don't give the things to them.

Griff said...

I couldn't agree more with the "you must be this level to take this ride" design decision.

Talk about a classic MMO style cop out.