Thursday, 13 November 2008

Banning magic weapons and armour

I'm thinking of removing magical weapons and armour completely from my campaign setting and from my random charts and so on. This would have a number of effects.

The most obvious effect would be that magically overpowered characters would be a lot rarer. Characters that are powerful would be so through their innate abilities, or other means such as politically. This would make strongholds more desirable goals for high level characters.

The second effect is to de-emphasise combat and make players think on their feet a bit more. Facing off against a dragon is much tougher with a normal sword than a +5 sword of dragon annihilation. Players would have to be very inventive about dangerous combat situations and may even avoid them.

The third effect is that plot-centric special items would be incredibly special. Instead of their being a mass of +2 swords lying around, there could be one Excalibur that adventures and the plot would flow around. Who wields this mythical blade has serious significance. Perhaps only the gods can craft these items and it is beyond the ken of all mortal men, although the knowledge is sought after with a passion.

The fourth effect is that magical items would be highly sought after instead. Suddenly, by way of example, finding a flying carpet is a massive deal to even high level adventurers. Of course, I would need a very large assortment of magical miscellanea to stop the same lot from repeating over and over, but that would be quite fun to come up with, I think, especially if the items are not directly combat or stat bonus related. It could add a lot of spice to what might otherwise another run of the mill campaign.

What's even better is that I could probably get away with it. All the player characters are currently either first or second level and so do not currently own anything magical anyway, the adventures that they have been on so far have not uncovered any. Valuable trinkets, yes, but so far, nothing magical.


Geek's Dream Girl said...

I can see your point, but have to respectfully disagree. As a DM, your job is to know what the players are wearing/wielding and adjust your monsters to be challenging for them. If they have a sword of +5 to dragon slaying, build a bigger dragon! :)

You can still have uber weapons that motivate the players. If they're finding +1 weapons in the dungeon, if they get a +3 at the end of the dungeon, it'll be a big deal.

The Recursion King said...

I see what you are saying but I wonder if magical weapons and armour make the whole thing more about equipment than character ability.

Is a level 1 fighter with a +5 sword and +5 platemail actually more powerful than a sixth level fighter with basic equipment? How significant is equipment (especoally magical equipment) in determining the outcome of a battle? Perhaps too significant?

It's food for thought, at the very least.

jamused said...

I think it's a great idea. Settings where players react to a magic item with, "Anybody need this +2 flaming sword? Ok, throw it in the pile to sell" bother me. The inflation implied in the "Build a bigger dragon" approach means that not only do players not regard magic items as being cool or special, they don't even get a real benefit from having it--it becomes the ante for being effective at all.