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 Post subject: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:11 pm 
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I'm just curious how some of you with a little more experience are running your games. I just recently ran my first game, a self designed funnel with two follow-up encounters to get a taste of levelled character play as well. I threw a few one-use magic items in the first adventure, 3 scrolls and 3 potions, and one tome that the wizards can use to attempt to identify magic items. As I am designing the second adventure for them, I am wondering what is an appropriate amount of magic items to give to them. In general, I don't like to give out a ton of stuff, but if I were designing a 3E game I would probably put two or three magic items into this dungeon (there are 6 1st level characters in the party, btw, with the possibility of a few additional players bumping that total up to 10 by mid-way through this next adventure).

I am especially interested in how early you typically give out magic weapons. The magic weapons in DCC are incredibly powerful for low level characters, but the environment is pretty lethal as well, especially for 1st level characters who typically only have a handful of hit points so I'm wondering if it balances out. I am also concerned about the fact that as characters die, their equipment will tend to get "inherited" by others, and I could end up with a situation where I have several low level characters who have magic items coming out the wazoo because of the attrition rate.

I really appreciate any input.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:20 am 
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Re: Magic Weapons

My home game is split into three groups, with various players involved in all three.

Potential Spoilers:

Group 1 has Molan's flail from Sailors on the Starless Sea. They have also now picked up the Wolfspear in Doom of the Savage Kings. So that group currently has two magic weapons.

Group 2 has played out [b]Perils of the Sunken City[/b], and is currently investigating The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk. They have no magic weapons at this point, but they do have a few nice axes courtesy of the river bandits and the animated trees in the swamp pixie encounter.

Group 3 has played out Attack of the Frawgs, has taken a shot at Through the Cotillion of Hours, and is investigating the Barrowmaze. Nary a magic weapon among them.


My advise would be to include such weapons where they make sense, but don't put them in just to put them in, or just to make sure the PCs have them.

RC

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SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:22 am 
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There's a magic ring in Sailors with some great flavor text, to the effect of This is a powerful item, and word will get out about its use, which will attract others to try and take it. I really like that. Also remember you can give "bonus powers" to mundane items. For example, Molan's armor grants a save versus crits, but is otherwise nonmagical (in my view).

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RoM pbp:
Hamun Ry (Wiz 4)
Str 10 Agi 15 (+1) Sta 11 Per 11 Int 17 (+2) Luc 10 (Unholy House). Align: C. AC: 14. HP: 13. Melee +1, Ranged +2. Crit: d8, I. Save: Ref +5, Fort +3, Will +4.
Spells: 1: Choking Cloud, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic (odd crystal growths), Magic Missile (mirror images), Runic Alphabet (Mortal) (ravenously hungry), Ventriloquism (rain of frogs)
2: Detect Invisible, Levitate (extremely difficult, d14), Mirror Image (20% chance to raise/lower luck by 1d3 points).
Equip: Ring of the Sand Djinn: +2 AC/saves, Invisibility for 1min/spellburn point, or unmake for great, unknown effect. Padded Armor, Longsword, Longbow, quiver w/20 steel-tipped arrows, 10 silver-tipped arrows, backpack, spellbook, quill and ink, sturdy parchment (10 sheets), 5 days rations, high leather boots, belt w/ belt pouch, gray robe, dark gray hooded cloak. Also carries 3 small mechanical toys: wind-up mouse, wooden puzzle cube, small jewelry box that plays a little tune.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:36 am 
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Raven_Crowking wrote:
Re: Magic Weapons


They have also now picked up the spear in Doom of the Savage Kings. So that group currently has two magic weapons.

RC


SPOILER ALERT:

The weapon the deals the killing blow to the Hound of Hirot is supposed to become magical too.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:28 am 
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If required to explain my typical distribution of magical items, I would have to say that I simple do not typically distribute any magical items at all.

On the rare occasions that I do distribute a magic item to the party, it is one that either a) the party has specifically quested for, b) that has a direct and malicious intent to harm or corrupt the party, or c) was only there for the PCs to grab as plunder from a powerful enemy and has zero guarantee of being beneficial for the party to use but they took it anyway.

When it comes to the actual powers of the item in question... they are whatever they "should" be as according to their origin and purpose within the game-world, and if that happens to give the party a leg up over the opposition, then so be it. Realistically, though, a powerful item only helps even the odds rather than actually give the PCs some true advantage.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:44 am 
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cthulhudarren wrote:

The weapon the deals the killing blow to the Hound of Hirot is supposed to become magical too.


In the group I've run through that adventure, the weapon that finally killed the Hound was a pitchfork. So awesome. Pitchfork of POWER!

On magic item distribution: There shouldn't be any, and there shouldn't be any expectation of distribution. In fact, you should make any magical thing that the party finds (a spell formula, an alchemists lab, any spell that the party wizard casts) so friggin' scary and potentially detrimental to the user and the receiver that everyone is afraid to even pick up something that *might* be magical.

Even an item created by a "good" entity (or a servant of) means that something beyond the ken of man decided to interfere in the affairs of man so much that they bent the laws of reality to create a permanent or semi-permanent relic -- a relic full of the entity's purpose, will, and power. These are things that should not be taken lightly in the style of game laid out by DCC rules.

But, it's also your game, so you can do whatever the hell you want.

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AKA Paul Wolfe
The Mystic Bull: Our new publishing website. Have a submission? PM me.
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer: 12 Short Adventures for DCC!
The God-Seed Awakens: 3rd Level Adventure for DCC. New patron, new spells, lots of new monsters and the living weapons of the Empire of Thal!
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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:54 am 
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I have usually DMed low-magic campaigns in any system. I prefer it that way. I think it's a question of flavor more than anything else, so there is no good or bad decision for you to make in DCC. Also DCC does not appear to be a game that relies on balance as other systems like 3E might have, so magic or no magic items is not a question that will balance your game experience - well it might incidentally, but it's not the purpose.

The DCC book does suggest a low-magic setting. It also suggests that each magic item be unique and flavorful. This is your call of course, but it also happens to be aligned with my preferences. This means that you do not "drop" magic items in a dungeon for PCs to find. Magic items are there because they have a story and that story ties into the adventure's story.

For example, in the campaign I am starting, there is a magical spearhead that the PCs might find at some point, which is the broken part of a demon's spear. That demon is a major actor in what has happened in the region and his defeat to an angel (now fallen) was an important even in the past. It is at the time of that defeat that the spear was broken. No one looked for the spearhead then, and it has now grown somewhat sentient, imbued with malevolence, but still useful if the PCs decide to deal with it. (Which is ethically questionable of course, that's the fun of it.) No NPC will "just happen" to have a +2 sword however.

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Maledict Brothbreath, level 4 warrior, STR 16 (+2) AGI 7 (-1) STA 12 PER 9 INT 10 LUCK 15 (+1), AC: 16 Refl: +1 Fort: +2 Will: +1; lawful; Armor of the Lion and Lily's Blade.

Brother Sufferus, level 4 cleric, STR 13 (+1) AGI 15 (+1) STA 11 PER 13 (+1) INT 10 LUCK 9, AC: 11 (13 if wounded, 15 if down to half hit points), Refl: +3 Fort: +2 Will: +3, chaotic, Robe of the Faith, Scourge of the Maimed One, Darts of Pain.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:01 pm 
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Read lots of Appendix N lit for ideas on how/when to use magic items.

Some of them are good for the users, some might seem good when first acquired, some are loot, some require questing for, some require a lot of work to determine what they do, and some are just plain bad news.....but sometimes bad news that one just can't easily throw away (ex. the One Ring, Stormbringer).

Whatever makes sense for the area/adventure/world you are writing is what you should include. Avoid including items "just 'cause the PCs should have them"....you will probably need to break some old D&D habits here. Ragboy's advice is very good, BTW. Even something that you are including as wholly beneficial should not seem to be obviously so when discovered. Lots of magic should be of the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" Faustian devil's bargain type. There is a lot of variety as to magic level in various Appendix N works, so you have a wide range to work within and still keep that Appendix N feel.


RC

_________________
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:32 pm 
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I would also add, perceptions are important. Sure that blackened iron plate mail is nice, stats-wise, but how will the local populace react to a grizzled warrior walking into own bristling with weapons and dressed like that? (I can't wait for my party to find out, heh.)

_________________

RoM pbp:
Hamun Ry (Wiz 4)
Str 10 Agi 15 (+1) Sta 11 Per 11 Int 17 (+2) Luc 10 (Unholy House). Align: C. AC: 14. HP: 13. Melee +1, Ranged +2. Crit: d8, I. Save: Ref +5, Fort +3, Will +4.
Spells: 1: Choking Cloud, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic (odd crystal growths), Magic Missile (mirror images), Runic Alphabet (Mortal) (ravenously hungry), Ventriloquism (rain of frogs)
2: Detect Invisible, Levitate (extremely difficult, d14), Mirror Image (20% chance to raise/lower luck by 1d3 points).
Equip: Ring of the Sand Djinn: +2 AC/saves, Invisibility for 1min/spellburn point, or unmake for great, unknown effect. Padded Armor, Longsword, Longbow, quiver w/20 steel-tipped arrows, 10 silver-tipped arrows, backpack, spellbook, quill and ink, sturdy parchment (10 sheets), 5 days rations, high leather boots, belt w/ belt pouch, gray robe, dark gray hooded cloak. Also carries 3 small mechanical toys: wind-up mouse, wooden puzzle cube, small jewelry box that plays a little tune.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:03 pm 
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beermotor wrote:
I would also add, perceptions are important. Sure that blackened iron plate mail is nice, stats-wise, but how will the local populace react to a grizzled warrior walking into own bristling with weapons and dressed like that? (I can't wait for my party to find out, heh.)


Ah! Especially if the late wearer of the black plate mail was a marauder that killed the last village headman and put the village to the torch. You have to remember that in this setting, there's no CNN or facebook. It's all rumor stacked on top of rumor. Distinguishing features (like a big dude wearing black platemail with a big skull on it) define the person wearing it...especially when you're a stranger riding into town...

Something I haven't even thought about... but now will use... <insert evil Judge laugh and handwashing>

Anyway.

_________________
AKA Paul Wolfe
The Mystic Bull: Our new publishing website. Have a submission? PM me.
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer: 12 Short Adventures for DCC!
The God-Seed Awakens: 3rd Level Adventure for DCC. New patron, new spells, lots of new monsters and the living weapons of the Empire of Thal!
My Gamer Profile


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:58 am 
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Currently I am trying to distribute expendable magic items or wizard scrolls (or just new spells) at an average of about 1 ever 2 or 3 sessions, and permanent magic items about 1 every 4 or 5 sessions. When they find expendable items, they sometimes find multiple doses. However, I made the party afraid of the two permanent items I've given out in my Northumbrian campaign:

One item is a shadow-demon's eye trapped in a bronze cage worn as an amulet on a silver chain. It allows the wearer to sneak as a thief, or gives a thief +4 to that check, and at night if the wearer remains still for 10 continuous rounds he becomes invisible for as long as he remains still, but must roll a D20. If any of the sneaking results or the invisibility check comes up a '1', the wearer suffers -1 Luck (50%) or corruption (50%, minor for sneaking, moderate for invisibility), and the shadow-demon who lost his eye has a 50% chance to locate the party and come after them. When using the amulet the wearer hears the shadow-demon whispering curses at him. They've learned that the demon grows in power with the current level of darkness (and they don't know yet that this includes the phases of the moon), and they've grown afraid of falling sleeping without a nice, bright fire nearby.

The other item is a crusader's longsword that became magical when its former owner died while slaying a demon. The weapon does an additional +1d6 "shadow" damage, but tries to possess the wielder on any attack roll of a natural '1' -- Will save DC 15. Whilst possessed, the character will take on the personality and knowledge of the crusader Hereweald of Bamburgh, a zealous crusading knight, and will insist on fighting to the death against any unholy enemies.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:03 pm 
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oncelor, both of those items are money! I might have to borrow those ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:53 am 
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Some great input, folks. I greatly appreciate it.

I am finding, in general, that I have difficulty overiding the instincts that I've developed from dungeon mastering D&D rpg's for the last 35 years. I know with a little experience I will get this system right, but I am trying to be careful not to unbalance things in the meantime. I guess there's always the demands of patrons or powerful lords & wizards to help remove a few magic items if I end up tipping the scales too much in that direction. I am also going to incorporate the item saving throws from early D&D editions as a means to cull some of the magic items over time.

I'd love to hear some more ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:10 pm 
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My current group just finished its 7th session, are level 3, and have a grand total of three magic items. My players almost never use them, and none of them are weapons. In total they have:

A magical/cursed coin that aids/hinders the success of any action 1/day depending in what face it lands on

A magical ring that allows the user to cast Magic Shield 3/day

A bag of herbs that heal lost HP and potentially fortify the user gain at poison and disease. Limited to 5 uses.

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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:55 pm 
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Vanguard wrote:
A magical/cursed coin that aids/hinders the success of any action 1/day depending in what face it lands on

Oh, nice. Simple and fun. :D


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:55 pm 
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Pesky wrote:
Vanguard wrote:
A magical/cursed coin that aids/hinders the success of any action 1/day depending in what face it lands on

Oh, nice. Simple and fun. :D


You can read full rules at http://earthlightacademy.blogspot.com/2012/08/minor-magic-item-asmodeus-coin.html.

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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:30 pm 
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Vanguard wrote:


Um - I, for one, would never use an item called Asmodeus' ___insert_the_name_of_anything_but_"arrow_of_always_hitting_and_slaying_utterly"____.

That's just asking for trouble.

_________________
AKA Paul Wolfe
The Mystic Bull: Our new publishing website. Have a submission? PM me.
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer: 12 Short Adventures for DCC!
The God-Seed Awakens: 3rd Level Adventure for DCC. New patron, new spells, lots of new monsters and the living weapons of the Empire of Thal!
My Gamer Profile


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 Post subject: Re: distribution of magic weapons
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:54 am 
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ragboy wrote:
Vanguard wrote:


Um - I, for one, would never use an item called Asmodeus' ___insert_the_name_of_anything_but_"arrow_of_always_hitting_and_slaying_utterly"____.

That's just asking for trouble.


Hahaha, sure, but how often do players know the name of a magic item? All our Thief knows is that this coin has three faces and no one else is allowed to touch it.

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