Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Legend & Lore Redux - Magic & Mystery

This is the continuing commentary on Monte's D&D5e design blog posts.

Magic & Mystery

In this installment of my commentary, I'm covering the October 4th entry, wherein Monte talks shop about magic items and the current iterations of 4th edition, and both 3.x (and by being a derivative work Pathfinder; though he of course doesn't mention Pathfinder.)

Monte makes great points about the mere fact that the game design of these iterations are built around a party have specific gold piece expectations of gear does several things. It removes the mystique of magic items, and it removes the Dungeon Master's ability to reward the characters with mystical treasures.

One of the reasons I love Earthdawn so much is that the good magic items are individual items that grow with the characters as they grow in experience. A weapon or magic item with a history or backstory is much more interesting than popping down to Ye Olde Magic Shoppe and having a vorpal weapon made. Imagine if King Arthur just had Excalibur handed to him by Merlin.

Defeating a dragon and looting it's treasure loses appeal if you just go through it to price it, sell it and buy what you REALLY want.

This can easily be accomplished in existing games by limiting what can be crafted without specific components. If you really want to craft a vorpal sword, perhaps you need to have a sword crafted by a master craftsman of an alloy of adamantine and mithral folded 1000 times. Then diamond dust is sprinkled over the blade as you have an Elder Elemental Lord heat the blade. Lastly the finished weapon much be tempered in the blood of the Jabberwock. Knowing what your magic item can do is more interesting when you find out in the heat of battle. Remember when Bilbo learned Sting glowed blue when orcs were around?

Decoupling magic items from the expected gear is good design, even if I don't play 5e, this also gives me hope that Dungeons & Dragons will continue on in RPG format rather than just as board games.