Thursday, March 1, 2012

GameMaestro - Magic Items

Starting a new type of post, My GameMaestro posts. Mastering isn't enough, you have to be a Maestro.

Definition of MAESTRO

: a master usually in an art; especially : an eminent composer, conductor, or teacher of music 
GameMastering is an Art...Being a GameMaestro is hard work. Composing and Conducting  a symphony of players and non-players, to entertain those same-said players. When you succeed, and present an intelligent game full of description that flows, it's a work of art, but it's not JUST the GameMaestro that is required to succeed, you need players that can play the composition you write, you can lay the framework, but they need to play well to make a truly great game. It doesn't always work, but when it's amazing & memorable.

Anyway, So I'm reading the Paizo blogs, I come across this post:

 By now everyone at my table has purchased a core book and their little eyes get to wondering. They browse magic items for their characters then in-game they try to find them by rolling the 75% chance if its under the city's base value.
Last session I said this stops because your characters wouldn't know these items exsist. They I'm in the wrong what do you say?
I also informed them they could just ask around town for an item that may help them be better protected or one that will make their aim more true then rolling the 75% and if they get it I will tell them in game whats available for purchase. 

This is my response:

1: It's your game, thus you're not 'in the wrong'. If they want to GM, let them. There are ALWAYS more players than Gamemasters.

2: By removing easy access to magic items, you can actually make the game more fun, because it brings it back into your hands...making items available because you deem them necessary for the future. Rumors of a flaming sword that was lost 100 years ago suddenly becomes a quest. Bards become a repertoire of possible quests. In addition, once you remove the magic item economy, players might actually WANT to build a castle again, because that million gold pieces they have laying around isn't doing much else. (Note: once you do this, you need to watch your challenge ratings, as the game was designed with X GP requirements in mind. Also reward them with the items you know they might want anyway.)

3: Knowledge (arcana) becomes a much more useful skill, suddenly Knowledge (History) might become a skill people take if they're not a bard. Identifying items mid-adventure suddenly becomes more interesting as well.

4: Obviously, encountering an opponent with a flaming sword is not only a challenge, but a chance to get said flaming sword, more exciting, especially since getting that sword isn't something you just go to the magic shop for.

5: Creating Magic items should also require a Knowledge (arcana) check...The DMG says that the creation of a magic item requires items worth X number of gold pieces, nothing in there says those items have to be common. So the wizard researched how to create an Acid Burst sword, now to get that green dragon blood. When the players decide they need something, it propels the game forward on it's own.

6: Yes, I'm a proponent of old school gaming style. Some of it definitely should have been removed (level 5 halfling fighter max? no thanks), other stuff shouldn't have been removed.

Yes, I'm very opinionated, I have been GMing for over 28 years, GMing isn't easy, having a combined Player/GM book doesn't make it easier. It's not like the old days when the DMG was off-limits to players, there's not as much mystery to the game. The magic creation rules made it much easier to PLAN your character around X items. Knowing your monk is going to get an Amulet of Mighty Fists anyway, so you don't need Elemental Fist. 

It's one of the reason I like Earthdawn so much, while there are common thread items here and there, they're not the legendary items. If you want to find said legendary items, investigate the legends, find out where they were lost...

It's the one bright point I see in the D&D Next design philosophy.