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D&D 3E
Too far, too fast 
30th-Oct-2005 12:24 am
Sa-Ra
I'm coming to the end of my warhammer game and I thought "I'm on a d&d LJ community, I probably should be doing some more d&d". However, I have a problem, it's the age old concern - how do I stop them getting unbelievably hard really quickly without being stingy on the roleplay part of XP? In one game I created and entire new realm and a new pantheon (which was fun to do), and the place was called Angleland, based on England. The north was very grim and unattended by the capital in the south, and the middle bit was very very dull (it won't come as a shock to you that I grew up in the Midlands and now live in the north). The point being that the north was very sparse on magical items, so they couldn't just pop into the local blacksmith and buy a +5 vorpal sword. I wanted magical items to be valued, and not 10 a penny. How can I balance a game without being unreasonable?
Comments 
29th-Oct-2005 11:34 pm (UTC) - Strictly speaking of magical items..
Make them rare through the entire area, except in some areas (I'm guessing the south?) where for a price you can have them fabricated.

So for example, you're in the north and want a +2 dagger with throwing and returning? Tough. You're in the south and want the same dagger? Alright, 60,000gp (or some inflated price based on what everything else in your kingdom costs - basically, think just short of making it prohibitively expensive).

Make it hard to get magical weapons too. Like first having to buy a masterwork dagger, then finding the secret wizards guild and arranging a meeting, then paying them off to cast the magic for you. This could become an adventure all on its own!
29th-Oct-2005 11:56 pm (UTC) - Re: Strictly speaking of magical items..
Angleland actually has two capitals. The equivalant of London which is the centre of commerse and politics, and the other is in cornwell, and that's the magical capital. There's all sorts of political dancing about as to who actually runs Angleland. This capital does have plenty of magical stuff, but is at extustionate prices.
However, one player really stretched my patience with all the fannying around he did trying to get his grubby little hands on magic items.
29th-Oct-2005 11:42 pm (UTC)
On the online game I'm playing, our GM is really good about looking at magic items as you would any crafting professions in the middle ages. I mean, most of the population of big cites (and even small ones) was made up of serfs, right? And they are usually trying to get buy, so the types of magic items you find in most cities will be minor and things that the every day person might need - even if they are the every day lord or lady. Adventurers are not common, so most of a city's business is not catering to what adventurers would need.

As a result of this, we spend most of the game saying, "Hey, GM, I think my character needs this," and he says, "Well, you're going to have to make it aaaaaall the way to that one major capital city where something that major can be made." When we're in the middle of the underdark, that's not so easy. But I really appreciate how realistic our GM is about that. It's not hard to keep magic items low key when you compare them to, say, gemcrafting. In the middle ages that was a profession for people who could sell to people who had the money to buy stuff they didn't need. Considering the balance of nobles to common people in the middle ages, you can guess there were probably only a handful of cities with master jewelcrafters. Anything magical would probably be very similar.
29th-Oct-2005 11:46 pm (UTC)
I'm also going to take a page from my current passion - WoW. In World of Warcraft, enchanters usually require very expensive materials for very powerful enchants. What about setting it up so that if someone wants that +5 vorpal sword, sure the weaponmaster can make it, but he'll need 3 hearts of the scorpion and a claw of a duarg (I just made up that name, have no idea what a duarg is) in order to make it. Then your players have to go out and find that stuff, maybe even hunting down scorpions and duargs to get it. If you did this, I would suggest trying to keep it so that what they want to hunt is, of course, located in the dungeon or area where the plot is taking them (or else they'll be doing everything /but/ your plot), but it would keep them from walking in and just buying what they want. *shrugs* Just a suggestion.
30th-Oct-2005 12:18 am (UTC)
I like the idea of "if you want it that badly, go on a quest", would be good for a few side quests.
29th-Oct-2005 11:46 pm (UTC)
Angleland: The land of angles. That just brought a funny image to mind ("You're attacked by an acute angle. Roll initiative") ;p

How to balance a game is kind of a broad question. I would suggest that the core D&D game is pretty balanced in it's own way already.

Assuming you give the proper XP for a CR, it should take about 13 encouters of a CR equal to the party level to give a new level (at least I think that's the number its set up with). So if your encounter takes about an hour (which is standard for our group), that's about 13 hours of play for a level. We play 4-6 hour sessions, so with the proper CR it should take 2-3 sessions for a level. At least that works for me. I gave out about a level a session for the first two sessions (which both ran long), and now I'm up to about a level every 3 sessions. We've been playing for about 3 months and the characters are level 5. That seems balanced to me. But if you want them to progress slower, think about dropping the XP system. We used to play where each adventure was a level or part of a level. So if the PCs clear out some bandits, maybe they get half a level. Then when they kill the evil wizard, they get the second half the of the level (so gain the level).

As for magic items, again, the DMG has guidelines for providing treasure such that the PCs have items equal to their level and the CRs they're dealing with. I personally play a low wealth game, where the PCs don't have all that much cash. It's not hard to give them less cash, as often they don't feel that they missed out on anything (unless they're like "what do you mean that bear doesn't have any gold on him??"). Also, keep in mind gold limits in towns. By the book, for a town to be able to sell a +1 magic weapon, it needs a gp limit of 2000+. Which means it has to be at least a Large Town (2000+ people). Most towns are not that big in a fantasy world, so it makes sense that only a few towns would sell magic items, and maybe only one or two would sell really powerful magic weapons. If you have a wizard, maybe suggest that the wizard craft the magic items himself, as it's the best way to get them. I tend to make it so anything other than basic weapons and armor needs to be special ordered: you want that masterwork spiked chain? You're going to have to wait a few weeks for it to be crafted.

In short, if you follow the book, you shouldn't have to worry TOO much about balance (as long as you temper it with common sense), and you can't be accused of being unreasonable because it's in the book.

Does that help?
30th-Oct-2005 12:16 am (UTC)
That sounds a good idea - masterwork could be a good trade off, and waiting times etc - it would be realistic and be nice and low power.

Also, you might be interested in where I got the name Angleland - that was actually what the UK was called in about the 5th/6th centuries when the Angles, a bunch of Germanic invaders, settled here.
If you want to know more, check out the wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angles
30th-Oct-2005 01:41 am (UTC)
I know where the term comes from, actually. Thanks though.
29th-Oct-2005 11:57 pm (UTC)
It was your own fault, putting a removable artifact or, as it was, 2 in the first location we visit is not a good idea. Although I suppose thinking we'd pinch a door did seem unlikely:>
I don't think we ever did buy a magic item though-you were just too easy on the nefarious party member.
30th-Oct-2005 12:21 am (UTC)
Ah yes, the magic door that was used to keep stuff safe, that suddenly became a magic deflecting towersheild when taken off it's hinges and carried around - Doh!

I think that players antics were one of many reasons that ended that game.
30th-Oct-2005 12:34 am (UTC) - Magical Weapons And You
One thing to take into account when depositing availability of magical items throughout your campaign world is the city building bit that they have in the DMG. The maximum item gp value goes a little way to help out.

That being said: just use your best judgement.

Remember that masterwork weapons are indeed masterwork, and not everybody has them. Remember that, and then take it further with the magical weapons. All magical weapons must be masterwork (stated so all over the place), but not all weapons need be masterwork. Even venders wouldn't stockpile so many magical weapons, because there would be no call for it from the general populace. The average peasant makes, what 2cp a day or something like that? It would take a long time to afford a masterwork weapon, let alone a magical weapon, and heaven help the poor fool trying to save up to buy a +5 vorpal sword.

The cost to create the weapons (and items go for this too) is entirely too great for there to be a large quantity of them: unless everybody has large amounts of money, and if everybody has large amounts of money, things cost much more. It's the rule of inflation.

Kingdoms may arm their warriors with masterwork weapons as a baseline, +1 magical weapons maybe, and higher grades for officers. Think of it this way:

-Conscripts have weapons that are crap. Masterwork if they're lucky, but most of them plain weapons.
-Hired soldiers should have masterworks at the very least, maybe a +1 if their kingdom has the financial backing to afford it
-Captains/Liutenants should have a +1 weapon at least, because there are less of them and they have to lead their soldiers. +2 for greater renown
-Generals should have a +2, or maybe a +3, depending on the power of the force

Take it from there. After +3 everything starts getting hyper expensive, and a +5 vorpal sword is an epic weapon, and there are few (maybe none) epic level NPC's.
30th-Oct-2005 12:58 am (UTC)
Might I suggest running a fantasy game using d20 Modern?

That system is pretty much balanced around little-to-no magic, so you should be able to work with it.
30th-Oct-2005 10:15 am (UTC)
I had thought of that, we've got a copy where I work - which is a library - but someone just took it out, and I want to do characters today. Grr.
30th-Oct-2005 07:04 pm (UTC)
i never liked the majik item system,,,what wizard would spend all his exp on making an item that he is selling,no matter how much gold,,it doesent even out,,i would simply make people whoknow how to make the stuff fiew and far between,,if they want a +f holy avenger.make them travel to where a majik user that can and will make it and make them stick around in a town untill its made, i think its one day per 1000 gp so it could take a while. just dont make the stuff that available,,i know what the books recomend,,but thats all it really is do it how you see fit
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