Like it’s 1981 all over again, part nine

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10 Responses

  1. Chgowiz says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I really enjoyed how you ran this. I enjoyed hearing about how the players took to it.

    Right up to the point I read this: they find 60gp, 300sp and a Magic Item level 3 of their choosing (Treasure Parcels 9 & 4 from the DMG).

    Really? I kept reading that elsewhere but it never really sunk in. I must have really skipped that part in my (now a year old) reading of 4E. Why didn’t you pick it for them?

    Maybe I’m missing something in context, but how does that work? Do you think it’s a good idea? What’s to prevent players from deciding they want to pick treasure parcels, or monsters faced? I’m not be facetious, I’m just curious what you think?

    Good series, but man, that was a dash of cold water in the face. Are you going to try again? If so, what are you going to change next time?

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  2. Greywulf says:

    @Chgowiz Letting the players pick their own magic items is a LOT of fun! Tell ’em the level of the item then just sit back as they fight, negotiate and beg over the spoils. It’s a lot more fun than giving them something they don’t want so they just sell it for something else instead. This way they get what they’re happy with and I (as Lazy GM) don’t have to do much thinking. Perfect.

    The dip into the Magic Items section of the PHB (or Adventurer’s Vault, or whatever) is their reward for reaching this particular milestone in the adventure. It means they have more of a vested interest in the item because (from a meta-gaming perspective) they picked it themselves. If I’d put a Flaming Longsword in there that’s one thing, but if the Fighter has had to talk the players into that fact that a Flaming Longsword is exactly what the party needs and He Must Have It, it’s a whole ‘nuther ballgame. It’s his. He fought for it. He won it.

    I hadn’t planned to give them free choice of items every time, but it’s worked out that way. If I wanted to plant an item that’s plot-specific I’d either put that in place, or adapt the story around whatever the players choose.

    The only thing I do drop in (as per the DMG guidelines, give or take) are Potions of Healing. Players never, ever, think of getting those.

    The DMG (pg 125) advocates the players giving you a wishlist of items in advance that they’d like to receive which you (as GM) then work into the adventure. That’s ok if you can get the players to think that far ahead :D If (for example) a Ranger really wants a Thundering Longbow, I’ll try to work in a chance for him to obtain one (a side-quest, maybe).

    What’s to stop them choosing the monsters? If you’re a good GM, they do. Their choice of classes and playstyle should guide the type of foes you throw at ’em. Without the Wizard in the party I knew that a horde of minions would make for a challenging encounter, especially with Mike’s “just wade into the middle and start swinging” nature.

    We’re planning to continue to Level 2 after they’ve rested up and reported back to the sergeant. They’ve around 650XP each and really want to break into 2nd level next time. We’ll see.

    Incidentaly, they chose a Staff of the War Mage +1 for Mahkra. Niiiiiiiiice.

    Ok. This comment is now longer than the blogpost. I’ll shut up now.

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  3. Chgowiz says:

    Wow.

    That’s just so alien to me. I like magic items to be … well … magical and mysterious and full of possible weal or woe. I think that would be a deal breaker for me as a DM, if my players handed me a wishlist of expectations. I guess for me, part of the fun is constructing, adding and planning how magic items will be part of my campaign.

    Now the thought of hearing about an item through talk, rumor or adventuring, then going to achieve it is one thing – but for a player to have an expectation that because he/she wants a “Thundering Longbow” that he/she *should* get it… I know, different strokes, and that’s OK – I just know that is really antithetical to how I feel/see/want to do D&D. It just really hit me today reading your stuff. If I’m going to be giving the players what they want on their wishlists, then I would feel like a “CYOA” book than a DM. That’s me. (Jeez, I have to keep saying that because I’m going to get roasted, but this is just like a huge eyeopener into how foreign 4th is to me…)

    I’m glad you had fun and it’s fun to read your writeups.

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  4. Greywulf says:

    @Chgowiz Worry ye not – 4e D&D works just fine with the GM in control of giving out magic items too; I’m just happy playing a little looser than that for our current campaign. I suspect the way we’re doing it isn’t necessarily the norm either. And of course – if the players do give you a wishlist, you’re entirely in your rights to completely ignore it :D

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  5. PrecociousApprentice says:

    The idea of a wishlist is an optional one. 4e doesn’t encourage giving players a free choice of magic items. 4e includes a disenchant item ritual so that when you give them something that they don’t like, they can turn it into something more useful but at a loss of value of 80%. That isn’t exactly giving them whatever they want. That is giving them what you want, or 20% of waht they want. If the norm was to give them anything that they wanted, then this ritual wouldn’t be necessary.

    Not to say that Greywulf is doing it wrong. There are optional suggestions that point toward the direction he has taken, but the DMG does not even get close to suggesting that you award “fill in the blank X level magic items”. Even with the wish list, there is the assumption that the DM will place them in his campaign in a way that makes sense, if he places them in the campaign at all. Greywulf has just made his life easier, and singe this doesn’t appear to be a super serious game, offloading some responsibility to the players is a great idea.

    I personaly hate the whole process and idea of ubiquitous magic items that are necessary for PCs to be able to compete. I have stripped them out of my campaigns almost completely, and I only use the equivalent of artifacts. Every magic item has a name and a history. PCs do not get to choose them.

  6. Elton says:

    Ah, this was cool. Nice to do that with 4e every time it’s played. :D

    Eltons last blog post..Why the Orcs are named after African Tribes

  7. Chgowiz says:


    Greywulf: And of course – if the players do give you a wishlist, you’re entirely in your rights to completely ignore it :D

    PA: 4e includes a disenchant item ritual so that when you give them something that they don’t like, they can turn it into something more useful but at a loss of value of 80%. That isn’t exactly giving them whatever they want. That is giving them what you want, or 20% of waht they want. If the norm was to give them anything that they wanted, then this ritual wouldn’t be necessary.

    It’s my hangup, but I don’t see it as “not giving the player something just because I can” – I see it that there’s a sense of ‘entitlement’ and an expectation now. That ritual, to me, enforces that point. (“DM didn’t give me my +3 Pony, dammit, so I’ll cast this to create a +3 toy statue. So there!”)

    I’m not saying Greywulf did it right or wrong, I’m saying that the fact that the concept is there is foreign to me. Ah, I’m starting to repeat myself so I’ll just leave it at that.

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  8. HermitDave says:

    The ritual actually just turns the item into dust… er residuum, which can be sold off in order to buy more magic items. Its definitely videogame inspired and a good way to carry all those useless magic items you might find on the bodies of enemies after you get into the high levels.

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  9. Thasmodious says:

    On subject – :)

    This has been a great write up and a really enjoyable read. You’ve inspired me to work up a similar one-shot to have ready to spring on my players should we be down a couple and have to cancel one night. Now, I’ll be almost rooting for it to happen.

    @Chgowiz – this whole “player entitlement” thing is a myth, blown up and spread around the tubes. Wish lists are entirely optional, the DM can use whatever method he chooses, even random (thanks to Asmor’s Utilities). The treasure section in the DMG encourages DMs to hand out useful treasure. And since 4e went away from 3es magic shops on every corner approach, they threw in some mechanics to handle disenchanting or selling old or less useful items for 20% value.

    Doesn’t much matter what the DMG says anyway, DMs will do it in a way that makes them comfortable. I had a DM back in my 1e days who just gave out gold, gems and the like, rarely any magic at all, just a lot of currency. Then when we’d arrive in town there would inevitably be a magic item shop and he’d just hand us the DMG and Unearthed Arcana to “shop” their selection and buy what we wanted.

  10. yoyorobbo says:

    Very strong series here bud. I’ve said it all along, but the wrapup here deserves another toast….”yay you!”

    I really ejoyed reading along, and felt as if I was there the whole time with ya’ll. Wish I was.

    On the “players choose items” thing, I experienced this for the first time last week, in a 4th level 4e campaign I’m in. Each party member got to choose a level 6? or 7? item (can’t recall ATM). That seems a bit over the top, and it did kinda rub me weird at first (me being a player in said game), but we are a mall group (began as only 3 members, now a solid 4), so that may be the reason to sorta help us out a bit, plus the DM did say that the loot will not just “come”, it will be sparse, but when it does come, it will be very generous. So I guess that’s true.

    BTW, I chose a +2 Mage’s Bastard Sword for my melee oriented Cleric….ha! You might think that sounds stooooopid, but it’s a +3 proficiency weapon that I can use without a feat…nice!

    Anyway, back on track….GREAT POSTS! Looking forward to the continuing saga, bud.

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