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The Magic Of Magic — 2 Comments

  1. I think the “feel” of magic items that their trying to re-capture can be summed up by the Brazier of Fire Elemental Control from the BECMI Expert book. “A brazier? Wtf’s a brazier? A container for holding fire, weird. Oh, we can summon a fire elemental, awesome! Oh, if we lose concentration it will try to kill us…” That might just work for me but I think that’s the feeling they want from 5e magic items.

    Magic item rarity? Sure. A Monty Haul campaign, sure to that too. Depends on the group and their preferences. Flavor text for magic items? Yeah the players are only going to write down “Greatsword +2, etc.” but I’d still like to see the flavor text for ideas and fun reading.

    If the game isn’t scaled taking magic into account I’d actual be okay with, even prefer, that. But, realistically I think the game I run and my players general lack of interest in magic items, or any treasure for that matter, isn’t the norm. Why do they seem to ignore magic items? I don’t know. I can’t imagine my campaign story is that captivating. I think they just enjoy killing things. Maybe it’s what they need after a hard week of work. I digress, anyways…

    Yeah, so scale the game assuming characters will have some magic items, then just drop a note in the rules for those of us with low magic item games and how we should adjust. And put the flavor text in with the magic items so folks can use it if they want, or ignore it if they prefer. Everyone’s happy.

  2. The problem with trying to recapture any sensawunda you had when you were 13 is… you’re not 13. No matter how mysterious brassieres may be to 13 year olds, or braziers for that matter, you reach the point where you have a pretty good idea what to do with them. You can’t code that into the rules. Deliberately making rules ambiguous doesn’t create mystery; it just creates arguments.

    Exactly how much flavor should go in the rules is pretty much art, not science. I prefer suggestions, guidelines, and examples to hard-coding item flavor. Instead of describing a flame tongue sword, describe aspects that a fire item might have: Brass and bronze metals, rubies and other red gems, flame patterns, writing in Ignan or fire Giant, a bright glow, warm to the touch, fires seem to light more easily within 10 feet of it, or burn brighter and faster, creatures of fire react to it — perhaps positively (“He bears the blade given by the elemental king to his human champion!”) or negatively (“He bears a blade which enslaves an elemental spirit!”). Do this for all of the item properties — cold, keen, bleeding, aquatic, whatever. Provide lists of thematic gems, colors, plants, and so on. I should be able to look up “water” and see water-related gems, water-related weapons, water-related colors, water-related adjectives, and so on. Given this, I should have all the inspiration I need to turn a +2 Trident Of Sahuagin Slaying into a wall of flavor text that attacks for 4d6 damage. What I don’t want is a single, static, description of the weapon. Give me the tools, don’t build everything for me.

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