Part 1: Reconstructed Items
In my last article, I introduced a way to rethink attunement and possibly make it more interesting by connecting it to proficiency. Graham Scott followed this up with discussions about how to make interesting, low-power, or even nonmagical items and on how to theme items by focusing on their minor properties.
In this article I will describe a method I have used to make magic items stay relevant throughout a campaign: I design them so that they will grow and develop with the characters who possess them.
It has always struck me as problematic that characters in fantasy role playing games tend discard the magical objects they once worked so hard to acquire, and so relied upon, whenever a better, more powerful version comes along. I suspect that the hard attunement cap rule will encourage ditching of items — a fact which runs counter both to the idea of magic-item scarcity (items should be rare) and the idea that you shouldn’t be able to buy magic items at a shop. If adventurers in the world have several built-in reasons to get rid of old items while trading up to better ones, market forces pretty much dictate there will be a market for magic items. The economic rule trumps the book rule, or ought to.
Even before attunement was invented, player characters treated their magic items with a certain mercenary callousness that seemed at odds with much of the fantasy genre’s traditions. After all, who is Arthur without Excalibur, or Elric without Stormbringer? Iconic items are a staple of the genre, but they rarely actually come into play in fantasy role playing games. On one level, of course, this makes a certain sense: It is grossly overpowering to give an artifact to a low-level character, and such an individual would be hard pressed to hold on to it.
Still, it is sad that by the time characters actually acquire such legendary items they are nearing the end of their natural playing span. If you get your epic sword at level 17, there is only so much you are going to be able to do with it before you hit your level cap. [Read more…] about Legacy Items: Magic Items that Scale, Part 1