Magic Item Rarity with D&D Essentials

So it was eeked out that WotC has new magic item rules with the essentials line. Most of it is dedicated to further classifying magic items based on their rarity in the world, and a little about allowing players to use different items more frequently.

I’m happy this got into the game. The skinny of the rules are that items with reusable powers or exceedingly powerful abilities are considered rare. Most items with a daily power would be considered uncommon. While powers that offer a flat power bonus or skill check bonus, without any additional daily power, would be a common item. The costs for selling and obtaining such items are also adjusted. So that rare powerful sword is simply something you cannot buy, you have to discover it adventuring. If you wanted to part with it for some coin, it would offer you a small fortune and not simply 1/5th the gold value. While common magical items would be something pretty easily available in some large city, and selling such an item would not offer much.

It’s a great way to handle magic items. I think finally WotC settled on giving the DM some guidelines about awarding magic items in their game based on some other criteria other than just the level and gold value. Face it, a set of climbing claws that gives a bonus to athletics climbing checks is not the same as an acidic weapon, even though both are level 4 items. Having an additional set of descriptive tools for magic items helps a DM tons in figuring out what would be an appropriate reward.

I especially like that much of the ideas for magic item rarity are backwards compatible with the existing items out there. Most items are uncommon or rare, so likely most DMs are giving out appropriate rewards. But at least with the common category, it gives the DM a little leeway in awarding more items. Now I’m willing to give out more magical items during a level, knowing some basic skill bonus items are not something that will screw up the game balance too much.

Another nice stance WotC has taken is dropping the tier restrictions for item use. So finally that level 8 fighter can fire off a daily power from his sword and armor, and drop the either/or conundrum. I never understood why this was in the game in the first place. I’m also surprised with all the fast and loose ‘rules are really guidelines’ that 4E has embraced, WotC never just stated DMs might want to consider curbing magic item use to some method tied to the player tier. Instead they dropped down a hard rule that I think most groups just dumped completely. What still boggles me is how long it took them to come around to this. Man, 2 years post release is a pretty long time to finally get this ironed out.

Still, I’ll be using this. For DMs I think this is a great way to work magic item use into your game. What do you folks think about this new approach to magic items?


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.


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Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.
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