RPG Rant: I Am a Selfish Designer

Sometimes, I really miss Pathfinder. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Pathfinder just as much as I used to, and some distance from it has really softened the edges of the system a bit (I even have a kind of appreciation for the glut of classes it currently has). But 5e has become my game of choice, and I genuinely love almost everything it has to offer. It’s a much more streamlined system that plays like a beautiful merger between the Old and New schools of game design. Monsters have never been easier to build, the magic item system allows you to maintain elegance and mystery in your items, and the staged class design makes designing alternate class features and subclasses much easier and more fun.

But…I guess I just miss designing for Pathfinder. Why? Let me explain.

The primary reason I left Pathfinder behind was the number crunching. Things just got too big and unwieldy. Even by level 10, characters could (and often were) swinging around big +20 attack bonuses and Armor Classes that shot way past the reasonable. Characters were lit up like Christmas trees with all of the “required” magic items. All in all, it was very much the antithesis of 5e’s design.

Whoa. I just realized that I’m writing about Pathfinder like it’s dead. And it is very much not dead. Continue reading

Re-Post: 5 Magic Items for Magic Users

I’ve always felt that magic users tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to magic items. I mean, they have Pearls of Power and Staves of the Magi and Rings of Spell Storing and Wands and Scrolls of varying effectiveness, but mages always seem to lug around the same five or six magic items, and they all seem to do the same thing: give the mage more spells to cast. There’s no variety there.

It’s boring.

And so, like with my axes, I present 5 unique magic items for magic users! Continue reading

How to Make Masterwork Items in 5th Edition D&D

Welcome to December, everybody! Sorry about not posting a Friday Feature last week. It was Black Friday for us retail-slaves, and that meant that my week was especially hectic and crazy. I’ll do my damnedest to avoid that from now on.

This month, I’m talking all about stuff. Weapons, armor, shields, and magic items. Because that’s what this season is all about. Materialism. And to a large degree, that remains the same in Dungeons and Dragons, where the jokey tagline is “killing monsters and taking their stuff.

Hell, my blog is named Loot the Body.

So, let’s talk Masterwork Weapons. Masterwork weapons, armor, and tool sets were one of my favorite little mechanics in D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder. You know the funny thing, though? I also hated those same mechanics with a deep and abiding passion. Continue reading

Re-Post: 5 Unique Magical Axes

Everyone talks about magical swords. They suffuse nearly the entirety of fantasy literature, movies, and even D&D. SCREW. THAT.

Swords are stupid.

Axes. It’s all about the axes, man.

Actually, this isn’t just about axes. It’s also about utilitarian design. Too many magic items are just “deal extra damage” or “add to your attack rolls” or whatever. This is an attempt to create magic weapons that feel like weapons, but also offer abilities that aren’t necessarily “combat” abilities. True, some of these axes are more combat-focused than others, but the idea is to create interesting items that one might think to use outside of a literal “I hit it with my axe.”
Continue reading

Treasure Type Z: Welcome! (And 3 magic items)

Instead of a re-post this week, welcome to my new series of articles: Treasure Type Z! Why Treasure Type Z? Because in the Monster Manual for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (that’s 1st edition, folks), Treasure Type Z is a little bit of everything. It’s coins, gems, magic items, whatever. And that’s what TTZ is going to be on this site. It’s a little bit of everything. The operative words being “little bit”. It’s not a Monstrous Monday, where I have to write a bunch of stuff about monsters, and it’s not a Friday Feature, where I write thousands of words on a topic and invest most of my free time, which I could use to spend time with other human beings. This is something small. It’s a magic item, or a new subrace, or a new subclass. It’s presented without explanation or analysis. Maybe it’s a quick house rule. Maybe it’s a template or a new character sheet page or a map. It’s just me sharing a little something with you.

So, in honor of the original meaning for Treasure Type Z, I’m giving you three quick magic items to use in your games. One weapon, one armor, and one wondrous item. Continue reading

Re-Post: Regarding Magic Item Glut

And now we come to one of my most popular posts from the old blog. Going back over it a bit, I realize that I disagree with some of what is said here. For example, +1 items do have their place (I did place three of them in Night of Samhain, after all). I’m sure I’ll get to talking about that at some point, though. This is just an intro. One thing I do really still like is the Numenera method of using cyphers to give players neat, single-use magic items that then disappear afterwards.

Oh, and don’t steal magic items from your players. That’s kind of a shitty thing to do. Also, my style is kind of Angry GM-ish here. I don’t recall if I was reading his work yet, but I don’t think so. That makes this kind of odd. Continue reading