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The most game-altering item in D&D

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Dacke:
I was thinking... the DMG goes into some detail on the easy way to write an adventure, as based on the whole CR/EL thing: four encounters in a row, each with an EL of the party's average level, more or less. Since each "appropriate" encounter is supposed to drain 20-25% of the party's short-term resources (mostly hp and spells), four encounters should pretty much exhaust the party, making the fourth pretty risky. However, there is one item that makes this whole setup into a big sham:

The lowly wand of cure light wounds.

This item costs a mere 750 gp, for 50 charges of 1d8+1 healing. That comes out to between 2 and 3 gp per hp healed - call it 3 gp on account of some "overkill" (and that term feels VERY inappropriate when talking about healing). Its existence means that the party starts every encounter in top condition, at least as far as hp are concerned. It makes most traps pointless, unless they deal enough damage to outright kill those affected or have some other, non-hp related effect (e.g. poison). The same pretty much goes for monsters, except they usually stick around for a few rounds so they have more time to deal lethal (or at least dangerous) damage.

The wand also affects class balance a bit. Clerics and druids get a little boost through its existence (since it means they can use their spells for other things than healing), but the big winners are the fighting classes, especially the plain fighter. The main resource the fighter expends in an encounter are his hit points, and the wand easily replenishes those. Other fighting classes tend to have some X/day abilities (Rage for barbarians, Smite evil for paladins, um... nothing I can think of for rangers other than spells), but hp are a pretty big thing with them too. The ones who gain the least from the wand are arcane casters, since the main resource they expend in an encounter are their spells and the wand doesn't help there.

I'm not sure what, if anything, to do to the wand. I don't have any problems with the spell itself, or with potions/scrolls of it (since you don't tend to carry around fifty of those in a convenient light-weight package that you get for a big discount). I don't have much of a problem with other wands either, mainly because wands tend to suck for most other 1st-level spells you want to cast a lot of (because of low DC, damage, and/or other level-based effects), and as soon as you leave 1st-level wand territory
prices go up pretty steeply (a 2nd-level wand costs six times that of a 1st-level wand). I think it's a combination of the general lack of time sensitivity of Cure Light Wounds (by the time the fight is over, you can generally take a minute or two to heal people up) and the fact that it doesn't rely much on caster level or save DC. I don't want to add a surcharge to that one wand in an arbitrary fashion, and I don't feel like adding a focus to the spell (which would increase the wand cost in a non-arbitrary fashion) because that would increase the cost of scrolls and potions as well.

Whatever, if anything, I end up doing probably won't be done in the course of the campaign I'm currently running. I don't like changing rules mid-stream, especially rules as game-affecting as this. But I think something should probably be done before I start up another campaign, but I just can't think of what.

Eli the Vile:
The Bag of Holding is a big game altering item allow characters to triple there carry capacity with out penalty.

Dacke:
True, but carrying capacity is generally not as big an issue as hp, especially not the way 3e is specifically built around the grinding down of PCs along the adventure in order to make the last encounter really challenging.

Name Lips:
Hit points aren't the end-all-be-all of party resources. 25% of resources used up includes spells and interestingly enough - consumable magic items. Such as wands. So whether you reach the last battle without hit points, or without wand charges, you're missing a resource. Plus, there are many forms of damage a lowly cure light wounds wand won't fix - ability damage, negative levels, etc.


Personally I think space-saving items are game-altering. Imagine, if you will, a DM who forces his players to keep track of encumbrance. Yeah, I know, just about the most tedius waste of time you can imagine, but it's RAW. That poor party has to leave behind all these nice weapons and armor, and carry away only small, portable loot, lest it become overencumbered. Simply investing in a bag of holding could dramatically increase such a party's profit-per-adventure.

Plus, I'd say it's game-altering when your PCs throw down a portable hole at the feet of the enemies, then toss in a bag of holding. :p

Settembrini:
They are absolutely neccessary. And not the answer to everything. All Spells with the lvl/min range will be seriously hampered by using CLW-Wands. it takes around 30 charges to refresh after a big fight. That means 3 minutes!
Enough time for reinforcements and your lesser buffs to run their course, especially if done repeatedly.
And a trap that sucks up charges and thus money is OK with me. If not for CLW Wands, most 3.5 Adventures would be unplayable, unlest you take 2 healing clerics with you, who do nothing else. so every Party would have to have 3 clerics.

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