Thursday, July 12, 2012

Treasure in 4e Forever

Ah, treasure. A contentious topic in 4e if there ever was one. I thought today I would preview the way magic items appear in my upcoming zine, 4e Forever. If you are curious about the status of the mag, all I can tell you is WOW did I ever underestimate the amount of work involved getting this done, especially when you are trying to work full time, raise a 1 year old, run your regular campaigns, and on and on. Still, I continue to make progress and I have some surprises about the contents that I will be showing off in the coming weeks.

Anyhoo, back to treasure. Well, as you are aware the zine deals exclusively with high Paragon and Epic tier play. This basically has helped me with being able to "get away with" the design. In short, the items presented do not have levels. If they are weapons, armor, or neck slot items, they are +5 or +6, but they are not assigned a level. There is no item rarity, at all. There are no limits on how many different magic item daily powers you can use in a single encounter. There are usually no prices given for items.

If you want to mosey down to Ye Olde Magic Shoppe and buy some magic items, you are kind of screwed. That is, magic items for sale exist, but they tend towards random consumables, a low level +1 generic sword, and the occasional ritual. That sort of thing. Only rarely will you find a store carrying these items, and they will probably be an overpriced hassle to procure.

No two campaigns are exactly alike, so DMs are encouraged to use whatever method they want to assign items. You don't have to use my ideas. If you do not like where treasure is placed in my adventure, place some yourself, use the parcel method, roll randomly, use wish lists, do whatever you like. If you want magic shoppes, go for it, it won't break anything. If you want to use inherent bonuses, go for it. The only thing the DM really needs to do is make sure PCs get to those +5s and +6s at a reasonable rate. My method simply puts all of the control back in the DM's hands; that is the default that will be presented, but if you want to change it feel free.

Magic items are not "statted out" in the same way that 4e traditionally presents them. Magic items will be described without stat blocks, in a more conversational tone, just like the old days. Often there will be some leeway in how the item will preform; this is deliberate, to give the DM something to improvise off of. Here are two examples, just off the top of my head.

Harley's Fantastic Social Lubricant

Invented by Jum Jum Harley, famed Half-Elf mystic, this liquid is sealed in a glass vial that has a large "H" inscribed on it. The contents can be broken up into three doses. Each dose causes the imbiber to lose his or her inhibitions within one turn (ten minutes). This may manifest itself in multiple ways: the imbiber could fall in love with someone or some thing out of the blue, could lose the ability to lie, or could simply disrobe in public. It is unclear what happens if you give a creature all three doses at once but it is not recommended. Each dose lasts about an hour. For whatever reason, this stuff doesn't work on Satyrs.You can occasionally find a vial or two of this at curio shoppes in central Serd (10% chance).

Tome of Insatiable Bloodlust

This large tome is bound in the stretched skin of an unknown animal (goat? maybe?). The cover is dyed a rich crimson. It is a +6 implement that is drawn like a magnet to blood and gore. Against bloodied targets, this implement scores critical hits on a roll of 17-20. Against a non-bloodied target, the tome does not provide extra crit dice, but against a bloodied target the crit dice are 6d10. There are some drawbacks to the tome. When the wielder scores critical hits, whether the target is bloodied or not, the wielder takes 3d12 paper cut damage. Also, anyone left alone with the tome for more than a turn will hear the tome whispering "Feed me" in their heads. Owner must make a save vs Charm at a -2 penalty or be compelled to feed it with his or her own blood once a day, taking 5d12 damage in the process. Blood dripped onto the tome's pages is quickly absorbed and appears to evaporate as soon as it hits a page.

There are said to be 6 such tomes in existence, all created at the same time, but the only known copy is in the hands of the Nethermancer Archibald of Bridgepuddle, Serd.

To be honest, I do not expect there to be a ton of items appearing in the magazine. That is one part of the game that is bloated enough already to not need any more support. But, should a few items appear here and there to reinforce fluff, or should readers submit items, this is the way they generally will appear.

Seem radical? Wait til you see what I am doing with monster stat blocks!

Please share any thoughts by leaving a post!


  1. I like not having item levels, but it does make calculating item prices (in reagents/residuym) a nightmare. Have any solutions?

    1. Yes, items arent normally bought, sold, or created. I updated this post a little bit here

      The final rules are in the 1st issue of 4e Forever.

    2. Thanks! I'll definitely check your magazine out.