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 Magic Item Idea

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Epic Adventurer
Epic Adventurer

Posts : 307
Join date : 2013-09-15
Age : 48
Location : Central California.

Character sheet
Name: Alain Smith IV
Class: Vampire
Race: Half-Elf

PostSubject: Magic Item Idea   Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:31 pm

Note: I wrote this with the intention of giving it to the players in my campaign. Because of this, there is a lot of exposition explaining things that many people already know. I'm looking for feedback and input on my idea here. So please comment to your heart's content!

Leveling Up A Magic Item
Giving old items new life.

The Problem
In 4E, the mathematics behind the game are pretty solid. However, they are based upon the premise that the characters will have specific magic items of specific enhancements at specific levels. The inherent bonus system handles this fairly well. So if you don’t get that +4 implement at the right level, the inherent bonus will kick in and your “math” will work out alright. But there is still a problem.

The problem is that magic items are more than just a bonus to attack, damage, or defenses. There are properties and powers that are built in to some magic items. And these are cool properties and powers; things that the players actually like. But when that new, shiny +4 weapon shows up ahead of the inherent bonus “bump”, the player has to make a choice between keeping the cool property/power and the higher bonus.

Some players like to build story into their items. They like to be able to say things like “This is the hammer that my grandfather used to slay the invading goblin horde.” But after about 3 or 4 levels, they also have to add, “...and I keep it here over the fireplace because there’s no way I can function out there with a +1 hammer!” Obviously, the inherent bonus rules will remove some of this problem, but still, it would be nice for the player to be able to use that weapon throughout the entire campaign. In terms of game mechanics, that hammer may only be a +1 hammer, but in story terms, it is so much more. And if it were the same hammer at a higher level, it may get upgrades to the existing properties/powers.

The Solution
Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this problem. It involves creating a custom magic item that simply “levels up” an existing magic item. The 4E system is quite elegantly structured to do just this, too. It is just a matter of crunching through the numbers and putting the new mechanic into place.

Magic item levels and cost have a clever progression. A magic item of a given level costs 20% of a magic item that is 5 levels higher. So the cost/level can be computed fairly easily. The rules for enhancement bonuses are pretty easy as well. The enhancement bonuses go from +1 to +6 and they “bump” every 5 levels. So all +1 items are level 1 through 5. All +2 items are level 6 through 10. And so on. If you put these two systems together, you can see that a if a magic item of a given enhancement bonus gets “bumped” to the next enhancement bonus, that’s a gain of 5 levels, which corresponds with a cost increase of 500% (5 times more expensive).

The game structure assumes a fairly straight forward system of awarding magic items to a party as they progress through the levels. It doesn’t matter what the items are as their equivalent value in gold is what is used as a basis for determining what is awarded. So instead of giving a +3 axe and hoping that someone will want that axe, the DM can give out a level 13 “magic item level upper” and the players can use it to “upgrade” their existing weapon, armour, implement, or whatever to level 13.

“But what if my item doesn’t have a level 13 version?” is what some joker is asking right about now. Well, the answer is simple. The level 13 magic item level upper, or L13-MILU as we just decided to call it, will upgrade your magic item to the highest level BELOW 13 that has a defined version. So if you have a suit of hide armor at level 7 (which would be +2), the next level up would be 12 (which is 7+5 and it would be a +3 suit). So the L13-MILU is consumed and the armor is now level 12.

“But now I’m getting cheated out of an extra level worth of a magic item!” is what that same joker is whining about right now. Once again, there is a simple solution. And that is that if there are extra “levels” remaining in the MILU, those are converted into residuum of value equal to the difference in levels not used. So if you have a L15-MILU and it upgrades an item to level 13, you would subtract the value (in gp) of a level 13 item from the value (in gp) of a level 15 item and the difference is how much gp worth of residuum you would get.

And before that joker can get another word in edgewise…

There is also the matter of the “lost” item that could have been sold or converted to residuum. Obviously, if you have a level 7 item and then replace that with a brand new level 12 item, you still have the old level 7 item that can be sold. If you just “upgrade” the item, you don’t have that old item to sell or disenchant. Well, that’s covered in the process as well.

In addition to any “excess” levels that may come out of the process (in the form of residuum), you also will get an amount of residuum equal to the value you would have gotten by disenchanting the old item, which is 20% of the listed value.

The Summary
If that was all TL;DR (because it is rather long and boring), here’s how it all works:

Take the level of the item you want to upgrade.
For example, level 6.

Then, take the level to which that item will be upgraded.
In our example, it will be 11 or 16 or 21 or 26.

Then, take the level of the MILU.
In our example, let’s assume it is 13.

When you level up your magic item, you will get:
A new item of the appropriate level
In our example a level 11 item

Residuum equal to the value of the difference of the MILU and the resulting item
In our example the difference between level 13 and level 11

Residuum equal to the value of disenchanting the original item
In our example, 20% of a level 6 item

Make sense? Easy, right?

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