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[livingworld] Re: (Long) Balancing Magic for High and Low Level Characters

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  • NickPerch@aol.com
    In a message dated 5/1/99 1:58:46 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Any powerful item encourages the owner not to seek replacements. The working premise was that
    Message 1 of 23 , May 1, 1999
      In a message dated 5/1/99 1:58:46 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
      camp6430@... writes:

      > An item that grows in power encourages the owner not to seek newer,
      > better replacement items. It encourages the owner to seek other items
      > that do not belong to that category because they can be used at the same
      > time.

      Any powerful item encourages the owner not to seek replacements. The working
      premise was that we wanted some way to put more powerful magic into the hands
      of higher level characters. If we introduce a +3 sword into the campaign and
      it falls into the hands of a 2nd level character, he will not be looking for
      new weapons either. The difference is that the character with the +3 sword
      is immediately much more powerful than the character with the 'growing'
      weapon.

      > This concept indirectly lessens the *perception* of rewards. If a
      > fighter has 5 weapons that grow with the wielder in some way, then risking
      > your life for another weapon that is equal or lesser quality becomes
      > pointless. The fighter will want a reward he can use, even if someone
      > else can make better use of it. If bracers AC ? come up, then he will
      > choose them over another weapon as he now has a better AC in situations
      > where he can't wear his armor. The wizard is left with a sword he can
      > not use.

      I agree, if the fighter has 5 weapons that grow with the wielder, then
      risking life for another weapon of lesser quality is pointless. But how is
      that different from a situation where the fighter as 5 weapons +3? It's
      still pointless to risk his life for another weapon of lesser quality. The
      difference is, if our fighter with 5 magic weapons is, say, 4th level instead
      of 10th, campaign balance is thrown out of kilter in one instance, but not
      the other.

      Quite frankly, if the fighter insists on taking the bracers from the mage
      _because_ he already has a good weapon (and note that this can happen whether
      the good weapon is a normal weapon or a growing weapon), the the fighter -and
      likely the player thereof- is a jackass, and you should not play with that
      person again. He'll get the hint eventually.

      The presumption is that powerful magic should, at some point, find its way
      into the campaign. None of your objections apply to 'growing' items any more
      than they do to other poweful items. And I don't ever remember suggesting
      that this be limited only to weapons. Spread the wealth. We could have
      rings, bracers, boots, staves, or other things that all grew with the
      wielder. It doesn't have to benefit only fighters.

      Nick

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    • Tyler Bannister
      ... I ve tried this in a home campaign I ran too, and in that campaign the player didn t feel the magical items powers were worth discovering. So you have a
      Message 2 of 23 , May 1, 1999
        On Sat, 1 May 1999, Stephen Campey u wrote:

        > > 6) "Growing Items" (Items that grow in power with the character.)
        > > Advantages: More 'transparent' than restriction by fiat (see 3,
        > > above). Provides absolute control over what level character gain what powers.
        > > Disadvantages: None, that I can see, despite anecdotal claims by one
        > > poster to this list.
        >
        > At least 2 posters to this list have made the same claims to the
        > disadvantages of this method- myself and Tyler Bannister. The
        > disadvantages are:
        >
        > An item that grows in power encourages the owner not to seek newer,
        > better replacement items. It encourages the owner to seek other items
        > that do not belong to that category because they can be used at the same
        > time.
        > This concept indirectly lessens the *perception* of rewards. If a
        > fighter has 5 weapons that grow with the wielder in some way, then risking
        > your life for another weapon that is equal or lesser quality becomes
        > pointless. The fighter will want a reward he can use, even if someone
        > else can make better use of it. If bracers AC ? come up, then he will
        > choose them over another weapon as he now has a better AC in situations
        > where he can't wear his armor. The wizard is left with a sword he can
        > not use.

        I've tried this in a home campaign I ran too, and in that campaign
        the player didn't feel the magical items powers were worth discovering.
        So you have a problem with balancing the items powers too, too few and
        nobody wants or uses the item, too many and everyobdy wants one, but
        doesn't want any similar items as above.

        A third problem is the the delayed powers may be unbalanced and
        because they might not become genreally active for a year or more. Thus
        when it becomes recognized that the item is too powerful, a lot of the
        items have already been distributed. (Making it regional increases the
        likelyhood that unbalanced items are given out, while decreaseing the
        impact of each unbalanced item.)

        My recommendation is too keep these items rare. That's where the
        novelty in them lies. But that's hard to do in a living campaign where
        every table ahs the chance to get one if they play the module.

        --
        Tyler Bannister
        tbannist@...


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      • PwrGamer@aol.com
        In a message dated 5/1/99 1:58:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... I feel a positive way to change this is as the item becomes more powerful, it might even become
        Message 3 of 23 , May 1, 1999
          In a message dated 5/1/99 1:58:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
          camp6430@... writes:

          > An item that grows in power encourages the owner not to seek newer,
          > better replacement items. It encourages the owner to seek other items
          > that do not belong to that category because they can be used at the same
          > time.

          I feel a positive way to change this is as the item becomes more powerful, it
          might even become sentient and have an attitude against other magic items,
          for example, a magic sword that becomes sentient upon the character attaining
          7th level (considering low XP, this will take a while) might be extremely
          jealous of the fighter taking any magic item not considered fighter only or
          miscellaneous, since it only wants to be wielded by a fighter whom is serious
          about using it. This stops players from collecting ever cert under the sun
          if they wish to keep the sword in question.

          Eric

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        • kwinz@ibm.net
          This was a very well-thought-out analysis of the situation. I think that these premises make a good baseline for discussion. And I agree that a variety of
          Message 4 of 23 , May 2, 1999
            This was a very well-thought-out analysis of the situation. I think that
            these premises make a good baseline for discussion. And I agree
            that a variety of solutions can work well when applied in combination.


            -Kim
            kwinz@...

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          • kwinz@ibm.net
            ... This is the most original and interesting idea I ve seen in a while. I think that it would work well to get more powerful items into the hands of higher
            Message 5 of 23 , May 2, 1999
              > 6) "Growing Items" (Items that grow in power with the character.)
              > Advantages: More 'transparent' than restriction by fiat (see 3,
              > above). Provides absolute control over what level character gain what
              > powers. Disadvantages: None, that I can see, despite anecdotal claims
              > by one poster to this list.

              This is the most original and interesting idea I've seen in a while. I
              think that it would work well to get more powerful items into the hands
              of higher level characters, and to avoid unbalancing the power level
              for low level characters.


              -Kim
              kwinz@...

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            • Tyler Bannister
              ... You missed the point Nick. The point is not whether giving a first level character a +3 sword is better than giving him a +1 that grows to +3. But that
              Message 6 of 23 , May 2, 1999
                On Sat, 1 May 1999 NickPerch@... wrote:

                > In a message dated 5/1/99 1:58:46 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                > camp6430@... writes:
                >
                > > An item that grows in power encourages the owner not to seek newer,
                > > better replacement items. It encourages the owner to seek other items
                > > that do not belong to that category because they can be used at the same
                > > time.
                >
                > Any powerful item encourages the owner not to seek replacements. The working
                > premise was that we wanted some way to put more powerful magic into the hands
                > of higher level characters. If we introduce a +3 sword into the campaign and
                > it falls into the hands of a 2nd level character, he will not be looking for
                > new weapons either. The difference is that the character with the +3 sword
                > is immediately much more powerful than the character with the 'growing'
                > weapon.

                You missed the point Nick. The point is not whether giving a
                first level character a +3 sword is better than giving him a +1 that grows
                to +3. But that the low-level character should receive a regular +1
                sword.

                In addition I don't think this mechanic is very transparent, and
                if every magical weapon were tiered to the character level it would become
                obvious and heavy handed. Although it doesn't seem so from time to time,
                roleplaying games tend to attract people of above average intelligence,
                who aren't going to be fooled, if this is the intended use of tiered
                items.

                Both Steve and I feel that it is equally inappropriate for a low
                level character to own a weapon that grows to +3 or a weapon that is +3.
                (I use weapons as an example, but this goes equally for practically
                everything) Furthermore, I don't really understand any of the rational
                behind having a weapon that grows with the fighter, other than it's a neat
                mechanic. Why does the weapon grow? It is tied to the life force of the
                warrior? Bonded to him in some way? That's the only reason I can see for
                the growth, in which case there had better be a bond. But still these
                items should be rare.

                --
                Tyler Bannister
                tbannist@...


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              • PwrGamer@aol.com
                In a message dated 5/2/99 2:00:37 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ... It could be an intelligent weapon with a decent ego, and until the fighter proves himself to
                Message 7 of 23 , May 2, 1999
                  In a message dated 5/2/99 2:00:37 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                  tbannist@... writes:

                  >
                  > Both Steve and I feel that it is equally inappropriate for a low
                  > level character to own a weapon that grows to +3 or a weapon that is +3.
                  > (I use weapons as an example, but this goes equally for practically
                  > everything) Furthermore, I don't really understand any of the rational
                  > behind having a weapon that grows with the fighter, other than it's a neat
                  > mechanic. Why does the weapon grow? It is tied to the life force of the
                  > warrior? Bonded to him in some way? That's the only reason I can see for
                  > the growth, in which case there had better be a bond. But still these
                  > items should be rare.
                  >
                  It could be an intelligent weapon with a decent ego, and until the fighter
                  proves himself to it, then it will not waste it's abilities on a novice.


                  Eric

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                • NickPerch@aol.com
                  In a message dated 5/2/99 2:00:37 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ... I didn t say every weapon. I suggested it as a method of introducing _powerful_ magic weapons
                  Message 8 of 23 , May 2, 1999
                    In a message dated 5/2/99 2:00:37 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                    tbannist@... writes:

                    > You missed the point Nick. The point is not whether giving a
                    > first level character a +3 sword is better than giving him a +1 that grows
                    > to +3. But that the low-level character should receive a regular +1
                    > sword.
                    >
                    > In addition I don't think this mechanic is very transparent, and
                    > if every magical weapon were tiered to the character level it would become
                    > obvious and heavy handed.

                    I didn't say every weapon. I suggested it as a method of introducing
                    _powerful_ magic weapons with control over who gets them. Less powerful
                    items can be distributed without special controls, because they're less
                    powerful. Of course a low level character shouldn't receive a +3 weapon.
                    That's the whole point of this discussion: developing methods by which we can
                    allow powerful items into the game for high level characters, without
                    allowing low level characters to get them. Any trick we use over and over
                    again will quickly become obvious and heavy handed. That's why I suggested
                    many different methods. Some of those methods are heavy handed from the
                    start, this one seems less so to me.

                    This discussion isn't about how to deliver low power magic into the hands of
                    low level heroes, it's about how to deliver high power magic into the hands
                    of high power heroes.

                    Nick

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                  • Stephen Campey u
                    ... That is not entirely true. They have their own advantages and disadvantages, but they are not equal in any way. ... I agree wholeheartedly with this
                    Message 9 of 23 , May 2, 1999
                      > Both Steve and I feel that it is equally inappropriate for a low
                      > level character to own a weapon that grows to +3 or a weapon that is +3.

                      That is not entirely true. They have their own advantages and
                      disadvantages, but they are not equal in any way.

                      > You missed the point Nick. The point is not whether giving a
                      > first level character a +3 sword is better than giving him a +1 that grows
                      > to +3.

                      I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. What I have been
                      trying to say is that there are drawbacks to growing items that must
                      recognized. I disagree with Nick's statement that no disadvantages exist
                      for this option.

                      However, I never stated which methods I believe are best to
                      maintain balance. I agree with almost all of Nick's original message that
                      only purpose (IMO) was to present the options available. No one method
                      is clearly better than any other method, as they ALL have some
                      drawbacks. I actually think that 'growing items' are one of the better
                      options, but it will be some combination of the best options that should
                      be implemented.

                      I think the discussion on this topic has only progressed to the
                      point where all the advantages and disadvantages of each method are
                      fully fleshed out and new alternatives are brought up. Saying which
                      method is definitively better than any other is premature in my mind. I
                      would like to see Nick's original "(Long) Balancing Magic for High and
                      Low Level Characters" message continue to grow until all the pros & cons
                      for every option have been included and every new possibility considered.
                      They can all be compared later.


                      Steve
                      Putting monsters wherever I can.

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                    • Mark Middleton
                      ... I have a suggestion that is used very rarely in LC but is similar to the above suggestion (sorry if it has already been suggested) Tiered Magic Items
                      Message 10 of 23 , May 2, 1999
                        >2) Placement of items in modules for high-level characters only.
                        > Advantages: Limits access by low level characters. Relatively easy
                        >implementation.
                        > Disadvantages: This method shares all of the disadvantages inherent
                        >in level-limited modules - they exclude players (not just characters, which
                        >is bad enough) and cause headaches for con-coordinators and judges. Modules
                        >with level limits will be particularly bad for LWoG, as a regional,
                        >restricted module will probably not play enough tables to justify the effort
                        >and expense of producing it.
                        > Analysis: This method is probably only suited to core-modules, since
                        >those will get wide enough play to justify writing them. Overall, this
                        >approach is fairly effective, but pretty heavy handed.

                        I have a suggestion that is used very rarely in LC but is similar to the
                        above suggestion (sorry if it has already been suggested)

                        Tiered Magic Items

                        Explanation: The tier of the party determines what power level the magic is
                        or even how much magic power they get.

                        Example:The module has a ___ long sword, a ____ ring of protection ___
                        potions of healing and a wand of magic missiles ___ charges if it is a
                        Tier 1 party they get a +1 sword, +1 ring, 1 potion and a wand with 3
                        charges. if its a 2nd tier party then its still a +1 ring and +1 sword but
                        they get 2 potions and 6 charges on the wand. So if its a 5th Tier party
                        they get a +3 weapon or a +3 ring (the other is +1) 2 potions and a wand
                        with 10 charges.

                        Advantages, The rewards match the power of the party, easy for judge and
                        ConCoords to use.

                        Disadvantages: Encourages higher tier parties if they find out about the
                        treasures. Doesn't stop a low level PC from going with a high tier party
                        and getting a high tier goody. (of course I think that some limits should
                        be placed on low level PCs in a High tier party.. but I know people don't
                        like that artificial limit either). Judges can help players cheat by
                        inflating the item values... but then none of the other methods are stopped
                        by "group cheaters" either.

                        mark


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                      • Stephen Campey u
                        ... Disadvantage: This may be what you meant by inflating the item values, but judges may give out powerful treasure to low level groups just by giving out
                        Message 11 of 23 , May 2, 1999
                          > Tiered Magic Items
                          > Disadvantages: Encourages higher tier parties if they find out about the
                          > treasures. Doesn't stop a low level PC from going with a high tier party
                          > and getting a high tier goody. (of course I think that some limits should
                          > be placed on low level PCs in a High tier party.. but I know people don't
                          > like that artificial limit either). Judges can help players cheat by
                          > inflating the item values... but then none of the other methods are stopped
                          > by "group cheaters" either.

                          Disadvantage:
                          This may be what you meant by "inflating the item values," but
                          judges may give out powerful treasure to low level groups just by giving
                          out the better treasure.

                          Steve
                          Putting monsters wherever I can.

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                        • Daniel Llewellyn
                          ... I am very much opposed to doing something like that. Their is nothing, as far as I know, in standard AD&D that even hints at powerful magic doing this. I
                          Message 12 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                            "Creese, Timothy" wrote:

                            > Another suggestion would be a penalty for a low level character to use a
                            > more powerful magical item. For example, if Joshua the Rookie Warrior
                            > obtained the legendary +3 Long Sword of the Troll Wars, the inherent magic
                            > might wreck havoc on the "unworthy" novice. Joshua might suffer fumbles,
                            > and word slurs (less 1 point of CHR and DEX) until he becomes 4th level. If
                            > it is documented on the cert, this could sway some players - both to accept
                            > or reject the item.
                            >
                            > Thoughts?
                            >
                            > -Timothy

                            I am very much opposed to doing something like that. Their is nothing, as
                            far as I know, in standard AD&D that even hints at powerful magic doing this. I
                            personally, would rather not add house rules to the game if it can be helped.
                            One of the things I find somewhat difficult in LC is the fact that their are now
                            so many house rules in the campaign that you almost need a full time rules guy
                            at a convention just to keep track of them all. I would really like to avoid
                            this with LW.

                            --
                            Daniel Llewellyn


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                          • Tyler Bannister
                            ... Right, and tiered items doesn t accomplish that goal very well. All it does is prevent low-level characters from using high powered items. Thus it s a very
                            Message 13 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                              On Sun, 2 May 1999 NickPerch@... wrote:
                              >
                              > This discussion isn't about how to deliver low power magic into the hands of
                              > low level heroes, it's about how to deliver high power magic into the hands
                              > of high power heroes.
                              >
                              > Nick

                              Right, and tiered items doesn't accomplish that goal very well.
                              All it does is prevent low-level characters from using high powered items.
                              Thus it's a very indirect method to that goal.

                              --
                              Tyler Bannister
                              tbannist@...


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                            • Kim Winz
                              ... It s a way to facilitate that goal. There s been some talk that high- powered items shouldn t be allowed into the campaign, because they unbalance the
                              Message 14 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                                > > This discussion isn't about how to deliver low power magic into the hands of
                                > > low level heroes, it's about how to deliver high power magic into the hands
                                > > of high power heroes.
                                >
                                > Right, and tiered items doesn't accomplish that goal very well.
                                > All it does is prevent low-level characters from using high powered items.
                                > Thus it's a very indirect method to that goal.

                                It's a way to facilitate that goal. There's been some talk that high-
                                powered items shouldn't be allowed into the campaign, because
                                they unbalance the game for low-level heroes. Preventing low-level
                                characters from using high powered items is a way to allow those
                                high powered items into the campaign without unbalancing it. Thus
                                it does become very much a part of the process for acheiving that
                                goal. It's not a goal that lends itself to simple answers.


                                Kim Winz
                                kwinz@...

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                              • Stephen Campey u
                                ... Magic is magic. It is supposed to break the rules. I like it when I see neat useful items that are not in any books. I also like giving out magic items
                                Message 15 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                                  > I am very much opposed to doing something like that. Their is nothing, as
                                  > far as I know, in standard AD&D that even hints at powerful magic
                                  > doing this.

                                  Magic is magic. It is supposed to break the rules. I like it
                                  when I see neat useful items that are not in any books. I also like
                                  giving out magic items that have drawbacks, but still are useful. (Just
                                  ask my home campaign players what stuff they have.) Saying that new
                                  and creative items can't be made just because they are different from
                                  other items is not the spirit of the game.

                                  Steve
                                  Putting monsters wherever I can.

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                                • Daniel Llewellyn
                                  ... I agree with you 100% in a home campaign. I know that my home campaign has many house rules and derivatives that change things, especially when it comes to
                                  Message 16 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                                    Stephen Campey u wrote:

                                    > > I am very much opposed to doing something like that. Their is nothing, as
                                    > > far as I know, in standard AD&D that even hints at powerful magic
                                    > > doing this.
                                    >
                                    > Magic is magic. It is supposed to break the rules. I like it
                                    > when I see neat useful items that are not in any books. I also like
                                    > giving out magic items that have drawbacks, but still are useful. (Just
                                    > ask my home campaign players what stuff they have.) Saying that new
                                    > and creative items can't be made just because they are different from
                                    > other items is not the spirit of the game.
                                    >
                                    > Steve
                                    > Putting monsters wherever I can.

                                    I agree with you 100% in a home campaign. I know that my home campaign has many
                                    house rules and derivatives that change things, especially when it comes to magic.
                                    For a national campaign, however, I think we should try to stick to core AD&D as
                                    much as possible. Each 'house rule' we add to the campaign is another rule that
                                    must somehow be distributed to the national level.

                                    --
                                    Daniel



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                                  • Daniel Llewellyn
                                    ... Good point. And for items of this power (or close at least :) ) I say go for it. But for every +3 weapon or armor it seems to be a little bit of overkill.
                                    Message 17 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                                      Kim Winz wrote:

                                      > > I am very much opposed to doing something like that. Their is
                                      > > nothing, as
                                      > > far as I know, in standard AD&D that even hints at powerful magic
                                      > > doing this.
                                      >
                                      > Artifacts have always had drawbacks and consequences for their
                                      > use. Extending the principle to items of less than artifact quality
                                      > isn't completely unprecedented, as long as the drawbacks aren't
                                      > out of line with the power of the item.
                                      >
                                      > Kim Winz
                                      > kwinz@...
                                      >
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                                      Good point. And for items of this power (or close at least :) ) I say go for
                                      it. But for every +3 weapon or armor it seems to be a little bit of
                                      overkill.

                                      --
                                      Daniel


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                                    • Kim Winz
                                      ... Artifacts have always had drawbacks and consequences for their use. Extending the principle to items of less than artifact quality isn t completely
                                      Message 18 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                                        > I am very much opposed to doing something like that. Their is
                                        > nothing, as
                                        > far as I know, in standard AD&D that even hints at powerful magic
                                        > doing this.

                                        Artifacts have always had drawbacks and consequences for their
                                        use. Extending the principle to items of less than artifact quality
                                        isn't completely unprecedented, as long as the drawbacks aren't
                                        out of line with the power of the item.


                                        Kim Winz
                                        kwinz@...

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                                      • Tyler Bannister
                                        ... One question is how much do they unbalance the campaign? The example of +3 weapons or armor is not really that terribly impressive. +3 armor is not as
                                        Message 19 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                                          > It's a way to facilitate that goal. There's been some talk that high-
                                          > powered items shouldn't be allowed into the campaign, because
                                          > they unbalance the game for low-level heroes. Preventing low-level
                                          > characters from using high powered items is a way to allow those
                                          > high powered items into the campaign without unbalancing it. Thus
                                          > it does become very much a part of the process for acheiving that
                                          > goal. It's not a goal that lends itself to simple answers.
                                          >
                                          > Kim Winz
                                          > kwinz@...

                                          One question is how much do they unbalance the campaign? The
                                          example of +3 weapons or armor is not really that terribly impressive.
                                          +3 armor is not as useful as an 18 dex, a +3 weapons is not a useful as
                                          18/00 strength excepting "magical weapons needed to hit" creatures. But
                                          many people on this list seem very keen on allowing fighters to have both
                                          18/00 strength and 18 dex.

                                          It's a matter of perception. I think it's inappropriate for many
                                          low-level characters to have +3 weapons, but I've judged a player whose 3rd
                                          level swashbuckler-fighter had a +3 rapier, +3 main-gauche and +3 ring of
                                          protection, which were won through some lucky draws at auction, and the
                                          generosity of another player. His character was the last man standing,
                                          but he didn't wreck the module. (And they party was playing the first
                                          tier of the module.)

                                          I think it's miscellanous magical item powers that really mess
                                          things up.

                                          --
                                          Tyler Bannister
                                          tbannist@...


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                                        • PwrGamer@aol.com
                                          In a message dated 5/3/99 2:32:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Tyler, if you are going to tell us a method does not work, then please explain so we can see
                                          Message 20 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                                            In a message dated 5/3/99 2:32:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                                            tbannist@... writes:

                                            >
                                            > Right, and tiered items doesn't accomplish that goal very well.
                                            > All it does is prevent low-level characters from using high powered items.
                                            > Thus it's a very indirect method to that goal.
                                            >
                                            > --
                                            > Tyler Bannister
                                            Tyler, if you are going to tell us a method does not work, then please
                                            explain so we can see your point of view.

                                            Eric

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                                          • Stephen Campey u
                                            ... campaign has many house rules and derivatives that change things, especially when it comes to magic. For a national campaign, however, I think we should
                                            Message 21 of 23 , May 3, 1999
                                              > I agree with you 100% in a home campaign. I know that my home
                                              campaign has many house rules and derivatives that change things,
                                              especially when it comes to magic. For a national campaign, however, I
                                              think we should try to stick to core AD&D as much as possible. Each
                                              'house rule' we add to the campaign is another rule that must somehow be
                                              distributed to the national level. >

                                              I don't see where you are coming from at all. There are no
                                              'house rules' or 'core rules' involving what powers magic items have or
                                              don't have. Magic items are supposed to be special, and different than
                                              what is 'normal.' The powers that magic items have will be written on
                                              the cert. If you are advocating using only items that can be found in
                                              TSR published material... bor--ing!

                                              Steve
                                              Putting monsters wherever I can.

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