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Magic Items by PC Level

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:37 am
by waysoftheearth
One of the challenges in generating convincing PCs/NPCs above 1st level is: how many magic items should they have?

It's tricky because there are so many variables. However, one thing we can do is look at table 3.13: treasure types.

The treasures that DD hands out comprise gp value and items in pre-determined ratios based on treasure type. If we assume all treasure types occur equally frequently, we can average the ratio of gp:items across all treasure types to get the overall ratio of gp:items. It turns out that the Treasure Types table yields an average of 1 item per 2,581 gp worth of other treasure.

Since 1 gp worth of treasure earns 1 XP, it's plausible to presume that a character with N many thousand XP has recovered N many thousand gp worth of treasure. Hence, a PC with 10,324 XP would have recovered 10,324 gp worth of treasure, and therefore would--on average--have benefited from 4 rolls on table 3.18 Magic Items (ignoring maps since these ultimately lead to treasure hoards which might also include magic items).

That's neat, but we know that not all XP earned come from treasure. There are XP bonuses due to prime requisite ability scores, and XP earned for defeating monsters and also achieving goals. The combined magnitude of these can vary significantly but let's apply the ubiquitous 80:20 rule and say that--on average--we think 80% of XP earned are due to recovered treasure.

This then means that every 3,225 XP earned will include--on average--2,581 gp worth of loot and 1 magic item recovered. Or, for ease of reading, every 3,500 XP earned comes from 2,500 gp recovered, 1,000 XP from "other sources", and includes 1 magic item.

Now we can chart this against the PC career XP requirements:

    Career Magic-Items
Level  Ftr  Clr  M-U  Thf
  1     0    0    0    0
  2     1    0    1    0
  3     1    1    1    1
  4     2    2    3    1
  5     5    3    6    3
  6     9    7   10    6
  7    19   14   17   11
  8    37   26   29   20
  9    69   46   57   34
 10   103   69   86   51
 11   137   91  114   69
 12   171  114  143   86

And also level-by-level:

  Magic-Items per Level
Level  Ftr  Clr  M-U  Thf
  1     0    0    0    0
  2     1    0    1    0
  3     1    0    1    0
  4     1    1    1    1
  5     2    2    3    1
  6     5    4    4    3
  7     9    7    7    6
  8    19   11   11    9
  9    31   20   29   14
 10    34   23   29   17
 11    34   23   29   17
 12    34   23   29   17

So does this mean every 7th level fighter should be lugging 19 magic items around? Probably not.

Firstly, not every PC can use every magic item.
Those items rolled that are unusable can be ignored as "lost opportunities"; items that were seen but not had, gambled, traded, destroyed, or otherwise lost along the way.

Some magic-items are also of the "consumable" sort, and many of these will have already been consumed. So unless the character is level 4 or less, any magical arrows/bolts, potions, scrolls, or wands gained prior to the most recent level are ignored; presumed to have been used.

Finally, most characters will eventually roll duplicate magic items.
A high level fighter might roll two, or three, or more magic swords, but reality dictates that a fighter can only wield one sword, a wizard only one staff, a character can only wear two rings, and so on. In this case the character chooses the best of the available items and discards the others; presumably stolen, traded, gambled, given as gifts to retainers, and so on.

An Example

Suppose we want to put a 7th level fighter in a game. What magic items should he legitimately expect to have?

According to the above calculations he would have come across 19 items in his career. Nine items would have been gained while earning level 7. Five items would have been gained while earning level 6. Two while earning level 5, and one each while earning levels 4, 3, and 2.

So lets roll nine items for 7th level (any consumable items found here will "stick"):
That's: armor, misc. item, 2x misc. weapon, potion, 2x staff/wand (ignored), 2x sword.

...and for the ten items found at levels 2 to 6 consumable items will be ignored:
That's: armor,3x potion (ignored), ring, 3x wand/staff (ignored), 2x sword.

So then, our 7th level fighter potentially has: 2x armor, misc. item, 2x misc weapon, potion, ring, 4x sword. Let's roll them up and see what they are:

[Armor] 2d100=5,62: shield+1, plate armor +1,
[Misc. Item] 1d100=100! scarab of protection,
[Misc. Weapon] 2d100=82,86:short sword+1, spear+1,
[Potion] 1d100=98 youthfulness,
[Ring] 1d100=16: deception,
[Sword] 4d100=12,34,67,84: sword+1, sword +1 +2 vs man-types, sword +1 flametongue, sword +3.

Now dice to see if any of the swords are intelligent:
4x 2d6=4,3,10,6. So the flametongue is a talking sword with 3 powers. The other three are "regular" magic weapons.

Flametongue has 10 intelligence, and its alignment is:
[Align] 1d6=5:lawful.
It knows the lawful tongue and:
[Languages] 2d6=3: one additional language (common).
[Powers] 3x 2d6=6,7,8: detect good/evil, detect shifting stonework, detect silver.
[Ego] 2d6=7: its ego is 7 +3(number of powers)=10.
This sword has at least 9 intelligence and at least 9 ego, so it has a purpose.
[Purpose] 2d6=12! Slay Gothrogs! On a hit this sword will paralyze any Gothrog who fails to save vs. petrification.
Adjusted intelligence=12, adjusted ego=15.

Let us presume this fighter wields the willful flametongue to the exclusion of all other weapons.

In sum then, our 7th level fighter would be equipped with the following magic items:

Shield+1, plate armor +1, scarab of protection, potion of youthfulness, ring of deception, and a sword +1 flametongue [ego 15, speaks lawful/common, detects evil/shifting stonework/silver, slay gothrogs]

Not too shabby for the very first try!

Re: Magic Items by PC Level

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 12:48 pm
by mushgnome
Fun stuff! Can I try one?

Urist the lvl 6 Dwarf Fighter

He has the potential for 9 magic items (5 for levels 2-5 and 4 for level 6).

For levels 2-5 (consumables ignored) he rolls:
5d100=96, 03, 66, 01, 83
That's: swordx2, armorx2, spell book/scroll (ignored)

For level 6 (consumables stick) he rolls:
4d100=31, 06, 83, 81
That's: misc. weapon, armor, swordx2

[Armor] 3d100=22,30,71: shield+1, shield+1, plate+1,
[Misc. Weapon] 1d100=44: dagger+1/+2 vs. goblins & hobgoblins,
[Sword] 4d100=18,52,86,41: sword +1, sword +1/+3 vs. golems, sword +2 holy, sword +1/+2 vs. enchanted

Urist is Lawful and the dice indicate the holy sword +2 is intelligent! It has Ego 8, Intelligence 8, communicates empathically, and has 2 powers (detect magic, detect silver).

So, our maximum-level Dwarf has four magic items: plate +1, shield +1, dagger +1/+2 vs. goblins & hobgoblins, and an intelligent holy sword!

Re: Magic Items by PC Level

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:10 pm
by waysoftheearth
Nice work :)

From this sample size of two, the quantities feel "about right". Also, we see that two of two fighters have intelligent magic swords!

One thing to note for a level capped character is that he can continue to accumulate XP even if he can advance no further in his chosen class. So, theoretically, a 6th level dwarf fighter could have hundreds of thousands of XP.

In practice such a player would likely want to open a dual-classed account, or possibly retire the character from active duty...

Re: Magic Items by PC Level

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:02 am
by Idrahil
A flaming sword that slays Gothmogs? I liked! lol

Re: Magic Items by PC Level

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:08 am
by waysoftheearth
Idrahil wrote:A flaming sword that slays Gothmogs? I liked! lol

A genuine opportunity for the referee to introduce erif, the antithesis of fire ;)