Saturday, July 11, 2009

Player vs Magic Items

I'm not a big fan of all the superfluous amounts of magical devices in D&D. The +1 Sword - or +2 Backscratcher, as I call it - is just pathetic! I like magic items to be strange and unique. When I dish out a magic item (once in a blue moon), I like it to have a mind of its own, and I like to trip up the player. The problem with this is, that its too many magic items is too much work for the DM, as it another NPC to focus on. But I found a simple answer: make it a PC item!

How this works, is that when the player finds a magically enchanted item - of any sort - roll it up as an Intelligent Sword (added tables would be needed for less sword specific items). At first, the DM would control the item until the nature of the item becomes known ). Once its magical nature becomes known, handout an index card with the item's general information to a player who is not the items holder - ideally, to a player that controls a PC that can not use such an item, in case the item needs to change hands. The card not just notes the stats and powers, it also notes the general goal and personality of the item. So you could have a Fighter who is played like a jock, who also wields a obnoxious and perverted sword that is controlled by a girl that is playing a goody-two-shoes Half-elven Cleric. If I put the Fighter player under control of his own sword, then he would play the sword the the Fighter's benefit, he would have too much meta-knowledge of the sword's secret powers, and the Sword's personality would not be as apparent. But by putting the sword under the control of the other player, the sword has more personal attention then as a NPC, and the interaction of both players could be vary interesting - considering the unusual relationship between an intelligent item and the one carrying it.

Now, how do you get that player - the one that likes to play the goody-two-shoes types - to play as a total bastard? Simple: XP bonuses! I dont give out XP for killing critters; I give XP for how the players deal with situations. They dont get XP for each gold they find; they get XP for pissing the gold away - after all, what the point of getting more treasure if you are just going to save it? Most of all, I reward good role-playing and clever thinking. A magic item has no need for XP - as they cant gain level - but the PC could use it. Yes, the PC is getting supplemental XP from an item that it not used by the PC, but players are universally greedy, and they would milk the item with all sorts of conflicts and "Spock vs McCoy" melodrama!

Well, that how I roll! I might not make critical hits, but I still roll well!

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