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"I need answers dammit ..." Or the nature of magic items


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Nope, this isn't a thread demanding answers about how awesome crafting and enchanting will be, or how will souls augment an epic weapon, but rather I wanted to talk about how much information should we the player get about magic items as we play through it?

 

One of the weaknesses of RPGs with lots of explicit mechanics and lots and lots of explicit detail is that sometimes all of that lore and all of those numbers go so deep and is so precise that it removes any sense of discovery or mystery. It's like when you played in a PnP game as a teenager and finally got your hands on the Dungeon Master's guide and poured over the magic items list, or picked up the Forgotten Realms source book, just because it was so much fun to read ... and then you knew without a doubt that weapons did X amount of damage, and had Y powers and if you found one, you'd give it to your ranger who specialized in whatever that weapon was best at fighting and from then on, a magic item was just a collection of numbers, statistics and dice adjustment.

 

Personally I think it would be refreshing if magic items, even after identification, just had textual descriptions of their history and possibly rumored powers but only through trial and error or long use do full extent of powers get revealed. I played in a long running PnP game where the DM used this mechanic to great affect, It was admittedly a low magic world, where everything could be kept from the player and managed behind the screen, but it really did enhance the game play and sense of wonder that we had.

 

Could this work or is it just too extreme and would it just drive people bonkers?

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Nope, this isn't a thread demanding answers about how awesome crafting and enchanting will be, or how will souls augment an epic weapon, but rather I wanted to talk about how much information should we the player get about magic items as we play through it?

 

One of the weaknesses of RPGs with lots of explicit mechanics and lots and lots of explicit detail is that sometimes all of that lore and all of those numbers go so deep and is so precise that it removes any sense of discovery or mystery. It's like when you played in a PnP game as a teenager and finally got your hands on the Dungeon Master's guide and poured over the magic items list, or picked up the Forgotten Realms source book, just because it was so much fun to read ... and then you knew without a doubt that weapons did X amount of damage, and had Y powers and if you found one, you'd give it to your ranger who specialized in whatever that weapon was best at fighting and from then on, a magic item was just a collection of numbers, statistics and dice adjustment.

 

Personally I think it would be refreshing if magic items, even after identification, just had textual descriptions of their history and possibly rumored powers but only through trial and error or long use do full extent of powers get revealed. I played in a long running PnP game where the DM used this mechanic to great affect, It was admittedly a low magic world, where everything could be kept from the player and managed behind the screen, but it really did enhance the game play and sense of wonder that we had.

 

Could this work or is it just too extreme and would it just drive people bonkers?

I think it would work best -- as you said your example was -- in a low magic setting. The more common magic items become, the more it would end up feeling like a hassle instead of a mystery.

Edited by ogrezilla
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  • 3 weeks later...

I'd like this a good bit as well. Although the mechanics would likely be a pain, I think some sort of possibly hidden meter for equipment familairity which fill as you use it - killing things with weapons, armor wouldn't be as clear - which, in addition to having it identified, would reveal to the player the specifics of the enchantment. Add to this a way for adventuring experience/skills to either speed up the process or eliminate it completely, and it becomes something to enjoy at early stages, and then not to be bothered by later on. Or perhaps make only magical characters able to see the full extent of the equipment's abilities.

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I think your problem is not so much that you know the statistics of a weapon, as it is that you can directly compare it to any other item and determine whether it is better or not (and indeed who should use it)

I think that can be solved by giving unique weapons unique features that have strange effects other than slightly better stats, and thus play uniquely.

this makes those weapons more interesting and tactical to use as well.

For instance a sword that teleports the target 5 spaces away on hit (x% chance)(keep sending that Melee fighter out of combat)

Or a ranged weapon that actually pulls an enemy in (chain!) (why position yourself when you can position your enemies?)

A weak weapon that gets better with every kill (temporary) (better for large mobs)

stuff like that.

If each special weapon has unique gameplay, they'll feel much cooler, despite you knowing their stats.

would that work?

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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Such a mechanic will frustrate the vast majority of players and be interesting to only a very few. I'm not sure that would warrant it even being an option in the hardcore modes. It's certainly interesting though and might increase the longevity of the game.

They think my style strange,

I think they all the same.

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