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Does a good ("epic") item have to be magical?


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On the topic of the rarity of magic item thread, that sort of got me thinking.

 

Why does an item have to be magical to be good?

 

Project Eternity is supposed to be a more technologically advanced world, why can't items just be ridiculously good quality, rather than magical.

 

For instance

 

There could be an inventor that has designed an absolutely cutting-edge musket (I don't think there will be arquebus in the game as they were matchlock, but there might be), it's not magical because he's not a wizard or a priest but it's still one of the best guns in the game.

 

In Baldur's Gate 1, Full Plate armor was the second third best suit of armor in the game (Full Plate +2, Ankheg Plate then Full Plate).

 

Obviously magical items have the potential to be better than normal items, but it would be cool to see actual technology be beneficial as well.

 

Obsidian have already said that magic is not rare, but to give something a bonus (particularly a weapon), it doesn't necessarily have to be magical.

 

Your thoughts?

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It is possible, but at least for now the level of technology is really the first or second iteration of black powder weaponry. It is suggested that while these relatively high-speed projectiles pierce the norm of magical protection - the "magical veil" - it doesn't seem as capable of going through both that and a suit of armor. Probably bruses, though. That said, I think some sort of rare, high-quality musket that has a chance of just going straight through would be neat, if unbalanced. Likewise with some weaponry using a trapped soul, or some portion of a soul (I'm thinking something like TES soul gems, or Xan's moon blade), giving the weapon some form of instinct to augment that of the wielder.

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I would assume that a weapon that contains part of a trapped soul is magical, since magic is related to souls in the game IIRC.

 

Also kind of depends on whether any beings have magic resistance in the game. Whether it would be better hitting then with a normal weapon etc

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I think that there is likely to be a large variety of non-magical items which are superior for their purposes than 'lesser' magical items. I suspect though that with magic being relatively common, the "best" items are still likely to be magical. My reasoning is the same given by someone over in the weapons and armor thread: sure, you can make a mundane item better than given magic item x - but what happens when you then make THAT item magical? The only way you would see the 'best' be non-magical is if it had some inherent property which made it not possible to enhance via magical means.

"If we are alone in the universe, it sure seems like an awful waste of space"

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I would assume that a weapon that contains part of a trapped soul is magical, since magic is related to souls in the game IIRC.

 

Also kind of depends on whether any beings have magic resistance in the game. Whether it would be better hitting then with a normal weapon etc

 

To an extent, I would agree, but it isn't clear to me what a "magical" weapon would be. A soul's energy is cited as being something both a priest or a wizard can draw on for a totally different set of abilities, so it is unclear to me. If the soul is trapped and bound by way of magic, I would agree - the same if the blade were forged magically. But if a deity were to imbue it with some soul decidely too dangerous for reincarnation, or if a weapon simply happened to start to absorb some of an especially strong soul from a long time wielder - maybe as a natural quality? - it might be different. Supernatural, in most any case.

 

As to top tier always being magical, I'd cite some [very] special circumstance rules from D&D: antimagic zones and pseudo-enchantments. That and the spell plague and such. Also a nifty old spell "immunity to magical weapons." Any of these, or similair circumstances, if present would at least mean some heroes would prefer to carry a set of nice magical equipment, and another of just super-well crafted mundane equipment.

Edited by UncleBourbon
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I too prefer realistic gear over fancy, shining mumbo jumbo. The IE games rarely had fancy effects on their weapons or armor but that was surely due to the limited graphics. I always thought of the D&D +X suffix more as a quality statement than one of magic, although it is clearly defined as the latter. There sure are a lot of interesting item attributes that could be explained in a more profane manner.

nec temere, nec timide

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Agreed on the special cases of null-magic areas or immunity to magical items - but those are just that, special cases. Rarely are special cases like that considered when a list of the "best" items in a game is determined. Just as in D&D I would much rather be wearing leather armor than full plate if I fell overboard, but basically anyone would agree that the full plate was the "better" armor.

"If we are alone in the universe, it sure seems like an awful waste of space"

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I agree with that, but Obsidian could implement it as a less rare occurance, causing one to rethink. Highly situational gear does tend to be less desirable in single player games, however, as it becomes simply keeping the pack half full of special-circumstance gear in case you run into something. I'd like the concept of consecrated/unholy equipment, something suggested in pathfinder - instead of alignment based bonuses, some bonuses against followers of a deity or portion of a panthion's followers. Still very situational, but with some tweaks, and restricting it to followers of a deity, a priest's holy robes or something could be kinda cool.

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The trick with "special purpose" items is twofold: 1) making sure that the special purpose item is still reasonably useful in situations that are not in the niche role it is meant to fill, and 2) making sure there are enough examples of the niche role to make it worth even considering at all (and that the benefit it gives is a meaningful improvement when it does).

 

As an example, the stated prevalence of the arcane veil leading to firearms being decidedly useful against a non-insignificant portion of potential enemies, while still presumably being at least moderately effective in mundane situations. This even has the added bonus of making said wizards using the veil also have to fall back on mundane defenses in addition to the veil as well...

"If we are alone in the universe, it sure seems like an awful waste of space"

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The trick with "special purpose" items is twofold: 1) making sure that the special purpose item is still reasonably useful in situations that are not in the niche role it is meant to fill, and 2) making sure there are enough examples of the niche role to make it worth even considering at all (and that the benefit it gives is a meaningful improvement when it does).

 

As an example, the stated prevalence of the arcane veil leading to firearms being decidedly useful against a non-insignificant portion of potential enemies, while still presumably being at least moderately effective in mundane situations. This even has the added bonus of making said wizards using the veil also have to fall back on mundane defenses in addition to the veil as well...

 

This is a good point, and something hard to balance from character to character. Granted, in pen and paper some hilarious events can occur from going through your backpack trying to improvise - I recall dealing the killing blow to a necromancer chasing the party once by throwing a bard of soap and critting. But in-game it differs. One of my all time favorite party mates was a Paladin using a 10ft ladder as a bound improvised weapon (it took some reasoning with the DM, and like three feats) but through the entire campaign - even before he bound with it and all - we came to I think two actual times wherein we used a ladder. This is what I like to see with special dialog options to represent skill/item based actions, but accounting for them would be a monumental task.

 

More on topic: It strains logic to suggest a well crafted sword would be carried instead of, or even with, a magical sword crafted just as well. But maybe the best sword crafter - or gunsmith - or blacksmith only makes certain articles out of certain anti-magical materials, or refuses to allow enchantment while being made.

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I think it would be cool to disallow a character to carry more than 1 type of the same weapon to increase realism, therefore it would make a character change weapons according to strategy, using a sword/mace/rapier/enchanted dagger. I have come to realise that having 5 swords of different powers in my backpack is kinda lame, I disagree with jackson though, I like finding a +3 sword that has a special power, like additional fire damage/etc. I also think being allowed to only have one type of weapon in yuor backpack would stop the endless pick up every weapon you can after combat and lug them around with you for hours/days until you find a store to sell them at. To stop this dynamic the creators could just increase gold/gem finds. I mean really, would a fighter carry around 100 kg of extra armor/weapons normally ?

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Well to counter that Josh has said that no enemy will be immune to any damage type. There may not even be damage types :p

 

I hope there is though, it adds more strategy to the game.

 

even DotA has normal and magic damage.

Edited by Sensuki
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I think it would be cool to disallow a character to carry more than 1 type of the same weapon to increase realism, therefore it would make a character change weapons according to strategy, using a sword/mace/rapier/enchanted dagger. I have come to realise that having 5 swords of different powers in my backpack is kinda lame, I disagree with jackson though, I like finding a +3 sword that has a special power, like additional fire damage/etc. I also think being allowed to only have one type of weapon in yuor backpack would stop the endless pick up every weapon you can after combat and lug them around with you for hours/days until you find a store to sell them at. To stop this dynamic the creators could just increase gold/gem finds. I mean really, would a fighter carry around 100 kg of extra armor/weapons normally ?

 

I imagine it would depend on the kind of fighter :biggrin: There are many legends of warriors that carried hundreds of swords, and likewise those that specialised in a single, honed blade.

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What is an item? A tool/object that serves a purpose for those utilizing it. An item that serves its purpose well in a given circumstance might be considered "good."

 

Whether or not the item is magical or not does not keep it from serving its purpose to its greatest extent. These classifications only allow said item to be judged against another item in its class. Should a magical item always be the better choice than its humble counterpart? I don't think so. This has become a negative trope in modern games. If a magical/enchanted item is clearly more powerful, I think that there should be a price for the user. Balance. The trend of seeking greater and greater power without consequence seems unlikely and uninteresting.

 

The fact that within the world of an rpg game system all an item boils down to are its stats and then maybe its lore is an unfortunate side effect of the medium.

 

Would it be terrible if you didn't know the raw mathematics behind each and every item? Imagine if the best understanding you could glean of a given magical item would be from an old chanter who knows the ways and even then its usage is wrapped in analogy, metaphors and poetry.

 

Complete immersion or complete transparency of the system? Tough call for me at this point.

Edited by MantisDreaming
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D&D tried to handle that with Lore (or Knowledge skill) and the identify spell

 

there was an RTS called Battle Realms that showed no stats at all during the game. You had to work out unit counters yourself and just take the general word in the description about the bonuses of stuff. I really enjoyed that.

 

Definitely an interesting concept though, as long as it didn't involve cursed items that you can't remove, because then people will just save/load.

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I will say this: I recall one complicated issue for a fighter in a party I was in once who was driven by his bastard heritage to find his father - his clue being an heirloom sword, the only thing his father left his mother. Mechanically, it was a masterwork longsword. At about level five, we had several +1 weapons presented, and later even better - but that guy kept using the heirloom sword, despite it all, for the roleplay value. Eventually the DM stepped in and was all "it turns out the blade had some latent magical enchantment," which was minor, but he was already heading to weapon specialist and all. It worked out nicely, and I think roleplay is a good reason to use one piece of logistically inferior equipment.

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This is a good point, and something hard to balance from character to character. Granted, in pen and paper some hilarious events can occur from going through your backpack trying to improvise -

Agreed here also. One of my favorite encounters personally was using a 10 lb. bag of flour as an improvised explosive device to deal with a moderate sized underground cavern filled with NASTY inhabitants - with appropriate character skills in the science involved, etc. Lemme tell you, it's the last time I got laughed at by my party members for carrying such "mundane" items around, or taking such "useless" skills ;)

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"If we are alone in the universe, it sure seems like an awful waste of space"

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If magic becomes oppressive in some culture, then secret societies may arise that seek a means of response. They may turn to alchemy to produce anti-magical materials for their weapons and armor. They may employ certain substances that folklore holds to have magic-like properties, while remaining non-magical. These include cold iron (which was beneficial against undead), meteoritic iron, and silver. Other materials may be used that don't exist in our world, such as adamantium and mithril. Over long stretches of time these secret societies would undoubtedly devise others, unheard of to us. Negation alloys, quasicrystals, or null rune binding, for example.

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"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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Agreed.

 

Magic/enchanted swords are boring. I want a sword forged centuries ago by a master blacksmith, using an extremely rare type of metal.

 

I'm in agreement. Perhaps some ancient soul based technology was able to extract and process these rare metals, of which is long lost to the annuals of history. At some point in the more recent past master blacksmiths used soul based techniques to shape these metals into items. These techniques were also lost to the ages. This would explain why these rare metals where shaped into medieval weapons and cultural artifacts... This metal then could have an immunity to being worked by normal magics or some such which would prevent them from having a magical epic level of item.. The metal itself would be far superior to most metals.

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