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Making Magical Items more Realistic

Okay Dungeons and Dragons DMs... Think of every myth, legend, folklore and fantasy book you can think of...

When has a hero in such folklore or books ever had one of the following?

Magic armour?
Weird magical items only found in D&D?

Frodo/Bilbo have mithral armour, but it isn't magical.

Hermione has a bag of holding (although clearly J. K. Rowling ripped many things off from D&D and made all wizards channelers who have to channel their magic through wands). Outside of Harry Potter, when have you ever seen a bag of holding in folklore or books?

Magical shields I have seen.

Magical weapons, very popular.

Potions, yes.

Scrolls, rarely.

A low level fighter hoping to find a magical item should obviously be looking for a weapon.

From a DM perspective it should not be their main weapon either.

And when they do find a magical item (weapon or otherwise) they should not know what the weapon actually is and will have to discover what it does over time (or use an Identify spell, which traditionally costs 100 gp to cast).

Imagine a D&D group with 3 warriors, a rogue, a wizard and a cleric. The main weapons of the group are perhaps greataxe, scimitar, composite longbow, shortsword, quarterstaff, and mace. Pretty generic. But that doesn't mean when they go looking for items that they automatically find the items they use...

What would make more sense for a low level party is if they found similar or complimentary items...

Throwing Axe +1
Curved Dagger of Ambidexterity
Arrows +2 x6 (or maybe a single Arrow of Undead Slaying)
Crossbow +1
Dagger of the Pyromancer +1 (boosts fire damage spells)
Blessed Cudgel +1

The above list still caters to the PCs, but it compliments their main their weapons rather than replacing them.

☆ Or just roll items randomly and reroll anything that is inappropriate. Which is what I normally do.

Low Magic D&D Games and Slow Level Progression

I like running low magic games because of several reasons. I find they are more balanced. I also favour slow level progression, which to anyone who knows how that works... slow level progression means PCs typically get MORE magical items than a fast game.

Imagine playing 10 sessions of a game, each PC levels every session, and you give out an average of 2 permanent magical items per session (ignoring consumables). After 10 sessions the party has 20 magical items.

In contrast in a slow progression game, 50 sessions to get level 10 (leveling up on average every 5 sessions) you might only give out 1 item every session... but after 50 sessions that is 50 items. If you give out an average of 1 item every 2 sessions, it still ends up being 25 items by the time they reach level 10. Plus more gold, more power, more allies, and by the time they reach levels 11 or higher they have probably had enough downtime to be making their own magical items.

Thus game balance has to be maintained in a slow progression low magic campaign because they accumulate more items.

In a fast progression game it doesn't matter so much because by the time they reach level 10 they don't accumulate many items.

I find the speed of a fast progression game results in the characters getting very little time to explore their characters roleplaying wise. Longer campaigns with slow progression is when you get a chance to truly develop the personality of the character.

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