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    vestcoat
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    PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:12 pm    Post subject: more magic in 3rd edition? Reply with quote

    I don't know anything about 3rd Edition (not to mention 4th) but I've finally been taking the time to read through Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk and was very surprised to see scrolls, potions, and even full-fledged magical items for sale in our fair city (see Hauld's Apothecary, Nulligan's Trove, and Khellek's Tower).
    WTF?
    This is quite a departure from the low-magic feel of previous material. Was there a justification for more magic in 3E or is this more of a Living Greyhawk decision?

    I hate to say it, but the last time I remember a magic item shop cropping up was The Bazaar on page 7 of...WG7, Castle Greyhawk.
    *shudder*
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    Cebrion
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    PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Your sentiments sum up the feelings of many others. Still, some poeple like to treat D&D in more of a video game manner, and have "magic shops" readily availabe in most major cities.

    I don't have as much of a problem with characers having access to the simpler potions and some scrolls in major cities, but permanent magic items and/or powerful spell scrolls and potions are simply rare, or will not be sold to just anybody who has the money to buy them.

    For example, powerful healing scrolls and potions can be acquired from some temples, but you better be a worshipper of that god and have done something beneficial for the faith recently. Otherwise, be prepared to go on a minor quest of some kind if you really must have that powerful potion or scroll. Powerful arcane potions and scrolls could be acquired from a mages guild in a large town, but they'll usually expect a favor of some kind too, similar to the temples. Permanent magical items from either will be very costly, as well as requiring a major favor/quest.


    Last edited by Cebrion on Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Telemachus
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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    I've never had a problem with potions and scrolls as these are one time magical effects and are quite expensive (especially the poitions) vs. their use. If the DM controls wealth enterring into the game, this should not be a problem.

    I agree with the idea of making the occasional magic item available at the cost of the group have to perform some quest as payment. That's classic FRP at its best.
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    Saracenus
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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Telemachus & Cebrion,

    While I respect the old school D&D philosophy behind your take on magic items, it doesn't jibe well with the 3e rule set.

    The entire encounter system in 3.0/3.5 is predicated upon PC's having acquired about 2 magic items a level (on average) to be competitive with the monsters as written. On top of this, 3e codified magic item creation with magic item creation feats so there is a way for PCs to create just about any magic item in the game.

    This causes what WotC R&D calls the Christmas Tree effect and is one of the reasons 4e moves away from magic items being completely necessary to PC survival.

    There is no way in my current campaign (3.5 Greyhawk) to provide all the needed (let alone the desired) magic items via adventuring with 7 players. Some of the items they want would just not show up in the treasure of the folks they have been slaughtering...

    Is a wide open magic mart a good idea, I don't think so. It can lead to completely out of control character builds. Is a highly restrictive, "old school" model the answer, again I don't think so. It can lead to underpowered PCs. I am trying to balance the excitement of defeating a foe for his loot and the necessities of the 3e rule set to make sure my players are happy and the game doesn't break down.

    In short, 3e's magic system is an interesting thought experiment that didn't quite work out. It had unintended consequences. I am currently mining 4e and Pathfinder RPG for ideas on how to thread this needle.

    Anyway, my two coppers.

    Bryan Blumklotz
    AKA Saracenus
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    Telemachus
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    PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    I agree that higher level characters should be able to create magic items, I just do not think they should be able to go to the corner store and buy one any time they wish.

    The creation of a magic item also can be a springboard for adventure as in the campaigns in which I either DMed or participated as a player, creation of a magic item required the procurement of rare components beyond spell material components. For example, a ring of energy resistance might require the blood of a dragon or a balor, etc. depending on the level,(minor, major, or greater). This adds flavor and an appreciation to the creation of the item as it represents more than just a conversion of coin to magic.
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    Saracenus
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    PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Telemachus,

    I understand your desire to make the magic in your campaign more organic to the campaign world. When you add that layer to your game you have to take into account that it is that much harder to make/acquire a magic item.

    For me personally I don't want to keep track of all the crap my players would need to find to make an item.

    I also don't want to deal with the economics of reselling monster corpses and body parts. As soon as I start requiring this for PC item creation my inventive players will start looking for ways to make money off the dead bodies around them.

    I have adjusted the assumptions of my GH campaign for magic. While I don't have a general store/magic mart I do allow my players to submit magic items they would like to purchase and then I see if it is something that is available and at what price.

    I will have PCs quest for certain items and I am using the ideas of magic item levels from Magic Item Compendium to gauge when the PCs should encounter/afford an item.

    I am not saying your way is wrong. If it is well considered it can make for a richer campaign.

    I am just saying that 3e was not designed with your assumptions for magic, which is more in line with E. Gary Gygax's vision of magic back in the AD&D days. 3e is not Gygaxian in terms of magic item assumptions.

    My Two Coppers,

    Bryan Blumklotz
    AKA Saracenus
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    Cebrion
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    PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    My take on magic items has worked just fine for 3.x. Characters tend to acquire more than enough magic items during the course of adventuring, so making items rare in their every day non-adventuring lives works just fine. It works across the board of course. What the PC's don't have easy access to the NPCs don't have easy access to either, so the PC's aren't likley to run into a band of thieves where each member has 3 potions and a magic weapon.

    The only problem I see with 3.x is that many high CR monsters require that characters be buffed to the max just to have a chance of killing them, let alone surviving the encounter. I just choose to keep that sort of stuff toned down for the most part.
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    manus-nigrum
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    PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    I think that the idea of magic shops is preposterous. Not only does it throw the game balance off but it reduces the need for a party wizard. When you allow your players to just go buy whatever magic item that they may need at the local kwikie mart you create lazy players that expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. This eventually leads them to become bored with the game.

    D&D has always been about combat. Combat does not necessarily mean going toe to toe with the enemy, it means figuring out way on how do you have to fight them.

    Being a DM means knowing when to say no as much as when to say yes but more importantly it is knowing how to say yes or no. If one of my players wants something 9 times out of 10 I'll give it to them. It will however take some time to get to that point and that way I can make sure that what ever it may be is well written into the story and will be tactically relevant. It will not however come at the hands of some wizardly merchant. plying his wares to anyone with the electrum to pay the bills. I think that was one of the things that I found so disappointing about 4th ed. I haven't got the books yet but supposedly magic items are written into the PH.

    Now, like a few other people, I don't have problems with things like simple scrolls and potions, magic weapons and other permanent effects however are detrimental to the overall setting if allowed to run rampant.

    Magic should be allowed to be magic, it should be special and it should be significant, it shouldn't just be something you can pick up at the five and dime.
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    Saracenus
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    PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    manus-nigrum wrote:
    I think that the idea of magic shops is preposterous. Not only does it throw the game balance off but it reduces the need for a party wizard. When you allow your players to just go buy whatever magic item that they may need at the local kwikie mart you create lazy players that expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. This eventually leads them to become bored with the game.


    Actually manus-nigrum, kwickie-mart magic shoppe is the refuge of the lazy DM (Saracenus raises his hand to include himself in that bunch). If being a control freak is your idea of fun, by all means ratchet down as hard as you want on magic items in the game. But here a few rebuttal points to your absurdly broad, gross generalization about game balance, player lassitude, and what makes an exciting game:

    1) 3e is predicated upon players having a certain level of wealth and magic items at each level to maintain their proper balance in the game. This is especially critical at higher levels of play. For a clear consise breakdown of what magic item levels are expected in a 3e game I recommend reading the Magic Item Compendium. Basically 3e states you should have two magic items of your current level when you level-up to your next level (e.g. a 3rd level PC should have two 1st level and two 2nd level magic items when he starts his 3rd level).

    2) Magic items are hardly a substitute for a well played wizard (or cleric for that matter). Frankly, I would rather play without a cleric than a wizard given the choice, but only just so much. Wizard builds also have a tremendous effect on play. I have seen wizards that actually drug the party down because the player didnít understand their classes role within the party and had a poor grasp of the magic mechanics. On the other hand a well defined wizard played smartly is worth its weight in platinum. Every table I sat down with during my LG days was happy to see my sloppy drunk dwarven wizard because he was that damn good (and so was I).

    3) Your assertion that giving players choice makes them lazy is interesting. I always look for player investment in the game. If I have to micro-manage every aspect of their characters development I am taking on too much responsibility and I am treating my players as if they were children, which in my opinion is a complete lack of respect.

    4) Boredom in my campaign points back to me, as the DM, 99.99% of the time. Itís my job to provide my players with an interesting 6 Ė 8 hours of gaming at each of my sessions. That is tied to story, NPC/Monster choice, pacing and listening to my players wants and needs.

    So, in short I completely disagree with your assertion that Magic Shoppes are preposterous. They are needed in 3e and provide an opportunity for a DM to place hooks, side treks, and other fun like any other D&D trope.

    The only caveat I put on this is, a completely unrestrained magic mart where PCs can by anything they want is ridiculous. It can lead to skewed powers if a player saves up his treasure and buys an item way beyond his pay grade. So, donít throw the whole idea out, adapt it to you and your players needs and get back to the fun of DMing and stopping being the fun police.

    My two coppers,

    Bryan Blumklotz
    AKA Saracenus
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    manus-nigrum
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    PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Saracenus wrote:
    Actually manus-nigrum, kwickie-mart magic shoppe is the refuge of the lazy DM (Saracenus raises his hand to include himself in that bunch). If being a control freak is your idea of fun, by all means ratchet down as hard as you want on magic items in the game. But here a few rebuttal points to your absurdly broad, gross generalization about game balance, player lassitude, and what makes an exciting game:



    Alright, lets put the personal attacks aside here, restricting player access to magic items to what they can A) find or B) make themselves doesn't make me a control freak. Remember, I did say that "If one of my players wants something 9 times out of 10 I'll give it to them. It will however take some time to get to that point and that way I can make sure that what ever it may be is well written into the story and will be tactically relevant. "

    For example. One of my players in a Star Wars Game I ran a few years ago wanted Orbalisk armor. I'm not sure I spelled that right but they're these little parasites that are force sensitive and amplify a Dark Side characters force ability. They are asexaul and attach to your body, in time they reproduce and slowly multiply to cover your entire body. The more they reproduce the more there are and the more powerful you become. (I know that this discussion is supposed to revolved around D&D and Greyhawk but bare with me for a moment)

    Anyway, Orbalisk armor is one of the most powerful things in the Star Wars game and I believe meant for NPC's only. Did I say "No, Tim, thats to powerful and so you can't have it!" No, I made him track it down and find it, then he had to deal with the consequences of having all these little parasites covering his body.

    This doesn't make me a control freak, it makes me attentive and devoted to making sure that game balance is maintained and everyone has a good time while making sure that a player gets what they want out of a game.

    When I say that having magic item shops in the game makes players lazy what I mean by this is that it has the effect of making players go, "well, this weapon isn't effective enough so I'll just go buy another one." Having a large amount of magic within easy reach reduces the play groups overall ability to think strategically in terms of minimal assets. Because they become dependent on their toys as opposed to trying to figure out how tackle the problem at hand to the best of their own intrinsic abilities, when deprived of those toys they will invariably fail, assuming of course that the DM uses spells such as Dispel Magic or anti magic fields on their players at all.

    The job of the Dungeon Master is to challenge your players. By offering up magic items within easy reach to players without forcing them to go through the rigors of acquiring them you ultimately cheat your players. Whether that means they create them on their own or have to track them down matters little. Am I saying that the players in your group don't have fun? No. Am I saying that games can't have tons of magic in them and be memorable? No. What I am saying is that those magic items shouldn't be easily attained. By making them just another object you can pick up in a shop cheapens them. Where as a DM I have an opportunity for a quest, a side trek if you will, you have a trip to the store.


    Saracenus wrote:
    1) 3e is predicated upon players having a certain level of wealth and magic items at each level to maintain their proper balance in the game. This is especially critical at higher levels of play. For a clear consise breakdown of what magic item levels are expected in a 3e game I recommend reading the Magic Item Compendium. Basically 3e states you should have two magic items of your current level when you level-up to your next level (e.g. a 3rd level PC should have two 1st level and two 2nd level magic items when he starts his 3rd level).


    This is not the only problem I have with third ed. The high availability of magic, the weird **** experience system, the bizarrely labeled "Challenge Rating" system which probably sometimes I think should be renamed from CR to EF "Ease Factor". A lot of times it just doesn't make any sense. Especially for some of the natural creatures like the Tiger which is probably the sickest CR 4 creature in the game. This is a creature with 6 HD, a natural bonus of +10 on Hide rolls on top of a bunch of skill ranks in it (I think, I'm at work at the moment and can't look it up) and on a charge gets additional attacks which do 1d6+9 points of damage or something equally preposterous.

    But these are my beefs about the CR system, not magic item availability.

    Now if you read the section in the DMG2 on starting characters at higher levels it doesn't really fit by the model you outline. It gives a standard GP value that is to be meted out by the DM for now characters but that hardly fits the requirements of "a 3rd level PC should have two 1st level and two 2nd level magic items when he starts his 3rd level". So which book do I go with? The DMG or the Magic Item Compendium?

    Of course this may very well be more appropriate for an Eberron game. I don't know though, I run Greyhawk, not Eberron.

    Saracenus wrote:
    2) Magic items are hardly a substitute for a well played wizard (or cleric for that matter).


    Yes this is my point.

    Saracenus wrote:
    Frankly, I would rather play without a cleric than a wizard given the choice, but only just so much. Wizard builds also have a tremendous effect on play. I have seen wizards that actually drug the party down because the player didnít understand their classes role within the party and had a poor grasp of the magic mechanics. On the other hand a well defined wizard played smartly is worth its weight in platinum. Every table I sat down with during my LG days was happy to see my sloppy drunk dwarven wizard because he was that damn good (and so was I).


    Absolutely, I agree with you whole heartedly here. Although this is largely irrelevant to the discussion at hand I will address it anyway. If a player doesn't know their characters role in the game the entire group will suffer. This does not only apply to Wizards and Clerics though, this is any character. This is were hammering players in the beginning of the game pays off in the end. The harder you make their beginning few levels on them the more they will begin to think like a team. This applies to any class but especially spell casters and rogues.

    This is unfortunately one of the problems that I always had with tournament play, that unless you were able to make it to a convention with the same group of people every time you didn't have that well oiled, frictionless combat coherency that you do with you home groups. That, and tournament play is notoriously difficult to come by here in Houston. We're the fourth largest city is the US for christ sakes! You'd think that there would be more cons.

    Saracenus wrote:
    3) Your assertion that giving players choice makes them lazy is interesting. I always look for player investment in the game. If I have to micro-manage every aspect of their characters development I am taking on too much responsibility and I am treating my players as if they were children, which in my opinion is a complete lack of respect.


    I already addressed this but I want to do so again. It makes them tactically lazy, not children. And again, it's not about choice, it's about the rapidity of availability. If one of my players wants the Hand and the Eye, I'm gonna give it to them god damnit but it will involve a lot of hard work and they are going to find out everything I can add about this history, the side effects and then, in the end if they still want the damn things, I'll give them all the rope they want to hang themselves with.

    This way it becomes a plot device and helps to build the game as opposed to just another trip to Mal-Wort, your source for cheap magical crap...

    Saracenus wrote:
    4) Boredom in my campaign points back to me, as the DM, 99.99% of the time. Itís my job to provide my players with an interesting 6 Ė 8 hours of gaming at each of my sessions. That is tied to story, NPC/Monster choice, pacing and listening to my players wants and needs.


    Again, I agree with you here. Boredom with the campaign points squarely at you. If my players are bored then its all your fault. Mad

    Ok, but seriously, I do agree with you here. Boredom with the campeign is the result of actions taken by the DM. I also agree with what you say that it being "tied to story, NPC/Monster choice, pacing and listening to my players wants and needs." Although I would add that NPC/Monster equipping and positioning is also a choice that factors in just as importantly as selection in of itself. Poor placement of enemy combatants makes for a tactically unsatisfying encounter and while it is necessary to put in the occasional easy encounter, to do so to often results in player boredom.

    As I said in my first post. Finding out what a player wants out of a game is important. When you find out what they want and then give them the opportunity to work towards that goal they will look back on it differently then if they can just drop by the qwickie mart and pick it up from Apu along with a six pack of Duff, a chutney flavored squishy and a copy of this months issue of Gigantic Asses.

    Saracenus wrote:
    So, in short I completely disagree with your assertion that Magic Shoppes are preposterous. They are needed in 3e and provide an opportunity for a DM to place hooks, side treks, and other fun like any other D&D trope.


    This makes it sound like if you don't have magic shops in your game then there is no "opportunity for a DM to place hooks, side treks, and other fun like any other D&D trope."

    I am not sure if this is your point or not, I doubt it because that sounds pretty strange but I will address it anyway. Having magic shops doesn't give you any opportunities for plot hooks and rumors as a DM that you wouldn't have anyway. There are always bars and taverns, weapon smiths and armorers, guildhalls, townhalls and libraries. If you want to place side treks and tangents magic shops are in no way 'needed' to do so.

    Saracenus wrote:
    The only caveat I put on this is, a completely unrestrained magic mart where PCs can by anything they want is ridiculous. It can lead to skewed powers if a player saves up his treasure and buys an item way beyond his pay grade. So, donít throw the whole idea out, adapt it to you and your players needs and get back to the fun of DMing and stopping being the fun police.


    I think that this may actually be were our biggest difference is. Well actually I think that it may come down to definition. As I said before I have no problem with allowing players to purchase items such as potions or scrolls. Most often this comes into play in guildhalls or were ever they would purchase spell components, my problem is in the easy availability of permanent magic items. Having a game that is a bit more difficult then what yours may be does not mean that I or my players are not having fun. If we weren't then we wouldn't keep meeting every other week. I was playing in a game were the DM, or rather GM it was a Shadowrun game, gave the players anything that they wanted. It collapsed eventually and it didn't take that long. This is what I want to avoid.
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    Saracenus
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    PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    manus-nigrum>

    I am sorry for the cheap shots I made in my post. It was uncalled for. I didn't follow my count to 10 rule before posting.

    In a calmer frame of mind I would say your opening paragraph rubbed me the wrong way. Still no excuse for my pot shots.

    I have never run Eberron, I have run almost exclusively Greyhawk personally. You and I have differing views of GH evidently. I do recognize 1e EGG's fingerprints in your magic availability style. Its one I used in the 80s myself.

    I will say this, I don't bother with the minutia of stating out each magic shoppe in "town." I might have one or two locations that are important.

    If the PCs are looking for specific items beyond the grasp of those locations, then I look at what could be found, reasonably, in their home base or what could be imported from a larger, wealthier location. I might have them make a few skill checks or do a quick role play encounter off the cuff for it in a more generalized way.

    I only make magic items quest focuses if they are part of the character background quests or related to a plot point. Or, if the item is so powerful (but still appropriate to their level) I will make them work for it.

    Given my 7 1/2 years experience playing and running 3e I am very comfortable balancing my encounters, magic availability, and fun. I find it more difficult to balance some of the broken 3e PrC combos (and a few of the newer full classes) than the magic items. Those require more regulation in my opinion than magic items does.

    Right now Warlocks are banned in my campaign. There are a few PrCs banned as well.

    Anyway, my coppers again.

    Bryan Blumklotz
    AKA Saracenus
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    manus-nigrum
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    PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    I think that the issue that we are really discussing is the optional features that are allowable in the game. For example, in my game all classes not in the PH (and therefore Prestige Classes) by by default are automatically banned. That being said, if one or more of my players wants to play a Warlock or a Ninja or some other class they understand that, given prior notice I will clear it. This takes about a month or so before I clear it but I usually will allow what ever they want to play but I need to time study and digest the material before it become available.

    For example. One of my players wanted to play a Master of Shrouds. Its a really cool prestige class in the Libis Mortis supplement. If you don't have I'd really recommend checking it out. This is not exactly the kind of thing that is really player recommended, and in my games you are going to play the hero whether to intend to or not. Maybe your an antihero, but a hero none the less.

    Anyway, the basic run down is that it is a prestige class that revolves around the summoning and control on incorporeal undead, shadows, wraiths etcetera. I had to come up with a PC compatible religion that allowed for this sort of thing. The answer came in the form of a new religious organization called the Death Guard of Nerull. The idea was a combination of the Euthanatos from Mage the ascension and the name was stolen from a legion of Space Marines from 40k. The idea was that you have a cult that worships an evil deity but that cult has to have a popular appeal. The Death Guard came about because something one of my players wanted and went on to become something that was a major telling point in my game. While he was never able to achieve the prestige class because he died before he was able to get there he still made a great contribution to the overall game by requesting something that made me have to get creative and think about it really hard.

    Running a game really is an interactive affair. The more information you can pull from your players the better it will become. By allowing your players input into the construction of the world you create a more vibrant and immersive environment. Of course I'm probably talking to a bunch of veteran DM's so this isn't news.

    Now, IMC there are places you can go to buy spell components, books, simple scroll and potions and such. Permanent magic items are something a bit different though. It it is something that can be made using craft wondrous item feat which isn't so difficult to acquire then its one thing, but magic weapons and armor, rings, staves, wands and such are are significantly more difficult to make and therefore from an economic perspective should be progressively more and more uncommon.

    Interestingly enough, mechanically speaking, they should be even more rare then they were in 2nd edition considering that magic item creation was something that only opened up once you reached ninth level whereas no, no matter what level you are it still requires the specific feat. This being the case, considering the large number of magic items available in the game it would require a Henry Ford style magical assembly line.

    So we don't have one simple reason for diminishing the use, or rather the ease of availability of magic items, we have a large number of reasons creating a rather complex painting of why prolific magic accessibility is not only harmful, but also in many ways unrealistic. Even though magic has become much easier to make in 3rd ed, by item creation SOP it is still by no means going to be common.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanatos#Euthanatos
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    The_Witch
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    PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    The point that needs to be made here to a lot of old grognards (*wink*) is that having magic item shops is not necessarily preposterous. Perhaps they don't fit in your campaign, perhaps you don't like them, and perhaps it makes no sense to have a magic item shop in every village.

    But in a city like Greyhawk, a giant trading hub filled with numerous wizards, with a Mages' Guild and a Society of Magi, with several temples - there markets of magic items make a lot of sense. And they also fit within the balance of my 3E framework.
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