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Magic Items: Equipment or Powers?


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When building a Heroic-level character who has magic items (even something as humble as a sword with an extra OCV level or one extra Damage Class built into it), should it be classified as Equipment (using the Equipment Allowance for Heroic characters) or purchased as a Power with character points?

 

I'm inclined to view it as Equipment, but I wondered how others treated it.

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It depends in my opinion.

 

If a player had a character origin that tied a particular magic item to their character then it is reasonable for them to spend points on it.  However, what this means in a gameworld dominated by mundane free equipment is that they should always have an opportunity to find this magic item if it is ever lost or taken away. 

 

A good example might be Corwin from Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber.  Corwin has a magical sword named Grayswandir.  Due to the nature of the sword and Corwin's abilities he could always find the sword if lost.  His is an extreme case that is in some ways like Marvel's Thor and his Hammer.  The characters and items are intertwined. 

 

I think that if you as a GM allow a player to spend points up front on specific item(s) then you are acknowledging the importance of those items over ones 'acquired' during the course of gameplay.  If I was converting a D&D character into HERO terms I think the biggest determining factor over whether items are added to the Powers or Equipment section would be whether the power level of the campaign was 'super' or 'heroic' which would really be determined by how powerful the magic spells are in the game world. Considering the rule about characters who spend points on 'weapons' not having to pay for the familiarity to use the weapon, my gut feeling is consider ALL weapons, magic or otherwise, to be equipment that can be lost or stolen.

 

HM

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Generally agree with HM. In my current campaign if you start with a magic item it must be paid for with points and you will recover it (or another very much like it) if it is lost, stolen, destroyed, etc. If you have an item specifically created for you, you have the option to pay CP or in game currency of some kind (gold, quests, favors, etc). If the former, it acts the same as any other thing you purchased with CP. If the latter, it acts like any other equipment in the game. 

 

- E

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Fantasy HERO (the genre book) has lots of good advice on various ways to handle it. In the end however, whether or not a Heroic character should have to pay CP for a "Wonderous Item" depends entirely upon how the campaign treats Wonderous Items:

 

In a standard Pathfinder Campaign, gold pieces are basically treated like a type of experience points which are used to upgrade and replace the character's magical items. Monetary costs rarely if ever come up in any other circumstance because by 3rd or 4th level your equipment costs more than the king's palace and you have more than enough gold to spare for "little things" like room and board. In such a world, CP should generally only be spent improving your character personally, with the rare exception of having to purchase familiars and companions as Followers, and bonded items as powers which require a particular Foci.

 

In most anime, a character's equipment is almost never lost, broken, or replaced with something better... the possibility of such is never even touched upon most of the time. These items were paid for with CP. For the most part we could call these stories Superheroic Fantasy (Fairy Tale for example).

 

I was recently converting a character from an anime as a Heroic Fantasy HERO character for fun. The character is named Bell Cranel (of "Familia Myth", or "Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon"... available on Hulu), and I built him as he appeared at the beginning of episode 8 (of 13). This character begins as a novice adventurer, and a member of a very small and weak "Familia" (a kind of adventurer's guild blessed, controlled, and named after its patron deity). The character grows in power very rapidly during the course of the series, and goes through several changes in his equipment. Fairly early on his deity gifts him with a magical knife that will "grow with him". He also ends up purchasing a suit of very nice light plate armor from a bargain shop, being given a "protector" (a magical bracer which functions like a shield for him) by a friend, and a baselard (a kind of shortsword) by a co-worker. Of these four items, only the knife was paid for with his own CP. The reasons he paid CP for the knife, but not for it other items are:

1. Although the knife was stolen (twice), it was useless to anyone else... essentially it was a Personal Foci. Moreover, he always got the knife back, sometimes through highly unlikely circumstances.

2. The knife, "grows in power with him"... essentially is allowed to invest CP into making it better.

3. At some point or another, he breaks every other piece of equipment he owns and has to get it replaced, but never the knife... essentially it is Unbreakable.

 

As for how I personally treat Wondrous Items, I have always been fond of the rules from Fantasy HERO​ for paying CP for the ability to create enchanted items. I think I would use those rules if I were creating a "Pathfinder-like" High Fantasy world.

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When building a Heroic-level character who has magic items (even something as humble as a sword with an extra OCV level or one extra Damage Class built into it), should it be classified as Equipment (using the Equipment Allowance for Heroic characters) or purchased as a Power with character points?

 

I'm inclined to view it as Equipment, but I wondered how others treated it.

Can he lose the equipment? 

I shy away from making them pay points for things they can lose permanently.

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The guidelines for our current campaign state:

  • Magic items are typically acquired in-game, and don’t generally cost character points. However if your character concept involves starting with a specific magic item or focus-based power, that can be purchased with points subject to GM approval.

I have in past games even had character offer to pay points for an item they initially got for free in game, under the principle that it was now fundamental to their character concept, and as insurance against the GM taking it away (or at least not permanently).

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Also in FH the line between "magic item" and "non-expendable material component" can get fuzzy, since both are typically built as Foci. If a priest buys his spells with OAF: Cross, does that work with any cross? Or only this specific one? Partly this is covered under Personal-vs-Universal Focus, but really the correct answer is "it depends."

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I have in past games even had character offer to pay points for an item they initially got for free in game, under the principle that it was now fundamental to their character concept, and as insurance against the GM taking it away (or at least not permanently).

Emphasis added by me, above, since, you know, such items are typically foci and insurance policies on foci usually have a lot of loopholes the insurer can use.  You know, such things as the insured not being covered for loss due to Great Floods, Hell Fires, and Acts of Gods....

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Emphasis added by me, above, since, you know, such items are typically foci and insurance policies on foci usually have a lot of loopholes the insurer can use.  You know, such things as the insured not being covered for loss due to Great Floods, Hell Fires, and Acts of Gods....

While this is true, the insured also generally has the opportunity to retrieve or replace the item without spending more CP. At least that is the way it plays out in my games and the games where I have been a player.

 

- E

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Emphasis added by me, above, since, you know, such items are typically foci and insurance policies on foci usually have a lot of loopholes the insurer can use.  You know, such things as the insured not being covered for loss due to Great Floods, Hell Fires, and Acts of Gods....

"I'm sorry, your policy clearly covers Disarms, but in this case your opponent hit your Focus with a Ranged attack and you let go of it - I'm not blaming you, mind - but your policy does not insure against droppage associated with Foci being hit by ranged attacks, there's nothing I can do..."

 

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