Saturday, September 22, 2012

+1 Or Not?

(I have a confession to make.  My name is Charlie and I have Gamer ADD; I have seen a few bloggers expressing similar thoughts since I started blogging and following blogs written by others.  I need to get back on track and get focused again.  I will still post on a variety of subjects other than just gaming but I need to develop some structure and get a routine established.  Maybe it will come quickly or maybe it will come slowly but it begins here with this post.)
A Sword +1 is quite possibly one of the most common magic items ever handed out by Dungeon Masters in the (A)D&D game.  The name is not very intriguing but it does the job.  Many campaigns work perfectly fine using that labeling and there is nothing wrong with that. 
I have used the "+x items" as is without modification but I have wondered if there is a better labeling method.  For instance, what if the +1 to hit was replaced with "heightened accuracy", "greater accuracy", "true aim", or something similar for a bonus to hit?  Another example could be replacing the +1 to damage with "greater penetration", "minor sharpness", or something else similar to those listed?
I think it is interesting to consider but I also wonder how you would handle the higher bonuses.  If a +1 is "greater accuracy" or "sharpness" then what would the higher bonuses of +2, +3, +4, and +5 be labeled?  How would the low end and high end of the bonus range be labeled in a manner that would make sense and be more in touch with the feel and tone of the campaign?
Has anyone reading this tried anything like this?  If so, did it work well?  Did you keep using it or change back?


  1. I completely agree: +1 ______ (fill in the blank) is so boring. The problem, as you mention, is in layering word descriptions in logical contexts.

    Frankly, I've always been of the opinion that magic items should be one of the rarest treasures of them all. When you consider the natural character progressions through 'leveling up', that +1 Longsword becomes redundant. When a character is 1st or 2nd level, that sword is a wonderful thing; at 10th level, it's nothing more than something to sell or give away.

    I'll be very curious as to how you resolve this one, Charlie; it can be a tricky slope.

    1. Eric, you bring up some interesting points. I am in total agreement about the scarcity of magic items. It should not be like many of the popular video games that just have your character upgrading every chance they get.

      The words used to describe the magic items have got to be logical or this idea simply will not work. I must admit that I am not quite sure how to do it but I am trying to think up several options. Of course, the other option would be to just give each magic sword a unique name like Orcbane, Striker, etc. Who knows where this will end up?