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In pathfinder, a Wizard's bonded item can only be an amulet, ring, wand, or staff. Why? Is there something gamebreaking about allowing a head-slot item as a bonded item? We're considering removing the rule but we're not sure why it was there in the first place.

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Deciding on the Appropriateness of a Bonded Item

What's the nature of a amulet, ring, wand, staff, or weapon (the current RAW bonded item types)?

  • Obvious
  • Stealable
  • Well Known

They're obviously arcane doodads and can be easily stolen, esp. by a steal or disarm combat maneuver. All of them suffer from the likelihood of eventual upgrade (you run through wand charges, outgrow that +1 amulet or low-level ring, and don't get magical staves till high level).

A jeweled headband or the like fits both those criteria. It's as stealable as a ring for sure.

Wizards are likely to have a headband slot item (intellect stat boost) but they're likely to have those other slots filled too - there's no real slot-related balance reason, especially because the bonded-ness doesn't really affect the functioning of the item per se. You're likely to need to upgrade it at the same cadence as an amulet. You can start upgrading it at level 3 (Craft Wondrous Item), earlier than some other types but same as amulets. I see zero difference between a headband and an amulet rule-wise.

Conversely, "my armor," "my socks," or "something slotless concealed in my colon," or similar are bad allowed bonded items because they lack the obviousness and stealability criteria.

Now, the character will benefit from having a nonstandard bonded item slot (the cops/their captors know "hey take wands, staves, amulets, weapons, and rings off captured wizards") so it would be fair to make them spend a trait on this change.

Note that the Hellknight Signifer prestige class gets an "Enforcer Mask" which is their arcane bonded item and it's a head slot item, so there is definitely precedent. This falls under the category of "well known" so it's also easy for a captor to deprive them of. If the PC is part of some group with a similarly well known alternate arcane bond location then that would work without a trait spend IMO.

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Accepted primarily for pointing out the existing prestige class that provides a precedent. My GM has decided that in his world, you CAN bond an item in any slot, but the three listed are the most common due to tradition. –  Yamikuronue Sep 4 '13 at 17:55
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A bonded item is what a Wizard channels his special spell through. Although doubtful it would be game breaking, bonding a helm would mean that for the purposes of role play, whenever you cast the spell, you'd point the top of your head at the target.

Hilarity would ensue as you'd probably miss whilst looking at the floor..

Hence why you can bond

  • Ring - Aim your hand
  • Amulet - hold it up/point
  • Weapon/Wand/Staff - Point or shakey shake that rainmaker stick!

They can all be "easily" stolen. Trying to steal a helm would be ridiculous

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This is perfect. I want a bonded belt, and kinkiness will ensue. Or boots. (More seriously, bracers and gloves seem to fit the bill too) –  Scrollmaster Sep 1 '13 at 11:29
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That would be hilarious @Scrollmaster. "The Arcane Belt of Thrusting" –  Kegg Sep 1 '13 at 11:54
    
Headband of Intellect: aim the gem on your forehead in their direction. Doesn't seem as bad :) –  Yamikuronue Sep 1 '13 at 13:21
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Bonded items are in locations that can be non-fatally removed and can be easily pointed. The head is not such a location.

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But is the "non-fatally removed" bit a requirement, or a coincidence of the existing options? –  Jonathan Hobbs Sep 1 '13 at 20:26
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It's a correlation without evidence of causation - I can't tell from the rules which is the cause and which the effect, but it's a clear and strong correlation. Note that a head slot item would essentially make all bonded-item using spells into gaze attacks... which have their own quirks. –  aramis Sep 2 '13 at 9:08
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