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The Dungeon Master's Guide provides a series of Magic Item Tables lettered A through I (pp. 144 to 149), organized for random treasure selection.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything introduces a distinction between minor magic items and major magic items as a broad categorization (p. 135) in addition to the common, uncommon, rare, very rare, and legendary rarities introduced in the DMG. For example, a potion of healing is a minor common item while a weapon +1 is a major uncommon item. (Minor items are usually consumable, while major items are usually permanent equipment, although there are exceptions.)

It is explicitly stated in Xanathar's that even though the terms "minor" and "major" are not used in the DMG the distinction was conceptually there all along because tables A through E include only minor items and tables I through F include only major items.

In addition to the magic items listed in the DMG (pp. 150 to 214), Xanathar's includes some minor common items (pp. 136 to 140). It then provides a series of new well-organized Magic Item Tables that incorporate all the magic items from the DMG and Xanathar's itself, organized by minor/major, then by rarity, and then alphabetized for ease of lookup. For example, there is a table of minor rare items and a table of major legendary items.

Xanathar's also includes guidance and options for running Shared Campaigns (pp. 172 to 174), including rules to allow players to buy magic items from tables A through I. Frustratingly, those are the randomization tables that don't include any of the minor common items in Xanathar's and aren't easy to use for lookups! There's no indication of how to use the minor/major lookup tables in Xanathar's itself instead of the A through I randomization tables from the DMG, which just compounds the problem.

It's clear that tables A through E correspond to minor items and F through I to major items, but I'm not sure how to deal with the rarities within those tables. At a glance I see instances in a few of the lettered tables of items of disparate rarities. For example, table E includes both very rare and legendary spell scrolls. However, these might just be outliers.

So... what rarity should be assigned to each lettered table? My goal is to do so in a fashion that is significantly precise even if it isn't perfect, so that my players don't have to scan through tables A through I to find their items.

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There's no perfect way to assign rarities to all the tables.

I made a spreadsheet counting the percentage of items of each rarity1 contained in each of tables A through I. These results are as follows.

\$ \begin{array} {c|r|r|r|r|r} \textbf{Table} & \text{Common} & \text{Uncommon} & \text{Rare} & \text{Very Rare} & \text{Legendary} \\ \hline \textbf{A} & 50\% & 50\% & & & \\ \hline \textbf{B} & & 100\% & & & \\ \hline \textbf{C} & & 14.3\% & 85.7\% & & \\ \hline \textbf{D} & & & 6.3\% & 93.8\% & \\ \hline \textbf{E} & & & & 42.9\% & 57.1\% \\ \hline \textbf{F} & & 100\% & & & \\ \hline \textbf{G} & & 2.1\% & 96.8\% & 1.1\% & \\ \hline \textbf{H} & & 2.9\% & 8.7\% & 88.4\% & \\ \hline \textbf{I} & & & 7.8\% & 23.4\% & 68.8\% \\ \end{array} \$

As can be seen, only tables B and F are completely consistent in their rarity, so it's not possible to assign a rarity to every lettered table perfectly.

But there's a better way to solve the problem.

The problem isn't really what rarity to assign each lettered table. It's how to preserve which rarities become available to a character when they reach a specific tier and at a particular point cost (according to the Shared Campaign rules being used). For example, it doesn't matter that table I contains a mix of very rares and legendaries. What matters is that major legendaries only become available at tier 3 for 12 points, and only table I has them, so for all practical purposes when a character becomes eligible for table I then they become eligible for major legendaries.

So, how to solve that version of the problem...

  1. Observe when each minor and major rarity becomes available to a character for the first time based on tier requirements, grouping any rarities that share a tier requirement and point cost.

  2. Observe which lettered tables cover each minor and major rarity most precisely, grouping any tables that share a tier requirement and point cost.

  3. See if we can find an obvious mapping from the table groups in step 2 to the rarity groups in step 1. If so, we can refactor the purchase options.

My observations for the minor items are as follows.

  • Commons, uncommons, and rares start at tier 1 for 4 points. Tables A, B, and C (plus the minor commons in Xanathar's) almost perfectly2 cover these rarities.
  • Very rares start at tier 2 for 8 points. Table D almost perfectly2 covers this rarity.
  • Legendaries start at tier 3 for 8 points. This rarity is exclusive to table E.

My observations for the major items are as follows.

  • There are no commons.
  • Uncommons start at tier 1 for 8 points. Table F almost perfectly2 covers this rarity.
  • Rares start at tier 2 for 10 points. Table G almost perfectly2 covers this rarity.
  • Very rares start at 3 for 10 points. Table H almost perfectly2 covers this rarity.
  • Legendaries start at tier 3 for 12 points. This rarity is exclusive to table I.

I think an obvious mapping has emerged: in the table of magic item purchase options in Xanathar's (p. 174), replace each of the lettered tables with the following minor/major rarities and then ignore tables A to I in favor of the minor/major rarity tables in Xanathar's.

  • A, B, and C (as a group): minor common, minor uncommon, and minor rare.
  • D: minor very rare.
  • E: minor legendary.
  • F: major uncommon.
  • G: major rare.
  • H: major very rare.
  • I: major legendary.

Although this mapping is not exactly equivalent to the way the purchase options were originally presented, the scenarios where a player could buy an item earlier or later than the original options allowed are essentially edge cases that balance each other out.

This mapping ought to allow the players to use the tables in Xanathar's instead of the DMG's tables A through I easily without deviating greatly from the balance apparently intended in the original options, which was the real problem to begin with.


Footnotes on My Methods

  1. These percentages are according to the rarity of the item names listed in the table, not the probability of randomly generating an item of each rarity using the table's d100 column, since we're not trying to generate random treasure. Data entry errors should be insignificant.

  2. When I say "almost perfectly" I mean there are on the order of 5 outliers out of just under 400 entries, which is insignificant. Note that by "entries" I mean the number of item names listed in the tables preserving duplicates across tables, not the number of unique items described in the book, which is far fewer.

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