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I have a planar traveling campaign that sometimes runs into survival issues.

With Eberron coming out, I have promised my players can use Artificers. The problem is that level 2 Artificers can use the Replicate Magic Item infusion to make an alchemy jug that would largely invalidate the spell goodberry, the spell create food and drink, and the player with a high Survival modifier.

They already have an alchemy jug. But magic items can disappear. I don't know how to consistently remove a magic item that players can make themselves every day. From what I have read, it will not require an item to create, and the player can infinitely replace it.

Any solution is welcome. Including just letting the artificer spend his infusion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/q/159190/48759 \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Nov 8 at 4:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Where have you read that "it will not require an item to create, and the player can infinitely replace it"? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 8 at 12:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Current UA specifies when an infusion has an item requirement. Atm replicable magic item has none. They would be able to remake it every day causing the old one to expire if lost. \$\endgroup\$ – kent Nov 8 at 17:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast the lack of a description may be because the items are different and "See the item’s description in the Dungeon Master’s Guide for more information about it, including the type of object required for its making." is suppose to indicate needing a jug. But the replacing it every day with a jug from a store still works. And then we run into the possible solution of limiting their access to things that hold water in a campaign where survival elements routinely emerge. \$\endgroup\$ – kent Nov 8 at 18:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Am I missing something? An alchemy jug doesn't create food. How is it removing the need for rations? \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Nov 9 at 3:16
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Encourage your desired behavior

It doesn't sound like you want to explicitly disallow the alchemy jug, just make sure it's not being overused. As a GM, you have a variety of tools you can use to encourage other behavior.

Descriptions, descriptions, descriptions

There are at least two situations that you can describe that will help encourage variety among your players.

  1. Describe meal time for the characters

When describing meal time, highlight the monotony of the alchemy jug approach. It is the same meal time and time again. The players are bound to get tired of hearing the same description time and time again.

  1. Describe the smells that characters encounter

When you are describing an area, make sure to pull in the smells and tastes that the characters will encounter. Encountering an NPC at a campsite should include the smells of rabbit roasting on the fire. Walking through the forest, you may smell droppings indicating good hunting grounds. Entering an inn, you can smell the scent of pies wafting in from the kitchen. A hearty description of food that they see can further encourage a desire for real food.

Remember that you can award inspiration to reward good roleplaying. Consider rewarding inspiration if there is a fight about the monotony of the alchemy jug approach.

Add NPCs to the group

Either through a rescue or escort mission or random encounter, grow the party size to make the alchemy jug approach not feasible. They will have to rely on using additional means for sustaining themselves and their NPC companions. This may be through the Create Food and Water spell or Goodberries or hunting.

Attention

NPCs encountering the party will probably notice the lack of rations being carried by the party and get curious. If the party is not being discrete with their jug, it may very well draw questions on what the jug does and encourage them to show off the jugs properties. In the wilderness, it will be a valuable commodity and could draw some attention from the more unsavory types as well.

Dead magic zones

The party may find zones of dead magic on their travels. Magical items have their properties suppressed when in this area. I would use this sparingly given the artificers reliance on magic items, but it would be a nasty surprise to find their jug isn't working.

Rewards

Add food/water to the items found while looting or when completing encounters. Just finding these items in the wild may encourage the party to take a break from the alchemy jug approach.

Overall

Let the players try this approach. If they end up relying on it, you can use it for plot hooks. A party that is reliant on one trick will have to get creative when that trick is stolen or rendered ineffective.

Note

It should be noted here that the Replicate Magic Item infusion does require an item of the appropriate type to be infused. For the Alchemy Jug, a non-magical 1 gallon ceramic jug is probably the appropriate item to require. If they aren't carrying around a spare jug, then they aren't able to replicate the Alchemy Jug.

Also, when the Alchemy Jug is replicated, the previously infused jug loses it's magic properties. By allowing artificers in the game, you or your players may take advantage of this for a con. Sell the infused magic item and replicate it in the morning. The previous magic item is now mundane and the party (or conman) profited without loss. Just make sure to add bounties when this ruse is discovered.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If there’s artificers running around your setting, people would probably be aware of how their infusions work and scam prevention measures would probably be included in the Buy or Sell A Magic Item downtime action. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Nov 9 at 20:52
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Ask the players not to

If you are all invested in playing a far-reaching survivalist plane spanning campaign where each sleep/wake cycle (because there may not actually be “days”) teeters on a knife edge between feast and famine then play that ... and remove whatever prevents that from happening.

This shouldn’t be a problem.

Now, if it’s only you that wants this campaign, you have a different problem.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless it is appropriate to remove class features without recompense this does not fully answer the question. \$\endgroup\$ – kent Nov 8 at 5:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kent I don't think dale is necessarily saying remove the ability to make any magic item, but saying limit the creation of such items. For example, remove the alchemy jug from the magic items list, or restrict the "quality" of the jug by removing the items from the list that pose a problem; which, as far as I can see, is just the fresh water \$\endgroup\$ – L0neGamer Nov 8 at 7:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dale M, I'm not sure "Ask them not to," is the same as "removing" the ability. The former implies player acquiescence. The later has a connotation (to me, at least) of a GM fiat. And honestly, I'm not sure which approach this answer is advocating. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 8 at 8:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kent there are dozens of items on the Artificer's list of replicable magic items. Removing a single one of them because it breaks the game you're trying to run is not at all equivalent to "removing a class feature" and is not an injustice to your player as long as they know that's how things will work. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Nov 8 at 8:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kent To echo Carcer, I think what DaleM is going for here is that you need your players' buy-in. They need to not want to make magic items that undermine the survival aspect of the game, but at the same time, the only reason they would not want to is if they want a survival game as much as you do. If they do, great, you can discuss it with them, they will realise it breaks the survival aspect, and they will effectively remove it themselves by not making that item. If they don't want that kind of game, that's the different problem DaleM alludes to (i.e. wanting different games). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Nov 8 at 9:12
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Remove The Ability In Question

This answer is related to an already existing one, but is a bit more strident and references a comment that may eventually get cleaned up about the propriety or removing class features "without recompense."

Propriety is not really well-defined except insofar as whatever the players and GM agree to is appropriate.

That said, a GM is under no absolute obligation to honor every rule in every book if the rule will prevent them from running the type of narrative they prefer. Specifically as regards character creation and advancement, I have done all of the following in various games:

  • Disallowed classes or races entirely if they did not fit my concept for that game.
  • Nerfed certain skills to the point of uselessness. (Usually this is because I was not running a game where they were likely to be used and I wanted to make it clear that putting points there would be wasting them... and I don't like to see players wasting points.)
  • Most relevantly to this discussion, nerfed/disallowed entire categories of spells that did not fit my game concept. Specifically, any spell that had a hint of acting on alignments (most especially "Detect Good/Evil") did not function.

I do not feel bad about any of these things. I gave nothing in return except, I hope, a good campaign. No one complained (much) so it was perfectly proper by my definition.

However....

This is best done up front and transparently, whenever possible. In all three of those cases, the decision was made either during campaign creation or character creation, and they were all communicated to the players at character creation time.

It would certainly be a lot less proper to wait for a player to create and level up a PC only to tell them that the thing they've been waiting months to get is not available.

Mistakes do happen, oversights do get made, loopholes do occasionally need to be closed after that fact. But my advice here is: keep that as rare as possible.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "It would certainly be a lot less proper to wait for a player to create and level up a PC only to tell them that the thing they've been waiting months to get is not available. " Incidentally, this is a good reason for players to talk openly with the GM about what they plan to do with their characters, instead of trying to ambush them with it. And, conversely, to not be the kind of GM that they feel the need to ambush. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Nov 8 at 17:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that you wouldn't have to remove the entire ability here, only one of the options of that ability. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Nov 8 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose it's a little bit in how you define "ability" (I tend to think about the lowest level features) but yes-- there is wide latitude on what you're disabling and/or modifying. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 8 at 21:36
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Players cannot live on mayonnaise alone

Per this other question, technically all the books say is that players need a pound of "food" per day to survive (or more or less depending on size). So using the jug to make pounds of honey or mayonnaise would fit the bill.

But if you're going for a survival style game, you need to impose more rules than what's in the books.

The concept of nutrition isn't completely foreign to the game as the Goodberry spell states:

Eating a berry restores 1 hit point, and the berry provides enough nourishment to sustain a creature for one day.

It doesn't say "equivalent to a pound of food", or "meets food requirements", but calls out nutrition. And while mayonnaise can be liberally used in a keto diet, it cannot be your main source of protein.

So if you're going for a survival type game, and the players are on board, then you'll need to impose harder rules. Food needs to be nutritious, water throughout the day (not just a gallon before going to bed), shelter from the elements, etc.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ They wouldn’t be living on mayo alone. They’d be living on beer alone - in particular, unfiltered small beers with the occasional citrus beer for vitamins and high-protein beers for protein. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Nov 9 at 20:55
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One possibility would be to make it more valuable to them for other reasons.

Say it turns out that beer is worth its weight in gold to the residents of the planes. The party can make 4 gallons of that a day! That means their Alchemy Jug can effectively print money/influence for them. In that circumstance it would be dumb to "waste" the jug on themselves, if they have other options for personal sustenance.

Honey likewise has to be very scarce in most planes, and they can make a gallon of it a day. Or perhaps the Lord of the 9 Hells is really pining to eat his souls with Mayo, but sadly it just doesn't preserve well in the climate there, so he's been forced to do without..

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This just reduces the survival aspect even more by giving the players so much money they don't need to subsist on mayonaise any longer. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Nov 10 at 7:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik - The question didn't ask for that, just for forcing use of more standard survival spells. \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Nov 10 at 14:38

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