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When a paladin in the game I run went into the local store ran by an ex adventurer, he went to the back to see the fancy swords, and asked if any looked like his holy symbol. The god he follows is illegal in that world, so I thought it would be cool if the shopkeep had one, so I narrated an old padded box that she takes out with a sword that exactly matched his holy symbol (which is a sword in a circle). I narrated a tingling feeling when he touched it. But then I realized; he's level two, the game has barely started, and I had him buy what seems to be a potentially extremely powerful magic item for 60 gp. I don't want to backpedal lamely and make it weak, but it seems like a sorta dumb way to get a great item. What should I do?

To clarify, neither I nor the player know what item he has. I don't want to make it a lame +1 sword or something, when I narrated it as something powerful. I was thinking of tiering it, at 1st tier it does nothing, second tier 1d6 extra radiant damage and +1 AC or something, add an extra d6 and armor boost per tier, by L17 it'll be +3 AC and 3d6 extra radiant, but I am afraid that might be too good for something he bought and didn't even do anything to get.

Thanks for all of the good answers. I had a hard time deciding which to accept.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Very related, possible dupe on How do I depower overpowered magic items without breaking immersion? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 2 '20 at 15:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also related, but different system: What can I do when I accidentally gave out an overpowered item? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 2 '20 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ To get a more complete answer, I would want to know specifically what you gave your player. If this is all over a +1 weapon, ultimately you've just supremely narrated a mildly powerful item with the added benefit of maybe acting as a spellcasting focus. But if it's over something more, that is when the real answer starts. \$\endgroup\$ – GuidingOlive Oct 2 '20 at 15:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch my issue is that if I backpedal and say that its lame item, my players will be dissapointed because I narrated it as if it has special significance \$\endgroup\$ – TheDragonOfFlame Oct 2 '20 at 15:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch OP's issue is that he/she basically described the item as the one ring, so they'd feel cheated if he/she gave them a magic iron ring that just doesn't rust. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Oct 2 '20 at 17:36
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Welcome to the wonderful world of "winging it"

It's an old DM/referee mode that's been around since before D&D was published.

Your reason wasn't a bad one

A common magic item costing 60 GP is within DMG and Xanathar's Guide to Everything (XGtE) cost bounds for common magic items. (It looks like the paladin was offered something like a 'friends and family discount' by the shop keeper). You are right to not make it a +1 sword. Make it a sword with a modest amount of magic on it. The fact that it is magical at all means that it handles the resistant / immune to magical attacks already: this is good for a paladin who may be battling nefarious beasties or wererats.

That tingly feeling is a good idea, narratively.

What you have done is similar to foreshadowing: something good is coming that you get to experience with the player. You can design this up front from bottom to top, but emergent growth is a cool way for this sword to grow with the character. I'll cover that also. Since you have a deity involved, you can intertwine the sword's growing powers with 'what the deity wants/needs their holy warrior to do' or something similar.

Unlocking powers as they level up can be a great technique

The sword can grow with your player's character but there are also two side benefits to what you have done:

  1. No worry about the paladin 'needing' another magical weapon for the rest of the campaign.
  2. With his deity being illegal you have a plot hook from level 2 through level 20 of {some faction} hunting down items related to this illegal deity. Their motives are built around this theme: the items must be destroyed!
    That's a path (NPCs hunting the item bearer) I have taken with a similarly tiered/unlocking item in the shared world that I DM with my brother.

Caveat: watch out for overpowering the item.

It's easy to overpower an item by piling stuff on. Your initial idea looks like it compares favorably with the tier progression of rarity values in the DMG, and the common rarity from XGtE. I recommend that you do this: have it progress from common to uncommon to rare to very rare as you enter each tier. If you look at the common magic items in XGtE, they each have a little magic. Here's a way to tier the item. (@PixelMaster also has great advice on this in their answer).
Tier 1 (where you have it) sword is magical. Advantage on persuasion checks when dealing with clergy or followers of that deity (perhaps only if the symbol is shown/displayed, up to you).
Tier 2 (Uncommon) 1d6 extra radiant damage or +1 AC
Tier 3 (Rare) 2d6 radiant damage or +2 AC and casts light cantrip at will (command word = deity's name).
Tier 4 add 3d6 radiant Damage or +3 AC and light cantrip (command word) and one other feature.

  1. Wait for when your PC gets to that level to decide what that feature will be.
  2. Heck, it's connected to the deity, right? Have the blessing be appropriate to what the PC is doing or going to do soon.

Option: Legendary, named for the PC, near level 20

As your player's PC closes out their adventuring career, they'll do something impressive that saves the world, or something that really pleases their deity. Add one more power to put it in the legendary class of item (compare to DMG items that are Legendary) and have the player's name emerge along the blade in radiant runes. Example narrative sequence ...

  • If the character's name is Petrolus, when they achieve that awesome thing, the sun breaks through the clouds and a shaft of sunlight nearly blinds everyone nearby. When the light dims, the runes on the blade read "Sword of Petrolus"
  • You can have angelic singing in the background if you like.

I've seen this done very well once

In AD&D 1e/OD&D campaign we were in, the DM 'winged it' with a magical sword that our paladin found on a random treasure roll. As the DM rolled the abilities for it (it was an intelligent sword) he decided that it would be overpowered at level 3. {We didn't know this until the game broke up a year later}. Every other level (5, 7, 9) the sword would talk to the player and tell him "by the way, we can do this also" - and, the DM changed his mind at level 7 when the fly spell unlocked. We only had a few more sessions after the ninth level adventures before the group broke up (people moving). That's when the DM told us what he'd done. The player liked it so much that he decided to keep the sword (as an idea) and use it as a quest item called Pillagar's Sword for his next campaign.

Caveat: double check for OP at each progression

I've seen this idea backfire: it happened to me when I ran an Empire of the Petal Throne campaign (a setting that was very OD&D in style and feel). I had one of the deities (Sarku) bless a character with a dagger that added powers each time he leveled up. By sixth level, he was more or less "the it guy!" I'd done it out of sheer inexperience.

You are right to be wary of that.

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Make it a quest

There are lots of ways to deal with this, but my favorite way is to turn this into a quest. There are a few ways to do this:

  • When he tries to use the sword, he's unable to and realizes he needs some other item / special spell / password to fully obtain its power.
  • The sword is stolen during the night by a shadowy enemy who wishes to use its power for nefarious purposes. The player must try and get it back. (Be careful in how you handle this option, as Falconer notes below. Definitely give them clues as to what is happening, rather than just having it disappear.)
  • He gains enormous power from it, but that power also is a curse. He must break the curse.

There are plenty of other ways of handling this, but generally the best approach will be to turn the happenstance of the sword into a story element, rather than trying to nerf it. Any of these paths will open a new branch in the story that can be played out over time. In the long run, it will serve to make the sword even more exciting, while also helping you control the balance of the game.

When I have done this in-game, players tend to respond well. Making the sword part of the story raises the stakes of the game and turns what would otherwise just be an item into a reason for the story to progress. Obviously, whichever story path you choose, it should be tailored to the personality of the player in question. Some will like the mystery of a curse, while others may prefer needing to track and steal it back.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have used this. Turning the object into a story element actually helped raise the stakes. It became a reason for the story to progress, rather than just an item in their inventory. Obviously, whatever the DM chooses needs to be tailored to the particular player's personality. \$\endgroup\$ – BprDM Oct 2 '20 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for make it a quest. If op can frame this as this sword can be badass if you put the work on, then the player has spent 60gp on an opportunity, not a bad item. There are plenty of examples of games like the legend of Zelda where you have to go through the steps to empower a weapon. That being said in my experience, the weapon being stolen has gone poorly as my players saw it as the same as me scamming them out of their money. Working towards improvement is better than taking away their cool thing in my opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – Falconer Oct 2 '20 at 16:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Quest option: the sword lying unused in the back of a shop for many years has led to the swords power waning, and great deeds must be performed in said deities name in order to reinvigorate it. \$\endgroup\$ – RevenantBacon Oct 2 '20 at 17:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ The curse option can be a really fun one. I had a GM once take a similar route where the BBEG intentionally set things up so that a character would be essentially certain to buy a specific item that was cursed, but unbeknownst to the BBEG it was actually a lost artifact of that character's deity, and they went through a couple of side quests over the course of the game to cleanse it and have it properly re-consecrated and then it ended up being one of the items that was actually required to defeat the BBEG. The other players still talk about the game to this day, almost a decade later. \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Hemmelgarn Oct 2 '20 at 23:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ A different sort of quest option: the shop-keeper was clearly a co-religionist waiting for the right person to bear the sword. They will spread the world among followers that we now have a champion. The player will be very busy with unpaid quests. Rumors of this champion will eventually spread to the authorities. \$\endgroup\$ – Owen Reynolds Oct 3 '20 at 2:38
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Not a bad reason, as long as you take advantage of the opportunity you created

You wrote:

The god he follows is illegal in that world, so I thought it would be cool if the shopkeep had one,

This is not a bad reason to get a magic item, it is a great one! Tying the acquisition of a magic item into the background plot of your campaign deepens it in a way that simply purchasing an item, or finding it on the body of a random creature they killed, does not. For players who like immersion and buy-in, anything you can do to emphasize how their actions and choices have consequence far beyond them, and how seemingly small events are connected to much larger things, will be more than worth the effort. You planted a great hook - now what are you going to do with it?

You wrote:

I had him buy what seems to be a potentially extremely powerful magic item for 60 gp.

You are correct in your intuition that buying a potent magic item for 60gp is decidedly un-epic. The clear conclusion is that (in retrospect) this transaction was never about the price. The shopkeeper wanted the paladin to have the item and was thus happy to pass it to him for the lowest price that seemed legitimately possible. So, why does the shopkeeper want the character to have the sword? You need a reason that will far eclipse the importance of the sixty gold.

Positive reason: She recognized him as a paladin of the outlawed faith
She is a fellow-traveler. She could be a simple sympathizer who is paid by 'the resistance' to provide aid for fugitives of the faith, and get goods into their hands. Your goal here is to make her a sympathetic character so that when she is later in danger (perhaps arrested for aiding the illegal faith) the player will have a reason to help her. Or her importance could go all the way up to her being the leader of the resistance, in which case she will become an important distributor of quests to the player. However you tie her in, make the illegal faith central to her function as an NPC so that her providing the sword to the paladin has a deeper significance in the campaign.

Negative Reason: She is a trap
She is an agent of the authorities that is ferreting out hidden members of the outlawed faith (as a shopkeeper, I can't help but think of Mr. Charrington from 1984). She has been tasked with offering the sword to anyone who seems suspicious, having their recognition of its importance serve as evidence against them, letting it go for a token price, and then informing on them. Or her importance could go all the way up to her being the leader of the secret police whose job it is to identify and neutralize members of the outlawed faith. In this case, she will likely try to reel the paladin in slowly, offering him false flag quests and actually get him to find and reveal other members of the resistance in the guise of acting on their behalf. Once the paladin discovers her true nature, then she flips to being an archenemy in the campaign. However you tie her in, make the illegal faith central to her function as an NPC so that her providing the sword to the paladin has a deeper significance in the campaign.

Informed Opinion I have had great success in my campaigns when providing seemingly insignificant items to characters that later turn out to have plot importance. As once example, in a World of Greyhawk based campaign, the players were adventuring in WG7 (the 'joke module' Castle Greyhawk) and won a 'breadknife +3' on a game show. This magic item by itself was inconsequential and practically useless (except for attacking dough golems). However, given the importance that I saw the players place on it, I knew it was ripe for a tie-in to larger campaign events. I decided that it had been one of the more frivolous creations of 'Aldenor Masterforge', an elven smith of legend. One of the players (an elven Knight of the Hart, High Forest Branch) spent time and effort researching the knife's history. Eventually she traded it to a royal faction in Celene for a copy of a book by Aldenor. This trade furthered a growing alliance among the elves that was one of the plots of the campaign. The book itself allowed the PC to develop items that were tied to her own character development. Even though all of this was post hoc justification on my part, by rewarding (unfounded) player intuition that the knife was important, their sense of immersion in the campaign was fostered.

Scaling I don't have much personal experience with magic items that scale as players level. However, I have lots of experience with items that don't. One enemy of immersion is items that are are wondrous when first obtained but eventually lose their luster as their powers, which were once awesome and level-appropriate, become inconsequential. When even new 'generic' magic items outrank what was once central to the campaign, players think "huh, that seemed special at the time, but...". This downvalueing of memory weakens what was once an immersive experience. As one example, in a separate Greyhawk campaign, the party's barbarian was thrilled with obtaining the fabled sunsword in the original Ravenloft module (not the Curse of Strahd version) at level 4. Now, at 7th level the party's fighter has just obtained a flametongue greatsword in a Hill Giant Steading (the original G1). With no undead in sight for the rest of the giants series, the barbarian's once-plot-crucial sword doesn't do that much for the character or player. Thus, simply from numerous counter-examples, I would recommend that if this is an item you want the paladin to have for a while, and be invested in, it should scale.

However, I would also recommend that you have it both have an immediate power (to reward the player for recognizing its importance) and have that power tie in to a campaign theme (and I suggest the outlawed faith aspect). You are correct that the power itself needs to be kept weak as befitting a second level character, though. I would suggest allowing the sword to function as a holy symbol for the paladin. Since his faith is outlawed, it should be dangerous for him to pull out his holy symbol and have it be recognized (or, as KorvinStarmast points out, have it be openly displayed on his shield as many paladins do). Allowing the sword to function as a holy symbol will give him a benefit that is not too powerful while underscoring the theme of it being dangerous to practice his faith.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ His shield could already have the holy symbol on it, but I'm guessing that with an outlawed faith it may not be. Nice suggestion in that last paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '20 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ These are good ideas, and I appreciate the help! It does work that the shopkeeper recognized his faith, as she is an ex adventurer and the sword belonged to her Paladin friend \$\endgroup\$ – TheDragonOfFlame Oct 2 '20 at 20:20
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Use it to build his relationship with the Deity

The sword can be some holy relic with great powers. However the power is directly related to how close your paladin is to their god.

I did a similar thing (though with an amulet) where the paladin was awarded certain bonuses for different religiously motivated actions.

  • Minor actions such as spending time preaching, trying to spread the religion or following the commandments of the religion despite there being personal advantages to doing otherwise. These would grant the user temporary bonuses such as temp hp that levelled with the player, immunity to being frightened for a day and so on.
  • Religious side quests, saving a church which was being turned by an illithid, escorting an important figure to the other side of enemy lines in a war and so on (I'm sure you'll make your own that fit your player's Deity). Successfully completing these granted permanent bonuses. In your case this could be adding extra effects to the sword, more as the player get to higher and higher levels.
  • Punishment - this was also great for introducing consequences for acting against their faith, temporary debuffs can be used here.

I found it really useful for having a weapon that levelled with the player, based on quests they were given (when I chose to give them) not just on the player's progression.

As a DM you'll find that weird panicky moments where you think you've done the wrong thing can actually be amazing opportunities.

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    \$\begingroup\$ your last sentence is so true. đź‘Ť \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '20 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a good answer. Further, the sword can be powerful without doing a lot of damage. It could grant the occasional mulligan, for example. Or it could attract followers. All with a compensating cost of course \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Ennis Oct 5 '20 at 18:31
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Make the sword scale with the user's power.

Since you haven't told the player anything about the sword's powers, I recommend that you homebrew a magic item that scales with the user's power; this could be, for example, their level, their proficiency bonus or one of their secondary ability scores (which would be CHA for a paladin; see PHB p. 83 "Strength should be your highest ability score, followed by Charisma").

This way:

  • the player gets a magic item that has the potential to be very powerful in the hands of the right wielder. Great plot potential and it sounds cool, so the player isn't disappointed.
  • the item isn't overpowered at the character's current level, because they are still a wimpy low-level adventurer unworthy of the sword's true power. For comparison: Sauron is a lot stronger with the one ring, and Gandalf would also gain a lot of power if he wore it (despite the obvious downsides). However, Frodo, being a "muggle" (so-to-speak), only gains the power of invisibility and getting his finger bitten off and tossed in a vulcano.
  • the item doesn't become useless at higher levels. Way too often, you get a legendary heirloom with tremendous power passed down through countless generations in videogames, only to find a common iron dagger when you're 10 levels higher that outclasses the item in every regard, except for coolness.
    To be fair, that's less of an issue in D&D 5e, but still, it means that the player can keep their magic items without having to swap them for higher-rarity ones that are simply better later on.

That being said, I don't have tested homebrew for this, and posting full-blown untested homebrew would make for a bad answer.

Nonetheless, I'd consider myself fairly well-versed when it comes to magic items in 5e. Therefore, I wrote down a few ideas that you can utilize in the creation of a homebrew magic item. Do bear in mind, however, that all balancing will be up to you, unless you ask another question here about reviewing your homebrewed item (provided you've done your own research first; posting a first unrefined draft without comparing it to existing items yourself is usually not well-received).

  • increase to-hit-chance or damage based on prof bonus (halved, otherwise too powerful; when halved, it reaches at most +3, which is on par with a +3 sword)
  • add certain once-per-long-rest abilities once the player reaches certain levels, such as "parry as a reaction, drawing power from the sword for lightning-quick reflexes. Gain +X to AC for one attack / until your next turn" (if the bonus is +5 and it lasts until your next turn, it's virtually identical to the Shield spell, effectively granting you a free fixed-use 1st level slot. That shouldn't be vastly overpowered depending on which level the players receive the sword at)
  • reroll whenever you roll a 1 on the weapon's damage die / attack roll, usable [prof bonus] times per long rest / short rest (for comparison, halflings can reroll attack rolls, ability checks, or saving throws an unlimited number of times; PHB p. 28)
  • etc

If you're looking for further inspiration, google "Vox Machina Vestiges of Divergence". They're magic items in Critical Role's first campaign (maybe also the second, I didn't really watch that one a lot) that "level up" at certain points of the story. Beware of spoilers if you haven't seen the show yet, but still plan to do so!
The show is also proof that the concept can work, even though I can't attest to that based on my own campaigns. That is, of course, assuming that your homebrew is well-thought-out and -balanced.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Vestiges of Divergence are a part of Exandria (Matt Mercer's world) and some can be found in the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount book published by WotC. As such, they are also found in Season 2 of Critical Role. \$\endgroup\$ – GuidingOlive Oct 2 '20 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are similar items in the latest critical role rulebook, the name escapes me though. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 2 '20 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GuidingOlive: The Vestiges were owned by the characters in critical role campaign 1. One of the arcs (chapter) of that campaign involved the players searching for vestiges to give them the edge they needed to face the big bads. criticalrole.fandom.com/wiki/The_Campaign_of_Vox_Machina. I've watched the campaign but haven't read the sourcebooks. criticalrole.fandom.com/wiki/… says it includes campaign 1 vestiges. EGTW apparently mentions some wildemount vestiges (which weren't found in campaign 1). \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Oct 3 '20 at 5:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes I'm not sure what this comment is for. My comment was to clarify that the second season of Critical Role would include the Vestiges of Divergence based on the world Matt Mercer had created and the WotC book he wrote. In fact, it's quite possible that 100 episodes in the cast would own a vestige. Either way, this is all to clarify to the OP that it is extremely likely (remember no spoilers) that the Vestiges will make a return in season 2. \$\endgroup\$ – GuidingOlive Oct 5 '20 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GuidingOlive: I think I missed the word also in your comment, and thought you were disagreeing with the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Oct 5 '20 at 19:52
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You haven’t specified what the item is, or even whether it’s a standard item or a homebrew. I would fiat that the character cannot use the item to its fullest without being of a sufficiently high level - that is, a low-level character can only use a few of the abilities of the item, but as the character gains levels, more abilities become available. This essentially lets you continuously “tune” the item so that it’s not excessively overpowered for the character’s present level, but still offers the character some benefit.

I have found that this actually works well with many, but admittedly not all, types of players. Depending on the player, I might or might not let the character know in advance what the total capabilities are; some players will take that knowledge and use it as a personal goal (that is, they want to use specific higher-level abilities, so they will work to achieve those levels), while others make a goal out of finding out what the object can ultimately do.

Limiting the object this way does require that you know your players; if any of your players are the stereotypical whiny minmaxer types, doing this can be a disaster.

There aren’t really any inherent advantages - or disadvantages - to doing this vs. some other (non-progressive-unlocking) solution; any advantages or disadvantages to this technique that I have found tie very closely to “know your players”. What doesn’t, tends to be a perceived advantage to the referee in the sense that the referee may decide that having the progressively-unlocked item in play makes it less important to generate further loot for the player with the progressively-unlocked item.

Although this question was asked specifically about D&D5e, the technique can be applied to any system and setting where there are distinct, improvable “levels”. I rarely play D&D, but it would easily be applicable to e.g., psionic devices in Traveller20, and in systems where you improve skills rather than just a general character level, it could be made to apply to a relevant skill, e.g., you can figure out and do more with an alien pocket supercomputer the better your Computer skill becomes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I have had this done to me and would caution that you need to ensure the item then becomes worth it. Completing a long quest chain and then being underwhelmed by the reward sucks. As a paladin in this situation I would be thinking holy avenger and might need to be let down gently and early (or given what I expect of course). \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 2 '20 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri - hence my comment about "know your players". Also, it's not strictly necessary that a chain of quests per se be involved; a character may make it a personal quest to achieve a certain level - not by doing something specific, but by just doing his best at being what he is, so that his self-improvement occurs at a satisfactory rate (that is, he gains the requisite XP through "normal" adventuring). \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Zeitlin Oct 2 '20 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Let's not denigrate playstyles that aren't what you happen to like. -1 \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 2 '20 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch - It's not a question of whether I like the type or not; there are players that doing this simply will not work with, because they feel that if the referee gives them an object, they should have full access to the object immediately, and will complain if it is denied. This type of player is often portrayed as a whiner, a rules lawyer, or other unpleasant stereotype; "minmaxing" per se is not inherently a problem, but it is quite common with the stereotypes. There is very definitely a reason I used the word stereotypical. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Zeitlin Oct 2 '20 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I have such an item (heck you helped me design it!) and have played with such items before and I find that they are tricky to get right. Easy to overpower. Jeff, can you flesh out what you found were the benefits and the pitfalls are with 'unlock by level' items themselves? (your caution to 'know your players' certainly is germane to custom items of this kind). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '20 at 17:15
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A very simple solution would be that using it drains his stamina very quickly. It is a powerfull weapon, but if he is not strong enough, he will be exhausted and get growing malus after eg: 5 turns and then fall asleep after 10 if he continues.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you implemented something similar in your own games? We have some baseline requirements for backing up answers, outlined in this FAQ question. That said, welcome to rpg.se! If you haven't already, take our tour, and for some in-depth information about our stack, you can review the questions in our FAQ index. Happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Oct 3 '20 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I just stated the obvious : it's an usual way to do, to give level requirements to use powerfull objects. If you forgot to to this, just implement "by hand" a drawback to enforce such a requirement. For the rest, i'm just a very old gamer. I haven't been practicing for years. \$\endgroup\$ – Camion Oct 4 '20 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ While I have seen what you suggest done, the way that RPGSE (and other SE sites) work is less like a brain storming session than a forum is. Within the text of the question, not just the title, he does not want it to be penal on the player, but rather 'gate' the power so that it grows with the player. I don't want to backpedal lamely and make it weak, but it seems like a sorta dumb way to get a great item. ... To clarify, neither I nor the player know what item he has.... I was thinking of tiering it If you frame your answer more closely to the question as asked it will help. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 4 '20 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, welcome Camion. (I am also an old gamer). since we don't know if the player would embrace a curse or penalty on a magic item (some players lean into it, others really dislike it) it's hard to tell if your suggested solution would work at that table. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 4 '20 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well it's not to be seen as a curse but only a way to tell that it works but it's really heavy (or something like that) for someone who doesn't have a sufficient level. \$\endgroup\$ – Camion Oct 13 '20 at 1:09

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