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For context: I recently made a mid-level gunslinger character who wields a 15 lb. double-barreled shotgun. This is a problem, because this gunslinger only has 7 STR, so their light load is only 23 lbs. I wanted to solve this with an item that gave me continuous Ant Haul, and noticed that there already exists a wondrous item that does exactly this, but it's a belt slot item, which obviously would interfere with a Belt of Incredible Dexterity.

In theory I could get an item with Ant Haul for a different magic item slot, but putting an existing wondrous item effect on a different item slot has to be very heavily regulated, due to the popularity of each slot, so my question is this: Which item slots would you consider of equal demand to the Belt slot? Or to bring it to a broader scope;

How high in demand would you consider each magic item slot in relation to one another?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Asking about the "demand" or "value" seems very opinion based and dependant on the exact build and the vision of the character. Rewording the question to focus on potential unbalance when creating an item for another slot would seem to be better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Nov 23 '20 at 9:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ To those voting to close this question: It is entirely plausible and reasonable to think that there might, somewhere, be some “official” or “accepted” ordering of item slots. It’s entirely reasonable to ask after such a thing. The fact that there isn’t doesn’t affect how reasonable the question is. Calling this “primarily opinion-based” here is an answer, not really a description of the question. Remember, questions are not required to know their own answer in order to determine their validity. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 23 '20 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have to disagree with you to an extent. While I agree your frame challenge answer comes close to answering this 'correctly', I think the arbitrary measure of value of item slots is going to be different per character. There are powerful items available in almost every slot, but different classes and characters are going to value different kinds of power... differently. I think this could be answered as "which item slots are most valuable to xxxxxx" (eg Gunslingers, or a build style) because you could assess which items are available to them \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Nov 23 '20 at 15:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso I don’t agree with anything you’ve said—except the implication that these are reasons to close the question. This seems to me to be a prime example where answering the question, and correcting the misconceptions in it, is far superior to closing it. Considering Paizo’s text calling out item slots as important, if that were true, there should be an official answer to this. I think this question is far better off answered with some variation of “there isn’t and can’t be one” than it is closed. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 23 '20 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso “I don’t disagree* with anything you’ve said.” Kinda key syllable dropped there, sorry about that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 23 '20 at 17:09
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Paizo is wrong about item slots

They don’t matter, and trying to force them to matter makes the game worse

Paizo maintains that item slots are very important, that they must be, as the question puts it, “heavily regulated.”

They could not possibly be more wrong. I have a vast amount of experience with Pathfinder and its antecedent, and I have seen this detail come up in myriad ways countless times—and item slots add nothing of use or value to the game. I have basically tossed them out of my games wholesale, and they are vastly better off for it.

Item slots rarely make any kind of difference

First of all, with one glaring exception—the belt you note, which we’ll get to—item slots barely come up at all. Anything that makes one slot more valuable than another is coincidence more than anything else. In fact, the one slot that’s most notable in my mind is actually the ring slot—but you have two of those, which compensates. The balancing factor for magic items is their cost, not its slot. Slots are chosen by authors based on “feel” for the most part, and have minimal impact on balance.

Authors don’t balance around item slots

That’s because the authors don’t really balance around item slots. As an occasional third-party Pathfinder designer and author, I can assure you that authors do not go through the list of magic items to see what the item they’re writing would or wouldn’t conflict with in each slot. That would be a monumental amount of work, and would that’s after we make a number of simplifying assumptions about the character who might want to use the item and what other items they might like to use. Paizo’s release schedule—and pay structure—does not remotely support that level of effort going into each magic item. Authors just go with their gut about what feels right for the kind of item they’re working with; it isn’t about balance.

Wizards of the Coast figured this out, and eliminated most of the problems

As a player and GM, I can also tell you this more-or-less mostly works out, but when it doesn’t, it’s not a matter of balance, but as I said, coincidence. This is an arbitrary frustration the game occasionally throws at you—and a frustration is all it is. And you don’t have to take my word for it—Wizards of the Coast, who published the D&D “v.3.5 revised edition” that Pathfinder is based on, had this to say about item slots in their Magic Item Compendium:

One of the most frustrating roadblocks to using interesting, unusual magic items is that they take up body slots that you need for an ability-boosting item (such as gauntlets of ogre power), a ring of protection, or another must-have item. To address this issue, Magic Item Compendium presents official rules for adding common item effects to existing items.

(Magic Item Compendium, pg. 233)

There it is: “frustrating roadblock.” That’s what magic item slots amount to.

This paragraph is the introduction to a new rule offered in Magic Item Compendium wherein “common” magic item effects—resistance bonuses to saves, enhancement bonuses to ability scores, energy resistances, and various bonuses to AC—were allowed to be freely (as in, with no extra surcharge) added to other magic items. So your heavyload belt could also be a belt of incredible dexterity and it wouldn’t cost anything extra, just the cost of the heavyload belt plus the cost of the belt of incredible dexterity.

The same chapter also indicated numerous potential items slots that these common bonuses could appear on, and indeed, in D&D 3.5e, the default source of an enhancement bonus to Dexterity were gloves of dexterity, not a belt. Strength bonuses even appeared as both gauntlets of ogre power and belt of giant strength right in the Player’s Handbook (core rulebook for players). Despite otherwise having nearly identical rules to Pathfinder, D&D 3.5e did not make this issue about ability score bonuses such a big deal.

Is Pathfinder different in this regard from 3.5e? No, if anything it’s worse.

So, Paizo intentionally chose to change things from the D&D 3.5e core rules to make ability score bonuses harder to get more than one of. Did this improve the game? No, it objectively and emphatically made things worse. In contrast, Wizards of the Coast changed things, in their later publications, to make it easier to gain these bonuses—and that made things better. Again, I have played many, many games under each of these rulesets, and there really is no competition here. I have personally gone even further than Wizards of the Coast did in Magic Item Compendium, and that made things even better.

To see why Paizo’s approach is so terrible—and Wizards of the Coast’s is superior—we have to look at the one item slot where this kind of thing comes up again and again and again in Pathfinder: the belt. Paizo changed all the items that granted enhancement bonuses to physical ability scores to use the belt slot, which wasn’t the case in 3.5e (in the core rules, Strength could use gloves or belt, Dexterity used gloves, and Constitution used an amulet). They also published guidance for custom magic items that called out GMs who considered changing this state of affairs, telling them it was bad/wrong/dangerous (in contrast to Wizards of the Coast, who eliminated the extra costs for combining these with other magic items altogether). And these changes mean basically one thing: you are penalized if you need to improve more than one physical ability score.

This is a huge problem, because everyone more-or-less needs bonuses to Constitution. As I was just explaining in another answer, a Constitution below 14 is nearly suicidal in Pathfinder—and at higher levels, your needs go up from there. For spellcasters, this is no problem: they can have their headband enhancing the mental ability score they need—and with very few exceptions, they only need one (the one that sets their save DCs and bonus spell slots)—and then they can have a belt enhancing their Constitution. But for physical characters—who absolutely need enhancements to Strength or Dexterity (if not both) if they’re going to hit anything, they have a conflict. A conflict that is only resolved by buying a belt of physical might, which costs substantially more than a belt and a headband cost as separate items. The physical character needs to waste more money, and needs to save up longer before they can upgrade, as compared to a spellcaster. They are, in very real ways, heavily disadvantaged as far as items are concerned.

So, does it make sense that warriors would have a handicap here? Are they more powerful, need to be taken down a couple of pegs to balance things out. No. The warriors are already, independent of magic items, the weaker classes in the game. Magic dominates everything in Pathfinder. “I have a higher-level spell than you do,” is very close to saying “I have already won this encounter.” This is reflected in the very-widely-accepted tier system, which categorizes each class based on its relative power and flexibility. All the top classes are the pure spellcasters—cleric and wizard and so on—and the lowest classes are all mundane warriors and skill monkeys (and the “magical-but-not-spellcasting” classes like monk and kineticist).

In fact, if anything, relative to D&D 3.5e, Pathfinder is arguably worse, and certainly not better, about balance between the mundane and the magical. So making it harder to get multiple physical ability score enhancements makes even less sense in Pathfinder than it would have in 3.5e.

Paizo figured it out too—for Pathfinder 2e

Pathfinder 2e doesn’t have item slots. It’s a very different game, but on some level, it shows that Paizo realized exactly what I’m saying here: it doesn’t work out as a meaningful balance mechanism, and winds up being nothing more than a “frustrating roadblock.” So they ditched them—magic items in PF2 are balanced in other ways. And they’re balanced in other ways in PF1, too!—their costs. The gold cost is the primary balancing mechanism on magic items.

Conclusion and Recommendations

So we have a system which is complicated and arbitrary, that when it does matter, mostly shafts the weakest classes in the game. It adds nothing, and should be jettisoned at the earliest opportunity. I heavily recommend the Magic Item Compendium rules, if not going further and applying them to all magic items—just allow magic item effects to be combined however the crafter (or the PCs paying them) want, with no extra surcharge. If they want a cape with all the magic on it, fine. If they want boots that improve their Dexterity, why not? It does not matter—and/or, when it does, it does so stupidly.

But if you cannot or will not do that, then the answer to your question is that it’s arbitrary and largely a matter of coincidence which item slot is most important; there is no over-arching valuation of each slot that is consistent and objective and utilized by designers for balancing magic items. They are all roughly equal in value, except sometimes to you, personally, because of your specific needs, in a way that can’t be generalized. The only sort-of exception is the belt slot itself, so a GM who really bought into Paizo’s nonsense on this subject and really felt it was important to screw over the weakest classes in the game “should” probably tell you it has to be a belt, because that would be very consistent with the awful suggestions that Paizo has made.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While there are some very good points in this answer, it is extremely long in comparison to what I think you are trying to communicate. Also at points it comes across as ranting/venting about your frustration with the issue, rather than answering the question - in fairness it is often hard to answer succinctly when the topic is something you have very strong opinions on! \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Nov 23 '20 at 15:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, I didn't spot it in your wall of text, but the fact that PF2 completely abandons slots lends further credence to your comments. Although that is a very different system in some potentially relevant regards (and applies two distinct limits on items that are not slot based and don't exist in PF1). \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Nov 23 '20 at 15:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Isaac I feel that going against what the publisher has explicitly stated is best for their game is an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary back-up, which is why the length becomes necessary. I tend to think that being emphatic is a good thing in this, but I’m aware of risks there in terms of tone, so I will review. At any rate, thank you for the note on PF2—that is indeed worthy evidence and I will include it. I think I may have heard that before but my expertise with PF2 is non-existent, and I didn’t even think to check it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 23 '20 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy With appropriate downtime to customize things, it’s entirely appropriate to allow magic to be transferred from one item to another, combining with any existing magic on the target. A shape-shifting item isn’t unreasonable either—magic items already do that to an extent by default, so taking it farther is no great stretch. Arm-slot and hand-slot items default to sorting themselves out so both can physically be worn at once; why not two pairs of pants doing the same? In truth, though, it hasn’t really been relevant for me—at least in my games, loot usually comes with downtime. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 23 '20 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy Unless you're literally raining gold down on them, the odds that your players will ever have every item slot full is virtually non-existent prior to the 15+ range unless they have crafting feats, which means that they probably already have the exact items they want, or they have the cheapest item possible per slot, in which case I wouldn't worry about what they already have, since any special items you give them are likely going to be FAR superior. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 24 '20 at 5:44
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An alternative item

I 100% agree with everything @KRyan has to say in His Answer.

However, there are many DM's who wouldn't dare budge from the pre-determined slot restrictions made by Paizo for fear of things becoming "imbalanced", so as an alternative, I recommend this item:

Muleback Cords

These thick leather cords wrap around the wearer’s biceps and shoulders. When worn, they make the wearer’s muscles appear larger than normal. The wearer treats his Strength score as 8 higher than normal when determining his carrying capacity. This bonus does not apply to combat, breaking items, or any other Strength-related rolls, it only contributes to the amount of equipment or material the wearer can carry.

A Heavyload Belt will, in your case, increase your carrying capacity from 23 lbs to 69 lbs. Muleback Cords will increase your effective STR from 7 to 15 for carrying capacity, which gives you a 66 lbs. light load, just barely less than the bonus from the Heavyload Belt. As an added bonus, the belt would run you 2K GP, while the cords will cost you only half that.

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The belt slot is one of what is sometimes referred to as the 'big six' in PF1.

The other members of the big six are Head, Cloak, Amulet, Ring, Armour and Weapon. That is technically seven slots, but that is because the belt slot is replaced by a headband for characters who care more about mental stats.

Any of those are reasonable candidates - for each one you would be giving up a substantial benefit; to the extent that Pathfinder generally assumes you have them.

Of those, I would suggest that head and ring are probably the least appropriate slots. Head as it is more often linked with mental stats, and Ring as the fact that you can wear two of them means it isn't as much a core part of the big six as the others (i.e. you could wear this new ring and still wear your ring of protection).

As an alternative, you could consider the Belt of Physical Might which increases both Strength and Dex? (this might not sufficiently increase your carrying capacity) - or perhaps design a more expensive belt that combines the Dex bonus with ant haul using these rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that the second Ring slot is not assumed to be anything in particular, since only one ring (protection) is a scaling increase to important stats. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23 '20 at 11:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although there are a number of items (Ring of Freedom of Movement is always my first thought) that are as useful or better than the Big 6. Also, there are already rules for combining magic items. The cost of adding Ant Haul to a belt with +Dex is 1500g. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Nov 23 '20 at 13:33

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