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I'm really trying to help my friend learn how to balance homebrew magic items and he seems to think that there's absolutely nothing wrong with this. I am doing this to our party's own detriment since we're almost all veteran players and I want to help him grow as a DM. This is the description of the magic item:

Uncommon, requires attunement
While you are attuned to this item, you have a +2 bonus to all dexterity based checks (including initiative and skills.)

He sold it to one of our players at a shop for 500gp after granting us something like 2000gp to start the campaign. 8th level characters, the player using it is wearing plate armor.

My take is that it's at LEAST rare, if not up to legendary. The only reason I'd give it rare is that it's attunement, but otherwise it's almost 2 manuals of quickness of action, without saves, AC(which wouldn't matter anyway since he's wearing plate), and damage/attack rolls using dex (also not used, strength based fighter).

Am I crazy or is this BUSTED for an uncommon magic item?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Os there a practical difference between giving a +2 to all checks, and simply increasing dex ny +4? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Feb 10, 2023 at 18:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Dex +4 would boost checks as well as AC, saves, attack rolls, and damage rolls. +2 to checks would boost...checks. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2023 at 18:31

2 Answers 2

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Not Broken At All

GuidingOlive is correct in comparing this to the Stone of Good Luck.

The Stone of Good Luck is much better. +1 to all saves and all checks is much better than +2 to no saves and only DEX checks.

The Stone of Good Luck is not an outstandingly good uncommon item. (A brief websearch returned this list of good uncommon items, which seems about right to me. Those items are better than the Stone of Good Luck.)

This item is perfectly fine for the uncommon tier.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ stone of good luck is generally considered 'equal first' in terms of top uncommon items in every thread i've ever seen discussing best magic items on various forums, with sentinel shield, cloak of protection (only on already high-AC character), and broom of flying/winged boots being tied. +1 on all ability checks of any kind is significant if skill checks or ability checks are used in the game, which nearly any game that isn't purely combat relies on, and the +saves/initiative is great even at higher levels. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Feb 16, 2023 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ this homebrew item isn't better than a stone of good luck but a stone of good luck is an outstandingly good uncommon item. It's a very strong contender for the best uncommon item. Stating that it's not is misleading at best \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Feb 16, 2023 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have citations? I have one citation listed in my answer that does not mention stone of good luck at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Feb 16, 2023 at 18:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's one some of the item lists that seem of similar provenance to eventyrgames.com but after a quick google search, it seems like the majority of mentions as a top tier uncommon item are from r/3d6 and the like - optimizer forums. dndbeyond forums & generic roleplayer forums mention it far less often, being more interested in some kind of bad-sounding scale armour. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Feb 16, 2023 at 20:05
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A perfect balance (get it, it's a dexterity joke)

The easiest way by far to look at items through the lens of balance is to compare them to official items. In this case, we're looking at an item that is more specific and focused (but more powerful in use) than a Stone of Good Luck. If this item works only on ability/skill checks, then it's a more focused and useful (in specific cases) than a Stone of Good Luck. It lacks the Saves aspect but as you mentioned works on Initiative (which is an ability check) so you're trading better saves for more narrow and heightened use.

Of course, the fighter really should hand this over to the "expert" of the group (ranger/rogue/etc.) but as it stands, this is teetering the edge of Rare on paper. But in use, I would strongly consider this as a Rare item. You will probably make many more Dexterity checks (Initiative and Stealth being principle dungeoneering skills) than any other check in a given campaign.

But is it bad?

Honestly, as it's used now, this isn't a bad item. It's specific, and would be more unbalanced in other hands than a STR fighter, but it's use right now only covers a potential weakness of your fighter. As you said, you're at 8th level when Rare items should be introduced to the campaign. And it's not currently in the hands of a Rogue who could abuse it. So, as my humble opinion as a homebrewer with a bunch of items under the belt and some on this stack for review, I would state this this item is perfectly balanced. Between Uncommon and Rare.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In the hands of a character with average dex to start with, it's like a Dex version of Gauntlets of Ogre Power or Circlet of Intellect (setting the stat to 19 for a +4 total modifier, rather than boosting relative to what you started with.) But only for checks, not saves. (We can mostly ignore attacks since a character with +1 or +0 dex would be making their attacks with a different stat.) If the original stat had a negative modifier, setting it to 19 is more than a +4 boost. And it works on attacks and saves as well. Partly this comes down to Dex checks being common (initiative, stealth) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11, 2023 at 3:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes Right this is why I consider it higher quality than if we were to say boost Intelligence checks by the same amount. You'll be less pressed to make History checks with as much regularity or severity as an Acrobatics check to avoid being grappled or a Stealth check to be seen. And it's also why I rate it on the Uncommon side of Rare for its user. A Str fighter won't get as much mileage out of it because they're not exactly the ones doing the lockpicking (most of the time). \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11, 2023 at 4:43

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