# Will magic items with raw stats break game balance in DnD4e?

I, and all the players in my campaign, are all experienced WoW players. (Multiple 85s, reminiscences of 40-man raids when your class — no matter who you were — sucked but was somehow better, etc.…) I have about a year in table-top (ten years ago); one player has one session of table-top, and the other two (our wives) have no experience in table-top (barring crazy college experiences… cough)

Bottom line, we like our stats going up. And for some reason, we like items with attributes (+1 to Int) better than metaphysical stats (+1 to attack and damage rolls for arcane spells.)

If I make some magic items in my campaign that give these raw stats, will it be overpowered? Are there steps I can take to mitigate these imbalances? Can it be solved with simple playtesting before the campaign (or during!) and just buffing the monsters and challenges as needed?

• We have some silly tags here. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 16 '11 at 8:32
• Now trying to find excuse for ministry-of-silly-tags tag... – Tynam Jun 16 '11 at 9:15
• @Tynam that's what meta is for. The ministry can be responsible for their finding, misuse, and eradication. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 16 '11 at 10:27
• I think such changes would have such a vast change on the mechanics of not only the core rules but almost every class in general, especially if you go for the stat increases that WoW normally holds even at low levels, that I'd probably advise against it. I'd try to look for another game that fits the bill then try and adapt D&D for this use. Then again, if you can get it to work then by all means go for it! It just sounds like an intimidating rules change. – The Jug Jun 16 '11 at 13:41
• @TheJug agreed. You're going to pretty much need to redesign the entire D&D ruleset. If you want your RPG to be more like WoW, there's a product for that. IMHO I'd suggest not trying to make D&D more like WoW. Video games limit you to doing what their developers allow you to do. Tabletop RPG's are all about playing outside the box that your game comes in. (BTW, I'm a 5-year WoW player, so no anti-videogame bias here.) – dpatchery Jun 16 '11 at 17:38

Yes, if no other changes are made

That's... an interesting question.

The first thing to do is to get rid of the half-level scaling. That gives you a huge framework to add buffs around and even a desired level for those buffs.

Secondly, Replacing +1 to hit and damage with +2 to stat will have two side effects:

• Skills will increase far more quickly than they should

• Secondary effects will increase far more quickly

Ripping out the half-level component of the game and replacing it with stat mods on top of additional items will lower skill increase rates (due to only stat-based skills being buffed), will maintain to-hit where it should be, and will increase average damage.

In order to balance the game, therefore, you need to remove:

• Half-level bonus to attacks, skills, and defenses
• Enchantment bonus to attacks which scales every 5 levels
• Tier and level 4 and 8 stat increases.

So, to test:

Level 1,6,12,16,22,30:

Normal stat progression:

                +intrinsic enchantment
l  stat mod mod+half
1  18  +4  +4   +4
6  19  +4  +7   +9
12 21  +5  +11  +14
16 22  +6  +14  +18
22 24  +7  +18  +23
30 26  +8  +23  +29


By simply replacing half-level adjustments with stat-enchantment adjustments, you get a comfortable +15 bonus (which translates to +30 for stat) to play with by the end of epic. By replacing that and normal enchantment bonuses and level & tier upgrade stat bonuses, you get an even more absurd +21 bonus by the end of epic, which translates into upto +42 stat.

This, of course, leaves secondary effects and damage in question. Consider the Ardent's Demoralizing Strike, Agument 2: Hit: 1[W] + Charisma modifier damage, and the target takes a penalty to all defenses equal to 1 + your Constitution modifier until the end of your next turn.

By epic levels, that debuff instead of being a -8 (at 22) will be a -23. I wish I could say it make a different in the balance of the power, but given typical accuracy, the debuff doesn't need to stretch more than around a -8 or so. (-8 to 12, depending on character builds...)

You'll also have problems with powers like "Drunken Monkey":

Hit: 1d8 + Dexterity modifier damage, and you slide the target 1 square. The target then makes a melee basic attack as a free action against one enemy of your choice. The target gains a bonus to the attack roll equal to your Wisdom modifier.

Or "go ahead, autohit." Still, +8 guarentees about the same thing.

The real problem is when you apply the modifier to damage. Consider the Artificer's magic weapon:

Hit: 1[W] + Intelligence modifier damage, and each ally adjacent to you gains a +1 power bonus to attack rolls and a power bonus to damage rolls equal to your Constitution modifier or your Wisdom modifier until the end of your next turn.

+23 to damage as a bonus... is gamebreakingly silly.

There is a solution however.

You must also scale up monster hitpoints

Average Monster HP is (8*level+24) And an average striker should take down the monster in 4 rounds. Therefore, we can derive at each of the key levels, the damage delta and make retroactive changes to monster HP.

Happily, there is already a normalized equation for expected striker output here.

We must consider: Non striker minimum output of Level+3 Striker average output of 2*Level+6 Broken output of 4*level+12

This mod functionally applies half-level to damage... Computing that on top of striker *2

Therefore:

lvl 1*  2*  4*   mod
1   4   8   16   8
6   9   18  36   21
12  15  30  60   36
16  19  38  76   46
22  25  50  100  66
30  33  66  132  81


While that doesn't increase the brokeness (beware of multi-attackers, BEWARE!), it does suggest that a monster requires 12 more HP at level 6, and 24 at 12.

In conclusion

Remove all normal sources of bonus in the game that would otherwise be covered by intrinsic enchantment modifiers (the +1..+6 of items) except for heavy armor, the half-level modifiers to skills, defenses, and attacks, and the tier and level based bonuses to stat. Replace these with your house-ruled item based bonuses. You will need to increase MM3 monster HP by roughly Level*2, but testing is required to see if that is the case. You will need to deal with extra sources of scaling damage beyond that in some kind of systematic way. I recommend testing combats at each level at this starting modifier and measuring how long it takes for characters to drop a monster, then adjust HP accordingly so it lasts the expected number of rounds.

• Uhm... replacing the half-level with item-provided ability boosts makes many tasks very very hard if you don't have the corresponding booster. E.g.: A hammer-wielding weaponmaster fighter would find difficult to stay in par with its expected Reflex defense or Thievery skill if he couldn't afford a pair of Gloves of Dexterity. This could be the desired effect, though. – Erik Burigo Jun 16 '11 at 12:12
• Also, I think many feat requisites should be gauged again versus the (possibly increased) ability scores. – Erik Burigo Jun 16 '11 at 12:13
• Ouch, yeah. Epic mastery feats... Honestly, it's not worth having stat prereqs for most feats, I find.... – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 16 '11 at 12:39
• Not to mention all the powers that allow forced movement or shifting up to your ability modifier. I can see it now: Garona the Rogue uses Gloaming Cut on her ally just so she can shift 15+ squares! – dpatchery Jun 16 '11 at 17:50
• Now imagine that same problem with a predator druid. (Shift Dex Mod is in quite a number of attacks; before, during, and after) Or some monk builds... – Lunin Jun 16 '11 at 21:18