Idea: Giving XP to items

torbenm

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#1
The idea is that items are not created with magical abilities or bonuses, but that these are earned through experience: A sword that kills a dragon may get sufficient XP to immediately gain a bonus of some sort, and a sword that has killed a thousand orcs may accumulate enough experience to gain one. A shield that has protected its user from dragon fire or a thousand arrows will similarly gain experience.

Basically, legendary weapons and armour are magical because they have been used for heroic purposes, not the other way around. It also means that it is better to repair your old stuff rather than ditching it and buy something new.

The downside is that more bookkeeping is required, but that can be simplified with dice: Rather than getting XP at every use, you roll a die after every use and if this is high enough, the item gains an ability. This is similar to the randomised skill increases in some games (RuneQuest, HârnMaster, etc.). For example, for every level-N foe you successfully attack, you roll a d100 and if the result is less than N, your weapon gains an ability. To avoid escalation, you can add the current number of abilities to the roll. Similarly, for every attack from a level-N foe you withstand, your armour or shield gets a roll. To reduce the number of rolls, you could let only critical hits give rolls. Another advantage of using rolls is that you can let the new ability depend on the kind of creature you attack or the type of attack you defend against.

This idea does not easily extend to items such as rings of invisibility or amulets of water breathing, though.
 

thorya

Statistical out-liar
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#2
That is such an awesome idea.

I could see a ring of invisibility being generate by a Rogue being super sneaky a whole bunch.

Potions not so much. Maybe manufactured magic items are always expendable. Only things that have grown to be magic themselves are permanent.

Mechanically, I would try to limit the number of rolls as much as possible to keep it from being a drag. Rolling after every attack is too much or defense is too much. The critical hit idea sounds more workable, but is harder for armor. I think I might make it more achievement based.

So the weapon that dealt the final blow against a dragon or the armor you were wearing when you survived an ambush completely unharmed or sneaking into the palace past twenty guards undetected, etc. get a roll to become magical. It encourages over the top feats of daring. I might also make it so that the abilities are linked to weilder and function better for them. Sir Klaxon's sword of dragon slaying is dragon bane for anyone, but in the hands of Klaxon it also grants an aura of courage.
 

thorya

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#3
The more I think about this, the more I like it and the implications for a game.

Another thought, I think I would make a failed roll give you a bonus on subsequent rolls to see if it would be magical and for certain things the roll be to see what power it gets (linked to the source of magic of course).

I could see people hunting magic creatures or breeding them just to kill them and have a weapon become magical. Or an assortment of everyday magic items. Grandma's knitting needles that can mend any torn piece of fabric after years of darning socks or Old Fred's tankard which gives bonuses on performance rolls after years of Fred telling tall tales down at the pub and convincing the whole town he once rode a unicorn. Most of the magic would be everyday useful, not adventurer useful, but that's awesome.
 

1of3

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#4
For example, for every level-N foe you successfully attack, you roll a d100 and...
Assuming you have a typical combat system that is likely impractical. You might want to have one roll after the scene or something.
 

baakyocalder

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#5
HackMaster had some vague rules for items that were already magic becoming legendary by being associated with heroes of Legendary Fame (100+ and generally 200+ which means at the top levels of the game since it goes from levels 1-20 and there are few Fame rewards at low levels).

If you do have rolls on every attack, the prior version of HackMaster had 'chance to improve' skill as part of Wisdom on every significant skill use. A very good unmodified roll, equal to the chance to improve skill, which was usually 5 to 10%, would yield a 'tick' mark on the skill use. Those tick marks were traded in for skill points on a 1 to 1 basis when a character underwent formal training to improve the skill. Instead of every attack, I'd use criticals or blows which drop a worthy foe.

That way, you don't have characters just rolling dice to attack small targets to get the bonus, but do reward characters who engage in combat with worthy foes and down them. For other gear, such as rings or items that aid a skill, you could have them gain points when that skill is used in a meaningful situation.

Or, if you have a game with levels, as the PCs increase in their character power, have some of their gear get better.
 

swiftcutter

Jeff E.
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#6
You could just have the items gain experience when the player does. Maybe they pick one of their items, so you don't have to keep track of experience for everything they are carrying.
 

torbenm

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#7
Having items gain experience when the player does will certainly keep bookkeeping down. If the system is skill-based, you can let every increase of a skill give a point of experience to a tool or weapon that you use with that skill. If there is no obvious tool (let us say that you are increasing your negotiation skill), you can choose a ring, an amulet, or even a belt buckle or a hat.
 

Xander

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#8
This would be a great use for an automated system, not so great for a manual DM.

I'd either make it a fixed reward for a major quest, one set of rolls periodically, or tied to player experience. Otherwise, tracking weapon, armor, boots, hat, gloves, belt... you'll find PCs wearing a lot more clothes, I bet. :)
 

swiftcutter

Jeff E.
Validated User
#9
Maybe an item that gains enough experience will spring to life, like the Japanese tsukumogami myth, and be able to talk and move around on its own.
 

Giovanni

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Validated User
#10
Very interesting.

Maybe even tasks that are:
1) not combat related
2) very important for the PC or epic

can grant XP.

For example: a black cloak used lot of times in order to go stealth can develop the ability to grant invisibility 1 minute a day.....
 
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