The Colors of Magic - Available Now

March 16, 2015

Pathfinder Item Wishlists

After a few weeks posting on pretty general topics, today I'm giving you yet another tool for running Pathfinder.

In past posts, I've provided:

Today, I'm going to give you a way to run Pathfinder without the headaches of the magic item marketplace.

Here's the problem:  D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder are very heavy on magic items.  The base system for disbursing treasure generates quite a lot of totally random magic items.  Modules also produce quite a lot of magic items.  Unfortunately, 3.5 and especially Pathfinder characters tend to become very focused.  A 9th level Barbarian will be so invested in a specific weapon that other weapons -- even similar ones -- won't be very useful to her.  A 7th level wizard will focus on attack spells, save-or-die spells, buffs, or illusions, generally; and items and scrolls that support one wizard focus will not support every one.  There are some generally useful items, but most results off a treasure table and most loot in modules will wind up missing the mark.  Heck, even a well-intentioned DM can miss the mark.  You might think the barbarian wants a +1 keen falchion, but he was planning on taking the Improved Criticals feat; and now he doesn't know whether or not he should still take the feat (what if the next falchion he finds is a +3 ghost touch falchion?).

When that happens, the player characters have a bunch of magic items they don't care about.  This is problematic because as the GM, you want the world to feel special and magical.  But collecting junk magic items to sell later feels more like Diablo or Skyrim.  It also sends the players off looking for buyers for these items, so they can get gold to spend on new magic items.  Now they're looking for Ye Olde Magick Item Shoppe, carrying around junk magic items worth enough to buy a fiefdom.  If they can't find anyone to sell them items, they're going to start taking item crafting feats and making the items they want with the gold they can get for their junk items.  Naturally the wizard and cleric, who take those crafting feats, will get the first and best stuff; so your party balance starts to slip.

It's a mess.  It's a nasty mess.  So here's what you can do for a home game of Pathfinder to fix this problem.

Making Magic Magical

This system is designed for a long Pathfinder campaign covering levels 1-10 (give or take a few), starting at level 1.  It gives the PCs all the items they want; only the items the want; plus a lot of restorative items.  This eliminates the magic item shop problem and lets them be a little more resilient (so you can safely throw the occasional oops-way-too-hard encounter at them and all it should do is burn through some of their restorative items if it turns out they can't handle it).

First, ban item crafting feats except for the ones that can make expendable items, such as Scribe Scroll, Brew Potion and Craft Wand.

Second, let the players pick out the five or six pieces of equipment they want to have at tenth level.  Let them fill a budget of 62,000gp with five or six items worth no more than 31,000gp for any individual item (meaning they can get up to +3 weapons, for instance).  If there are particular scrolls they want (for a wizard's spellbook, for instance, or a witch's familiar or alchemist's formula book), they can put all the scrolls together as a single item.  They should not use their wish list spots on expendable restorative magic items - those will still appear in loot.

Third, don't give out any magic items other than expendable, restorative magic items or the items on the PCs' wish lists.  For their wish list items, design plot around them.  Give them to major villains to carry into combat.  That Lesser Quicken metamagic rod is going to be brutal in the hands of the Marauding Fire Wizard of Westwatch, and that +3 adamantine falchion is going to do some serious damage in the hands of Thag the high orc warleader.  As a rule if thumb, try to give the PCs their offensive magic items (like the aforementioned rod and falchion) first, then their defensive items second.  Make sure they get all their wish-list items before 10th level.  That means giving out something like 20-30 items in 9 levels, which is still a lot slower than the default, but it requires a little forethought.

Fourth, when determining loot other than their wish-list items, you can give out mundane treasure (mundane items, alchemical items, coins, gems, jewelry, and art objects) as normal, and use the following table for magic items.  Roll 1d6 per CR of the encounter and look the total up on the "Result" column.  If the total was an odd number, there is another item.  Take 1d6 away and roll again, if there are any dice left.  Repeat until you stop rolling odd results or run out of d6'es.

Table: Expendable Restorative Magic Items

ResultTypeItemPrice (gp)
1ScrollScroll of Cure Light Wounds25
2ScrollRemove Fear25
4PotionCure Light Wounds50
5PotionEndure Elements50
6PotionRemove Fear50
7ScrollScroll of Cure Moderate Wounds150
8ScrollLesser Restoration150
9ScrollDelay Poison150
10ScrollRemove Paralysis150
11ScrollDispel Magic150
12PotionCure Moderate Wounds300
13PotionLesser Restoration300
14PotionDelay Poison300
15PotionRemove Paralysis300
16ScrollScroll of Cure Serious Wounds375
17ScrollNeutralize Poison375
18ScrollRemove Blindness/Deafness375
19ScrollRemove Curse375
20ScrollRemove Disease375
21PotionCure Serious Wounds700
22ScrollCure Critical Wounds700
23ScrollDeath Ward700
24ScrollFreedom of Movement700
25ScrollNeutralize Poison700
26PotionNeutralize Poison750
27PotionRemove Blindness/Deafness750
28PotionRemove Curse750
29PotionRemove Disease750
30WandCure Light Wounds750
32ScrollBreak Enchantment1125
33ScrollBreath of Life1125
34ScrollMass Cure Light Wounds1125
35ScrollMass Cure Moderate Wounds1650
36ScrollGreater Dispel Magic1650
39ScrollMass Cure Serious Wounds2275
41ScrollMass Cure Critical Wounds3000
42ScrollMass Heal3825
43OtherRestorative Ointment (Keoghtom's Ointment)4000
44WandCure Moderate Wounds4500
45WandLesser Restoration4500
46ScrollRaise Dead6125
47StaffStaff of Blessed Relief7200
48ScrollGreater Restoration7275
49WandDispel Magic11250
50WandCure Serious Wounds11250
52WandCure Critical Wounds21000
53ScrollTrue Resurrection28825
54StaffStaff of Healing29600
55StaffStaff of Life109400
NADiamond worth 25,000gp, take away 1d6, and roll again. NA

(A diamond worth 25,000gp is needed for Miracle, Wish, or True Resurrection, and can be cut with jeweler's tools into multiple smaller diamonds for Raise Dead and several other spells.)

If you use this table for Pathfinder levels 11+, you might want to add more to the table.  Say, "two scrolls of raise dead" and "10 potions of cure serious wounds."  For every level past 10 you intend to run the game, insert two more rows before the "higher" row, and get a lot more d6es.


Are you interested in a general nonmagical items (including gems, valuable mundane items, etc.) treasure table for Pathfinder that's based on inspiration and fun?  Let me know in comments and I'll see about putting together a post next month with that information.

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