So running with some more ideas for what to do about the old "Maintain for free" item becoming a group-effect-eternal-buff, which I'd started thinking over yesterday.
Idea 4) Create a cheaper, "always on" version of buff-type magic items. That way it's much cheaper to buy an Always On Missile Shield item than an item that allows you to put on lots of Missile Shields on people.
After all, it's not a big problem if 5 people each buy an Always On Missile Shield item, but it's potentially annoying if 1 person buys a Power 2 Missile Shield item and puts M.S. on 5 people, and that it's cheaper than Always On to do so.
One idea I had is to make it 50% of the cost of an item that is 0 to Maintain for such items.
Power 2 (1000) and Missile Shield (400) = 1400, but an Always On Missile Shield item would cost 700. It wouldn't cast the spell, just work. It would still be 400 for an item that lets you cast it. A Dark Vision item would be Power 2 (1000) and Dark Vision (400) = 1400, or also 700. A Walk on Air item would be 750 - it's 3 to cast, but 2 to maintain, and the base item is 500. None of those seem unfair, really.
Idea 5) Items can't even try to cast a spell if their base skill is under 15, and spells on are -1 to base skill. So a Missile Shield-15 item is effectively one target. A Missile Shield-20 item is 6 targets, but costs 3x as much, and the availability is much smaller (Power 20 items taking essentially a circle of master enchanters with Enchant-25, not just a circle of professional-level enchanters with Enchant-20).
Idea 6) Only mages can use items that cost FP, except for Blocking spells. If it costs FP to use it, and it's not a Blocking spell, you need Magery.
In other words, magic items for non-mages are restricted to:
- Always On items.
- Self-powered items (ones with charges, FP reserves, etc. - some of which Joseph Mason suggested yesterday, and which exist in DF canon and in my game - Dryst's Wand of Electricity works this way.)
- Items with spells fully free to cast and maintain (for example, an item that lets you cast a spell at 0 to cast, 0 to maintain.)
Of course, some items that fall into one or more of those categories are still Mages Only, by dint of including Mages Only spells.
Idea 7) Add "Only affects the wearer" to just about any buff spell item. So you can put it on yourself at cost, but not on your friends. A lot of spells have this already - this would just expand it to more.
I have to admit, I really like the idea of a combination of 4 and 6.
4 would mean there is much cheaper access to Always On items, so it solves the whole "It costs a zillion bucks for a Dark Vision ring" problem by coming up with a systematic cost.
6 would mean that non-mages can use a lot of items, but can't buy spellcasting off the shelf. And we have a lot of items like this.
But it would mean a last-minute change - I'll have to see if anything in the game currently violates this. I don't think so, but it any do it's a problem. I'd have to do both in order to do 6, because Vryce already bought and paid for his item. It's fine to say, you get 50% of your money back and it's Always On.
Of course, 6 means it's fine to buy an item and hand it off to the mage to put the spells on people. But that's kind of a niche protection thing - the mage is still the only way to provide magical protection for multiple people. Of course this means the mage can give everyone Missile Shield, or Flight, or whatever for free and maintain it the whole time, but that happens now. That's not a change. It's just charging money to offload some of the cumulative spells on penalty to an item for specific spell.
Idea 7 would be pretty trivial - if it's a buff, it's by default "wearer only." That would invalidate zero items in my game. It would be last minute, but it would do the job pretty neatly.