Sunday, December 4, 2016

DF Felltower: Magic Item Price Increase

Recently I quietly got rid of most $1 per energy items in my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game in favor of $20/energy and $33/energy costs.

I kept the requirement that magical weapons and armor have cost-positive prefixes to hold a magical charge.

This suddenly means that:

Fortify +1 is $1,000 for a full suit.

Lighten 25% is $2,000 for a full suit.

Cornucopia Quivers are $2,010, not $110.

I didn't change the prices of projectiles, though - they're still as cheap as can be - but they're largely one-shot items

Secondly, I've downrated the availability of most magic items for purchase. This is besides the changes such as getting rid of the Power enchantment and making more things Always On. What this means is that it's harder to special order magic items, there isn't an expectation that something will be enchanted in town automatically, and that magic items are more of a found rarity than a purchased one.

The basic stuff in Adventurers will largely be available. I don't mind if people want to spend $10K getting +2 Deflect on a shield or $5,000 getting +1 Puissance on a sword. That's fine. The time requirement will still apply - so you can't just get your axe or mace enchanted quickly between delves - but it can be done.


For a few reasons. This has long been on my list of things I'd have done differently. Why the change, though?

Because I'd really prefer magic items be found in the dungeon, not purchased cheaply in town. I'd like mundane equipment to actually be useful and sensible purchases. $150 for +1 DR and -25% to weight when a suit of fine armor costs 10x as much as a normal suit means that quality mundane is more expensive than more useful and more effective magic.

It doesn't hurt that the day rate for a bargain henchmen is $30 a day and weekly upkeep is $150. At that pay rate, even they should have magical armor. People don't keep a lot of money on hand because they blow it all on magical gear and then can't afford hirelings. Raising the price won't suddenly put more money in their hands, but making magic a non-trivial cost means you can either get a minor magical boost (Woohoo, +1 DR!) or get a lot of hired help and value in town (Woohoo, +1 DR forever or a henchman for many delves or my weekly upkeep for six weeks?) instead.

I didn't ask my players, I just went ahead and did this. I'd been increasing these costs as new items came up for purchase requests, so I just finished the job. I grandfathered in someone who'd asked months back about one item but otherwise, applied these right away.

My hope is that if the money starts flowing from the depths, and magic items aren't a trivial purchase, one of two things will happen:

- PCs who emphasize maximizing their personal delving power will have to make fewer, better choices over gear.

- PCs who balk at the prices will have effectively more cash to spend on normal equipment, expenses, research, hirelings, carousing, etc. and for reserves in case of disaster. "Effectively" because the amount of money will be the same but the tradeoff will be more even - see my Fortify vs. hirelings and gear and upkeep comparison above.

All this will take is more and deeper delving, of course.


  1. 2 thumbs up! I've always hated cheap Fortify and Lighten for the damage it did to Fine armor.

    1. My goal is to get a hierarchy like this:

      cheap mundane->mundane->quality mundane->magical->highest quality mundane->highest quality magical

      So it's not quite "best mundane is cheaper than worst magical" but mostly, until you're talking top-end mundane, magical is still more expensive. My house rule about requiring a cost-positive prefix reinforces this nicely, I think.

  2. One house rule I've been enforcing forever is no discounts for enchanting armor one piece at a time. With RAW, getting each little piece of your armor enchanted separately tends to knock prices down into the super-cheap zone, at least for the smaller pieces like helmets and gloves. Nope. I rule that the cost is the cost, for any amount of armor up to a full suit.

    Getting rid of quick-and-dirty enchanting completely works even better though.

    1. If you want to keep piecemeal armor purchases adding up to a full suit, you can do it automatically in GCA:

  3. I've done a little of both over multiple games. I definitely think making Enchantment different and only work in a ceremonial fashion works, and it's a clean break. I like making it a requirement that you buy fine quality items to enchant as well.

    I have played with increasing the expected amount that enchanters should be making as an annual salary as well, but that way lies every mage becoming an enchanter and flooding the market and then the bottom drops out of their economy and we're right back where we started after the bubble bursts.

    1. I reject your economic arguments in favor of fun games.

      Even with the economics, there must be some jobs that pay more than a market-busted bottomed-out rate. And that's even without strong guild protections in worlds where these can be enforced with magical, irresistable violence.

  4. Another benefit that's attractive to me is the found magic effect. That is, the players find a magical item. It's powerful, and useful, but quirky, or not exactly like how they would want it designed. If magic is relatively cheap and available in town, they take it back and sell it and buy something to order. If magic primarily comes from the dungeon, then they have the real choice - do they keep the potentially useful item and put up with its quirks (which may just be that the goals of the designer don't quite match up with the goals of the delvers, like a Helm of Clairvoyance that also brightly and distractingly marks where all the 'attractive females' are in range when used), or do they sell it for mundane stuff?


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