Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Video Game Magic Item Plentitude

The treaure expectations in video games vs. tabletop games has been on my mind as I re-play Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

From the very start of the game, I expect to find a steady stream of magical items. They'll increase in value, scaled to my current level. I won't find a +5 sword until I'm pretty high level. You're never going to be better armed than your level, even without level-restricted items (like in Diablo, or Borderlands 2.)

On top of that, I expect to find enough items that every possible magic item slot is filled. Have two ring slots? Everyone should end up with two magical rings. Everyone has a magical cloak. Everyone has magical headgear, a necklace, a suit of armor, a pair of magic boots, and magical gloves. Everyone will have 1-2 magical weapons and if they use a shield, a magic shield. Churn of items is not necessarily high, but it continues along, and spares are ruthlessly sold so I can buy better items (or consumables, if your game needs them.) I have no idea what my characters are like at their base stats, because they all have stat boosters. They have so many layered item bonuses I need to actually swap items to figure out which one is better. I have to look things up online to figure out how they interplay because I have so many.

Sure, we ended up with a of magic items during my Unearthed Arcana-era high school AD&D game. But not that many. You'd get that one guy with three rings trying to explain how he could wear them all, but lots of guys with no magic rings. Everyone would have a magic weapon because you need them to fight some foes. But you wouldn't always have one of everything you could use.

Games ramp up the magic items because they're fun to find and use, for one. They also have no consequences outside of the game. You can't really figure out some way to use extra magic weapons to decorate your palace guard with +1 swords and spare Belts of Giant Strength or Rings of Protection. You're just limited.

But I routinely have more magic items on one character than you'd see on a party of 3-4 in all but a semi-legendary Monty Haul style game.

It's just interesting to me.


  1. It is pretty weird. I am not finding that same issue in Solasta: Crown of the Magister, which I just started playing, but I’m only 5th level. It’s fun so far, and is one of the few games I remember that actually uses the Levitate, Flight, and Jump spells, among others. Decent multi-level combat following D&D 5e rules. We’ll see if it continues. It was recently on sale for like $12 on Steam.

    1. D&D 5e, I think, tends towards a lower total of magic items for PCs in general. I could be wrong as I've played little of it overall.

  2. But I did notice that surplus in Kingmaker (which I did not finish, even though it was enjoyable and had some unique elements).


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