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Friday, May 15, 2015

One-Line Rewards: Low-Level Loot

I'd like to take a quick break from my Diamond Mind project, today, and hit on an unrelated topic that has been on my mind lately: low-level loot!

When I play D&D (or other rules-heavy systems), I almost always start my players at level 1 or 2. I do this for two reasons: 1) I am usually teaching at least one new player the game, and 2) I like the kinds of stories you get at low levels.

But here's my problem: I love handing out cool loot to players. Playing a mid-level D&D game gives you the versatility to hand out all kinds of interesting treasure and rewards. PCs have enough power of their own that even a relatively big reward isn't going to throw off the balance of power that much. And I have the option of handing out lower-level treasure in larger amounts, too.

At low levels, though, I generally feel very limited to what I can distribute. Too much gold throws off the balance quickly, and even a single magic item can double the effectiveness of a single character. And handing out mundane items is, well, mundane. What's more, the default magic item costs (which are well balanced for mid- and high-level characters), are unbelievably daunting to low-level characters. After all, 50 gold pieces for a simple healing potion seems ludicrous when you see how easily the party cleric, bard, or druid can cast the same spell.

So, rather than make drastic changes to the existing pricing structure of magic items, I've done my best to create a treasure chest of low-level rewards. Things that are really cool for players, but that don't throw off the balance too much. The key here is not just giving out weak loot, but giving out a mix of useful rewards that have a strict time limit or a drawback. You can also reskin mundane items into more imaginative rewards. The blasting wand is just a reskinned shortbow without the need for ammunition.

So, without further ado, and for you to read and/or steal at your leisure, low-level loot!

Low-Level Loot

1. Silver acorn powder: Heals 1d4+1; -2 penalty to Dex or Str (randomly determined) for 1 hour
- When you apply silver acorn powder over the course of 1 minute (instead of as a standard action), it heals the full 5 hp, though the recipient still suffers the Dex or Str penalty.
2. Amulet of far speech: The wearer can communicate with anyone else wearing an amulet of far speech within 1000 feet.
3. Ring of smoldering coal: As a free action, the ring produces a small flame, as a tindertwig. It also grants +1 damage to all fire spells cast by the wearer.
4. Dwarven oil: This oil burns twice as long as regular oil in lanterns and lamps, and it can be used to coat a melee weapon (or 10 pieces of ammunition). Once ignited, the weapon deals +1d4 fire damage for 1 minute.
5. Fireroot ointment: Grants 4 temporary hit points for 5 minutes.
6. Blasting wand: Blasts a thin bolt of energy at a target; 1d8 piercing damage (x3 critical), 60 ft.

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