As a dm I’m can be incredibly generous in terms of quest rewards. Gold, items and of course – magical items. Those special items are just something that feels so integral to the idea of dungeons and dragons that often enough it feels right to give something like that as a reward, and I know players love that too.
I’ve read several of the official, as well us unofficial campaigns and adventures and generally it seems like quest rewards are incredibly stingy. Early on before you get to level 5 the likelihood of anything magical that isn’t a one use item is reasonable nably slim. Even the rewards are generally pretty bad like, thanks for stopping that major threat to our village, here’s an old sword and a mouldy hat that we were just using as a planter. Oh and enough gold to maybe treat yourself to a healing potion… So terribly nice of them. It just seems so anticlimactic so I try a little more to make rewards that are interesting and make their actions feel worthwhile.
This generally various trinkets, and magical items they may find or be rewarded. Maybe even enough to get their own piece enchanted and I haven’t had too much issues with it so far. My party is generally quite well geared with magical weapons, items and some armour. It’s getting to the point soon where they’ll begin having to make a choice around which to attune too which is it’s own challenge but does create some interesting choice elements for players.
I guess the main problem is that the party tend to annihilate things around their challenge rating but I’ve learnt to balance around that now. Adding a few extra lower minions around to soak some blows. Maybe an extra action, health or speciality the boss has to make it more even. Plus, monsters are just more awesome at a higher rating and all that.
It’s also a lot of fun making up various litre magical items and I’ve mad a lot of Homebrew things now. The most recent of which was the Night Stalker Longbow.
Extra added proficiency on perception
And the inability to be surprised.
Crafted it specifically for the fighter with the ranged focus and they rather love it. I found the party weren’t the best at scouting, even though this character did usually try so this kind of specialises the niche they were going for. Specialising their focus and I think that’s what magical items do well, and it’s a shame it gets missed in earlier levels.
The other of course is that a lot of creatures can be resistant to non magical weapons which, in the end isn’t a big deal. They get killed a little quicker so add another. Makes the fight more interesting with more anyway. You can be tactical yourself and even create better storytelling moments. The lone ghost haunting a Relic is boring but what about lovers that took their own life. A lord and a faithful servant. Two warriors that took each other’s life in battle and are locked in an eternal feud even in the afterlife. Lots more you can do with that.
Something that has seemed to come up a little more with more magical items is losing things of greater wealth and this does seem to create more issues.
One story I have is early on in my current campaign. The party came across their first magical item, a gem of light that was blessed by selune herself. The party were supposed to retrieve it for a druid (green hag) who they didn’t really trust in return for healing a town with a plague (caused by her but, you know)
Anyway,one of the players made an arrangement with her for some of the materials and potions in her shack, in return for something from their future. They left it very vague and that was that.
Well, once the party had obtained the gem of Selune this character puts it in their personal bag and well, the green hag repossessed it. It terms of the deal, and characters it seemed like plan obvious action. Deal met, item they wanted obtained but in the end I think the person took it badly.
It was a bit of a dick move to take a powerful item off them, but I did plan on them getting it back eventually once they had killed the hag or raided her shack. But the player didn’t know that and, a couple sessions later quit the group. I am pretty sure it was that item which shows how attached players can get to these items. With the power, wealth, and resource they provide to the player they can even become so integral to the character that losing them, is losing what the character is or was.
If course not all players are like that though. In my last session the fighter decided to wager with the lead warrior of the Battlehammer clan. A duel to see who was the best warrior after a few prodded jokes, and slurs about elves. The eager, a weapon for a weapon; his weapon of warning for the dwarven thrower and well, the fighter lost. Not by much and it was incredibly close, 2 health in it in the end but they lost their prized sword but quickly moved on and laughed about it with the other players. I ended up giving them a sort of name of respect within the dwarves for the fight “Thorn of the Forest” for the many constant strikes they caused and he seemed happy with that.
So in the end, while I was originally a bit nervous and cautious regarding reclamation of items from the party, it does seem to be something that can form a good story, or encounter point… When handled well but something to use cautiously and to maybe judge your players temperament before using it.
What’s your thoughts on use, and abuse of magical rewards. Have you reclaimed an important item from the party and how did that go