Basic Training DMing 101: #2 the wish list

I have decided to lighten up as a DM and give out a few more magic items to my players. I enjoy the role magic weapons and armor play in 4th edition. They provide character options and power ups with out leveling. They are a great way for players to add to their characters in both optimized mechanics and flavor. But I don’t often give out magic items. In my current campaign I have only given out 2, and not much gold.

I’m not withholding from my players because I want to be mean or starve them of magic. I want to find the balance of having what they need but not being able to get every item that catches their eye. I have played in games where money and magic were so abundant that a brand new magic sword or gloves began to feel very mundane. It wasn’t special to find a magic item on an enemy or to make a trip to town to spend some hard earned gold it was an expectation.

When my players get something new I want it to have a hint of that Christmas morning feeling to it. I also want them to feel like they are walking around with something very special in their possessions. Lots of people carry swords in the world of D&D, but not many of them glow with intense power or alter aspects of reality. I have yet to find that balance but I’ll let you know if I do.

My point today is not that I want to teach anyone how to give out items but to show you what I am going to be using to keep track of what my players want and what I have given them. Behold the wish list!

Yeah I know lots of people use wish lists and I also know many people don’t like them. I for one don’t really have much feeling about them either way, but I intend to use one for my Monday night campaign.

Why a wish list? Well I don’t enjoy spending time selecting magic items for my treasure parcels only to have my players break them down or sell them to buy what they want; to me this adds up to a huge waste of time. I also don’t always remember what I have given out before and I don’t want to give out two shields to a warrior in the same level range.

Knowing what my players want also gives me a better idea of items they might like but have not looked at. If the avenger in my party wants a sword that allows him to teleport I might throw a pair of boots with the a similar power at him, or a belt.

I think players have a clear idea of how they want to optimize their characters, and what powers they want to play with. Giving them more opportunity to do so should in theory make the game more enjoyable.

My wish list sheet is easy to use (though not very pretty) and almost self explanatory. The DM fills out the level range in the upper right corner. This will give the players a range to chose from. A player listing all level 20 items for my heroic tier game won’t be helping me out any with this. If the players in the group are in early heroics the DM might cap the items at +1 giving an estimated range of level 1-5. From there it is up to the players to fill out the sheet with a few weapons, armor and random magical items they wish to receive through out the adventure.

The check boxes are for my own personal book keeping. A simple device for keeping track of which items I have handed out and which items I have not. As I have said before I’m not the most organized and I sometimes forget that I have already given the wizard a +3 staff of something or other.

Some one did ask why I included both level and cost because every level 1 item costs the same as every other level 1 item. Well I don’t really have cost to level memorized and I don’t really want to have to look it up. The point of this sheet is to keep all the information I need for creating a treasure parcel in one place.

I’m sure there are programs and trackers I could use for all of this but I continue to do most of my work in a low tech setting. I really want to get my feet under me as a DM before I begin to lean on my computer too much. I don’t always have access to the internet or my computer so I want tools which will allow me to DM in any setting.

If you are a design guru and want to spruce up my design please feel free. My work is yours to use as a base. If you have created your own and it is far superior to mine please let me know and I’ll link to it or host it here if you wish.

Download the wish list:

T.

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Comments
One Response to “Basic Training DMing 101: #2 the wish list”
  1. I’ve done wish lists with a bit of different flavour, for the basis of my campaign.

    When a player gets a magic item per the parcel, I simply say, Adam, you get a lvl 14 item. I don’t have to do any bookkeeping, they get their bonus.

    Why this works with my campaign(s) is that my players have 1 to many characters, which they can swap in and out once the team has returned to the base. So by saying Adam you get a lvl 14 item, all of Adam’s characters get a lvl 14 item, even those ones resting up on the airship. (I call this method the Mass Effect style of campaigning).

    It’s really worked well for my groups. For other things I’ll throw them in with the gold parcels, like magic rope, reagents, special ammo, wonderous items, etc, and deduct their cost from the gold. Players can get the big items they want, and can get rewards in the smaller things they’d like but would never buy. (10 Frost Arrows? Hmm, here you go ranger. Reagent to increase blast radius by 3, here you go druid, etc.)

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