“You and Your Magic Items” discusses the very real problem of how much gear makes the PC in D&D 3e. In earlier editions, you might have a boss magical item or two but the majority of your ability in a given area was from the character, not from magic plusses. 3e/3.5e reverses that to where at high levels the gear is what makes a character effective.
They say that they’ve fixed this in 4e – but that “only three magic items are important for your attacks and defenses to keep up with the escalating power of the monsters you face.” Frankly, I disagree with a design that requires any magic items to be competitive at your level. Anyway, the three are weapon, armor, and neck slot items. (Ah, how did we get along for 20 frickin’ years in D&D without official ‘item slots’? Oh, that’s right, just fine.) So basically your attack, armor class, and saves (“defenses,” in 4e-speak). In other words, everything except skills – sigh. It’s so frustrating to me that their design goals for 4e are so right, and their implementations are so wrong. It’s not worse than 3e but why squander an opportunity to improve it, especially when you clearly see what needs improving? 3/5.
They discuss an Enchant Magic Item ritual used to make items – but I’m not sure what “rituals” are or how hard they are to get so it’s hard to comment further. Different from the old system of many feats to create different item types, which was clunky. Could be better, no way to tell from the information given. 3/5.
Then they discuss disenchanting magic items to get magic dust to use to make other magic items. OK, a lot of the other stuff in 4e that people have called ‘stolen from World of Warcraft’ is more debatable – but this one, the developers should be totally embarrassed at such a direct lift. And they mention what they talked about earlier in economy that magic items only sell for 1/5 price. See that post for why that’s super retarded. 1/5.
Identifying items is now easier – generally you fiddle with them during a “short rest” and automatically figure it out. That’s fine with me; the whole Identify thing in 3e was wonky. It notes that artifacts or weird things could be harder… I’d like a little more variation here; I could see some people making items that are “obvious” and then some making ones harder to rip off (eternal wands for a country’s military – more “secret” command word). Seems like ti would largely be up to the creator’s intent. But better than 3e. 4/5.
Then just a little mechanics. Items have levels, and are grouped by type like they were in the Magic Item Compendium, and go into slots. They show some sample items, like a flaming weapon and a holy avenger. The flaming weapon is fine, predictable, it flames. The holy avenger – it’s hard to tell. In general it has one lame power (once per day give nearby allies +5 to saves for one round – one round? Bah.) and one that’s hard to evaluate – +1d10 radiant damage whenever the power used to make the attack “has the radiant keyword.” If that’s something frequent, then woot! If it’s not, sad. a HA is supposed to be one of the most kick ass items in the game due to its restricted use cases, so I would hope this would apply to at least a good 1/3 of whatever a paladin could do. We’ll see. 3/5.