Welcome to the next in the series of my D&D Fifth Edition PHB readthrough and review. I know there’s been a little time gap, I had some bidness to attend to.
The equipment chapter kicks off with the basic monetary system and starting gold. The electrum piece (worth 1/2 a gold piece) has returned from the sands of time. Ah, nostalgia, I remember you fondly.
Then they talk about selling treasure. Undamaged gear is worth 50% of the list price, but monster gear is usually junk. Then they finally breach the 3.e/Pathfinder bugbear, magic items – magic items are expensive and rare and selling anything but the most common is problematic, let alone buying them. This is happy and leads me to believe that the “magic item economy,” which resulted in “Christmas tree syndrome,” one of the least delightful things about mid-range D&D editions, has been swept away.
Armor is somewhat simplified and has the interesting design decision that light armors allow full Dex bonus to AC, medium half, and heavy none. On the one hand that compensates nicely for different approaches, on the other hand it tends towards “everyone has AC 16-18, period.”
Weapons are simpler than in some editions, more complex than in others. They have one damage rating that is a die and type (e.g. 1d8 bludgeoning) – never any “1d4+1” or the like. Then they have some keyword-properties like the kids are into nowadays that indicate special uses – heavy, two-handed, reach, finesse, light, etc. Finesse weapons use DEX for both attack and damage in this edition, making the uber-strength fighter a less automatic choice. There’s no such thing as a masterwork weapon but you can silver one for 100gp.
Then they have other gear. You know, cook pots, paper, and the ever-popular ten foot pole. This is mostly “like every equipment list ever.” There’s a couple points of interest, like “Basic Poison” that requires a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 points of damage. And a potion of healing – at 50 gp – that will heal 1d4+2 hit points. So they don’t conflate healing with the hit dice thing (like 4e did with healing surges). I’m not sure how I feel about that, seems like “heal a Hit Die” mechanic is pretty smoov, and it would be simple to reuse it whenever being healed from other sources, but whatever. There’s sub-tables for barrels and ships and stuff.
The Tools are interesting. They claim that tools “help you do something you couldn’t otherwise do” – but mechanically they just let you add your proficiency bonus. So if you’re a fighter, you can try to pick a lock without a proficiency or tools and just up and make the Dex check. But if you have the skill proficiency *and* the tools, you can add your proficiency bonus. As proficiency bonuses aren’t that large overall that seems a little odd.
A final cool part is the lifestyle expenses. I remember this from Living campaigns back in the 1990s. Basically there’s a listed cost for living at certain social levels – from Wretched to Aristocratic. They kinda wuss out and have no mechanical hook to those except to say “Well you know if you’re po’ then nobles won’t like you but thieves might.”
Similarly to the “magic items aren’t bought and sold like cattle” dynamic, even getting spells cast for hire is noted to be difficult – you can get a common level 1 or 2 spell in a major city for 10-50 gp but past that it’s DM fiat and quests, baby.
Then there’s two semi wasted pages on “trinkets” – a new character gets one! Roll 1d100, you have “a single caltrop made from bone.” Seems gimmicky to me but I get that they’re trying to provoke some kind of “you are a real and unique person” roleplaying using it so that’s fine. Till you’ve made a bunch of characters and it gets repetitive.
All in all I like where they’re going! Next time, Customization Options!
So if selling a magic item is problematic, what are you supposed to do with one that you can’t use but is nonetheless valuable?
Give to a NPC to gain her/his thrust and then backstab them(?) later, of course. You can even use it again. 😉
Serously, though, there are a lot of uses for magical trinkets the creator never ever thought of. And you could sell it, I presume, but not for lots of money – or you would have to find the right buyer, instant adventure hook.
I bet you can think of some things.
I mean, you *can* sell it, it’s just that there’s not enough ready cash in a medieval economy to have something with a “20,000 gp list price” meaningfully. You could sell it for the 200 gp someone’s likely to have. You could give it to a retainer to buy their loyalty. You could gift it to a king to get a knighthood. You could trade it to a fire giant for your life. You could trade it to one of the other few folks of your level for some other item. You could put it over your fireplace to show off your riches. What people did with fine art, heirlooms, etc. before people had enough ready cash to pay $100M in an art auction for something.