Thursday, April 4, 2019

50 Methods of Balancing Magic in your Game

Roll d50 on this list any number of times until you feel balance has been achieved.

50 Methods to Balance Magic
[1] Change & Modify Spells or Abilities
Using this simplest and more effective method; you can change the specific abilities or powers of the magic using characters available to them in a roleplaying game. Simply put- remove spells that are too powerful, and reduce the power of spells that are too commonly useful or universally good. Using this method may also encourage the use of more flavorful or niche spells, which may also need tweaking depending on how powerful they become in the absence of the original 'OP' spells.

[2] In-Universe Restrictions or Stigma
Magic-Users may be in a lesser caste or subject to certain restrictions; such as requiring written permission to leave their home village, they must belong to magical university or registry, or they may be unable to hold any sort of public office or join the nobility as landowners. Using this, Magic Users may have less or no ability to manipulate the political landscape or will be a mostly solo act where as other characters can transition into more domain level play.

[3] Increased Resource Cost(s)
Magic use requires resources. While in many games this is already the case, a method to magic use harder or more balanced with nonmagical options is to increase the cost of doing magic. For example, spells may not only require material components, but a source of magical energy such as mana crystals or “the winds of magic” to be blown in or gathered from various places. The creation or first time learning a new spell may require a quest all on its own. For example, a powerful fire spell may require the magic user to have eaten the ashes of a flame giant at least once to even cast the spell, allowing the dungeon master to further limit access to magic spells or stint the flow of them as rewards hard won.

[4] Expends Valuable (Other) Resources
Magic-Users may need to use other resources along with magical resources to cast spells. For instance, casting a spell may tire the magic user or cost them hit points, thus draining more resources. In a game where time is of the essence, such as dungeons with limited lanterns with wandering monster checks, a timely ritual required to cast a spell is a decent method of reducing spell use. Magic may also require gold or experience points to create permanent or many of the more powerful effects, thus reducing the resources of the magic using character.

[5] Tie it to Items
Arcane Foci- such as spellbooks, wands/staves, magic orbs, rune circles and so on could also be used as a method to curtail casting. If a magic user doesn't have a wand or staff, they cannot cast spells. Thus, this is a method to make them vulnerable during the game (such as when they get captured), or to give a method of advancement that they need to focus on beyond spells (can't cast powerful spells without a powerful wand)- this method brings magic users more in line with fighting characters who need powerful magic items to keep “in step” with the various monsters and threats as they level.

[6] Enforce Specialization
Magic Users are no longer capable of being a catch all, or just being a single “Wizard” or “Sorcerer” class. Magic users must now specialize or pick multiple different classes, either at first level or later in progression, which means magic can never have the answer for any problems. For example, if your character is an illusionist they may have no problem tricking people, but they will have terrible battle magic or will struggle using their powers against things that can see through illusions. Players may be allowed to choose their own specializations such as picking two spell schools or domains and dropping one to “build a class”, but this method may encourage only the best and broadest of schools to pick, so it may be best to just isolate this as a class choice.

[7] Level Limits & Experience Penalties
Magic-Users may require many more experience points or longer stints in training then other vocations to advance. Using this, less powerful classes gain power much faster and the magic user will lag behind in their advancement. Magic Users may also only get their best powers at higher levels, where other classes may have already reached a level cap, or perhaps may have a higher level cap in total then a spell casting class, thus meaning more powerful in the tertiary aspects of advancement (such as gaining hit points or immunities to certain attacks or spells based on character level, etc.)

[8] Magic “Powers” versus Spells
Instead of allowing and having spells or spell-casting in the game, consider changing the magic casting abilities to magic “powers”. This implies a limitation of the magic being used as a specific and limited ability, as opposed to a larger system of magic. For instance, instead of playing a Wizard with illusions or an Illusionist, you are capable of creating glamors that hide your appearance. While very little in practical difference, in universe and OOC the difference will make characters consider their characters abilities as more limited, especially if they are unable to learn more unless it is built atop their previous power growth.

[9] Randomized Spell Acquisition
Whenever a Magic-User ventures to learn a new magic spell, they must copy it down from a scroll or rival spellbook. However, learning a new spell has a random chance which may permanently block the magic user from learning the spell.

[10] Increased Danger
Making the game have more dangerous elements such as traps or monsters, or making these elements do more damage and be more threatening, is a good method to limit caster superiority. Since in most games magic-users tend to be the least survivable and having the worst hit points, saving throws, or other defenses like armor. Of course, this method only works if the best defenses are not magical in nature, as that would only strengthen the superiority of a spellcaster. Additionally, combining with higher experience point requirements would make early character death for spellcasters more likely and stunt growth into the more powerful levels.

[11] Increased Encounters / Resource Burns
As with the Increased Danger element; increasing the number of Encounters expected in a typical session means the magic user has to use up more of their resources and be more sparing in their use. This does not only apply to combat however; having multiple magical obstacles or puzzle-like elements is another method with which the magic user must use up more of their resources to get basic utility.

[12] Decreased Scope
Magic User spells are decreased in the scope of what they affect. If a spell is supposed to protect a full group of people against the inclement weather, for example, can be changed to only protect a small group of individuals or one individual. Spells that used to travel across dimensions may only travel across landmasses now, and so on. Using this method, a magic user will have to burn more resources to accomplish the same tasks; the same here applies to duration, length of traveling spells, number of useful elements summoned per spellcast, etc.

[13] Increased Non-Magical Options
One of the largest contributions to magic user dominance is a lack of non-magical options to either address specific problems or the wide scope of abilities magic has. Be being able to both acquire magical aid through wealth or other abilities (such as hiring a scribe instead of requiring a magic user to read magical text, or being allowed to learn the scribe skill as a non-magic character) and being able to interact with the world more in general without magic. Setting your own traps or using gadgets or even standard items in more useful ways. This method requires a lot of creativity from both players and DM, but replicating the feats of magic use through clever item use or otherwise would greatly help putting magical and non-magical characters on the same level.

[14] Increased Timescale
One of the simpliest changes to force magic user to conserve magical resources such as mana points or spell slots is to increase the timescale of a typical game mechanic. For example, instead of spells recharging once every DAY after a long rest, you only recover spells once every ADVENTURE. Which could be several days of rough riding and questing. This could also imply magic being a harder thing to require after being spent, requiring a full laboratory or revisiting the magic user's sanctum, instead of being able to regain their powers out on a campsite. This could also lesson or totally prevent the “15 minute adventuring day” problem, and make spells that let magic users stop time or hide inside a magical conjured other space more situational useful instead of a magic button to recover all spell resources. For more narrative games, having magic only come back once per session takes an out-of-world approach but accomplishes a similar goal. Such as requiring the use of Fate points to cast spells in a game of FATE.

[15] Spell Failure & Backfire
Spells can now fail. Forcing the magic-user to roll when casting a spell, or having a negative to spell rolls that slowly builds the more spells are cast each day/adventure, or having a higher risk or increased negative consequence for more powerful spells cast. Using this method makes spellcasting more risky, depending on the nature of the failure. Spell failure can be anything from a spell simply being wasted, a minor to serious consequence, or even the spell going wild and doing strange and unexpected things. Spell Failure may be too punishing to magic users depending on how it is implemented, so perhaps only spells above a certain threshold fail, or any spells cast without a ritualized setup have a chance to fail. Some games may use spell failure only for spells cast for a certain daily limit of “safe” spells, but this could have an opposite effect to balance as it may give the magic user even more spells per day, even if they are riskier to use.

[16] Blurring the Line
Casters and Martials do not necessarily be so split down the middle. Even in a game with a more class-based structure, the ability to learn a few spells to augment ones fighting ability or to learn some combat skills to make a magic user more balanced could be a welcome addition to the game. While most people still have a clearly specialized role, the addition of a magical warrior archetype or crossover between classes, or the allowance of mutli-classes so non-magical specialists can still dip into spellcraft for some abilities may be a method to help improve balance.

[17] Make Antimagic Common
Antimagic, in the form of “dead zones” of energy, holy magic/sites blocking magic, antimagical enchantments or charms, or perhaps even mundane skills (such as meditation or special tattoos) and superstitions could act as antimagical shields or blockers that weaken or totally nullify the powers of a magic user. By making antimagic or protection from magic more common in a setting, you could make magic users less universally useful or at least have a strong counter. It is important however that this antimagic not only be avaliable to magic users using antimagic/metamagical abilities, else this only further enforces their role as the most powerful magic class; both with it and against it.

[18] Magic-User Class Access is Gated
By using a specific in-setting restriction on who can be a magic user, such as requiring a certain fantasy race or a very high stat in Intelligence/Magic, only some people can be magic users. This alone doesn't make them balanced, but in combination with other factors (such as requiring many stat points to be spent to get to this level in a stat that isn't useful for other things, or requiring a special race that has its own weaknesses or stimgas), it can simply make them less common and the problem less pronounced. This could also be even moreso gated with OOC, such as only allowing inexperienced players play as magic users or only players you trust, though this may reek of favoritism. The slightly more tolerable answer is to only allow 1 magic user per party, which would still not make them balanced but would allow direct targeting of that character to stop most magic-user balance issues when the party must artificially support them.

[19] Magic-User Class is Tied to (DM-Controlled) Beings
In this example, the magic user class may have powers or spells that are tied to pleasing or working for powerful NPC entities or beings. Things like Gods granting their followers magic, divine spirits, demonic tutors as “patrons” and so forth are all examples. Using this method, the magic-user must get their powers from something and may be heavily restricted in what spells they can learn or how they can use them by this entity. For example, a spirit of good that patrons a Wizard wouldn't allow the magic user to use their powers for evil, potentially making offensive spells or uses of magic fizzle out or even stripping the magic user of their powers. This could also be tied to more mundane characters; such as requiring the player-character to ascend ranks in a Mage's guild to advance.

[20] Spell Rarity
The chance of finding, learning or getting the resources to use some of the best spells or powers may be extremely low; the most powerful and useful spells may only be handed out as rare rewards or loot as per finishing a dungeon. The Magic-User may never be allowed to learn spells on their own time, and researching spells may be heavily limited or simply not allowed at all as to let the DM control if and when the magic user gets the best spells.

[21] Expendable Spells
Most games rely on the concept of magic users being able to recover or restore all spells that they use and use them again another day; but not all spells need be this way. If tied to specific resources and rare components of spells, as covered in above methods, spells themselves could be one or two use rarities that can only seriously influence the campaign a few times. This concept can also be implemented to help stop spam of weak or unlimited use spells such as cantrips; giving a hard limit to them to make them a limited resource may help balance the classes out.

[22] Permanent Sacrifices
Magic use may require the use of permanent/irrecoverable losses for the magic user, such as permanent loss of hit points or stats, the loss of a powerful item, or in-universe penalties like sacrificing friendly NPCs to cast a powerful spell or gain additional levels/powers in a magic using portfolio. The importance of this method is that it cannot be easily replaced for this character, thus creating a permanent and important choice for the player. This can be combined with other concepts; powerful NPCs like demons may only teach your character a new magic spell if they give up their soul to them, which would cause severe and permanent in-universe ramifications for the offending character.

[23] Magic Use = Bad Publicity
Combining several of the above elements; using magic may draw the wrong kind of attention. Casting a powerful spell or gaining a certain level of magical power may draw forth entities from beyond or in-universe ramifications such as hoards of the maimed asking for healing, powerful NPCs demanding a share of the power, or just attracting worse rivals then you could have had by being subtle and not using magic.

[24] MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction
Combining several of the above; a magic user's insistance to use or hold the most powerful spells may bring the attention of other NPCs who have similar powers. For example, once the magic user begins to use a spell combo that can down many opponents at once, other magic users will start to prepare and use the same combo against them, thus meaning the more dangerous the magic user becomes, the more dangerous the world is in response. This hackjob solution will ensure the other party members get run over by the magic user, but it could be a useful tool for an in-campaign need for balance.

[25] Willingness to Compromise & In-Campaign Balance
This element may involve talking to other players in the game and finding a compromise between magic using players and otherwise. For example, giving each player a turn to play a magic using character who is more powerful then other characters, such as Ars Magica, or having trope style play where each player creates multiple characters for roles allowing each to have the “fun” role of magic user. Additionally, speaking to players during the campaign to reign in overbearing magic use or spells with unintended powerful combinations or uses.

[26] Magic User Exclusive Campaigns or Vice-Versa
In this example; everyone in the party plays as the most powerful magic using class all at once, or none of them do. This way the entire party is on a similar playing field, and also means less of the rules have to be changed to allow for balance.

[27] Acceptance of Magic-User Supremacy
This element doesn't actually solve the problem of balance, but could offset it to only offended parties. An honest discussion could take place about magic users being the most powerful and, if enough of the players are accepting, then a game can commence where balance is not considered a huge factor. Players could instead focus on making the game more about the stories of each character, regardless of balance, and some players may naturally enjoy taking a more backseat role to the game as a supporting character or enjoy the challenge of playing a weaker character.

[28] Martial Empowerment
Allowing martial or “non-magical” characters to become more powerful, perhaps only in the space of the abstracted rules or perhaps in the context of the game as being superhumanly tough, fast, strong, etc. This game could be more of a Wuxia bent, where powerful Fighters go toe to toe with powerful magic users by simply being above and away beyond anything a standard or “realistic” human could accomplish, at least in the context of our world. Depending on the setting this could be considered a magical art of its own (all classes use magic, some just use fight magic) OR it could be considered a sort of “supernatural” ability OR it could be naturally; in the context of the secondary fictional space standard races can become this fast or strong simply by acquiring this much experience or training.

[29] Magic User Insanity
In many games or settings, magic has the power to corrupt those that use it. In universe, this could mean that magic users have more mental stress or insanity then other characters, and in game, this could manifest as having worse odds are resisting psychic attacks, or being forced to act out of character in strange ways, such as being very fearful (having a phobia) of something common, being addicted to magical potions or drugs, and so on.

[30] Magic User Incompetence (In practical Matters)
Training to use magic may take up all the time and energy a magic-user has, thus making them less apt for practical skills or even social skills. While this is already the case in many games, this could be made as part of the setting's fiction as well. For instance, magic users may have inbuilt insanity as explained above, or have their minds warped or even childlike. While in many games magic users are allowed to have some skills (or even have many skills, since they tend to have high intelligence), changing the “Intelligence” stat to a more simple “Magic” stat may do the trick, or granting no additional skills for scholarly actions or mental abilities to magic users. In short, a magic user doesn't get to have a lot of skills in ADDITION to magic, they simply have magic and nothing else, where as characters who do not have magic may get to have many skills. In the specific game of Ars Magica- this is somewhat touched upon or even made more substantial as magic users have an aura that upsets animals and people not used to it; thus relying on their companions (player characters without magic) to interact socially or handle animals.

[31] Removal of Magic-Using Classes
While extreme, this solution could work to remove magic user balance but not giving magic to the players in the form of a class. Magic could still be granted to the players in the form of items, magical pacts, NPC companions and so on, but nobody is allowed to play a class or learn spells in a non-class based game. This restriction can be loosened somewhat by allowing some magic-using classes, such as hybrid classes that have some magic power but not as much as “the wizard”, and simply restricting the most powerful magic using class. Some games may also use this through a tier system, such as only allowing players to play characters of the same tier.

[32] Skewing of the Magic-Using Class/Archetype
Instead of playing a magic user, you play as a scholar, scribe, sage, or healer. Your main skills are based on your knowledge or healing abilities, and you may be the best with magic or spells if they come up, but they are not an inbuilt part of your character- you don't get spells but you can brew potions, or you can identify magic items and creatures, etc. This solution essentially allows a player to play a skilled mundane character that has skills with magic, as opposed to a magical character. While a minor differentiation, this means that player characters are all experts with skills instead of having a wide gap in power of a marital and a magic-user.

[33] Magic Use is Slow/Requires set up-Time
In this example, magical spells may not be able to ever be used spontaneously or off the cusp. Magic is always based on rituals, brewing potions, or long winded incantations that can never be done quickly or in response to something. This means magic use requires careful planning and must be put in advance. The magic user without a plan is a dead magic user. This could also simply be extended one step and saying that magic simply cannot be used in combat, during a chase, or during any scene where a martial or skill-based character will instead shine with quick wit and bravery.

[34] Enforcing Preexisting Rules
In some games, the more distasteful rules or parts of the game may actually be a part of the difficulty in balancing it. For example, never ignore or handwave away encumbrance rules, as enforcing these rules could be part of what makes magic users more balanced in these games as intended by the original developers. If spells always resolves last initiative, use that rule as to allow monsters an actual action before the magic user's spells can kill or take care of them; as this will help lower the impact of rules that are skipped that make magic users more powerful. If a spell specifically says it cannot be used in a certain way, don't allow magic users players to use the spell that way, as it could unbalance the game even further.

[35] High Priority Target
As with the in-universe stigma, bad publicity, and MAD methods; this method is yet another. The magic user is almost always targeted first by monsters and opponents, as their power is known and well respected. Stealthy enemies may wish to steal their spellbook or components, and ranged enemies will pelt them with arrows or spells of their own first. This method may make the player(s) believe in some sort of favoritism or DM versus player antagonism, but intelligent opponents may act more realistically if they know and respect a magic user's danger.

[36] Establish a Combat Triangle
While the most powerful aspects of a magic-using character is usually not in direct combat, enforcing a semi-artifical combat triangle may be the way to balancing them. For example; magic users may in this system be very powerful against warriors wearing armor, but are very weak versus arrows and sneak attacks, as they move too fast for the spellcaster to counter. In the same way, this method could balance all aspects of the game by having each class or role having a strong counter; fighters are strong against sneaks and ranged archers, wizards are good against fighters, and rogues and archers are good against magic users. This triangle is just an example and any sort of combat balance triangle could be made in response to create balance.

[37] Make Magic-Users a Support Class
By letting magic users keep most of their spells, but changing their role to that more of support, such as only being able to cast buff spells on others or by enforcing a sort of role that helps other party members, you create more balance and cohesion in the party. The magic user is no longer the “power” class the other characters rely on to see them through, that role instead belong to the martial classes. The magic user is instead focusing on powering up, healing, or resisting negative magic sent their way using their own powers. While magic users may still be powerful, or may be the most powerful class of all, forcing them to use their powers on others makes them feel less like a one-man show and creates balance by making the party work together.

[38] Heavy Magic Flavor from the Setting
Magic in this game could be very heavily tied to the setting itself, such as a Greek fantasy setting having ties to the four elements in its spells, or magic in a Renaissance world dealing with the four humors. While doing nothing on their own, designing and only allowing spells that go hand and hand with these theme could move magic away from a “do anything” tool.

[39] Increase Resistances & Immunities
Tied somewhat into the “Making Antimagic Common” method, but slightly more vague. If magic usually deals elemental damage, for example, where as martials tend not to; therefore having more creatures be resistant to elements would help lower the power of magic users overall. In this case resistances & immunities may be specific to creature and if combined with prepared spells means that the magic user must plan around them or be unable to effectively deal with that threat. For example, making undead immune to all mind effecting and disease spells is already common, but could be done with more creatures or more NPCs. Maybe all dwarves take ½ damage from fire, or all goblins are immune to disease spells, since they are always diseased, etc.

[40] Variable Magic Strength
Magic has a variable strength, perhaps dependent on a die roll, of how powerful or effective this is. This could encourage the magic user to take risks, or simply open up times where the magic is less powerful then normal, thus making the magic-using classes less powerful overall. Of course, this example could easily be twisted to make magic users more powerful if the top die rolls actually make the spells MORE powerful, so having the basic rules of a spell being the “top” result with every level beneath having complications or weaknesses could be an overall nerf to magic users.

[41] Magical Abilities & Consideration Designed into Campaign
This method, while highly subjective and already accomplished in many games, is to weaken magic users by having the setting and direct elements of danger and competition in the campaign acknowledge and preemptively have countermeasures to magic. For example, a standard castle in this setting not only has drawbridges and moats, but a magical field to block spying or instant teleportation within. Lords in this setting always wear magically enhanced jewelry, or perhaps all jewelry is innately blessed with the ability, to help resist mind altering magic. Monsterous foes tend to bring along an extra magic user with their patrols, so their patrol is not easily wiped out by a magical spell they can counter and so on. If magic exists in the secondary world, then people would be well aware of it and try to find a method to stop or hinder it.

[42] Ease of Magical-Detection
In this method, magic can be more easily sensed, seen, or comprehended by non-magical characters. For instance, you do not need to cast a detect magic spell, as any character can see the glow or runic markings around the object (or perhaps it is tied to a non-magic primary stat, like Wisdom). This way, magic users have less instant importance as being able to do all things magic, and non-magical characters can tell when an item may be powerful or important just be look and touch. This could also apply to magical talent as well as well as magical powers prepared or otherwise ready; a drained magic user may have a weak aura which may signal to enemies to attack, and hiding the fact that one has used magic recently may be very difficult, thus making it easier for NPCs to see any tricks or traps the magic user has been making.

[43] Strict Illusions
As with the above; this is about NPCs being able to detect and react to magical things. However this is specifically only for illusion spells or abilities, and only applies to games where illusions are too powerful or consistently useful. While the point of an illusion is to trick others, making it too good at tricking others might cause magic-user imbalance. A method of balance then would be to make illusions strict. As in, you cannot create illusions on the fly as with many spells. Instead, illusions may be restricted to things you've actually seen, or can only be cast on real objects and people and cannot create phantoms, or illusions are easily seen as fake through any medium that isn't direct sight (reflections in water, through reading glasses, etc.) This method makes it more likely and easier for NPCs to detect an illusion or magic user trick. It goes without saying that any shopkeeper NPC has several methods for identifying false and conjured gold or treasure; so that trick won't work.

[44] Campaign designed around Non-Magical Characters
A bit of the opposite to the “magical campaign considerations”, but still a valid method for balancing magic users with nonmagic characters. In this example method, magic users have a harder time because the campaign isn't designed for them in mind, or more specifically, is designed for things they find difficult. For example, playing a sea-fairing campaign where material components are quite scarce will lower the overall power of a magic user, as will a survival campaign where non-magical skills like tracking and hunting are very central to survival.

[45] RP Restrictions from Spells
This example is very specific but in some games, some characters who use magic would be opposed to using certain spells or abilities, such as a caster refusing to use a magical power from a rival school's library, or another refusing to use evil spells if they are a white-mage healer type. While this restriction is mostly on the player side and not for the DM to interfere with, offering things like RP XP bonuses in some games or having meta-narrative mechanics such as shifting character alignments could encourage players to not use dark or forbidden magic, even if it is powerful. Since most players would do so anyway due to pragmatism, this could also be the method to stop MUs from casting lots of high powered spells in the first place; preferring to face foes head on with a sword in an honorable duel instead of using underhanded magic trickery, even if it would be easier.

[46] Powerful Magic = Plot Device
Magic-Users may eventually gain access to powerful magic or spells in this game, but its use is intended to be used for something based on the “story” of the campaign. Yes, you may learn a powerful planes-walking spell to travel dimensions, but you're only going to be able to use it once with its rare components to escape the demon realm. Yes the character may learn the spell of instant death, but will only use it on the immortal king of the dark elves, who you have been fighting the entire way.

[47] Rule Obfuscation
Disallowing players from reading the Dungeon Master's guide or its equivalent in the game, using homebrew material/spells, and otherwise restricting access to information about your game is yet another option to low magic user supremacy. Simply put, if the magic user isn't allowed to see and plan the most powerful “build” they can get, then each spell will be like a unique venture for them, and the growth of their character will happen not as a plan to become the most powerful but as a result of their RP. Using this method, it is also easier to tweak spells that are too powerful, or too simply flavor different spells. Perhaps you dislike a powerful offensive spell and simply give the player two copies of a weaker spell, just with different fluff. In universe, they may be different, but in the game space the player themselves won't be able to know you're giving them multiple of the same options; while this is possible in a standard campaign, it's simply harder to get away with since the player is more likely to know the rules for a spell. Strong adherence to in game fluff will also help avoid them finding out you've tricked them into a false sense of system mastery.

[48] Magical Inflexibility
Magic-User spells are simply inflexible. Reduce or simply disallow fluff descriptions from spells to tack on additional effects or secondary powers. For instance, if a character wanted to cast a spell that targets a creature on an inanimate object again for a cool spontaneous effect, disallow it. This does make magic more boring and seriously squash player creativity, but disallowing flexibility in magic will decrease the overall flexibility and reach of magic users.

[49] Increased Class Selection
In general, the number of archetypes in the game attract different players, but the more classes there are the less likely players will be to pick the most powerful by accident. For example, if the game only has a single or two spell casting classes, but eight or more martial classes, then it's much more likely everyone in the game will play a martial character, or less likely to play the most powerful class. This is only if the players are actively trying to find new and fun experiences, and see the magic user role as a role among many as opposed to the “best” or “most powerful” choice. This also applies well to random class selection and/or rolled stats and “Gating” magic using classes, as described above. This especially applies to games with many specific and useful roles; the gunpowder engineer may be just as important during a siege as the wall-scaling thief, and the magic user isn't a ubiquitous everyman choice.

[50] Magic Equipment for Martial Characters Only
This follows along with the “Empowering Martials” category, but is more based on campaign design. The most powerful magic items being something akin to magic swords or armor which can only be wielded by high leveled martial characters. While magic users may still gain access to powerful items or gear like Ioun stones, magic wands, secret spells, etc. Martial characters get much more powerful items only they can use; magic swords that grant wishes or let them fly on the sword like a hoverboard ala a Wuxia campaign. These items not only are given to the martials first, but simply will not serve magic users or may even attempt to control their mind, as the items only serve powerful warriors.


  1. Wow...that was one heck of a post. You have to be really creative to come up with FIFTY of these. I linked people over here today on my blog bc I know others would enjoy reading this too. Great post.

    1. To be fair, many of these concepts are derivatives or are separated parts of other common "balance solutions", but I really appreciate it- Thanks for linking!