Some GMs may find themselves frustrated by the need for players to seek out magic items granting specific bonuses. Under this new system, characters gain the statistical bonuses they’re expected to gain from magic items as they level up so long as they have any item in the relevant slot, instead of needing specific items. The system involves minimal alterations to existing items, and works especially well for campaigns with higher than normal wealth.
The rules in the Automatic Bonus Progression section downplay the role of magic items by granting bonuses to characters directly as they increase in level, and restricting the abilities of magic items. However, those rules don’t work as well as the innate item bonuses system does in games that include more magic items than is assumed in the standard rules. In addition, this system helps those GMs who prefer to emphasize the wonder and power of magic items.
In this system, the bonus a magic item grants corresponds to the item’s starting market price as it appears in the item’s original statistics. This price is shown on each table in this section in the “Starting Price” column. The second column shows the value of the bonus at a particular price range, and the header indicates to which statistics the bonus applies. In addition, any item that gains an innate item bonus also increases its market price by the amount shown on each table’s “Price Increase” column.
For example, a belt of dwarvenkind isn’t a popular choice, since players typically want a belt of giant strength +4 or similar item for close to the same price. When using innate bonuses, items such as the belt of giant strength—which only grants an enhancement bonus—wouldn’t exist, and the belt of dwarvenkind would count as a body slot item (see the Altered Item Slots section under Wondrous Items, below). Since it costs 14,900 gp in the standard rules, it would grant a +2 bonus to two ability scores in addition to its usual effects, and cost an additional 10,000 gp, for a total of 24,900 gp.
The price increase means that a significant range of prices doesn’t come into play in a campaign that uses this system. For example, if a neck slot item would normally have a base market price of 2,000 gp, it would now grant an additional +1 enhancement bonus to natural armor, and its price would increase by 2,000 gp. That means a neck slot item can’t have a final price between 2,000 gp and 3,999 gp. If you need treasure at a value in that range, look at items that don’t grant innate bonuses.
To use this system, institute the following changes.
Most items that grant bonuses to statistics fall into the wondrous items category.
Removed Items: Remove all amulets of natural armor, cloaks of resistance, and items that grant enhancement bonuses to ability scores.
Altered Item Slots: Remove the belt and headband slots. For the remaining items in those slots (those that do not grant enhancement bonuses), move all belt slot items to the body slot and all headband slot items to the head slot. This alteration reduces the total number of magic item slots, and does mean that some items that could normally be worn in tandem can’t in this system.
Ability Changes: If the table specifies that an item grants enhancement bonuses to ability scores, the wearer can change the associated ability scores by removing an item and then putting it back on. This causes the new bonus to become temporary for 24 hours. All items capable of granting an Intelligence bonus increase the bonus of a preset skill, just like a headband of vast intelligence. Amulets of mighty fists and bracers of armor follow the rules for weapons and armor; this means it is possible to make more powerful (+10 equivalent) amulets of mighty fists and bracers of armor than before.
Rings work in much the same way as wondrous items.
Removed Items: Remove all rings of protection, and add the deflection bonus specified on Table 4–12: Rings to all other rings.
Multiple Rings: Note that deflection bonuses granted by multiple rings don’t stack. It’s up to the GM to decide how to deal with this, with two main options. The first option is to follow the rule outlined above and charge the price increase for each ring—consider the additional cost the price of essentially getting a third ring slot. The other option is to make the deflection bonus granted by rings (and the associated price increases) optional on a ring-by-ring basis, allowing characters to avoid paying twice for a non-stacking bonus. Doing so adds additional bookkeeping, however.
Under this system, weapons and armor are not forged with pure enhancement bonuses, and don’t need to have a +1 enhancement bonus to have a special ability. Instead, add up the effective enhancement bonus for the item’s special abilities, then assign the total to the item as its new enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls. To find the new price, multiply the total cost of its original special abilities—not counting the new enhancement bonus—by 4.
For example, the keen ability is equivalent to a +1 bonus and would normally cost 2,000 gp. Under these rules, a keen falchion would gain a +1 bonus on top of its keen ability, and the cost would become 8,000 gp. A keen holy falchion, on the other hand, normally costs 18,000 gp and has abilities equivalent to a +3 bonus, so it would gain a +3 enhancement bonus on top of its abilities and cost 72,000 gp instead.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Unchained © 2015, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Ross Beyers, Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Robert Emerson, Tim Hitchcock, Jason Nelson, Tom Phillips, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Thomas M. Reid, Robert Schwalb, Mark Seifter, and Russ Taylor.