There was a post over at Dungeon’s Master that brought up an issue I’ve been wanting to vent about for a long time. Magic items are one of the biggest parts of D&D. Always have been, always will be. In case you’ve never had the opportunity to come across a magic item in your lifetime, they are much like normal items (a torch, a bag, a sword, etc.) but they are endowed with a special magical property that makes them far superior to other items of the same nature. For example, a sword whose blade sprouts flames every time the user draws it and says the right incantation. These items are always super awesome. Since everyone knows of their existence in the fantasy world, players can’t wait to get their hands on them.

Exhibit A

The recommended thing to do is have players come up with a list of items they want, sort of a gift list, and present it to the DM. Then it’s the DM’s job to somehow fit the items into the adventure, making the players happy and giving them fantasy erections as they swing around their fire swords at the baddies.

I think this is complete BS. I would say that it’s all on the DM to keep a solid balance and handle on things and keep it entertaining, but why should players automatically get what’s on their wish list? I never bought into that. PCs need to have a really good reason to even know an item exists before thinking their character wants it. They should have to roleplay for it or at least come up with their own legend for it. Then, maybe I’ll spend a session giving them a chance to track it down. Last time a checked, playing a game that lets you play with swords and shoot balls of acid and teleport and headbutt dragons is already fantastic and awesome. I’m the DM, not Santa Claus, so keep your wish list to yourself.

If I were Santa, I'd probably look like this

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about communication between players and DMs about how to improve game flow and encouraging fun at the table, and it’s fun for me to be able to give magic items, too. I just don’t feel like players should have too much entitlement to exactly what they found in the Character Builder that would make their Paladin the strongest one ever. Maybe I’ll give you some sweet armor and maybe I won’t. Who knows! What are the odds of a PC knowing the specific enchanted armor they need, anyhow? Not very high.

So, next time you’re sitting at the game table and you’re thinking of what awesome magical item you’d love to have, try to focus on being a better player with what you’ve got. It’s the character that makes the items, not the other way around (unless it’s possessed!). The DM should be allowed to give magic items as they deem appropriate without being restricted too much by the players. Remember, the DM is not Santa Claus, and even if the DM were Santa Claus, you’d still have to be nice to get what you want.

What are your thoughts on the “wish list” mechanic of D&D? Do you like throwing magic items at your players? As a player, what is your opinion on the topic? Would you still believe in Santa if he looked like this in all the children’s stories? Write me a comment and let me know!

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