RPG Confessions: Over-powered treasure

So. I don’t believe in over-powered, “game-breaking” treasure. There is no such thing.

Some folks express concern when an adventure has certain types of magic items. For example, magic armor that makes the wearer immune to fire… at Level 1.

Here is why this type of item does not worry me as a designer, or as a GM.

How I see it

Let’s say you’re the GM and one of your Level 1 PCs gets their grubby little mitts on an ancient bronze breastplate that makes them immune to all fire-type damage. They will never be burned again at all! Well, here are ten extremely mundane things that can still hurt them:

  1. A rabid dog.
  2. A kicking horse.
  3. A dagger in the eye.
  4. An arrow in the neck.
  5. A diseased rat or mosquito.
  6. A falling tree branch or boulder.
  7. Being strangled with piano wire.
  8. Being held underwater in a bathtub.
  9. Tripping and falling down the stairs.
  10. Getting smashed in the face with a chair at the tavern.

And all of these things are much more likely to happen in my games than having a dragon snort flamey red stuff on you.

But what about…?

Even when you do run up against that red dragon, so what? One member of the party is immune to the breath attack, but everyone else is still in mortal danger. And the one immune PC is still plenty vulnerable to the bite, and the claws, and the tail, and the wing-blast, and the lair effects, and all the spells your dragon can cast. So… I don’t see a problem.

But what if every member of the party has a “powerful” magic item? Well, I’m the GM, so it’s up to me whether they’re all immune to different things, or they’re all immune to the same thing, and then I get to decide what type of dragon shows up, so… I don’t see a problem.

And this applies to everything, from weapons to wands to pets to whatever. Who cares if a PC can do something special? Teleport, time travel, shape-shift, mind control? The GM controls the entire game world, and the GM knows what the PCs can do. The GM has unlimited power. So…

I don’t believe in over-powered treasure.

Do you?

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