Soulbound items in the tabletop game

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Soulbound items in the tabletop game

Post by Big Mac » Sat Apr 25, 2015 12:40 pm

There are a number of things in the World of Warcraft MMO that are listed as Bind on Equip, Bind on Pickup or Bind on Use. These items become Soulbound when they are respectively equipped, picked up or used.

Bonnetti mentioned black mageweave regalia in my "How does cloth armour work?" topic and, after I noticed that it was a set of Bind on Equip items, I said I might start a new topic...so here we are. :)

But as there are other types of ways for items to become Soulbound, I thought it might be better to discuss them all in the same topic. Here is what I said back there:
Big Mac wrote:One thing about this armour you linked me to, is that it is "bind when equipped" armour. That isn't something I see in regular D&D (except with cursed items). I find it harder to believe that people can pick up "bind when equipped" items, as loot, because I would expect someone who is walking around with a pair of magical boots to put them on (and therefore bind them to their body). I might start a new thread to discuss that.
I think the Soulbound thing is interesting roleplaying concept for a couple of reasons:
  • It allows a GM to give things to players that they can not trade/sell/auction as "working items" (they are only really good for disenchanting) and
  • It allows a GM to give things to NPCs, but to make those items "non lootable".
I figure that Bind on Equip items and Bind on Use items are pretty much the same thing, in a tabletop context. You can pick stuff like this up, without it instantly binding to your soul, but if you attempt to wear it or activate it, it binds to your soul and stops being "loot" that can be traded to other PCs or NPCs.

The Bind on Pickup concept is slightly different, as just touching that sort of stuff should cause it to bind to your soul.

(I am going to intentionally ignore the Bind to Account concept, as I don't see a useful way to use that in tabletop play. I think that it could be possible to run a WoW: RPG campaign where one player rolls up multiple PCs, and uses different PCs for different gaming sessions, but I can't see a restriction that is based on the player being something that has an "in character" application in a tabletop game.)

The fact that magic items are bound to specific individuals, and not usable by other people, after they are bound to a soul, is a pretty interesting one. It makes magic items much much less useful, than they are without that restriction, so could possibly be used to justify them being "cheaper" to produce. That could possibly be a way to "sell" the concept of "Warcraft" as something where there is a lot of crafting going on (with collecting and mining things being part of that industrialised process).

The one thing that I think is a bit harder to "sell", as I said before, is the concept that you can kill a monster or NPC and then find unbound items that Bind when Equipped or that Bind when Used on their body.

I suppose that some people would buy or make stuff to trade to other NPCs, so would be carrying around a small amount of trade goods. If we assume that people within the WoW tabletop setting have lives outside of combat, I guess it makes sense for all of them to be carrying around some sort of random items (valuable or not) and making some of those things into things that are bound to the soul or not bound to the soul could be a way to make looting a body more about roleplaying than "getting some free stuff". It would certainly be fun to find a set of magical boots (known to be Bind on Equip) and not be able to find out if they are already Soulbound without putting your feet into them (or without casting a magic spell that provides that information).

There is the possibility that items become soulbound, but then that "wears off" after the owner is killed. But that is a bit of a risky concept to introduce in a game, as it could lead to people (PCs or NPCs) murdering other people, just to gain access to their Soulbound items. That could be a bit of a game-changing concept to introduce to a campaign. I'm not sure of all the implications.

Assuming that Soulbound items remain bound to souls after death, there could be some way to use this "in character". Items could work as mundane items, when worn by anyone they are not bound to, or they might be totally unusable, working against people like cursed items, so it is worse to try to use them than to use mundane (non-magical) items of the same time. But it might actually be possible, to use magic spells to find out who the items are bound to and then PCs could take items back to the owners, to see if they can get a reward for their return. :)

(If Soulbound items were introduced into a game, along with the idea of PCs and NPCs coming back from the dead, then I could see a situation where rescuing a body that was killed by bandits and bringing that NPC back from the dead, could lead to a quest, or a series of quests to go and recover looted items from the bandits who had killed that NPC. :cool: )
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Re: Soulbound items in the tabletop game

Post by Arrius Nideal » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:36 pm

It'll be difficult to establish soulbound items from a game design perspective. The idea was developed to limit MMO trading, which is a concern not present in a tabletop game.

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Re: Soulbound items in the tabletop game

Post by Big Mac » Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:10 pm

Arrius Nideal wrote:It'll be difficult to establish soulbound items from a game design perspective. The idea was developed to limit MMO trading, which is a concern not present in a tabletop game.
Sure. But it might also limit the ability of PCs to collect large hordes of magic items, which might be a concern for some tabletop GMs. That is a similar concern to the MMO trading, even if it is not an identical one.

However, I was more thinking of this as an in-character thing to try to put something fun into a game, than an out-of-character thing for a GM to use to hobble players. So if I was going to try to make Soulbound items, I would be looking to find some of the awesome items from the MMO to make into Soulbound items, and not just make it impossible for players to find documents and be unable to sell them or give them to each other.

I was looking at Ghostwalk, a while ago, and that has a rule where all magical weapons have to have bespoke names. That kind of makes them unique, for that campaign setting. I'm wondering if Soulbound Items could do a something on the same sort of level for World of Warcraft. :)

At the very least, if I didn't have lots of magic items that were Soulbound items, perhaps this could be a property of a few tabletop magic items that had the word "Soul" in their name.
I'm trying to think of some way (an in-character way) that a Soulbound item could be better. Perhaps it could be something that advances, as a character advances. :)
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Re: Soulbound items in the tabletop game

Post by Arrius Nideal » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:47 pm

I'm trying to think of some way (an in-character way) that a Soulbound item could be better. Perhaps it could be something that advances, as a character advances. :)
Now that is a good way to get the ball rolling. An easy way is to take a current high-level item that grants flat bonuses, and divide said bonuses over three or four. At level 3, the character will unlock the first increment of the item, and so forth.

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Re: Soulbound items in the tabletop game

Post by Big Mac » Fri May 01, 2015 1:04 pm

Arrius Nideal wrote:
I'm trying to think of some way (an in-character way) that a Soulbound item could be better. Perhaps it could be something that advances, as a character advances. :)
Now that is a good way to get the ball rolling. An easy way is to take a current high-level item that grants flat bonuses, and divide said bonuses over three or four. At level 3, the character will unlock the first increment of the item, and so forth.
Dividing the bonuses is a good idea.

I suppose you could even get magic items that come with additional magic powers and turn off those powers when the PC/NPC first gets the item. :)
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Re: Soulbound items in the tabletop game

Post by Bonetti » Fri May 01, 2015 4:35 pm

Big Mac wrote:I'm trying to think of some way (an in-character way) that a Soulbound item could be better. Perhaps it could be something that advances, as a character advances. :)
The obvious one to me is that an unused magic item can only resize X number of times, and it becomes soulbound (or at least fixed size) once it reaches the limit. So, let's say you find that fancy Plate Gauntlets +3 of Awesome (Clawsome?) Bearishness lurking in some Kolkar treasure chest. PeeCeeWon, the blood elf paladin, puts them on, and it resizes to her hands. Once that has been done, only someone with matching hand size could wear it. So, PeeCeeToo, the hulking tauren warrior, can no longer wear them.

It's already been pointed out that as a mechanic, soulbound and bind on [X] were created to prevent an exploitative market from forming. Pretty early in beta, people were reselling quest items that other players would be getting soon, and it was making the leveling experience somewhat unpleasant for those trying to participate in the economy. Also, those able to run whatever the toughest dungeon was were running it over and over, and selling the items to other players. In many cases, the players who bought them felt ripped off once they realized they could get them on their own, and it was having a very distorting effect. (Resulted in an item/gold wipe to fix it and start the economy over when they added soulbound/bind on [X] items.) Eventually, it also became a way to show off what one had done, e.g. only people actually doing Molten Core were wearing raid tier 1 gear.
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Re: Soulbound items in the tabletop game

Post by Big Mac » Wed May 20, 2015 12:31 pm

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I'm trying to think of some way (an in-character way) that a Soulbound item could be better. Perhaps it could be something that advances, as a character advances. :)
The obvious one to me is that an unused magic item can only resize X number of times, and it becomes soulbound (or at least fixed size) once it reaches the limit. So, let's say you find that fancy Plate Gauntlets +3 of Awesome (Clawsome?) Bearishness lurking in some Kolkar treasure chest. PeeCeeWon, the blood elf paladin, puts them on, and it resizes to her hands. Once that has been done, only someone with matching hand size could wear it. So, PeeCeeToo, the hulking tauren warrior, can no longer wear them.
I like that.

An item could perhaps even be bound to a specific race, based on the user who used up the last size change.
Bonetti wrote:It's already been pointed out that as a mechanic, soulbound and bind on [X] were created to prevent an exploitative market from forming. Pretty early in beta, people were reselling quest items that other players would be getting soon, and it was making the leveling experience somewhat unpleasant for those trying to participate in the economy. Also, those able to run whatever the toughest dungeon was were running it over and over, and selling the items to other players. In many cases, the players who bought them felt ripped off once they realized they could get them on their own, and it was having a very distorting effect. (Resulted in an item/gold wipe to fix it and start the economy over when they added soulbound/bind on [X] items.) Eventually, it also became a way to show off what one had done, e.g. only people actually doing Molten Core were wearing raid tier 1 gear.
I do understand that. It makes a lot of sense.

But normally, you can not raid rules that stop MMO players cheating and turn them into cool in-character things. I like your solution. It is kind of like the number of charges on a magic wand! It would be fun to secretly roll numbers for magic items in a WoW:RPG game, and then allow players to try giving magic items to different people. :)
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