Magic items, whether they’re weapons or wands, are something every player looks forward to. You can find them as loot from enemies or, if you can find the right magic shop, you can buy something right off the rack. The question becomes, then, if you do find that magic shop, what do you buy?
This entry will begin a series of blog entries dealing with magic items, their mechanics, and what might make for the best item you can buy. In today’s Critical Hit to the Blog, I’m going to look at magical rings and what might be best for your character based on class. To do that, I’m going to look at a 5th level character, which is about where magical items start becoming commonplace.
First off, let’s take a look at ring mechanics.
Rings are almost always permanent items and anyone can use a ring. A character can only get the effect of two rings at a time. A third ring does not work. Rings are usually activated by a command word or they have a continuous effect. A very few (1 in 100) rings are intelligent and approximate 30% of rings will have a design, inscription, or something similar that will provide a clue to its function and activation. Rings with charges can never be intelligent.
If a ring has a specific method of activation, this method is up to the DM, possibly with player input.
According to the d20 Pathfinder System Reference Document (Character Advancement), a 5th level character should have right around 10,500 gold pieces. Let’s take a look at what you can get for 10,500 gp.
There are 14 rings available for 10,500 gp, but if you can convince a friend to load you another 300 gold pieces, you can add a 15th, ring of animal friendship.
Let me state for the record that the ring of feather falling is never a bad buy for anybody. You never know when you’re going to get to the top of the wizard’s tower and be bull rushed out a window. If you see piles of bones at the bottom of the tower, you’ll know what to expect.
Now, based on class skills, you might want to look at the rings of climbing, jumping, or swimming, or their improved variants. If you run into these types of checks frequently, then they are certainly good buys, as the regular rings provide a +5 competence bonus to those checks and the improved rings give a +10 competence bonus.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that when a Barbarian goes into Rage, he takes a -2 penalty to his armor class. Two rings can overcome this: ring of protection +2 and the ring of force shield. Both rings give a +2 to armor class, the ring of protection is a deflection bonus, while the force shield is a shield bonus. The only thing is that, read as written, the ring of force shield is wielded as it were a heavy shield. That means the wearer has to use a one-handed weapon. If that’s the way you run your Barbarian, then the force shield is for you. If you prefer a two-handed weapon, then I would suggest the ring of protection +2.
The Bard can benefit from the same two rings I suggested for the Barbarian, the ring of protection +2 and the ring of force shield. But, since the party’s Bard has the Fighter and Barbarian to get him out of trouble, then there are two other options to consider.
First, there’s the ring of counterspells. This ring will absorb a spell of up to 6th level and, if that spell is cast on the wearer again, the spell from the ring is cast as a counterspell immediately. Bards don't seem like they would need this ring, as they get the Countersong ability at 1st level, but that ability only effects spells that are sound based. If you’re going up against a wizard who absolutely loves the fireball spell, this might not be a bad pick.
Secondly, there’s the ring of mind shielding. This ring makes the wearer continually immune to the spells detect thoughts and discern lies, as well as any attempts to magically determine the wearer’s alignment. If your Bard is prone to getting himself in trouble with the law, this option can’t be overlooked.
The ring of counterspells and the ring of protection are obvious choices for a Cleric, as is the ring of force shield, since most Clerics choose one-handed weapons.
However, another ring to consider is the ring of the ram. Clerics generally aren’t know for their Dexterity, so their use of ranged weapons tends to be mediocre until they can cast area effect spells. To counter this, they could use the ring of the ram. This ring has 50 charges and by using 3 charges, the wearer deals 3d6 points of damage at a range of 50 feet and if the target is within 30 feet, they’re subject to a Bull Rush attempt. Now, this is still a ranged attack, but dealing a potential 18 points of damage and pushing the enemy away is worth the attempt in my book. The ring of the ram also opens doors with varying strength based on the number of charges used.
With a little help from your friends, you could get the ring of animal friendship. This would give you the benefit of preparing another spell in places of charm animal. The various rings of climbing, jumping, or swimming would also look tempting, as they would help your Wild Shape form even more.
However, I would suggest the ring of protection +2. The reason for this suggestion is that while worn wondrous items continue to function, any armor and shields you carry cease to function in Wild Shape, possibly decreasing your armor class. Any +2 you can get to armor class will always come in handy.
The two obvious choices here would be the ring of protection +2 and the ring of force shield, for reasons similar to the Barbarian. These are perfectly good choices because they will both give a +2 to your armor class and both are easily used, depending on what type of weapon you prefer.
Another choice to consider is the ring of sustenance. This ring means you don’t have to eat or drink and allows you to gain the benefits of eight hours of sleep after sleeping for two hours. That means you can recover your full hit point per level in just two hours and the party can sleep easier knowing that the best combatant (probably) is awake and alert on guard duty.
Again, the ring of protection +2 seems like a very tasty option. Since a Monk can’t wear armor without losing a lot of class abilities, this is a very good choice. As I said with the Druid, any +2 you can get to your armor class is always worth it.
But, because a Monk has Acrobatics as a class skill and at 5th level, the Monk adds his Monk level to any Acrobatics check for both vertical and horizontal jumps, plus always being considered running, a Monk also can spend a Ki point to add a +20 to their Acrobatics check made to jump, the ring of improved jumping means and extra +10 on Acrobatics checks to jump. At 5th level, a Monk with a Dexterity of 14 (+2) and maxed out Acrobatics (+9 total) who uses a Ki point to get the +20 to Acrobatics also gets a +4 for having a base land speed higher than 30 ft. and uses the ring (+10), gets a total bonus of (5+9+20+4+10) +48 to add to their d20 roll. You can only jump as far as your movement, which for a 5th level Monk is 40 ft. and the DC for that jump is 40. Easy peasy.
As with the Barbarian and the Fighter, the ring of protection +2 and the ring of force shield are the two optimum picks. This time, I can’t actually argue for picking any ring other than one of those two. The ring of counterspells maybe. The ring of the ram maybe. But since Paladins are almost always in melee combat, anything they can get to make it hard to hit them is the most valuable.
The ring of protection +2 is the obvious choice in this situation. The Ranger often acts as a scout and is therefore often on their own. If the Ranger has taken the Archery combat style, then the ring of force shield wouldn’t be a bad choice, either.
For my money, though, I would get one of your richer friends to chip in and get you a ring of animal friendship. The reason for this is that the Ranger’s numbers of spells are very limited, with only having one spell slot, not counting bonus spells, at 5th level. If you use that spell slot for speak with animal, then you can combine the that spell with the ring to make your woodland friends more helpful. They could become extra scouts and defenders if necessary.
For the Rogue, I can see four excellent choices. First, the ever popular ring of protection +2. The benefit here is obvious.
Secondly, there’s the ring of climbing or its improved version. When you’re doing second-story work, climbing is absolutely essential and you want to be as good at it as possible.
Thirdly, there’s the ring of mind shielding. The spell detect thoughts works in a cone, so the user doesn’t even need to know you’re there. Once they get you in the cone, though, they know there’s someone there and will focus on that area. This ring prevents that.
The fourth and final ring is the ring of sustenance. Simply go to sleep at midnight and at 2 am, you can be up and refreshed and out taking other people’s stuff! This would also allow you, if you want to help the party, to scout the enemy’s defenses at a time when you’re less likely to be seen and the guards themselves are more likely to be tired.
For these two classes, the ring of counterspells seems like a natural fit. These are the characters most likely to get into a magical slugfest where a ring like this would make the most sense.
The ring of protection +2 is also another good choice. Since these two spellcasters can’t wear armor without a chance that their spells won’t work, beefing up their armor class mystically is the way to go.
This one may be a little surprising, but these two could also use the ring of force shield. The shield itself has no armor check penalty and no chance of arcane spell failure. This could be essential if the mage finds themselves in melee combat, which they never want to do, or they are ambushed. In melee, the mage could use the shield and his dagger without penalties, so this is also an attractive option. This is especially tasty if the mage has taken a level in a class that gives him access to martial weapons.
Well, there you have rings. Plenty of choice to be made when you have enough cash. Just remember that you can pick any ring that you want if you think it will make your character fun and interesting. Next time, I'll be looking at rods, so make sure to check back soon.
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