See, this is exactly why I suggested not derailing your thread. I haven't seen a good, non-hardocre "need this for X combo, for jumping through Y hoop" writeup on stuff for ages now. You did make me smile, and want to join in with a bunch of confirmations and thoughts of my own.
First, on the subject of ending up with small inventory slots full of, say pine needles, it would be an awesome way to teach newbies to stay away from certain monsters unless they can one shot them
I'd love it ^^ It would also probably help teach them about conversions, inventory managment and debuffs that are annoying and that you can feel but don't comletely shut you, or your class down. This is the exact reason I like suggesting the "alternate resource pests" every so often - non-lethal but meaningful hazards.
Id also love it if bandits stole your gold, but you could beat them up to get it back
As for the items, I like what you have to say on Fire Heart - those are my exact reasons not to like it. Add to that the fact that the combo was silly powerful even before the buff bonanza, I'd rather see fireball changed in some way than having it rely on this for endame. Also, it makes Battlemage Ring look bad, and it's not so bad.
On the subject of Soul Orb, and Poison Ward - I wrote an informative bit on Soul Orb and how it affects the metagame and balance in Frans Game Philosophy thread. It's long, but it's accurate, and I'd prefer the good stats (small slot, low cost, nice conversion rate) transferred to a less powerfull and neccesary item. It also be really glad if the factors that MADE Soul Orb so important in higher end play to be dealt with instead, but I'd still buy it if it was mroe expensive, large and had no conversion, while I'd buy anything with those stats just because of the stats... I know it's a begginers friendly item, but it's also a powergamer's delight & necessity, that has conversion friendly stats on a non-conversion friendly item.
Venom Blade - and here's an example. If this had Soul Orbs characteristics, like you said...
Whichalok pedant - I've used it as with stacked resists 10% more is quite good, but it can be made more usefull in numerous ways. Wether tying it to another spell, changing fireball, not sure, but I'd love to see it "buffed for testing".
Mage plate is not worth unlocking really - casters have the "Fire Heart" (and lately Crystall Ball) is the necessary prep, and I think it's cost conversion rate is not the best.
Troll Heart and Sensation stone I actually like - now that they nerfed the stone ofc, back then it was retarded. It's pretty good now too, but the C levels had been brought down all over, so it's not insane anymore. I wich troll heart's conversion rate wasn't lowered so much, picking something up, getting an effect, and getting a free inventory slot is better than most people think, especially in Gaan'Telet - the new one revolves around using your popcorn and inventory space wisely more than anything.
Mercenary Badge - you can't buy it more often, I don't think anyone buys it as often as they would want for three reasons - 1) You always want it. It's very, very, very good item. 2) It's large and takes up space if you don't convert it right away, but if you convert it you lose out on the 10% bonus which you payed for. 3) It costs 1/3 of max starting gold. In theory the price for effect is right, in practice it's always "If I get this, than I don't get that" and this ting somehow always stays in the shop for me. Which is why I think it might use a tweak of some sort.
And concerning small items - you wouldn't believe how bad tihs gets in Gaan'Telet for me. You need stuff in there. You need your shrunken down dragonshield, you need your fireball, you need patches untill lvl 10, you need crytall ball, you need the potions, you need the knockback mace. Sometimes there are situations where you have to convert something usefull, in order to keep something useless but necessary for a specific floor just so you can ick up the orb that destroys Illusions on the Illusion floor. And small items pile up fast (hp pot, mana pot, dragonshield, soul orb, blue bead - you're done, and you can't NOT have any of those). Except for the bead, but I've had to pick TT's potions one at the time to stack dodge pretiction because of this.