Crafting Magical Items

In my experience, wizards and sorcerers are penalized slightly by the default magical item creation rules. They not only have to give up XP to create a magical item but also have to expend many feats to do so! Because of this, I have revised the default magical item creation rules for my non-low-magic campaigns.

Magic Item Creation Feats

First modification: there are only three magical item creation feats.

Feat Prerequisites Description
Craft Single-Use Item 1st-level spellcaster Allows creation of single-use magical items; replaced Brew Potions and Scribe Scrolls completely
Craft Charged Item 5th-level spellcaster Allows creation of charged magical items, not including use-per-day magical items
Craft Permanent Item 9th-level spellcaster Allows creation of permanently-enchanted magical items, including use-per-day type items

Note that the Craft Single-Use Item effectively replaces the Scribe Scrolls feat for those classes normally granted Scribe Scrolls as a class feature.

These new feats are use the same magical item creation rules as the old feats; they just serve to collect the old feats into a smaller number of feats. A potential variation I have considered but have not playtested involves separating out "use-per-day" type magical items from permanently enchanted items, making a total of four feats (possibly at levels 1, 3, 9, and 12).

Alternatives

  • Some very special situations could require an additional feat or a researched ritual. Examples would be magical trans-dimensional portals (Craft Portal feat or ritual) or golem creation (Craft Golem feat or ritual).

Experience Sharing

I also allow the experience-point cost of magical item creation to be shared amongst multiple people. This can be done with either a willing or an unwilling participant; however, using an unwilling participant is an evil act. An unwilling participant gets a Will save every hour (DC 10 + caster level + caster's relevant ability modifier) to resist the XP drain. Success means that no XP can be siphoned from that user during that hour (possibly delaying completion of the magical item), and 4 successes ruins the material components involved in the creation of the magical item. Siphoning XP from an unwilling participant in this fashion is an extremely painful experience for the victim and has been likened to the energy draining attacks of certain undead creatures.

There are some additional restrictions on this shared creation as well. The wizard in charge must contribute at least 1 XP per day to the creation of the magical item (to anchor the ritual). Also, using multiple enchanters modifies the DC of the creation check. Each member of the enchanting party trained in the relevant magical item creation feat can roll a craft check that, if successful, grants the lead caster a +2 to the magical item creation check. For each untrained member, however, the lead caster suffers an automatic -2 to the craft checks. Also, the untrained participants often feel uncomfortable during the magical item creation, as they are essentially being "gently attacked" by an energy drain type of attack.

Finally, every member contributing XP to the creation of the magical item must be present for the entire crafting ritual. The XP is drawn off at a fairly even pace each day (though this rule doesn't really matter unless creation is interrupted), so each person contributing XP loses some XP for each day of the ritual. No member contributing to the creation of the magical item go down a level due to this XP loss.

At the DM's discretion, you may rule that casters must seek out this experience-sharing knowledge specifically before they can share the XP cost of creating magical items.

Alternatives

  • Require that the master caster have a Steal Essence feat or class feature before being able to forcibly steal experience points from another creature for magical item creation.
  • Require an involved, relatively high-level Steal Essence spell be cast each day. Expensive material components and/or a long casting time could be required to restrict the usefulness of this spell.

Alternate Experience Sources

Another alternative, especially important to characters whose themes involve the crafting of many magical items (quite a drain on experience, and thus, on character level), is for the GM to determine specific substances that can provide virtual experience points when used in the crafting of certain magical items. For example, suppose a wizard wanted to craft a Cloak of Displacement and the experince point cost is, say, 2,500 xp. The DM might rule that by using the heart of a displacer beast in the crafting of the cloak, the wizard would gain 1,000 virtual xp for the purpose of crafting that particular magical item. The wizard can either go slay the displacer beast himself, or buy the heart (forcing the wizard to pay a lot of gold pieces for the experience point cost reduction). I believe rules for this kind of "gold-for-xp" and a list of appropriate items and their associated costs can be found in the sourcebook Unearthed Arcana. — Ted


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