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Wondrous Item pricing. Is it new math?

Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

Divide by (5 divided by charge per day)???
Multiply lower item cost by 1.5???
Spell level x caster level x 2,000gp unless the item lasts rounds, minutes, hours, days then multiply by 4,2,1.5 or divide in half???

The one complaint about the RPG Superstar competition is pricing a Wondrous Item. I spent almost as much time trying to price my item as I did developing the idea. Am I crazy or do the rules given for creating and pricing a Wondrous Item just not make sense? I tried looking at Wondrous Items that were already created and in the Core Rulebook, but 90% of them didn't seem to follow the rules given. As it was, I had to make the decision to either price my item using the formulae given or use my gut feeling for what my item was worth. Since the contest stressed being professional and accurate I decided to go with the formulae. Now, that being said, I could be completely wrong about how I calculated my item so I am hoping that people out there can give me a hand. I don't want to delve into my specific item but I would like some feedback from the community on how they do this in their own campaigns or for this contest.

Dark Archive

There have already been a few discussions on how pricing works, and the difficulty in getting the right balance between the formulaic price and where it stands compared to other similar items.

Probably the most relevant recent discussion is SKR's thread on pricing errors

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I have to admit pricing was difficult, and it becomes more difficult the more outside the box you go. For example, in my item the only part that really is covered by the formula of the wonderous items was the summoning aspect. I could within reason compare to an item that allowed you to cast a certain spell a number of times per day.

But the intimidation effects aren't really covered, they aren't ascociated with any of the listed bonuses, spell effect, special, or component of Table 15-29.

In the end I assumed that those effects were more like gaining access to a feat, and located items that was a feature (rods) and derived a pricing from there.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4

They don't always make sense actually. Sometimes you just have to wing it, compare your item to something similar, weigh the potency of abilities, the use of the item, lots of factors besides just a math problem.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

[Barbosa] They're more Guidelines than hard and fast rules[/Barbosa]

Seriously I understand your pain. It is an art as well as a science.

Dark Archive Contributor

Yeah, the guidelines are really just that- guidelines. They work great for basic spell-in-a-can items or straight bonus items, but fall apart when you try to do anything unusual with them (sometimes they fall apart at a rather alarming rate, too, like anything involving true strike). You need to get a decent baseline for what level people need to be for an item to be balanced and work from there. The wealth by level guidelines are invaluable for that, as are similarly powerful items.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, PFS RPG, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I’d be interested in getting some judge feedback on this thread.

That being said, here is the conundrum I faced:

1) I had a permanent widened continual flame effect on my item. If I cost this per an everburning torch, it costs 110gp (approximately the cost of a masterwork torch and the cost of a spellcaster casting a 3rd level spell). But you can’t turn the torch off. You can turn the searing vestment of the Dawnflower off by simply taking it off. Continual flame also only is 20 feet radius, my item was 40 feet. So now it’s a 6th level spell (Widened Spell feat). So perhaps it would be 220gp instead of 110gp.

The problem now, is that if I price this like a spell actually applied during magic item creation, it costs about 30 to 40 percent of the total cost of 68,000gp. This is how I priced it. It was way too expensive for essentially an everburning torch that you could turn on and off.

2) I included the Widen Spell feat in the requirements. It was my understanding that you include in the creation requirements the spells that would go into making the item. I was dinged for SIAC because I included Widen Spell in the requirements. But it wouldn’t have been SIAC if I just had it be a continual flame effect at 40 feet instead of 20 feet. So with that confusing feedback, how do I price it? Do I price it based on the widened spell, but not include that as a requirement. If it isn’t a requirement, why should I price it that way? Considering that this probably should have been a custom price rather than a price based on a spell applied to an item anyways, I suppose it doesn’t matter whether I include Widened Spell as a requirement or in the pricing.

It is just confusing when you get somewhat conflicting feedback on things. Some were dinged for not having the right spells or such in their requirements, and others were dinged for having the right things in there if it were an SIAC. So how much is too much?

Scarab Sages

Some of this is out of date, but it shows some of the thinking of one of the judges, and deals with some of the informal rules like "hands as chakra": Magic Item Creation.

Scarab Sages

Actually, I think if you're having trouble pricing your item you might be doing something right. If it's easy it's probably SIAC or SAK.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

I think I spent as much time crafting each of my possible submissions as I did pricing them. That being said, I ended up going by a pretty simple rule. After I wrote up each item, I decided whether it was a minor, medium, or major wondrous item. That gave me a rough framework. Then I looked at comparable items in that category. For my item, I decided that at a CL of 5 and that it can be used only once a day, that made it a minor wondrous item. Based on what it did, I decided it was at the higher end of the minor wondrous item pricing. Also, the Cloak of the Bat was a much more powerful item than mine and that cost about 26,000gp, so I knew mine definitely had to cost less. At first the judges thought it might be too cheap but they seemed to agree at the end it was pretty close to the correct price. I think it was Sean that said in an earlier thread that pricing is as much art as science. So while I don't think my pricing strategy is perfect, it certainly helped me.

Shadow Lodge

Over and over again this comes up and the answer is...

A little more than what an item that's less appealing costs and a little less than an item that is more desirable.

There are no rules for pricing items, the guidelines kind of help with a starting place but at some point you need to toss them and make a judgment call.

Kinda cheezy to have to make subjective pricing guesstimations when faced with needing 'correct pricing' in the eyes of judges...

Shadow Lodge

Shifty wrote:
Kinda cheezy to have to make subjective pricing guesstimations when faced with needing 'correct pricing' in the eyes of judges...

It's a contest for game designers, reading a set of rules and following a mathematical formula doesn't cut it.

Sure, but we are dealing with one set of subjectivity (concepts) that are supposed to be harmonising with fixed game mechanics - pricing is one such area that should be fairly objective.

Design comps notwithstanding, its the sort of thing that needs to be a bit more cut and dried for 'home campaigns' as well.

Shadow Lodge

The game system just doesn't work that way. A sword that causes the wearer to have a demonic appearing face when it's drawn out of the scabbard works just fine mechanically and might be priced as a first level on use item based on disguise self. An item that casts true strike when it's drawn out of it's scabbard won't work, and the pricing shouldn't be the same even though they are both based on first level spells.

The items where you can apply generic effects to them (Wands, potions, scrolls) are priced using hard/ fast formulas. There isn't a hard and fast set of rules you can use for wondrous items because they don't follow hard and fast rules (except for the most generic spells in a can).

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

0gre wrote:
A little more than what an item that's less appealing costs and a little less than an item that is more desirable.

Going in to a little more detail on this, I would add that you want to look at items at certain price thresholds. These thresholds are the stat-boosting items, the AC boosting items, and the saving throw boosting items(Basically the stuff that just gives you a constant +N to a relevant statistic).

You want your item then competitively priced with these items, by which I mean that a PC who can buy any magic item should feel torn between the extremely consistent and useful bonus of the +N item and the really cool effect of your new wondrous item. If the +N item is just clearly better value for the price, you might want to drop the price on your item. If every PC would always buy your new item over a +N item of the corresponding price level, the price for your item is too low.

Shifty wrote:
Design comps notwithstanding, its the sort of thing that needs to be a bit more cut and dried for 'home campaigns' as well.

Except that the guidelines just don't quite work. Go read the link that Arjomanes posted from SKR about why truestrike and mage armor mean you can't just price things off of the spell and caster level all the time. The intricacies of the system mean you have to do a little eyeballing sometimes.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Shifty wrote:
Sure, but we are dealing with one set of subjectivity (concepts) that are supposed to be harmonising with fixed game mechanics - pricing is one such area that should be fairly objective.

But such is "life in the fast lane" so to speak.

In the real world of publishing, authors are often forced to make judgment calls and then submit their work to a judge (in this case an editor) who may like or dislike the result based on reasoning that may seem arbitrary to the author.

Something I'd really like to see printed (in Ultimate Magic if I'm lucky) is a chapter on magic item creation.


First, the old 3.0/3.5/PF table expanded to fill in the gaps. For example
Single Use -- Spell Completion -- 25g
Single Use -- Use Activated ----- 50
Unlimited --- Spell Completion -- ???
Unlimited --- Use Activated ----- 2000

So, what about spell completion item that never runs out? I've let a player etch scrolls in metal and pay 1000 for a spell completion item with unlimited uses, but it would be great to have these rules printed. Partially for ease of use, partially to make them official, and partially to address which combinations should not be allowed.

Second, a handful of detailed examples would be invaluable.

Third, I'd like to see a list of special cases. True Strike, for example, could be called out for special attention.

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