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Ideal Magic Item Creation System


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


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First, what this thread isn't. It isn't about whether or not the current magic item system works. It isn't about whether or not the crafting feats should be nerfed or buffed. It basically has nothing to do with the existing system. So no need to post that the current system is or isn't working. Obviously, if you hate magic item crafting, then you shouldn't bother with this thread.

Now, my question is, assuming everything else was left alone (the classes, races, CR system, enemies, magic, WBL, etc.) but they completely redesigned the magic item system (potentially including the distribution of the crafting feats), including rebuilding all the items in the book (no cut and paste issues), what would you want out of such a system?

Personally, the biggest thing I'd want to see would be that the system was designed from the beginning with the idea that the players could make use of it (though of course the GM retains veto rights).

The second thing I'd like to see would be that the system has some flexibility to handle different campaign assumptions regarding the availability of spellcasting. Really, I suppose it'd be better to say that the system should include a guide for what assumptions need to be made for a high-magic world vs a low-magic world, or a high-level world vs a low-level world, and some info on how to adjust things.

A less important aspect I'd like to see would be for the system itself to be built to encourage more colorful items.

Ok, have at it. I doubt this will actually last more than 5 posts before it goes up in flames. :D


MagiMaster wrote:

First, what this thread isn't. It isn't about whether or not the current magic item system works. It isn't about whether or not the crafting feats should be nerfed or buffed. It basically has nothing to do with the existing system. So no need to post that the current system is or isn't working. Obviously, if you hate magic item crafting, then you shouldn't bother with this thread.

Now, my question is, assuming everything else was left alone (the classes, races, CR system, enemies, magic, WBL, etc.) but they completely redesigned the magic item system (potentially including the distribution of the crafting feats), including rebuilding all the items in the book (no cut and paste issues), what would you want out of such a system?

Personally, the biggest thing I'd want to see would be that the system was designed from the beginning with the idea that the players could make use of it (though of course the GM retains veto rights).

The second thing I'd like to see would be that the system has some flexibility to handle different campaign assumptions regarding the availability of spellcasting. Really, I suppose it'd be better to say that the system should include a guide for what assumptions need to be made for a high-magic world vs a low-magic world, or a high-level world vs a low-level world, and some info on how to adjust things.

A less important aspect I'd like to see would be for the system itself to be built to encourage more colorful items.

Ok, have at it. I doubt this will actually last more than 5 posts before it goes up in flames. :D

Well, I think that the existing item system already does most of that. 3.x introduced item creation as a PC/GM shared thing. Pathfinder even goes a step further and places the the entirety of the creation rules in the core handbook, as opposed to GM-specific.

When the current system, we get very accurate prices for the value of items, which works within the standard CR/WBL/etc system more or less perfectly.

Incidentally, the bit about dealing with high and low magic has nothing to do with the item creation rules themselves, but really needs to be covered in an in depth guide concerning both play styles, what to expect, how to deal with encounters, world economics, and so forth. Honestly, such things are beyond the scope of the item creation rules themselves, and would be more suited for being in its own section of a GM resource concerning world building.

I also think that the existing system encourages lots of colorful items. The sheer quantity of quirky items you can design solely by cycling around different spell effects is astounding. Over in the homebrew item thread you even posted a Pillow that makes people sleep when they lie on it, or bags with regenerating potions, exotic lanterns, and all kinds of stuff.

What I think the item system could use is some explanations. It's hard to understand just reading through it, even if the rules are actually very good. There's not a lot of help with actually building interesting and cool magic items. For example, you can totally build some exotic items that do cool things (I've mentioned a few homebrew items here on these boards that sound very exotic and flavorful, made using the system), but it doesn't explain how you go about doing it very effectively; and it has precious little explanation for how certain reductions and mechanics are used (for example, the -30% price reductions for alignment which are supposed to be used for specific themed items only), what goes into designing a good item, and what sorts of things should be avoided.

It might not be what you want to hear, but I'd cast my vote not for re-inventing the wheel, but for putting treads on it. There's a few things that came about in 3.5 that need to be implemented in the magic item rules. For example, many items that have abilities activated as free actions should probably be made swift-actions instead (which gives martials more uses for their swift actions and eliminates potential abuses of having lots of items modeled after boots of speed being activated repeatedly). In addition to this cleanup, we could add more effects and guidelines for those effects; based on existing items; and might finally be able to get or make a pricing formula for extra-dimensional spaces (like bags of holding), and speed boosters (I have a formula for these and caster level boosters); coupled with a detailed explanation for creating items that are both functional and interesting.

Would you, MagiMaster, like me to re-write the magic item creation rules with this extra material and post it here when it is complete? I will do this for you, if you wish it.


I kinda guessed you'd post something like that. :D

Anyway, I agree that the current system isn't really that bad, but I think it needs a little more than just a good (or even great) guide to make it really user-friendly.

(Here I go breaking my own rules.) The current system mostly consists of the one table and a lot of examples. The table's a good start, but it leaves a lot of details up in the air. The examples, on the other hand, are mostly copy-pasted from older editions (IIRC) and don't always follow the table. I think it really needs an expanded and more detailed table along with the guide.

I'm a bit sleepy, and I'm having trouble thinking of good examples of what I mean right now, but I'll try anyway. From the other thread, I had the lantern, the pillow and the shelf.
- The lantern increased the usefulness of the spell effect (Deathwatch) it duplicated by allowing everyone to see the aura. Theoretically, that should make it worth a bit more, but the existing example (Lantern of Revealing) has no such price increase.
- The shelf was basically a single item continually held up by a mage hand effect. That's a massive reduction in usefulness (and thematically should be easier to construct than Gloves of Mage Hand). By the table it'd cost way too much to be worth considering.
- The pillow cast Sleep, sort of. A lot of little details were changed around to make it an interesting item. Such changes are completely outside what's mentioned on the table. I think it came out a little overpriced, but reducing it to 1/day isn't a big deal in this case.

So where the current system basically says the GM can throw in some ad hoc reductions or increases, I'd like to see some common ones enumerated. Some guidelines for what is or isn't (or at least might or might not be) kosher when changing around spell details might also be nice.

I also think that the biggest potential for abuse (ignoring GM oversight) is in the use-activated items. The most often repeated example is an amulet of CLW. For a lot of parties, 2,000 gp is really cheap for always being at full health (you only need one to pass around). Of course, how game breaking that is depends on their play style. Personally, I'd just rule that everything has a uses per day limit or a charge limit, but I doubt it'll come up much. (I'm the one that wants to make stuff, so when I GM, no one else bothers much.)

Which reminds me, "must attune" should probably have a relatively standard value. I have no idea what it'd be though.

Oh yeah. The high magic/low magic thing does interact with the system a bit, but what I meant was that when writing such a system, some guidelines on how to tweak it to fit certain setting assumptions would be a good thing. For that specific example, in a high-magic setting, you'd mostly just use the table as is, but you might want to remove the 1000 gp a day limit. For a (certain kind of) low magic setting, you might want to force everything to have a charge limit, but maybe allow special recharge conditions for some items. (Still sleepy. Those are just examples.)

Well, all that said, I mostly like the current system. I don't mind continuing this conversation, but this thread was really supposed to be "what does the community want out of such a system" in a kind of pie-in-the-sky way. I don't actually intend to rewrite the system, though maybe someone else could use any ideas that come up.


Low magic is actually what I am grappling with right now. I am in the fun of world building, but to suite the setting assumptions I need to get rid of the "magic mart," in a sense. My world just doesn't fit the idea that you can go to your corner magic mart and get a +1 flaming sword from your local wizard.

In a sense low magic item setting could involve completely refluffing how one gets these bonuses, or would involve substantially changing the game to some degree because it is assumed magic items are abundant via the core rules.

Me I am trying to refluff the way certain bonuses are gotten. Things like +1, 2, 3... ect bonuses to armor and weapons for example are the main focus of my attention since I'd like to keep the stat's but change how they are gotten. My idea is simply to recast the +1, 2, 3... bonuses as martial and defensive training bonuses. In a sense the player simply pays a master trainer to teach them combat skills that make them better with their specific weapon or armor. Statistically the player still has a +1 Bronze Breast plate, or a +1 Khopesh, but they don't just have some magical item, they have an item they are skilled with that then can receive what my setting would deem "True Magic," stuff like Holy, Flaming, Shocking, Frost, Unholy, Ghost touch, which would be attained more like via quests. For example, only the Priests of a Fire Goddess know how to bless weapons with the Goddesses flames, but you must bring them materials. Natural armor bonuses (I.E. Amulets of natural armor) could be perhaps tattoos the player earns via gathering special inks, or some blessing from a God after giving a specific sacrifice. So on and so forth.

Statistically things remain the same, but the flavor and fluff are very different. This is about the only calibration someone can do for Low Magic IMHO since a genuine low magic setting would be a ton of leg work in Pathfinder.


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Given my druthers, I'd make Create Magic Item a single feat, which covers all of them, from Scribe Scroll to Create Staff. Heck, Wizards would get it as a first level bonus feat in place of Scribe Scroll. The level requirements would remain, however; no potions or Wondrous Items until 3rd level, no Wands/Arms&Armor until 5th, etcetera. Let spellcasters make various items without blowing heaps of feats. And I know that a lot of people consider these feats to be wealth multipliers or that getting custom items made to order is 'oh so powerful', this always assumes unlimited free time and available spare cash. So lucky if you have a lenient, free-giving GM. You could always make permanent magic items a bit harder to manufacture, rather than the current cobble-together-during-my-lunch-hour current rules.

Second, I'd make magic items scale with level. That +1 magic sword you found at 3rd level? At 9th level it's acting like a +3 sword. In your hands it IS a +3 sword. Ditch the upgrade cycle and let PCs concentrate on putting fun abilities on items rather than worrying about how big a plus is on it. So you can't get a +5 Sword at 4th level - how often did that happen anyways? This would also allow the sheer amount of gold given to players to be ratcheted back to believable levels, but that's a whole other thread (personally in favor of a silver standard).


An alternative approach:

I ignore ALL Item Creation Feats. (Magic Items that is.)

Why? In Fantasy literature, it is RARELY the Wizard who makes the "powerful widget of whacking." They may design a Lightning Wand or some such, but it's usually the Dwarven Blacksmith, who after achieving a heightened state of 'flow' and concentration; investing hours, days and weeks, exhausting himself to the bone: that he creates an item that is imbued with the powers of magic.

Use the basic Crafting system - And assume that those who can access 'powerful' materials, be it rubies and diamonds, to a dragon's scales; can make magic items based upon the materials.


maybe do a system where when they take the feat it only applies to certain magic items and effects. Like you take the feat for armor, but you can only apply the energy resist traits to it. Or if you take the feat you take it for weapons and then you are only good at applying energy damage with it, not properties like ghost touch or returning. So in a low magic setting there isnt the 'ye olde magic shop' on every corner selling +4 holy burst battle axes.

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