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williamoak's guide to construct crafting


Advice

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I love constructs. Being an engineer by trade, I've always preferred loyal machines to treacherous summons or slavering undead. However, there was no significant amounts of information on which constructs were best, and what ways to use them most effectively. So I decided to make a guide on the subject. I have trawled the forums for information, and I have scoured the d20pfsrd for knowledge, and I now have the beginnings of a guide on construct crafting.

williamoaks construct crafting guide

So, despite the silly introduction, I am looking for help to improve this guide. I'm not a terribly experienced player, but I am currently in a game where I'm starting to experiment with constructs. However, I would love to know what more experienced players think. How have you effectively used constructs? How have constructs effectively abused you? This can be useful both for the player wanting to craft constructs, and the DM wanting to use new enemy types. So what tips do you guys have? How do you think I can improve this guide?

I'm trying to see how to make the best of this less than optimal aspect of the game.


One of my players recently expressed a desire to make a construct crafter, Ill make sure he keeps his eye on this.


The problem with most golems isn't the price as much as that their CR is lower than the caster level required to make them. This means you can generally only make golems that are low powered compared to your expected encounter ratings.

Though to my mind using constructs as cannon fodder (Animated Objects) is a very expensive option overall. Graven Guardians are probably better than Terra Cotta Warriors, they have all sorts of customization, DR5/adamantine (rather than DR5/bludgeoning), can haste themselves, have fast healing 2. Their faith-based weakness is fairly small unless an enemy knows your tactics.

I personally consider the Caryatid Column to be pretty good for its cost. DR5/- and immunity to most magic, shatter weapons all make it quite decent defensively. Which is good, because they're supposed to be traps, not cannon fodder.

You should include Figurines of Wondrous Power in this article. While not construct class creatures, they're roughly equivalent.


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Thanks for the tips Helic, I had forgotten about the figurines. I'll check out your other comments. I havent exhaustively checked out every construct, so I've been relying on CR as a sort of barometer of power. And it is a poor barometer for power. This is why I started the thread.

And yeah, the CR vs CL required problem is pretty significant. But that's there for most constructs. I'll have to be more explicit about it.

Note: If anybody has any comments about the "shield guardian" ability, I' d love to hear them. The ability looks cool, but i'm not sure it's worth the expense.

As for animated objects, the most frequent tip I,ve heard for construct crafting was to use swarms of lesser animated objects.


I am in a PbP currently where our remaining wizard has constructed a shield guardian from the remains of multiple creatures slain over the course of many levels of adventuring. (We are currently 16th level.) His constructs name is 'Claw', due to one appendage. :)

I know that at least a couple of times the shield guardian ability has probably saved the wizards life in difficult battles. And I'd have to look at his stats again, but the golem was basically built to cover the loss of multiple team mates (mostly due to player attrition in PbP) and has been a most powerful meat shield and front line combatant when needed.

I shall make sure he sees this link to your guide.
And I do not believe he'll mind if I link you to his PC page so you can see his golems stats to see how he built it.

Most interesting thread, thanks. Dotting for future watching. :)


Ive added a bit on construct modifications. As people give me more comments, I'll get more stuff on specific constructs.
Note: One thing I'm not sure about is the shield guardian cost for a crafter. The wording seems to suggest they're describing the purchase of the upgrade from someone (which would mean extra price=45500) but they always use "cost" in the description, suggesting that it's the crafting cost (which would mean extra price=+2*45500). Have there been any rulings on the subject?


So,Ive started taking a look at how to price/create your own golems. The weird formula is:

CR (base) + 0 (first special ability), +1 (next 2 special abilities), +1 (for every extra special ability).

The example they give is the iron golem, but there are some cases I cant explain:

The terra cotta soldier:
Abilities:
DR/5 bludgeoning, Immune to fire, rank fighting, keen weapons, and it's intelligence of 1

So, this seems to be 4 special abilities. The base CR is 6. Thus, I would assume for price purposes:

Price= 500^2 *(6+3)=40500

However, there are a few things: Both DR5/Bludgeonning and immune to fire are "inferior" to other examples (like immunity to magic or DR/adamantine) so that might reduce the cost. So, let's assume for argument's sake that those abilities give +0 CR. That would give:

Price= 500^2 *(6+2)=32000

That's still 5000 gold above the cost. So I guess those other abilities must be inferior too? Even if we don't count any of the powers, the price becomes:

Price= 500^2 *(6)=18000 Whitch is the closest I can find. So basically, none of these abilities "count"?

So I'm trying to come up with something consistent. I've seen a few threads with similarly inconsistent results.

This kinda worries me, cause this makes it that any construct I design will fly into the "DM fiat" pricing territory. I'll continue with the creation of some examples (I namely want to make a better custom terra cotta soldier) but I'll have to emphasize the reliance on DM judgment.


As far as I can tell, construct pricing seems to run on the SWAG principle (Sweet Wild @55 Guess).

Swarms of small animated objects will work, but(!), you're talking about a LOT of in-game management (more than most castings of Summon Monster) and they'll be hopeless against anything with decent DR.

Shield Guardian should be the main motivation for any spellcaster to take Craft Construct. With Shield Another and Fast Healing 5, it's a huge boost to survivability and makes golems worth building, but it's also a huge investment (by and large, most of the lesser golems aren't worth the money to add on Shield Guardian - Glass might be, but Stone or Clockwork are probably the 'cheapest' ones worth making into a Shield Guardian.

I'm not sure if you can only make Shield Guardians out of Golems, but it seems to be implied.

It would be best to add required caster level to the table of constructs; that and actual required caster level in cases where a high level spell is involved. A lot of constructs seem to require Arcane/Divine collaboration in their choice of spells and that's another consideration; anyone going it alone should probably have Skill Focus: Spellcraft as one of their feats to compensate for 'missing' spells (not to mention maxed out Spellcraft skill).

Clockworks look like very bad deals, considering they're all Vulnerable to Electricity.


Here is a link to Claw the Golem's PbP character sheet. (Yes, the golem gets his own PC sheet & avatar) ;)

However, I didn't see any prices/costs listed, although I recall the creator and DM having a many conversations about it. Vattnisse probably still has records of how they computed it. I'm sure if you ask him he'll be happy to share. :)

Claw, either way, is a beast, literally. And I'm glad he's on my side! :)

Nice work sir, please keep it up. I'm finding this thread informative.


Well, I've been adding feats & traits, and I've made a few examples of crafted constructs (inspired by preexisting constructs).

I've looked at claw, and I'll admit he seems to be outside of standard rules; as far as I've heard, golems arent allowed to wear armor, especially if they have no int (which is a special ability in it's own). Still, if the DM is willing to allow it, no problem. We wont see any constructs in pathfinder society lets say.

I've included skill focus as an important skills. However, do we even need spellcraft? The only construct where they specify it is for animated objects, everything else relies on craft skills. However, my DM has houseruled spellcraft for all construct crafting. I'll stick by RAW for the moment.

I'll try to do a CBE for the shield guardian on several golems. I'll also include some crafting examples eventually.

Note: I already have a basic table with all the requirement, but it was over-large. I'll make a separate table with requirements (IE required CL, min spell level, cost, etc).


As I understand it, Craft Construct operates under the same rules as all Item Creation Feats. There is a Craft DC for the creation of the body (listed in the construct's entry), but the actual enchantment of the golem will be either a Spellcraft or (appropriate) Craft skill roll equal to 5 + Caster Level of Construct, with a penalty of -5 for every requirement that is missed.

It is therefore most efficient to specialize in Spellcraft rather than multiple Craft skills, as Spellcraft will always apply (and you'll have Craft Wondrous Item and Craft Magic Arms and Armor regardless, and use Spellcraft with those in many cases).


Helic wrote:

As I understand it, Craft Construct operates under the same rules as all Item Creation Feats. There is a Craft DC for the creation of the body (listed in the construct's entry), but the actual enchantment of the golem will be either a Spellcraft or (appropriate) Craft skill roll equal to 5 + Caster Level of Construct, with a penalty of -5 for every requirement that is missed.

It is therefore most efficient to specialize in Spellcraft rather than multiple Craft skills, as Spellcraft will always apply (and you'll have Craft Wondrous Item and Craft Magic Arms and Armor regardless, and use Spellcraft with those in many cases).

That's the thing, while that's how I understood it originally, I've seen no clear indication that you CAN use spellcraft, except for animated objects. All other magical objects offer specific alternatives. I could be wrong, but in every other case they specify you can use spellcraft (as it is for animated objects). However, using spellcraft is definitly an appropriate houserule (my DM is using it). But it isnt worth it making a guide built around house rules.

Edit: It's possible that you actually need spellcraft (for the enchantment) and the craft check (for the actual item). It's the case with all other items after all. You've got to build the thing before enchanting it.


Well, with animated objects you've already got the item made, so it's just Spellcraft. That and it's pretty much any object you can think of, so putting a Craft DC would be kind of impossible.

Remember that you can also have someone else make the construct's body for you (specific example is the Homonculus); having Craft skills isn't actually necessary - and given the cost of some of the bodies, you either subcontract it or use Fabricate - though given the limits of Fabricate with respect to inorganic material, it may not be possible.


I guess for the moment i'll consider that spellcraft is necessary for everything, and the other skills are necessary to build the body (and it can be subcontracted). It would make everything match with animated objects.

I'll use that as my standard.

Though if you check the the magic items page, they say you can use craft skills to enchant, which is kinda screwy.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items

Just ctrl-f for spellcraft, and you'll see a bunch of other skills are allowed.


I've got a basic example of a 13th level construct crafter. I'll add a bunch of these as examples for several different classes.

Ibn Al Jaffa

He's a metal elemental school wizard/mage of the third eye. He's got a small commando of terra-cotta soldiers to defend him, as well as a special CR8 construct bodyguard. I might eventually make a shield gardian of him for a higher level build.


Helic wrote:

The problem with most golems isn't the price as much as that their CR is lower than the caster level required to make them. This means you can generally only make golems that are low powered compared to your expected encounter ratings.

Are you sure that this statement is correct. I was under the impression that the caster level requirement for a magic item was not a hard and fast requirement - rather it can be bypassed by a +5 DC to the spellcraft check. Presumably this would also apply to constructs; they are magic items after all.


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One fun change to Animate Undead in PF is that zombies no longer require a skeletal structure, just a corporal body.

This means you can animate a lot of constructs for a lot cheaper than making them properly. Graven Guardian goes from being overpriced to a nicely customizable minion (remember undead keep SLA and abilities that improve their attacks) with neat flavor (you are building icons to gods to defile them). Any GM is completely within grounds to ban this on site though.


Dotting


I like the guide. As an avid item crafting lover, I've felt that construct construction has needed some loving for a long time.

I will say this, though. Don't underestimate the Lore Oracle when it comes to crafting constructs (or anything else); Focused Trance will give a Lore Oracle a +20 circumstance bonus on any intelligence-based skill check, which includes spellcraft. With the intelligence boost from their Mental Acuity, I'd say a Lore Oracle could easily trump a wizard when making the crafting checks.

You do have a point about the limited spells known issue, but it's a minor hurdle, not a game breaker; playing a human, half-orc, or half-elf will provide bonus spells known, and there are always Pages of Spell Knowledge.


Thanks for the info King Of Crossroads; I'll admit to not knowing the oracle too well. But seeing how most of the useful spells for construct crafting arent that great in battle, they wouldn't be an obvious choice.

However, can they really learn more spells? The whole "oracle spells known" table seems pretty rigid. I'll take note of the lore oracle though.

As for pad300: While the basic "cl X" requirement isnt rigid (it's simply an indicator of DC). However, if the requirement specificaly mentions "must be of CL X or higher", I've always seen it considered a hard limit. If somebody knows a place where they talk about this specifically, I'd like to know. If it's a mere +5, could be manageable.

Not sure about what deuxhero is talking about. Constructs aren't living, so you cant use animate undead on their corpses as far as I know (except, perhaps, and those that once where living, like flesh golems). And animate objects doesnt allow the maintenance of SLAs (unfortunately).

An undead creation guide would be another interesting project, but not for now.


pad300 wrote:
Helic wrote:

The problem with most golems isn't the price as much as that their CR is lower than the caster level required to make them. This means you can generally only make golems that are low powered compared to your expected encounter ratings.

Are you sure that this statement is correct. I was under the impression that the caster level requirement for a magic item was not a hard and fast requirement - rather it can be bypassed by a +5 DC to the spellcraft check. Presumably this would also apply to constructs; they are magic items after all.

You're right in that it's not an absolute requirement - but that +5 DC is likely to be atop other raises in DC because some golems require spells from two different casters, or high level spells.

Clay Golem: CL11/CR10, requires Animate Objects (6th), Commune (5th), Resurrection (7th). An 11th level caster is only +5 DC to make this due to lack of Resurrection, so this one's feasible.

Flesh Golem: CL8/CR7, Geas/Quest (6th), Limited Wish (7th). Realistically you need to be 11th level to make this; a 7th level caster is facing down +15 DC, 8th level +10 DC.

Ice Golem: CL12/CR5, Cone of Cold (5th), Geas/Quest (6th), Ice Storm (4th). This one is really bad; a CR5 golem that you need to be CL12 to make, and at least 11th level to make with only +5 DC.

Iron Golem: CL16/CR13, Cloudkill (5th), Geas/Quest (6th), Limited Wish (7th), Polymorph Any Object (8th). Even when you're 13th level you're missing one spell and thus will be +10 DC. DC36 is attainable at 13th level, but not without Skill Focus or skill boosting items.

Stone Golem: CL14/CR11, Antimagic Field (6th), Geas/Quest (6th), Limited Wish (7th), Symbol of Stunning (7th). At 11th level you're missing 2 spells and thus +15 DC, at 13th level you're +5 DC (possibly +10 DC if you have only 1 spell slot for 7th level spells).

Wood Golem: CL12/CR6, Animate Objects (6th), Geas/Quest (6th), Limited Wish (7th). Another terrible one where you must be at least 11th level to make a CR6 golem.

So yeah, theoretically it's possible to make these golems where your caster level equals the CR of the golem, but realistically if you're not very near the Caster Level listed and not specialized in Spellcraft, your chances are very low.

I stand by my statement.


Unless somebody has something good to say about a non-houseruled "construct armor" modification, I'm going to put it in red. This FAQ pretty much makes it fairly useless:

http://paizo.com/products/btpy8k8r/faq?Pathfinder-Roleplaying-Game-Ultimate -Magic#v5748eaic9op2

Although there is no clear answer on it's effect on other non-defensive abilities.


deuxhero wrote:
One fun change to Animate Undead in PF is that zombies no longer require a skeletal structure, just a corporal body.

The very first line of Animate Dead specifies corpses. You don't get to use Animate Dead on constructs.

You MIGHT be able to do this on a Flesh Golem, but given that it's stitched together from multiple bodies, it hardly counts as a mostly intact corpse.


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So, I've built up a small construct cleric. I was able to find some nice abilities to complement the construct crafting; a form of variant chanelling allows the cleric to heal/harm constructs, so I'll add that to the guide. It might be harder to do in golarion itself (I used a random deity) but it can work surprisingly well.

Laqueron

So I've upped the rating of the cleric to go along with these discoveries.


So, I've updated the document with a table comparing the crafting requirements.

I'm more convinced than ever that you require both a crafting check and a spellcraft check, since, according to the crafting rules, they get different DCs.

We've also got a larger, updated list of constructs not needing a minimum CL:

Animated Objects
Cobras
Guardian Gargoyle
Homunculus
Sentinel Hut
Ship in a bottle
Skull ripper
Soulbound doll
Urannag

I might eventually add a "number of spells required column", but it's starting to get bigger than the page.


williamoak wrote:

Unless somebody has something good to say about a non-houseruled "construct armor" modification, I'm going to put it in red. This FAQ pretty much makes it fairly useless:

http://paizo.com/products/btpy8k8r/faq?Pathfinder-Roleplaying-Game-Ultimate -Magic#v5748eaic9op2

Although there is no clear answer on it's effect on other non-defensive abilities.

My opinion is that with a custom construct, it can be pretty damn good for clerics. If said construct has either or fast healing or high DR, it's a big HP reservoir in melee combat.

Consider a terra cotta soldier - 64 hp and DR 5/Bludgeoning. Add a custom fast healing ability... That's a lot of HP, and it doesn't hurt a clerics AC much (if at all), what with Magic Vestment.


I was reading the rules and I wasn't sure, so I figure I'll ask here and maybe it can then be added to the guide or cleared up at least.

When making an animated object, it says you can increase the amount of CP you use by 2 for each +1 to CR you add to the animated object (and thus DC I would assume). Is this correct? That seems really good getting 2 CP for just +1 DC to create.


pad300 wrote:


My opinion is that with a custom construct, it can be pretty damn good for clerics. If said construct has either or fast healing or high DR, it's a big HP reservoir in melee combat.

Consider a terra cotta soldier - 64 hp and DR 5/Bludgeoning. Add a custom fast healing ability... That's a lot of HP, and it doesn't hurt a clerics AC much (if at all), what with Magic Vestment.

The whole problem is, the cost of adding the construct armor modification is more than that of a shield guardian (which ends up at about 25000) vs 35000 for the construct armor. But yes, I can see this work better with clerics (I tried that for the previous cleric build) but it simply came out too expensive. That's not even counting the fact that certain forms of damage simply go through the armor. Not great.

But yeah, it would work considerably better with a custom construct.

Lantern Lodge

1st off i have to say i did not read your guide since it would not open for me. 2nd, constructs are cool and im glad to see some1 working a guide for them since im to lazy to work one up my self lol.

The constructs i like the most from the Pathfinder list are the Clockwork creatures since one of them has the ability to heal other clockworks and Rune Guardian Wrath with Magic missile. The Clockworks are a tad expensive for constructs but are worth it as body guards, flankers, and decent dpr attackers. The Rune Guardian Wrath is bar far the best construct in game. There cheap to make and can perform Magic Missile as an at will ability. My wizard at one point had 16 Rune Guardians hovering around her releasing Magic Missile volleys.

You are gonna have to ask your DM if you can use 3.5 spells if not your gonna have to invest cash into researching the spells. The spells btw are called Repair Spell. They work exactly like the Cure spells but they can only be used on creatures with the Construct type.


Nice to see you contributre Psion-Psycho. Sorry to hear you cant read it (you might need a google account).

I've already noted rune guardians as interesting constructs in the guide, as well as the clockworks.

P.S.: If somebody else has problems with the guide, please tell me.

We've got 2 healing spells in pathfinder for constructs: make whole (max 5d6) and rapid repair (which gives the construct fast healing 5). There's also a variant form of chanelling that can heal constructs.

I've also started working on a fighter that uses master craftsman. I've made him a bruiser to reduce the amount of necessary feats:

Dwarf Lore Warden

Str 18 Dex 14 Con 14 Int 14 Wis 14 Cha 8

1 Power Attack, Skill focus (spellcraft)
2 Cleave
3 Skill focus (clockwork)
4 Step up
5 Master Craftsman
6 Medium Armor Proficiency
7 Craft Wondrous Items
8 Improved critical (falchion)
9 Craft magic arms and armor
10 Heavy armor proficiency
11 Craft Construct

I'll try to have a build up later. This might actually be playable as some sort of warrior-engineer.


williamoak wrote:


Dwarf Lore Warden

11 Craft Construct

Unless I'm missing something, this is illegal. Master Craftsman lets you use your Craft skill as if it was Caster Level for Craft Wondrous and Craft Magic Arms and Armor. But not Craft Construct, which has a Caster Level 5th requirement. So no Caster Level with respect to Craft Construct means you cannot take that feat.


Ah crap, I had thought I had a non-caster alternative. Oh well.


In second edition DnD there were Magen, intelligent (but not free willed) constructs which could be created at relatively low levels. An enterprising Pathfinder player with access to those books could stat those critters up and use them as a substitute for actual golems.

And also, despite the fact that normal Golem's are low CR compared to the caster level, that doesn't make them entirely ueseless: Most Golems are immune to most kinds of magic and can only be harmed by Adamantine weapons, which means they can still give even mid to high level foes a little trouble.


If you feel like stating a construct CrinosG, go ahead. I've got a few examples of my own, and I'm accepting stuff from others (I've got a couple from ravingdork's emporium, with his permission). I'll gladly add them to my list of examples.


Well, I'm kinda new to Pathfinder (I was into 3e/3.5, but I've mainly been playing Mutants and Masterminds, but I would like to try making Pathfinder products eventually) so I may try and write up some second edition monsters on the Conversion book.


Third Mind wrote:

I was reading the rules and I wasn't sure, so I figure I'll ask here and maybe it can then be added to the guide or cleared up at least.

When making an animated object, it says you can increase the amount of CP you use by 2 for each +1 to CR you add to the animated object (and thus DC I would assume). Is this correct? That seems really good getting 2 CP for just +1 DC to create.

I'll have to recheck, I'll try to have an answer tommorrow.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Animated objects are some of the best constructs you can make. Cheap, powerful, customizable, and easily replaced--not to mention they take next to no damage from energy attacks thanks to hardness.

Animate a stone wall and you can even argue it is immune to weapon damage unless attacked by an appropriate weapon, such as a pick or hammer.


I'll have to put more on the animated objects customizability. Maybe rate their different abilities.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Don't forget that Ultimate Magic adds tons of other customizability options, not just to animated objects, but to all constructs.


Since Constructs are expensive one has to avoid them being destroyed at all costs:

Rapid Repair should a really important spell, if you reach sufficient levels: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/ultimateMagic/spells/rapidRepair.html#_r apid-repair

And Make Whole is even more important: http://paizo.com/prd/spells/makeWhole.html

Now you can recreate destroyed constructs.

ANOTHER BIG TIPP FROM ME WOULD BE: Remember you can sell your constructs like magic Items. Doing so will allow you to build a stronger one, when you regain your money. With the Hedge magician you can even get a small profit, since you will need every coin you can get.


@ ravingdork:

I've already rated most of the UM construct mods (although, since I havent actually seen most of them in action, it's a rather provisional rating)

@I3igAl:

Most of what you mentionned is in the guide (alhtough i might have forgotten to mark the heal spells, since they dont go into crafting).

Thanks for pointing out hedge magician. Considering construct cost, this trait can give you MASSIVE boosts.

Is everyone having access problems on the file?


Dot, I say!


Think specific mention of the Wizard Universalist Arcane Crafter - http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/wizard/arcane-schools/paizo--- arcane-schools/classic-arcane-schools/universalist/arcanamirium-crafter-Abs alom

Likewise know you are doing spells feats and traits but Crafter's Fortune iscertainly worth a mention as pretty much a gimme.
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/c/crafter-s-fortune

Good luck and well done
G


Thanks for the advice strayshift

I had forgotten about arcane crafter because the universalist abilities arent terribly fun. But it can work.


Here are some more useful things for crafting one's own robot army:

A Fabricate spell helps bypassing or at least drastically reducing the extra cost for the constructs body. http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/f/fabricate

When you get to the more fine tunings, the Valet familiar can effectively cut the amount of time you need to craft your constructs in half. http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/wizard/familiar/familiar-arche types/valet-familiar-archetype

The Soul Drinker Prestige Class is also great for crafters. http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/prestige-classes/other-paizo/s-z/souldrinke r


@ I3igAL: I'm not sure if fabricate can be used this way, since constructs generally require a high degree of craftsmanship

The valet would be quite useful, it's a great idea.

I'll need more info on the sould drinker though, at first look I dont see the advantages for a crafter.


The Souldrinker can use souls (or parts thereof) to craft magic items. How is that NOT useful for a crafter?


Mirrel the Marvelous wrote:
The Souldrinker can use souls (or parts thereof) to craft magic items. How is that NOT useful for a crafter?

If the soul drinker hits a sufficient target with his energy drain, he gets a Soul Point. He can have up to 1/2 Class level Soul Points. Each Soul Point is worth 100gp, when crafting.

Also his Cacodaemon Familiar(which one can also get via Improved Familiar) can absorb souls, which can also be used for crafting. A high level NPC/Monster can be worth up to 5000 GM.


1/2 level plus casting attribute modifier.


I'll need more info on how souls are used. The item creation bar says:

A souleater can use soul points as part of crafting magic items, as described in the Using Souls sidebar. Each counts as a basic soul toward this purpose.

That that basically mean that each soul removes 100 gp from the crafting? Though there are a number of constructs that require a soul.

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