Repairing Magic Items, Make Whole & Curses


Rules Questions

Contributor

Players in my game have just found a bunch of treasure, including a large portion of broken treasure in the form of suits of formerly magical platemail that a chimera sat on for centuries. Some repair work is in order, and as GM, I'd like to have my ducks in a row.

We've also just converted to Pathfinder, and I'm looking at the rules for repairing magic items. Now, part of what's there is what I expected: the old 3.5 rules for magic item repair with the XP converted to GP. The players have lots of GP, so they're fairly well set on that end.

However, I find that Make Whole can now recreate magic items, and do so for free, so long as the caster is of sufficiently high level.

Of course, there's some ambiguous language there. It says "if your caster level is at least twice that of the item." I'm thinking this should be read as "if your caster level is at least twice that required to create the item."

Then you look at stuff like weapons and armor. One of the items the players found is a broken suit of +4 platemail. To craft arms or armor, you need 3 levels for every +1, so I'm reading the repairs are requiring someone of 12th+ level with Craft Magic Arms & Armor and huge bags of gold, or someone of 24th level with a mere Make Whole. In other words, to repair arms and armor of +4 and above with a Make Whole, it requires an Epic character.

Now here's the extra trouble: The characters are only about 10th level. Is the plate armor completely unrepairable at their current level, or could it be repaired in part?

The blacksmith's son can repair the armor itself, but not the enchantments. Can the character with the Craft Magic Arms and Armor repair a portion of the enchantments? For example, can a 9th level character repair a weapon to +3 with the enchantments for the +4 still waiting for a higher level and/or gold to spend?

Similarly, can you do a partial Make Whole? If a 12th level caster finds a broken Holy Avenger, can he wave his hands over it and at least get a usable +2 sword with no GP outlay? Is there anything particularly broken in allowing this? And would this work if someone had already taken the broken magic sword and reforged it into a working but nonmagical masterwork sword?

And what happens with useful magic items that pick up curses do to later misenchantment? Is it possible to repair a botched enchantment, or at least selectively disenchant the spells that it's on? For example, if a non-cursed +2 sword was made into a cursed +3 sword, is there any way to selectively unravel the last enchantments and their annoying bug? Aside from whammying the whole thing with Disjunction and starting from scratch.

Admittedly, these are all GM calls that I'm going to have to make, but I'd like to hear how other GMs would deal with them.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


Now here's the extra trouble: The characters are only about 10th level. Is the plate armor completely unrepairable at their current level, or could it be repaired in part?

By the RAW, they can't repair the +4 armor until they hit level 12 (24).

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


The blacksmith's son can repair the armor itself, but not the enchantments. Can the character with the Craft Magic Arms and Armor repair a portion of the enchantments? For example, can a 9th level character repair a weapon to +3 with the enchantments for the +4 still waiting for a higher level and/or gold to spend?

As written, that's not possible. However, its certainly a reasonable house rule. The only concern that I would have is what happens if they add additional enchantments before finishing the repair.

A Broken +4 sword should have a value of 16k gp, since for an additionak 16k, you could make it into a +4 sword (not broken), worth 32k. If you make it into a (Broken +4) +3 sword for 9k, its worth 25k. Could you then make it into a (Broken +4) +3 Flaming sword for 7k and then into a +4 Flaming sword for only 4.5k (since you're "fixing" the final broken enhancement)? That costs 1k less if you first make it +4 then +4 Flaming.

At that level, saving 2k probably isn't such a big deal, but there are other pathways where it could save considerable money. (Broken +5) +1 to (Broken +5) +1 Vorpal to +5 Vorpal is a considerable savings. Instead of 0.5*(25k-1k) + (100k-25k) = 87k, you're paying (36k-1k) + 0.5*(100k-36k) = 67k. That's a savings of about 20% the costs of making the weapon.

If you're worried about your players gaming the system like this, I'd rule that adding additional enchantments destroys the broken enchantment. So if you took a (+5 Broken) +1 sword and added flaming, you end up with a +1 Flaming sword. Enhancing it to +2 would be full cost.

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


Similarly, can you do a partial Make Whole? If a 12th level caster finds a broken Holy Avenger, can he wave his hands over it and at least get a usable +2 sword with no GP...

By the RAW, no.

If you want to get into house rule territory, this is more complicated, especially for the "pre-built" items that have several effects and don't easily follow standard rules. Often, it's unclear what the required caster level is for the individual pieces.

That said, if you can figure out (or decree) the caster level for the components, I don't see a good reason not to house rule a partial make whole. I'd force the make whole to repair as much as it can and include the caveat from above about additional restrictions, since this could give even larger savings. With the vorpal example from above, it would change the "savings" of the spell from 12k to 32k.

Contributor

Hmm, I hadn't even considered people attempting to add enchantments to an item with partially restored enchantments.

I think that I'd rule that an artificer could remove the unfinished enchantments, but not so much with anyone else, even wizards. Much as I like wizards and generally think they should be kings of the item crafting biz, if something gets damaged, that should be the artificer's business.

I'm thinking that Make Whole will be left an all-or-nothing deal, and if the cleric needs to pimp his caster level, he'll need to seek out magical nodes, nasty BoVD drugs, and an orange ioun stone to fly around his head to get enough razzamataz to repair fancy items for nothing before epic level.

I'm going to rule that all broken enchantments need to be restored before an item gets additional enchantments.

With curses, I think I'll apply the Make Whole mechanic to Remove Curse: If you're at the same level required to Make Whole an item for free, you can also Remove Curse and actually have the curse go away, turning the item back into whatever it was originally designed to be. But a cursed +5 sword is going to be pretty tricky to uncurse.


udalrich wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


The blacksmith's son can repair the armor itself, but not the enchantments. Can the character with the Craft Magic Arms and Armor repair a portion of the enchantments? For example, can a 9th level character repair a weapon to +3 with the enchantments for the +4 still waiting for a higher level and/or gold to spend?
As written, that's not possible.

Fixing the item with a crafting feat should be doable. If the creator is not a high enough caster level, that's fine; the caster level requirement is a prerequisite and thus can be avoided with the craft check.

PRD wrote:
For other magic items, the caster level is determined by the item itself. In this case, the creator's caster level must be as high as the item's caster level (and prerequisites may effectively put a higher minimum on the creator's level).
PRD wrote:
The DC to create a magic item is 5 + the caster level for the item.
PRD wrote:
Note that all items have prerequisites in their descriptions. These prerequisites must be met for the item to be created. Most of the time, they take the form of spells that must be known by the item's creator (although access through another magic item or spellcaster is allowed). The DC to create a magic item increases by +5 for each prerequisite the caster does not meet. The only exception to this is the requisite item creation feat, which is mandatory. In addition, you cannot create spell-trigger and spell-completion magic items without meeting their spell prerequisites.

So as long as the player can make the craft check, she should be able to repair the item.

The DC for a +4 full plate (caster level 12 + 5) + not high enough caster level (5) = 22. This should be doable by a PC of 10th level, but it might result in a failure or even worse, a cursed item.

Contributor

Hmm, okay, that makes sense, and it gives the characters more of a puzzle and less of an obvious lemon.

I think I'll still allow the partial repairs on the enchantments, both for safety and price concerns, but the obvious risk of doing something piecemeal is raising the odds of screwing up and creating a cursed item. Which is as it should be.

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