Darkwood forms a major backdrop in several of Paizo's products, mainly related to Andoran and the Lumber Consortium. I've read the material in the Inner Sea World Guide, the Guide to Darkmoon Vale, and the various modules set in Darkmoon Vale. I'm left with a few questions as Darkwood is becoming important in my campaign as the players decide to take on the Lumber Consortium. If there is 'canon' on any of these questions, as opposed to opinion, please let me know where I can find the info:
1. Is Darkwood magical? Does it have any magical properties beyond being a strong yet light wood?
2. Does Darkwood have "great intrinsic value" as that phrase is used in the Polymorph Any Object spell?
3. How large are Darkwood trees, both theoretical max as well as the size of those generally felled in the common era in Andoran?
I'm not against anyone else's opinions on the questions, it's just that before I make any rulings regarding my players' strategies I want to know if there is any official information on this.
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Darkwood is detailed in the CRB in the special materials section of the Equipment chapter (after armor, I believe).
1) Darkwood is not inherently magical.
2) An item made of Darkwood adds 10gp per pound to the price of the item.
Under Polymorph Any Object, the PRD states:
This spell cannot create material of great intrinsic value, such as copper, silver, gems, silk, gold, platinum, mithral, or adamantine. It also cannot reproduce the special properties of cold iron in order to overcome the damage reduction of certain creatures.
I think it's pretty clear darkwood would fall in this category. Mithral is listed as an example, which is another special material. Copper is also listed as an example, and darkwood is definitely more valuable than copper.
I would guess this rule is there to prevent players from abusing the spell by doing something like polymorphing wood objects to darkwood and selling them or polymorphing a wooden shield to a darkwood shield and getting the mechanical bonuses without paying for the material.
3) I really don't know. Darkwood isn't unique to Pathfinder (or even D&D). It might have even existed in Tolkein (I can't remember). I would google it and find some source material. When/if Paizo puts out more detailed information on darkwood trees, they'll likely be riffing off that material anyway.
Thanks for all the info! I forgot to check the equipment section, so that was helpful. I also think that Darkwood falls under the 'great intrinsic value' element of Polymorph Any Object, so that will be one strategy the players can't pursue. Their other ideas are really ingenious but one requires a new spell to be researched (and involves help from the fey.) The final idea hinges somewhat on a.) the usual size of Darkwood trees (although that can be worked around), and b.) whether or not they qualify as 'magical'. The CRB in the equipment section has this about Darkwood:
"Darkwood: This rare magic wood is as hard as normal wood but very light...."
The crux of the players' tertiary plan revolves around the Shrink Item spell, which in part states:
"You are able to shrink one nonmagical item..."
This then begs the question, is a felled Darkwood tree a 'nonmagical item'?
What do you all think? I know it's my campaign and I can do what I want (and honestly it's a pretty cool plan to screw with the Lumber Consortium and I'd like to see it work! :-P) But I don't want to make a ruling that's just inherently wrong. If Darkwood is a magical item by rule, then it might simply mean that they have to research some new spell like 'Shrink Darkwood Tree' - right?
All I can glean about Darkwood harvesting from the Guide to Darkmoon Vale is that approximately 350,000 board feet of Darkwood are harvested annually, and this represents about 5% of all wood harvested there. Using USDA National Forest service calculations, 350,000 board feet equals approximately 29,166 cubic feet of Darkwood. A 50' high tree with a diameter of 2' at DBH would have approximately 39.25 cubic feet of Darkwood. If we assume that is the size of the Darkwood trees (i.e. they are not like California Redwoods), then approximately 743 Darkwood trees are felled annually. Obviously if they are like CA Redwoods, and are massive things, then much, much fewer of them are harvested (assuming 200' high with 15' diameters on average, a single tree has approximately 8800 cubic feet, so ~3 trees would make the entire annual supply of Darkwood - ergo it's unlikely that they are the size of Redwoods IMO.)
I'm not sure what their purpose is in shrinking a darkwood tree, but there are a couple things to keep in mind.
1) The spell only affects 2 cubic feet per level. Going by your figures, a 50' tall, 2' diameter tree is 40 cubic feet, which would require a 20th level caster to shrink.
I've always pictured darkwood trees as similar to oak trees, which would be much larger in diameter. This would depend on how big you decide darkwood trees are.
2) The spell only lasts 1 day/level. It can be made permanent with a permanency spell. However, this greatly increases the cost of the enterprise. Also, such wood would radiate a magical aura which may or may not be a problem. I'm not sure how turning a permanently shrunk darkwood tree into lumber (assuming that's what they're planning) would effect it, but I think it's at least possible that it might cancel/dispel the spell.