Incorporating in depth magic item crafting into your games

Homebrew and House Rules

So, often I see a lot of gamers complaining about this phenomenon involving a Christmas tree, and the crazy idea that players want magic items that actually enhance what their character does instead of allowing them to have a pipe that never runs out of tobacco, and in that spirit I decided to take a gander at the different rules that are present when it comes to the creation of magic items in the first place.

For starters, for any kind of in depth system to work, you have to really get rid of the idea of converting gp into magic items. You also have to get rid of that pesky spellcraft check mechanic that allows you to bypass the requirements for magic item crafting. Sadly, that means the Master Craftsman feat is all but worthless in an otherwise amazing attempt at thwarting everyone who says that fighters are worthless.

That said, in several releases there are breakdowns of different magic item crafting reagents, specifically Ultimate Campaign has a shortlist of different stuffs that are really cool and flavorful.

Idea is this: instead of gp, you actually have to get this stuff and use it to get the items you want made rather than going to your local nameless blacksmith's shop and having him special order the stuff out of a catalogue, or off the fantasy internet or however he gets the stuff.

But how does this work? In my prime example, (mostly because it's the only one I seem to find more stuff on) let's take a look at Dragon's Blood.

Ultimate Campaign pg 175 wrote:

Dragon Heartblood: The freshest blood from the

dragon’s heart; used for any kind of magic item.

That's cool and all, but it really doesn't give us any kind of price or value towards crafting items. BUT there is another release, the Dragonslayer's Handbook which has such language:

Dragonslayer's Handbook pg 19 wrote:

Renowned for its energizing and defensive properties, dragon's blood has a variety of effects, depending on how it's used. In addition to use in its raw form, it's also valuable as an alchemical ingredient. Below are two common uses for dragon's blood, but clever dragoncrafters may invent new uses as well.

Drinking: When imbibed, a vial of dragon's blood heals 1d4 points of damage. It also grants a +1 alchemical bonus on Will and Fortitude saving throws for 1 minute.

Bathing: Covering oneself in dragon's blood removes 1 permanent negative level. No more than 1 permanent negative level can be removed from a single creature per week using this method. Bathing in dragon's blood requires 3 vials of dragon's blood. Blood used in such a manner is expended, and may not be reused.

It even includes a price of 60gp (presumably per vial) and it tells us how many vials we get from a dragon of different sizes.

I propose a system that lets players use that value as a form of credit towards actual usage in game, rather than just having a list of components.

Example, my players slay a colossal dragon, and gain 8 vials worth of dragon blood. They can use this blood as in the description in the Dragonslayer's Handbook, or they can use it in a way that let's them craft items. Since dragon blood can be used to write scrolls, they should be able to use the dragon blood's value on a 1:1 basis for crafting. What that effectively means is, since the cost to craft items is half the price of the item, they should be able to use the components that they gather themselves to create twice as much. 8 vials worth is 480gp in value, so for crafting scrolls let's say, it should count as 960gp in 'credit' towards magic item crafting.

Could we see a release in the future that follows up on this kind of thing? An entire subsystem could be invented that let's characters (even non martials) combine reagents such as this and get their items made this way. It also provides good quest material.

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I've been trying to put together some rules with more flavorful magic item crafting. Here's what I've got:

Basically, part of an encounter's treasure will usually be given as components that can be used to craft magic items. The exceptions are mostly creatures that, if they don't have any class levels, are below CR3. Creatures that are below CR1 don't provide any useful components. Other creatures provide components as follows:

CR 1-2 foes give misc components worth 10gp
CR 3-5 foes give 1 part worth 150gp - total 150gp, lesser minor
CR 6-8 foes give 2 parts worth 600gp each - total 1200gp, greater minor
CR 9-11 foes give 3 parts worth 1000gp each - total 3000gp, lesser moderate
CR 12-14 foes give 4 parts worth 1500gp each - total 6000gp, greater moderate
CR 15-17 foes give 5 parts worth 2100gp each - total 10500gp, lesser major
CR 18-20 foes give 6 parts worth 2800gp each - total 16800gp, greater major

Then you look at the power levels of magic items from Ultimate Equipment - least minor, lesser minor, greater minor, lesser and greater moderate, lesser and greater major (for permanent magic items).

Least minor items (basically, those costing under 1000gp) don't have any special construction requirements. Lesser minor items require at least one special component from a creature of minimum CR3, and which seems thematically appropriate.

More powerful items require more components: greater minor items require 2 components, from creatures of at least CR6. Lesser and greater moderate items need 3 or 4 components, from CR9 or CR12 creatures, respectively, and lesser and greater major items need 5 or 6 components, from CR15+ or CR18+ creatures.

For an Elixir of Dragon Breath, for example, clearly it should be from something with a breath weapon, or possibly from some sort of elemental creature, or maybe a poisonous creature for green dragon breath. Just something that makes sense. For, say a stone of alarm, maybe you need the heart from a caryatid column, a formian worker, or an iron cobra construct or some other creature noted for it guardian abilities. Probably the creature used influences the flavor of the item in some way. Maybe for the alarm stone you could even use the heart of a mummy that was guarding a tomb, but that item would have quite a different flavor than one crafted from a caryatid column.

On the other hand, a component from a pegasus could be used for an item granting flight, or perception, or detecting alignment, or for defeating or defending against good or evil aligned creatures, and the ooze from a gelatinous cube could be used in an item causing acid damage, causing paralyzation, or protecting from electricity. (looking at their respective abilities and natures)

For a more complex example, maybe Plate Armor of the Deep (greater moderate item, needing 4 components) could use the shell and blood from a shipwrecker crab, together with shards from an iron golem and leather from the cured hide of a froghemoth.

The value of the components can be directly used for the crafting cost of magic items - if you have 2 components from a CR6 creature, than you only need to spend or acquire another 800gp of misc. components in order to have what you need to craft a +2 cloak of resistance. They can also be bought and sold like trade goods or art objects - generally at full value, with no significant loss to buyer or seller (or however you choose to have your economy work).

The settlement base value limit should also apply, so you can't buy a necessary component for a lesser moderate item anywhere smaller than a small town, and for major items you'll need to shop in at least a large town.

Look at the crafting rules from 2e's "Player's Option: Spells and Magic"
Lots of good ideas there.

I have begun a list of what types of creatures provide components that can be used for specific magic items. When one of those creatures is killed, an appropriate Knowledge check allows for the components to be harvested.

I like the list from bodhranist so I will probably steal it for adaptation.

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