Making a Magical Staff Have a Continuous Effect?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Given magic item creation rulings and staff creation rulings, I have some inquiries on how this might play out. I have found plenty of useful information from here before, so here goes nothing.

To make this staff, whatever spell effect that was made continuous would have the number of charges permanently reduced from the staff's total... This is just something I figured was right... anyway, lets put an example together.

(400 x 1 x 8) Magic Missle
+
(300 x 1 x 8)/3 Shield
= 4000 GP.
Tadah, we just made a Staff of Minor Arcana.

The tricky part comes next... Following magic item creation rules, the equation for making shield a continuous effect (Aka, it just happens as long as you wield the staff) comes out to be (1x8x2000)x2 = 32,000gp

I plugged in the staff's caster level instead of the required caster level of the spell out of principle. Simply adding the cost makes one of the most expensive paperweights ever with a total of 36,000GP of crafting cost.

However, if one were to follow staff creation rulings and instead add only 75% of the cost of shield (in this example) it would make it a slightly more reasonable crafting cost of 13,866 GP.

So at the end of this I have a staff the grants the wielder a constant shield effect while wielding it, has 9 charges, and fires magic missile for a crafting cost of 13,866 GP.... Or a really expensive Paperweight.

Besides not being a mad wizard, How should I solve this? Did I do this right, was there anything that I missed? Steps I should have taken instead? Which, if any, of these prices is correct? I wish to know so I may attempt to make something a little more functional.
Thank you.


The custom magic item creation rules are at best a guideline. Even the rules themselves state.

Magic Item Gold Piece Values wrote:
The correct way to price an item is by comparing its abilities to similar items (see Magic Item Gold Piece Values), and only if there are no similar items should you use the pricing formulas to determine an approximate price for the item. If you discover a loophole that allows an item to have an ability for a much lower price than is given for a comparable item, the GM should require using the price of the item, as that is the standard cost for such an effect. Most of these loopholes stem from trying to get unlimited uses per day of a spell effect from the “command word” or “use-activated or continuous” lines of Table: Estimating Magic Item Gold Piece Values.

Unless you're the DM anything you come up with will need to be ok'd by the DM. The easiest way to do this is by not doing anything that appears to "break the system". This can be done either by making sure whatever method you use results in a price that is similar to existing items or is substantially more expensive than the next closest limited use item.

In your case, It's probably more reasonable to price the staff based on what the effect is instead of what spell its based on. At it's core the shield spell provides a +4 shield bonus to AC. Looking at the table it is probably most similar to a deflection or natural armor bonus both of which have a cost given by Bonus squared x 2,000 gp.

So, (4)^2 x 2,000 = 32,000

Based on this, I would say your initial cost is probably reasonable. Especially when you consider that the shield spell provides additional benefits beyond just a +4 shield bonus to AC.

As for it being horribly expensive, compare it to a Staff of Power which only gives a +2 to AC (granted it's a luck bonus meaning it will stack with most things).


I would say as long as it's more expensive than a similar effect

Clawhand Shield - +4 AC from Shield and Enhancement bonus and can cast spells with the hand holding a shield... and can be further enhanced. - 8158 Gold

vs.

Staff of Shield - +4 AC all the time and can cast spells with the other hand... shield bonus limited to +4

Your staff is actually more expensive than Clawhand Shield so I'd say go right ahead. I don't really think there's a way to do it "right". As long as the item you're making is not cheaper than an already existing similar item, you're good to go.

Now custom building a level 8 magic missile item will cost you, that's where Quarterstaff of Entwined Serpents comes to the rescue. 5050g for two missiles (yes, not 4 like a proper staff would have but at will instead of charged).

Put the staff and shield together and you end up with a +1 Quarterstaff that has a constant shield effect and can launch 2 magic missiles indefinitely for... 13200g (almost exactly the number you got) and half that to craft yourself.


Lady Asharah wrote:

I would say as long as it's more expensive than a similar effect

Clawhand Shield - +4 AC from Shield and Enhancement bonus and can cast spells with the hand holding a shield... and can be further enhanced. - 8158 Gold

vs.

Staff of Shield - +4 AC all the time and can cast spells with the other hand... shield bonus limited to +4

Your staff is actually more expensive than Clawhand Shield so I'd say go right ahead. I don't really think there's a way to do it "right". As long as the item you're making is not cheaper than an already existing similar item, you're good to go.

Now custom building a level 8 magic missile item will cost you, that's where Quarterstaff of Entwined Serpents comes to the rescue. 5050g for two missiles (yes, not 4 like a proper staff would have but at will instead of charged).

Put the staff and shield together and you end up with a +1 Quarterstaff that has a constant shield effect and can launch 2 magic missiles indefinitely for... 13200g (almost exactly the number you got) and half that to craft yourself.

The problem is that doesn't take into account that shield applies against touch attacks and makes you immune to magic missile. Benefits the clawhand shield doesn't have. For the 1st effect it should be compared with bracers of armor +4 which cost 16,000. A broach of shielding stops magic missile but is destroyed after stopping about 10 magic missile spells. So, we can treat it as if it only has 10 charges. Continuous use items should be priced as if they had 100 charges. So, this effect would be the cost of a broach x10, which comes out to 15,000. Adding these together you are at 31,000gp.


Thank you for your assessment of this conundrum of mine.
Given your quotation of comparing the item's price to that of something that has a similar effect, it begs the question of other effects from different staves.
I tried to make this as straight forward as possible by replicating a staff that was already something you could find/craft in the hopes of trying to make this simpler but taking this to the people has only added more questions...lol.

Let's keep going with it though seeing how the staff of minor arcana is a fairly nice staff that several people could find useful. My end goal is to achieve something a little more consistent for staves beyond its scope.

The Staff of Minor Arcana has a crafting cost of 4000 GP. Simply multiplying that cost alone by 10 (As if it only has 10 charges for continuous use items rulings) would already come out to be 40,000. This price is higher than the original estimate but not substantially different from it. The real problem with this is the idea that any staff at all is better than it. By the time you have 40,000 GP to craft, you would be better off using anything other than it (including the base staff which is handed out to initiates let alone a caster with 40k GP to craft). Mind you these costs are already half of the cost it would be to buy the same item off an NPC. On top of the fact that for custom staves, one can not always handle it this way.

There are a number of other things really, but I felt like I should address this.

As for the other suggestion, while to end goal is favorable for the item, it doesn't feel consistent.


Part of what's making things so expensive is trying to have a spell at will. As soon as there are no limits on how much something can be used it becomes very susceptible to abuse.

Something to keep in mind with Staffs is they see some discounts because of the way charges work on them. Sure, they can have up to 10 charges but they basically have to be recharged during downtime at only a single charge per day, so two empty staffs would take 20 days to fully recharge. This potentially makes using one even more limited than an item that gives you X charges per day.

Recharging Staffs wrote:
Staves hold a maximum of 10 charges. Each spell cast from a staff consumes one or more charges. When a staff runs out of charges, it cannot be used until it is recharged. Each morning, when a spellcaster prepares spells or regains spell slots, he can also imbue one staff with a portion of his power so long as one or more of the spells cast by the staff is on his spell list and he is capable of casting at least one of the spells. Imbuing a staff with this power restores one charge to the staff, but the caster must forgo one prepared spell or spell slot of a level equal to the highest-level spell cast by the staff. For example, a 9th-level wizard with a staff of fire could imbue the staff with one charge per day by using up one of his 4th-level spells. A staff cannot gain more than one charge per day and a caster cannot imbue more than one staff per day.

I had a character that had multiple staffs and recharging them while adventuring is difficult at best. My character had a Staff of Fire and I regularly emptied it of its charges. Sure I only needed to spend 10 days in town of non-adventuring activities to replenish it but it was something I had to track.

As for the upgrading the staff of minor arcana, you're looking at having shield and magic missile at will. I don't see any reasonable way to have that without it costing a lot.

Even just having shield constantly is fairly powerful, when you consider that Unlike mage armor (which is an hour per level and is what bracers of armor are based on) it's only 1 minute per level so to have it all day would be a large number of castings that you're saving yourself from.


Maximus Valentine wrote:

Given magic item creation rulings and staff creation rulings, I have some inquiries on how this might play out. I have found plenty of useful information from here before, so here goes nothing.

To make this staff, whatever spell effect that was made continuous would have the number of charges permanently reduced from the staff's total... This is just something I figured was right... anyway, lets put an example together.

(400 x 1 x 8) Magic Missle
+
(300 x 1 x 8)/3 Shield
= 4000 GP.
Tadah, we just made a Staff of Minor Arcana.

So far, so good.

Maximus Valentine wrote:
The tricky part comes next... Following magic item creation rules, the equation for making shield a continuous effect (Aka, it just happens as long as you wield the staff) comes out to be (1x8x2000)x2 = 32,000gp

As mentioned elsewhere, you look for a similar item first. Bracers +4 is exactly the effect you want as a slotted item for 16,000 gp.

You would have to change the price for a higher base level CL staff. For no change in effect other than easiness to dispel. If the continous effect changed effectiveness bases on CL, then using the staff's CL for the price determination is OK.

I have broken down staff prices for a number of staves listed in the books. After the price for the spells the staff can cast, effects like the weapon plusses are added 1:1. Many staves have pricing errors.

Maximus Valentine wrote:
However, if one were to follow staff creation rulings and instead add only 75% of the cost of shield (in this example) it would make it a slightly more reasonable crafting cost of 13,866 GP.

The 75% is the discount for using a common pool of charges. Since the shield effect does not use charges, it does not get this discount. Instead it should have an increased price for being added to an existing item.

Maximus Valentine wrote:

So at the end of this I have a staff the grants the wielder a constant shield effect while wielding it, has 9 charges, and fires magic missile for a crafting cost of 13,866 GP.... Or a really expensive Paperweight.

Besides not being a mad wizard, How should I solve this? Did I do this right, was there anything that I missed? Steps I should have taken instead? Which, if any, of these prices is correct? I wish to know so I may attempt to make something a little more functional.
Thank you.

There is the Quarterstaff of Entwined Serpents which is underpriced at 5,050 gp. [Should be 7,700 gp, I think.]

If you breakdown that item's price, the CL3 spell is 2,750 gp. Changing it to a higher CL would be as easy as multiplying by #/3 for CL # and then adding back in the weponn cost.

If you make the Bracers +4 slotless, their price becomes 32,000 gp. Then adding it into the staff but only while it is equipped, I (as a GM) would allow a 10% discount.

/cevah

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