Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

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Maseiken
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Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Maseiken » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:25 am UTC

So I was looking through some old 3.5 books, and I realised that I really don't like how crafting works.
Specifically, XP costs. I don't know if Pathfinder does it differently, but it kind of irks me that wanting to make a magic item should make you inherently less skilled than your comrades who are going through the exact same adventures.

An Idea I had for an alternate system (Which may have already been suggested) is that a separate Experience pool is awarded for each fight, that can be spent on Magic cafting, or significant one-time bonuses in skill checks or combat, temporary healing. Or possibly training in skills. Maybe even Feats and Abilities (this is less viable though).

Any thoughts?
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Goldstein » Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:36 am UTC

XP offers a permanent bonus (Unless you 'spend' it), whereas a magic item is only useful for so long - Eventually you're going to discard it - So I agree with what you're saying. If a level 5 crafter spends XP to create a powerful item, she might be better off for a while but by, say, level 10, she'll have picked up a better item for that slot and will simply be at an XP disadvantage to those she travels with.

I like your suggestion, but for balance you should probably limit it to temporary things (Where magic items are temporary for the reason described above), including skill checks, dramatic one-off exploits such as cutting down the mast of a ship or inspiring an army to great achievements, or minor miracles like divine favour at fortuitous moments. I don't know if you've played 4e, but one of the core ideas of that version is to overload the player with so many one-off bonuses (Action points, daily powers, second wind, healing surges) that they don't realise how much reserve power they've got kicking around - It has the effect of making battles feel to be a close-call even before the player dips into these powerful bonuses, and I like it. This approach would be doing that.

Alternatively, you could use your separate XP pool as a way of dishing out plot rewards - This would include crafting magic items, but also allow players to spend this XP on their characters' other goals: less tangible rewards that high-level characters should have. A ranger might spend the XP while training a Gryphon mount, a fighter whilst attracting and training followers, a sorceror whilst conjuring his frost fortress, a monk whilst rising in status and positiong among his kin, a rogue whilst gaining control of the city's underground. The point here would not be to change the way the world works, but to quantify these rewards so as to ensure that everyone is included and can follow their character's dreams.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Bulvox » Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:05 am UTC

Maseiken wrote:So I was looking through some old 3.5 books, and I realised that I really don't like how crafting works.
Specifically, XP costs. I don't know if Pathfinder does it differently, but it kind of irks me that wanting to make a magic item should make you inherently less skilled than your comrades who are going through the exact same adventures.

An Idea I had for an alternate system (Which may have already been suggested) is that a separate Experience pool is awarded for each fight, that can be spent on Magic cafting, or significant one-time bonuses in skill checks or combat, temporary healing. Or possibly training in skills. Maybe even Feats and Abilities (this is less viable though).

Any thoughts?
I'm pretty sure that they already did this with a class. It's called "Artificer". Except instead of a separate pool awarded after each fight, it's awarded at each level.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Maseiken » Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:05 pm UTC

Goldstein wrote:Alternatively, you could use your separate XP pool as a way of dishing out plot rewards - This would include crafting magic items, but also allow players to spend this XP on their characters' other goals: less tangible rewards that high-level characters should have. A ranger might spend the XP while training a Gryphon mount, a fighter whilst attracting and training followers, a sorceror whilst conjuring his frost fortress, a monk whilst rising in status and positiong among his kin, a rogue whilst gaining control of the city's underground. The point here would not be to change the way the world works, but to quantify these rewards so as to ensure that everyone is included and can follow their character's dreams.

I like that idea, I remember making a Knight once and I straight-out asked for a Hyppogryph mount. With my Razor Lance, It swiftly became apparent that this was more or less a free buff. It had cost a hefty amount of Gp, but the only way to equalise it with the other players was for the other players to get similar boons or buffs to their class (it was that kind of game, abuse the rules to make it as fun as possible).

I guess it would basically be Momentary awesomeness/Downtime development experience.
Bulvox wrote:I'm pretty sure that they already did this with a class. It's called "Artificer". Except instead of a separate pool awarded after each fight, it's awarded at each level.

Hmm, I guess that's fair enough, but I'd rather have it as a viable support option for any character, rather than devote levels to it.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Chen » Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:49 pm UTC

We house ruled that XP costs could be paid by anyone for creating the magic item, not just the crafter. This was more balanced I found since otherwise there's no incentive to make magic items for your party instead of just making better magic items for yourself. The XP cost on the Wish spell was truely absurd. It should definitely have been more in line with the XP costs for Miracle (where raising stats or doing anything truely rule breaking cost XP, but just converting it to another spell of your choice didn't).

In 3.5 there were a lot of magic items that didn't really change in effectiveness as you leveled though. A ring of free action or whatever its called was just as useful at low levels than high levels (maybe even MORE useful at high levels as more things could slow/hold you). Sure the standard +whatever cloaks/weapons became obsolete but you generally found these anyways since they occurred more frequently on the treasure tables (if you were rolling randomly).

One of the great things in 4th ed is the transfer magic ritual. Allowing you to move enchantments from one item to another of the same type (e.g., you could make a +2 shortsword into a +2 hammer). I find it a nice balance between the artificial "Hey another magic longsword. How convenient thats the weapon I'm specialized in" and the annoyance of truely random treasure where you get a weapon thats completely useless to you (a plus 3 military pick? Who the hell uses a military pick?).

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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:56 pm UTC

Chen wrote: (a plus 3 military pick? Who the hell uses a military pick?).
Someone with a build that works around getting Crits and piercing weapons and wants that sweet, sweet ×4 piercing crit?
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Chen » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:20 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Chen wrote: (a plus 3 military pick? Who the hell uses a military pick?).
Someone with a build that works around getting Crits and piercing weapons and wants that sweet, sweet ×4 piercing crit?


Is there actually a build out there would use something like that? I've seen a few scythe builds but military picks always seemed quite sub-par. Point was it makes uncommon weapons a tad more useful if you can switch their enchantments around, rather than just selling them. If for some reason there is an obscure military pick build out there I'm sure I could come up with another one of the generally useless weapons.

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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:25 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Chen wrote: (a plus 3 military pick? Who the hell uses a military pick?).
Someone with a build that works around getting Crits and piercing weapons and wants that sweet, sweet ×4 piercing crit?


In my old group:

After you have been playing for a LONG time, people kind of get burned out on (longsword, longbow) and people in group would pick all kinds of weird weapons for just the novelty and the challenge for explaining why your character insisted on using the Glaive.

Also, when I was DMing I would always defy my own logic based magic items rationalization and make up powerful obscure magic items. (why would a wizard make a +3/+5 versus undead military pick that can shrink to fit in a wrist sheath... I don't know but I like[d] throwing those at my players). I find it was a DM tool to nudge players into non-conformity.

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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Okita » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:
Chen wrote:
Also, when I was DMing I would always defy my own logic based magic items rationalization and make up powerful obscure magic items. (why would a wizard make a +3/+5 versus undead military pick that can shrink to fit in a wrist sheath... I don't know but I like[d] throwing those at my players). I find it was a DM tool to nudge players into non-conformity.

Ixtellor


Clearly it was because a colony of dwarves in their own mine accidentally opened up a vein that happened to directly lead to the Ghost Plane (Netherworld? Ethereal Plane?). The initial miners lost their minds or became possessed, their corpses became the undead. The ore of the mine had miraculously served to contain the undead forces at the time until the dwarves had broken through. While the mine still served as a bottleneck for malevolent forces, the dwarves knew that if they vacated the mine, eventually evil would overflow the mine and escape into the land. So they stayed and fashioned weapons from the very ore that stopped the undead advance. Instead of the natural properties of the ore, the more skilled dwarves took arms against the forces of evil within the mine and beat them back. But the mineral itself was hard to acquire and refine and so the weapons were also picks so that if a dwarven miner opened a pocket of evil, he would have a weapon at hand to quickly destroy it. Eventually they would be enchanted to shrink so that they would be more portable and to allow for other mining equipment but to always be at hand in case evil strikes down below.

Clearly this is what happened.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Chen » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:44 pm UTC

The only real problem with weapons was that there were HUGE trees of feats that all were based on you using a single weapon. I mean I can understand the realism part of it but in game terms I really think weapon focus/expertise etc should just work for all weapons instead of making people stuck with the one they had already chosen like 5 feats for.

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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:11 pm UTC

Well.... that's also the DM's job, really. I mean, if a player has been sinking ranks into the.. I dunno, Greataxe Feat Trees and becoming a minor god with the Handaxe, and is the only player with Martial Weapons anyway, as everyone else is a rogue or wizard or cleric or artificer/red mage/tonkatrucksummoner or whatthefuck ever... the DM's kinda being a dick when they drop a +5 Greatsword as the Reward for the Fighter.

Now, dropping a +5/+5 Dwarven Urgosh from the Dwarven Deathknight after telling the PCs for quite some time that their long term mission is to put right what went wrong in the Dwarven Halls... that's just being sensible. A Pick of some sort - still sensible. A gnome hook hammer.... WTF territory. A War Scythe.. alright, now your DM hates you personally.

Most DMs, when rolling on a random treasure table thingy and coming up with a +5 Heavy Pick and seeing that no one in the party would use the thing would change it to a similar damage weapon - aka the Shortsword, most likely.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Xaddak » Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:43 am UTC

Why does there have to be an xp cost of any sort? Players already have to pay lots of money to craft it, why not let that be the limiting factor? And if it turns out to not be limiting enough, double all the prices and have a band of ruffians steal some stuff from the players (which might make a nice sidequest in and of itself). XP costs never made any sense to me, so this seems to work fine. To me, at least.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby clockworkmonk » Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:36 am UTC

Well, you could calculate the gp value of xp. If I remember correctly, one XP is worth approximately 5 gp. I remember making the calculations based on hiring a wizard of the lowest level possible to cast wish to summon the maximum amount of gold allowed by the spell. So you could increase the price of the magical item by the appropriate amount to craft.

Of course, these calculations are not perfect, since the value of 1 xp is much greater at first level than it is at 20th, and is easier to obtain for the 1st level character. theoretical value

I just looked it up, and according to the Player's handbook, the cost to hire a spell is increased by 5 gp per xp spent by the caster.

so, 1 xp is worth 5 gp.

That was longish and rambling, but I'm not gonna bother editing it.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Chen » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:47 pm UTC

clockworkmonk wrote:Well, you could calculate the gp value of xp. If I remember correctly, one XP is worth approximately 5 gp. I remember making the calculations based on hiring a wizard of the lowest level possible to cast wish to summon the maximum amount of gold allowed by the spell. So you could increase the price of the magical item by the appropriate amount to craft.

Of course, these calculations are not perfect, since the value of 1 xp is much greater at first level than it is at 20th, and is easier to obtain for the 1st level character. theoretical value

I just looked it up, and according to the Player's handbook, the cost to hire a spell is increased by 5 gp per xp spent by the caster.

so, 1 xp is worth 5 gp.

That was longish and rambling, but I'm not gonna bother editing it.


Since making a magic item costs (base_cost/2 gp) + (base_cost/25 xp) you'd probably want XP to be worth closer to 10 gp each (with 12.5 being the exact break-even point). The lower you make the conversion the more powerful crafting becomes (since characters can then obtain items that have more value than their suggested wealth per level).

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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Chosen_of_Kane » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:48 am UTC

wow you must all be good aligned, i'd advise looking up the rewards for sacrifice in the book of vile darkness. Specificity you can sacrifice a sentient creature and gain a bonus which includes a pool of of dark gold or dark xp that can only be used for item crafting or as spell components- and on the plus side any weapons made using dark xp/gold as some of the components looks extra evil. Wouldn't you just love to create an evil looking holy intelligent +1 longsword thats got a good alignment from the holy property, would love to see how it would handle the guilt of being made from the sacrifice of a soul ^^

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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby thecommabandit » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:33 pm UTC

What you could do is use that action point system. It's in d20 Modern and in Star Wars SAGA system they're called "force points" and it's maybe in 4E too. What you do is give a character a number of 'action points' equal to 5 + half their level (rounded down). They don't get restored and you lose all unused action points when you level up, being replaced by your new amount of action points. They can be used to take an extra action in combat or have 1d6 added to the result of a d20 roll before the GM reveals the result.

My point is: perhaps you could make crafting magical items require an action point instead of the XP cost. You'd have to make a bit of a change to the Artificer's ability to stow XP away for crafting but you could just give him another action point or two each level which can only be used for crafting. This way crafting items incurrs a cost other than GP and components, but doesn't set a character back as badly as taking XP away from them does.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby clockworkmonk » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:20 am UTC

another possibility is to make item crafting a quest goal. If you make it so that to quest magical weapons, they must somehow aquire the rights to use one of the worlds magical forges. by essentially making it a quest goal, you will make the value of magical items much greater, and eliminate the xp costs. This would greatly change the nature of the campaign world, and cause problems.
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Chen » Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:08 pm UTC

Chosen_of_Kane wrote:wow you must all be good aligned, i'd advise looking up the rewards for sacrifice in the book of vile darkness. Specificity you can sacrifice a sentient creature and gain a bonus which includes a pool of of dark gold or dark xp that can only be used for item crafting or as spell components- and on the plus side any weapons made using dark xp/gold as some of the components looks extra evil. Wouldn't you just love to create an evil looking holy intelligent +1 longsword thats got a good alignment from the holy property, would love to see how it would handle the guilt of being made from the sacrifice of a soul ^^


A lot of Vile and Exalted feats are very broken in a strictly mechanical sense. It takes a lot of DM discretion and proper story-telling to properly enforce the role-playing requirements that most of these feats hold. Unlike real life, in 3.5 D&D Good and Evil are pretty well defined. If a bunch of innocents need to die for the greater good, its still likely a break of your exalted vows if you kill them since that killing is still an evil act. In a gritty/realistic campaign any exalted characters are likely going to either lose their exalted status or be forced to sacrifice themselves fairly early on I'd say.

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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby BoomFrog » Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:04 am UTC

Or offer "Crafting Materials" as treasure from killing magical monsters.

"This dragon heart is worth 500xp for crafting any item that is about rage, strength, or fire." "This displacerbeast skin is worth 200xp for crafting leather armor or cloaks of stealth, illusion, or protection."
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Re: Magic item crafting in DnD 3.5

Postby Goldstein » Fri Nov 27, 2009 12:11 pm UTC

I like it. Could lead to the players organizing their own hunting quests in order to get the materials required, maybe even having to discover the 'recipes' you described. Knowing that the players are heading for some horrible frozen hell (Figuratively or even literally), they might first go hunting for Winter Wolves to create magically protective leathers.
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