Creating Other Magical Items

Potions and scrolls are not the only magical items spellcasters can create. Other types of magical item can be made--weapons, wands, staves, rods, rings, bracers, braziers, cloaks, and more.

There are also certain items the player characters can't create. Artifacts, relics, books (except spell books), and intelligent weapons are the realm of the DM only. Such items can be found by the player characters, but never manufactured by them. This ensures that the DM controls certain elements that can appear only during the course of an adventure he designs.

Furthermore, certain magical items have a particular racial connection, particularly the dwarven warhammer +3, elven cloaks, boots of elvenkind, elven bows, and certain types of hammers and axes. These items can only be fashioned by NPC dwarves and elves of particularly ancient age. The making and awarding of these items is the task of the DM only.

Finally, the DM has the right to exclude from player manufacture any magical item he feels is too powerful or too significant a part of his campaign world. (For example, if all magical weapons in the DM's campaign are the product of an ancient civilization and the art of their manufacture has now been lost, he can deny the ability to create such items to the player characters.)

These limitations notwithstanding, players should be invited to submit their own ideas for new or unique items. The possibilities for new items are limited only by the constraints of game balance. Perhaps the character wants an arrow that explodes in a flash of brilliant light or a wand that causes those touched to suffer amnesia.

Using the same give-and-take process described for new player spells, the DM should have the player write up a description of the desired item. The DM studies this, alters it as needed, and discusses the changes with the player. When both are in agreement, the character can begin the actual process of research and construction.

When a player announces the desire to construct a given item, it is not the DM's task to tell him whether this is within his capabilities or not. It is the DM's responsibility to decide the materials and steps needed to construct the item. The player can then have his character consult a sage, fellow spellcaster, or higher power to learn what he needs. In the process he may discover he lacks the appropriate powers to create the item. This is one of the risks inherent in magical research.

Finding the Right Materials: First the character needs appropriate materials. When constructing a magical item, no ordinary sword, stock, cloak, necklace, or whatever will do. The item must be extraordinary in some way. Weapons must be of high-quality craftsmanship. Woods must be rare, specially grown, or cut in a particular way at a particular time. Cloth must be woven to exacting specifications. The material itself may be of an impossible nature (a shirt without seams or a hammer forged in a volcano's heart and quenched in the deepest ocean).

Often, the only way to ensure the appropriate vessel for the enchantment is for the spellcaster to fashion or gather the item himself. However it is obtained, the vessel should cost far more than a normal item of the same type. The price can range from 1,000 to 10,00 (or more!) gold pieces depending on the material.

Preparing the Materials: Once the vessel for the magic is obtained, the character will have to prepare it. A sword may need to be dipped in rare acids to burn away impurities. Bone may need to be picked clean by giant ants. Wood could require soaking in rare oils and herbs.

Though the item is, as yet, far from gaining any sorcerous power, this stage is vital--failure here means the spell will fail to take. Normally this stage takes from two weeks to a month just to prepare the vessel. Additional ingredients at this stage will cost at least 500 gold pieces, if not more.

Enchanting the Item: The spellcaster is now ready to begin the actual enchantment. Wizards must first successfully cast an enchant an item (or have another do it for them) on the vessel according to the conditions described for that spell. Once he is finished, the wizard can cast other spells into the vessel, provide the last ingredients, or perform the final steps in the enchantment process (as defined by the DM).

The character might have to take the enchanted item to the peak of the highest mountain to expose it to the rays of the dawning sun before it will be ready. He could have to immerse it in the distilled sorrows of nightingales. If spells are necessary, these, instead of expending their energies, are absorbed and transformed by the enchanted vessel.

The spell that must be cast into the enchanted vessel is the one that matches the power desired. If there is no direct spell equivalent, a more powerful spell with essentially the same function can be cast instead. If there is no spell equivalent at all, the wizard must research the appropriate spell before he begins the process of making the magical item, or he must provide exotic ingredients capable of conferring the power on the item, whichever the DM decides.

Thus, at this step, the wizard could cast lightning bolt on a wand to make it a wand of lightning, but he would have to research a new spell of create gauntlets of Dexterity (since no spell exists to improve Dexterity) or bathe the gauntlets in the bottled essence of hummingbird dreams (as an example).

Finally, if the item is to hold its magic for more than a single use, a permanency spell must be cast. This locks the trapped magic into the vessel, empowering it at the command chosen by the wizard. If the permanency is not used, the vessel only holds charges equal to the number of spells cast upon it.

If all these steps have been performed correctly and without interruptions, the item will be created...maybe. The process is long and involved and there are many opportunities for unintended error. Thus, when all is said and done, a success roll must be made. The basic chance of success is 60%. Each level of the wizard adds 1% to the chance, while each spell, special process, or unique ingredient used lowers the chance by 1%. The DM can further adjust the percentage for any extra-special precautions or notorious shortcuts the character might take.

If the check is passed (by rolling equal to or lower than the success chance) the desired item has been created. If the check fails, the item is cursed, although this may not be known until a much later time. The function of the item becomes perverted, the opposite of the character's intention. A cursed sword, for example, could lower the character's chances of hitting, while cursed gauntlets could render the wearer clumsy.

A character can't seek to make a cursed item with the hope and intention that the process will fail (thereby gaining a useful magical item). The nature of magical failure is such that the desired result, spoken or unspoken, never occurs.

For example, suppose Thibault the Younger, a mage of 17th level, seeks to make a powerful sword +5. Using the contact other plane spell and money, he learns the steps he must perform and the items he needs. His first task is to shape a sword blade with his own hands from the ore of Mount Lothrian, at the very center of the Dwarven Estates.

He travels there, only to discover that the Dwarven Lords consider this iron a treasure above all others, not to be given out to aliens not of the blood. After much careful bargaining, the Dwarven Lords agree to allow him to undergo the Ordeal of the Pit, the rite of dwarven manhood. Thibault is lowered into the caverns where even dwarves are loath to tread, where, in a solo adventure, he barely escapes with his life. By the time he has recovered and healed, the dwarves hail him as one of their own and reward him with the ore he seeks. As an extra benefit, during his time among the dwarves, Thibault learns a few more tricks of bladesmithing, increasing his proficiency.

Now Thibault has the ore and, on his journey home, stops by the Spring of Masters to get the second item he needs--pure spring water. A short time later, he is safely home. There, he spends a month hammering, folding, quenching, and hammering again on the blade, spending 5,000 gp on the task.

Finally the work is done and the blade is finished, the last step being to etch it in a bath of black pudding acid. According to the instructions he received, Thibault must next instill the blade with the power of purity. Just what this means is not exactly clear, but his finances are running low and he doesn't want to waste more time for investigation. He decides to have the blade consecrated at a local temple and then has a paladin lay hands upon it.

All these steps completed, Thibault begins his spellcasting. For days he works on casting the enchant an item spell. The spell succeeds. To make a +5 weapon he uses the enchanted weapon spell, one for each plus. However, after four castings, the enchant an item spell fades and Thibault must spend more time re-enchanting it. Once again successful, he casts the last enchanted weapon and then seals everything with a permanency spell.

The DM secretly makes a check for success. The chance is 60% (base) + 17% (Thibault's level) -12% (for the ore, hand-forging, etching, instilling with purity, enchanting twice, five pluses, and the permanency) = 65%. The DM rolls a 45. The work is successful and the sword is finished. Needless to say, Thibault is not tremendously eager to do this again right away.

Clerics and other priests can also make magical items appropriate to their calling. The process begins with the selection of an appropriate vessel of the finest or most perfect materials. Once the vessel is at hand, the priest must spend two weeks in meditation and purification ceremonies and then another week in fasting and purification. Then he must likewise purify the item and seek to invoke it with a small portion of his deity's grandeur. Fortunately, this step takes but a single day and night.

Once this is done, the item is ready for the final plea. As it rests upon an altar, the priest must pray for the blessed sign that the deity will endow the vessel with the desired powers. Each day there is a 1% cumulative chance that the prayers will be heard.

Once this step is completed, the item need only be sanctified and consecrated, unless it is to possess charges in which case the priest has 24 hours to cast the appropriate spells into the item. Should the task to be incomplete at the end of this time, the priest will once again have to seek his deity's favor before continuing the process (in other words, start over at the beginning).

The priest is assumed to be perfectly faithful and true to his calling. Should this not be the case, in the DM's estimation, the process may fail or yield some result unanticipated by the priest. The enchantment may fail or the character's deity may curse the item in retribution for the priest's impudence in seeking favor so ill-deserved. The DM must judge the standing of the priest based on his previous actions and his current motives.

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