Sunday, October 2, 2022

Should Make You Not to Die (Magic Item Creation Rules)

 "Fun magic item creation rules" for GLoGtober.

What is the difference between a +1 flaming flamberge and a mercenary company? In many Dungeon games, the answer is that you can't buy a magic flamberge. In such games, often with the obscured intent of forcing a charcter back to dungeoncrawling, where the game is supposed to be, magic item creation rules are traditionally fiddly or unsatisfying. Here's another approach, and you can decide which of the two it is.

A magic-user of second level and higher can create magic items given enough power, time, and gold, at the risk of a fell curse.
  • Power: Magic needs to be introduced to an existing item, which the magician may want to commission for the task at hand. For each special feature the item will have, the magician must know a relevant spell to commit to the crafting, like knowing a fireball spell to make a burning mace. Finally, if it's a magic item that gives a simple numerical bonus, like a +2 flail, the highest bonus that can be given is determined by the magician's level. In a 4-template game, it's equal to half the level plus one, rounded down. In a BXish game, it's 1 for every three levels attained.
    • Things that increase your effective level by 1 for this purpose, cumulatively: a sacred forge, crafting the item in the land of the dead, destroying two other magic items in the crafting, sacrifice of that which you love most.
  • Time: The DM assigns a number of weeks required for the magic item in question. It should at least take one week for every spell level of spell imbued, plus a little extra for each feature.
    • Things that can cut the time needed in half, cumulatively: lightning, demihuman crafters in their element, a magical colleague, improving an already magical item, dragonfire, crafting the item as part of a set.
  • Gold: the DM decides the cost by considering the value of the labor the item will offer, based on existing hireling and service tables. How many porters or soldiers or spies is this item replacing? This is why so many magic items glow-- the cost of hiring a linkboy is almost nothing. The cost of enchanting the item is equivalent to the cost of hiring such people for three years, modified at the discretion of the DM. If the effect can only be said to be done by a character with a PC class, the cost is equivalent to a third of the XP needed to reach the level of such a PC.
  • Risk of a Fell Curse: Whenever a magical item is created, there is a percentage chance equal to the number of existing magic items the enchanter has created that it will bring about a horrible curse. When the enchanter dies, make this roll again for all magic items they've enchanted. If cursed, roll a d6:
    • 1: loses all magic, the cost of creation is lost.
    • 2: explodes.
    • 3: serves opposite purpose, gives penalties instead of bonuses.
    • 4: gains a malign intelligence and the potential to dominate users.
    • 5: haunted by ghosts, functioning occasionally.
    • 6: creator, or the site of their death, becomes fallow and attracts cruel beasts.
(This is why most great wizards require their pupils to make them a magic item as part of their final year of study.)

  • Heops the Grandiose wants to make a broom that sweeps their floors for them. Contributing the floating disc spell and a week of enchanting, their work costs only 36 gold coins, since that is the cost of hiring a peasant for three years in the ruleset they're playing with.
  • Lindel the Wise seeks to create a scimitar that will come to life and defend her when she is attacked. Her player considers researching a spell that will more directly apply to this, but the DM decides her protection from evil spell is enough. It's a first-level spell, and they decide that the sword will have an extra feature of being always vigilant, never surprised. Discussing among themselves, they decide that Lindel's sword will have the puissance of a fourth-level fighter PC and therefore in BX cost 2,6667 gold coins to create.
  • Jambamvamorix the wizard wants to suck on a magic stone that will make him immune to poisonous gasses. The player and DM decide that this will require the fourth-level cleric spell Neutralize Poison. This will therefore take four weeks of work, but worse still Jambamvamorix doesn't know that spell, and in this ruleset can't learn it. He goes on a brief adventure to hire a cleric to work with him for the process. In B/X, this is replicating the work of a level 6 cleric and therefore costs 8,334 gold coins to enchant.

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