I’ve been thinking lately about the XP cost inherent in magic item creation which discourages player characters from making items. They already spend valuable feats to be able to make items, and must further spend XP to make items that don’t necessarily make the creator more powerful himself. Here’s a simple variant rule that can help to combat that problem.
Item creation does not have an XP cost at all. Instead, the creator must expend a rare power component when making the item. The exact component required is different for each item, and it is entirely up to the DM what that component is and how easy it is to acquire. Additionally, knowing the correct power component for any given item requires a Knowledge (arcana) check with a DC equal to 10 plus the minimum caster level of the item being created. The power component has a market value of 10 gp for each point of XP that the item would normally have cost.
Example: A chime of opening would normally cost 3,000 gp to purchase, or 1,500 gp and 120 experience points to create. Under this variant, the item creator must spend 1,500 gp and expend a special material component with a value of 1,200 gold pieces - his DM decides that the component is a pound of encarium, a rare metal ore. The player must succeed at a DC21 Knowledge (arcana) check to know what the component is, and any time anyone creates a chime of opening the component is always the same. The DM may choose whether or not the player can simply buy the required amount of encarium in a city, or may require it to be found by other means. He does not have to pay any experience points, nor may he choose to.
Taking item creation feats in this variant is still preferable to buying the items straight out, since personally made items now cost a small percentage less than to buy them, if the components are available for purchase. A similar thing can be done with spells that require an XP cost, affording the players a limited opportunity to use spells like commune and wish just as long as they can find the incredibly rare material components required.
as a spell caster, I would not use this method. You are using a feat to save 10% of the price. Additionally, you still need to spend the time to make it. So in your example to make the chime, I could ether spend one feat, 2700 GP, and 3 days to make it; or I could spend no feat or time, and 300 extra GP.
I have played D&D1E, AD&D, D&D 3.0/3.5 and think that from all variants AD&D had the best solution to magical items. The PC had to research how to make the item, build/borrow a place to make it, and then gather valuable components, perform special processes/rituals, etc. to enchant it. On top, there was a small chance that it would all go awry, a hint of risk in item creation. WOTC makes enchanting items under their current rules like baking a cake mix; pay the gp, pay the xp, wait x days and presto!! Instant item. Boreing and totaly dissatisfying.
The 3.5 DMG already states a gold piece value for XP set at 5gp per XP. This makes the feat more valuable since you get a 30% savings. In our campaign, we also only allowed unique combinaios of magic items such as Speed Boos of Striding and Springing, to be PC created. We also grouped several of the item creation feats together: weapon/armor, rods/staves/wands/rings, scrlls/potions, and misc magic. This encouraged the use of the feats in long campaigns
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