Saturday, September 19, 2009

House rules: Magic item and intrinsic creation

Magic item and intrinsic creation

Player characters wishing to create permanent magic items or enhance themselves with new intrinsic abilities will follow this procedure for preparing and then creating a magic item.

These rules apply to creating any kind of magic item or supernatural ability, with the exception of magic scrolls and magic potions. The standard rules for the creation of potions and scrolls still apply, including costs, time, and prerequisite feats.


  1. Prerequisites:
    • you must have one of the new feats, either Craft Magic Item or Imbue Supernatural Ability.
    • When using craft Magic Item, you must be able to use the item you are trying to create.
  2. Spend money preparing a raw, non-magical item. If you have the appropriate crafting feat, you may make a crafting check to reduce the overall cost. The amount you spend determines bonuses to the final check.

    • If you wish to prepare an item for a particular purpose or ability, you must include some aspect of the final product as a specific raw material.
  3. Attempt to perform a binding act to imbue the object or individual with magical power. Announce what kind of magic item is being bound.

  4. If the binding act is successful, determine the total bonus to the item creation roll. Bonuses are determined by amount spent in the initial creation and appropriateness of the binding act, and may be modified by whether a specific item is being attempted, whether an item which is already magical is being enhanced, and whether the enhancement is an improvement to the existing ability or is an unrelated new power.

  5. Determine the value of the item created; GM and player discuss and agree on the exact stats of the item created using the value as a guideline.

Prerequisites In Depth

To create a magic item other than a scroll or a potion, the process is detailed here.

New Feats

Craft Magic Item

This feat replaces Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Rod, Craft Staff, Craft Wand, Craft Wondrous Item, and Forge Ring. (The Brew Potion and Scribe Scroll feats remain unchanged.)

Total Class Levels 6.

This feat allows you to perform a binding act which creates a magic item from a prepared item.

The prepared item must be an item that the character can use without penalties or making a special check such as Use Magic Device. Armor or weapons for which the character does not have the requisite feat may not be created with this feat. The character does not need to have prepared the item himself.

Details about the use of this feat are discussed below.

Imbue Supernatural Ability
Craft Magic Item, total Class Levels 10.

This feat allows you to perform a binding act which imbues the character himself with an intrinsic power. It requires that the character has prepared himself as if preparing a magic item to use Craft Magic Item.

Details about the use of this feat are discussed below.

Encounter Challenge Rating

To create a magical item or imbue oneself with a special ability, the character needs an encounter with a CR at least equal to the character's total character level. Thus a binding act to create a magic item always requires at least a CR6 encounter; a binding act to imbue oneself with a supernatural ability always requires at least a CR 10 encounter. More details about the nature of the encounter may be found below.

Preparation in Depth

Most of the following is meant to apply to both magical item creation, and the use of Imbue Supernatural Ability to give oneself an intrinsic ability.

In order to create a magic item, the character must prepare the item in advance. The first, required, step is that the character must spend a certain amount of money on materials, ceremonies and craftsmanship making the item. The amounts to spend are given below, broken down by category. There is a minimum cost, and an additional amount which may be spent to get a bonus to the final roll. See table below. On the left is the character's total character level. On the right are the amounts to spend to get a bonus to the binding roll. No amount of additional money will grant a preparation bonus greater than +5, regardless of level.

This cost in GP represents time and effort spent making the item as appropriate as possible a vessel for magical energy. For weapons and armor, it usually represents crafting a masterwork blade or suit of plate mail, out of rare and arcane materials.

When the character is attempting a binding act which will grant an intrinsic ability, this represents time and money spent preparing oneself for the binding. It may literally involve personal adornments (artificial teeth to get a magical bite attack, tattoos to bind spell-like abilities, and so on) or it may represent the time spent physically preparing oneself, visiting remote masters for guidance, and so on.

Total CL [*] +0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5
6 1000 1900 3000 4400 6200 7500
7 1250 2350 3750 5550 7850 10850
8 1500 2900 4700 7000 10000 14000
9 1750 3550 5850 8850 12850 17350
10 2000 4300 7300 11300 15800 21800
11 2500 5500 9500 14000 21000 30000
12 3000 7000 10500 18500 27500 37500
13 3500 8000 15000 24000 34000 48000
14 4000 11000 20000 30000 44000 61000
15 5000 14000 24000 38000 55000 76000
16 6000 16000 30000 47000 58000 83000
17 8000 22000 39000 50000 75000 105000
18 10000 27000 36000 63000 93000 128000
19 12000 33000 58000 88000 123000 163000
20 15000 40000 60000 105000 145000 190000
[*]Note that the actual bonus may not be the same as what the character expected when doing the preparation. For example, if a level 6 character spends 7500gp on preparation, then gains 2 levels before attempting the binding act, the bonus is only +3 in accordance with the table for a level 8 character, not +5 (as it would have been at level 6).

The second, optional step gives the character the ability to prepare the item for a particular purpose. This gives a separate bonus on the final roll, but only if the encounter is thematically related to the purpose for which the character prepared (see guidelines below for binding act themes).

Preparing an item for a particular purpose grants you a +1 bonus to the binding roll, if the encounter is themed similarly to the purpose. For example, if you prepared an item by adding a rare metallic poison to its construction to get magical poison damage added to the attack, you will only receive the bonus if you fight something poisonous. If you end up binding the weapon with a non-poison-related theme, you do not receive the +1 binding roll bonus.

Binding Acts in Depth

A binding act occurs when a player announces her intent to create a magic item, and the character has already prepared an item in advance and has it on her person. Only one binding act may be attempted at a time.

Upon announcing that she is going to perform a binding act:

  1. She asks to create an item with a particular theme. For example, "I want to add additional critical hit damage to my longsword", or "I want to turn this wand into a wand of lightning bolt."

  2. The GM announces a trial that must be met. The trial will be in some way related to the power requested by the player. For example, must successfully score a critical hit during the next encounter, or the character must kill one creature in the encounter with a lightning bolt. The difficulty of the challenge may also depend on how difficult the encounter is.

    Challenges usually involve only a single encounter, but not necessarily. For example, to create a sword vs. orckind, the GM may create a challenge that involves slaying 50 orcs. However, if a binding act requires more than one encounter, the character must not rest between encounters. Stopping to do anything else during a binding act is an automatic failure.

    Challenges should involve the direct action of the player, but if the challenge is to defeat an enemy, with your party, the character performing the challenge only needs to be involved.

    The encounter and challenge need not be combat-related.

  3. The encounter or encounters run as usual. The GM determines whether the challenge has been met.

  4. If the challenge is met, the binding act is complete and a magic item is created (pending the binding roll, see below). If the challenge is not met, the item is always either destroyed or cursed. Binding acts to imbue with a supernatural ability which fail result in the character being cursed; see [1].


Encounters, and magic items, have particular themes. They may have many, in fact. For example, a fight with a huge earth elemental is earth themed. It may also be brawn-themed. Depending on the actions of the characters, other themes may come into play; for example, if the party kills it primarily with fire-based attacks, the encounter may be fire-themed. The actual themes are at the GM's discretion.

The challenge should be related to the theme of the encounter, and the encounter theme should be related to the theme of the power. Non-combat encounter themes will tend to create items that are not destructive in nature. Conversely, it is usually not possible to create a non-combat item in a combat encounter.

The equipment being created is also themed. The player decides what kind of item they are attempting to create, and is free to interpret the theme of the encounter as they do so. For example, in an encounter with a greater basilisk, they may decide to create a helm of stoneskin. They do not have to, though. If the item requested is not obviously tied to the encounter's theme, it is up to the GM to come up with a challenge that suits it.


  • with your party, defeat the gorgon
  • in the next battle, fight the kraken, and land a hit on it that does at least 25 damage
  • kill at least 20 orcs without rest
  • succesfully negotiate a treaty with the warlord
  • assist your party through the swinging blades trap without anyone getting injured


One final way the character can enhance the item or ability is by requesting that the GM attach a drawback to it. This is some flaw, penalty, or restriction on the item which makes it either somewhat dangerous or somewhat harder to use.

If the player elects to give the item a drawback, the character will receive up to +4 on the binding roll, depending on how severe the drawback is.

For the GM, when selecting a drawback, consider that drawbacks should be fun to roleplay, but must represent a genuine challenge to the player using the item. The drawback should be suited to the theme of the item. For example, a ring of diplomacy with a drawback might, on a roll of 1 in 1d20, cause the user to speak in the wrong language when the item is being used.

Also consider that drawbacks should not render the item so dangerous or hard to use that it is effectively useless.

Binding Roll in Depth

Once the challenge is completed, the final step of binding a magic item is the binding roll. Determine bonuses to the roll according to the following chart:

Bonus to Binding Roll Reason
Up to +5 Additional money spent in preparation
+1 Prepared for a purpose and appropriately-themed encounter
+2 Item has a moderate drawback
+4 Item has a severe drawback
Up to +2 Theme of the encounter matches theme of the item extremely well (GM's discretion)
+1 Item is already magical, and power being added aligns with theme
-5 Item is already magical, and power being added is not thematically aligned

Then roll 1d20 on the following chart. Down the left column is CR of the encounter which occurred during the binding act (GM's discretion, if the binding act actually involved several encounters in series). For example, if the party fought a huge earth elemental, that creature is CR7, so find the CR 7 row and read across.

CR 1 or less [†] 2-17 18-19 20-21 22-23 24-25 26-27 28-29 30+
6 Item destroyed 6000 7800 10000 12800 16400 21000 27000 35000
7 Item destroyed 7800 10000 12800 16400 21000 27000 35000 44000
8 Item destroyed 10000 12800 16400 21000 27000 35000 44000 58000
9 Item destroyed 12800 16400 21000 27000 35000 44000 58000 76000
10 Item cursed [1] 16400 21000 27000 35000 44000 58000 76000 96000
11 Item cursed [1] 21000 27000 35000 44000 58000 76000 96000 124000
12 Item cursed [1] 27000 35000 44000 58000 76000 96000 124000 158000
13 Item cursed [1] 35000 44000 58000 76000 96000 124000 158000 200000
14 Item cursed [1] 44000 58000 76000 96000 124000 158000 200000 250000
15 Item cursed [1] 58000 76000 96000 124000 158000 200000 250000 300000
16 Item cursed [1] 76000 96000 124000 158000 200000 250000 300000 350000
17 Item cursed [1] 96000 124000 158000 200000 250000 300000 350000 400000
18 Item cursed [1] 124000 158000 200000 250000 300000 350000 400000 450000
19 Item cursed [1] 158000 200000 250000 300000 350000 400000 450000 500000
20 Item cursed [1] 200000 250000 300000 350000 400000 450000 500000 550000
[†]On a roll of natural 1, the binding is always a failure, regardless of modifiers. Nothing special happens on a natural 20.
[1](1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

Nature of the cursed item is at the GM's discretion. When an item which already had abilities is cursed, there may be additional consequences.

When the character is using Imbue Supernatural Ability, the curse is on the character herself, and is permanent. It can only be removed by a limited wish, wish, or miracle.

Now the GM and the player should decide on what the actual powers the item will have, or on the nature of the intrinsic ability. Use, as a guideline, the market prices for magic items given in the magic item tables you are using for your campaign.

If the character succeeds in their binding roll but the value of the ability or item they desire is more than the value they rolled, the GM should substitute a similar but less-powerful ability or item near the value rolled.

Spell-Like Abilities

When determining the market price of a supernatural spell-like ability, use the following formula (similar to the market price for wands):

level of the spell x uses per day x total CL x 750gp

So, to get an innate fireball ability that can be used once per day, the market price of an equivalent magic item for a level 10 character would be 3 x 1 x 10 x 750 = 22500gp.

The caster level for innate spell-like ability is equal to one-half the character's CL, or the lowest level caster necessary to cast the spell, whichever is greater. For the fireball example above, the caster level for the ability will be 5 since that is the lowest level of any class that can cast fireball.