Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Let's Get Crafty

D&D: Arts and Crafts Edition
So, I've been talking a long time about magic item crafting. I wrote a whole series on crafting items from monsters (even included a crafting index!), I've written about using magic conceptually, how it works in my homebrew world, and and the innate power within magical materials.

It's about time I made a guide to actually crafting magic items.

I'm basing the outline of this on the numbers from Xanathar's Guide, pages 128-130. However, I think they missed a big draw of crafting an item: making your own custom gear. Yeah, it's cool that you could save up and craft a Holy Avenger, but let's be honest. You'd rather figure out how to make a Flaming Poisoning Raging Sword of Doom, right?

The Process of Crafting


To craft an item, you need three things: a base item, one or more spells you wish to infuse into that item, and any additional modification resources you wish to apply to the item. All of these will cost gold, and the crafting of the item will cost time.

Additionally, you need to have proficiency in the tools or skills needed to create an item. The base item determines which set of tools you will need. Your crafting bonus determines the amount of skill you have with your tools, and is determined by adding your proficiency bonus (double if you have expertise in that tool) to the default ability modifier for that tool.

For the purposes of crafting, Bards, Rogues, and those who take the Prodigy feat (XGtE pg. 75) may apply their expertise bonus to a set of tools.

The default ability modifiers for each set of tools are as follows:
  • Alchemist's Supplies: Wisdom
  • Brewer's Supplies: Wisdom
  • Calligrapher's Supplies: Dexterity
  • Carpenter's Tools: Strength
  • Cartographer's Tools: Dexterity
  • Cobbler's Tools: Strength
  • Cook's Utensils: Wisdom
  • Glassblower's Tools: Dexterity
  • Jeweler's Tools: Dexterity
  • Leatherworker's Tools: Strength
  • Mason's Tools: Strength
  • Painter's Supplies: Dexterity
  • Potter's Tools: Dexterity
  • Smith's Tools: Strength
  • Tinker's Tools: Dexterity
  • Weaver's Tools: Dexterity
  • Woodcarver's Tools: Strength
  • Disguise Kit: Wisdom
  • Forgery Kit: Dexterity
  • Gaming Set (any): Wisdom
  • Herbalism Kit: Wisdom
  • Musical Instrument: Dexterity
  • Navigator's Tools: Wisdom
  • Poisoner's Kit: Wisdom
  • Thieves' Tools: Dexterity
  • Vehicles (animal-drawn): Strength
  • Vehicles (wind/water borne): Wisdom

Once you have calculated your crafting bonus, you can determine the maximum level of magic item you can create. The total spell level of an item is determined by adding together the spell level of all spells the item is infused with. If an item is listed in the Dungeon Master's Guide, you may craft it only when you are able to craft items of the appropriate rarity, no matter what the spell levels would be needed to craft it.

  • If your crafting bonus is at least +3, you can craft mundane items using your tools. This can be useful for making your own base items for infusing with magic.
  • If your crafting bonus is at least +5, you can craft common magic items, or items that have a total spell level of 1 or less.
  • If your crafting bonus is at least +9, you can craft uncommon magic items, or items that have a total spell level of 4 or less.
  • If your crafting bonus is at least +11, you can craft rare magic items, or items that have a total spell level of 9 or less.
  • If your crafting bonus is at least +15, you can craft very rare magic items, or items that have a total spell level of 15 or less.
  • If your crafting bonus is at least +17, you can craft legendary magic items, or items that have a total spell level of 21 or less.
  • If your crafting bonus is at least +19, you can craft artifacts, and you have no limit on the amount of spell levels you can craft into an object.

Once you have determined the maximum rarity and spell level of the item you can create, you must set about finding the components of the magic item: a Base Item, a Spell, and Modifiers.

Base Items

Make your own plot device!
All magic items start with a base item. These are mundane items that will be enchanted during the creation process. You will need to craft this item, pay the full cost for it, or obtain it over the course of your adventures.

A magic item will usually clearly require a certain type of item. A Longsword +1 will require a longsword. An Elemental Gem will require the appropriate gemstone. Potions merely require water, making them the simplest of the base items to obtain.

The base item determines which set of tools you will need.

  • Potions: Herbalism Kit, Poisoner's Kit, or Alchemist's Supplies
  • Leather Armor, Boots, Some Cloaks: Leatherwoker's Kit
  • Metal Armor, Weapons: Smith's Tools
  • Robes, Clothing: Weaver's Tools
  • Spell Scrolls, Wands: Arcana
  • Etc.

Work with your DM to determine which set of tools is appropriate for your item. If you are crafting an Elemental Gem, you may need proficiency in Jeweler's Tools. 

The major exception to this is wizards. A character in the Wizard class may use their Arcana skill in place of a tool proficiency. However, the wizard will only be able to create items associated with their chosen school of magic, and they do not have the option to craft their own base items.

The base item required to create a magic item may not be available in the Player's Handbook. If you are looking to craft a certain item, talk to your DM about what might be used as a base for that item. More powerful items require more difficult to obtain base items. The DM is encouraged to use the Trade Goods table (PHB pg. 157) and the Gemstones and Art Objects tables (DMG pg. 134-5) to determine the value of the item you need to find.

If you find an item that is particularly attuned to becoming a certain magic item (such as many kinds of creature loot), the total gold cost of crafting the item is halved. However, the time required to craft the item remains the same. The DM decides if an item is meant to be crafted into a certain magic item.

The cost of the item can also be halved or affected by the forge, tools, or location it is crafted in. A magic forge might reduce the cost or time required to finish an item.

The base item also determines the attunement requirements of an item. If the item is something that is worn or can be used multiple times, it will likely require attunement. Work with your DM to determine if the item you wish to create will use an attunement slot.

Spells
Seems like a fun place to make a weapon
A magic item is simply an item imbued with one or more spells. A Longsword +3 is simply a longsword with a permanent 6th-level Magic Weapon spell cast upon it.

To imbue an object with a spell, you need a copy of that spell. You can use your spellbook, your known spells, or a spell scroll as reference. You don't need to be able to cast the spell yourself, but you do have to provide all material components for the spell when you craft it.

The most basic magic item is a spell scroll. Essentially, it is just paper with a magical effect. Thus, the cost of a spell scroll is used as the basis for determining the cost and time needed to create your magic item. Here is the list of spell scroll crafting requirements from Xanathar's Guide:
  • Cantrip: 1 day, 15 GP (DC 13/+5 to hit)
  • 1st level: 1 day, 25 GP (DC 13/+5 to hit)
  • 2nd level: 3 days, 250 GP (DC 13/+5 to hit)
  • 3rd level: 1 week, 500 GP (DC 15/+7 to hit)
  • 4th level: 2 weeks, 2500 GP (DC 15/+7 to hit)
  • 5th level: 4 weeks, 5000 GP (DC 17/+9 to hit)
  • 6th level: 8 weeks, 15000 GP (DC 17/+9 to hit)
  • 7th level: 16 weeks, 25000 GP (DC 18/+10 to hit)
  • 8th level: 32 weeks, 50000 GP (DC 18/+10 to hit)
  • 9th level: 48 weeks, 250000 GP (DC 19/+11 to hit)

As in Xanathar's Guide, there are 5 workdays in a week. Spending more time per week on a laborious task can incur Constitution saving throws by the DM to avoid becoming exhausted.

If you make an item using the above cost and time, the spell will be cast with the listed Save DC or Spell Attack Bonus. The item will be able to cast the spell or gain its effect once, without requiring material components, and then the object will become nonmagical. This is the equivalent of making a spell scroll or potion.

If you want your item to be able to use its spell more than once, then you must have a base item that will last through multiple castings, meaning a scroll or potion will not suffice. Additionally, you must apply one of the following modifiers:
  • To cast the spell 3 times before the object becomes nonmagical, the item will cost 3 times as much and 3 times as long to craft. The same is true for any number of charges.
  • To cast the spell once per day, the item will cost 5 times as much and take twice as long to craft. The item regains the ability to cast the spell at a time of day you specify, such as dawn or dusk.
  • To cast the spell 3 times per day, the item will cost 10 times as much and take 5 times as long to craft. The item regains the ability to cast the spell at a time of day you specify, such as dawn or dusk.
  • For the spell's effect to be constant, at will, or permanent, the item will cost 25 times as much and take 10 times as long to craft.
  • If the item can cast spells using charges, you must pay the cost and time for each spell. Each spell uses up a number of charges equal to its spell level. The item begins with 3 charges, and regains 1d3 charges at the time of day you specify. If you wish for the item to have more charges, use the modifiers below. Finally, it gains the property: If you expend the last charge of this item, roll a d20. On a 1, the item is destroyed.
    • 10 charges, regain 1d6+4 per day: The cost and time of the highest-level spell is multiplied by 5
    • 20 charges, regain 2d8+4 per day: The cost and time of the highest-level spell is multiplied by 10
    • 50 charges, regain 4d6+2 per day: The cost and time of the highest-level spell is multiplied by 25

As long as the effect of the spell is not changed, the spell can be flavored to fit the theme of your item. For example, the Staff of Swarming Insects allows its user to expend 1 charge to cast Fog Cloud, but it appears as a swarm of insects instead of smoke. No other effect of the spell is changed.

Modifiers
Axegun? Axegun.
Finally, you can add materials during the crafting process to modify a magic item.

Some modifiers apply to the overall magic item, others only to the spells the item can cast. More powerful magic requires more material to be infused for a modification to take place. To determine the cost of modifiers, take the highest-level spell you wish to infuse the item with. The cost of the materials needed to affect your item is given below.
  • Cantrip: 10 GP
  • 1st level: 25 GP
  • 2nd level: 25 GP
  • 3rd level: 50 GP
  • 4th level: 50 GP
  • 5th level: 100 GP
  • 6th level: 100 GP
  • 7th level: 500 GP
  • 8th level: 1000 GP
  • 9th level: 5000 GP

The materials are listed below, and have the following effects.
  • Adamantine: The item cannot be broken. An armor item reinforced with Adamantine becomes Adamantine armor in addition to its other properties. Due to the value of this material, the minimum cost to modify the item is 500 GP.
  • Agate: The item sheds bright light in a 10-foot radius and dim light for an additional 10 feet. The creature holding the item can use a bonus action to shed or extinguish the light. Alternatively, if the item is sentient or contains a soul, 500 GP of agate grants it darkvision within the range of its sight.
  • Amber: The item never gets dirty.
  • Black Onyx: If the item requires attunement, the attuned creature begins to decay and take on the appearance of an undead zombie. This process is painless as long as the creature remains attuned, but if the attunement ends, the creature immediately takes 1d10 necrotic damage per level of the spell within the item.
  • Black Pearl: When the bearer is presented with an opportunity to act in a selfish or malevolent way, the item heightens the bearer's urge to do so.
  • Blood: If the casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Poison damage. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical creature.
  • Bone: If the item casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Necrotic damage. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical creature.
  • Clay: While underground, the bearer of this item always knows  the item's depth below the surface and the direction to the nearest path leading upwards. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.
  • Chrysolite: The item makes no sound when it casts its spell.
  • Coal: The item is constantly covered in a thin layer of soot and grime.
  • Copper: If the item casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Psychic damage. Alternatively, if the item is sentient or contains a soul, 500 GP of copper grants it the ability to speak, read, and understand one or more languages.
  • Crystal: The item uses the spell save of its wielder, rather than the save dictated by the spell. The item can only be used by creatures who have the item's spell on their class spell list.
  • Diamond: The item is affected as if by the Awaken spell. It cannot move on its own, communicates by transmitting emotions to its wielder, can see and hear out to a distance of 30 feet, and is charmed by its creator as in the spell's description. It gains the ability to withhold its magical properties at will. Due to the value of this material, the minimum cost to modify the item is 1000 GP.
  • Dirt: While underground, the bearer of this item always knows  the item's depth below the surface and the direction to the nearest path leading upwards. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.
  • Glass: If the item casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Lightning damage. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.
  • Gold: If the item requires attunement, attuning to the item only takes 1 minute.
  • Incense: By using a particular scent of incense, the item may be linked to a particular deity during its creation. The deity must approve of any creature that uses or attunes to the item. If a creature opposed to the deity attempts to wield the weapon, it loses its magical properties until it is wielded by a creature the deity approves of.
  • Iron: The bearer of the item can use an action to determine which way is north. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.
  • Ivory: The item whispers warnings to its bearer, granting a +2 bonus to initiative if the bearer isn't incapacitated. This effect is separate from the item's sentience or soul, if it has one.
  • Jacinth: The bearer can speak and understand one language of the creator's choice while the item is on the bearer's person. The language must be one listed in the Player's Handbook.
  • Jade: The item produces a fragment of an ancient song when used.
  • Lead: If the item is targeted by a Detect Magic or Identify spell, the spell fails and the spell slot is wasted. If at least 500 GP of lead is used in the creation of the item, the item is permanently under the effect of a Nystul's Magic Aura spell, the effects of which are chosen by the creator at the item's creation. If at least 5000 GP of lead is used in the creation of the item, the item and its bearer act as if they are under a Nondetection spell.
  • Lodestone: If the item casts a spell that takes more than 1 round to cast, that spell can be cast in half the listed time instead.
  • Mercury: If the item casts a spell with a duration longer than instantaneous, the spell lasts twice as long as it normally would, to a maximum of 24 hours.
  • Mica: If the item casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Thunder damage.
  • Mithril: The item weighs half its normal weight, while maintaining its durability. An armor item reinforced with Mithril becomes Mithril armor in addition to its other properties. Due to the value of this material, the minimum cost to modify the item is 800 GP.
  • Opal: The item is imbued with illusion magic, allowing the bearer to alter the item's appearance in minor ways. These changes are entirely cosmetic and don't affect the weapon's properties. It reverts to its true appearance when no one is carrying or wielding it.
  • Pearl: When the bearer of the item contemplates or undertakes a malevolent act, the item enhances pangs of conscience.
  • Peridot: The bearer of the item can use an action to cause their voice to be heard clearly for up to 300 feet until the end of the bearer's next turn.
  • Pitch: If the item casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Acid damage. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.
  • Platinum: The item can have a soul stored within it, becoming sentient. The soul cannot move the item on its own, communicates by transmitting emotions to its wielder, and can hear and see within 30 feet of the item. It gains the ability to withhold the magical properties of the item at will. Due to the value of this material, the minimum cost to modify the item is 5000 GP.
  • Quartz: If the item casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Cold damage.
  • Ruby: The item glows faintly when a certain kind of creature is within 120 feet of it. The kind of creature it detects is chosen by the item's creator.
  • Salt: If the item is a potion with a duration of 1 hour, the duration extends to 1d4 hours. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.
  • Sand: The item floats on water and other liquids. Its bearer has advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks made to swim. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.
  • Sapphire: If the item is sentient or contains a soul, the range of its hearing and vision increases by 30 feet for each 500 GP of sapphire used in the item's creation, to a maximum of 120 feet. Because of its unique property, any amount of Sapphire can be used in a magic item creation, regardless of the highest level spell associated with the item.
  • Silver: A weapon item modified with silver counts as a silvered weapon. Alternatively, if the item is sentient or contains a soul, 5000 GP of silver grants it the ability to communicate telepathically with any creature that carries or wields it.
  • Stone: While underground, the bearer of this item always knows  the item's depth below the surface and the direction to the nearest path leading upwards. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.
  • Sulfer: If the item casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Fire damage.
  • Sunstone: If the item casts a spell that deals damage, that damage can be changed to Radiant damage.
  • Water: The bearer of the item suffers to harm in temperatures as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit or as warm as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. To gain this effect, the material must be obtained from a magical location.

Note that these materials will be used in different ways during the process. A ring that is infused with sapphire doesn't need a sapphire set into it, but would have powdered sapphire added to the metal during the forging process.

Again, the DM is encouraged to use the Trade Goods table (PHB pg. 157) and the Gemstones and Art Objects tables (DMG pg. 134-5) to determine the value of the materials needed for modification.

The Crafting Process


Oh boy, here we go...
When a player wishes to craft a magic item, the first thing they must do is determine the total gold and time cost to create the magic item. They need to pay for the base item, a copy of the spells and their material components, the cost of infusing the spell into the item, and any modifiers the item might use. Remember, if they have a base item that lends itself to magic item creation, the gold cost is halved.

When they have saved up the gold required to create the magic item, they can spend it all at once to begin the creation process. This constitutes them buying all the materials they need to create the item. Because of the necessity of applying different parts of the material components at different times of the crafting process, they must spend all the gold up front.

Then, they need downtime equal to the time required to make an item. They don't need to spend it all at once, but the item will not be completed until they devote enough time to the item. When they spend their last downtime day, the item is completed. As part of the crafting process, they can choose to immediately attune to the item.

Let's take an example.

A character wishes to craft a Hat of Disguise. They found a Couatl Feather that their DM said would be an excellent base item for this endeavor. They already have the hat they wish to use as their base item. The DM determines the item, when crafted, will require attunement. Because this is an uncommon magic item, the character has a weaver's tools bonus of +9, or they are a Wizard specializing in Illusion magic with an Arcana bonus of +9.

The character will need 1 day and 25 gold to infuse the object with a 1st level spell. Since they wish to make the effect at will, these amounts are multiplied by 25. The Disguise Self spell has no material components, but they will need a copy of the spell in order to create the item. Fortunately, they already know the spell.

Let's suppose the character also wishes to use Gold to modify the item, to give it a shorter attunement time. Since the highest spell the item can cast is 1st level, the player must provide 25 GP worth of gold.

The character pays the gold required to make the item. This is the spell's 25 gold cost, multiplied by 25 to make it at will, plus 25 GP for the modification, divided by half because of the Couatl Feather. The total cost is 325 gold.

Then, the character must devote 25 downtime days to the creation of the item. After the last day, the Hat of Disguise is complete, and can be immediately attuned to by the character.

Here's an example of a custom item.

A character wishes to make a cloning machine. They are going to use the Simulacrum spell to do so, which makes the total spell level required 7. The DM determines that they will need a Tinker's Tools or Arcana (Illusion) bonus of +11 or higher, and will have to acquire a large metal container as the base item. Using the Trade goods table (and some googling), the DM determines the container weighs 500 pounds and costs 100 GP to craft. The DM determines this item will not require attunement.

The character will need 16 weeks and 25,000 GP to infuse the object with a 7th-level spell. They want to create 3 clones a day, so they must multiply the gold cost by 10 and the time cost by 5. The Simulacrum spell requires 1,500 GP of material components, which they must provide. Finally, they supply 500 GP of Adamantine to make the machine unbreakable, and 500 GP of Lodestone to cut the 12-hour casting time of the spell in half. The character doesn't know the Simulacrum spell, but found a spell scroll on their journey that they plan to copy it from.

The character pays the gold required to craft the item, totaling 252,500 GP. They must then devote 80 workweeks to the creation of the cloning machine, or approximately 1.5 years in Ahnerian time. After the last day, the machine is functional and can spit out a clone of a creature within it every 6 hours, to a maximum of 3 times per day. At the DM's discretion, the machine may have a maximum number of clones it can have active at a given time.

As a DM, the prospect of a cloning machine may be scary or world-breaking for you. I personally think there are a lot of good reason to do it (such as making the world more fantastic, giving players a goal for their gold, and stocking your magic item shops), but if you disagree, that's okay! There are plenty of points in the process where you can stop this endeavor. Tell them there's no tools sufficient to create such an item, that the base item they need doesn't exist yet, or even just limit their cloning to one clone at a time like in the original spell.

The point of this is to give a crafting process with simple costs and choices, flexibility, and creative effects. Overall, I feel pretty comfortable with the result. The process is also fairly balanced, since we are using the existing spell lists to build our costs.

Thanks for reading!

4 comments:

  1. Good work on this crafting post! I do have a question about downtime days (DD). In your example, the hat of disguise (uncommon) takes 25 DD. Using Xanathar's guide it would be 10 DD and the DMG states 20 DD.

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    1. Good catch! I'm okay with it as is, but I definitely hope people will adjust this system to fit their game. I'm planning a game with a lot of potential downtime between adventures, so I'm okay with a longer amount of time to craft each item.

      Also, I've found that unless you are playing Adventurer's League style and assigning DD, your players will simply ask if the time can pass no matter how long it is. So having longer times discourages the "my character works at it until it's done!" mentality.

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    2. So does your crafting rules use formulas? Also, is there a reason these crafting rules differ from your creature loot rules. Example, it takes 2 cloaker wings, a 11th lvl caster and 80 hours to craft a cloak of displacement. Basically, your creature loot rules uses hours instead of days.

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    3. Yes, the formulas are up in the article. I will probably compile them into a PDF after I get a chance to test them more.

      As for the second question... Well, the Medieval Melodies systems are always works in progress. I included the crafting system with the loot because I hadn't created this system yet. Now that I have this system, I might use one or the other depending on how deeply into crafting my players want to get. I like to stay flexible!

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