Crafting Magic Armor

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Manabane Breastplate

Calculating Cost

To determine the cost of a magic armor, you must add up the following:

  • The cost of the non-magical base armor
  • The cost of any dweomermetal used in the armor's construction
  • The cost of the enhancement bonus
  • The cost of the sum of all magic properties
Enhancement Bonus or Magic Properties Cost
+1 1,150
+2 5,000
+3 12,500
+4 28,000
+5 90,000
+6 (epic) 377,500
+7 (epic) 1,150,000
+8 (epic) 3,600,000
+9 (epic) 11,025,000


To magically enchant armor, a character needs a good heavy workshop. There must be a powerful heat source such as a blown forge or magical fire. There must be a strong anvil and a wide variety of high-quality tools. There must be adequate room to work, with benches and tables. Finally, there should be a supply of materials, the most obvious being the armor or the pieces of the armor to be assembled. A good forge can be a cozy affair, or a massive workshop that sprawls and rambles through many rooms of a castle. In no case is any workspace ever portable.

Creating magic armor has a special prerequisite: The creator's effective caster level must be at least three times the enhancement bonus of the armor. If an item has both an enhancement bonus and one or more magic armor properties, the highest of the listed caster level requirements must be met. Magic armor must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus to have any magic armor properties added to it.

If spells are involved in the prerequisites for enchanting the armor, the creator must have either 1) prepared the spells to be cast (or must know the spells, in the case of a sorcerer or bard), 2) Purchased scrolls of the spells, 3) Have the spells otherwise available such as in a wand, or 4) have worked out with the GM in advance any allowed substitutions (a jug of red dragon blood from a dragon of the proper challenge rating to substitute for a meteor swarm spell, for example) and must provide any material components or focuses the spells require. The act of working on the armor triggers the prepared spells, or integrates any allowed substitutes. The spells are not available to cast, and the substitutes are consumed in making the item. (Those spell slots are expended from the caster's currently prepared spells, just as if they had been cast.)

Enchanting magic armor may entail other prerequisites beyond just spells or substituted materials. See the individual descriptions for details.

Note that the Armor and Body magic item slots are the same slot, so a character cannot wear both armor and a body slot item at the same time.

  • Time Required: Crafting magic armor uses the Abstract Encounter rules, with an Interval of one day, and thus one Bailiwick skill roll allowed per day. The target to enchant the item is double an Impossible skill check target for the CL of the item being made. In all cases, the minimum time required to create an item is seven days.
  • Feat(s) Required: Creator.
  • Skill(s) Required: Divinity, Naturalism, Reason, Spellcraft, Spycraft or Warfare

Allowed Enchantments

Magic armors have three types of improvements that may be applied to them:

Armor Enhancement Bonus

Heroic tier characters (characters from level 1 to level 20) can wear armor with an enhancement bonus up to +5, and can have up to +5 pluses worth of Magic Armor properties applied to their armor, though there must always be at least +1 Enhancement bonus on the armor before any magic armor properties can be applied. As a result, heroic tier characters can wear armor with an absolute bonus of anything from +1 to +10.

Epic tier characters (characters level 21 to level 35) can wear armor with an enhancement bonus up to +9, and can have a total of up to +9 pluses-worth of Magic Armor properties applied to their armor (resulting in an Absolute Bonus as high as +18). However, the enhancement bonus of the armor must be raised to at least +6 before it can have any Epic magic armor properties applied to it.

Any attempt to wear armor more magically enchanted than your level allows results in the character taking a non-proficiency penalty with the armor (-4 to attack rolls), and the possibility of even more dire consequences (such as insanity, or being controlled by the armor).

At level 36 and higher (apotheosis) all restrictions on enhancement bonuses and the magic item properties are lifted, at which point the armor may be enchanted in any way the characters can afford.

Magic Armor Properties

Magic Armor Properties are additional traits, bonuses or effects that magic armors grant or perform on top of the normal functionality of that armor. Armor must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus before any magic armor properties may be added to them. The limit to the total value of all armor properties that may be added to a suit of armor is +5 pluses worth of properties for characters level 20 or below (heroic tier), or +9 pluses-worth of properties for characters levels 21 to 35 (epic tier). At level 36 and higher all restrictions are lifted, and armor may be enchanted in any way the characters can afford and the referee will allow.

No item may ever have the same property twice.

Upgrading and Changing Enchantments

Enhancement bonuses cannot be removed from magic armor once applied, but the enhancement bonus can be increased. The cost to do so is the difference in cost between the old Absolute Bonus and the new Absolute Bonus.
Magic armor properties can be removed from armor weapon, replaced with altogether new properties, or upgraded to a higher version of the existing magic weapon property (when applicable). The cost to do so is the difference in cost between the old Absolute Bonus and the new Absolute Bonus. However, if the Absolute Bonus goes down, there is no refund of money unless you can convince the craftsman performing the alterations why he should actually pay you for the privilege of doing that work. Performing magic armor property swaps and upgrades takes one full day of work per change in the Absolute Bonus, with a minimum of 1 full day. Even if this work isn't performed by a player, the player must wait for the alterations to be performed, and they cannot make use of the armor while the craftsman is working on it. Some craftsmen might offer to lend or rent out a suit of armor while their customers wait, though they would expect the loaner armor to be returned to them in good condition.
Magic armor which is altered in such a way as to violate the limitations of the campaign level will inflict a non-proficiency penalty on the wearer, or worse.

Special Rule: Absolute Bonus

By adding together the 'plus' values of the Enhancement Bonus and Magic Properties of a suit of armor you determine the armor's Absolute Bonus. For example, a +2 Expeditious Plate Mail has a +4 Absolute Bonus, which is the sum of the +2 Enhancement bonus and the +2 Expeditious property. The maximum possible Absolute Bonus of any magic weapon, armor or shield is +18, though the maximum allowed in a given campaign varies by the campaign's current player level. At level 36, all restrictions are lifted, and weapons, armors and shields may be enchanted in any way the characters can afford.

Dweomermetals and Special Materials

Mundane armor is assumed to be made of forged iron. Fragile armor is usually made of crude iron, bronze, or bone. Armor made from fantastic materials are possible as well, such as the classic mithril and adamantine. These fantastic materials are collectively called "dweomermetals".

Note that special materials cannot be added to an existing suit of armor. The armor must be built from the special material before it can be enchanted. If a character already has a +3 breastplate, and wants it to be a +3 mithril breastplate, he would have to sell his old breastplate and buy an argent one. He cannot simply upgrade it. (This rule can be broken, at GM discretion, in cases where the armor is a family heirloom, an artifact, or any sort of magic item that is meant to grow with the player, where replacing it with a new armor would disrupt the story continuity for the character. In these cases, the item may have always been made from the special material, but only exhibits its qualities when the character reaches a high enough level to appreciate it, or perhaps it acquires the special materials qualities after some event transpires (like the character gets splashed with molten mithril).)

Only ONE special material may be used in the construction of a single suit of armor, even after the Apotheosis at level 36. Armor cannot be made of both ambergold and paramount alloy.

Restricted Enchantments

Armor cannot have any other magical enchantments placed on it besides the three listed above: armor enhancement bonus, magic armor properties and dweomermetals/special materials. For the sake of heading off questions, a list of what is NOT allowed is provided below. Note that there are magic armor properties and dweomermetals which can provide some of the effects below. However, except by using those properties or materials, these effects cannot be directly enchanted into armor.

Other Magic Armor Considerations

Full Suits

Armor is always created so that if the type of armor comes with a pair of boots, a helm, or a set of gauntlets, these pieces can be exchanged for other magic boots, helms, or gauntlets. It even looks good! Isn't magic great?

Caster Level for Armor

The caster level of magic armor with a special ability is given in the item description. For an item with only an enhancement bonus, the caster level is three times the enhancement bonus. If an item has both an enhancement bonus and a special ability, the higher of the two caster level requirements must be met. As always, caster level can either be a character's 'native' caster if they actually cast spells, or their Effective Caster Level they gain from having the Creator feat and ranks in either Divinity, Naturalism, Reason, Spellcraft, Spycraft or Warfare. Note that even spell casters have to have the Creator feat to make magic items.

Hardness and Hit Points

Armor does not have hardness or hit points. This has been replaced with the Sunder combat maneuver. Instead, armor can be Broken if a sunder attempt successfully equals or exceeds the wielder's Maneuver Defense. See the Sunder maneuver and the Broken condition pages for more details.

Magical enhancement bonuses on armor do not increase the wielder's Maneuver Defense versus sunder attempts, though some Dweomermetals do.

Interaction between Shields and Armor

Shield enhancement bonuses stack with armor enhancement bonuses.

Armor can be built such that it also acts as a magic weapon. This requires the armor to be equipped with armor spikes, and is handled as if the armor was a double weapon, namely, two sets of enhancements are applied to the armor and the costs are tracked as though they were two separate items, even though they aren't. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that like bonuses never stack. For example, a property which grants an armor bonus to AC from the armor spikes would not stack with the armor bonus provided by the armor itself. Also, as a note, some magic weapon properties, such as the Defending magic item property, require you to use your armor as a weapon to gain the benefit of the property. The GM may rule that when using the armor spikes as a weapon means you lose the actual armor bonuses until the start of your next turn, just as if you used a shield for a shield bash.

Activation of Armor

Usually a character benefits from magic armor in exactly the way a character benefits from non-magical armor: by wearing them. If armor has a special ability that the user needs to activate, then the user usually needs to utter the command word (a standard action).

Armor for Unusual Creatures

The cost of armor for non-humanoid creatures, as well as for creatures who are neither Small nor Medium, varies. The cost to enchant a size large suit of armor is unchanged, however, nor does the armor's size increase the time required for enchantment.