Crafting Magic Weapons

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Malefrost

To create a magic weapon, a character needs a good 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 weapon or the pieces of the weapon 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.

Additional magic supplies costs for the materials are subsumed in the cost for creating the magic weapon, equal to half the base price of the Absolute Bonus cost (see Absolute Bonus, below).

Creating a magic weapon has a special prerequisite: The creator's caster level must be at least three times the enhancement bonus of the weapon. If an item has both an enhancement bonus and one or more magic weapon properties, the higher of the listed caster level requirements must be met. A magic weapon must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus to have any melee or ranged magic weapon properties applied to it.

If spells are involved in the prerequisites for making the weapon, 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 weapon triggers the prepared spells, or integrates any allowed substitutes. On the first day of item creation, 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.)

At the time of creation, the creator must decide if the weapon glows or not as a side-effect of the magic imbued within it. This decision does not affect the price or the creation time, but once the item is finished, the decision is binding. Note that many properties emit light as well, and you cannot choose to NOT emit light if you take that property.

Creating magic double-headed weapons is treated as creating two weapons when determining cost, time, and special abilities.

Creating some weapons may entail other prerequisites beyond or other than spellcasting. See the individual descriptions for details.

  • Time Required: Crafting magic weapons requires one day for each CL of the item, minimum of 7 days.
  • Feat(s) Required: Creator.
  • Skill(s) Required: Divinity, Naturalism, Reason, Spellcraft, Spycraft or Warfare

Allowed Enchantments

A magic weapon is enhanced to strike more accurately and deliver more damage. Magic weapons have three types of improvements that may be applied to them:

Weapon Enhancement Bonus

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

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

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

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

Magic Weapon Properties

Magic Weapon Properties are additional traits, bonuses or effects the magic weapon grants or performs on top of the normal functionality of that weapon. Magic weapon properties each have a cost associated with them that is measured in pluses similar to the weapon's enhancement bonus. The cost of a magic weapon is determined by adding the pluses listed for each magic weapon property to its base magic enhancement bonus. This is called the weapon's Absolute Bonus (see below for details). The Absolute Bonus is used to determine the cost of the weapon.

Weapons must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus before any magic weapon properties may be added to them. The limit to the total value of all weapon properties that may be added to a weapon 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 a weapon may be enchanted in any way the character can afford and the referee will allow.

Upgrading and Changing Enchantments

Enhancement bonuses cannot be removed from a magic weapon 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 weapon properties can be removed from a magic 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 weapon 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 weapon while the craftsman is working on it. Some craftsmen might offer to lend or rent out a weapon while their customers wait, though they would expect the loaner weapon to be returned to them in good condition.
A magic weapon which is altered in such a way as to violate the limitations of the campaign level will inflict a non-proficiency penalty on the wielder, or worse.

Special Rule: Absolute Bonus

By adding together the 'plus' values of the Enhancement Bonus and Magic Properties of a weapon, you determine the weapon's Absolute Bonus. For example, a +2 Keen Longsword has a +3 Absolute Bonus, which is the sum of the +2 enhancement bonus and the +1 cost of the Keen property. Dweomermetals do not alter the Absolute Bonus of a weapon, though they do alter the cost. The Absolute Bonus + the special material costs (if any) + the cost of the non-magical version of the weapon itself = the total magic item cost of the weapon. 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 (as described above). At level 36, all restrictions are lifted, and weapons, armors and shields may be enchanted in any way the characters can afford.

Special Materials

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

Dweomermetals do not alter the Absolute Bonus of weapon, though the cost for a weapon made with a dweomermetal is added to the overall cost of the weapon.

Note that special materials cannot be added to an existing weapon. The weapon must be built from the special material before it can be enchanted. If a character already has a +3 longsword, and wants it to be a +3 argent longsword, he would have to sell his old longsword and buy an argent one. He cannot simply upgrade it. (This rule can be broken, at GM discretion, in cases where the weapon 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 weapon 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 weapon, even after the Apotheosis at level 36. A weapon cannot be made of both ambergold and paramount alloy. The Double weapons, such as the 2-bladed sword, are the exception to this rule, as each end can be made of a different dweomermetal, if desired.

Magic Weapon Costs

To determine the cost of a magic weapon, three elements must be added together:

  • The cost of the weapon.
  • The cost of any special materials used to create the weapon (e.g. mithril, adamantine, etc.)
  • The cost of the Absolute Bonus (the sum of the magic properties and the enhancement bonus).

Table: Weapon Absolute Bonus Cost (Heroic Tier Characters)

Enhancement Bonus Magic Properties Absolute Bonus Cost
+1 no properties +1 2,000
+1 worth of properties +2 7,500
+2 worth of properties +3 15,000
+3 worth of properties +4 25,000
+4 worth of properties +5 40,000
+5 worth of properties +6 62,000
+2 no properties +2 7,500
+1 worth of properties +3 15,000
+2 worth of properties +4 25,000
+3 worth of properties +5 40,000
+4 worth of properties +6 62,000
+5 worth of properties +7 91,000
+3 no properties +3 15,000
+1 worth of properties +4 25,000
+2 worth of properties +5 40,000
+3 worth of properties +6 62,000
+4 worth of properties +7 91,000
+5 worth of properties +8 142,000
+4 no properties +4 25,000
+1 worth of properties +5 40,000
+2 worth of properties +6 62,000
+3 worth of properties +7 91,000
+4 worth of properties +8 142,000
+5 worth of properties +9 260,000
+5 no properties +5 40,000
+1 worth of properties +6 62,000
+2 worth of properties +7 91,000
+3 worth of properties +8 142,000
+4 worth of properties +9 260,000
+5 worth of properties +10 480,000

Table: Weapon Absolute Bonus Cost (Epic Tier)

Enhancement Bonus Magic Properties Absolute Bonus Cost
+6 no properties +6 62,000
+1 worth of properties +7 91,000
+2 worth of properties +8 142,000
+3 worth of properties +9 260,000
+4 worth of properties +10 480,000
+5 worth of properties +11 850,000
+6 worth of properties +12 1,510,000
+7 worth of properties +13 2,600,000
+8 worth of properties +14 4,600,000
+9 worth of properties +15 8,200,000
+7 no properties +7 91,000
+1 worth of properties +8 142,000
+2 worth of properties +9 260,000
+3 worth of properties +10 480,000
+4 worth of properties +11 850,000
+5 worth of properties +12 1,510,000
+6 worth of properties +13 2,600,000
+7 worth of properties +14 4,600,000
+8 worth of properties +15 8,200,000
+9 worth of properties +16 14,400,000
+8 no properties +8 142,000
+1 worth of properties +9 260,000
+2 worth of properties +10 480,000
+3 worth of properties +11 850,000
+4 worth of properties +12 1,510,000
+5 worth of properties +13 2,600,000
+6 worth of properties +14 4,600,000
+7 worth of properties +15 8,200,000
+8 worth of properties +16 14,400,000
+9 worth of properties +17 25,000,000
+9 no properties +9 260,000
+1 worth of properties +10 480,000
+2 worth of properties +11 850,000
+3 worth of properties +12 1,510,000
+4 worth of properties +13 2,600,000
+5 worth of properties +14 4,600,000
+6 worth of properties +15 8,200,000
+7 worth of properties +16 14,400,000
+8 worth of properties +17 25,000,000
+9 worth of properties +18 44,100,000

Table: Weapon Absolute Bonus Cost (Apotheosis)

Enhancement Bonus Magic Properties Absolute Bonus Cost
unlimited unlimited per additional +1 +44,100,000

Restricted Enchantments

Weapons cannot have any other magical enchantments placed on them besides the three listed above: weapon enhancement bonus, magic weapon 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 weapon properties and dweomermetals which can provide some of the effects below. However, except for using those properties or materials, these effects cannot be directly enchanted onto a weapon.

Other Magic Weapon Considerations

Caster Level Required To Make Weapons

The caster level required to make a weapon with a weapon property is given in the description of the property. If a weapon has more than one weapon property, the caster level required to place the weapon properties is the highest of all the properties plus 2. For a weapon with only an enhancement bonus and no other abilities, the caster level or effective caster level required to make the weapon is three times the enhancement bonus. Thus, it requires a third level creator to make a +1 weapon, sixth level to make a +2, etc. If a weapon has both an enhancement bonus and a special ability, the higher of the caster level requirements must be met. As always, caster level can either be a character's 'native' caster level 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.

Additional Bonus Damage Dice

Some magic weapons deal additional bonus dice of damage. Unlike other modifiers to damage, additional dice of damage are considered bonuses and are not multiplied when the attacker scores a critical hit. In all cases, refer to the description of the weapon to see if there are specific rules for handling the bonus damage. If there are no rules in the weapon description, then these rules apply.

Additional Base Damage Dice

Some magic weapons gain improved or additional base damage dice. These dice DO improve with level as normal base damage dice do, and ARE multiplied when the attacker scores a critical hit. Increases to base weapon damage can be found in the form of additional dice, and as adders. In all cases, additions to the base weapon damage are multiplied by high level effects and are multiplied on crits. As a result, these effects are powerful and rare.

Ranged Weapons and Ammunition

The enhancement bonus from a ranged weapon does not stack with the enhancement bonus from ammunition. Only the higher of the two enhancement bonuses applies. Ammunition fired from a projectile weapon with an enhancement bonus of +1 or higher is treated as a magic weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Similarly, ammunition fired from a projectile weapon with an alignment gains the alignment of that projectile weapon. Weapon properties of a ranged weapon do not stack with weapon properties of ammunition. If a character is using a ranged weapon with properties and has ammunition with properties, they may choose which properties to use with each shot as a free action. As always, no weapon may ever have the same property twice. If ammunition and a ranged weapon have the same weapon properties, only count the property once.

Magic Thrown Weapons

Weapons designed for throwing, such as the throwing axe or the careen (but not weapons with the ammunition property, such as skiprocks), gain the Lesser Returning property for free if they have an enhancement bonus or magic property worth an enhancement bonus of at least +1. If they have an enhancement bonus of +2 or greater (or magic properties equivalent to +2 enhancement or greater), thrown weapons gain the Greater Returning magic property for free. These Returning properties cost nothing extra, and never increase the overall cost of additional upgrades, but they do count against the maximum possible enchantments the weapon can have. That is, when calculating the weapon's cost, treat the absolute bonus of the weapon as though the returning properties were not present, but when calculating what magic properties the weapon can be outfitted with, include the returning properties in the absolute bonus. For example, a +2 careen of icy burst (a +2 property) also has greater returning (also a +2 property) automatically. The cost of this careen would be calculated as though it had an absolute bonus of only +4 (ignoring the returning property), but future enchantments would be limited by the fact that it really has an absolute bonus of +6. Since Heroic tier characters cannot ever put more than +5 pluses worth of magic properties on a weapon, this careen could only have +1 more pluses worth of magic properties applied while the wielder remains below 21st level.

Magic Ammunition and Breakage

Magical ammunition is created identically to all other magic weapons, both in terms of cost, time to craft, and available enchantments, except that 50 pieces of ammunition are created for the cost of a single weapon.

The magic weapon properties available to ammunition are different from those available to melee and ranged weapons. Only magic weapon properties specifically designated for ammunition may be applied to magic ammunition.

Magical ammunition follows the standard rules for recovering expended ammunition. If the attack hits, the arrow, bolt or bullet is expended and not recoverable. If the attack misses, there is a 50% chance that the piece of ammunition is recoverable.

See the rules for crafting magical ammunition for additional details.

Light Generation

30% of randomly generated magic weapons shed light equivalent to a light spell. These glowing weapons are quite obviously magical. Such a weapon can't be concealed when drawn, nor can their light be shut off, and they usually make Stealth rolls more difficult by imposing a penalty to stealth rolls. If a weapon is specially crafted by a player or as a commission from an NPC, whether or not it gives off light is chosen by the player. Some magic weapon properties cause the weapons to always or never glow, as defined in their descriptions, and this cannot by changed by the player's desire at item creation.

Hardness and Hit Points

Weapons do not have hardness or hit points. This has been replaced with the Sunder combat maneuver. Instead, a weapon 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 weapons do not increase the wielder's Maneuver Defense versus sunder attempts, though some Dweomermetals do.

Activation

Usually a character benefits from a magic weapon in the same way a character benefits from a mundane weapon-by wielding (attacking with) it. If a weapon has a weapon property that the user needs to activate, then the user usually needs to utter a command word (a standard action). A character can activate the special abilities of up to 50 pieces of ammunition at the same time, assuming each piece has identical abilities.

Magic Weapons and Critical Hits

Some weapon properties and some specific weapons have an extra effect on a critical hit. This special effect overcomes immunity to critical bits. Critical hits rolled with these weapons function against creatures not normally subject to critical hits, but only for the weapon property's effect. In such instances, on a successful critical roll, apply the magic weapon's special effect, but otherwise resolve damage as though it were a normal hit.

Weapons for Unusually Sized Creatures

The cost of weapons for creatures who are neither Small nor Medium varies (see Equipment). The cost to enchant a size large weapon is unchanged, however, nor does the weapon's size increase the time required for enchantment.