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[13th Age] Magic item creation

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I've just started a 13th Age game, and one of my players is a artificer and creator of magic items. He's only interested in this as an out-of-combat feature (his character class is Barbarian, with One Unique Thing "Only human trained by the dwarven mastersmiths" and a +5 background in "Dwarven crafting").

13th Age doesn't have any rules at all for magic item creation, so I've come up with a first attempt at houseruling this. What are people's thoughts, especially those of you who've run more than one session of 13th Age? :)

New feat: Artificer
This feat functions analogously to the Ritual Caster feat, and allows a character to make magic items.
Comment: Right now, this is all under one feat, which is probably too much. Maybe the actual magic item creation should be a champion tier upgrade to the first two bits?

Making potions, oils & runes: With a few hours of time, and the appropriate ingredients, you can make temporary magical items of your tier or lower.
Comment: Should I give the player a minor cost saving on this? I don't want to get too bogged down with economics, but giving e.g. a 25% discount seems appropriate. I'd say that the crafting guilds have a price fixing agreement, and if he sells these onwards at less than market price, he'll get in trouble with them. If he's giving them to the rest of the party, that's fine.
Essentially, this bit would let the party have access to temporary magic items without having to find a vendor. It gives me the freedom to award loot in the form of 'appropriate ingredients' and could let the party save some money.

Altering magic items: With a day or two of time and access to suitable equipment and ingredients, you can minorly adjust a magic item. For example, if you have a magic chain mail shirt, you can alter it with bits of plate to form heavy armour. You can only persuade magic items of your tier or lower to be reshaped.
Comment: This is basically an in-character justification of me being flexible with allowing any player to use the magic items they get. I don't know if I should allow it to swap enchantments around more freely, e.g. turn a magic sword into a magic mace. At champion tier, this could also be used to enhance an existing magic item someone wants to keep.

Creating magic items: With at least a week, and lots of special ingredients, you can create magic items of your tier or lower. You can try to create a magic item from a higher tier, but it'll be cursed if you do (the GM picks the curse).
Comment: Determining what counts as appropriate ingredients will be pure plot fiat on my part, but on the plus side, the smith can make whatever item they want too. I'm tempted to put in a roll - if they fail, the item is created, but I get to pick the quirk?
 

PTiKachu

Damaramu will regret this
Validated User
Make the effort of getting materials based on spending Icon roll results, and put a limit on how often it can be done - a couple of times a level at most. If it's a 6, they get to define the quirk. If it's a 5, the GM defines it.
 

Sage Genesis

Two
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I wouldn't make it a feat at all. The OUT is already supposed to handle that. I'd say that whenever you roll a 5 or 6 for your relationship with the Dwarf King you have the option to make a magic item (within some limits of what the DM thinks is an appropriate amount of items for the campaign). On a 6 you happen to stumble upon a rare ingredient that you can use, on a 5 you find out where such an ingredient might be but you'll have to win/buy/steal it first.
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I wouldn't make it a feat at all. The OUT is already supposed to handle that. I'd say that whenever you roll a 5 or 6 for your relationship with the Dwarf King you have the option to make a magic item (within some limits of what the DM thinks is an appropriate amount of items for the campaign). On a 6 you happen to stumble upon a rare ingredient that you can use, on a 5 you find out where such an ingredient might be but you'll have to win/buy/steal it first.
That's a really good point, and I quite like this suggestion. The OUT basically covers the narrative ability to do this, and tying the actually significant part (i.e. making an item to spec) into icon rolls will keep it in check.
 

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
Validated User
That's a really good point, and I quite like this suggestion. The OUT basically covers the narrative ability to do this, and tying the actually significant part (i.e. making an item to spec) into icon rolls will keep it in check.
Sage Genesis is wise and deserves cookies.

Where the player could end up with as many as four icon dice with the Dwarf King, I'd consider putting some formal limit on it - two permanent items a level, after that it's temporary items - or something similar, but otherwise I was going to suggest what he did.
 

Dungeoneer

Vitruvian manticore
Validated User
I really like what you've come up with for potions, oils, and runes. I'd say keep that! Whether or not it should be a feat... well in this case maybe not, since you did give this to the player as their OUT. But maybe in the future you could write this up as a feat or series of feats.

Here's my thoughts on creating new magic items: seems like the biggest constraint on this should be time. As you said, a week seems fair. But I would add an interesting trade-off each day, since 13th Age is all about that kind of thing. Make magic item creation take seven full heal ups and to sustain the process the player has to sacrifice something each day. An obvious example would be a healing surge. So each day that the player is working on a new magic item they have to blow a healing surge to keep going on it. And if they don't, they 'drop the ball' so to speak and have to start over from zero. I would also make it so that if they run out of healing surges during a day they start over from zero.

Healing surges are just one way you could go with this. Maybe instead of losing a surge, the player takes a -1 penalty to saving throws for the day (because they're concentrating so hard). Or a penalty to initiative (this doesn't seem so bad so I'd make it higher). An interesting idea might be to make the type of penalty dependent on the type of item being created. Maybe magic weapons and armor take healing surges, but magic rings take saving throw penalties.

You could also allow the player to create higher tier magic items by accepting stacking penalties (ouch!).

I would probably enforce a cap on the number of items that can be created per level. 13A core rules expect the GM to be handing out about 1 item per level so 1 seems about right, although your game may be different.
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
In the end, I went with this:
* Using his OUT and backgrounds, the PC can make one-use magic items (potions, oils etc) in a few hours each, and the raw materials cost is about 75% of the market value. In setting, the crafters guild have a monopoly, and so the player can use this saving to benefit the party but can't use it make himself rich. Initially, there won't be any rolls involved in this process, but if it ends up getting silly, I may introduce them, with more unusual items being harder to make than potions of healing. Sometimes the party will get loot in the form of alchemical reagents. As the PC is a dwarven-trained crafter, he won't actually make potions or oils, but little mechanical/metalwork trinkets which work identically in terms of mechanics.
* Using his OUT and backgrounds, the PC can resize/transfer enchantments on magic armour and weapons fairly easily. I'll probably have a roll involved on this, with the DC based on how small the change is (e.g. chain shirt -> heavy chain: easy DC, sword -> hammer: harder DC). The roll represents planning, and so a failure doesn't damage the original item. This can't be used to move an enchantment onto a non-canonical slot (e.g. you can't move a belt enchantment onto gloves), as I don't feel comfortable messing with the chakra / benefit system. In character, this will mostly be persuading the sentient spirit of the item to hang around as the item is altered.

The PC gets access to a special feat, which is like Ritual Caster but only lets you make magic items. This items need special ingredients, with successful icon rolls for the Dwarf King granting them (as outlined above, so a 5 = knowledge of where one is, and 6 = getting the item). If the player goes for ages without a successful roll, I may award an ingredient in lieu of a magic item. The player can only get one ingredient per session. There's no other limit at the moment, as the player may not be at every session. If he does end up with a really lucky streak, I'll just tone down the amount of magic items from loot slightly, though the party will still have a few more than they 'should', and get the not inconsiderable bonus of being able to custom make items. By default, he can only make items of his tier or lower, but he can make cursed items of a higher tier if he wants to try!

There's a bard, cleric and druid in the party, and we might use their magic to help flavour the creation of some of the items (e.g. getting the cleric to ritually cast Turn Undead to make a anti-undead weapon), though this wouldn't replace the need for a special ingredient most of the time.

I went with the feat option because none of the other One Unique Things in the party* are offering such direct and concrete benefits, and making magic items to spec is really quite useful. The player was also more than happy with spending a feat, which helped.

* We have: the only human raised by orcs, the only person to escape from the Cult of the Devourer, the only druid with a dragon animal companion, the only cleric to serve the gods of light and darkness, and a fighter who cannot perceive gold in any way shape or form. The first four are relatively straightforward plot-based OUTs, and I'm struggling on how to even make the fifth one plot-relevant, let alone mechanics relevant!
 

ESkemp

Registered User
Validated User
* We have: the only human raised by orcs, the only person to escape from the Cult of the Devourer, the only druid with a dragon animal companion, the only cleric to serve the gods of light and darkness, and a fighter who cannot perceive gold in any way shape or form. The first four are relatively straightforward plot-based OUTs, and I'm struggling on how to even make the fifth one plot-relevant, let alone mechanics relevant!
Well, that last guy will make things awkward for the kind of NPC that likes to cultivate a sense of mystery by wearing a gold mask.
 

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
Validated User
The first four are relatively straightforward plot-based OUTs, and I'm struggling on how to even make the fifth one plot-relevant, let alone mechanics relevant!
It's an adventurer who's literally incapable of recognizing the standard currency for adventurers! Possibilities abound.
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Well, that last guy will make things awkward for the kind of NPC that likes to cultivate a sense of mystery by wearing a gold mask.
My idea so far was him being able to see a gold dragon / dragonborn, because it was a shapeshifter/illusionist of some kind.

Comedy uses of it also abound (they met a priest of Lathander wearing golden robes last session...), but it is a bit more odd-ball than the other ones :) Then again, that's pretty much why the player picked it, so he'll get what he wants - which is the whole purpose of the OUT!
 
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