Creating, Buying, and Selling Magic Items

Creating magic items in Labyrinth Lord is, unfortunately, one of the least defined activities in the game. The books propose 500gp / spell level and 1 week of crafting time per 500gp of value. The difficulty is that not everything uses a spell that is so easily defined. It’s also very tricky to work out exactly how appropriately expensive or time-consuming an item should be. Things like wands, staves, and rods come to mind as being difficult to price. Weapons and armor are also somewhat troublesome to figure out a spell-level for.

I must also wonder at how magic items might be purchased. If an item costs 1000gp and 2 weeks to create, should it cost 2000gp to buy it? Also, in the AD&D DMG, magic items also come with an xp value that is often not the same as it’s sell value. Should Labyrinth Lord players gain xp from finding items, just from selling them, and should the amount be the same as the gold amount it sold for?

I’ll cover my proposed gold values for various magic items in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I came up with a way to create magic items a little bit earlier in a player’s career and make it a little safer.

Magic Item Creation in General:

Creating magic items requires that the creator be able to use magic. Magic-Users, Clerics, and Druids are obvious examples, but a Paladin or Ranger could potentially create some magic items.

One does not need to take a profession or secondary skill in order to create a magic item (like being a blacksmith to make a magic sword or an alchemist to make a potion). In these cases, it’s assumed (or it can be roleplayed) that needed items can be bought. Of course, the DM might decide that some rare component might need to be found or procured in some other way.

It’s also assumed that the character has knowledge enough to create the item. He knows what rituals and formulae go into creating a magic shield. An understanding and dabbling in alchemy is also a requirement of the arcane arts. Of course, the DM might decide that the character needs to be acquire or rent the appropriate facilities for magic item creation (a specially equipped smithy or a laboratory, for example).

In general, the character needs to be able to cast the spells used in the creation of the item. It’ll be up to the DM to allow or deny the use of outside casters, but they should be very expensive. Scrolls containing the spell cannot be used, but a wand or staff could be completely expended (reducing it to a non-magical item) if it’s used instead of the caster’s own abilities.

If the item does not use any appropriate spell (such as creating a Sword +2), the caster should have three levels per bonus on the item. Deciding what else other than a straight + constitutes as a “bonus” and by how much is also tricky.

As a Paladin or Ranger, one’s caster level starts when one gains casting abilities. Similarly, if the character is using one of the secondary professions from this blog, one can have an effective caster level used for creating specific magic items without the use of spells.

Item Creation and Chance of Failure:

Briefly, if one is using one of the secondary professions that grant the ability to create magic items, one generally has to make a successful Skill check for its construction. The rules below are for casters creating magic items outside of their skill set.

There is a chance of failure when creating magic items. This could be the result of inexperience in making that type of item, improper use of the rituals involved, an inappropriate distraction, or the quality of materials proved to be insufficient. In all, there are many reasons why item creation might fail. It’s unfortunate when all that time and gold have been lost, so perhaps some secondary benefit could occur out of the failure. I’ll try to post some alternatives to complete failure in the coming weeks.

  • The base chance for item creation failure is 15% at level 9.
  • This increases by +10% for each level below 9th (up to 95% chance of failure for 1st level characters).
  • The chance lowers by -1% for each level above 9th (to a minimum of 5% at level 20).
  • Optionally, the creator may make an attribute check, using a d6, based on his primary mental stat, to reduce the chance of complete failure by 5% per bonus on that stat (minimum 5%) and reducing the time required by 1 week per bonus (minimum 1 week). Failing the check means the chance of failure is doubled (up to 100%) and the time required increased by 25%.
  • If the failure check falls into this grace chance, only partial failure occurs. This means that the cost and time required increase by 25%, since some materials were ruined.
  • The time and material must be spent immediately or the item is ruined.

Example: Gerald the Stupendous is a 9th level Magic-User creating a Pearl of Power 3 (6,000gp and 6 weeks). He has a chance of failure of 15%. He also has an INT of 17, so he decides to try to reduce the time and chance of complete failure. He fails the roll, however, and after 7.5 weeks, his chance of failure is 30%. His next endeavor is Gloves of Dexterity (10,000gp and 10 weeks). He attempts to reduce the time and chance of failure again and succeeds. After 8 weeks, he rolls his chance of failure, which is normally 15%, so only a 5% of complete failure (01-05) and he has a 10% grace chance (06-15). Bad luck strikes again and he rolls a 13, within his grace. All is not lost, however. Gerald spends another 2,500gp and 2.5 weeks repairing the damage and completing the Gloves.


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