On Magic Item Creation, Rules

Item Creation, Alchemical and otherwise

There are three teirs of item creation. Crafting, Enchantment, and Legendary. For a discussion on these tiers, and the logic behind their design, please reference "On the creation of magical items: A discussion on the state of item creation throughout the iterations of Dungeons & Dragons" (q.v.)

Crafting: These items, though amazing and wonderful in design, are inherently non-magical, based off mathamagical, philosophical, or eldritch principles. Anyone with the appropriate skill who knows the formula may attempt to create the item. These include various powders, grenades (alchemists fire), and other ephimera. These items can often be manufactured en masse, with little impact on play, due to the variety of options available to player characters. More useful for first level parties

Enchantment: These items contain, use, bind, or gyve certain magical energies. They are beyond the reach of normal craftsman, requiring either a mastery of certain talents (level requirement), an astounding technique (feats) or other dispensation (background/story). Skill in creating the type of item is also required. Certain rare materials or magical energies are often required also.

And finally, Legendary item creation: These items are unique - one of a kind. There are no formulas to be followed, no patterns to be found. A sage or the gods must be consulted, the finest of every ingredient acquired, and if all is done correctly, and if the stars are right, then great power can be forged into physical form.

Spontaneous generation of magical items: This has been known to occur, when great magical energies coalesce around a unique or enhanced physical object, but because such an event is uncontrolled, unpredictable, and based on great deeds, it is not covered here. 

Due to the various ways games handle such issues as skills, a variety of options follow in the descriptions for each item listing.

Name: The functional name of the item. Names have been kept simple for reference purposes, but within the game are rarely referred to by these titles, their creators imbuing them with names that have more. . . commercial flair. (Manzerin's fantastic flaming, self propelled fulmination crystal globe! Otherwise known as Alchemist's Fire)

BSC: For use with any game lacking any sort of skill system or resolution mechanic. Roll under this value for a success. Any roll of 95% or greater is a failure. Failure indicates wasted time and materials, a roll of 95%-99% is a failure indicating the creation of a cursed item, and a roll of 00% indicates an alchemical disaster.

DC: Stands for Difficulty Class - compatible with all D20 systems. Roll a D20 and add modifiers to the roll. If the total equals or exceeds this value then the roll is a success. A roll of 1 is always a failure. A failure indicates wasted time and ruined materials, a failure of greater than 5 indicates a cursed item. A roll of 1 that is also a failure of greater than 5 indicates an Alchemical Disaster

CC: This stands for Challenge Class and is compatible with Castles & Crusades. Add this number to the challenge base of Intelligence. This number is the final Challenge Class of the item. This is the target number that must be exceeded for successfully creating the item. A failure indicates that time and materials have been wasted. A failure of greater than 5 indicates the creation of a cursed item. A roll of 1 that is also a failure of greater than 5 indicates an Alchemical Disaster

NWP: This stands for Non-Weapon Proficiencies and is compatible with all proficiency and proficiency throw systems. Add this number to the target for roll under proficiencies based off stats (as in 2nd edition), or add this number to the roll for target number proficiencies (as in Adventurer, Conqueror, King). A failure indicates a waste of materials and time. A failure of greater than 5 indicates the creation of a cursed item. A maximum failure (20 or 1 depending) indicates an Alchemical Disaster.

D100%: This stands for D100% skill systems, such as Hackmaster, Warhammer, and Rolemaster (Open RPG) This modifier is added to the roll in systems where higher is better is equal to success (Rolemaster), or added to the target for systems using a roll under mechanic (Warhammer, Hackmaster). A failure indicates a waste of time and materials. A failure of 95-99 indicates the creation of a cursed item, a roll 100 indicates an Alchemical Disaster. For Rolemaster or Open RPG, Alchemy is a Science/Analytic Static Maneuver, any result of spectacular failure can be considered an Alchemical Disaster.

D6: This stands for D6 skill systems and is either usable as a straight success chance as an alternative to BSC, or as a number that can be added to a relevant skill (tinkering or a new skill, alchemy) in d6 systems, such as Lamentations of the Flame Princess. A failure indicates a waste of time. An alchemical disaster should happen when it seems convenient, or perhaps every time. There should be few modifiers to this roll - perhaps a -1 in case of being forced to work without a lab.

This D6 target is also useful for the Skills: The Middle Road system. This allows an alchemist with basic training a great chance to create most simple items, and yet requires more serious training in order create the most difficult items with any sort of consistency. The number after the slash is the target number in this system.

Modifiers: Nearly all of the above checks are d20 or d100 base. The following modifiers may be used. All + modifiers are in favor of the characters, all negative modifiers are penalties to their chances. I do not recommend applying any modifiers to a d6 system.
  • No laboratory: -5 / - 25%
  • Exceptional or well stocked laboratory: +2 / +10%
  • Successfully crafted the item before: +2 / +10%
  • High quality, exceptional materials used: +1-4 / +5%-20%
  • Each Character level1: +1 / +5%
  • Having a research library available: Varies2
1 This only affects BSC. CC already takes character level into account, and DC systems only allow spending so many skill points per level. NWP systems do not require this bonus.
2 For every 1000 gold pieces value of the library over the difficulty, add 1 or 5 percent. to determine the base cost of the library that must be exceeded, multiply the DC by 500.

(R)gp: This is representative of what the item costs, this is it's fair market value. Note you will rarely be able to find anyone to purchase it at this rate, and if you were going to go looking to buy it at this price, you would find it most likely vastly inflated. This number is what is used for the calculations of value.

TTC: Time to create. This is an estimate of the length of time it takes to create an item. This is ignored in d20 systems (which due to the cost of a feat, increase the speed at which items are created). Other systems treat this as the standard length of time it takes to create an item.

CGP: This is the cost in gold pieces that must be outlaid in order to begin crafting the item.

XP: This is the experience point value of the item. Note that the creator receives no experience points for creating the item (supposedly he received the relative experience when he acquired or expended the gold on the creation of the item) but if this item is found, and then used, this is the value of experience that the user would receive for the use of the item. Useful primarily for 1st edition compatibility, in systems where 1 gold piece = 1 experience point, the (R)gp price is equivalent to the experience gain for use or sale of the item.

Weight: This is an example of the weight of the items. A - followed by a number indicates the number that can be carried together as a total of 1 lb.

Difficulty: This is a one word statement addressing the difficulty in crafting the item.

Rarity: This indicates the rarity of the formula for creating the item. This limits how many new formulas the alchemist gains access to automatically each level, as well as indicating how difficult the formulas are to discover. Without a formula (gained either through Alchemist Class level, bought, found, pilfered, or through the discovery of an example item), the costs and time involved are doubled.

Materials: These indicate materials that are needed to craft the item. Note that some of these materials are quite common, and are assumed to be subsumed by the cost of the lab (i.e. oil, sulpher, sal petrae). There are several categories of special materials that are required: Rare Earth, Gemstones, Rare Metals (coin), and Monster Essence. Required materials are underlined. Monster essences may accept substitutions based on DM approval - the type of essence is listed here to assist DM's with this substitution process.
Rare Earths: Anyone with training can collect rare earths (Wizard able to practice item creation, Alchemist, etc.) They consist of elemental substances such as Antimony, Cinnabar, Pitchblende, and various salts and metal oxides. They also contain trace amounts of all the elements, and can be found in small quantities in all types of soil and sand. An alchemist can generate 1-4 drams of rare earth a day while not engaged in adventuring or crafting.
Gemstone: These are ground down and used in many alchemical formulas. The process requires 10 gp of gemstone per carat. Note that you cannot partially grind down a gemstone without destroying its value.
Rare Metals (Coin): Coins are very impure, thus requiring 10 coins per dram of pure gold/copper/silver/platinum.
Monster Essence: The various beastly essences necessary to produce alchemical effects. The actual parts are not directly used. A single part is taken and distilled until only the pure essence remains. One dram is produced for every hit die of the creature. No essence remains in the rest of the creatures; when removing the appropriate part the essential energy is collected in the removed part. The monster part listed is the part that holds the essential energy the best. Distilling the rest of the creature will produce nothing!
There are certain non-substitutable items, such as the brains of creatures you wish to control. These will be noted by not listing an essence type after the requirement.
Essences may be purchased as rare items in large towns or greater at 100 gp per hit die per dram (i.e. each dram of hell hound teeth costs 400 gp to purchase)

(Any references to more modern games are contained within parenthesis.)

Alchemist’s Fire (Grenade)
BSC:40%(R)gp:20 gp
DC:20TTC:2 days
CC:4CGP::8 gp
NWP:-1XP:4 xp
D100:+15%Weight:1 lb.
D6:3 in 6 / 4Difficulty:Difficult

Materials: Oil/Naphtha, Sulphur, Pitch, Glycerin
Description: A flask of hot, long burning flame. It does 1d6 damage to the target, and 1 point of splash damage to every adjacent creature. The next round the target takes another 1d6 damage.
    The target may attempt to extinguish the flames preventing the second round of damage by succeeding at a Dexterity (Reflex DC 15) check. Dropping to the ground and rolling about provides a +2 bonus to the roll.

Dust of Lightness
BSC:35%(R)gp:1000 gp
DC:21TTC:8 days
CC:5CGP::333 gp
NWP:-2XP:200 xp
D100:+10%Weight:- / 5
D6:2 in 6 / 5Difficulty:Hard

Materials: Rare Earth (4 drams), Sulphur (4 drams), Silver dust (1 dram), Gold dust (1 dram), Platinum dust (1 dram), Griffon Feather/Flight Essence(4 drams), Powdered Sapphire (2 carat)
Description:When this dust is applied to any non-living object, it reduces the weight and bulk of the object by half for 12  hours. The dust can be washed or blown off, so care must be taken if transporting objects in a storm.

All calculations courtesy the OSR Rosetta Stone  

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