Magic Research

General Rules for Research

At some point a Magic-User or Cleric may wish to start creating magic items or inventing spells. This is termed magical research. For any research, a Magic-User must have a tower or laboratory, while a Cleric requires a properly consecrated temple or church of his or her faith. In addition, there will be a cost for the creation of each item, a minimum time required to create it, and a given chance of success. If the roll fails, generally the time and money are wasted and the procedure must be started again from the beginning; however, consult the detailed rules below for exceptions.

In almost all cases, the Game Master will make this roll in secret. There are many situations where the character (or the player) should not know whether the roll has
actually failed, or whether the GM has decided the research is impossible for the character. The GM may decide to tell the player that the research is impossible if the roll succeeds; if the roll is a failure, that is all the player should be told.

In general, Clerics may only create magic items reproducing the effects of Clerical spells; Clerics may also make enchanted weapons and armor, even those sorts which they may not use themselves (since they may be creating weapons or armor for other followers of their faith). Magic-Users may create any sort of magic item except for those reproducing Clerical spells for which no equivalent Magic-User spell exists.

Time spent doing magical research must be eight-hour workdays with interruptions lasting no more than two days. Longer interruptions result in automatic failure of the project.

Experience Points will be granted to characters who successfully complete magical research. The rate of such awards will be 1 XP per 10 gp spent on the research. This award may be granted for all research (spells, magic items, potions, etc.).

Spell Research

Researching new spells is the most common type of magical research. A Magic-User may research a standard spell, removing the need for a teacher or reference; alternately, a Cleric or Magic-User may research an entirely new spell. Of course, no character may invent or research a spell of a level higher than he or she can cast.

If the character is inventing a spell outright, the GM must determine the spell’s level and judge whether or not the spell is possible “as is.” The GM does not have to tell the player whether the spell is possible, and in fact this may be preferable.

The cost to research a spell is 1,000 gp per spell level for “standard” spells, or 2,000 gp per spell level for newly invented spells; in either case, one week is required per spell level to complete the research. The chance of success is 25%, plus 5% per level of the character, minus 10% per level of the spell; the maximum chance of success is 95%.

If the research roll is successful, the character may add the spell to his or her spellbook (if a Magic-User) or may subsequently pray for the spell (if a Cleric). On a failure, the money and time are spent to no avail. Clerics of the same deity, faith or ethos may teach each other the prayers required to access new spells; this takes one hour per spell level. The procedure to exchange spells with other Magic-Users has already been explained (on the Acquisition of Spells page).

As mentioned above, the GM may decide that a proposed new spell is not “correct” for his or her campaign; too powerful, too low in level, etc. Rather than tell the player this, there are two strategies that may be used.

First, the Game Master may decide to revise the spell. If the roll is a success, the GM then presents the player with a revised writeup of the spell, adjusted however the GM feels necessary for game balance purposes.

The alternative, more appropriate when the GM believes the spell should be higher level than the player character can cast, is to make the roll anyway. If the roll fails, that is all the player needs to know; but if it succeeds, the GM should then show the player the revised version of the spell and explain that the character may try again when he or she attains a high enough level to cast it. In this case, the GM may allow the character to reduce either the time or the cost by half when the research is attempted again at the higher level.

Magic Item Research

Any character who wishes to create magical items must know all (if any) spells to be imbued in the item. Items that produce effects not matching any known spell may require additional research (to devise the unknown spell) if the GM so desires.

Some magic items require one or more special components that can not usually be bought. Special components can only be used once on such a project. For example, the GM might require the skin of a displacer to create a cloak of displacement, or red dragon saliva to create a wand of fireballs. Note that there are specific rules for components under Other Magic Items, below.

Chance of Success

Unless given differently below, the base chance of success creating a magic item is 15% plus 5% per level of the spellcaster, plus the spellcaster’s full Intelligence (if a Magic- User) or Wisdom (if a Cleric). Thus, a 3rd level spellcaster with an Prime Requisite of 16 has a base chance of 46% while a 9th level spellcaster with a 15 Prime Requisite has a base chance of 75%. Obviously some projects will be patently impossible for lower level casters.

Spell Scrolls

A spellcaster may create a scroll containing any spell he or she has access to (for a Magic-User, spells in his or her spellbook; for a Cleric, any spell the character might successfully pray for). The cost is 500 gp per spell level, and the time required is 1 day per spell level.

Reduce the chance of success based on the level of the spell being inscribed, at a rate of -10% per level.

If the roll fails, the enchantment of the scroll has failed; however, if the caster tries again to inscribe the same spell, either the cost or the time is reduced by half (at the character’s option).

Other Single-Use Items

Scrolls (other than spell scrolls), potions, and a few other items (such as the rod of cancellation) are single-use items. These items may be created by Magic-Users or Clerics of the 7th level or higher.

The chance of success is as given for scrolls, above, when the item being created reproduces a known spell (or when the GM decides a spell must be created, as described above). For other types of items, the GM should assign a spell level as he or she sees fit, and the cost and time required is doubled (making up for the spell research or knowledge required for spell-reproducing items). The time required is one week plus one day per spell level (or equivalent), and the cost to enchant the item is 50 gp per spell level, per day.

Potions are a special case; the character creating a potion may create a large batch, consisting of several doses, which may be bottled in separate vials or combined in a larger flask. For each additional dose created at the same time, reduce the chance of success by 5% and increase the time required by one day. Note that increasing the time required will directly increase the cost. If the roll to create the item fails, the entire batch is spoiled.

Permanent Magic Items

Creating permanent magic items (rings, weapons, wands, staves, and most miscellaneous magic items) requires a Magic-User or Cleric of the 9th level or higher.

When enchanting an item with multiple abilities, each ability of the item requires a separate roll for success; the first failed roll ends the enchantment process. Such an item will still perform the powers or effects already successfully enchanted into it, but no further enchantment is possible.

Permanent magic items, including weapons (described in detail below), must be created from high-quality items. The cost of such items will generally be ten times the normal cost for such an item.

Enchanting Weapons

The base cost of enchanting a weapon or armor is 1,000 gp per point of bonus. For weapons with two bonuses, divide the larger bonus in half (don’t round) and add the smaller bonus; thus, a sword +1, +3 vs. dragons would cost 2,500 gp to enchant. Enchanting a weapon takes one week plus two days per point of bonus; thus, the sword described would require twelve days to enchant.

Reduce the chance of success by 10% times the bonus; so, a sword +1 would reduce the base chance 10%, while the sword +1, +3 vs. dragons described above would reduce the base chance 25%. Further, the chance of success may be increased 25% by doubling the cost and time required (this decision must be announced before the roll is made).

For weapons having additional powers, combine the rules above with the rules for creating permanent items. All enchantments must be applied in a single enchantment “session.”

Other Magic Items

Magic items can have several features. Each feature added to a magic item increases the cost and the time required, and decreases the chance of success. The features are as follows:

Creates a spell or spell-like effect: This is the basic feature of all non-weapon magic items. The base cost of this enchantment is 500 gp per spell level; time required is five days plus two days per level. If the magic item has multiple spell or spell-like effects, add the cost and time figures together. The chance of success is reduced 5% per spell level.

Has multiple charges: This includes, of course, wands and staffs, but several other magic items would also have charges. Each spell or spell-like effect normally has a separate pool of charges (but see next). The table below shows the various maximum charge levels and the associated cost, time and chance adjustments:

Charge Level Cost Per Charge Chance
2-3 +150gp -5%
4-7 +125gp -10%
8-20 +100 -20%
21-30 +75gp -30%

When using the table above, don’t count the first charge for cost or time purposes. Note that each separate pool of charges in the item must be figured separately.

Item can be recharged: Figure the additional cost and time, and the penalty to the chance of success, for rechargeable items as being exactly twice the figures from the table above; so, creating a rechargeable item with 3 charges costs 600 gp more rather than 300 gp more, and takes two days per charge (or four extra days); the chance of success is lowered 10% rather than 5%.

Item recharges itself: Creating a self-recharging item is expensive; apply the following adjustments to the charge cost, time and chance for items that recharge automatically. Note that self-recharging items are never “rechargeable” in that they may not be recharged other than by themselves.

Charging Rate Cost Time Chance
1 per day x3 x2 -10%
All per day x5 x3 -30%
All per week x4 x2 -20%

Charges are generic: This means that all the effects of the item draw power from the same pool of charges; most Magic-User staffs are in this category. Items with generic charges are automatically rechargeable; don’t apply the normal adjustments for this feature. Instead, combine the normal costs for the charge pools of each effect (which must all have the same number of charges), and then divide the charge cost, time and chance adjustments by two. Thus, two effects sharing one pool costs the same as a single effect with a single pool.

Item may be used by any class: By default, magic items may only be used by the class that created them; so a wand of fireballs is normally usable only by Magic-Users, or a staff of healing only by Clerics. This feature allows the item to be used by any class of character, and involves assigning simple command words and gestures to the item. Adding this feature costs 1,000 gp per effect. Note that all the item’s effects do not have to be covered; it is possible to create an item where some effects may be used by any class, but other effects may only be used by the creator’s class.

Item operates continuously or automatically: This feature supersedes both the charges and item use features. The item works whenever properly worn, or activates automatically when required. A ring of fire resistance is a good example; also, the ring of invisibility is in this category. Adding this feature multiplies the final cost and time figures by five and applies a 40% penalty to the chance of success.

Each feature above applied to a magic item will require a valuable, rare and/or magical material to support the enchantment. For example, a wand of fireballs has a spell effect that is powered by charges; these are two relatively ordinary features, so the Magic-User creating the item proposes a rare wood for the shaft and a 1,000 gp value ruby for the tip. The GM may, of course, require something more rare or valuable if the magic item is particularly powerful.

The base cost of a spell effect feature can be reduced by 25% by applying limits to the ability. For example, a ring of charm dryad is an example of limited charm person spell effect, which would qualify for the deduction. This does not affect the chance of success or the time required.

Weapons which are to be enchanted with additional powers other than the normal bonus require combining the standard weapon enchantment rules with the rules given above. Perform the weapon enchantment first; if it is successful, then the character enchanting the weapon must immediately (within two days, as previously explained) begin the spell or spell-like power enchantment process. Failure of the second procedure does not spoil the weapon enchantment.

Cursed Items

Some cursed items, such as cursed scrolls, are created that way specifically by the spellcaster. The difficulty of creating such an item is roughly the same as the difficulty of creating a spell scroll of bestow curse.

Other cursed magic items may be the result of a failed attempt to create a useful item. The GM must decide whether or not a failed research project will actually create a cursed item.

Magic Research

Karameikos and Beyond Haronniin