Magic items and weaponry are uncommon. Those who select crafting skills must understand that the process of creating even a minor enchant is no small feat. It will be expensive, time consuming, and in the end, the whole process may fail, leaving the caster to start over. In this system, magic is not mundane, casters are not common, and magic armaments and items are highly prized and sought after.
To truly understand the power that comes with a crafted magic armament or item, we need to look at some fundamental mechanics. An example of the most minor magic – adding a two point modifier to a skill check – increases the chance of success by ten percent, which typically requires eight adventures. That alone is fairly significant, and as noted, is but minor magic.
With the above being said, there are three levels of crafting available to characters: Minor, Medium, and Major. Each is detailed in later sections with available Augments and Powers. Before we get into what can be crafted, however, we need to discuss How to Craft Magic. The rules that follow are generalized to fit with most magic specializations, though there is a list of specific stereotypical requirements that may be worked out between the player and GM.
Crafting magic cannot be done while traveling.
A character who wants to craft magic must have a place to work. This can be a laboratory, foundry, fire pit, forge, wind swept peak, private garden, etc, so long as it is someplace that has the tools and elements required to do the work. While the design of a workspace is a roleplaying element often left up to the player, the amount of time and care that goes into it’s development will have an effect on the casting process.
For those who craft magic, this place is ultimately home. During the course of a campaign it is possible, and likely, that characters will spend a great deal of their time away from home. For this reason, while actually crafting magic cannot be done while traveling, some aspects of the crafting process can. In fact, adventures will often serve the dual purpose of gathering materials while accomplishing tasks. As described in the Crafting Mechanics section, characters could find materials before having a crafting goal in mind. Inspiration can come from many sources, and a cool key material is one of them.
What Else Do I Need?
Contacts. With all of the options that are available when crafting magic, there is little chance for one character to have all of the required skills. Aside from a master level of proficiency in background skills, such as smithing, sculpting, jewel crafting, etc., those with access to specific skills or spells the caster does not have are also important contacts. Often, these will be people the character encounters while traveling, and is reason to leave these NPC’s on good terms.
With that being said, there are two schools of thought on crafted magic. Some see it as a simple power up and will trudge through the process for the reward, but others see the story in it. For those who roleplay through the process and take time to locate materials, having them flawlessly designed, crafting becomes part of the adventure and not just a grind.
Whether through an Advantage purchased during character generation or Reputation Rewards gained in advancement, this represents an alternate way to Craft Magic that is personal to the player character. Unlike the time-consuming crafting process, building magic items in this way provides characters with the rewards without all the other work that goes into it. That being said, because these are part of advancement, there are some specific limitations.
If the Heirloom item is broken, lost, or taken, there is no way to recreate it. Additionally, these items may not be re-crafted, reforged, or otherwise enhanced with magic. Characters must wait through the levels to spend additional Reputation Points in order to add any further enhancements.
On the other hand, Heirloom items give the option to come up with crazy, cool, or interesting aspects to the endowment. This could be granted by a god, imbued by a demon, a relic from the past that has been rediscovered, or any other such back story. Integrating these into a backstory can be a great way to add substance and dimension to the character.
Regardless of what is being crafted, there are specific process and requirements that must be followed. In essence, these are things the character needs to both define elements of the item and to imbue it with magic. Of course, it all begins with a concept – form and function. That will determine which Materials are required.
All crafted magic requires two types of materials, the core and the augment. The combination of these will determine the size, shape, and function of the item.
The core object must be of masterwork quality to be crafted into magic, i.e., sword, shield, ring, etc. In the case of Heirloom item, the masterwork quality can be substituted for a story that defines it’s history and qualities. In general, core material is not overly difficult to locate, though it can be expensive.
Augments are the components that absorb and maintain the magic. It can take many forms, from a set of symbols or words etched, carved, engraved, or tattooed on an appropriate surface; a specially cut gem in a symbolic setting; a rare pigment in a paint; etc. Whatever form the augment takes, the materials required to make it tend to be rare and difficult to acquire.
Building an Augment
With far too many potential augments to list, it’s easier to list the component requirements. To begin with, each augment has three pieces as defined below:
a tool (brush, chisel, hammer, etc), a temper (clay, fire, oil, powder, water, etc), or an act (skill action, spell cast, etc)
a scarce metal (mithril, platinum, red iron, etc), a harvested monster part (hide, scale, shell, tusk, etc), a gem or jewel (black opal, diamond, red emerald, star effect-asterism, iridescence-rainbow effect, etc), or a rare plant (asane, ghost orchid, lilia, saffron, etc).
|• Costly:||this may be wealth, time, or performing deeds, essentially the caster must sacrifice something of value to craft the magic|
There is no reason why one or more of these parts cannot be combined, i.e. a red iron chisel, wood burned by dragons fire, diamonds ground to dust, etc. Acquiring the parts can be adventures of their own, whether traveling to a local dragon’s lair or visiting the black market, there will be challenges.
Core Object Limitations
A single core object can only sustain a maximum of three augments, not to exceed:
• One Major Augment
• Two Medium Augments
• Three Minor Augments
This, of course, assumes that the core object is able to physically support the number of augments. Some of this will be determined by the creativeness of the caster. A ring, for example, can have a large setting (Major) or a couple of smaller stones set into the band (Medium) or two rows of symbols inside and another along the outside (Minor). This is only an example of what may be done, ultimately the workmanship required to house multiple core objects is costly and difficult.
As will be discussed in the Facets of Crafting, any major augment will require a spirit to sustain the magic.
At it’s most basic, this is the space where the caster imbues items with magic. Regardless of what the caster calls his or her workspace or where it’s located, all such places have some attributes in common:
a fairly large area, about the size of a standard castle drawing room or about 18′ x 21′, which may be larger if it requires a forge or other such work area
basic furnishings (workbenches, desk, chairs, storage chests, etc), tool kits, candles, oil, reference books, a cauldron, decanters, jars (full of shavings, powders, pieces, and parts) glass tubing, decanters, etc; as well as items related to a specialization, i.e. forge, clay pit, well, etc.
|• Ambience:||this could include lighting, symbols painted on the walls or floor, an altar, obelisk, or pedestal, mystic figurines, images, patterns, etc., basically all the stuff that makes caster labs creepy|
It’s difficult to assign a cost to construct such a place in either time or money, as it will typically be built over time. For those unwilling or unable to build their own space, a lab in a magic school can likely be had for a fee. While this can offer more in the way of supplies, it lacks personalization, which can have an effect on the casting.
Crafters and Professionals
While it is possible for a caster to craft all on their own, this will limit their potential. As has been mentioned before, masterwork quality is one of the requirements, but this doesn’t just apply to the items. Any smithing, sculpture (work with stone, marble, glass, metal, wood, and clay), lapidary (cut or shape gemstones, minerals, coral, and bone), tebori (hand pricking dye/metal dust into flesh, rubbing ash into a shaped wound), etc., done while constructing the core object or augment must be of master workmanship quality as well.
Additionally, finding someone with the necessary advanced skills, spells, or skill ranks to craft into magic is required for some effects. Hirelings with master workmanship skills typically cost ten times as much per day, at a minimum, while those with specific skills cost five times as much per day per skill rank, at a minimum. Gaining allies who would be willing to lend their skills and abilities to the process could make a big difference.
This one gets tricky. Adventuring is a big part of the game but during the crafting process, the caster will spend a lot of time channeling magic and working with materials or people. Realistically, this should be done during off-panel time, not in-game time. Between all the materials, a lab, and finding people, crafters have enough to do without missing game time.
But how does this sacrifice get measured in terms of game time, without having other characters go off without them?
While there is no right answer, a good idea is to build in a resting magic period, as part of the crafting. This essentially means that as the character completes specific components, the magic must be left alone for a period of time, allowing the magic to be absorbed into the core object, the augment to be powered up, or some other such effect. This allows the caster to step away from the creation, adventure, and then return to it, which also enhances the anticipation of completion.
While the crafting process (or Heirloom build) is pretty much the same regardless of the core object being crafted, there are a variety of abilities that can be added. Before going into specifics, there are some basics that need to be covered.
Three Types of Augments
All magic abilities applied to core objects are called augments. This terminology is key to understanding how the processes, power levels, and limitations work. While there are a variety of augments available, for the purposes of crafting or heirloom builds, it all starts with understanding the basics of the augments:
|• Modifier:||a bonus applied to a specific skill, skill tree, damage resistance, or damage increase|
|• Effect:||the ability to use a specific skill or spell at a set rank|
|• Power:||a specialized ability that is specific to the crafting process|
These are individually defined in the sections that follow, along with the processes required in their crafting. But the type of augment is only half of the equation.
Three Power Levels of Augments
Where the augment type defines what it does, the power level provides the stats. Ultimately, this is going to be defined by the level of ability of the crafter or the number of Reputation Points spent on an heirloom item. The three power levels are:
relatively easy and inexpensive to craft, these offer a modest bonus or rank, often with limited uses per day
fairly costly a difficult to craft, these offer a generous bonus or rank, often with limited uses per encounter
|• Major:||extremely powerful magic that may only be cast by those with a Master rank in the crafting skill, these offer a significant bonus or rank and can be used at will|
With the power level of the augment directly tied to either the caster ability or points spent, it’s understandable that most start with Minor augments. But it’s important to remember that augments don’t stack. This means that the effectiveness of one augment may not be increased by adding a duplicate augment on the same core object.
This is a standard rule for all augments. In order to increase the effectiveness of a minor augment it must be reforged into a medium augment or spend reputation points appropriately. Which brings us to…
As crafters gain ability, they’re able to create more advanced augments. Rather than having to construct a new augment and core object, existing crafted magic can be upgraded. This can be done in one of two ways, either adding to the augment or redefining its properties.
For Minor Magic, new symbols are placed either on the augment or the core object. Because magic has been been previously crafted on it, there is +2 modifier to the Craft Magic skill check and the casting time for the new augment is halved. Medium Magic requires a new augment to be added to the core object and again there is a +2 modifier to the Craft Magic skill, but the the crafting time remains the same.
Adding Major Magic requires a unique setting crafted to the core object for the spirit gem. Because this magic is so much more powerful, there is a -2 modifier to the Craft Magic skill check, and a failure will destroy any existing augments.
This can only be done among the same levels and types of magic. Casters can exchange the ability of the augment with another. An appropriate level of workmanship to the power level is required to alter the augment, i.e., altered symbols, exchanged materials, etc. This work requires half the time of crafting a standard augment of that type, with only exchanged material costs.
With Major Magic, a willful spirit may need to be consulted and convinced to agree to the change, otherwise the crafted magic will get a save to resist the change.
Dangers of Reforging
Reforging can be a great way to customize existing items to a particular character. However, there are consequences to casting failures during the process. Regardless of how it’s being reforged, should the skill check fail, the existing augment is destroyed, and in the case of Major Magic, also ruins the spirit gem and frees the spirit.
As has been stated, augments do not stack. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t be crafted smartly to enhance one another. There are multiple ways for augments to be combined to increase the overall effectiveness of the crafting, though it’s typically best to plan it out rather than doing it through reforging. With that in mind, here are some effective guidelines.
Making a conscious choice to combine a specific modifier with a particular skill can allow the crafter to stack some effects. For example, adding a damage modifier augment and a (E) Deadly Strike skill augment, puts two damage modifiers on the one weapon. While this is, in effect, stacking, because it’s two distinct augments, they work together.
This, of course, is but one example. Combining effects in this way requires an understanding of many different types of skills and the modifiers they contain. And because any skill with a modifier dependent upon skill rank, skill points, or character rank defaults to the crafter’s scores, this will make a big difference in overall value.
Adding ranged capabilities to melee combatants and melee capabilities to ranged combatants is an incredibly effective way to combine augments. In this case, for example, combining a ranged spell augment such as Blast with with an damage modifier augment gives the character the opportunity to effectively cause damage in melee and at range. While on the face it seems that these are divergent augments, but the added capabilities can be very useful in many situations.
Focusing on one specific style and building a core object with multiple augments to that style can give characters an advantage in that arena. A suit of armor, for example, with an magic immunity augment (minor), absorb instant spells augment (medium), and suppress magic augment (major), is going to be very much hated by any casters they come across. Putting augments together like this can take a great deal of time, effort, and cost, but their effectiveness is indisputable.
Finishing the Crafting Process
Crafting magic is a neither easy nor common process. It requires a great deal of dedication and cost. For each level of augment there’s a modifier listed to the Craft Magic skill. To complete the crafting process, the crafter must make a skill check. If successful, the magic is successfully transferred into the augment and the process is complete, but if the skill check fails, the augment is destroyed and must be reconstructed. It’s up to the GM to determine whether or not the core object can be recovered.
For Major Magic, before the skill check is made, it must be named. These are extraordinary objects of power, deserving of a worthy named. After all, how else can it have a reputation.
Names may be descriptive (Foe-Cleaver, Fire Bringer, Ebonstaff, etc.) or be a proper name (Granis, Reignbow, Symon, etc,), as determined by crafter or wielder. The spirit that powers it typically takes on this identity as its own and if it’s capable of responding will refer to itself by this name only.
Medium and Major Magics always have a personality of some type, usually determined by form, function, and the name it’s given. One of these factors might be more influential than others, but all three play a role. The strength and influence of the personality will be much greater in Major Magic, in general and the personality is treated as an NPC, and is controlled by the GM.
The personality can be audible, empathic, visual (a strengthening or diminishing glow, etc), Depending on how it is treated and its values, it could be encouraging, bloodthirsty, or, more rarely, refuse to activate certain powers at certain times. Factors of the construction will affect the personality, such as, the NPC contacts involved with the construction, the spirit used to power it, and even the components used in the augment. It is very possible for a crafter to build a specific type of personality into the magic, and it will add a level of complexity to the crafting, but that may be preferred to leaving it to chance.
Crafted magic can attain a notoriety level of its own, though that takes time. Typically, the crafted magic will take on the notoriety level of the crafter or wielder, but not always. And old magic with its own reputation can be…difficult, until the wielder does something noteworthy.
Crafting Major Magic requires a significant source of power to maintain the magic. While there are likely other fantastical sources available, someone discovered that the life force of an intelligent being can maintain magic indefinitely. But there are issues with the morality of using a spirit in this way and harnessing that power. While the morality piece is debatable, Spirit Binding is the process of trapping a life force within a medium that can be crafted into an augment.
Finding a Spirit
While far from a simple process, this may not be as difficult as one might think. For some, the prospect of spirit binding is seen as a kind of immortality. While commoners may not see the appeal, adventurers or casters who have reached the end of their lives or have been injured or maimed in some way are great candidates. There also will always be those who don’t feel that their lives were exciting or fulfilling enough. Volunteers may not be aplenty, but they can be found.
There are also unwilling spirits. Though it’s a vile practice, some will choose to take this shortcut, stealing the life force of others to power their magic. In order for this to be effective, the person must be broken to keep their will from being able to influence the magic they power. Yet, even for these unfortunate spirits, over time it’s possible for them to gain influence over the magic. Utilizing a spirit that is unwilling is deplorable and risky, and more often than not, destined for crafted magic to be given (or sold) to someone else.
Finally, there are natural spirits. These are typically linked to some elemental foundation, and like the unwilling spirits, must be broken or willing. Because it’s generally much more difficult to break this type of being, when used they’re rarely unwilling. Natural spirits tend to live an immortal existance, so the prospect of becoming associated with some powerful crafted magic can be the equivalent of finding a direction for their lives. Natural spirits have a strong will and unique personality, so finding the right one is just as important as finding a willing one.
Preparing the Spirit
Depending on the nature of the spirit and it’s willingness, an area must be specifically designed for the transference. For humanoids, the area is typically dark and comforting, i.e. room with no windows, cave, etc, with a chair, bed, some personal items. The representation of the nature spirit should be surrounded by their element, i.e. puddle of water, sapling in dirt, etc, that has been prepared with magic symbols. On the other side of it, those who are unwilling will typically be made as uncomfortable as possible.
Once the room has been crafted, some method of suspending a lantern over the volunteer, typically on an iron pole, is the only other item of note that is required in the area. This is part of the process of catching the spirit as it leaves its form.
Spirits must be contained in a jewel specially cut into one of three shapes, and all with exactly fifty-seven facets. A round cut jewel is used to contain a humanoid spirit; an oblong cut jewel with two pointed ends is used to contain a natural spirit. A square-cut jewel may be used to contain either unwilling spirits or to suppress the will of a contained spirit. The shape of the jewel is consistent, but the type used varies by the crafter.
The jewel must be cut from a larger, flawless, rare gem, i.e., blue garnet, red diamond, etc., by a master lapidist (minimum of twelve points in the relevant skill tree). A specialized hooded lantern is used to project light through the jewel onto the volunteer. The lantern must be composed of a rare iron and use an oil that has been specially prepared. Placing the oil into a glass bottle, the caster spends twelve (12) rounds casting magic into it, after which a skill check is rolled. Failure turns the oil and causes the glass to shatter.
After locating a volunteer and preparing the mediums, the caster may begin the process of transferring the life energy of the spirit into the gem. The process itself takes about thirty minutes of continual casting, which will require three (3) skill checks – attuning the spirit to the magic, beginning the transfer, and completing the transfer.
The latter two must typically be completed in a fatigue state.
The final casting will kill the body and destroy the lantern, completing the transference. If this final casting fails, the spirit will be released, however, a failure at any other point allows for the process to be begun again. Once the spirit binding is complete, the jewel may be crafted onto the augment.
As is mentioned, all crafted magic has some degree of personality. With a bound spirit, there is also the potential that it may have a will. Depending on the degree of will, a spirit could potentially communicate with the wielder, activate abilities, or refuse to work with the character. This can be a great advantage, but it can also be a significant hindrance, and a powerful enough spirit may try to subvert the will of the character. These are always treated as NPCs who have a morale score and are controlled by the GM, which should provide for great roleplaying opportunities.
One of the dangers of using spirits is that anyone willing to have their spirit used in magic is likely not altogether stable. This can especially be true of very powerful beings, not to mention unwilling spirits who have been broken. The strength of will of a crazed spirit will define its capabilities.
The two most common results are that an item is finicky or erratic in its operation, or that it affects the character’s personality. In the latter, there is typically a possessiveness and paranoia surrounding the item and out-of-character quirks that come with using it. The degree of it is typically defined by the type of spirit inhabiting it.
Any magic put into an item can be used by almost anyone, thus there is an inherent danger to putting uncontrolled magic out in the world. The more powerful an item becomes, the more likely it is to draw the attention of those with influence who would use it to increase their personal power or gain. A character using such an item can anticipate powerful challengers coming their way, while one who can craft them becomes an asset to be controlled.
Think about it, the potential ability to take one’s enemies and use their spirit to power items that then may be used against their estate must be among the most overt displays of power. Who would want to challenge someone who could do such a thing? There is a responsibility to crafting magic and can be consequences for doing so, not the least of which is dealing with people who lust for power, those who fear it, and those who have moral or ethical objections to it – no one wants to deal with a righteous mob intent of driving a perceived evil from their town.
While much of the reaction to magic depends on the setting, those who craft it will always be a target one way or the other.
Yes, this is a thing. Magic can turn, and when it does the wielder will suffer the consequences. There are many ways for cursed magic to hurt, and there is always a degree of malicious intent behind it.
One of the more fundamentally bad turns typically occurs when the spirit bound into the augment was unwilling. Whether victim or enemy, at some point the spirit became strong enough to influence the augment and is angry. Often the magic will function as expected until needed, and then a modifier turns negative, a power fails to activate, a skill fumbles every time, etc. – however it happens, for the wielder it’s too late. The angry spirit binds itself to them and actively tries to bring pain and/or death. Getting rid of such an item can require quests, righting an ancient wrong, the augment’s destruction, or some equally difficult endeavor.
There’s a great deal of evil in the world and those who battle it long enough will become affected by it, crafted magic is no different. It has been stated that all crafted magic has a personality, which also means that it can be influenced. In addition, items that are used in the cause of evil will carry that taint (typically in the form of how it’s perceived, cutthroat, champion, etc), and in the hands of someone of the side of good, it may reverse its modifiers, fail to activate, etc. While not bound to the wielder, if its nature is not discerned early, the result could be disastrous.
Crafted That Way
Reversing modifiers, crafting an augment to poison the wielder instead of the target, turning a speed burst into slow motion – a crafter who has malicious intent has options. The effects of any augment can be reversed during crafting, which can be especially potent if an unwilling spirit is used. There are many reasons to craft cursed magic and almost all of them work under the guise of deception, working perfectly in practice, failing in application.
A darker intent is required for purposely crafting such magic and the price paid for it is typically made in pain and blood rather than money or preciousness. Crafting a skill may require the caster to hobble or otherwise prevent the host from being able to use it in the future, for example. It is possible for the crafter to have a cruel streak, but, as earlier discussed, a crafter who is forced to create for someone else would likely be motivated to craft cursed augments. It is yet another danger of putting uncontrolled magic out in the world.
There are a lot of rules surrounding the creation of magic using the crafting skill, but heirloom items are a little different. Because these are typically developed over time and can start at a relatively low level, core objects do not necessarily need to begin as Masterwork quality. Nor do they go through the rigorous magic endowment process. All of this means that heirloom items do not gain the same structural strength modifiers as crafted items, and thus are more prone to break.
Additionally, where crafted magic requires a spirit to power major augments, heirloom items don’t necessarily have that requirement. Much of this is dependent on the story. A greater influence, such as a deity, demon, or another such being could provide the power for the augment, but there are many options. It could contain the essence of a powerful family line, be a lost relic of an advanced civilization, or come from a different dimension or world. With the heirloom items, it’s all about the story.
It’s going to happen. Whether by failure, intent, or by taking damage, crafted magic will be destroyed at some point and there will be consequences. The question is, how dire will the consequences be?
By it’s nature, magic is chaotic. Harnessing this force and placing it into an item is a dangerous endeavor at best and it’s accidental or purposeful release will cause the magic to explode outward. The exception to this is heirloom items – when these are destroyed, their power typically fades or returns to the granter.
Referred to as a backlash, most of the time (5-20 on a D20), the effect is explosive causing 20/40/60 damage in an 3/9/18 yard radius, depending on the highest power level augment. Sometimes (2-4 on a D20), the crafter and those in the area also suffer a random spell effect that lasts 4/12/24 hours, depending on the highest level of the augment. And then there’s that rare instance (1 on a D20), when the random spell effect from the backlash is permanent.
Perhaps most common, when plying their trade, some crafters will inevitably fail. The most obvious consequence is destroying the augment and having to start over, but if it happens while re-forging, it could cause a magic backlash. This latter is typically the result of not using materials of a greater value and rarity than was used in the existing augment, dealing with an angry spirit, or attempting to reforge an heirloom item, among others.
Actively trying to destroy magic is not as easy as one would think. Causing damage can be effective, but powerful magic is durable, and if the magic is powerful, it will resist re-forging attempts that purposely fail. That often leaves only extreme measures, such as a dangerous quest to a volcano in an evil land, locating the forge where it was crafted, or painstakingly breaking the magic to release it slowly. Whatever the methodology, a failure, degree of carelessness, or interruption during the process can cause a magical backlash.
When crafted magic takes damage, the magic contained within can be affected. All crafted magic must be of masterwork quality and so gets better than normal structural strength and hardness saves, in addition that provided by the magic. It would take something extreme to destroy magic item, typically only brought about by a high degree of carelessness or overconfidence. Any augment that is destroyed by taking damage will cause a magical backlash. However, augments that are damaged but not destroyed, can typically be repaired via the reforging process.