Thursday, January 24, 2013

Building a magical item: The Crafting Process

  While I will not even begin to claim I know anything about forging metal, crafting bows, carving wood or stone or pretty much any skill even remotely related to *ancient* craftsmen, I have seen and read enough to at least speculate on some of the things necessary to craft items in a fantasy setting.

  So without further delay, here are some of the things one might take into consideration when crafting magical items:

The specific person (or thing) crafting the item.  I list this because chances are, your character isn't a master craftsmen, if they were, what are they doing adventuring?

    Master Craftsmen (racially dependent) - years of training, followed by years of skill perfecting lead to perfecting the ability to match an item to the user (most useful for weapons and metal armors)
    Planar Entity - physics on other planes make items on the prime plane more effective (think manufacturing in space as a real world equivalent)
    Divine/Abyssal/Infernal Entity - hey, an angel isn't going to fail you and an item crafted by a devil/demon is gonna advance their own agenda (not saying you will be advancing their agenda though)
Quenching Fluids (used in the forging of metal: swords, axe, hammer and arrow heads, wands, etc.)
    Blood - used to give an item SEEKING, HATED, SLAYING, LIFE STEALING, just need the blood of X (i.e. vampire) for effect against X (i.e. vampire)
    Milk - used to give an items HEALING,
    Natural Oils (olive, peanut, etc.) - used to give an item nature based effects
    Petroleum Oils - used to give an item SLICKNESS, SHADOW
    Holy/Unholy Water - used to give an item the Holy or Unholy ability, also potentially for use against divine/abyssal/infernal targets
    Salt Water - used on an item designed for use underwater
    Elemental Water - used to give an item power against elementals
    Your own Blood (likely mixed with something from above) - should give the item more power (at least in your hands), or possibly increase the likelihood of an intelligent weapon.

Phase of the Moon (when the primary part of whatever is being crafted would be crafted, i.e. blade of a sword, head of an axe, shaft of a staff), I'm not sure how waxing or waning might be included in this.
   Full - Protection, Power, Strength
   Gibbous - Chaos, Performance, Knowledge
   Half - Insight, Wards, Balance
   Crescent - Wisdom, Creation
   New - Stealth, Subterfuge
While these aren't necessarily *powers*, one can see how they might be used in conjunction with the intent of the item being created.

   Spring - Life, Growth, Chaos, anything that involves increases
   Summer - Heat, strength, power, anything that involves stability (note: this is different that stasis)
   Fall - Decay, anything that involves decreasing
   Winter - Cold, Death, weakness, stealth, anything that involves stasis

So how does all of this work together you might ask, well that's mostly up to you and your DM.  Personally, I like to think of these things working in conjunction to boost the overall power of an item.  In game mechanics terms, something along the lines of a +1 of every component you might be able to use.  Case in point, how many +5 items (weapons or armor) do you see in a standard game, probably not many unless your DM is Monty Haul.  Thus, you could say that if a sword were crafted by a master sword smith (+1) during the Full Moon (+1), in the mid-Summer (perhaps specifically on the summer solstice) (+1), using a gallon of your own blood (+1) mixed with Holy Water (Holy) would result in a +4 Holy Sword *when you are wielding it, +3 Holy Sword in the hands of another.

Finally, enough has been stated about the necessary spells used in magic item construction so I won't go into those.  But, I would like to point out that spells used to improve the crafting environment (endure elements), skill of the craftsman (bless, bull's strength) and assistance to the craftsman (unseen servant) might be of importance to a DM.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Building a magical item

    I love my gaming group, I love my gaming group, I love my gaming group, well sometimes not so much.  Life, loves (or at least lusts), work, play, family, all seem to plague this group of people that constitute my gaming group.  We barely maintain an every-other week game after trying for about a year to have a weekly game - 2 hours a week just doesn't cut it for me, but I understand the demands of other's work requirements, so I try not to complain when they had to end or leave a gaming session at 8.  Perhaps I'm just a little spoiled in previously having a gaming group that played for 5-ish hours at a time, every week.  But this is mostly off-topic, what brings me to my point is that we are shifting game systems, likely to one that isn't as "highly magical" or "magically active" and the Pathfinder/D&D default worlds (yes, I know that the various D&D worlds vary in their magic-isity) in that magic items (weapons, wands, staves, rods, etc.) are going to actually be defined by their make-up.  If you want a magic wand, unless you find it, you aren't going to go to the store and "buy" a wand of magic missiles, so you have to make it, finding a special (perfect) tree branch or bone or having a craftsman make one.

   Well, what makes up a magic item?  That varies from item to item:

A sword is likely going to require:
metal for the blade and guard - iron, steel, etc.
leather for the grip - cow, deer, displacer beast
"something" for the pommel - gemstone, metal, bone
To add to the creativity, a different metal or gemstone might be inlaid along the blade. Wood from a certain type of tree might be used for the grip. A certain design (snake, vines, holy symbol) might be used for the guard.

What about an axe you might ask, well:
metal for the head - mithril, star metal
leather for the grip - umber hulk, drow skin
metal or wood for the haft - oak, trent

-C over at Hack&Slash has 3 good posts of random materials for item creation and that's a fine place to start.

But ultimately this information is only a side issue of where I'm headed with this series of posts.  What I'm really striving for is what "things" you might need to craft a flaming burst great axe +3 or a dancing long sword. So, over the next few entries, yes they are already written and scheduled to post automatically, I'm going to talk about what *I think* would allow for special ability to manifest in weapons and yes, there will be some discussion and elaboration on the actual crafting process as a means of adding abilities (hint: get ready to shed some blood).