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For item creation in pathfinder the example magical item (The belt of incredible dexterity) is quoted with bonuses of +2/+4/+6

However the Magic item creation information states that the cost is Bonus Squared x1000 gp.

Does this mean I can create a belt/hat/etc of dexterity +1?

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Don't forget that since ability modifiers are gained every 2 ability points, these items will be useless for all odd-numbered ability scores. –  lisardggY Sep 13 '12 at 7:48
It's precisely because I have an odd numbered ability score that I want a +1 item; ie character has 17 dex; I don't want to waste my stat increase pick to make it 18, I'd rather make a cheap item (500 base cost!) :) –  Rob Sep 13 '12 at 7:54
Found a relevant thread on pazio's forums paizo.com/forums/dmtz6hm0?Ability-Bonus –  Rob Sep 14 '12 at 7:44
I have to say one of the answers there was rather convincing for me. How can you justify, in-universe, a belt that makes one person more agile but not another? It's the problem with the ability-scores-add-a-modifer-every-second-point, which breaks down when you try to express it in-play. –  lisardggY Sep 14 '12 at 9:52
"Somehow" turned out to be three paragraphs that dward the earlier answer. :) –  lisardggY Sep 16 '12 at 9:38

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Going over the RAW, I can't find any limitation on the ability score. I checked in the D&D 3.5 SRD as well, but it looks like Pathfinder adapted that nearly word-for-word, and I couldn't find any limitation there either. Don't forget, though, that they won't stack, of course. Once you find a pair of good +2 Dexterity gloves, your little puny belt will be useless - and you might regret not putting that ability point into Dexterity then. :)

However, I can think of one very good reason why a DM might not allow them:

They leak the mechanics into the game world. The breaking down of abilities into discrete steps is a system choice that doesn't translate into the character's world. The fact that it takes two steps to improve a bonus doesn't change the fact that for the characters, their dexterity lies on a vague spectrum of ability. Given that, it would be strange for a wizard to enchant an item that makes one person noticeably stronger (the one with the odd ability score), while the same magic does nothing for another who is just as strong, for most purposes, but whose out-of-character score is one lower. Especially since at an equally arbitrary point in time for that person (say... level 4?) the magic item might suddenly start working.

One can work with that, in-setting, of course. You can tie the ability score steps to various in-universe mystical parameters. But that's opening a can of worms, where one aspect of the system is mapped into an in-universe factor, others will be dragged in as well, and you'll be forced into rationalizing every single bit of system mechanics, which will not end well.

For that reason alone, I can understand a DM who will rule out odd-numbered stat-bonus items. They leak the abstraction.

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As my character is a Wizard every point he can get is going into INT, but a small dex boost for more ac, initiative and touch attack bonus would be nice :) –  Rob Sep 13 '12 at 8:45
One thing to note: There are effects for odd stats as well as even ones. Feats, in particular, require odd stats rather than even ones. In-game, a person with a 15 Dex is more dexterous than someone with a 14, just not by enough to make them 5% more likely to succeed on Dex-based actions. –  DuckTapeAl Sep 16 '12 at 10:33
You're right, but it's a much rarer occurence. Also, you have a player-based decision (shall I take the +1 item? Nah, it's worthless) that can't be explained by the character (shall I take this Belt of Strength? No? Why not?) –  lisardggY Sep 16 '12 at 10:58
I can think of one good way to justify it in-universe. For the same reason a 42 Horsepower car could beat a 43 horsepower car - The difference in performance is nearly negligible, and in practice you wouldn't see any effect unless used. Basically it's less effective because it was made with very weak magic (which works because it is, after all, cheaper and using less powerful magic). You could even sell them as a cheap knock-off in-universe. –  Zibbobz Sep 18 '13 at 17:36
@lisardggY "it would be strange for a wizard to enchant an item that makes one person noticeably stronger (the one with the odd ability score), while the same magic does nothing for another who is just as strong". I never would have looked at it that way; I wish I could award more than +1 for this. –  Llepwryd Dec 18 '13 at 23:27

In 2001, D&D 3e designer Monte Cook wrote that items of odd bonuses to ability scores shouldn't be made:

Would an item that grants a +1 bonus only to a given ability score require a lower caster level than those that add +2?

You shouldn't have things that grant a "+ odd number" to an ability score. The reason for this is that a +2 or +4 always means something (your bonus increases to a +1 or a +2 no matter what your score). A "+ odd number" only means something if you have an odd score. Not only is that weird ("This belt makes me stronger when I wear it, but not you."), it also makes it too tempting to min-max with such an item.

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By the letter, you are golden. However, using even bonuses guarantees a modifier no matter what the score is. However looking at the exponential cost and therefore time necessary to create it, a cheap little cantrip level trinket should be a pittance in the eyes of your DM, who has ultimate decision on the minimum magic needed.

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So using the same logic why couldn't a +1 magical item just make you slightly more dexterous? It will make someone who has an 18 dex a little more dexterous than they were before, but not enough that they get bonuses for it, just the same as someone who increases their ability naturally. They might go from a 18 to a 19 and still be more dexterous, just won't do much number wise.

However it will put them one stat point further in the green when they are considering stat drains/damage and the like so the person wouldn't necessarily say no to the dex increasing item even if it doesn't give them a lot number wise. If they were alone or just a greedy person they would wear it because it would give them a considerable bonus even if it's only something that keeps them from getting paralyzed, or killed if you consider a con bonus. How many people wouldn't put on a +1 con belt when they're going to fight vampires?

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Please reformulate this answer to directly answer the question. These two paragraphs may be a useful justification to your answer. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 18 '13 at 4:40

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