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Our campaign setting is money poor, the cost of a master work weapon is far out of the commoner's reach. When players need to purchase things they certainly think it through. NPC crafters do not have access to things that the players need to repair magic, or near magic quality, gear. I send PC on quests to gather items to complete the fixes on their items.

My question is, what is the cost of those repairs?

The coin value is very high, so I can't charge an arm and a leg for the repairs but I do not want them to think that such weapons do not take damage and that pavilion tents and bulls eye lanterns are so plentiful that one doesn't repair them but simply replaces them.

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There is no system to figure out repair costs in D&D 3.5e because there is no gear wear rules either. You've made up the latter, so you may just have to make up the former. (Aside, I applaud your choice—that sounds like a grounded, realistic game I would play/run.) –  SevenSidedDie May 1 '13 at 14:35
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I'd say review the rules of the Craft skill: "Generally, you can repair an item by making checks against the same DC that it took to make the item in the first place. The cost of repairing an item is one-fifth of the item’s price." That's it according to the rules, but these rules are not really all that aplicable to your case, since they were made for a bit of a different purpose (repairing sunder and such, not just wear), yet I thought I'd post it anyway. With that said, in standart D&D, a masterwork weapon is out of commoner reach as well: Consider 1 gp a commoners monthly wage. –  kravaros May 1 '13 at 16:04
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Moderator Note: Do not bicker in comments. –  C. Ross May 1 '13 at 16:45

3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

You can use the Craft skill to perform repairs on your items. The relevant rule (which describes the cost) is the following:

Repairing Items

Generally, you can repair an item by making checks against the same DC that it took to make the item in the first place. The cost of repairing an item is one-fifth of the item’s price.

The system does, however, not provide much in the way of rules telling you when repairs are needed, you're going to have to decide that on your own.

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Such repairs are usually needed after an item gets destroyed by sundering it during a combat, by destroying it while unattended, by killing it while animated or when something able to damage equipment is on a character who critically fails the save. –  Zachiel May 1 '13 at 17:24
    
Thank you for this I will use this as the starting point to make the final table for repairs. I never thought of it as the players in my setting do not care to craft much. –  Vethor May 3 '13 at 15:51

This is below 3.5’s abstraction level

All RPGs have to draw a line at some point about how abstract/simulationist they’re going to be. 3.5 isn’t super-consistent about this (all the little feints, positionings, and motions of combat are abstracted to a 5-ft. square, while flying creatures have turning radii and uphill and downhill speeds and minimum forward velocities, etc.), but at any rate as far as equipment is concerned, wear & tear on gear is below the abstraction level.

This is because the rules do not have any suggestions on player income (aside from the optional random-reward generation tables), only guidelines for player wealth. Wealth is the total value of the things you currently have; if gear becomes worn out and of no use, it is no longer counted as a part of your wealth (or its value added to your wealth is zero; same thing). See this answer for example:

As you can see, rewards using these tables generate more wealth than indicated. We assume characters use up that additional money on expenses such as being raised from the dead, potions, scrolls, ammunition, food, and so forth.

That is, the system has built-in extra income for the sake of consumables. Gear that wears out is just a really long-term consumable.

Basically, the system assumes that the players are keeping their equipment maintained – and paying out money to do so – behind the scenes. Because it’s behind the scenes, the system doesn’t expect them to have money for this and doesn’t expect them to explicitly say so. It’s abstracted. Even in a system with explicit wear and tear, the system says that the players should basically be “compensated” for that to maintain the intended wealth level.

In other words, the system has absolutely nothing for you. As far as the rules are concerned, the answer to your question is “the question is not well-formulated.” You would have to homebrew everything from the ground up.

Also, side-note, magic items, should they become available, have most of their mundane stats (like HP and Hardness) dramatically improved. These may quite naturally not wear out.

3.5 works very poorly at low-wealth without massive other changes

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 is a very, very high-magic system. Magic is basically everything. If you don’t have magic, you have to buy it. Classes that get magic natively are (vastly) more powerful than those who do not. By lowering the amount of wealth that players have available, you eliminate the possibility for non-magic classes (which are already very much at a disadvantage) to buy magic for themselves. The system basically entirely breaks down: you need magic to solve most problems.

At very-low (1-4) levels, this problem is not very pronounced: magic is unavailable to many people anyway. Magic makes things easier but is not expected. By 5-6, DR/magic, swarms, incorporeal enemies, and so on start making characters without magic have a hard time. Without a magic weapon, players of mundane characters will have no answers to these enemies. Even if these enemies are avoided (which becomes increasingly difficult to do as DR/magic in particular becomes quite common), players are at a slight but pervasive disadvantage compared to where the game expects them to be. At these levels, the problem certainly exists but can easily be below players’ threshold for noticing them.

However, these problems continue to accumulate, and in fact accelerate, as levels increase, and sooner or later (in my experience, sooner more commonly than later) these effects begin to have a noticeably detrimental effect on players’ ability to succeed, which in many cases has a detrimental effect on players’ enjoyment of the game.

And not noticing a problem does not mean that it doesn’t exist. Intraparty imbalance, in particular, is severely exacerbated by low-wealth, because of the disparities between magic and mundane classes. Players that are not concerned with balance may not notice or care if they’re being carried by magic characters, but it may make things more and more difficult for the DM, as it becomes increasingly difficult to challenge the players: either some are overpowering encounters easily, or others are completely useless.

So unless you are doing things like banning all native-magic classes, throwing out the overwhelming majority of monsters and traps, and limiting adventures to extremely small-scale and local issues, the system is going to break down and you are shafting your non-magical players even more than the system already does.

If you are making all of those changes, you simply don’t have much system left.

You would be much better served by a system designed from the ground up for what you want.

I say all of this because you seem to be attempting to shove a round peg through a square hole: D&D 3.5 is not designed for this sort of game, and it can only accomplish it if you strip away most of the systems, and homebrew entirely new systems in their place.

There are other systems that are designed from the ground up intending to work more the way you want this campaign to go. You don’t have to figure out your own rules for wear and tear or for paying to repair things: that’s already a part of the system. You don’t have to worry about removing tons of classes and monsters: they were never there. And because the game was designed from the ground up with these things in mind, other options will exist that your stripped-down 3.5 will lack.

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While I agree with the first part, the second part is way off. Low wealth may work very poorly the way that your group plays 3.5, but the system does fine with low wealth/low magic without major (or any) changes. Needing magic to solve problems is a group issue, not a system issue. –  Steve G May 1 '13 at 15:46

As a rule of thumb repairing things generally costs between 25 and 60 percent of the value. Slight repair 25%, moderate repair 45%, major repair 60%. Anything beyond that and usually the item in question is beyond repair. I use this because it is simple. I, the GM, make a determination of repair level and voila, the rest takes care of itself. I have estimated these repair percentage/values from my real world attempts to get things fixed.

Also I include something to think on that may alter how your players and you handle repairs and purchases anyway.

In any low wealth or money poor economy, barter is the standard of the economic engine. Basically your characters may need something that they can't afford to buy but would be willing to spend time to get. Remember money (gold) is nothing more than a quantifier of labor value. The beauty of this method is the necessity of lots of NPCs to barter with, which are never a bad thing in any campaign. Also the act of bartering with the NPCs are a natural in-game tool that can generate plot hooks.

"So. " says the armor-smith, "You need your shield repaired? Well that will cost you about 9 bazillion gold or you can take care of a little problem I have. What say you?"

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Is this your house ruling, or an actual rule? –  Jonathan Hobbs May 2 '13 at 1:34
    
The Percentage formula is a "house rule" or rule of thumb that I have encountered in the real world over the years. As the for the barter portion, that is strictly real-life. No house rule needed, just goo old fashioned role-playing. –  Acedrummer_CLB May 5 '13 at 2:15
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You should make it clear this is your own house rules based on general experience with real life stuff, because otherwise you could be conveying there's actually rules and a system in D&D for this sort of thing, as oppose to what appears to be the case: that D&D ignores it completely and doesn't care. –  Jonathan Hobbs May 5 '13 at 2:27

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