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I often play as a Crafting Wizard and would like to know if there's a ruling against this. Whenever I'm working on creating survivability items, I've always made the same item.

Amulet of Mage Armor and Shield, 7000 gp
Continuous Mage Armor and Shield
CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS
Craft Wondrous Item, mage armor, shield, 3500 gp

According to the magic item pricing guide, this follows the rules.

  • Continuous Mage Armor: Spell level x caster level x 2,000 gp = 2,000 gp
  • Continuous Shield: Spell level x caster level x 2,000 gp = 2,000 gp
    • Spell Measured in Minutes: Multiply effect cost by 2 = 2,000 gp
  • Multiple different abilities: Multiply lower item cost by 1.5 = 1,000 gp

Effectively, this item gives the wearer +4 Armor and +4 Shield to AC PLUS immunity Magic Missile. For 6,500 gp, that's a steal. Now, you can't enchant it, but you can buy a much less cumbersome armor piece and enchant that one instead to get your additional enhancement bonuses to AC, while suffering from no Max Dex or ACP woes.

This just seems too good to be true to me, now that I'm DMing pathfinder games. If such a crafting wizard outfitted a level 5 party rogue with this equipment, for roughly 10,000 gp, the Rogue could have +4 Armor, +4 Shield, +4 Dex Bonus, +2 Dodge Bonus, +3 Armor Enhancement Bonus, and +2 Shield Enhancement Bonus to AC.

That's a total of 27 AC at level 5. This is not counting the possibility of money pooling from other members. This is considering the Rogue spending a sum of gold that should be well within their reach by level 5 as per the Pathfinder Average Wealth table.

Equipment list used to come up with that number:

  • Amulet of Mage Armor and Shield, 7000 gp (Crafted at Half Cost)
  • +3 Padded Armor (or any crappy armor), 9000 gp (Crafted at Half Cost)
  • +2 Plank Shield (or any crappy shield), 4000 gp (Crafted at Half Cost)

Though, this is purely hypothetical, such spending could be done by every party member and reduce the chances of ever taking physical attacks again to near 5% (Nat 20s will still always hit). CR 5 monsters will likely miss for entire encounters without even grazing a player. Encounters would be forced to be magical otherwise there would be no challenge for the players.

Is there anything wrong with the doing this by the rules? Or will a DM be forced to utilize sneaky tricks to keep physical encounters fun and challenging were something like this to be made?

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Are those figures correct? I'm having trouble reconciling "Adding new abilities" with "Multiple similar abilities." –  GMJoe Jun 30 at 8:01
    
They are two different spells on the same item. If you want to consider them to simply be the addition of new abilities, this just exacerbates the problem by making it cheaper to make items like this. However, one thing I noticed is that I'm miscalculating the cost of the continuous effects of Shield and Mage Armor, I'll recalculate those now. –  Axoren Jun 30 at 8:09
    
Since the Shield Spell has a duration measured in minutes, it costs twice as much to turn into a continuous effect. –  Axoren Jun 30 at 8:12
    
I recalculated the costs after noticing an issue with my math. Considering the rules for "Adding New Abilities", the cost would actually be identical since this item only has two abilities. The cost of these items are slightly higher, but they are still within reasonable expense for a character of level 5 wealth. –  Axoren Jun 30 at 8:19
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As Dave points out, your AC calculations are wrong for the rogue. +3 Padded armor gives +4 Armor Bonus to AC, not +1 Armor, +3 Armor Enhancement. Likewise for the shield. Your Rogue would end up with AC 24 (4 Armor, 4 Shield, 4 DEX, 2 Dodge (from whereever)). –  MrLemon Jun 30 at 14:13

4 Answers 4

up vote 34 down vote accepted

You're misusing the guidelines.

First, let's take a look at what the Pathfinder Magic Item Gold Piece Values section has to say on this issue. Turns out, it is specifically addressed.

The correct way to price an item is by comparing its abilities to similar items (see Magic Item Gold Piece Values), and only if there are no similar items should you use the pricing formulas to determine an approximate price for the item. If you discover a loophole that allows an item to have an ability for a much lower price than is given for a comparable item, the GM should require using the price of the item, as that is the standard cost for such an effect. Most of these loopholes stem from trying to get unlimited uses per day of a spell effect from the "command word" or "use-activated or continuous" lines of Table: Estimating Magic Item Gold Piece Values.

Emphasis mine. It then goes on to take Mage Armor as an example of this:

Patrick's wizard wants to create bracers with a continuous mage armor ability, granting the wearer a +4 armor bonus to AC. The formula indicates this would cost 2,000 gp (spell level 1, caster level 1). Jessica reminds him that bracers of armor +4 are priced at 16,000 gp and Patrick's bracers should have that price as well. Patrick agrees, and because he only has 2,000 gp to spend, he decides to spend 1,000 gp of that to craft bracers of armor +1 using the standard bracer prices.

So yes, your Amulet of Mage Armor and Shield is a textbook example of the guidelines gone bad.

This is understandable. The guidelines are famously weak, often breaking with casual use, as you have encountered. This precise case, however, was anticipated and addressed.

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I forgot there was an official line on this. Thanks for putting this up. –  Dave Jun 30 at 11:26
    
On top of this there are guidelines for Estimating Magic Item Values that explicitly call out armor enhancement bonuses. So he not missed the textbook example, he even missed the chart :) –  Gates VP Jun 30 at 17:03
    
The chart addresses Armor Enhancement Bonuses in the Chart, but not Raw Armor Bonuses. Mage Armor provides an Armor Bonus, not an enhancement bonus to Armor. Bracers also provide a Raw Armor Bonus instead of an enhancement bonus. The chart doesn't state Raw Armor, only enhancement bonuses. Regardless, Ernir's explanation is a good explanation of why this fails because it cites core. But now for Shield Bonus, it there's no comparable item that provides Shield Bonus. It wouldn't be a parallel to Ring of Protection (deflection). Would it then be unloop-holey to get Continuous Shield Spell? –  Axoren Jun 30 at 20:47
    
"No comparable item" other than a shield, that is. –  Axoren Jun 30 at 20:50
    
@Axoren - My reading of it is that it enhances a base armor/shield bonus of 0. If you look at the bracers in that light, it fits. –  Dave Jul 1 at 8:37

Ernir is entirely right about the guidelines in place to prevent just this thing from happening, but I wanted to address the larger picture from a GM's perspective. Even if the GM were to allow this item, there's several other ways to handle the apparent imbalance.

Apply stacking rules

Enhancement bonuses to armor / shield ACs only apply to that item's bonus. Effectively, it enhances the item's default AC, not the character's AC. Thus an enhancement bonus on armor is automatically included in the character's armor bonus, and an enhancement bonus on a shield is automatically included in the character's shield bonus. Otherwise, magical enhancement to armor and a shield wouldn't stack, because they're both explicitly enhancement bonuses.

As written, your rogue would have a +4 armor bonus from the amulet, a +4 shield bonus from the amulet, a +1+3=+4 armor bonus from the padded armor, and a +1+2=+3 shield bonus from the buckler*.

You're only allowed to have one source for each bonus to AC (except dodge bonuses). So the rogue would get the better of +4 or +4 armor bonus and the better of +4 or +3 shield bonus. This would not stack to provide +15 AC - instead, the rogue would only have +8.

* I don't know what a plank shield is (which is, itself a problem), so I use a buckler for the example.


What's good for the goose is good for the gander

The PCs (in general) are nothing special in the world. Even at high level, there's always someone who is more powerful - otherwise there wouldn't be anyone to challenge. Thus anything the PCs can craft, some NPC somewhere in the world can craft too.

I certainly wouldn't recommend starting down this path, but if your players want to start crafting really specialized magic items (like this, odd-bonus stat items, etc.), then the NPCs should occasionally have some too. "Sorry, it's a headband of Int +1. It gave him extra spells, but it's worthless to you."

Just be careful with this - on the one hand, this lets you buff up your villains while still keeping their loot value the same. On the other, if the items turn out to be useful to the PCs (rather than sold as junk), you're inflating the party's power level (but by no more than if they crafted them themselves).


Does it really matter?

Finally, there's the question of whether having one person in the party with a huge AC actually matters. Any reasonably smart creature/NPC will go "You're too hard to hit. I'm going to go attack your wizard buddy instead." Even with the same resources, not everyone will have the high ACs - wizards can't even use padded armor (or shields) without a problem (which is why they have the spells in the first plaec), not everyone will have a high Dex or sources of dodge bonus. There are plenty of non-spellcasting creatures with touch attacks, attacks that require saves, and so on. Groups of creatures can Aid Another and flank to boost their attacks. Combat maneuvers are often easier to pull off, and things like grappling or tripping can help make an otherwise hard-to-hit target vulnerable.

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Just as I typed it up as a comment, since it was only mentioned by Dave so far, and he got downvoted for other issues. –  MrLemon Jun 30 at 14:15

Yes...

By the core magic item pricing rules: Yes, you can.

Different bonus types mean they stack, and your reading of the table appears correct.

...But...

Your Enhancement bonuses listed count as armour bonuses after they have been applied to the armour, and the shield bonuses likewise, as far as I am aware. Meaning your AC wouldn't be quite that high.

...And.

The magic item prices are supposed to estimate the worth of an item, hence the name of the table. They are design to operate with GM oversight, meaning it would be their responsibility to allow or disallow it.

There are reasons they would: If, for example, the wizard's low AC was seriously impacting a game filled with far-more-armoured characters and impacting everyone's enjoyment. Especially if they were making shield amulets for the rest of the party. Still, in general, I wouldn't expect a GM to allow it.

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No, it's not really like that... The "core rules" explicity says that those calculations should be only used as an estimate, and give insigth on how to proceed in this case: "If you discover a loophole that allows an item to have an ability for a much lower price than is given for a comparable item, the GM should require using the price of the item, as that is the standard cost for such an effect" . Check Emir's answer. –  Thales Sarczuk Jun 30 at 12:50
    
He did read the table correctly, however. Emir's answer is better, though. –  Dave Jun 30 at 13:11

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/spell-lists-and-domains/spell-lists---sorcerer-and-wizard

I've linked the magic rules (which covers stacking rules) and the list of spells for wizards (which includes the two spells, which are level 1 spells.

The core stacking rule suggests that two bonuses of the same type do NOT stack. Both Mage armour and Shield apply a flat bonus of +4 to AC, however one is an armour bonus, the other is a shield bonus. The Different Bonus types clarification suggests that if bonuses are of different types then they will stack.

A bit painful, but solid against anything that is non-boss.

Looking at the Magic Item Creation rules, based on the maths/tables provided, taking a purely technical look, RAW it is a legitimate item creation (based on a first time read through with my reading back and forth to double check and clarify my understanding).

According to the extra text, and the additional answers provided by other users, it is against the spirit of the game (or can be considered as such), and the guidelines explained by Emir state that comparison against existing magic items suggests this item would have a massively increased cost to account for the significant bonuses provided.

As a GM, you can rule that components cost more/supplied have dwindled to be lower than demand/the crafter is getting interrupted more than is regular, etc etc etc. This could increase item cost drastically, and/or make it more difficult/challenging.

Perhaps in your gameworld, an item of this type might require additional resources, possibly even requiring a suitably sized quest to acquire them.

Ultimately, whether this is legitimate or not is up to you as DM/GM of your game. Based on your own history of gaming as you've provided, you could decide this is acceptable, but throw extra challenges at your players to offset the strengths this item provides. Or you could go against your previous gaming decisions with this item, and ban or place additional blocks against its creation - perhaps in your universe/game a magical item can only have one spell bonus applied at a time?

The core focus should be "is it fun?". If yes, and you can provide suitable and enjoyable challenges to offset the difference, then go for it. If no, then ban the item in the interests of game enjoyment for your players.

After all, if people aren't having fun, then why are you playing the game?

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It's more so that someone can create such an item at such a low cost, when a bracer of armor or ring of protection of comparable potency is worth 64,000 gp or 128,000 gp. I understand the stacking rules to allow Shield and Mage Armor to stack, that is not the issue. The potential issue lies in the ability to create such an item. Is the item's creation legitimate? –  Axoren Jun 30 at 8:03
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Shield gives you a "+4 shield bonus to AC", and Mage Armor gives you a "+4 armor bonus to AC", emphasis added. The bonus types here are 'shield' and 'armor', not AC - AC's just what the bonus gets applied to. There's nothing fuzzy about this - they're different bonus types. –  doppelgreener Jun 30 at 8:04
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@mcjomar - Do those same GMs say that a fighter's shield won't stack with their armor? –  Bobson Jun 30 at 12:44
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@mcjomar It would be good if you updated your answer with more correct info. This is not "broken" in any way, and considering those spells different bonus types is they way they are supposed to work. Also, a example from the book already invalidates that this is the "RAW way" to create a magic item witch gives such bonuses. Read Emir's answer. –  Thales Sarczuk Jun 30 at 12:52
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@Bobson - Thanks for this, I'll use this point the next chance I get to discuss it with the two GMs in question, in addition to Jonathan Hobbs earlier point regarding bonus types. –  mcjomar Jun 30 at 14:24

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