Magic items produce spells or spell-like effects. For a saving throw against a spell or spell-like effect from a magic item, the DC is 10 + the level of the spell or effect + the ability modifier of the minimum ability score needed to cast that level of spell.
I'm writing up some magic items, and I'm running into some difficulty, because I've got a few places where my items' effects are similar to existing spells, but use a higher DC than what I'd get with the above guideline.
For example, if I've got an "evil vizier"-type character who hypnotizes people to do as he tells them, I might give him magical lenses that let him cast suggestion once a day.
- That's a third-level spell, requiring a 5th level caster; typical pricing should be
3 (spell level) * 5 (caster level) * 1800 (command-activated) / 5 (once per day) = 5400 gp.
- Construction requiremenets are only Craft Wondrous Item and suggestion.
But if I left it there, I'd expect the save DC against the suggestion to be 14. And (for my game) I want it a bit higher, so it'll be a serious threat to court members and to PCs. Say I want to bump it up to 17.
How do I do that, mechanically? There doesn't seem to be a clear way to go about this.
- I could use Heighten Spell for a 5-th level Suggestion, giving me a DC of 17, but that would increase the price enormously (from 5400 to 16200). That seems excessive, and also kind of raises the item out of the scope and value I want it available in.
- Could I add Spell Focus feats or high Int abilities as requirements to bring the DC up? What does that do to the cost?
- Should I be adding in other spells and abilities that affect saves, and going by that? That seems very awkward.
- Should I be setting the DC where I like and fudging the price as I see fit?
- Or something else?
- Or should I just not be messing with the DC in the first place...?
EDITED TO ADD: The vizier's lenses are just an example; this is a fundamental problem I'm running into repeatedly with my items. I like trying to make cool items out of low level spells, but I don't want them to be useless for mid-level characters. And if achieving that pushes the price range way, way beyond low level, then I've defeated the purpose of creating low-level items to begin with. Alas.
Maybe this is a balance issue? Is it really that tough to come up with general guidelines on how changing a DC affects the item's value? One would think by now there'd be at least some general advice, but I can't find anything anywhere beyond "avoid it," "fudge it," and/or "guesstimate it."