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In regards to adding abilities I am confused as to whether improving a cloak of resistance +1 to a cloak of resistance +2 costs:

  1. 1.5 times the cost of a +1

Or

  1. The difference between a +1 and a +2.

The language of the DMG reads:

A creator can add new magical abilities to a magic item with no restrictions. The cost to do this is the same as if the item was not magical. Thus, a +1 longsword can be made into a +2 vorpal longsword, with the cost to create it being equal to that of a +2 vorpal sword minus the cost of a +1 sword.

If the item is one that occupies a specific place on a character’s body the cost of adding any additional ability to that item increases by 50%. For example, if a character adds the power to confer invisibility to her ring of protection +2, the cost of adding this ability is the same as for creating a ring of invisibility multiplied by 1.5.

Obviously this item occupies a body slot but this isn't really a new ability it is improving on the ability the item already has.

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Whenever you improve an existing magic item, you must pay the difference in value between the final item, and the item you started with.

Since you had a cloak of resistance +1, worth 1,000 gp, and you end up with a cloak of resistance +2, worth 4,000 gp, you have to pay 3,000 gp—the difference between them.

This doesn’t really have anything to do with the rules for adding new abilities, since the cloak isn’t getting a new ability, it’s just getting an improvement to an old ability. The second paragraph you quote is really about adding the effect of a separate item onto an already-existing item, and mirrors the rules for creating a custom magic item with multiple effects. In effect, it’s just a reminder that multiple-effect items have a 50% surcharge on effects after the first, and you have to account for that when determining the price difference you have to pay when improving an item.

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