The ladle of candle making can make 10 non-magical candles a day & grants the user +10 to Craft (Candles) rolls. What would be the cost of making a ladle of candle making? I must admit that I’m asking out of ignorance only.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Closed: user sockpuppeting around a suspension. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '18 at 0:24

The final price will be an ad-hoc price, according to the item creation rules.

Most people (incorrectly) default to using the formulas given in the DMG for item creation. For example, an item of a multi-use spell would yield you the following:

  • Minor Creation = 2000 x 7 x 4 = 56000
  • True Creation = 2000 x 17 x 8 = 272000

HOWEVER those prices would actually be wrong. See below.

From the Magic Item Compendium (emphasis added):

The magic item prices ... aren’t the result of any intricate formulas or detailed equations. Instead, each price is set individually by comparing the item (and more important, its likely perceived value to player characters) to other items commonly used by PCs.

That last part bears emphasizing again:

It doesn’t do much good to say that a new item is worth about the same as a magnificent cape of divine eminence if the latter item is priced so exorbitantly that characters aren’t interested in buying or keeping it.

Instead, compare new items to those that characters are already choosing and using—magic weapons and armor, rings of protection, cloaks of resistance, rings of invisibility, boots of striding and springing, and of course, the various ability- score boosters. If you want your characters to find a newly designed magic item compelling, make sure that it can compete with the obvious choice they would have otherwise made.

This was also true back in 3.0. Behold, from the Tome & Blood:

Remember, these are meant to be guidelines for determining what magic items are worth, not an exact point system for building magic items. Common sense ... should govern the process.

And the clincher is the original item creation rule found in the DMG:

Many factors must be considered when determining the price of magic items you invent. The easiest way to come up with a price is to match the new item to an item priced in this chapter and use its price as a guide. Otherwise, use the guidelines summarized on Table 7–33: Estimating Magic Item Gold Piece Values.

In other words, the ACTUAL rule for pricing magic items is to FIRST compare to existing items, and ONLY if that fails, to fall back on the item creation guidelines.

See also from the DMG:

You’ll notice, however, that not all the items presented here adhere to these formulas directly. The reasons for this are several. First and foremost, these few formulas aren’t enough to truly gauge the exact differences....

The formulas only provide a starting point.... Use good sense when assigning prices, using the items in this book as examples.

Therefore, we follow the rule properly and ignore the formula. First we will compare to existing items.

We will look at items which create a permanent mundane item which does not disappear.

  • Decanter of Endless Water. 9,000 gp
  • Bottle of Air. 7,250 gp
  • Murlynd's Spoon. 5,400 gp

A Decanter of Endless Water produces, as it say, endless water. It even mentions in the description that you could create a stream of water with this thing. The water created is permanent. The spell it is based off of is Control Water which seems an odd choice for effectively creating water or even linking to the Plane of Water, but there you go.

A Bottle of Air produces endless air. This air can be breathed, and can prevent suffocation. The air created is permanent. The spell indicated is Water Breathing which sort of makes sense despite them mentioning being able to breath in a vacuum as well.

Murlynd's Spoon creates food for a certain number of people. As it actually assuages hunger and meets nutritional requirements for a hard day's adventuring, the food is also permanent. It is based off of the spell Create Food and Water which makes perfect sense.

Therefore, according to the One Rule of Item Creation in the DMG (as I like to call it) an item which makes 10 permanent candles per day cannot cost more than 9,000gp.

Let us examine this further. Candles are made from wax. Wax is actually edible, and in fact some modern candies have wax as part of their ingredients. Furthermore, honeycomb is itself made from wax, and is still commonly sold in stores to this day. Technically, wax could be considered as food, thus logically allowing us to use the same spell as Murlynd's Spoon, namely, Create Food and Water as the base. Wicks can also be made from edible substances, for those who are ultra-picky.

In conclusion, as the benefit of a candle-creating ladle is arguably less than that of the spoon, one could reasonably assign a lower price. The exact details are up the DM in question, but at a maximum, this sort of item should not cost more than 5,400 gp.

Furthermore, as kindly pointed out by HeyICanChan, the Everlasting Rations from the MIC (p.160, also based on Create Food and Water, by the way,) costs a mere 350 gp, which permanently created item is worth about 50 candles. This could easily set an example of the low end of the possible price range for your ladle.

All of this, of course, does not take into account the skill bonus, which is a pretty straight forward price comparison with the various skill boosting items. Though, again, keep in mind the One Rule and guidelines listed above. (Thank you minnmass, DanB, and GeoffreyBrent.)

As there is more than one ability involved, do recall the advice from the DMG that items with multiple similar abilities (similar being defined as "same theme") get a cost break. The second thematic ability is 3/4 the base cost of said ability and third+ is 1/2 cost of each additional ability. Note also that as mentioned in Tome and Blood, it is alright to play around with which power is in which of the 'cost break' slots, so long as it is done with an eye for matching prices of existing items, and not simply to get a discount.

A final note: A candle dipping ladle has various designs, some look like an actual ladle which will hold one candle at a time, some are tools designed for dipping the candle wicks into wax, which is how candles have been made for a very long time. This latter version can hold 2, 6, or even 20+ candles at once, which could make this item a once per day type item, which could also adjust the cost.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I wholly agree with your analysis of the "make 10 candles per day for free" portion of the Ladle. However, I don't see any mention of the +10 bonus to Craft (candlemaking). Can you add a section addressing that significant skill bump? \$\endgroup\$ – minnmass Mar 27 '18 at 22:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your ten-candles analysis is excellent, but I'm downvoting because you omitted the skill bonus portion of the item cost. The skill bonus costs a lot more than the ten-candles, so this analysis omits most of the cost of the item. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Mar 29 '18 at 1:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just realized that an actual candle ladle typically dips six to twelve candles at once, depending on design. That would make this a once a day item, with potentially a further attendant cost break. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Mar 29 '18 at 23:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Fair point. I must admit that if one of my players really wanted to buy this my first thought would be "what horrible exploit have they discovered?" \$\endgroup\$ – Geoffrey Brent Mar 30 '18 at 4:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Large candles are typically made via pouring into a mold, rather than via dipping, but even large candles could certainly be made via dipping if the tool was the right size, and the user was strong enough. It would simply take longer, a lot longer. Also, such oversized candles probably cost more than what the PHB lists as the cost. ^^ Adjust end market value accordingly, if needed. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Mar 31 '18 at 1:40

You're looking for the table at http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/creatingMagicItems.htm. This table tells us that the cost for a skill-improving item should be 'Bonus squared × 100 gp', which works out to 10000gp. The example it gives is the 'Cloak of Elvenkind', which grants a +5 bonus to the Hide skill for 2500gp.

It looks like a non-magical candle is worth 1cp. Making ten of them per day is a very small effect! There's no spell that has an effect as weak as this, but to get an idea of the price of this effect, we can compare to the everlasting rations which costs 350gp and produces 5sp of real goods (specifically, rations) per day. Ten candles per day is valued at one-fifth of that, so we can estimate the cost of this effect is 70gp.

The total value would then be 10070gp.

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An item that creates wax would need to use minor creation which is a level 4 sorcerer spell. Since it will be expected to create 10 candles it will need to be Use-activated The wizard who casts this spell has to be level 7. As such the cost of this device would be 2000*7*4=56000 GP just with candles. Along with the skill boosting ability the cost is Bonus Squaredx100 GP which will make it cost an additonal 10000 gold. Since the item has no slots the prices will be added together so the price will be 66000 GP. This is assuming the melted candles just magically disappear. If you want them kept then the spell is true creation which costs 17*8*2000=272000 GP and along with the crafting boost it will cost 273000 GP.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If the DM mandates computing the spell effect that way (rather than just throwing in the effect for free—which I think is totally reasonable by the way), bear in mind that the minor creation effect is only making 2 cp candles. I'd consider significantly lowering the ladle's prerequisite to the prestidigitation spell because, dude, freakin' candles. Who cares? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 26 '18 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is an item that creates something from nothing. Those are so rare in D&D and you have to keep in mind the various uses people can find with such an item. They could very well choose to just camp near an orc settlement and pour infinite amount of wax into the river in order to kill the orcs without a single encounter or you could just glue the item to an adamantium wall and then let it explode the wall by constantly creating a pressure on the wall through the means of candles. These example is just from the top of my mind. A creative player could find extreme ways to use the item. \$\endgroup\$ – Maiko Chikyu Mar 26 '18 at 16:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am all for imaginative uses of nigh-infinite items, but this is a typical candle (PH 126, 128) (1 cp; 0 lbs.) and only ten per day. That makes using this item to, say, poison a river or bust through an adamantine door a function of, like, decades — if not more — at that rate! I'm totally good with that being considered a minor effect. (Note that this is from a DM who once—once!—allowed a small valley to be counted as an empty vessel for the purposes of a sustaining spoon!) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 26 '18 at 17:00