I know that 5e magic items are supposed to be very rare and not for sale, yet both the DMG and XGtE list magic item prices based on rarity. We're going to be doing a series of one-shots with the same characters and have been put on a very low initial budget for items (no items from background or class), but are allowed to buy magic items with this money.

Magic item cost in both the DMG and XGtE only references the rarity of a magic item. Unless I'm missing a rule somewhere, this has the strange consequence that a commonly enchanted plate armor (100 gp) is (a lot) cheaper than a non-enchanted plate armor (1500 gp).

  1. Am I missing something?
  2. If I'm not missing something: is this a design oversight or has there been an official comment on this?
  • What makes you think magic items in 5e are supposed to be not for sale? – TylerH Sep 20 at 15:39
  • 1
    @TylerH This line from the DMG: "Unless you decide your campaign works otherwise, most magic items are so rare that they aren’t available for purchase." – guildsbounty Sep 20 at 18:54
  • @guildsbounty That's the only thing I could think of, but it talks about (exceedingly) rare magic items, not common magic items like potions or armor that doesn't get dirty. I'm wondering if OP has something specific in mind that they read or if that's simply all they are basing it off of. – TylerH Sep 20 at 19:10
  • @TylerH I base myself mainly on the enthusiastic reiterations that magic items shouldn't be for sale in 5e each time the subject comes up on this SE. – DonFusili Sep 21 at 7:16
  • @DonFusili Fair enough; I consider that interpretation by people to be boring, nonsensical, and wrong. Rare+ stuff, maybe, but the base tier is called "common" for a reason. – TylerH Sep 21 at 13:52
up vote 12 down vote accepted

The prices given in the DMG/XGtE are guidelines for a DM to come up with their own prices if items are available for sale.

As you said, 5th Edition did away with the old Magic Item Economy where, if you had the gold, you could just buy a magic item. In short, unless the DM says otherwise, magic items just aren't for sale.

Unless you decide your campaign works otherwise, most magic items are so rare that they aren’t available for purchase.

DMG Chapter 7

The rules that cover rebalancing this to where it 'makes sense' as is the case with Plate Armor of Gleaming are mentioned here

You can decide that certain items also require special materials or locations to be created.

DMG Chapter 6, Crafting a Magic Item

In which case, as the DM, you can easily say "Well, to make the Plate Armor of Gleaming, you...well...need some plate armor. Then there's the Xgp materials cost of actually enchanting it. So, Gleaming Plate Armor costs the price of a suit of plate, plus the cost of the enchantment."

  • "... plus the labor cost of the wizard enchanting the armor, plus the opportunity cost to that wizard for making that item when the could make something useful". – Marq Sep 20 at 14:22
  • @Marq Honestly, I figure a lot of 'Common' magic items are made by apprentices who have to learn artifice somehow...and doing gimmick enchantments that don't cost a ton in materials if they screw it up seems like a good way to go. – guildsbounty Sep 20 at 14:48

Almost certainly more than normal plate armour.

The "Armor of Gleaming" is listed in the XGtE as "Any armor", so it seems sensible to assume that the cost of this is in addition to the usual cost of the item (especially for such expensive items as plate armour!). I realise a strict reading of the rules and prices for magic items might not explicitly state this, but it seems logical in this case - no smith/wizard is going to make/buy a suit of plate armour, spend resources and money enchanting it, and then sell it for considerably less than the initial effort.

Armor of Gleaming

Armor (any medium or heavy), common

This armor never gets dirty.

Ultimately, of course, it's up to the DM, but plate armour is a game-changer in terms of AC for low-dex characters, so it might be worthwhile keeping the cost of it high.

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