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The player of a kobold PC wants a magic item that lets them disguise as a gnome for convenience's sake. I figure this should be a slotted magic item that works using disguise self. With no limitations, the guidelines would put that at 3,000 gp — but a single fixed form is obviously a huge limitation. I'm leaning toward a flat 1,000 gp. Is this reasonable?

N.B. I am banning/nerfing the Hat of Disguise for being disgustingly underpriced.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this hypothetical magic item like a greater hat of disguise except that it's gnomes only? Or is this hypothetical magic item more like an identity hat that only allows the wearer to assume the appearance of Lawrence Snugglerock the gnome wearing an artisan's outfit? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 12 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ (And if you think the hat of disguise is underpriced, compare it to the cap of human guise from the 3.5 spinoff Pathfinder.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 12 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ One specific disguise, which happens to be a gnome. I don't know what an identity hat is, but it sounds a lot like what I'm going for here. I ended up telling the player 800 gp, which by coincidence is the same as the much more capable cap of human guise — but I suspect that the latter was priced in relation to the hat of disguise. \$\endgroup\$ – Thom Smith Jun 13 at 2:20
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300 gp, by comparison to least crystal of return

This is a very difficult question, because none of the guidelines apply. Disguise self has access to any and all forms with the same body plan and size—that’s a huge variety of potential individuals. This isn’t half or a quarter or whatever of disguise self’s usual potential, it’s a literally infinitesimal portion. And you can’t compare its effect on Disguise checks against other items that provide a bonus on Disguise checks, for the same reason—Disguise can be used to make any disguise, not just the one.

Alternate form is very similar, except that’s a transmutation, and often a fairly substantial one. And, of course, it’s not a standard magical effect that appears in the item-pricing guidelines. So that’s no help.

Ultimately, though, we are talking about a pretty low value effect. Hat of disguise is great at its price—though I disagree with your feeling it should cost substantially more—but because of its flexibility. You can also get similar abilities as part of an LA +0 race (changeling), or as a 1st-level alternate class feature (egoist psion), the latter of which replaces a bonus feat. With just one form, it hasn’t got that substantial value. It’s not a considerable capability added to a character; it’s much more about characterization than it is about balance. We’re talking about something that is worth much, much less than a fairly cheap item, or low-level special features.

Thus, I’m looking at some of the lowest-value magic items that exist. The cheapest core magic item that isn’t consumable is hand of the mage at 900 gp, but frankly at-will mage hand is likely better than at-will single-form disguise self. And other books offer cheaper magic items, like some of Magic Item Compendium’s augmentation crystals that are as cheap as 100 gp (light like a torch) or 200 gp (+1 on saves against energy drain, inflict wounds, and death effects).

But the one that catches my eye is the least crystal of return, at 300 gp—that allows you to draw the weapon it’s attached to as a free action. That is, it’s Quick Draw, but only for a single weapon. That... sounds like a pretty similar situation as we have. And we already established that at-will disguise self can be gotten as a feat-equivalent, since that’s exactly the option that an egoist psion gets.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Mandating a particular race or a particular class is a really high price. However, I totally agree that a hat that creates a glamer over the wearer that's always the same illusory disguise of Larry Snugglerock the gnome in an artisan's outfit after a long day at work, then, yeah, that's a goofy trinket, and I hope Larry's getting residuals. I'm not convinced that's exactly the kind of hat the asker imagines, though—if it's any more versatile than that and the command word need not be spoken every 10 min., that's going to make it an improvement over the original hat of disguise. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 13 at 9:14
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You want a variant of the Hat of Disguise. Normally that costs 1800 gp, so that is the baseline for estimating variant prices.

Limiting it to one specific, non-changeable description could justify multiplying the price by a factor of up to 0.75 in my opinion, for down to 1350 gp. 3/4 is a substantial cut, but since the item still allows swapping descriptions in an instant, any more would be too much. To justify the proposed 1000, the limitations would need to be more impactful.

Why 0.75 of all things? Let's compare some other magical Items in how they scale down when we actually have a level of them, and can estimate the effect of the item:

Bracers of Armor Cloack of Resistance Amulet of Mighty Fists
8 to 7 0.766
7 to 6 0.735
6 to 5 0.694
5 to 4 0.640 6.640 0.640
4 to 3 0.563 0.563 0.563
3 to 2 0.444 0.444 0.444
2 to 1 0.250 0.250 0.250

As you see especially with the Bracers, the downsizing prizes actually follow an exponential function of the 4th order, but it runs against 0.75 for downsizing by one from the highest-ranking to the next lowest. Limiting the effect to one shape instead of any is much more akin to downgrading that step than downgrading from a +2 to a +1 bonus on any of the items: after all, you still get the full +10 bonus on disguise checks.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ All three of those items have a quadratic relationship between the bonus granted and the cost of the item. Taking an average is... weird, in that context. An average makes vastly more sense in a linear situation. And I’m not sure how one gets from the numbers in your table to 0.75. Finally, we’re not going “down a step” or whatever—we’re going from “infinitely-many options” to “no options at all, just one single alternate form.” \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 13 at 1:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that an item that allows you to assume one single predetermined disguise is a lot less than 3/4 as useful as an item that lets you change disguises to whatever you like at will. But I also think that 1,800 for a Hat of Disguise was a mistake. \$\endgroup\$ – Thom Smith Jun 13 at 2:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan the average was to show that it is not linear, but instead is close to the exponential function of 4th order; My math program throws me an extrapolation of $$y= -0,0004x^4 + 0,0039x^3 - 0,0189x^2 + 0,0047x + 0,7766$$ \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Jun 13 at 7:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan The item still provides a +1 on disguise, which makes me iffy to go down any orther but than something at the top. \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Jun 13 at 8:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish: +1 to a skill is much less valuable than +1 to AC, +1 to Save, or +1 to AR. In fact, I would argue that's it's nearly worthless. A +5 Competence Bonus to 1 Skill is given at 2,500 gp, hence a +1 Competence Bonus to 1 Skill is 100 gp. Dirt cheap. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jul 13 at 17:29

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