6
\$\begingroup\$

I'm looking at allowing my party's artificer to craft some +2 arrows, and in reading over the crafting rules in Xanathar's Guide, it seems like something is missing -- or else I'm missing something.

It says crafting a rare item (like +2 arrows) takes 10 weeks and 2,000 gp, both of which are halved for consumable items. I assume ammunition counts as consumable, as it becomes non-magical after it hits. But even taking that into account, 5 weeks and 1,000 gp seems like an absurd cost for a single magic arrow; a whole magic weapon can't possibly be worth the same as two pieces of ammunition.

Have I missed a rule somewhere that says you craft ammunition in lots of 10 or something? (As I recall, that's how it worked in previous editions.)

If I haven't missed anything and magic ammunition really is prohibitively expensive compared to the benefit, would it be balanced and reasonable to rule that the 5 weeks + 1,000 gp crafts a set of ten arrows?

\$\endgroup\$

1 Answer 1

7
\$\begingroup\$

In the DMG, Ammunition +1, +2, or +3 refers to a single piece of Ammunition

You have a bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this piece of magic ammunition

So strict RAW, yes, it would be prophibitively expensive.

Core Rules

Xanathar's Guide contains optional rules. Based on the core rules, this would be even more expensive (p. 129, DMG).

An item has a creation cost specified in the Crafting Magic Items table (half that cost for a consumable, such as a potion or scroll).

Item Rarity: Rare

Creation Cost: 5,000 gp

And it would take even longer

A character engaged in the crafting of a magic item makes progress in 25 gp increments, spending that amount for each day of work until the total cost is paid.

So in total, for a single, one-shot arrow +2 you would look at a cost of 2,500 gp and 100 days of work.

In older editions of the game powerful fiends and undead could only be hurt with weapons that had +2 or even higher enchantments, so there was a real need to obtain them. In D&D 5e even the most powerful fiends in the MM, such as a Pit Fiend, can be hurt normally by any magic weapon. There is no qualitative difference between a +1 weapon and a +2 weapon, merely a quantitative one. Hence a more economic alternative could be crafting uncommon +1 arrows instead, which cost "only" 250 gp (DMG) or 100 gp (XGE) to craft apiece.

One indeed wonders which insane wizard spent their years to create the +2 or +3 arrows that player characters might find in game.

More reasonable costs

However, here is the rule for silvered weapons, from the PHB:

You can silver a single weapon or ten pieces of Ammunition for 100 gp.

I would allow crafting 10 arrows for the cost of one item. Not only are they smaller and simpler to make than, say a sword, they also are lost as magic weapons when you use them.

Better calibrated costs

The economics for magic items are not well developed, likely because the default assumption is that they are obtained by adventuring, not bought or crafted (DMG, p.135):

Magic items are gleaned from the hoards of conquered monsters or discovered in long-lost vaults. (...) The game assumes that the secrets of creating the most powerful items arose centuries ago and were then gradually lost as a result of wars, cataclysms, and mishaps. Even uncommon items can't be easily created. Thus, many magic items are well-preserved antiquities.

You can see this in the rarity system that is used for costs, and that does not reflect play value, even though the DMG (p. 135) claims that

Rarity provides a rough measure of an item's power relative to other magic items

For example, compare Souvereign Glue (legendary consumable, worth >25,000 gp (Magic Item Rarity, p.135 DMG), to a Bag of Holding (uncommon, worth up to 500 gp). I'd trade the glue for the bag in a jiffy, nevermind for 50 of them.

Furthermore, the cost to craft magic items is not balanced with their value in a way that would encourage crafting.

If you are open to non-canon sources and want to support crafting or magic item values that reflect item power, using Sane Magic Item Prices as the basis for the cost for various items offers a practical alternative to pricing items. Just halve these to determine the crafting cost for each. For example, the price for Ammunition +2 there is listed as 100 gp, so 1,000 gp will get you 20 arrows +2.

\$\endgroup\$
7
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This should be just copied and pasted into any questions about magic item economy. It is absolutely baffling how little effort was put into it, as if they didn't know players liked magic items 🤷 \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 1 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, magic items are optional, just like any feature of the game is optional. I don't think saying "magic items are optional" helps this answer though, and the linked answer itself doesn't justify the statement, just refers the reader to the DMG chapter on treasure, which in no place says magic items are optional. I'm not arguing whether they are or not, just that it doesn't help this question, or if you feel that it does, better support is needed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 2 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, @Jack, you are right. Magic items are the default assumption. DMG (p.9) offers this alternative assumption: "The World Is a Mundane Place. What if magic is rare and dangerous, and even adventurers have limited or no access to it?", but it is tangential to the question, so I removed it. I only quoted it to explain a possible reason why there are no better calibrated magic item costs. I think that a more granular price per item like in older editions would be much more useful to help GMs judge their power. 1e had that and for sure had the same ethics of "no buying items". \$\endgroup\$ Feb 2 at 10:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Back when 5e was about to be released, WotC posted an article (or several) about design philosophies for the new version. They said magic items are optional, or words to that effect, but it should be taken in context: they were drawing a contrast with the 4e MMO-style item progression where you were simply expected to have magic weapons and armor of the appropriate plus-ness for your level, and failing to do so meant you were underpowered. The 5e "bounded accuracy" concept means any magic item plus is a pure benefit, and even +1 is significant. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 2 at 14:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That is to say, magic items are optional in the sense that magic plus-whatever items are not mechanically required for a character to be functional in the game system. Distribution is of course up to the DM, so they're also optional in the sense that the DM can just decide how much and when, but the default setting does presume some amount of magic item disbursement. (This was in like 2012, though, and the articles appear to have gone missing in the meantime. I'm sure they're in the Wayback Machine someplace but I'm not going to go digging right now!) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 2 at 14:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .