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What is the record for the greatest discount to item creation costs? Basically, just how low can the price go? Open to psionics and magic methods.

(For DM reference regarding a possible upcoming miserly item creator player character who intends to still charge full price... just wanting to know what the theoretical record is as a baseline to compare the build to.)

Only sources official or once official please (ie: by WotC or by sources deemed official by WotC at any point in time, ie: Official Fan Site materials, Kalamar, WotC web content, Dragon/Dungeon magazines, and so forth). C.O. and even some T.O. is fine, but no Nigh Infinite recursions or other PunPun level stuff.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I could swear we have this question somewhere, but I’m not finding it. The answer could probably be synthesized from existing answers on the subject, at the very least, if one were so inclined. I’ll do so myself if no one else has by the time I’m recovered. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 1:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ You should clarify whether or not you’re including various factors mentioned in the DMG, such as being race-specific, that are meant to help a DM price the value of campaign elements in general, but which quickly become abusive in practice when players use them. If you are undecided on the subject, I strongly recommend disallowing them for player use, and telling your player that up front. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 1:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm certain—because you're a user there—that you're familiar with this handbook. Should answers also assume such familiarity and include only omissions, or should that handbook be reprinted in an answer that also includes any omissions from it? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 3:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoeNapalm Yeah, got (mild) covid earlier this week. Actually waiting on the test to see if I can end isolation as we speak. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 13:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ And failed that test, which I really expected to pass. I’m feeling pretty fine but we’ll play it safe with a 4-month-old. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 13:59

2 Answers 2

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100%

  • Be a whatever 5/Ur-Priest 10/Malconvoker 2.
  • Cast planar binding to grab an efreet.
  • Steal the Efreet's 3/day wish SLA, using your Ur-Priest ability.
  • Bind the efreet to "eat this cake" or whatever efreeti like to do.
  • Wish for whatever item you want.
    • It's a spell-like ability, which carries no XP cost.

Zero xp or gold cost is a 100% reduction.

There are definitely lower-level ways of entering this loop, but this is cleaner on being zero cost and straightforward.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, you can do this one with a Candle of Invocation and on your 3rd wish ask for another Candle, which is below wish's GP limit, iirc. Of course, you'll likely bring down the wrath of all the inhabitants of the City of Brass upon your sorry head either way you try this, so........ In any case, wish has a GP limit, so this answer is only of limited scope and does not help with the creation of items past the GP limit of a wish. Valid answer, but I think there might be better ones. =D \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 21:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko buying the candle is a cost, so arguably isn’t 100% discount. I thought of that :). Also, wish only has a limit on mundane items. It used to have a magic item go limit in 3e, but 3.5 removed it. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 21:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko Technically, if you’re playing “rules as written minus any NI loops,” wish has no gp limit for magic items. “• Create a nonmagical item of up to 25,000 gp in value. • Create a magic item, or add to the powers of an existing magic item.” Separate bullet points, very clearly delineating which items do, and which items do not, have any limit. I suppose one could imagine a non-magical item of more than 25,000 gp value, but it’d be hard. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 23:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan a suitably large ship or a castle or large statue of the party carved from a single gemstone should do it, but with access to wish, why would you want to? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 23:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be worth noting that wish can also be used to create a nonmagical item of any value, provided its volume is CL ft³ or less, by using wish to cast the 8th-level spell true creation. Also, a dweomerkeeper can cast any spell as a supernatural ability, explicitly without components, and avoiding the worry about the City of Brass. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 0:33
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Stacking Discounts

There are a variety of ways to get percentage discounts on crafting costs. Before delving deeply into specifics, it's worth discussing how they stack. The D&D rules for stacking apply explicitly to modifiers (with a separate section on spells which is much less clear and thankfully not applicable here).

Since these are percentages, they require multiplication, and here is what the SRD has to say on multiplication:

Sometimes a rule makes you multiply a number or a die roll. As long as you’re applying a single multiplier, multiply the number normally. When two or more multipliers apply to any abstract value (such as a modifier or a die roll), however, combine them into a single multiple, with each extra multiple adding 1 less than its value to the first multiple. Thus, a double (×2) and a double (×2) applied to the same number results in a triple (×3, because 2 + 1 = 3).

 

When applying multipliers to real-world values (such as weight or distance), normal rules of math apply instead. A creature whose size doubles (thus multiplying its weight by 8) and then is turned to stone (which would multiply its weight by a factor of roughly 3) now weighs about 24 times normal, not 10 times normal. Similarly, a blinded creature attempting to negotiate difficult terrain would count each square as 4 squares (doubling the cost twice, for a total multiplier of ×4), rather than as 3 squares (adding 100% twice).

There are separate rules for abstract values and real world values. Money, and by extension price, is a real world value, but the platonic base price of a magic item is certainly abstracted from the real world price; it doesn't factor in the added costs of material components or XP, or whatever discounts on purchasing a buyer might have. XP, unlike money, is fairly clearly an abstract value, not a real world one. Here in the core rules, it's unclear if we multiply or add cost reducers (in fact, there's a reasonable argument to be made that, RAW, we multiply cost reducers for gold and add them for XP, which is horrible). Luckily, we have more evidence for how to interpret the rules.

We can refer to the Unbound Scroll, a class from Dragonmarked, who gains an ability called Master Scribe (Ex):

When you use Scribe Scroll, reduce the gp and XP costs by 5% for each level in this class. These bonuses stack with those of Legendary Artisan and Extraordinary Artisan, so that a 5th-level unbound scroll with the Legendary Artisan feat reduces the XP cost of scroll creation by 50%.

The authors of Dragonmarked, at least, certainly thought that crafting cost reducers stacked additively, and defined stacking as additive in RAW. Unless one wants to make the assertion that Master Scribe stacks additively but other reducers stack multiplicatively, which seems extremely tenuous, I would say that crafting cost reducers do, in fact, stack additively. That's also more in line with D&D math, which simplifies wherever possible.

And so, with that in mind, it's not all that difficult to reach a 100% discount on crafting.

  • Craft Wondrous Item
  • Magical Artisan (Player's Guide to Faerun): This feat allows its user to, "When determining your cost in XP and raw materials for creating items with this feat, multiply the base price by 75%." It's best to parse this as a 25% cost reduction. Magical Artisan can technically be taken multiple times, but since it refers to the base price it won't stack with itself, and will need to be applied before any other cost reducers.
  • Bind Elemental (Eberron Campaign Setting): CL 9, requires Craft Wondrous Item, costs reduced by 20% as per the rules in Magic of Eberron (requires a colossal elemental to stuff into the item).
  • Legendary Artisan & Extraordinary Artisan (Eberron Campaign Setting): Costs reduced by 25%.
  • Extract Demonic Essence (Fiendish Codex I): XP costs reduced by 50%. The item may become cursed, but it's probably fine.

There are a variety of 10% cost reducers one could accrue to discount the final 30% gold cost: various affiliations from the Dungeon Master's Guide II, the artificers' dump location from Dragon 350, the Apprentice (craftsman) feat from DMG II, and so forth.

A word of warning: in the SRD, there are options to reduce the value of magic items by 10% if they require a specific skill, or by 30% if they require a specific class or alignment. As KRyan points out, these affect the actual market value of the item rather than its base cost, and thus are applied in a different step than normal crafting cost reducers (and consequently end up being multiplicative). Additionally, since they affect market price, their affect on crafting price is only half of what it seems, since a crafter pays half the market price in gold (with some exceptions).

Now, obviously crafting magic items without cost isn't particularly appropriate for most campaigns, but crafting is an inherently broken system, arguably the most broken system in 3.5. The artificer is trivially more powerful than a wizard in medium to highly optimized games (outside of combat, an artificer casts spells from scrolls as a every spellcaster in the game, but 2 levels higher—it's absurd). Even a non-optimized group can realize the problems when the druid decides to carve a club for shillelagh and realizes that, because a club is free, crafting it is instantaneous.

So, while it may seem absurd that one doesn't have to resort to abusing wish or other spells to get 100% free magic items, it's par for the course for crafting in 3.5.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The restrictions on who can use an item etc. change the item’s value, not its cost. So that one, at least, would definitely be multiplicative (since the item’s value would be 70% of whatever it would otherwise be, and then it would cost this character 30% of that 70% to actually make). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 0:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Somehow, I always thought the discounts were applied one at a time in series. Lol. Not sure where I got that idea from. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 2:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko I thought the same thing before writing this answer. It's what the Cost Reducer Handbook confidently asserts at the start, and I initially wrote under that assumption. But when I checked the actual rule, it quickly became apparent that XP was certainly not a real-world value, and base price only maybe was. The Dragonmarked quote makes things much neater, though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan A very good point; it's also only effectively a 15% reduction, since it affects market value not base price. It also affects things like expensive material components, which other cost reducers don't. I've replaced it with Magical Artisan, which has its own odd wording, but which is mostly compatible with other cost reducers. I'd initially hesitated because some DMs wouldn't allow Faerun material and Eberron material, but really no DMs should allow any of this, so that's a minor consideration. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 16:20

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