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Is there any way to create magic weapons, magic armor, or magic shields without using spells? I'm not asking for wondrous items or anything, just, like, a +2 flaming sword or a +3 ghost touch breastplate?

I know that traditionally dwarves create really nice magic weapons, armor, and shields, and everything seems to imply that they rarely use actual magic spells to create them. The game implies that they're supernaturally skilled or use some kind of ritual (that doesn't require possessing caster levels) to make the items, but I can't find whatever it is the dwarves use.

I just want my warblade PC to be able to create his own magic weapons that have both magic enhancement bonuses and magic weapon special abilities. I want to role-play him making his own weapons, not trusting anyone else to do it right.

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There are several options for this. The Kensai PrC allows one to enchant a weapon you have the Weapon Focus feat for (only you can use it, though). A warlock of 12th level or above can use Imbue Item to craft as if he has spells that he actually lacks. Honestly though, I would just try to talk your DM into letting you use your Initiator Level to qualify for crafting feats and roll a UMD check to emulate the spell. Alternatively, Psychic Warriors can pseudo-enchant their own weapons, though this probably isn't what you're looking for.

1 level in the Oriental Adventures Samurai class gets you a sword that you can upgrade yourself. No luck with armor, though.

The Ancestral Relic feat can take care of a set of armor or another item; thanks to KRyan for pointing that out. It actually will save your party money in the long run, because you get a 1-to-1 exchange ratio for any goods or magic items you sacrifice. You can even get the full value on unsellable stuff like stolen contraband.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My GM decided to let me roll Craft: Weaponsmithing checks to help the person who is enhancing my weapon, thereby assisting them and, in exchange, offer me a discount for my help. It lets him do the work, and them cast the spells and direct him on the things only a person who has Craft Magic Arms and Armor would know. \$\endgroup\$ – Snowpaw Jul 21 '14 at 3:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Snowpaw, we welcome self-answers discussing how your GM's call worked out for you in game. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jul 21 '14 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ancestral Relic from Book of Exalted Deeds is a feat that gets you a single item that upgrades as you level. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 21 '14 at 12:45
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Mundane Creation of Magical Armor and Weapons

Getting the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor (PH 92) while not being able to cast spells is relatively easy, especially with a liberal DM. However, creating magic armor, shields, and weapons with special abilities beyond simple enhancement bonuses nearly always requires casting spells. Short of the few methods that allow a creature to imbue specific items with magical power, there's just no way around casting spells to add armor, shield, and weapon special abilities.

Both methods of getting magical armor, shields, and weapons--methods not needing spells and methods needing spells--are included in the list below. I assume an industrious character who went to the trouble to gain the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor without having the ability to cast spells would employ the skill Use Magic Device to supply the necessary spells for creating the magical armor, shields, and weapons with the desired special abilities rather than just accepting that he'll never be able to.

  • The general feat Ancestral Relic (BE 39) grants a good creature of at least level 3 the ability to assemble a big pile of gold and/or magic items, metaphorically light the pile on fire, wait, and add the value of the torched stuff as magical abilities to a single item he owns. The relic can be a sword, armor, ring, or whatever. This feat mirrors the Oriental Adventures' samurai (21) class feature ancestral daisho, but that class became obsolete with the publication of the Complete Warrior's samurai (8); ask the DM.
  • The prestige class battlesmith (RS 97-9) at level 1 grants the creature the the supernatural ability secrets of the forge, giving him the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor sans prerequisites, and the creature multiplies his battlesmith class level by 3 to determine the maximum caster level of magic armor, shields, and weapons he can create. The prestige class ironsoul forgemaster (MoI 126)--requiring meldshaper levels not casting--at level 2 grants the identical ability, but the prestige class ironsoul forgemaster is 10 levels long to the battlesmith's 5.
  • A custom magic item granting the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor, according to the sidebar Magic Items that Grant Feats (AE 128), costs 10,000 gp "plus another 5,000 gp to 10,000 gp" because of the feat's Prerequisite: Caster level 5th. As with the forge, below, a creature must still find a way to supply the necessary spells, probably via Use Magic Device skill checks.
  • The item forge of Thautam (RS 167) (15,000 gp; immobile) grants a dwarf who uses it the ability to function as though he had the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor. Emulating a race via the skill Use Magic Device requires making a DC 25 skill check. As pretty much a continuous item, a creature'd have to make such a check once per hour. A creature must still supply spells, probably requiring even more Use Magic Device skill checks.
  • The general feat Item Familiar (UA 170) grants a creature of at least level 3 the ability to link to a permanent magic item that then gains abilities as he gains levels (and, often, also as he sacrifices his own abilities to make the item familiar better). He can also assemble a big pile of gold, metaphorically light the pile on fire, wait, and add the value of the torched gp as further magical abilities to the item familiar--"The character can accomplish this even without having the requisite item creation feats" (UA 173).
  • The prestige class kensai (CW 49-52) at level 1 grants the creature the supernatural ability signature weapon, allowing the creature to turn a single weapon magical by meditation and spending XP.
  • The prestige class peerless archer (SM 115) at level 2 grants the creature the supernatural ability fletching, allowing him to create only magic arrows and such arrows can only have enhancement bonuses, but the creature needn't have the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor to use this ability.
  • The spellbook Tar'Ael Veluuthra (Magic Books of Faerun column "Tar'Ael Veluuthra (Whetstone of the Blade)" (1,200 gp; 3 lbs.), after the blood of a freshly killed human is dripped upon it, allows a caster to create up to 6 +1 bane (human) (DMG 224) (+1 bonus) arrows (167 gp 5 cp; 0.15 lbs.) by taking 8 hours and, for each arrow, supplying a masterwork arrow, 160 gp, and 7 XP. Creating arrows this way doesn't require the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor. A creature can emulate the class feature Spells via a Use Magic Device skill check (DC 20).

    The column prices this ability at 750 gp. I'm pretty sure that's just a random figure, but it could serve as a reasonable guideline.

    Example
    750 gp (spellbook's price) / 6 (arrows created) = 125 gp (each arrow) × 50 (to get the price for an equivalent weapon instead of 1 unit of ammunition) = 6,250 gp to grant a caster the ability to create either a specific kind of +2 weapon or a specific kind of weapon with both a +1 magical enhancement bonus and a specific weapon special ability worth a +1 bonus (e.g. a +2 nunchaku, a +1 ghost touch spear) without needing the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor if the prospective creator takes the time and supplies the masterwork weapon, 2,000 gp, and 80 XP, and, perhaps, meets the item's special requirement.

    Whether the blood requirement factors into the original item's price, therefore factoring into the creation of items based on it, is up the DM.


A few other classes that cast spells or require the ability to cast spells to enter have the ability to make magical weapons despite lacking the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor (e.g. bone knight (FN 117)), and some are so close to having or requiring casting spells as to not matter for our purposes (e.g. artificer (ECS 29)). Also, because they seemed beyond the question's scope, I omitted classes that can spontaneously create their own magic weapons (e.g. shadowsmith (ToM 132), soulknife (XPH 26)).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Presents a much more comprehensive list than my own answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Arkhaic Jul 30 '14 at 2:01

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