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In response to a question about a melee rogue magic weapon, I noticed I have a question myself about the requirement for creating magic items, or magic weapons in this case.

For an example, lets use a +2 Frost Longsword: it has a +2 enhancement and the Frost special ability of an +1 equivalent cost.

When determining the crafter's minimal caster level for creating this magic weapon, the rules say:

Creating a magic weapon has a special prerequisite: The creator’s caster level must be at least three times the enhancement bonus of the weapon. If an item has both an enhancement bonus and a special ability the higher of the two caster level requirements must be met.

How should interpret the 'enhancement bonus' part here? Should I read it as:

  • The weapon has a total enhancement bonus of +3, so the minimal caster level should be 9th (3×3).

  • The weapon has a total enhancement bonus of +2, which gives a minimal caster level of 6th (3×2), but the Frost special ability has CL 8th, so the caster level for this weapon would be 8th.

Bonus points: where to find the rule?

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It's Caster Level 8

Your second interpretation is correct. Here's the rule itself:

Creating a magic weapon has a special prerequisite: The creator’s caster level must be at least three times the enhancement bonus of the weapon. If an item has both an enhancement bonus and a special ability the higher of the two caster level requirements must be met.

Then from the Magic Weapons page:

In addition to an enhancement bonus, weapons may have special abilities. Special abilities count as additional bonuses for determining the market value of the item, but do not modify attack or damage bonuses (except where specifically noted). A single weapon cannot have a modified bonus (enhancement bonus plus special ability bonus equivalents) higher than +10. A weapon with a special ability must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus.

From here, it's pretty clear that enhancement bonus and special abilities are distinct things. You combine them for the weapon cost (as the rule stats), but not for the crafting caster level requirement as each type has its own requirement. You just have to be able to meet all the requirements.

Thus, you need CL 6 (3x2) to make a +2 enhancement bonus, and CL 8 (and have access to the spells Chill Metal or Ice Storm) for Frost.

This also means all the weapons on the chart can be created without being epic level, as if you needed to be CL 9 to make your +2 Frost Weapon, it'd be impossible to do any combination that is >= +7 without epic levels. (You can't make a +7 sword without epic levels, but you can make a +5 Keen Frost one, which has the cost of a +7 equivalent weapon.)

It Could Be Caster Level 6

Depending on how you want to interpret the rules around prerequisites, you could create the weapon at CL 6 as a Druid (who get access to Chill Metal at level 3). The reason for that is these rule passages. From the SRD:

While item creation costs are handled in detail below, note that normally the two primary factors are the caster level of the creator and the level of the spell or spells put into the item. A creator can create an item at a lower caster level than her own, but never lower than the minimum level needed to cast the needed spell.

And from DMG p. 215:

For other items [besides potions, scrolls, and wands] the caster level is determined by the creator. The minimum caster level is that which is needed to meet the prerequisites given.

Depending on how you read this, the prerequisite could only be access to the spell itself, rather than the CL listed. In that case a level 6 Druid could create the item (as they can do both +2 and have access to a required spell). A Sorceror would need to be level 8, as that's when they get access to Ice Storm.

I'm not 100% convinced this is how they intended it to work, but it makes an item entry like Universal Solvent make a lot more sense. It has a listed CL of 20, which for such a common an inexpensive item just seems really wonky if only the greatest spellcasters on the planet are able to create it (particularly since the required spell is available to Wizards at level 9).

If you use this interpretation, the CL listed on the item entries is a guideline, or what you'd expect a normal item of it's type to be if you find one in the world.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm pretty sure a +2 frost weapon could be made at caster level 6 by a Drd6 employing the feat Craft Magic Arms and Armor and the spell chill metal. I don't know why the game assumes a Sor8 is making all the frost weapons, except, despite the effects and cost remaining the same, doing so decreases the weapon's ability to resist being affected by dispel magic et al. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 20 '14 at 13:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I don't think so, the rule says you need to meet the CL requirement and have access to the spell. You need to be CL 5 to create Merciful, and the spell for that is Cure Light Wounds. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Aug 20 '14 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Found it: "For other items [besides potions, scrolls, and wands] the caster level is determined by the creator. The minimum caster level is that which is needed to meet the prerequisites given" (DMG 215). Hence, a +2 frost weapon at CL 6 created by a Drd6 is possible, its just the game assumes CL 8 for frost weapons. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 20 '14 at 13:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan, maybe add an answer to elaborate on why you think the caster level as described by the magical weapon special effect can be met with by a caster of a lower level? \$\endgroup\$ – Monika Aug 20 '14 at 14:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan, Tridus - I think you are missing something - the text (at least in the SRD) about CL states: "Caster Level for Weapons: The caster level of a weapon with a special ability is given in the item description. For an item with only an enhancement bonus and no other abilities, the caster level is three times the enhancement bonus. If an item has both an enhancement bonus and a special ability, the higher of the two caster level requirements must be met." - So it seems this is dictated by the description, not calculated according to a crafter's access to the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – G0BLiN Aug 20 '14 at 15:09

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