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I'm DMing a Warcraft-themed campaign using the World of Warcraft Role-playing Game books and some Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 books. The players are interested in crafting their own equipement, but it appears the gold piece (GP) cost and, more importantly, the experience points (XP) costs are too high.

The campaign is still in the early stages, and the characters are all still at level 1.

I've already house ruled that when a character possesses the appropriate skill and wants to craft a mundane item they pay only for what they don't craft themselves if they've already gathered, scavenged, or mined any necessary ingredients.

But I'm struggling with the XP cost. What impact will removing the XP cost for minor magic items (e.g. potions, scrolls, witch doctor totems) have on the long-term campaign? I would still expect characters to gather the materials and spend the time needed to create such items.

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Unless Warcraft changed something, mundane crafting does not cost XP

Mundane crafting requires Craft skill checks, but no Item Creation feats, and the costs are only time and money, not XP. Specifically, they cost a mere ⅓ of the base price of the item, but crafting takes a number of weeks equal to

(P×10)/(DC×check)

where P is the item's usual price in gold pieces, DC is the Craft DC, and check is the crafter's Craft check result. This formula results in phenomenally long times, but at ⅓ the cost there is a lot of savings.

Magic items require XP, but that is easily replaced

In many places, XP costs are replaced with gp costs or vice versa at a 1:5 ratio. Since magic items cost 50% the base cost in raw materials and 4% the base cost in XP, you can apply the same conversion: five times the 4% is 20%, which can be added on to the existing raw material cost to get 70%.

Thus if magic items simply cost 70% of the base price to craft, instead of 50%, but don't require XP, this is consistent with the original system. Taking an Item Creation feat only enables a 30% discount but doesn't leave you behind.

I have played in quite a few games that make this change; it didn't dramatically improve the popularity of Item Creation feats for players, but it does make them much less of a headache for the DM.

If playing with Eberron Campaign Setting (the book, regardless of whether you play in Eberron) in play, the artificer and Artisan feats do require a little more tracking: it is important to remember that 50% of the base price is the original raw material gp cost, while 20% is the "XP" cost. The artificer's Craft Reserve and Retain Essence class features, as well as the Artisan feats, should be applied before adding these together as the 70%. The Craft Reserve should also be multiplied by 5 gp/XP for consistency.

If either is too expensive, these items were not intended for characters of their level

These processes both result in significant discounts. The value of items is used to control the power of items that players have at a particular level, which is part of the system used to try to ensure that enemies the same level as the players are challenging without being impossible. Making items cheaper or giving players more gold may allow them to steamroll opponents; making items more expensive or giving players less gold, or giving them gold but no place to spend it, may leave players without the tools they need to contribute.

In my experience, there are many classes that just barely find the default wealth rules sufficient for their needs – if they spend carefully. Other, more powerful classes are not nearly so needy, and could do with less. As a result, reducing wealth is something I strongly recommend against – it disproportionately hurts the classes that were already weakest.

On the other hand, I tend to find the system has a fair amount of room for extra wealth before players really start to steamroll. Thus, your choice to make it easier to get items is a move in the better direction.

But do be careful; wealth expectations are a rather fundamental design assumption of the game. Great care should be taken when modifying it. I tend to recommend that new DMs stock fairly close to the guidelines. It takes experienced DMsa lot of care to get modifications to wealth to work the way they want.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ World of warcraft rpg and warcraft rpg are based on dnd 3.5 and some dnd 3.0, even warcraft rpg refers to 3.5 PHB for some spells and feats. thats why I tagged this question as 3.5 and DM-ing. (can't give +1 so here is a virtual +1) \$\endgroup\$ – xerido Feb 23 '15 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @xerido I know; my answer is based on 3.5. I’m just acknowledging that I’m not familiar with any changes the WoW book may have made. I doubt they did, but I don’t have the book. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 23 '15 at 14:58
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The consequences of reducing the cost of anything is the same: it becomes more commonly available. Eliminating the cost completely is just an extreme case. If you eliminate the xp cost (which is fine, that's how the game was originally designed) then you will need to really charge time and effort if you don't want magic items to be flooding the gameworld.

In other words, the time and effort must make a difference to the character - basically that they miss adventures or have to take real risks to find materials. Otherwise the time and effort is a sham and no different from handing the items out for free. This is why the game designer said, in the original DMG "YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT".

When the designers of the game you are using came to redo magic item manufacture one of their goals was to eliminate the need for detailed time tracking (often seen as boring and dull) and the xp cost was a big part of that.

The other approach is to run with the change and let the gameworld be flooded with these items and fold that into the game by following up the logical consequences, which probably include "technologicalizing" the functions of those items so that people can go into a shop and buy them as we would buy light bulbs etc. If that's what you want, there's nothing inherently wrong with it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1-ing, though: 1) also care should be paid to trading in order to avoid craft-sell being too profitable 2) I seem to recall materials costing about 1/2 of the shop prize - so not light bulb cheap. \$\endgroup\$ – Vorac Feb 23 '15 at 12:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ if you don't want magic items to be flooding the gameworld this is Warcraft. \$\endgroup\$ – Thebluefish Feb 23 '15 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Once the XP cost is gone, the value of the crafted good should be the value of the raw materials plus the value of the labour put into it. That's right, Marxism in the mainline! ;-) One possible way to achieve that is to increase the cost of materials, thus setting the profitability of craft-sell exactly where you want it. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Feb 23 '15 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thebluefish 3.5 by default assumes even more magic-item-flooding than does Warcraft. That line and the general concern about it confuse me greatly. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 23 '15 at 18:42
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Pathfinder, which aims to serve as a replacement/update of D&D 3.5, does away with XP costs and from what I have seen there is not a big difference. Downtime and cost become the standard limiter on "manufacturing" magic items.

Overall, I think you will not have a huge problem if you waive the XP cost. Now, if your PCs try to flood the market, well, then there may be other repercussions - such as the price of the goods going down (sure, you can produce the wand for half the normal cost, problem is no one is willing to pay you more than 55%), assassins from the local mage guild, and so on :) .

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