The Adding New Abilities paragraph in the magic items rules, gives the example of turning a +1 longsword, to a flaming +1 longsword, costing only the difference between a plain +1 weapon and a +1 flaming one.

Now, since any caster capable of creating a flaming weapon also meets the prerequisites for creating a +1 flaming weapon, it is not clear to me what exactly are the prerequisites for adding an ability.

For example: a level 5 wizard with 'Craft Magic Arms and Armor' and access to the Fireball spell meets all the prerequisites of the flaming special ability. He does not, however, meet the prerequisites of the vorpal ability, or those of a +4 weapon.

So, can that wizard take a +4 vorpal weapon and turn it into a +4 flaming vorpal weapon?

Please stick to the RAW in your answer.

p.s. I'm aware of the option to craft an item at a higher DC without meeting all the prerequisites, let's ignore that for simplicity (also, since even in that case it is important to know what is the complete list of prerequisites in order to calculate the DC, the question remains relevant for that case as well).

  • \$\begingroup\$ So you're asking if, when adding a special ability, the crafter has to meet the prerequisites for the other characteristics of the weapon they are modifying in addition to the thing they are trying to add? \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Apr 7, 2015 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, exactly. Note that the rules for adding new abilities are phrased as if the crafter is making the complete item from scratch, minus the cost for what already exists - so that's why I'm not clear about the prerequisites. \$\endgroup\$
    – G0BLiN
    Apr 7, 2015 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


Only [...] the various prerequisites required of the new ability to be added to the magic item restrict the type of additional powers one can place.

You are not creating a vorpal sword; the vorpal property is already on the sword. The relevant rule, quoted above, indicates that only the prerequisites of the new ability are relevant in this case. Thus you do not need to meet the prerequisites of the existing properties; you aren’t creating those, and the closest thing to saying you need them says:

Note that all items have prerequisites in their descriptions. These prerequisites must be met for the item to be created.

You aren’t creating a vorpal sword, so you don’t have to meet the prerequisites of vorpal. You are creating a new flaming property that happens to be placed on an already-vorpal sword.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This makes sense, and also works well from a narrative perspective. Can you please address what happens when upgrading from, say, a +4 weapon to a +5 (I'd think in that case the caster's level will need to be at least 15, even though "you only add a +1" which requires CL 3). \$\endgroup\$
    – G0BLiN
    Apr 13, 2015 at 17:20
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @G0BLiN Yes, in that case the new ability you’re adding would be the +5, not a +1-that-stacks-with-the-existing-4. The only significance of the existing +4 is in the cost: the cost for adding an ability to an already-existing item is the cost of the complete item post-addition, less the cost of the original item pre-addition. When you replace the +4 with a +5, the +4’s cost was included in the original item, so it reduces the cost of the +5. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 13, 2015 at 17:46

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