I would like to discuss how did Bruenor Battlehammer craft Aegis-fang. According to the Forgotten Realms Campaign Manual, Bruenor does not have any spell casting class and no mention of an Inscribing Runes Feat. I am aware that a Runesmith (RoS) can imbue a Rune that can be cast by anyone, however all material components are used while inscribing said Rune. Bruenor used diamond dust, a pretty common spell component…

I have had more than one Dwarven player ask why he could not create a magic weapon when Bruenor did in an "Official" WOC Book. Do I just chalk this up to Salvators' literary license?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Strongly related. Possibly even a duplicate were it not specifically concerned with Bruenor Battlehammer and the Realms. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 15:18

7 Answers 7


It’s just the usual conflict between rules and narrative that is all over D&D 3.5e. In reality, The Crystal Shard, where the forging was first described, was written in 1988, long before the 3.5e rules were written.1 Aegis-fang doesn’t even have 3.5e stats.

As it turns out, D&D 3.5e is not just poor at emulating all manner of characters from other media (cf. character build for Gandalf in D&D 3.5e), it’s also poor at emulating characters even from its own media. The rules of D&D 3.5e just don’t line up as well as most would like with the narratives that the rulebooks and novels suggest they go with. If you follow the rules strictly and allow them to dictate the narrative setting, what you end up with is the Tippyverse, or maybe Eberron if you include an arbitrary level cap and deus ex machina dragons to keep things in line.

It is a common criticism of Forgotten Realms, for instance, that it has all these epic-level mages holing away in towers doing apparently nothing (because, by the rules, they could solve pretty much any and all problems with barely any effort, because Epic Spellcasting is broken). This is necessary to have a game since it’s not much fun to run to the nearest sympathetic archmage and have them fix it with a wave of their hand, but it causes conflict between the rules and the narrative.

The narrative-rules interactions also have problems in the reverse: the ranger class is largely supposed to let you play as Drizzt Do’Urden, but since he was a bit of a Marty Stu kind of character who could do everything, the ranger class gets a bit of everything at a drastically cut-down rate, and ends up being quite poor at doing any of those things.

So basically, what Bruenor did is not something players can do by the rules. As Ruut mentions, there are ways to create magic items without casting “spells,” and there are ways of upgrading special magic items you already have, but Bruenor wouldn’t have had those. Dungeon Master’s Guide II has rules for bonded magic items, which any character can create and upgrade without needing item-creation feats, spells, or any special crafting class feature, so Bruenor could create a magic item that way, but bonded magic items only function for the person who bonded them; if Bruenor had created Aegis-fang in that way, it would just be a regular adamantine (or cold iron, or maybe both) warhammer for anyone else.

It is worth noting, however, that while Player’s Guide to Faerûn gives his class levels, more books were published after that time. In particular, Races of Stone was printed well after that point. It includes a battlesmith prestige class, which was likely an attempt to provide a class that could be used by Bruenor or someone like him to produce magic weapons like Aegis-fang.

  1. In fact, not only was this prior to Wizards of the Coast, who wrote 3.5e in 2003, acquiring the D&D license from TSR, this was prior to Wizards of the Coast, which was founded in 1990.

There are some non-casting Item Creators (Dwarven Fighter is not one of them).

I will only make a few suggestions, as this is basically answered already in another question (This question/answer is a good resource to take a look at).

  1. Artificers are not a 'casting class' as in spell-casting class. They have infusions, and can mimic spell-casting prerequisites with Use Magic Device. They can pretty much craft anything they want.
  2. Warlocks are also not a 'casting class' but gain an ability called Imbue Item that allow magic item creation.
  3. Ancestral Relic is a feat that allows you to sacrifice things in order to enchant something.

Note About Our Favorite Dwarf (Gimli aside): Bruenor Battlehammer has a very long history of lore - throughout almost all editions of Dungeons and Dragons. Characters in novels have done things that players sometimes can't replicate. There have been times that game developers have created content in order to explain what characters in novels are doing.

As far as I know, he is a Dwarven Fighter. Knowing WotC they would have probably given him extremely sub-optimal classes, skill, and etc. Heck, if they ever gave him a prestige class, they would probably have given him Dwarven Defender... (I mean, look at the published Drizzt character stats)

Kensai, 'Oriental Adventures' Samurai, the prestige class Battlesmith, and possibly a couple of other [prestige] classes that I can't remember off the top of my head all could possibly achieve what you are asking. However, Bruenor was literally none of those things. Either he went the Use Magic Device route with DM Fiat, or he was actually a Midgard Dwarf from Frostburn (Frostfell Campaign) - of which can create pretty much whatever they want whenever they want as a racial ability.

Houserule: A liberal Dungeonmaster may allow Use Magic Device to 'count' as far as magic item creation with the emulate class feature, emulate caster level, and using scrolls for the spells required. Or, he could allow another feature that is 'basically' a caster level, such as an initiator level, manifesting level, or even a spell-like ability caster level to count as the prerequisite for the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Bruenor didn’t have levels in artificer or warlock, nor the Ancestral Relic feat, though. And Aegis-fang would be a wholly-new item; his descendants, no doubt, could have easily treated it as an ancestral relic, but Bruenor could not. The feat requires that you start with something. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, kensai from Complete Warrior probably belongs in that list. Bruenor didn’t have levels in that either, of course. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Well, I didn't want to essentially replicate a list of suggestions that already exist. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:55

Thematically, the crafting of Aegis Fang went beyond the construction of magical items as the process is described mechanically in the DMG. Bruenor is described in the books as a near master blacksmith, and the Dwarven race is granted particular gains in metalworking in 3.5.

The book describes the Aegis Fang as the pinnacle of Bruenor's creative efforts; the culmination of every hour he spent before the forge and the anvil. Rather than the creation of a magical item per the DMG, the ritual he followed involves divine guidance and blessings, gathering the ambient magic of the full moon during the summer solstice.

The consequences of reaching such great heights is that everything made afterwards pales in comparison; nothing else will measure up. Such efforts are beyond the average player character, unless they've spent year's building up to it.


You are correct, Bruenor has no class abilities that would have allowed him to create a magic item. One can only chalk it up to Salvatore using his literary license to tell the story he wanted.

It is uncommon (non-existent?) for a writer to constrain themselves to a game's rules when writing a licensed story. The license is nearly always permission to use the setting, not an agreement to write only things that could happen under specific rules. This is, however, congruent with a common practise in RPGs as played: the DM/GM typically has broad license to create things for their settings and plots that are unique creations based in what the setting/plot needs instead of limited to what PCs could accomplish.


Forge of Thautam: A dwarf using this forge can create magic weapons and armor as if he had the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat.

Strong conjuration; CL 12th; Craft Wondrous Item, permanency, creator must be a dwarf; Price 15,000 gp.

While published long after Bruenor created the weapon, this item from Races of Stone (and the Web excerpt) is a step toward resolving the issue in your campaign, even if it doesn't address everything (for example, Bruenor's lack of a caster level and him being unable to trigger the prerequisite spells).


I won't go into the Chicken & Egg scenario of rules and novels, but there are some ways that a non-caster can make a magic item. Specifically, a number of classes, as well as the book Weapons of Legacy, use the concept of various rituals that do not require magic to perform, but can imbue an item with mystical powers, sometimes even far greater than what traditional methods can do. Of particular note is the Oriental Adventures samurai base class, which are almost identical to a fighter, save for a pair of swords to which they have special affinity, and may ritually "enchant". There's not much difference between this ability and other versions, but the similarities with the fighter class serve to show three things.

  1. A character with the rough abilities of a fighter can indeed have the skills to make a magic item.
  2. The ability to imbue an item with magic, as it was presented, was considered roughly equivalent in power to a fighter bonus feat.
  3. The ability to make magic items is permitted to base classes, without the need to meet any special prerequisites, as a feat or prestige class would.

Further, there's this line from the "Customizing Your Character" section of the 3.5 Player's Handbook, the base rules upon which the Forgotten Realms setting rules are built;

Class: Some classes already give you plenty of room to customize your character. With your DM’s approval, however, you could change some of your class features.

Then, a few lines later, it says this;

You might also think of other skills that your character ought to have. Your DM has guidelines (in the Dungeon Master’s Guide) for creating new skills.

Grant you, that line about the DMG having rules on creating new features is something of a white lie, but it makes an important point. The standard rules for character creation actually encourage customization. That, combined with the existence of rules for item creation rituals, could support the idea of an otherwise standard fighter being specialized as a smith and substituting one or more of their bonus feats for the ability to create magic items through sheer superiority of craftsmanship. This would even fit with the use of diamond dust, since the creation rituals do still require an expenditure of costly materials.


You could use a scroll of Wish (cost:3825GP DC:37) but I don't know if that method fits with the character.

From the SRD:

A wish can produce any one of the following effects.


Create a magic item, or add to the powers of an existing magic item.


You may try to use a wish to produce greater effects than these, but doing so is dangerous. (The wish may pervert your intent into a literal but undesirable fulfillment or only a partial fulfillment.)


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