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I am trying to create a great sword which has a chance to activate disintegrate spell. But I am not sure about the parameters. After a 6-7 sessions I want to reward my pc's with epic (or close to epic) level items. I want these rewarded items to be in the same range (such as 500.000 - 1.500.000 gp).

So with these information; Does it exceed the maximum +10 enhancement bonus? How much chance it should have to cast disintegrate? Should it trigger the spell by normal hits or only critical hits? Is it even possible to imbue a weapon with disintegrate spell? (Hopefully it is, I read that you can imbue it with a touch spell)

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The item-creation guidelines suggest that a use-activated item of disintegrate (a 6th-level spell, minimum caster level 11th) would cost 6 × 11 × 2,000 gp = 132,000 gp. That would just be for an at-will disintegration stick, not attaching it to a weapon, and at a guess it’s on the low side (they are only guidelines, after all).

Another way to look at it, and this is actually what the books recommend (with the guidelines above only as a fall back), is to compare with existing weapon effects, e.g. all those +1d6 or +2d6 damage ones. A CL 11th disintegrate deals 22d6 damage on a failed Fortitude save, 5d6 on a successful one. So no matter what, that’s at least 5d6 damage, and it’s largely unresistable, so that’s actually better than +5-worth of bonus damage (since the various +1d6 and +2d6 weapon properties are all either conditional in some way or involve resistable energy damage). So even if we took only the damage from a failed save, that’s at least a +6 effect (minimum 72,000 gp, assuming you’re starting with a +1 weapon of some kind). Note that +6-equivalent effects don’t even exist under the usual rules. Considering how much more damage happens on a failed save, the number would have to be far higher.

It’s also much better than the various critical-hit effects; flaming burst’s improvement over flaming is in the 1d10 to 3d10 fire damage on a critical hit. That is, according to the game, 3d10 damage (assuming a ×4 weapon, and thus not an 18-20 weapon in most cases) is +1 equivalent. That’s an average of 16.5 damage. The 5d6 damage on a successful-save disintegrate averages 17.5, and again, is unresistable. So getting disintegrate-but-they-always-succeed-on-the-save on crit is worth about +2. The 22d6 of the failed-save version is, on average, 77 damage; easily a +5, probably a +6. And that’s comparing the ×4 version; if we compare the 18-20/×2 version, we’d need an enhancement bonus of three times that.

Or we could compare to vorpal, which is nat-20-only, but insta-kill for most targets (with some important exceptions). The 22d6 of a CL 11th disintegrate is not really insta-kill territory, but it does apply far more widely. A disintegrate-on-nat-20 weapon is probably a +5, but it’d be a kind of poor +5; someone might convince me it’s +4.

But investing in nat-20-only effects is a poor choice, seeing how rarely they happen. A 5% chance of 22d6 damage averages only 3.85 damage; +1d6 all the time averages 3.5. This comparison is a little unfair (the +1d6 still requires that you hit which may lower the expected damage a great deal), but even so if you hit half the time, disintegrate-on-nat-20 still only has the expected damage of a +2-equivalent. It just has to keep the higher cost because of the risk that a lucky hit invalidates an entire encounter.

Personally, considering that, I’d probably allow disintegrate-on-crit as a +5-equivalent weapon property. Yes, you should put it on an 18-20 weapon, and thus yes, the expected damage is quite a bit higher than five times flaming burst sans flaming, but it’s a very unreliable weapon and crit-fishing tends to be a weak strategy, so I’d feel comfortable treating it as such.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As I was reading this, before reaching the bottom, I thought "I'll bet this is KRyan", and I was right. Very nicely done, as usual. Any additional thoughts on pricing it if it were something like "1% chance of activating on each swing, hit or miss"? \$\endgroup\$ – Bobson Oct 30 '15 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bobson I’d find that somewhat awkward – do you even need a valid target? how would “valid” even be defined? – and ultimately weaker than the on-nat-20 version (which is effectively a 5% chance, since a nat-20 will hit). But I wouldn’t want to price it cheaper; effects that swingy are just bad for the game. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 30 '15 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking you'd actually have to swing at someone (i.e. make an attack roll) but still have a chance of it going off against that target even if you missed. But you're right about swinginess. \$\endgroup\$ – Bobson Oct 30 '15 at 19:35
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Creating a Greatsword that activates Disentegrate on hit/critical is venturing outside the given item creation guidelines and branching into possible homebrew territory. There isn't really a good frame of reference given to create weapons with spell effects, however I can tell you for sure that if you did have something that activated Disintegrate even if only on a critical hit, it would be unbelievably costly(~+5 Equivalent or greater), and possibly even delve into either being a Weapon of Legacy or even an Artifact.

Weapons of Legacy (the sourcebook) contains rules for allowing you one cast of disintegration per day, but that's all the way up on Ability menu H, which is the second-to-last menu you get access to when building a Legacy weapon. In any case, all of this is all something you'd still have to run by your game-master to assume it was okay. If he did give you the thumbs up, your best bet would be finding a copy of Weapons of Legacy and giving the sourcebook a thorough reading.

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