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DMG states on page 284:

Weapons made of cold iron cost twice as much to make as their normal counterparts. Also, any magical enhancements cost an additional 2,000 gp.

The Magic Item Compendium says in table on p. 27 that cold iron weapons cost 2000 gp more and magical enhancements cost double.

I suppose DMG should be the primary source, but Magic Item Compendium is newer. Neither of the erratas mention cold iron.

Which price is correct?

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There’s definitely a conflict; Magic Item Compendium has things reversed compared to Dungeon Master’s Guide. The errata specifies that the “primary source” should win the cases of such a conflict.

Now the question is, which source is primary? That’s not an easy question. Usually the place where a thing is originally defined in full is the primary source, but Magic Item Compendium (along with Spell Compendium and Rules Compendium) assert their own primacy. They explicitly attempt to “take over” for previous books, not just compiling and organizing, but also updating and refining the material they hold.

There is a considerable debate about this assertion. From a strict-RAW perspective, it is problematic. However, I will say that in my experience, most do treat the Compendiums as primary.

The other issue, from a non-RAW perspective, is the probability that this swap was a mistake. It’s not called out as an intentional change, and it would be very easy to transpose the two ideas.

Ultimately, then, I recommend going with Dungeon Master’s Guide on this – not because it’s primary, but because its version is the better rule. Doubling the cost of the mundane weapon is minor; doubling the cost of the scaling magical enhancements is huge. The cost of iron weapons is extreme, far more than it ought to be, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide rule leads to lower prices. Probably still too high, but lower here is better.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ if you use the DMG rule, non-magic cold iron weapons are ridiculously cheap, since you don't even double the masterwork component \$\endgroup\$ – 0x539 Oct 30 '15 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ox539 Why is that “ridiculously cheap”? Cold iron doesn’t have any inherent bonuses, it just pierces the appropriate DR. Not a lot of DR/cold-iron monsters at a level where it’s acceptable to be using non-magic weapons. But you’re right, I’d probably require and double the cost of masterwork for cold iron weapons, as a houserule. That is how I was imagining it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 30 '15 at 14:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Although a few spells mention cold iron (e.g. banishment, major creation), the special material's otherwise unmentioned in the PH. As it's only mentioned for reals in the DMG (and, obviously, the MM) I think maybe cold iron's supposed to be inexpensive (at least with regards to nonmagical cold iron weapons) but weird and rare, a DM tool PCs were supposed to discover and use to defeat their enemies. But I speculate. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 30 '15 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: I think Fairies being vulnerable to Cold Iron in folklore has also led to a number of authors to see it as a "magic repellent" which would explain the tax on magically enchanting a Cold Iron weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Oct 30 '15 at 18:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. I agree that the price for magically enhancing such weapons is the developers (ahem) taking a stab at representing the mythological nature of cold iron. But I just wanted to point out that the PCs by default in game don't know such weapons even exist unless the DM grants says the PCs do. In essence, I was taking issue sideways with KRyan's house rule of increasing the price of masterwork cold iron weapons: The rarity of the weapons, I think, is the intended balancing factor. I just can't back up my feeling, designer commentary being absent and all. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 30 '15 at 18:34

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