RPG.SE has some good answers on magic items, Confusion about magic weapon pricing being a great one. But I wondered how this works on enchantments with a fixed cost.

I know the cost for say a keen longsword is 8330g (item = 30g, MW = 300g, keen = +1 cost and item must at least be +1 -> +2 bonus = 8k).

My question is: Does an item have to be +1 before adding fixed cost enchantment. For example, which is correct, A or B?

A: Called full plate = 3800g (1500g full plate, 300g MW, +2000g called)
B: (+1) Called full plate = 4800g (1500g full plate, 300g MW, 1000g +1, +2000g called)

As a bonus how would further enchants work?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that in case B it would be a Called Full Plate +1. Good question anyway. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2016 at 10:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. Although sometimes inconsistent, I tend to stick with the Dungeon magazine Submission Guidelines, which says that "while the 'plus' for weapons and armor is listed before the item, the 'plus' for other items is listed after" (Dungeon #93 105), making it more accurately +1 called full plate (also note capitalization—the guidelines cover that, too). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2016 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


There is evidence it needs to be magical.

According to Page 6 of the Magic Item Compendium (the book where a lot of those +gp cost special abilities are):

To add a special property to a shield or suit of armor, the shield or armor must already have at least a +1 enhancement bonus.

This is pretty cut and dry that every single special ability, from Acidic (the first one), that has Price: +1, to Agility (the second one), that has Price: +500 gp, requires it to be magical.

What would I do as DM?

I would require it to be magical. Just to be consistent to what I believe the intent is. Most of those special abilities perhaps don't warrant a +1 through +5 cost, but nonetheless require the item to be "special" before it can become "more special."

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you say it's only an implication, when the quote is not just implying it? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2016 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed with d7, this seems pretty cut-and-dry: the +1 must always be the first bit of magic built into an item. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 1, 2016 at 16:30


From the 3.5e SRD.

Magic armor or a magic shield must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus to have any of the abilities listed on Table: Armor Special Abilities and Table: Shield Special Abilities.

All of the special abilities with a fixed cost (and all weapon, armour, and shield special abilities full stop) are found in those tables. This is reiterated in a few places (MiC, RC). There are no rules or rulebooks that contradict these rules for special weapon and armour abilities, and to my knowledge, there are no special weapon or armour abilities that have even an exception to this clause.

Due to the utter unambiguity, allowing special abilties to be added to weapons and armour without a +1 enchantment first would be a houserule (although not one i'd personally consider a bad thing).

Nb: If playing purely by RAW, a magical effect or ability (does one even exist?) that removed the +1 bonus from a magical weapon or armour would also remove any special abilities that armour or weapon had. Technically, I believe this would allow a suit of armour or a weapon that when given any spell or effect that gave it a magical enhancement bonus of +1 or greater, to activate special abilities that had been enchanted onto it while consistently under the effect of a +1 or better spell-enhancement, due to previous FAQ answers on the effects of removing (and then reinstating) a prerequisite for an ability.


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