# Can I use fabricate to turn gold coins into ingots worth three times as much gold?

I was reading through some spells and I came across Fabricate. This gave me a solid moment of pause. Particularily, "Material Component: The original material, which costs the same amount as the raw materials required to craft the item to be created."

I recently read somewhere that the coins are 50/lb. Therefore one could conclude that a one lb ingot of gold would cost 50 GP. Crafting non-magical items takes 1/3 the cost in raw materials. So could I use a fabricate spell to convert 17 GP (rounding up from 16.66...) into a 1 lb ingot of Gold? Use fabricate on that for 3 ingots of 1 lb each. Rinse and repeat? You only need to make a crafting check for, "articles requiring a high degree of craftsmanship." And I don't think an ingot would be as hard to make as the coins themselves. Would this also not be able to be pulled off with platinum? Although I assume it would be a lot harder to cash those ingots in. You could probably even use the gold ingots as bulk trade items.

Edit to clarify why the fabricate spell: Mundane crafting is worked out by RAW in [craft(x) check * DC of object] in sp/week. Continue until your craft check equals the base price of object in sp. This means it could take a long time to craft up one ingot of gold. Worse for platinum. But alternatively fabricate takes 1 round per cubic foot of material to be affected. That's significantly less time.

• "I recently read somewhere that the coins are 50/lb. Therefore one could conclude that a one lb ingot of gold would cost 50GP." Could you clarify what you mean? At various points in real world history, different currencies have been worth more than, or less than, or equal to their weight in the metal they were made from. Do you mean coins cost 50 something per pound, or that 50 of them weigh a pound? Commented May 15, 2016 at 12:39
• Since this is obviously an exploit, it seems to me that this question only makes sense if you are talking strictly about the rules as written, rather than what makes sense in a game. If this is the case, saying that and including the rules-as-written tag would improve this question. If not, explaining what you do mean would also improve this question. Commented May 15, 2016 at 14:49
• @doppelgreener - 3e has it that fifty coins (of any variety, gold, silver, etc.) collectively weigh a pound. It is also explicitly stated that a pound of gold has a value of 50gp (see d20srd.org/srd/equipment/wealthAndMoney.htm). D&D doesn't really do complicated currency as it's assumed nobody wants to bother keeping track of that kind of thing. Commented May 15, 2016 at 18:25
• This is an interesting question because A) metals are surprisingly recyclable, so it's often possible to rework metal goods into other metal goods with very little loss of efficiency, and B) it assumes that converting worked goods into unworked goods would somehow increase their value, instead of the other way around. Commented May 16, 2016 at 0:32

This is a hack in the crafting rules, not in the fabricate spell.

That said, in the absence of a hard rule I could not find, there are two contradictory implications at various points in the rules:

1) It is at least strongly implied that 3.5e coins are pure metal. The PHB, on p. 112, notes that a gold piece weighs about 1/50 lbs, and also that 1 lb of gold actually costs 50 gp. There is no reason to think that the "1 lb of gold" is intended as an alloy, so the implication is that coins are actually pure gold, as silly as that is. (Gold is soft and not very durable in pure form. At the absolute minimum, the implication is that if one buys "a pound of gold" one gets exactly coin-grade gold alloy, which does not change the argument here.)

The same logic holds for platinum, silver, and copper, which is a little insane, but it's a simplifying assumption for a game and it's what the rules say.

2) Crafting, on the other hand, makes a simplifying assumption in the other direction: That materials account for 1/3 the total value of any object. I.e., a bow costs more than a stick and a string, because it took someone time and skill to put it together, leather saddlebags are worth more than a bloody cow hide because tanning is a filthy disgusting process, etc.

This is just as silly an approximation as the coin ratios above, but it is a game and it is what the rules say.

The implications under these two rules, as regards coins, are mutually contradictory. I see no way they can be reconciled. If you are insisting on a strict RAW answer, then, yes, it seems a mage can arbitrage the system, and with far more profitable platinum, even.

As a GM I would disallow this in a heartbeat. (That said, some people might find it interesting to work through the idea of a king or a wizard pumping money into the economy; but that is the sort of genre control I expect GMs to exercise and simply say, "I'm not dealing with that.")

• Technically speaking via a fabricate spell a 9th level wizard can work with up to 9 cubic feet of material. At gold being 1,203.74 lb/cu. ft. that's a maximum of 10,833.66lbs of raw material producing 32,500.98 1lb ingots worth 50gp each for a daily profit of 1,072,532.34GP. Assuming you keep 1/3 of it to perform the spell again the next day. 330gp might not be a lot for a 9th level character. But maximum capacity with this spell is. It also far outclasses crafting time by hand even if you did need a skill check. I'm not expecting any of this to pass a DM with a brain though. Commented May 15, 2016 at 22:33
• Very good point, @MiuKujo Commented May 15, 2016 at 22:47
• Note that the gold doesn't convert immediately into spendable gold. The DM can allow this similar to a "genie's curse", but you now have a giant block of gold that's almost impossible to move around. I'll bet the news of this will cause every criminal within 100 KM to hunt you down. Commented May 16, 2016 at 2:56
• @Nelson And what happens when tomorrow you fabricate the gold ingot into coins? Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 15:35

The Fabricate spell can't produce anything that a craft skill can't.

Pay one-third of the item’s price for the cost of raw materials.

(from craft skill description here)

So, (if it is possible to use these rules for ingots) the raw materials used to produce 50gp gold ingot cost 17gp. As gold costs 1gp per 10g the weight of the ingot will probably be 170g (if no raw materials are lost in the process). The remaining 33gp of its cost will result from the properties you imbued it with through your craft. (Compare it to a sword that has cutting property while raw iron don't.) You can't pull gold out of nowhere by a craft skill. By both the Craft skill and Fabricate spell you turn raw materials into an item.

As a DM I would rule that ingots do not have any special properties that rise their price above the price of raw metal used to produce them. As such I would not call for a check to produce them.

It doesn't mean you can't make money by Fabricate spell. You can make mundane items (weapons, armor or other) and sell them. Even if you use the general rule for selling loot and sell your items for 1/2 their market price, you will still make profit equal to 1/6 of the item market price (1/2 market price - 1/3 raw materials cost = 1/6). You still need to find someone who will buy it. Anyway, not a big income for a 9th level character (level needed to cast 5th level Fabricate spell).

• "You can't pull gold out of nowhere by a craft skill." While true, you can pour an existing quantity of molten metal into an ingot mold with a low investment in craft. :) Commented May 15, 2016 at 19:28
• @ Lexible In that case I'd call for a forgery check as well.
– Ols
Commented May 15, 2016 at 21:15
• Ols, ingots are not currency, nor are they necessarily certified, so no forgery check is necessary. Per the dictionary: "A bar or wedge of steel, gold, or other malleable metal, cast in a mold; a mass of unwrought cast metal." Commented May 16, 2016 at 16:52
• @Lexible I've probably taken you wrong. I thought you were talking about some metal or alloy that looks like gold, but is not actually gold.
– Ols
Commented May 16, 2016 at 17:22

## You can make ingots from coins, but it will be worth just as much.

The standard coin weighs about a third of an ounce (fifty to the pound).

In other words every coin weighs 1/50 of a pound. So 50 coins have the same weigh and value of Gold ignots.

Raw material

1. An unprocessed natural product used in manufacture.
2. Unprocessed material of any kind:

Coins are metal that has already been processed. It means they are not raw material. Raw material would be gold ores.

Crafting and fabricate need you to pay for raw materials, which are a third of value. (You should notice, that there is nothing about weigh of raw materials and it is very logical to assume that raw materials weigh more than product, as there are impurities in metal ores).

According to spell's description:

You must make an appropriate Craft check to fabricate articles requiring a high degree of craftsmanship.

Well you don't hammer down a plank or cut a stick in half. You have to manufacture the ores, flake the staple, filter it, apply some chemicals to seperate gold from impurities, smelt it etc.

Craft description

You can practice your trade and make a decent living, earning about half your check result in gold pieces per week of dedicated work. You know how to use the tools of your trade, how to perform the craft’s daily tasks, how to supervise untrained helpers, and how to handle common problems. (Untrained laborers and assistants earn an average of 1 silver piece per day.)

The basic function of the Craft skill, however, is to allow you to make an item of the appropriate type. The DC depends on the complexity of the item to be created. The DC, your check results, and the price of the item determine how long it takes to make a particular item. The item’s finished price also determines the cost of raw materials.

In some cases, the fabricate spell can be used to achieve the results of a Craft check with no actual check involved. However, you must make an appropriate Craft check when using the spell to make articles requiring a high degree of craftsmanship.

It would be silly if a wizard with no knowledge of metallurgy could suddenly make a gold ingot, without even knowing how this and that works. A Craft(alchemy) or craft (blacksmith) check is required.

If you would like to sell large ammounts of them, you will change the whole market. In Arms & Equipment Guide on page 39 you can see price adjustment table.

Commodity demand Availability Cost adjustment Oversupplied Always -20% Surplus Always -10% Normal Normal +0-10% Undersupplied Almost always +10% Sought Almost always +20% Popular Sometimes +30-40% Needed Sometimes +50% Desperate Black market +100%

As you can see despite the fact that you will have to find some merchants, you will be able to sell one thousand ingots for only 40%(80%*50%) of their value. If you cover the raw materials cost [33.(3)%] of their value you will earn about 7% ot item's value.

However at first level of character you could get a feat Mercantile background from Player's Guide to Faerun and be able to sell items at 75% of their value. Then you could sell one thousand ingots for 60% of their value (80%*75%) and covering raw materials cost, you will earn around 27% of item's value.

• +1 for pointing out that gold pieces are not raw materials. "I'll take this gold piece and use it as the raw materials to craft three gold pieces. Then I'll use those as the raw materials to craft nine gold pieces. Then I'll use those to craft thirty-six gold pieces. Then..." Commented May 16, 2016 at 0:36
• 9*3 = 27, not 36 Commented May 17, 2016 at 1:28

The fact that crafted items cost 3x the raw materials cost applies only to things made with the craft skill, and craft skills only let you create things where you provide significant 'value add'.

The sub skills of craft that definitely exist are listed at Are there definitive types of Craft (XYZ)?

You will note that none of these craft skills cover melting gold into a mould. Blacksmithing refers only to making things out of Iron, for example. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/blacksmith

The DM may, at his discretion, invent new types of crafting of course.

This means that you can't (DM discretion aside) use the Crafting skill to make gold ingots. Crafting is a skill. Applying heat to gold is not.

Ah-hah, you say! I've got it. Instead of making gold ingots, I'll make golden armour! That way I can use the armoursmithing skill.

Unfortunately, that won't work either. There is a generally accepted principle that buyers and sellers for individual items may not exist, or prices may be impacted by events. The DM sets what items are for sale, and for how much, and decides what prices are offered for items you sell. If there is an iron shortage because kobolds invaded the Nashkel mines, the price of iron items will rise, or they may be unavailable. If certain countries are flooding the market with iron to drive competitors out, the price will drop.

So, you make 10 suits of golden armour, for each one turning 3,333 gold into a suit worth 10k, and head to the village centre to sell it. You pass the cabbage merchant, who is busy haggling with some scrawny farmers over a copper or two. You advertise you wares at market price, only 10k gold for a golden suit of armour! A farmer throws mud in your direction, then turns back to the cabbages.

You head into the capital city, sure you can sell your goods there. You go to the King, and he likes the look of them, he buys one - you're in business! A Duke looks interested, until the King pointedly clears his throat, "I hope you're not trying to outstage me, Duke Gareth - people have been known to lose a head for less". The Duke puts his purse away and backs away from you.

As you leave the palace, a merchant taps you on the shoulder - "look, no-one will buy your golden armour, I'd be happy to take it off your hands, I'll melt it down into ingots and sell it to the mint. But I can only pay you 2,900 gold coins per suit, because I then have the expense of melting it down and shipping it to the mint, who will buy it off me for 3,333 gold. Have we got a deal?"

Total profit = 6666 (profit on the one you sold to the king) - 9* 434 (loss on the ones you had to sell to the merchant) = 2,760 gold, but you can now never do this again. Hardly game breaking. (note, I didn't look up how much a gold suit of armour costs)

By 9th level, when you get access to fabricate, the heroes are so rich relative to the disposable income of a large country that any significant money making scheme will run into issues of "there are no buyers who can afford what you're charging".

• This was more of a thought experiment than anything along the lines of being implemented in the world. I chose ingots rather than items/weapons/jewelry as the object because they could be used as a bulk trade item. And an argument could be made that all listed items had to have been crafted somehow, therefore there is a craft skill for it that you can learn. Someone had to. Yes gold armor is a 3/country market. But I again argue an ingot is a reasonable trade item. In the past gold has often been worth it's weight in value. Ex. Frontiersmen buying supplies with gold nuggets. Commented May 16, 2016 at 5:05
• @MiuKujo -- and it is possible to screw up making something as humble as an ingot. Commented May 17, 2016 at 1:20