I have been researching magic item creation and headbands of vast intelligence.

There is a specific property of the headband which interests me.

A headband of vast intelligence has one skill associated with it per +2 bonus it grants. After being worn for 24 hours, the headband grants a number of skill ranks in those skills equal to the wearer's total Hit Dice. These ranks do not stack with the ranks a creature already possesses. These skills are chosen when the headband is created.

Now the lowest level of this item is 4,000gp, which would be 2,000gp to make yourself. To raise a skill by 5 points would be 2,500pm (or 1,250 self made), 6 points would be 3,600pm (1,800gp self made), and +7 would be 4,900gp (2,450pg self made). So once you reach level 7 the item starts paying itself off compared to an item which specifically increases the skill by a fixed amount. The numbers for the skill points increase comes from the chart in creating magic items. Skill bonus (competence) Bonus squared x 100 gp

I had the thought of stacking multiple headbands together as a single item and was wondering, specifically how this would work, and ways to keep the cost down. So first off, you would not get stacking int bonuses, there would be the +2 and no more. What about the skills however? Since each "headband" applies to a different skill would each skill be always active with the bonus? Would you be required to toggle between which skill is getting the bonus from headbands you are wearing (if so then what kind of action would be required?)? The most logical way would likely to be that you have multiple headbands and you switch them out as needed, except that for the skill ranks, you must wait 24 hours.

In the magic item creation rules there is a small part about similar abilities costing less, and different abilities costing more.

Multiple Similar Abilities: For items with multiple similar abilities that don't take up space on a character's body, use the following formula: Calculate the price of the single most costly ability, then add 75% of the value of the next most costly ability, plus 1/2 the value of any other abilities.

Multiple Different Abilities: Abilities such as an attack roll bonus or saving throw bonus and a spell-like function are not similar, and their values are simply added together to determine the cost. For items that take up a space on a character's body, each additional power not only has no discount but instead has a 50% increase in price.

So, these rules are only for slotless items, which can still work. So a headband costs 4000 and slotless makes its 8000, adding on a second one would be 6000 for a total of 14,000, and then 50% for each one after that, at 4000 each.

Mostly I was thinking of this kind of item to support characters who have very low amount of skills per level but are willing to spend the gold to take care of it. But I have an issue with the golden rule of magical item creation

The correct way to price an item is by comparing its abilities to similar items (see Magic Item Gold Piece Values), and only if there are no similar items should you use the pricing formulas to determine an approximate price for the item. If you discover a loophole that allows an item to have an ability for a much lower price than is given for a comparable item, the GM should require using the price of the item, as that is the standard cost for such an effect. Most of these loopholes stem from trying to get unlimited uses per day of a spell effect from the "command word" or "use-activated or continuous" lines of Table: Estimating Magic Item Gold Piece Values.

Because at some point, the headband becomes far more potent than the skill enhancement, but at a much lower cost.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I would also recommend putting the actual question you are asking at the bottom or the top, before getting into the research, as it makes it much easier to know what is being answered. I'm going to try and answer what I think you're asking now, but please take that into consideration. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gnomejon
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't do it, make them urn their skills instead. <rimshot!> \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 23:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk those punk kids and their item-familiar urns! \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


First off: I think you're right about the "golden rule of custom magic item creation". The headbands you're proposing to make would be much cheaper than making comparable items of add-a-competence-bonus-to-your-skill. This would seem to prohibit you from making these custom headbands, although you could still make the standard headbands of +2, +4, or +6 intelligence (granting skill ranks equal to your hit dice in one, two, or three skills).

A good way to think about it might be to make an analogy to the belt of constitution, which grants hit points equal to your hit dice as a side effect of increasing your CON score. "Well," we might say, "I don't really care about the increase to CON, all I want is the bonus hit points. Can I make a belt that grants ten times as many hit points but doesn't increase my CON score?" The answer is: no, because the hit point increase is a result of increasing your CON score. You can't get the hit point increase without increasing your CON, and if you try to use multiple slotless items to get that effect, they won't stack.

In the same way, the increase to your skill ranks when wearing a headband is a result of increasing your intelligence score; the awkward phrasing in the item description is just to prevent you from choosing a different set of skill ranks every day from your headband. (The item might have been better phrased: "the skill ranks you get from increasing your intelligence with this headband must always be in a specific skill, which is determined when the headband is created.") Multiple slotless headbands of +2 intelligence will not stack, even if the preset skill is different on each one.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As I suspected then, having a multitude of crafting headbands might be required. I do understand how the effect came around. I was just thinking of other ways in which it could be useful. Ive been looking at the master craftsman feat and it requires quite the sink of skill points to use effectively since your required for 3 crafting skills instead of just spellcraft. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 2:24

The basic answer is to make a bunch of different items in different slots. As you'll have noted, there are currently items that give skill bonuses that are associated to different slots (like the cloak of elvenkind and the boots of elvenkind). That last general rule you noted is one that most GMs could and should take seriously and cooperates with a different rule, one regarding keeping certain magic items in certain slots, as most magic items are placed in slots appropriate to the effect. The Headband of Vast Intelligence gets around this because it increase your int score, which normally would give you an extra skill point each level, which the headband just locks into specific skills.

I can't seem to find the specific mention of that last general rule I was talking about, but the general assumption is that if you wanted to put it into a different body slot than it would normally be in, you would add +50% to the price determination (so a corset of dexterity +2 would be 6000 gp instead of 4000 gp, but would leave your belt slot free).

Now, to answer a different part of your question, the one about abilities on the same piece of equipment, there is a rule:

If the item is one that occupies a specific place on a character's body, the cost of adding any additional ability to that item increases by 50%. For example, if a character adds the power to confer invisibility to her ring of protection 2, the cost of adding this ability is the same as for creating a ring of invisibility multiplied by 1.5.

This basically means that adding an additional skill bonus of +5 to a cloak of elvenkind would be 3750 gp, as would subsequent +5 bonuses.

I would like to note that with the competence bonus, they generally don't stack with other mundane or even magical means of increasing skill bonuses because types of bonus don't stack, they take the best. This means the bard's inspire competence doesn't work well, the rogue's masterwork lockpicks are ignored, etc...

I would also recommend not doing this, simply because at lower levels (where this is most effective), it would be too pricey when there are other, cheaper methods of getting skill bonuses (just getting separate items because you don't have the money for stuff you actually want in those slots), and in later levels, the bonus isn't really enough to do much good unless you're just bumping up a skill you're already awesome in.

If you are instead talking about making slotless items that do the same thing as headbands of int, then there is already an ioun stone that does it. Crimson Sphere is stackable (basically the headband in ioun stone form), Scarlet and Blue Sphere is just the flat +2. I don't think the skill ranks would stack except with the crimson sphere as normal, as they are tied directly to the int bonus.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe your alternate slot cost comes from 3.x as it rings a bell and not in the pathfinder rules, and I have only played 3.x and pathfinder. Also, the item increases the ranks it provides, not bonus, so you could still use those other items. Since it provides actual ranks and not a bonus, there are still some things that it grants that the other items are unable to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 2:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering Then that would be a completely separate type of magic item and wouldn't fall under the same cost rules, as what you spoke of would be a competence bonus. The only way to add ranks to a skill would be a gain in intelligence or skill ranks from a class/hd. I would say as a GM that that wouldn't be possible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gnomejon
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 2:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you read the headband item description? It replaces whatever ranks you put into the skill its keyed to because the item is tied to int boosting \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 2:54

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