Back in the day when I played D&D 3.5 with friends, we once looted a bow that could shoot arrows of pure shadow energy as ranged touch attacks and didn't need ammunition. Let's say that our sorcerer who struggled with limited spells per day had a blast with it.

Now we all want to change to Pathfinder for a variety of reasons (like better balance between classes and more interesting character creation options), and we had a look at the magic items to see if anything could be interesting. By following a few guidelines you can create a wide variety of magic items with existing spells, such as a continuous Celestial Healing on a garment for constant healing or other items that cast a spell just by using them.

And I thought about this famous shadow bow, and I wonder :

Is it possible to enchant a ranged weapon as a use-activated item with an offensive spell such as Acid Arrow or maybe Scorching Ray, and simply use it without ammo to cast the spell ?


2 Answers 2



However, the table and rules to create magical items are guidelines for gamemasters, not players. Players should be able to create anything they want as long as they have GM permission. The GM will decide if the pricing is right, if the item is unbalanced, or if the item does something that another item does and has a different price.

Many factors must be considered when determining the price of new magic items. The easiest way to come up with a price is to compare the new item to an item that is already priced, using that price as a guide.

Some GM's frown upon the idea of custom magic items made by players, and will strictly forbid it. While others will let them create anything they want and simply say yes or no to the result.

Quoting the core rulebook:

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.

Creating new magic items is an art

With that said, we need to know if there is anything that is similar to our infinite blasting wand that looks like a crossbow.

Most continuous effects have a limited per day use, with very few exceptions, such as:

Those items duplicate the effects of spells with a duration (not single use) and use the exact formula for continuous magic item effects:

  • Spell level x caster level x 2,000 gp
  • If a continuous item has an effect based on a spell with a duration measured in rounds, multiply the cost by 4. If the duration of the spell is 1 minute/level, multiply the cost by 2, and if the duration is 10 minutes/level, multiply the cost by 1.5. If the spell has a 24-hour duration or greater, divide the cost in half.

While others are command-activated and basically works as if the user were casting a spell himself, but have a limit of uses per day. The example given by the table is calculated as once per day use:

However, there are examples of items that are command-word, but no limit of uses per day, such as:

You will notice that the ring uses the exact formula given by the table:

  • Spell level x caster level x 1,800 gp
  • 4 * 9 * 1800 = 27,000 gp (the exact value of the ring)

So you can use that formula to price your blasting crossbow. Just keep in mind that first level spells are usually unbalanced for what they do and will often make unbalanced magic items due to their spell level ( 1 * 1 = 1 * effect cost), and are better used for limited uses or single use effects, or even better, wands.

So, if you want your crossbow to shoot Acid Arrows, simply check the spell level (2), the minimum caster level to cast the spell (3), and multiply by 1,800. The cost of that magic effect should be 10,800 gp.

The crossbow will use a Standard Action to "cast" the effect, cause 2d4 damage on a ranged touch attack, and last for 2 rounds after the initial hit (caster level 3).

And it can also shoot bolts.


There is no rules-as-written ways to do that kind of item, however a DM can design one if he wants. I can see several ways to do that:

  • You can see the bow as a wand shaped as a bow. Follow the rules to create a Wand of Acid Arrow, change its skin to a bow... and voilà ! You have a bow with a stack of 50 arrows that do like the Acid Arrow (NLS 3) spell, for a price of 3*2*750=4500gp. For 4500gp more it could be NLS 6 so the acid last 1 round longer, and so on.

  • You can see it like some generic magic item that either contains any number of charges or has per-day or at-will uses. You can follow these rules to get the price. For example, for an infinite Acid Arrow bow it would cost 3*2*2000=12000gp if you want the arrows to last 2 rounds (NLS 3), 6*2*2000=24000 if you want them to last 3 rounds (NLS 6), etc.


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