on Critical Role here at Geek & Sundry,
and today’s topic is the
nuts and bolts behind actual magical–
I shouldn’t say actual, because we’re
not actually creating an item.
That’d be kind of cool but no, we’re not doing that.
All right. From the top.
Now there are a number of great magical items
and equipment provided as reward options in many,
many RPG systems. However, sometimes
either you have inspiration to design and
customize a piece of enchanted gear for
a member of the adventuring party,
or a magically inclined member of the party
wishes to craft their own piece of custom loot
during in-game downtime.
Well, here are a number of tips
to consider while coming upon either
of these circumstances.
One, how prevalent are magical items
in your campaign, and how integral
do you want them to be to a PCs ability
and power level? If you hand them out rather
often, perhaps you would want to keep
the enchantment fairly light and situational,
adding it to their toolbox.
If you prefer to build the mystique of magical items,
gifting them rather infrequently, consider
making them a little more robust in description
and function, therefore, it’s a more special
occasion when it’s actually presented for them.
I’d say read up on the suggested rules on
magical item distribution.
Most systems will have a section written
for GMs describing the intended PC levels for certain items.
Use those as a gauge regarding the
general amount of power you want to
give any custom items so as not to overbalance
the party because once you do that,
it’s a little hard to reel it back, buddy.
If there is none, err on the side of less
than more at first. If the item appears to be
a dud shortly after granting it,
you can always have the item suddenly evolve
or exhibit new qualities that improve its usefulness
as they progress further in the game.
Often you’re creating a new magical item
with a specific PC or PCs in mind.
Now consider what that PC is missing,
or what benefit would make for a fun and engaging
enchantment for that PC. Are they generally
grounded and lack ranged attacks to deal with flying foes?
Perhaps a benefit that enables a ranged strike
or method of temporarily reaching a distant foe
so they don’t feel completely useless
in those situations. Now try not to load down
a new magical item with a laundry list
of abilities too early into a campaign.
It can seem overwhelming to non-veteran players
and most of those cool abilities will go forgotten and unused.
Some really good items can come with a cost,
like a curse that inhabits the item and isn’t
revealed until used. They must quest to
cleanse the item or find a powerful enough
healer to break the curse to utilize its true power.
Maybe something terrible is also seeking
the item and as long as you wield it, you know
you are slowly being stalked by the previous owner.
Some magical items can be sentient,
either harboring the soul of the creator
or a previous owner, or the item was instilled
with life essence when crafted.
Consider the personality elements of the
NPC persona locked within.
What are their goals? Their hatreds?
What would they not tolerate in a wielder?
Perhaps you design a series of magical items that,
on their own, carry a meager enchantment,
but when worn with other items from
the set the benefits increase.
Now the search is on for other members of
the item’s family. Aw… family. Bringing people together.
Now the monetary worth of the item can
follow the suggested worth in recommended
RPG systems, but also keep in mind that what
an item is worth is far more than most merchants
are willing to pay for it. I mean, after all,
that’s how they make a profit.
So when considering the party selling back
magical items through the game, merchants
will generally try and barter from anywhere
from half to a quarter of what it’s worth.
Then you can go ahead and gauge your
social encounter and how much they actually
pay for it, based on the success of the party.
Now some players may have access to materials
and resources in game to create and enchant
their own magical accessories. If so,
here are a number of things to consider,
as well as some tips to keep in mind.
How often do you imagine the adventuring party
will be able to have downtime during the adventure
you’ve set out for them? If it’s not very often,
consider truncating the recommended crafting
time to allow the PC the chance to occasionally
make use of their skills in this.
If the player wants to create a new, original
magical item, let them pitch you the gist of their item.
Maybe even send you a mock-up of the item
from their perspective. Now take that item
and compare it to other existing magical items
of similar or equal intended power level.
You can then adjust the item’s power, if needed,
to befit the level of equipment you wish your
party to have access to at their current level.
Adjust the cost, and time required to create
the item accordingly and let the player know
the changes you made. If you both can agree on it,
then allow it to be done within the game. Hurrah!
If the item they wish to create is a bit beyond
the power level you’re comfortable with
at the moment, you can always let them
craft a part of it and notify them that some pieces
needed to complete the item must be located,
recovered, or scrounged from very dangerous
locales in your world. They can now travel forward
with the party keeping an eye out for those
missing components while getting excited
at the prospect of a new piece of equipment
that they’ve been working on.
Anyway, I hope these tips have been useful
for the implementation of custom items in your campaign.
You can see other episodes of GM tips
here at geekandsundry.com.
My name is Matthew Mercer. Thank you for watching,
and I’ll see you on the internet.
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