A Slight Change to Dungeons and Dragons 4th Ed. Re: Enchant Item

After several gaming sessions using the Wizards of the Coast 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the thing that most strikes me (and most of my current fellow players) as missing is the presupposition of the in-depth “role playing” part of the role playing game. By homogenizing the character classes to make them more equal and a better fit into the d20 environment, a lot of natural differences that made each class so unique have disappeared.

I know — we went through that gawd-awful  period a couple of editions back where there were a dozen specialized kinds of wizard, the struggle to find where assassins fit into the party format, and multi-class characters progressed so slowly that they rarely ever became real threats to anybody.  But it wasn’t all bad — those differences, weaknesses, and foibles were part of what made them fun to play, and fun to have in the party.

In respect for that tradition, we’re going to make a couple of changes to 4th edition in our group.  The first has to do with the abilities of what was once called “casters” — and now is set aside as “ritual casters.”

For Ritual Casters:

“Enchant Item” rules
For those who take the enchant item ritual —
You can, with the appropriate level, skill, ingredients, and money, create just about any item you can think of, so long as you let the DM know ahead of time. We’ll find a comparable item in the various magic item books, set the level (you will have to be that level to make it) and decide what components and gold you will need to make it. Once that’s done — it’s part of the game.

Like the Weasley Bros. or Padfoot-Mooney-Wormtail-Prongs….

“Noseblood Nougat” would be an easy 2nd or 3rd level, with only 2 cups of honey, 2 cups of mashed fruit, a pound of bloodstone, a pinch of salt, a sacred space to perform the ritual, and 50gp (to rent the sacred space) per batch of 36 pieces. (This would not include the antidote.)

But a Marauder’s Map would be more like 10th level, and have components of an actual hand drawn map of the territory on blessed parchment, quills, a cup of ink, lemon juice from 4 lemons, a pound of sand, a cup of gunpowder, a mature rubber tree, 3 days of rest before casting, and 1,000gp for the rental of the sacred space to cast in (and repairs to it once the casting is finished.)   However, I’m not sure who would want a map like that unless they were actually living in the space being mapped….  And that would only ever happen in some made-up story somewhere.

The Rod of Permanence item our wizard, Alex, was talking about would be about a 4th or 5th level, and require a 3′ iron rod, anvil, hammers (lg and sm), 4 cords of dry wood, a flask of holy water, a dozen hummingbirds (live), 12 yards of linen ribbon, a teakettle, a pinch of grave dust, and 100gp for the cleaning of the sacred space once the casting is done.

And maybe “Gauntlets +1” are 6th level, and require 10 oz of dragon-boiled yarn (spun by a brass dragon), bone knitting needles (horse femur), a flask of fresh dire wolf blood, and 800gp to pay someone to do the knitting.  If the caster or someone in his/her party knows how to knit, only 350gp are needed for the rental of the sacred space.


Our patron character, Cheby, has the “Enchant Item” Ritual available to learn by any ritual caster — for a price (probably either gold + materials, or a completed quest for something she wants/needs.)


2 thoughts on “A Slight Change to Dungeons and Dragons 4th Ed. Re: Enchant Item

  1. The 2e DMG has a fun discussion of magic item creation. They suggest that items are created or enhanced with rare, relevant physical ingredients (e.g. basilisk venom for a petrifying item) or “impossible” components (e.g. the wisdom of a giant spider for a rope of climbing). Both encourage questing and creativity as paths to success. A forum I visited also suggested that items get all or some of their powers by proximity to the PCs and participation in their exploits; in much the same way we might think that Babe Ruth’s favorite bat has magical powers just because he was a legend.

    4e’s admirable emphasis on balance has kind of resulted in bland magic items that are ranked by their “market price.” Potentially, a powerful item could be made from X (costing a certain gp), infused with Y (difficult to obtain stuff), and used in the act of Z (ceremony or adventure or extraordinary circumstance) before it reaches its full potential.

    Furthermore, magical salvage via disenchanting into residuum makes a great deal more sense than the idea that these items are being bought and sold on some kind of medieval eBay.

    I think we’re going to have a great deal of fun with this!

    • I agree about the residium — and I’m guessing that many magical items will require either residium, or the participation / energy / or some off-the-books spell/ritual available only from one of the “other” planes or from the Feywild or Shadowfell. Or some combination.

      It will have to be the DM at the time the caster begins making plans for a certain item who is the final arbiter for such things. Or — it may need to be a combination of DMs (the current plus the one who will most likely be active at the time the item will be materialized or created.

      Here’s another thought.

      In a party of all good-neutral characters, the bigger picture is to make the world better — that can happen in many ways. If we take the keep as an example — at some point, a group of casters did this by creating the seal between the “world” and the Shadowfell. (which was basically magic creation.) Your character, Carrie’s, and Jim’s are the casters so far. And the Dragonborn and Eladrin are magically inclined and so could take a multi-class that lets them be ritual casters, too.

      It also makes some sense (as from an old Dragon Mag. article I read once upon a time) to use the combined levels of the Wizard-in-Charge (the Thomas Edison of the bunch) and all his/her assistants into consideration. If something takes the whole party to create — and maybe a couple of others, too — then it would have a higher% chance of working or working right. (failure and accidents have to be allowed for.)

      The other real advantage to this, I think, will be to take the emphasis off hacking-for-XP as it exists in all of WotC literature for 4th ed.

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