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5E Dungeons & Dragons Magic Item Crafting Rules

Introduction

The following is a set of optional rules for creating magic items in a Dungeons & Dragons 5E campaign. When compared
to the optional rules in the DMG, this ruleset makes lower rarity items slightly more expensive, higher rarity items
slightly less expensive, and all items will creatable in a reasonable amount of time. A balance of difficulty yet
reasonableness is the goal.

Creating Magic Items


In order to create magic items, you must have the following, in various amounts or degrees as determined by the items
rarity, theme and DM discretion:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

A formula
Creation time and minimum caster level
Location
Expense
Material Components

In addition, you must be an arcane or divine spell caster.

Magical Formula
All magical items have a magical formula that tells the crafter how to create them. For some, it will be the item itself, for
others, the formula explains what is required to add a property to a magical item - for example, flaming.
Example:
Mazen the wizard has a formula that tells him how to craft a +1 magical weapon. It has its own requirements for time,
materials, location and expense. Mazen also has a formula that tells him how to add the Flaming property to a magical
weapon. That formula has its own set of requirements for time, materials, location and expense. Mazen can create a +1
Flaming weapon by combining the two formulas together.
Magical formula can be acquired in the following ways:
1. Purchased at a price set by the DM (item rarity can act as a guide), assuming the character can find someone
who has it.
2. Found through adventuring, for example in the treasure hoard of a dragon or the research books of a mad
wizard.
3. Discovered by studying magical items.
Studying Magical Items
To discover the formula by studying a magical item, roll % dice. If the % rolled is equal or less than a set DC, the formula
is discovered. The set DC represents the % chance that the formula can be discovered. At the DMs discretion Artifacts
and Intelligent magical items cannot be studied or created.
Items can only be studied once a day and require 8 hours of uninterrupted time. Only one item can be studied per day.
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To set the DC for the formula and therefore the % chance of learning it, do the following:
1. If it is the first day attempting to study the item, the base DC is 0. Each subsequent day attempting to learn the
formula adds 5 to the DC.
2. The DC can be increased through positive influences to the study process, such as using a lab.
3. The DC can be reduced through negative influences on the study process, such as studying in the wilderness
while adventuring.
4. The character studying the item makes an Intelligence (Arcana) roll and adds the result to the DC.
After successfully discovering the formula for an item, roll a second % dice. If the result is 10 or lower, the item is
destroyed in the process of discovering the formula.
Influences on Studying Magical Items
Influences on studying, whether positive or negative, are fully at the discretion of the DM. Listed below are some
examples of positive and negative influences.
Note: It is very possible, and highly likely, that the base DC of learning some magical items formula will be negative until
a sufficient amount of time has been spent studying it.
Example Positive Influences on Studying:
Influence
Using an arcane lab or holy site
Having an arcane apprentice or holy acolyte
Using specialized or thematically appropriate books
Thematically appropriate weather
Studying the item in its location of creation
Other possibilities at DMs discretion

Effect
+5 to base DC
+2 to base DC
+2 to base DC
+2 to base DC
+5 to base DC
DM Discretion

Example Negative Influences on Studying:


Influence
Studying in the wilderness
Currently under the effects of a disease or poison
Thematically inappropriate weather
Uncommon magic item
Rare magic item
Very rare magic item
Legendary magic item
Other possibilities at DMs discretion

Effect
-5 to base DC
-5 to base DC
-2 to base DC
-5 to base DC
-10 to base DC
-25 to base DC
-100 to base DC
DM Discretion

Examples:
Mazen the wizard is attempting to study a +1 Longsword to learn how to create a +1 weapon. He has not studied this
item before so his base DC = 0. He is studying in a lab, so his base DC increases by 5 to a total of 5. Since this is an
uncommon magic item, his base DC decreases by 5 back to 0. He makes an Intelligence (Arcana) check and gets a 12. He
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adds that number to his base DC of 0 to get a total of 12. This final DC of 12 represents that Mazen has a 12% chance of
discovering the formula during this days study attempt. Mazen then rolls % dice and gets 63. Because he did not get
equal or lower than 12, he did not discover the items formula.
After 8 attempts of trying to learn the item, Mazen tries again. This is his ninth attempt. Because it his ninth attempt his
base DC = 0 + (85) = 40 (this represents an increase of 5 for each day after the first attempt, or n-1 5 where n = total
number of attempts). Since Mazen is studying in the wilderness, his base DC decreases by 5 to 35. Since it is an
uncommon magic item, the DC is lowered again by 5 to 30. Mazen then makes an Intelligence (Arcana) roll and gets a
21. The final DC for discovering the item formula is now 30 + 21 = 51. This final DC of 51 represents that Mazen has a
51% chance of discovering the items formula on this study attempt. Mazen then rolls % dice and gets a 34. Because he
rolled lower than 51, Mazen discovers the formula!
Because Mazen was successful at discovering the formula for the magic item, he then rolls a second % dice. Mazen gets
a 7. Mazens experiments and fiddling with the item to learn its properties has destroyed the item! Good thing he at
least knows how to make another one

Creation Time and Minimum Caster Level


The base item rarity table gives the creation time for each items rarity. This is the amount of days of uninterrupted work
that are required in order to create the item. In addition, a character must have total class levels in an arcane or divine
spellcasting class equal to the Minimum Caster Level required. Whether the caster must be arcane or divine is up to DM
discretion.
Item Creation Time and Caster Level by Rarity
Rarity

Minimum Caster Level

Creation Time

Common
Uncommon
Rare
Very Rare
Legendary

3
5
7
11
15

3 days
7 days
14 days
1 month
1 year

Location
Magic items require specific locations in order to create them. In most cases, this will be an arcane lab, a forge, or a
temple or cathedral. In some special cases, the formula may require something more exotic, such as the top of a high
mountain, the fiery heart of an active volcano or even the Throne of Thunder on the Primal plane of Air. The location
required for a magic items creation is entirely up to the DM.

Expense
Creating magic items is not a cheap endeavor. The cost required to create magic items is an abstract representation of
the many costs required to prepare and forge items of great magical power. This cost is in addition to the cost of any
specified materials that the items formula requires.
Item Cost by Rarity
Rarity

Creation Cost

Common

100 gp

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Uncommon
Rare
Very Rare
Legendary

1,000 gp
5,000 gp
10,000 gp
100,000 gp

Examples:
Mazen the wizard has the formula required to create a +1 longsword. Through adventuring, he has gathered rare Elvish
Mithril that he will use to create the sword, thus saving himself the extra cost and time required to find a trader that will
sell him the metal. Because a +1 longsword is an uncommon item, Mazen must pay 1,000 gp and spend 7 days to craft
the item.
Lira the cleric has the formula to create a Decanter of Endless Water. She, however, does not have the materials
required to create the item. Fortunately, through a network of traders, she has secured the required materials for a cost
of 500 gp. Because the Decanter is an uncommon magic item, she must also spend an additional 1,000 gp for a total
cost of 1,500 gp. She then spends the required 7 days to create the item.

Material Components
The material components required to create magical items is left in the hands of the DM. DMs should use the following
guidelines when setting appropriate materials for a magical formula.
All magical items require material components to create. These material components may include zero to many of each
of the following items.
1.
2.
3.
4.

A spell
A material of appropriate rarity for the magical item
A monster trophy thematically appropriate to the magical item
A magical focus thematically appropriate to the magical item

Spells as Components
When building the components required to create a magical item (and thus be a part of its formula), consider requiring
the use of a thematically appropriate spell. The spell can be cast from the magic item creator directly, read from a scroll
at the time of magical creation, or cast by someone the creator has negotiated with to help him or her with the creation
of the item. The selection of a spell requirement for a magic item formula is an art not science. Do what feels right for
spell power level and thematic spell elements for the item.
Examples:
A Decanter of Endless Water requires the casting of the spell Create Water.
A +1 enhancement to armor requires the casting of the spell Mage Armor, Shield or both.
The sword Frost Brand requires the casting of the spell Cone of Cold.
Materials of Appropriate Rarity
Magical items are not created out of common materials. The process of infusing magical energies into items requires
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materials strong enough to absorb the energy and thus function as a magical item. Each magical item formula should
require one or more material component of rarity equal to or greater than the rarity of the magical item. The table
below shows some examples of materials and their appropriate rarity. In addition, monsters can be harvested for
materials of appropriate rarity based on their CR.

Example Materials by Rarity


Common

Uncommon

Rare

Very Rare

Legendary

Plain Wood
Stone

Darkwood
Marble

Dwarven Mithril
Elvish Mithril

Iron
Steel
Copper
Bronze
Cow Leather
Beaver Fur

Dwarven Steel
Common Mithril
Silver
Elvish Steel
Blended Quartz
Obsidian

Adamantine
Cold Iron
Deep Crystal
Elven Darkleaf
Blue Ice
Iron Oak

Elven Leafweave
Shadow Touched
Stone
Star Ruby
Moon Iron
Truesteel

Hellfire Shadowsteel
Holy-Touched
Angelic Brightsteel
Astral Diamond

Materials do not have special properties themselves, they simply represent the uncommon - legendary materials
required to create items imbued with magical powers. Of course, everything is at the DMs discretion and if the DM says
Moon Iron gives a glow, so be it. Thematically, the material used to create a magic item is directly related to how an
item looks and feels its personality. A sword crafted from Obsidian is can be described as black with a glass finish,
where a sword crafted from Darkwood is earth toned and may have a handle wrapped with vines and leaves. This part
of creating magic items is in the minds of the players and their DM. The tables above are only a small example of
materials that could be used.
Most materials can be found while adventuring. If not, and the PCs are looking to purchase materials, prices of the
listed materials are up to the DMs discretion. In addition to paying for the material, it may be difficult if not impossible
for PCs to find a trader or dealer that even has access to some of these materials. The rarity of the material can be used
as a guide to set prices as listed below.
Material Cost Based on Rarity
Rarity

Cost

Common
Uncommon
Rare
Very Rare
Legendary

50 gp
500 gp
2,500 gp
5,000 gp
50,000 gp

Material Rarity by Monster CR


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Rarity

Monster CR

Common
Uncommon
Rare
Very Rare
Legendary

0-2
3-7
8 - 13
14 - 20
DM Discretion

Monsters have many pieces and parts that can be harvested for materials of various rarities. Using the table listed
above, the DM can allow harvesting of monster parts for materials. It is up to the DMs discretion on whether a creature
can be harvested for materials, whether certain parts of that creature can be harvested, what skill and DC is required to
do so and whether a certain part can be used in a formula or not. Dragon Scales, for example, would make great armor
but may not work for creating a Wand of Magic Missiles.
Examples:
Drozan the Barbarian has just slain a bulette. He uses his skills to harvest the bulettes blood and bones. Since the
bulette is a CR 5 monster, it falls in the realm of uncommon materials. The bulettes bones or wood soaked in the blood
of the bulette count as an uncommon crafting material.
Tila the Rogue and her party have just slain an adult red dragon. She makes a skill check and harvests some of the
dragons scales to be used later. Since an adult red dragon is CR 17, it counts as a very rare crafting material.
Monster Trophies
Monster trophies are specific pieces or parts of monsters that could be required to create a magic item. When
determining what monster trophy or trophies are required for a given formula, use theme to guide the selection. In
addition, the monster CR can be used to help guide the selection. DMs can choose to allow PCs to purchase monster
trophies from dealers and traders at the same general prices as materials based on rarity. DMs may also not allow the
purchasing of monster trophies and instead, PCs will be required to find the appropriate monster and slay it during
adventuring.
PCs should not be allowed to simply chop up every piece of every monster they find. As always DM discretion is at play,
but in general a PC must know what specific part of the monster is required for a trophy when gathering it and
potentially make some sort of skill or attribute check to get it, otherwise items act as crafting materials of various rarities
as mentioned above.
Monster Trophy Cost Based on Rarity
Rarity

Cost

Monster CR

Common
Uncommon
Rare
Very Rare
Legendary

50 gp
500 gp
2,500 gp
5,000 gp
50,000 gp

0-2
3-7
8 - 13
14 - 20
DM Discretion

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Examples:
The eyes from a basilisk, the feather of a phoenix, the scales of a red dragon, the fangs of a vampire lord, the pelt of a
dire wolf, the eye from a beholder eyestalk, the tears of a pixie, the last dying breath of a fire giant.
Magical Focus
In the case of some magical items, a monster trophy may not be an appropriate material required to create that item. A
magical focus can be used in addition to or in place of a monster trophy. Magical foci are typically items such as
gemstones of a certain gp value, valuable ores or rock such as raw mithril or meteorite, and items from nature such as
the drops of a pure spring at midnight during a full moon. In the Dungeon Masters Guide on page 134 there is a table
listing of gemstones and their values.
Typically the formula will require these foci to be ground into powder or in some other way destroyed as part of creating
the magic item.
Gemstones Costs when used as Magical Foci
Rarity

Cost

Common
Uncommon
Rare
Very Rare
Legendary

50 gp
500 gp
2,500 gp
5,000 gp
50,000 gp

Examples:
Mazen the wizard is creating a +1 longsword. Part of the formula requires an uncommon gemstone to be crushed and
dusted onto the weapon. Mazen happens to have a Topaz (DMG p134) worth 500 gp that he found while adventuring.
He crushes his Topaz and douses the longsword in its dust as part of creating the item.

Putting It All Together


Using the guidelines discussed above, here are some example formulas for magic item creation. Every group and every
campaign is different. One DMs formula for a +1 magic item may not look like anothers thats ok! Use the rules as a
guideline and put together clever, thematically appropriate formulas for your magic items however you see fit.
Remember, the DM always has the last word when it comes to creating magic items.

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Example Magic Item Formulas


FORMULA: +1 Weapon
Item and Formula Rarity
Uncommon
Creation Time and Caster Lvl
7 days, Arcane Caster Lvl 5
Location
Arcane Lab or Forge
Expense
1,000 gp
Crafting Materials
Spell
Magic Weapon
Material
Uncommon crafting material
Monster Trophy
None
Arcane Focus
500 gp gemstone, ground into powder

Item and Formula Rarity


Creation Time and Caster Lvl
Location
Expense
Spell
Material
Monster Trophy
Arcane Focus

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FORMULA: Ioun Stone - Agility


Very Rare
1 Month, Arcane Caster lvl 11
Arcane Lab
10,000 gp
Crafting Materials
Enhance Ability Cats Grace
Very Rare crafting material worked into a geometrical shape no larger
than 3 cm diameter
The tears of a pixie or the spark of a wil-o-the-wisp
None