How specific are item formulas and samples for purposes of crafting? For example, if I have a +1 sword does it act as a sample to help with making a +1 axe or a +2 sword (or a +1 short sword)? What if I have a +2 sword, will it help with making a +1 sword? If I have a particularly ugly +1 sword, can I use it as a sample for my much prettier +1 sword? How about +1 armor as a sample for other sizes or types of armor or shields?
I’ve thought of even more questions:
Does a mage have to spend 1,000 gold and 2 weeks positively identifying an item before using it as a sample, or can she use it after more casual identification experiments?
If the mage can use casual identification experimentation, what if she’s wrong?
For example: A while back, Mage Crystal’s group found a sword that detected as magic. Fighter Bob decided to use the sword, finding, through long experimentation vs. a multitude of monsters to be a +1 sword. Crystal has decided to make another +1 sword from this sample. It turns out, however, that this is a +1 sword, +2 vs. mages (Bob never fought a mage)! Does Crystal’s attempt get ruined, does she make a normal +1 sword for the normal +1 sword price, or does she make a full copy as she is surprised by the unexpected cost (as well as the material requirement of mage spleens or hag eyes)?
Is upgrading the magical bonus of a magical item count as a different process (thus requiring a different formula/sample) to creating a higher-bonus magic item from scratch?
Generally, how readily available are common magic item formulas? Would the local guild have a collection freely available to members for an assortment of common items, or would they be quite rare? Would guilds be interested in new new samples or formulas that they currently lack?
Our rule for this is that it has to be the same within the structure of the magic item generation rules. So individually:
- +1 sword wouldn’t help with a +2 sword or a +1 axe, since they’re separate on the tables. Likewise sword +2 wouldn’t help with sword +1
- sword +1 would help with a short sword +1 or great sword +1 because those are all generated under ‘+1 sword’ without further specification (ie, they’re the same as far as magic item generation is concerned)
- Likewise, ‘ugly sword +1’ and ‘elegant sword +1’ aren’t separate in the tables, or the rules at all really, so I think it would count there
- But plate armor +1 vs leather armor +1 is covered by the armor type generation table, so we don’t let samples carry across armor (mechanically, plate vs leather is at least as significantly different as sword vs hammer for determining who can use the item). Same is true of shield vs armor.
- Armor size or body type, however, is not generated, so I’d rule that a suit of plate +1 would count as a sample towards (say) plate barding +1 or ogre-sized plate +1
1) Does a mage have to spend 1,000 gold and 2 weeks positively identifying an item before using it as a sample, or can she use it after more casual identification experiments?
APM: I wouldn't say that the mage must use 1,000 gold and 2 weeks, but the mage must correctly identify the item, yes. For example, if the mage knew what the item was because (a) Its creator showed him; or (b) Contact Other Plane revealed its powers; or (c) an ancient grimoire described the legendary item's powers; that would be fine.
2) If the mage can use casual identification experimentation, what if she's wrong?
APM: I would rule that if the mage THOUGHT he had identified an item, but was in fact wrong, the mage would discover the wrongness at the 50% mark. The research would start to go wrong and the mage would realize the item wasn't what he thought it was. That would actually be quite an interesting way to learn that an item isn't what you think!
3) Is upgrading the magical bonus of a magical item count as a different process (thus requiring a different formula/sample) to creating a higher-bonus magic item from scratch?
APM: I wouldn't think so, no.
4) Generally, how readily available are common magic item formulas? Would the local guild have a collection freely available to members for an assortment of common items, or would they be quite rare? Would guilds be interested in new new samples or formulas that they currently lack?
APM: The answer will vary based on how you treat magic and mages in your campaign. I generally price formula anywhere from half the base price of an item down to the cost of a one-charge item of those powers (depending on my personal preference as to how common or rare I want an item to be)*. Then I use the magic item availability tables to determine if it can be bought or sold.
*EXAMPLE: In the Opelenean Nights campaign, thematic items like flying carpets, rings of djinning summoning, and efreeti bottles are more common than the baseline ACKS treasure types would suggest. Conversely, other items (cubes of force) are less common. In a Norse-themed campaign, magic warhammers, girdles of giant strength, and gauntlets of ogre power might be more common. Etc.
if I have a +1 sword does it act as a sample to help with making a +1 axe or a +2 sword (or a +1 short sword)?
APM: No, it doesn't help
What if I have a +2 sword, will it help with making a +1 sword?
APM: No, it doesn't help.
If I have a particularly ugly +1 sword, can I use it as a sample for my much prettier +1 sword?
APM: Yes, it can
How about +1 armor as a sample for other sizes or types of armor or shields?
APM: No, it doesn't help
To offer a general rule, an item counts as a sample if its game mechanical effects are identical. An "ugly" sword +1, and a sword +1 with a jewelled hilt fastened in the shape of an eagle, with its blade etched with dual blood grooves, are both swords +1. Plate armor +1 is not, however, leather armor +1, no matter what.
Thanks for the responses.
I guess that the type-specific nature of magic weapons would quickly make certain varieties of magic weapons far more common in a culture (like swords in the core rule-book’s implied setting seem to be after looking at the treasure section). This might mean that commissioning a common type might be quite a bit cheaper than a less popular weapon, since the +1 sword formula is in every guild library, but the +1 glaive* you want has no formula in this country, so it is going to need to me made with out a sample, and we pass the cost on to you.
This could definitely add flavor to the magic items found in different regions. Dwarves obviously would have more axes and hammers, while elves would have more elegant composite bows and a few swords. If you have other major races (or different cultures) that make magic items, they’d probably have their own preferred weapons.
*On the subject of pole-arms: Pole-arms come in a huge variety of types but has both the same mechanical effect as well as the same entry and space on the weapon table. So can a +1 halberd act as a sample for a glaive, pole-ax, lucerne hammer, ranseur, etc.? Personally I think this is an obvious exception to the general rule, since the items are so physically different in form and function (their only similarity being the fact that they are dangerous things mounted on long sticks).
I was under the impression that the ‘most magic weapons are swords’ thing was mostly a mechanical trick to provide fighters and thieves an advantage over clerics in melee. It seemed to me that the spear is likely the most common weapon in the default ACKSiverse, and the only reasonable in-setting justification I can come up with for the relative frequency of magic swords is that they’re a noble’s weapon, and only nobles have the resources to commission magic weapons, so when magic weapons get made, they’re mostly swords.
I figured that noble weapon: sword was the biggest in-universe justification. Of course, you can make any weapon magical, but more demand for magic swords starts a tradition of magic swords, making more samples/formulas for magic swords out in the world.
I assumed that magic spears are rare despite their utility because of how easy they are to sunder. It makes you less likely to want to invest in making one, and reduces the lifespan of those that do get made.