Thoughts on "Create Magic Item" Ritual in 4e

This message is in response to a question from one of my players about the effects of introducing the "create magic item ritual" into the campaign through his character.

Hi Joe,

Great message, and I really appreciate how you have been a faithful part of every session.

It was a good idea to bounce the idea of the "create magic item" ritual off of me first.


It will be useful to talk a little philosophy. I am happy that you were thinking about this and put your thoughts on paper.

I want to write a longish email in response.

Zhalindor is a cool place, because it is not a garden variety, vanilla D&D 4e core world. I don't buy into the standard D&D campaign setting 100% for lots of reasons. 4e gets dangerously close to just a board game at times. I try to fight that somewhat to keep Zhalindor interesting and challenging at a meta-game level, e.g., the existence of Chaos as an opposing force, the existence of magical spells and effects that characters cannot just "shake off" after a few rounds, the existence of non-standard magical items with really cool, one-use effects, etc. There is a history in Zhalindor that is more closely aligned with traditional fantasy fiction and mythology than the average 4e, core world.

While there are extra abilities available, on the flip side, in Zhalindor, PCs have to be taught or find resources to learn rituals. PCs never learn rituals automatically.

(With feats and powers, as long as they are out of the core books, I am good with them. If the source is Dungeon or Dragon magazines or an on-line Blog then we should chat first.)

I put rituals in a special category, because they can have hugely game altering effects. That is why the party found a bunch of rituals last session. There are some rituals that are now appropriate for the party. In the next segment of the campaign, a lot of those newly discovered rituals will come in handy.

The "create magic item" ritual will likely never come into the campaign for several reasons.

First, I want the party to truly be excited when it finds magic items. The core 4e rules make magic items waaaaaaaay too plentiful for a magic item to be special. If they can be created at will, magic items become as common as a sharpened pencil.

Second, if the party has the capability to create custom magic items of any variety then many of the challenges in the game become trivial to overcome. It makes it impossible to create scenarios that are both challenging, but possible. For example, in the last session, there were a few moments when doing a suicide blast with the super powerful fireball seemed like a potential approach, and then, you devised an even cooler course of action.

Third, in Zhalindor, creating magic items often involves finding obscure and rare components. One of the plot-lines that will emerge from the visit to the magic store will be a market for cool components that the party can either find, hunt down, or bargain for.

Given pacing, planned events, plot injects, etc., the magic store visit will likely occur on the 30 February game night. At the end of the 23 February game night, I will gather a list of all of the magic items that folks want to sell so that I can prepare the prices offered in exchange for them. We will not be using the standard book prices for the magic items.

When I said that there was not a magic Walmart in Zhalindor, I meant that there is not a shop in every city that has a magic item store with all of the items listed in the rule books. The existence of the magic Walmart is more or less assumed in the core rules. It just does not fit with Zhalindor's framework.

(It also does not make any sense from an economic standpoint. Every magic user capable of producing magic items should be fabulously wealth and living in their own principality given the core setting assumptions.)

There are shops that buy and sell magic items in some places.

There will be plenty of cool and desirable magic items at the magic item shop that the party will be visiting. (Many of the items will be non-standard.) Party members will be faced with some tough choices on what to buy with all of the party's hard earned loot, and that will be half the fun.

It will also give motivation to the party to "save up" to buy some of the uber-cool items.

Also, the buy and sell prices for items will not be identical. Like any near barter situation, the proprietor will expect to make an substantial profit.

So, if you buy a +5 Sword of Discord for 250,000 Wheels, you might only be able to unload it five sessions later for 175,000 Wheels.

Does that all make sense?

I want the visit to the magic shop to be one of the cooler things in the next few sessions.

(I've already started generating some cool items for you guys to ogle.)

In service,