Forging Graded Items

Sword Collection 011 - Tamas BaranyaOver the last week or so I’ve talked about assigning graded abilities, graded wands, graded staves, how I determined their market price, and how to adjust their caster level. The first post was fundamental to all graded items, and the other articles were because spell trigger items are quite easy to work with when exploring the ideas.

Today I’m going to discuss the difference between crafting and enchanting graded items.

Enchanting Items

The enchanter must meet the various requirements for the item, spend the time and money, and the item is produced. In the core rules, the enchanter must also make a single skill check (usually Spellcraft) with a DC equal to 5 + the caster level of the item. Failure by five or more points results in a cursed item.

On its own, this check almost never fails because almost always an enchanter will have the necessary skill and native talent (ability score modifier) such that even a natural one (plus modifiers) will meet or exceed the skill DC. It is generally impossible to fail by five or more points, if the enchanter meets all the prerequisites and has the necessary skill. However, an enchanter can still make the attempt despite insufficient skill, and each prerequisite that is not met increases the skill check DC by 5.

Enchanting Graded Items

Enchanting graded items is much like any other item creation as described above, except that the skill check DC is based on the grade of the item rather than the caster level. Typically the grade and the caster level are the same, but if it the caster level has been reduced they can differ.

Crafting Items

The core rules offer only minimal options for crafting better than average items. Weapons can be made masterwork by crafting a ‘masterwork component’ in addition to the base object. This masterwork component costs a certain amount (weapons 300 gp, armor 150 gp, and other items different amount) and has a Craft DC of 20. The masterwork component costs 1/3 the market price in materials, and otherwise follows the normal rules (accumulate progress in silver pieces per week, failure by more than 5 results in ruin and replacement of half the base materials, etc.).

Crafting Graded Items

When crafting graded items, the base object is crafted as normal (including tracking silver piece progress). The graded component is handled much more like enchantment, where the additional work requires one day per 1,000 gp value, half the market price in materials, and  a single skill check (the appropriate Craft skill rather than Spellcraft, DC equal to the grade of the item + 5). The item is not magical and thus cannot be cursed, but on a failed check is flawed: the grade is reduced by the amount the roll failed, and qualities will need to be dropped in order to meet the new grade.

Because the item is not magical, quality prerequisites may have to be met through alternate means. For instance, while skill alone can add an enhancement bonus (a simply better weapon), and certain qualities such as keen can come from fine construction, and some just from good design (Intimidating, which gives a bonus to Intimidate checks when the weapon is involved), others require less mundane elements in the construction. The flaming quality might require that the item be forged from an alloy including iron mined on the Plane of Fire, or that the item be forged in a dragon’s flame or quenched in dragon’s blood. I will prepare guidelines for determining quality alternate prerequisites.

Similarity and Differences

For many purposes the resulting objects work the same way. A +2 flaming 1d6 longsword will give the wielder +2 on attack and damage rolls, and 1d6 bonus fire damage on a successful hit. There are some intrinsic differences, though.

Feature or Factor Enchanted Item Crafted Item
Anti-magic Magic suppressed or dispelled. Unaffected.
DR/magic Penetrates. Does not penetrate.
Improvement Enchant further, paying difference in cost (per RAW). Reforge; basically start over and create a new item.
Prerequisites Can be skipped (increasing skill check DC). Cannot be skipped, but can be satisfied by alternate means.
Cost Grade * Caster Level * 500 gp Grade * Craft Level * 500 gp
Failure Not unenchanted, or cursed. Flawed.


Enchanted items are subject to anti-magic and dispel magic as normal.

Crafted items are not subject to anti-magic and dispel magic.


Enchanted items can penetrate DR/magic. Crafted items do not.

Houserule: I disregard the rule that allows larger enhancement bonuses to penetrate Damage Reduction based on material or magic.


Enchanted items can be further enchanted relatively easily. Spend money and time equal to the difference between the current item and the changed item, make a skill check, and you’re done.

Crafted items cannot be readily improved. The process amounts to reforging or recrafting the item, starting over entirely. You might as well make another, better one.


When enchanting an item, a prerequisite can be left unmet. Doing so increases the skill check DC (resulting in a greater chance of failure or producing a cursed item.

When crafting an item, a prerequisite cannot be left unmet, but can be satisfied by alternate means.

Houserule: I allow enchanters to use alternate means to meet prerequisites. Just as a smith can quench a sword in dragon’s blood to add the flaming quality, an enchanter ritually does the same or similar to meet the enchantment prerequisite.

Using alternate means to meet prerequisites usually doesn’t change the costs involved, but lets the enchanter or crafter meet inconvenient prerequisites via story and adventure inconvenience (*ahem* “opportunities”).


Same, whether enchanted or mastercraft.

Enchantment costs Grade * (Item) Caster Level * 500 gp.

Crafting costs Grade * (Item) Craft Level * 500 gp.

Failure Consequences

If an enchantment skill check fails by 4 or less, the item is not enchanted. If the skill check fails by 5 or more the item is cursed.

If a Craft skill check fails the grade (and thus craft level, still adjusted by the same amount if adjusted) is reduced by the amount the check failed. This will require qualities to be dropped or reduced to conform to the new grade and craft level.

Houserule: Rather than having a failed skill check when enchanting result in the item not being enchanted, I prefer to apply quirks to the result. The item still meets its primary purpose, but can have undesirable aspects or qualities.

Interaction Between Crafting and Enchantment

Crafting and enchantment overlap, they do not stack, and if a mastercraft item is enchanted the enchantments must first account for the masterwork elements. Enchanting a mastercraft item must include enchantments for the same qualities, but ‘pay’ on the time requirements that difference in cost. That is, in taking a grade 7 mastercraft item and adding enchantment to take the item to grade 10, the enchanter must spend the time needed to enchant a grade 10 item, but need only pay for the difference in cost between a grade 7 item and  grade 10 item (12,750 gp — half of the difference between 50,000 gp and 24,500 gp — and 50 days). The enchantment component is still subject to anti-magic and dispel magic, reducing it to the mastercraft benefits. However, it can be further enchanted as if improving a ‘normal’ enchanted item. If the item is a weapon it will now penetrate DR/magic.

Closing Comments

A-Z 2016 "F"TL;DR: You can use Craft to ‘enchant’ items by spending the same money and time, making an appropriate Craft skill check in place of a Spellcraft check. Because the process is not spell-based, spell prerequisites must be met through other means such as special materials, crafting processes, or conditions. The resulting item is ‘very good’, potentially fantastic, but not-magical. It also cannot be further improved by craft, but can be further improved by enchantment. If a mastercraft item is improved by enchantment the enchantment must incorporate the mastercraft elements before adding or improving them. This requires that the enchantment process take the full time (as if working on any other unenchanted object) but the enchanter pays on the difference in cost.


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