Sunday, December 5, 2010

Magic Items For Sale - Cheap!

One of the qualities that distinguishes Ara from many other D&D campaign settings is that, due to the presence of a powerful Enchanters' Guild, magical items are actually available for sale in many areas of the continent.  This is especially true in the Free City of Kaladar and in Minoch, the latter being the region where my current PC adventuring party is exploring Stonehell.  Minoch is in fact home to the single largest Enchanters' Guild facility in all of Ara, so my players are well-placed to gain access to Magic Items for sale in Minochian towns like Fortinbras and Farn Junction.

What this means for me practically is that I have had to start pricing these magical items.  True to my nature, I have been largely making up gp figures on the fly for enchanted items the PCs seek, since the monetary system in Crimson Blades of Ara, the homebrewed RPG system from whence the Enchanters' Guild concept emerged, was based upon a silver standard and is not easily converted to the D&D item pricing scale.

Also true to my nature, I had more or less forgotten that the AD&D DMG has resale prices listed for magical items --  a fact I had to be reminded of by reading a recent post of JB's on the B/X xp system.  So for several sessions now, most notably those two recent sessions the PCs spent in Fortinbras, I have been making up magical item prices without any reference to the DMG.  However, once I remembered (thanks to JB's post) that the DMG lists magic item resale prices, I decided to check those lists out, compare them to what I have come up with so far, and see where this lands me in terms of "standardizing" magical item prices in the Arandish campaign setting.

That said, I should briefly disclaim that I think magical items shouldn't really have stable prices.  As I have previously posted, despite the presence of the Enchanters' Guild, magical items are somewhat uncommon in Ara, the availability of Dwarven Steel being a far more typical means by which adventurers acquire more-potent-than-standard weapons and equipment.  But, since Dwarven Steel cannot itself be enchanted, and therefore cannot take the place of, say, a ring of invisibility or a +3 Flame Tongue, I know there is demand for magical items in Ara.  But the Arandish Enchanters are notorious price-gougers, and so prices for these sparsely dispersed and highly sought-after items should vary a lot and should always be quite high, by my reckoning.

So let's take a look at those prices. What follows is a partial list of some representative items that the Arandish PCs have been buying and/or pricing, with my own "from the hip" prices listed first, and the DMG prices (taken from pp. 121-125) listed in square brackets.

potion of healing: 150gp  [400gp]
potion of extra-healing: 400gp  [800gp]
+1 Battle Axe: 300gp  [2,500gp]
+2 Battle Axe: 650gp
+1 Polearm: 450gp [2,000gp for a +1 Sword]
+2 heavy crossbow: 700gp [3,500gp for a +1 bow]
each +1 hvy. bolt = 50gp, 300-350gp for 10 [300gp for 2-20 +2 bolts]
+2 heavy flail: 800gp
Potion of Plant Control: 140gp [300gp]
Scroll of Ward against Magic: 100 gp [4,500gp for Protection from Magic]
Ring of Protection, 800gp per +1 = 1600gp for +2, 2500gp for +3 [10,000 - 20,000gp]
Decanter of Endless Water, 5000gp [3,000gp]
Staff of Striking: 1400gp [15,000gp]
wand of paralyzation: 500gp with ten charges [25,000gp]
Ring of Invisibility 3,000gp, on special 2,800gp [7,500gp]
Scarab of Protection : 650gp  [25,000gp]
Stone of Summon Earth Elemental: 5,000gp  [12,5000gp]
Eye of the Eagle monacle on a kestrel hood, 300gp  [18,000gp for two such Eyes]
Rope of Climbing: 1,000gp [10,000gp]
Girdle of Giant Strength: 2,000gp [2,500gp]

So, in general, I have been seriously lowballing most of these items' prices vis-a-vis their listed resale value in the AD&D DMG.  Yet for a few of these items -- e.g., the Girdle of Giant Strength and the various potions -- my prices have been pretty damn close to the DMG's, and in one or two cases (e.g., the Decanter of Endless Water, a fetish object of Hazel's), my price has even been higher.  Now part of that variance I attribute to the perceived rarity of such items, and since the Arandish campaign world features industrial-scale enchanters who offer their services openly, I would expect that certain items gauged to be extremely rare in AD&D might be more commonly available in Ara -- and hence a bit cheaper.

Yet all in all, I am inclined to raise my campaign's magic item prices to bring them more in line with the ranges given in the DMG for all but the most common magical items listed above.  By "common magical items" I refer to healing potions and +1 weapons.

I can justify this upward price adjustment without retroactively penalizing the PCs by claiming that on their previous town visit, the party was there during a major regional holiday with an accompanying "clearance sale" offered by the local Enchanters once every fifty years or so.  No harm, no foul!

But from now on I will be keeping that DMG list handy, and while I may still keep Arandish prices a bit lower than the DMG does in many cases, I will likely use the DMG tables as a starting point for magic item pricing in Minoch.  All such items would be even more expensive in regions north of Kaladar, where Dwarven Steel is more common and Enchanters far less numerous.

Lastly, just for reference, for the custom enchantment of a +1 crowbar a Fortinbras Enchanter charged Yor the cost of the implement (2gp) + 200gp and a 2-day wait.  In line with the above discussion, I think I will need to raise the price of custom enchantment jobs as well, though I think that that rate for a +1 crowbar (a fairly minor, if damned cool, item) is pretty reasonable in retrospect.  But maybe it would have cost more like 500gp or even higher on a non-festival, non-"clearance sale" day.


  1. I'm glad you are making magic items available for sale. To restrict their circulation never made sense to me. In a world full of magic, it would make sense that items infused with said magic would be available for purchase.

  2. So if the party immediately left Stonehell and hauled ass back to Fortinbras, could we catch the end of that clearance sale? We could pour all of our cash into cheap magic items and then open a magic store and make a killing at the DMG rates. Screw rescuing Gark or whoever the dwarf was.

  3. @Christian: Agreed!

    @Spawn: You can certainly do that, but then you will incur the wrath of the local gods and the townspeople, and the whole party will be turned into toads.