So, I have some issues concerning magical item creation in 2nd edition AD&D. Any magical items created require a permanency spell (8th level) to create - and every time permanency is cast it burns one point of Constitution from the caster. That’s an issue. Why would +1 swords exist? And in Dark Sun, even worse… who would sacrifice a point of constitution to make a magical stone dagger or wooden spear? What sane high level wizard would ever enchant anything? So after some rumination and rereading the Will and the Way, it came to me to treat item enchantment similar to how new psionic disciplines or sciences are created… by spending time. The new magical theory - and this goes for clerics as well - will require the enchanter to have generally peaceful, safe downtime to craft items as they slowly draw power from the environment or elemental planes to empower such creations. Defilers of course will be able to expedite this process at the cost of environmental burn or appropriate living sacrifices. This would explain why defilers seek out Sorcerer Kings and Queens as patrons, either to make their own artifacts or to build ones for their patron… thus ensuring a small flow of magical goodies into the various City States. Heck, now druids and clerics have a reason to build a shrine and spend time lambasting themselves before the generally silent elemental lords.
I have not yet worked out a time table for this procedure… perhaps treating it on a case-by-case basis and the desired end result. I might even throw a few random effects or quirks that such items would manifest depending on the item crafting roll and the enchanter’s level.
[I posted this in the forum my PbP game uses. Here are some responses and return comments. Note not all of this is me.]
Off-the-cuff recommendation (see 2nd edition DMG p. 88 for the normal way vs. this idea):
You must learn the formula and process necessary to enchant the kind of item that you want to make (e.g. if you want to make a +1 sword, you must learn the formula for “+1 weapon.”) This may take research, consulting other magicians/clerics in your field, deconstructing an existing item to see how it works, etc. If you are lucky you might find ancient notes that you can follow as treasure. Otherwise you either do this via research (downtime + expenses = one Spellcraft proficiency check; -5 penalty if you do not have the proficiency) or you learn the formula from someone else who knows it (downtime + however much they charge, which is probably 1,000+ cp and/or favors).
** +x weapon (can enchant any weapon with that +)
** +x armor (can enchant any armor with that +)
** Each wondrous/miscellaneous item is its own formula (“bag of holding” is different from “bag of tricks” is different from “bracers of defense” is different from “cloak of resistance”)
** Each “special effect” kind of weapon or armor (e.g. flame tongue sword) is its own formula
** Each ring is its own formula
Learning a more powerful formula requires you to know the lesser versions (you must learn “+1 weapon” before you learn “+2 weapon”).
You can only learn a formula for an item whose + value is no more than 1/4 of your level, rounded down (so you must be level 4 to learn to make a +1 weapon and level 20 to make a +5 weapon). For items with no + value, the item must have an XP Value (per the DMG tables) no more than 1% of your XP total in your spellcasting class. For instance, a bag of holding has an XP Value of 5,000 XP (DMG p. 138), so you must have at least 500,000 XP to be able to learn the formula to make a bag of holding (which would mean minimum wizard level 11 or cleric level 10).
** You must still use Enchant an Item to make any magic item, which means that even with a formula, you cannot make a typical magic item (other than a potion fruit or scroll) below level 9 wizard.
You must still use an appropriate spell to make a magic item, so you need to know Enchanted Weapon in order to make magical weapons, fireball to make a necklace of fireballs, etc.
The costs and percentage chances to create an item are not changed, so you must still supply an item with a value of 100 cp or more, and your base chance for a successful enchantment is 60% + caster level + 1% per each spell, unique item, or special process used. Failure results in a cursed item.
The permanency spell is not required but serves only to create permanent person-affecting or place enchantments.
The time required to make the item is however long it takes to cast Enchant an Item (2 days + 1d8 days per casting) and the ancillary enchantments (2d4 hours per spell level, no more than 8 hours of work per day, all must be cast within 24 hours of each other).
The time required for research/learning a formula is 1 week per + value. For items without a + value, it is 1 week per 1,000 XP Value of the item.
Clerics and druids do not use the Enchant an Item process, but instead appeal to the elementals for their item powers, as described in the DMG. They still require formulas and still must spend the appropriate time and money, but instead their chance of success is the simple 1% cumulative per day (e.g. 2% chance on the second day of prayer, 3% on the third, and so on, to a maximum of 100 days, AFTER the minimum necessary requirement of two weeks of purification, one week of fasting, and one day of item preparation). The drawback is that you can only enchant an item that the elementals can empower - you can’t make a decanter of endless water using the power of Fire, for instance.
The system above means that you can make permanent magic items and weapons and armor starting at level 9, but the quality of the items is still limited and the character must put in research work. This allows the DM to limit what you can make based on what you’ve found in treasure (“ancient notes on how to enchant armor”) or learned from NPCs (“the wizard is a pretty awful dude but he promises to teach you to make bracers of defense if you give him sloppy kisses every day”). It means extra downtime, because you have to figure out how to make stuff, then spend time making it.
Some possible variants:
Do away with the Enchant an Item spell. The requirement to make an item is just the requirement to learn the formula. Under this system, a wizard could make a magic sword or armor (+1) at level 4. The major time sink is then research and construction. Time for enchanting should probably be the same (2 days + 1d8 days +2d4 hours per level of spell placed in the item) but without needing the Enchant an Item spell explicitly. This also gets rid of the Enchant an Item saving throws, which are a big failure point - forcing you to start over any time your item fails a save during the process.
Do away with the research component: You can just make any item if you meet the requirements. This means that people will be trying to make a wide range of desirable magic items as soon as possible, so the DM has less opportunity to limit what you can make, or to make interesting treasures/goals/NPC interactions on the basis of a character’s desire to learn a particular formula.
Remove the failure chance: This means there’s less frustration from “I spent a whole month and thousands of cp on this and you’re telling me I got a cursed item out of it?!?” But it means that there is no apparent vector for how cursed items happen. It also means that the only real advancement for getting above level 11-12 is opening up access to make higher-bonus weapons and armor, because most miscellaneous items will become available at that point; having a higher level gives you a better success chance. (Optionally you might decide that the failure chance is like the psionic research failure, where it just means you have to spend more time and keep rolling until you succeed or quit, and each time you fail you have some small % chance of getting a cursed item instead.)
[At this point, I interjected with:]
Maybe a compromise. If Enchant an Item is used - there is no failure chance. But if it isn’t, there will be… so the original method works the same, but the time burning new version will have a greater chance of failure.
From here we got into Empower and psionic items. It seems odd that all psionic items have a personality. My idea for this is that multiple psionically empowered items might combine egos and have a chance to possess the owner/user. Which would keep PCs from having 6 split personalities in their inventory as the threat of being mentally subdued goes up. Maybe the dom ego gets a plus one for each other empowered item… +2 if there’s another matching highest ego score. And if the wearer is fatigued or unconscious a chance for possession can occur.
All that being said, has anyone got any cool magical item quirk tables that work well with Dark Sun? I’d love to get a d100 table going.