|The creation and
proliferation of Magic
Items has a very large effect on any Fantasy
setting, as it enables non-Magic Users access to Magical powers. Because of
it's powerful ramifications, this subject garners a lot of close attention
by GM's in any game system.
|Following are some
considerations for handling Magic Items, with a focus on my particular
approach. After a high level coverage of how I handle Magic Items from an
accounting point of view, there is a lengthy section on how I handle the
creation of Magic Items.
POINTS OR CURRENCY
|The classic dichotomy for Fantasy HERO
revolves around whether Magic Items are treated as Equipment and
cost money or are treated as Power constructs and cost Character
Points. My approach is simple: they can be either depending upon
PERMANENT VS EPHEMERAL
|As a Campaign
Rule, in my
Campaigns all Magic Items must be bought
as either "Permanent" Independent Foci
or as "Ephemeral" effects on
Foci with Nonrecoverable Charges.
Independent the points contained in
an item can be lost or gained as the vagaries of
adventuring dictate. If on Nonrecoverable
Charges, the Item eventually just ceases to work
when it's Charges are expended.
Permanent Magic Items
|Magic Items that last until
destroyed should be designed using the Foci and Independent
Limitations. Such items are considered Permanent and cost
Character points to create, but not to acquire.
|Most Weapons and Armor, "Misc Magic Items",
Rods, Staves, Wands, Rings, and the like fall into this
Ephemeral Magic Items
|Some Magic Items are of limited use; the
number of uses are finite. When modeling such items in the HERO
System Nonrecoverable Charges should be applied as a Limitation
to the Powers in the Item
instead of Independent. Such items are considered to be
"Ephemeral Magic Items" and do not have to be paid for with
Character Points at any time. They are treated as a commodity.
|Most Scrolls, Potions, Salves, and other
such items generally fall into this category.
|To prevent abuse or over-proliferation, the
GM should assess some penalty of time or money or both to
crafting such items based largely on how common they want them
to be in their campaign.
PAYING FOR MAGIC ITEMS
|As stated Permanent Items cost
Character Points when created, but thereafter can be bought,
sold, stolen, found, or otherwise acquired without any further
ado as is typical of Independent Powers.
|One exception to this
general rule is that Permanent Magic Items are paid for with Character Points if
started with at Character creation (since this is
indistinguishable from "creating" the items in a real sense).
|Magic Items gained during the course of play
do not cost any Character Points to the new owner.
|Obviously the GM
controls what items are given out as treasure, and
what the GM alloweth the GM can taketh away;
thus wise players should not bank too heavily upon their
Magic Items or abuse them too often or else the GM
should take steps to divest the Characters of
the abused items.
Starting with Magic Items via Character Creation
|If a Character
starts the game with a Permanent Magic Item, then
they must pay
Character Points for it as noted above.
However, to reiterate, Permanent Magic Items stolen, taken as
booty, given as payment in-game, traded for, or
discovered in the course of an adventure are not
paid for in Character Points.
|Further if a Character starts play with
Permanent Magic Items, and any of those Items are taken from
them then the Character simply looses whatever points they
invested in the Items. The only way to regain the points is to
reacquire the Items via in game events, or acquire other Items.
Creating Items In Game
|If a PC with the
appropriate skills crafts a Permanent Magic Item using the
rules during the course of play, then that Character must pay the
Real Cost in Character Points for that Magic Item.
|Alternately if the Magic Item is made
specifically for another Character (and with that Character's
consent), in which case the commissioning Character pays the
Real Cost of the item in Character Points instead
|With GM's permission two or more players
could even pool Experience Points together to gather enough
Character points to pay the Real Cost of a newly created Magic
|All that really matters is that one or more
Characters willingly contribute a number of unspent Character
Points equal to the Real Cost of the new Magic Item.
|NOTE: This accounting of where
the Character Points necessary to pay the Real Cost comes from
is assumed to
be part of the enchanting Magic and handled
"behind the fourth wall" -- i.e., not mentioned or
referenced in-game. In the game, it is simply known that the
creation of Magic Items is a process that exacts a cost on the
essences of those involved in their creation.
MAGIC ITEMS AS A COMMODITY
it is assumed that Magic Items can be bought and sold as a commodity
in High Fantasy campaigns. The following section suggests some
guidelines for determining the monetary value of Magic Items.
Suggested Monetary Rates
As a basic guideline, the following baseline formulas for Magic
Item costs are recommended:
Item Base Value
Real Cost * Active Points in xc
Item Creation Cost
Item Base Value
(Real Cost * Active Points) * 5 in xc
Item Creation Cost
xc = base currency of economy; gold coins
in a gold based economy, silver coins in a silver based
Figuring Active Points
of Framework-based Items
|Some multi-purpose Magic Items are
built using a Power Framework, particularly a Multipower or an EC. The
following modifications to the above process apply in such a case:
- Multipower: Consider a MP as a single Power
Construct with Active Points equal to the Pool, +10 Active Point for every
slot in the Multipower
- EC: Consider it a single Power Construct
with Active Points equal to the largest Power in the EC, +5 Active Points for each
additional Power in the EC
- VPP: Consider it a single Power Construct
with Active Points equal to the Pool plus the Control Cost
|Actual sales prices should
be heavily modified by economic forces such as supply and
demand, availability, and of course game mechanics like Trading
Skill Rolls. Also, some
Items should always sell at a premium such as
mighty Staves, or
basically any beneficial item with
200 or more Active Points in it.
|Items of high magnitude
should generally sell at top dollar in a big enough
market pulling in at least 200% to 300% the base monetary
value of the item. Still more powerful items such as
Artifacts, some intelligent weapons (whether built
with Artificial Intelligences or by some other means), and the like
are effectively priceless and generally sell for
whatever the market can bear. Some metropolitan
cities might even have one or more consignment agents and/or
auction houses where Magic Items can be brokered or
bought as well.
ALTERING MAGIC ITEMS
|It is not permissible to alter an
existing Magic Item's
abilities, however it is possible with
GM's permission for a Character with the
appropriate Artificing Skills to add abilities to an existing
Permanent Magic Item, or to improve abilities already in
Magic Item by adding more effect.
Ephemeral Items cannot be altered whatsoever.