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Crafting Permanent Items

Magic Items

Artificing Guidelines Creating Permanent Magic Items Creating Ephemeral Magic Items Artificing Skill List
Define Item Design Restrictions Variations on Independent
Research & Experimentation Enchanting the Item Creating Lab Notes
The following guidelines apply to the creation of Magic Items and are intended for use by players of Characters that have the appropriate Skills to create Magic Items. GM's are of course free to just write up the Magic Items they want to use without going through the process of making Skill Rolls to determine success.
APPLICABLE SKILLS: KS: Artificing, KS: Investiture, KS: Runecrafting
Permanent Magic Items can take on almost any form factor and range from just about any item of apparel, tool, weapon, armor suit, jewelry, artwork, musical instruments, and even in some rare cases have the appearance of buildings.
Some Permanent Magic Items are relatively simple and have only one Power Construct in them, but some are quite complex and are composed of many Power Constructs; sometimes just existing as an array of abilities to be activated at need, and other times combining together to manifest some multifaceted or potent behavior.
The only real limiter on what Permanent Magic Items can do within a given setting is the GM's discretion.
To create a new Permanent Magic Item, first determine the pertinent details of the new Item:
  1. Base Item: Determine the physical form of the Item being enchanted. I.e. is the Item a weapon, or jewelry, or a garment, or a musical instrument, or whatever. Does the item have any practical mundane abilities based upon its nature that should be defined in addition to any magical abilities?
  2. Powers/Effects: design the mechanics of the Item using HERO System Power creation rules
  3. Description: provide some "fluff" or "chrome" summarizing and describing the Item and what it does. It is sometimes fun to also provide some made-up historical context for extra "flavor".
The following design restrictions are imposed on the creation of Permanent Magic Items. An Item must comply with all of these rules to be acceptable.
  • No Item may have an Endurance Cost.
  • All Permanent Magic Items must take the Independent Limitation, but may have a limited form of Independent with GM's permission.
Independent Useable Only by: Modifier
1 Sub-Profession
 (i.e., only by Bards)
1 Profession or 2 Sub-professions
 (i.e. Bards and Enchanters)
2 Professions -1
3 Professions -1 1/4
4 Professions -1 1/2
1 Race, 1 Organization, 1 Group -1/2
2 Races or Organizations or Groups -3/4
3 Races or Organizations or Groups -1
4 Races or Organizations or Groups -1 1/4
Specific Race and Profession combo
(i.e. Dwarf Fighter)
Subsets of Independent worth less of a Limitation are available for Items that are only usable by certain groups of people, such as Usable only by Wizards.
For instance some very arcane Magic Items are designed to be used only by a specific Profession and / or Race.
The fewer people able to use a Magic Item the less the likelihood someone is going to take the Item away from its possessor and use it against them, thereby reducing the severity of the Limitation.
Once the mechanical design of the Item is complete out of game, in game the Character attempting to create the Magic Item must carry out some Research and Experimentation prior to creating the Magic Item.
The Item creator must have appropriate materials for Research and Experimentation, and this can be quite expensive in some circumstances. What constitutes appropriate materials (and their cost and acquisition) is left to the GM's discretion, as it will vary from Item to Item and campaign to campaign.
This is a soft control for the GM to manage how difficult or easy making a particular item will be. If a GM does not wish to impede creation of the Item(s) being created they may put few if any narrative barriers in place; if the GM does wish to throttle creation they can of course raise the stakes. It is also an opportunity for the GM to attach narrative hooks; acquisition of appropriate materials to make one or more Items could be an adventure unto itself.
  1. Initial R&E requires a number of hours equal to the total Real Cost of the proposed Magic Item
  2. After this time period, an appropriate Item Creation Skill Roll must be made with a penalty equal to the Real Cost of the Magic Item being created divided by ten (RC/10)
    • Twice the required amount of R&E time may be spent to reduce the penalty by half to a penalty equal to the Real Cost of the Magic Item being created divided by twenty (RC/20)
    • A failed roll may be re-rolled once after an additional amount of time of R& E equal to one day per point the roll was failed by (the same penalty is applied to the second Skill Roll).
    • A second failed roll indicates a flawed concept and the Character may not attempt to create the Magic Item until their appropriate Item Creation skill roll has been improved by one or more levels.
The R&E roll could be made by the GM for the Character and concealed from the player to heighten suspense.
 A particularly bad failure may indicate, at the GM's discretion, that the Character is convinced that they've hit upon the correct path, causing them to do the necessary work to enchant the desired Magic Item only to discover that the Item does not function correctly. This may even be incorporated into a setting as a way that "cursed" Magic Items come into existence.
A Character can decide to skip R&E altogether, but suffer a severe penalty when actually creating the Magic Item (described later).
A Character only needs to conduct R&E to create a particular sort of Magic Item once...if they are successful. Whenever they make other Magic Items the Character must still go through the R&E process for them, of course.
If the initial Research & Experimentation process is successfully concluded, the Character can create the Magic Item, using the following process.
  1. The base Item to be enchanted must be constructed. The Character may subcontract to craftsmen at whatever costs are deemed appropriate by the GM; otherwise the Character must make all of the appropriate Craft skill rolls himself. For instance if the Magic Item being created will be a Magic Sword, the Character first needs to make or acquire a Sword to enchant.
  2. For each separate Power Construct in the Item it takes one hour per 10 Active Points to prepare and enchant the Item
    • For each separate Power Construct in the Item a Skill Roll with the appropriate Item Creation Skill and a Magic Skill Roll with the appropriate Magic Skill for the Power being added to the Magic Item must both be made with a -1 penalty per 10 Active Points in the Power Construct..
      • The crafter may opt to take twice as long for each roll, reducing the penalty to -1 per 20 Active Points in the Power Construct.
      • If the Research & Experimentation (R&E) phase was skipped, the Skill roll penalty  is -1 per 5 Active Points in the Power Construct.
        • This penalty may be reduced to -1 per 10 Active Points in the Power Construct by taking twice as long, and -1 per 20 Active Points in the Power Construct by taking four times as long.
If any of these Skill Rolls are failed the Character has made an error somewhere but does not realize it. They think they are successful but once they are finished creating the Magic Item it will prove to be flawed.
The Item is either only partly useful (if the Magic Item contained multiple Power Constructs and some were added successfully), completely useless, or even "cursed" -- which is to say it has a detrimental effect on its user depending upon the GM's discretion and the severity of failure.
An Item that is simply missing a single Power Construct out of several may still work fine, simply being less powerful than other similar Items, but Items missing critical Power Constructs might actually be dangerous to use if they work at all.
Again, the GM might decide to make all applicable Skill Rolls and conceal their results from the player to heighten suspense.
The process of enchanting the Item is only complete when the last Power Construct in the Item has been rolled for. Whether the time spent to craft the item must be continuous or not is left to the discretion of the GM.
NOTE: This process is deliberately drawn out and difficult to discourage casual Magic Item creation, but ultimately the GM should take the initiative to make Permanent Magic Item creation as difficult or as easy as they want it to be for their campaign. If easier creation is desired, simply streamline all the rolls down to a single Item Creation roll, decrease the time involved, or some other option. The main thing is to just be consistent and thus fair.
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: When enchanting the Magic Item consider a Multipower to be a single Power Construct with Active Points equal to the Pool, and +10 Active Point for every slot in the Multipower for the purposes of determining all Skill Roll Penalties, time needed to create the Magic Item, etc.
  • EC: When enchanting the Magic Item consider an Elemental Control to be 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 for the purposes of determining all Skill Roll Penalties, time needed to create the Magic Item, etc.
  • VPP: When enchanting the Magic Item consider a Variable Power Pool to be a single Power Construct with Active Points equal to the Pool plus the Control Cost for the purposes of determining all Skill Roll Penalties, time needed to create the Magic Item, etc.
A Character making an Item similar to an Item they already know how to make gains a bonus to all of their Skill Rolls ranging from +1 to +5 at the GM's option based upon exactly how similar the new Item is to the other Item, with +5 being for an identical Item, to +1 being a mildly similar Item (such as a Character that knows how to make a Ring of Fireballs trying to make a Wand of Firebolts).
A Character should keep a list of all Items they have successfully made.
A Character might be fortunate enough to have a text to work from detailing how to create a Magic Item. Such guides should be keyed to the use of a specific Item Creation Skill, and the GM should assess a Skill bonus of +1 to +5 originating from such a work.
A Character can also make their own notes on how to create an Item they have successfully crafted. To do so they need a skill called Diagramming (Pro Tip: if using Hero Designer, you can use the Computer Programming skill as it is unlikely to be used in a Fantasy Context and in the user interface dialog simply type over the name of the skill).
By spending a number of Days equal to the Real Cost of the Magic Item the Character can attempt to render their knowledge and experience of how to create the Magic Item into a usable form.   and taking a penalty of -1/20 Total Active Points in the Item, a Character can successfully  produce full and useful notes on the process of creating that Item which they themselves can use or which they can sell.
A Diagramming Skill Roll at -1 per 20 Active Points in the Magic Item must be made at the end of this time. The Character may take twice as long to diagram, gaining a +1 bonus to their eventual Skill Roll per doubling of time.
If the Diagramming Roll is made by 9 or more then the document gives a +5 bonus to Skill Rolls necessary to make that Magic Item again in the future; if the roll is made by 7 or 8 then it grants a +4 bonus, by 5 or 6 then it grants a +3 bonus, and so forth. If the Diagramming Roll is failed the notes are flawed and are obvious useless. If the Diagramming Roll is failed by a lot, at the GM's discretion the notes could look useful but actually grant a penalty.
A Character with notes of this sort halves the R&D time necessary to make the Magic Item in addition to the Skill Roll bonuses.
A Character can use their own notes later on, and they can also give them away or sell them to other Characters that have the necessary Skills to make Magic Items of that type for use in their own efforts.
Once a Character has successfully created an Item they no longer need to conduct Research & Experimentation to make another Item of that type; they simply need the materials and to spend the time to enchant the Item. All of the Skill Rolls required to enchant the Magic Item are still required, but the crafter benefits from a +5 Similarity bonus on each Skill Roll as detailed above.
However, if the design of the Item is altered in any way the Character must go through the Research & Experimentation cycle again as if creating a new Magic Item, although they will likely benefit from some form of a Similarity bonus.
If a Character with the appropriate skills crafts a Permanent Magic Item, 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), the commissioning Character pays the Real Cost of the item in Character Points instead.
With GM's permission two or more Characters could even pool Experience Points together to gather enough Character points to pay the Real Cost of a newly created Magic Item.
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. This is the primary hard control on the proliferation of player created Permenent Magic Items
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. Characters in the game are not aware of the concept of "Character Points" of course; it is merely known that crafting Magic Items extracts a cost in essential vitality.
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 a Permanent Magic Item by adding more effect.