Magic Items have been a hallmark of DnD since its inception almost 50 years ago, and this part of the game is still alive and well today in 5E. Whilst magic items are most commonly given out by the DM as a reward, perhaps for defeating a great evil or as plunder from a dragon’s hoard, sometimes players want to take a more active role in getting their hands on some cool and powerful items, making the items themselves.
How to craft a Magic Item
To preface this, creating a healing potion of spell scroll follow their own rules from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, which we will cover later in this article.
The rules for magic item creation are laid out in the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG, p. 129) and in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGtE, pp. 128-129). These rules differ and offer two optional rulesets for a DM to choose between.
Crafting Magic Items in DMG
The DMG rules are the more restrictive of the two options, requiring the following*:
A formula that describes how to craft the magic item
The character crafting must be a spellcaster with spell slots available, in addition, if the item casts a spell the character must know how to cast that spell.
The character must meet the minimum level requirement for the rarity of the item, this will be shown in the table below.
A gold cost that scales with the item’s rarity must be paid for the materials used.
*Note: The DM can require a special component or location for the crafting that may require an adventure or increase the cost, at their discretion.
Once the player meets all of those requirements they may start crafting the item, this work takes 8 hours a day and increases the progress 25GP per day. Once the cost of the crafting has been met the item is finished, for example, an uncommon item costs 100GP to create which would require four days of work (100/25=4). A legendary item on the other hand costs a staggering 500,000GP and would take 20,000 workdays to complete, or almost 55 years of downtime.
If the item can cast a spell, then the PC creating it must cast that spell with a spell slot every workday and keep any material components for that spell in hand during the entire process. If the spell consumes the components then the creation process consumes them every day, unless the item will only be able to cast the spell once, in which case the creation process will only consume them once. The cost of consumed material components is in addition to the creation cost of the item.
Luckily you can reduce the time needed to craft by having your friends help! As long as everyone participating meets the same requirements and assists throughout the entire creation they can contribute an additional 25GP of progress per day. This means two characters crafting together would make the uncommon item from before in only two days (100/50=2) instead of four. This means our legendary item would only take 10,000 workdays, or a little only 27 years, making it a much more friendly pursuit for shorter-lived races.
Crafting Magic Items in XGTE
Xanathar’s option for magic item crafting is much more forgiving than the DMG’s in some ways and integrates the process into adventuring. Using these rules a PC requires:
A formula describing the creation process.
Special ingredient(s) obtained through one or more adventures, a monster must be defeated to gain this ingredient, but you don’t necessarily need a part of its body, instead, you might need something it’s guarding for example.
Enough downtime, measured in workweeks (5 days, with 8 hours work per day each)*
An amount of gold*
Any tools required to make the mundane version of the item (such as Smith’s Tools for a sword) or proficiency in the Arcana skill.
*These requirements are halved for consumable items like scrolls and potions.
The costs of making the item depend on the rarity of the item, this also applies to the suggested CR of the monster you have to defeat to acquire the needed special ingredient for the item. This is shown in the table below, which is created from two tables found on page 129 of XGTE:
Monster CR Range
Unlike the DMG option, this set of rules has the opportunity for complications to arise from the crafting process that the PC involved/party may have to deal with. There’s a ten percent chance for every five workweeks spent creating an item that a complication may arise. The book doesn’t actually give you a mechanic to decide this, but you can roll a d10 with a complication happening on the roll of a 1.
Examples of complications are given in the following table (page 129):
Rumors swirl that what you’re working on is unstable and a threat to the community.*
Your tools are stolen, forcing you to buy new ones.*
A local wizard shows keen interest in your work and insists on observing you.
A powerful noble offers a hefty price for your work and is not interested in hearing no for an answer.*
A dwarf clan accuses you of stealing its secret lore to fuel your work.*
A competitor spreads rumors that your work is shoddy and prone to failure.*
*These options may involve a rival, as described on pages 123 and 124
Brewing potions of healing
The rules for breaking a potion of healing are different than other magic item creation, whilst a Potion of Giant Strength would be created using the above rules, these potions are more straightforward.
To craft one of these potions, a character only needs proficiency with the herbalism kit and enough time and gold for the chosen level of potion as shown in the below table*:
Amount of Healing
*This table can be found on page 130 of XGTE, however, we added the Amount of Healing column for ease of reference.
How to scribe a spell scroll
If your character can cast a spell then there’s a good chance you’ve wanted to cast more of them in a day at some point, this is where spell scrolls come in.
Scribing a Spell Scroll requires:
The spell in question to be prepared or one of the caster’s known spells.
Any material components the spell requires
Proficiency in Arcana
A sufficient amount of downtime*
An amount of gold*
*Shown in the below table from page 133 XGTE
As with the other item crafting rules in XGTE scribing a spell scroll can result in complications ten percent of the time, example complications are:
You bought up the last of the rare ink used to craft scrolls, angering a wizard in town.
The priest of a temple of good accuses you of trafficking in dark magic.*
A wizard eager to collect one of your spells in a book presses you to sell the scroll.
Due to a strange error in creating the scroll, it is instead a random spell of the same level.
The rare parchment you bought for your scroll has a barely visible map on it.
A thief attempts to break into your workroom.*
*These options may involve a rival, as described on pages 123 and 124
How to roleplay crafting Magic Items
Need some help roleplaying crafting Magic Items? Here are some examples to help you out:
As you pour the essence of the fire elemental into the forge, you feel the heat emanating from the flames intensify. The metal you’re working on starts to glow with an orange hue, and as you strike it with your hammer, you hear a sizzling sound as the molten metal begins to take shape. After several hours of hard work, you finally pull out a magnificent sword with a blade made of pure flame. Congratulations, you have successfully crafted a magical weapon imbued with the power of the elemental plane of fire.
You sit down at your workbench and take out the dusty old tome you found in the abandoned library. As you start to read through the ancient text, you notice that the words begin to glow with an otherworldly light. Suddenly, a gust of wind blows through the room, and a faint whispering voice fills your mind. You close your eyes and focus on the magical energy coursing through your body. When you open them again, you see that the book has transformed into a beautifully crafted wand adorned with intricate carvings. You have successfully created a powerful arcane focus that will aid you in your future spellcasting.
With a steady hand, you mix together the rare herbs and minerals you’ve gathered from your travels. The concoction begins to bubble and froth, emitting a pungent aroma that fills the room. As you carefully pour the liquid into a mold, you notice that the metal begins to take on a faint green glow. You carefully remove the finished item from the mold and hold it up to the light, admiring the intricate designs that seem to shift and change with every passing moment. You have successfully crafted a magical trinket that grants the wearer enhanced resilience and endurance.
You spend several days meticulously carving the intricate symbols and sigils into the hilt of your dagger. As you work, you feel a sense of purpose and focus that you’ve never experienced before. The blade begins to hum with a faint magical energy, and you realize that you’ve successfully infused it with the power of the natural world. You test the blade’s sharpness on a nearby tree, and watch as it slices through the thick bark with ease. Congratulations, you have successfully crafted a powerful weapon that is especially effective against creatures with a connection to the earth and nature.
Hopefully, this article has helped you become magic item rich, even if you ended up gold poor in the process. If you found this guide helpful and would like to learn more about 5E then check out our how to play section, or if you’re interested in picking up a new book then take a look at our book reviews. Until next time, remember to use those consumable items before the campaign ends!