Monday, May 28, 2012

Absolutely Enchanting

Sometimes the artwork attached to an ADnD spell description is just ever so slightly incongruous.  The Dave Trampier illustration attached to the spell, Enchant An Item, is one of those situations. 

While it's true that the illustration shows an item being crafted -- one of several steps involved in making a magic item -- it would make more sense for the illustration to show the spellcaster interacting with the item, and somehow imbuing the item with the desired dweomer, rather than a weaponsmith busy with his more mundane tasks.

The last two paragraphs of this spell description fall on the next-following page in the ADnD Players Handbook, and I think it is easy to forget that the process of enchanting items came with some unpleasant risks, chief among them the chance of losing a point of constitution while casting Permanency on an enchanted item.

Does the same circumstance threaten magic-users in 3E and 4E?  I suspect, like many other game design features inherent in early versions of DnD, all of the advantages have been transferred into subsequent rule sets, while the risks have been discarded as "not fun" for the players.


Lord Gwydion said...

Couldn't tell you about 4E, but in 3E, there is a small XP cost to craft an item only. Compared to the benefit of the item (making it easier to gain more XP), crafters make a short term investment for a long term payoff, at least with permanent items. And the XP cost for temporary items is fairly low compared to that for permanent items.

And no, there's no risk of ability loss, level drain (you can't craft something if it would cost enough XP to take you down a level), accidental curse, random crafting failure (as in BECMI), or anything like that. Just a feat slot, some time, some gold, and a bit of XP.

Aaron E. Steele said...

I gather 4E made it quite easy to transfer magical "residuum" from enchanted item to enchanted item. Having not played (or paid attention to) 4E for at least two years, my recall of the specifics are a bit hazy.

Anonymous said...

An interesting bit of wording at the end there: "These specifics, as well as other information pertaining to this spell, are known by your Dungeon Master.". I like how it evokes the feeling (really a polite fiction) that the DM actually knows everything that's going on and isn't, in fact, making it all up as he goes along.

Aaron E. Steele said...

The reason it says that is that the additional rules for magic item crafting are hidden in the 1979 DM Guide, a rulebook that, in the olden days, was forbidden to players.

Anonymous said...

It always seemed to me rather odd that they waited till you were a name level wizard to enchant magic. Considering a Spell Scroll was a first level magic item it seemed annoying that they needed a spell you might not be able to learn when you got there to enchant magic.

Why not scribe a magic missile into a rib bone of a manticore and be done with your one shot magic missile wand?