Some of the things that I feel are most underused in the D&D game in general are disposable items such as wands, rods and staffs. Maybe this is just my own personal experience, but for the purpose of this blog, I will assume not. To some degree, I have found this surprising, especially when a spell caster can create a wand from 5th level of any fourth level spell or below (when capable) and then have that spell available while the charges last (normally 50). Then I looked into the feat a little more closely and came to the following conclusions why such items are not crafted as much as they could be. (In the following, I have discussed crafting wands, but the same argument can be used for rods and staffs if ever implemeted in any way.)
1) GOLD COST: First and foremost (and assuming the PC has the abilities in the first place), I could see that the cost of crafting a wand is considering high, even for the least of spells. In the D&D 3E rules, wands start from 375 gp for zero level spells and raise to over 20, 000 gp for a 4th level spell.
2) XP COST: Although not a factor in NWN, a spell caster was also expected to sacrifice XP when making an item. I mention it here just for completion of info.
3) DISPOSABLE: Most rules assume wands are disposable. Once the charges are used, the wand is destroyed. Therefore, a crafted wand has a limited life.
I know such items are supposed to be rare and special, but I believe the rules have made the construction of such items so unattractive that most players would simply avoid their crafting, thereby making such feats pointless to have in the first place. This is not something I want to happen in Better The Demon and so I have taken steps to encourage players with spell casters to take their crafting of such items seriously - and if they do, it will considerably increase their potential spell power. Here is how Better The Demon will handle crafting wands:
1) GOLD COST: Every spell level will have a base value at which it costs to add to a wand. A player can choose to increase the amount they pay to increase the spell level at which a spell will cast, but if it's just the basic spell they are after, it will be possible to craft at base values. (See table below.)
2) XP COST: There will never be an XP cost for crafting items in Better The Demon.
3) RECHARGEABLE: Regular readers will know there will be an item that can be acquired quite regularly according to ones abilities: The Life Essence. This item serves a number of purposes throughout the game. It will also have the ability to recharge a wand with (10 - spell level) charges as long as the wand has at least one charge, as it is still destroyed if the last charge is used.
Will This Affect Balance?
I know one of the first questions raised will be "will this affect game balance?" I believe the answer is "no". After all, crafting a wand still requires the PC to pay for its creation in the first place. The main difference is that its creation becomes a real viable option as something to spend gold on and with the ability to keep it charged, becomes a more useful item to help supplement the spell casters spell ability.
I actually believe that this system will also go some way to help overcome the frustrating position of a low level spell caster casting their couple of spells in an eight hour period and then being unable to do much more in the way of helping with spells. Now, they can craft wands of spells that will be of most use and have the ability to help maintain the wand with Life Essence they might find. The party's wizard could craft a wand of magic missiles and the cleric a wand of cure light wounds for only 350 gp each! No longer will the spell casters be forced to rest after the first combat of the day.
Other Items: Scrolls & Potions
This system is all well and good for spell casters of 5th level and above, but what about those of even lower levels? Well, Better The Demon wants to help encourage item creation right from the start, and to this end, has also reduced the costs of scroll scribing (and potion brewing for 3rd level casters) to help allow the party create items that will prepare them for the adventure ahead. While these remain truly disposable (as they cannot be recharged), the costs and ease of their making should help encourage their creation all the same. (See table above.)
Note, each basic crafting item has a basic cost of 1, 1 and 5 gp for scroll, potion bottle and wand in the first place (UPDATED), but thereafter, the costs above reflect the basic minimum price a PC pays for the spell placed on the item. As mentioned above, if the PC can afford it (and has the ability), they can choose to pay more at time of crafting for the spell to cast at a higher level when used from the item. Note, scrolls work in a special way in Better The Demon, in that their power scales with the PC's own ability. E.g. A scroll of Magic Missile made at first level will cast more missiles if saved and used at a higher level at a later time, or if a higher level PC picks up and uses the same scroll. However, a scroll with a power higher than the user will take priority.
As scribing scrolls requires nothing more than the feat, some gold and the ability to cast the spell in the first place, then I believe the above costs go a long way to encourage the player to prepare a collection of scrolls ahead of time, and especially knowing they scale with the PC's own ability. When the PC reaches third level, they can acquire the brew potion feat, and continue to prepare useful potions for the party as a whole at relatively low costs - and especially cheaper than any that might be available in the market.
POLL: Will You Craft?
I decided to add a poll this week, with respect to whether these "improvements" and changes will encourage you to consider crafting in your adventures. As usual, any feedback (on any article mentioned in a blog) is most welcome.
Improved Statistical Feedback
After some feedback from readers last week, I have further developed the statistical information that will be available to players in the game. The latest GUI now:
1) Sports new colours (for ease of reading).
2) Gives a PC's highest CR (Challenge Rating) kill.
3) Gives a PC's overall percentage input for the party as a whole.
4) Gives the PC a title of "competence", ranging across a number of levels.
5) Shows the party total kills and how they comprise according to type. (*)
(*) Note, I have gathered the various humanoid groups, such as orcs, goblins, etc into a single "Humanoid" group.