[RPG] find the DC to craft a magic item


Playing a 3.5 campaign I'm a 3rd level Warforged Artificer and I've just really started to get the money to look into seriously crafting stuff and have unlocked Craft Wondrous Items as a 3rd level class ability. But the same things keep coming up that keep confusing me. What the hell are my crafting rolls?

I understand that if I want to make a Longsword. It's 1d20+Craft(Weaponsmithing) vs a DC 15 check. Simple, yes, fine.

Now, I would like to Scribe a Scroll of Cure Light Wounds(CLW) (1st level class ability) It is a Single use, spell completion item and therefore costs Spell level × caster level × 25 gp = 1 x 1 x 25gp = 25gp Base. Or 12.5gp and 1exp craft. Now, what is the roll? Is it just a UMD check to fake knowing CLW (DC 21) and if I pass, I win?

Later on I'd like to make Wondrous Items like the Handy Haversack. Here is it's crafting list, "Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Wondrous Item, secret chest; Price 2,000 gp;Weight 5 lb." It doesn't reference any crafting skill. So aside from having the Craft Wondrous Item feat, and the UMD to fake knowing Secret Chest. What else do I need?

Nobody anywhere seems to explain this. So either it's glaringly obvious and I just missed the memo. Or you don't need a crafting check to make mostly anything that's not on the Crafting List.

Best Answer

Creators usually don't roll to create magic items at all

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 creatures usually don't need to make rolls to create magic items. A creature takes an item creation feat, picks an appropriate magic item to create, buys the raw material (usually costing half the price of the magic item), and, if the creature meets the prerequisites, spends the appropriate amount time, raw materials, and XP. When all that's done, the creature's created the magic item, and usually no rolls have been made. (There's more to this than that, of course, but these are the rules at their most basic.)

As an aside, when the magic item's creator purchases the raw materials for creating a magic item, the creator's usually purchasing everything (except the workspace) needed to create that magic item (except in specific cases). For example, a creator needn't itself use the skill Craft (leatherworking) to create by hand the actual masterwork leather haversack that's going to become a Heward's handy haversack. That masterwork leather haversack's cost is subsumed in the raw materials' cost. A DM may give a discount on the cost of raw materials needed to create a magic item if the creator makes or already possesses some of the raw materials, but that's usually a savings so small it's a debate not worth time at the table.

An artificer can ignore some of a magic item's creation prerequisites by making successful Use Magic Device skill checks

The typical artificer only needs to make Use Magic Device skill checks to ignore one or more of a magic item's prerequisite (DC 20 + the item's caster level). During the time the artificer takes to create the magic item, the artificer must succeed on a Use Magic Device check only once per prerequisite that the artificer doesn't meet.


  • A typical artificer with the feat Scribe Scroll but without access to the spell cure light wounds must succeed on one Use Magic Device skill check (DC 21) to create a scroll of cure light wounds (1st-level spell at caster level 1) (25 gp; 0 lbs.). Such a scroll takes 1 day to create, expends raw materials valued at 12 gp 5 sp, and causes the artificer to expend 1 XP.
  • A typical artificer with the feat Craft Wondrous Item but without access to the spell Leomund's secret chest must succeed on one Use Magic Device skill check (DC 29) to create a Heward's handy haversack (2,000 gp; 5 lbs.). Such a haversack takes 2 days to create, expends raw materials valued at 1,000 gp, and causes the artificer to expend 80 XP.

This is explained in greater detail below.

Long Explanation

The artifcer's extraordinary ability item creation says

An artificer can create a magic item even if he does not have access to the spells that are prerequisites for the item. The artificer must make a successful Use Magic Device check (DC 20 + caster level) to emulate each spell normally required to create the item.

Thus, to make a 1st-level wand of magic missile, an artificer would need a Use Magic Device check result of 21 or higher. To create a bottle of air (caster level 7th), he would need a check result of 27 or higher to emulate the water breathing prerequisite. (Eberron Campaign Setting 32)

The game wants you to use either a magic item's listed caster level (for magic armor special abilities, magic weapon special abilities, and wondrous items) or an item's appropriate caster level (for potions, scrolls, staffs, and wands). This is why the example bottle of air—the typical one having a caster level of 7—requires a Use Magic Device skill check (DC 27).

(Note that this is the path of least resistance. Technically, because—like many magic items—the bottle of air's caster level is not a prerequisite for its manufacture and the spell water breathing is a 3rd-level Sor/Wiz spell, an artificer could make a bottle of air with a caster level as low as 5, but the artificer is powerful enough without reducing to their absolute minimums the caster levels of printed items.)

The artificer must make a successful check for each prerequisite for each item he makes. If he fails a check, he can try again each day until the item is complete (see Creating Magic Items, page 282 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide). If he comes to the end of the crafting time and he has still not successfully emulated one of the powers, he can make one final check—his last-ditch effort, even if he has already made a check that day. If that check also fails, then the creation process fails and the time, money, and XP expended to craft the item are lost. (Ibid.)

Each prerequisite the artificer doesn't meet requires the artificer to succeed on a Use Magic Device skill check (DC 20 + the item's caster level) once and only once during the item's creation. If the item takes more than 1 day to create, the artificer can retry a failed check each day of the item's creation. If the artificer's about to complete the magic item and hasn't succeeded on one or more Use Magic Device skill checks to fake a prerequisite, the artificer gets one last chance to make a Use Magic Device skill check for each unmet prerequisite on which he hasn't succeeded. Failure on any of these checks wastes the gp, time, and XP. Success on all of them creates the item.

For purposes of meeting item prerequisites, an artificer’s effective caster level equals his artificer level +2. If the item duplicates a spell effect, however, it uses the artificer’s actual level as its caster level. Costs are always determined using the item’s minimum caster level or the artificer’s actual level (if it is higher). Thus, a 3rd-level artificer can make a scroll of fireball, since the minimum caster level for fireball is 5th. He pays the normal cost for making such a scroll with a caster level of 5th: 5 × 3 × 12.5 = 187 gp and 5 sp, plus 15 XP. But the scroll’s actual caster level is only 3rd, and it produces a weak fireball that deals only 3d6 points of damage. (Ibid.)

(That is, it's a weak fireball unless a level 3 artificer needs to explode the evil baron's squad of 10 War1 guards from 500 ft. away or something.) The artificer, then, is allowed to create items early and is tacitly granted potential access to magic spells (via items that emulate spells) before the party wizard.

An artificer can also make Use Magic Device checks to emulate nonspell requirements, including alignment and race, using the normal DCs for the skill. He cannot emulate skill or feat requirements, however, including item creation feat prerequisites. He must meet the caster level prerequisite, including the minimum level to cast a spell he stores in a potion, wand, or scroll. (Ibid.)

This allows the artificer to make items like a dwarven thrower (with its prerequisite of creator must be a dwarf of at least 10th level) or a weapon with the magic weapon special ability unholy (with its prerequisite of creator must be evil), but an artificer can't employ the extraordinary ability item creation to make, for example, a folding boat (with its prerequisites of 2 ranks in the Craft (shipmaking) skill).

Note: The answer above assumes the DM rules that the artificer's special ability item creation can be used concurrently with standard item creation instead of replacing standard item creation. If the DM rules the artificer's special ability item creation replaces standard item creation, the artificer will need to make successful Use Magic Device skill checks for all of a magic item's prerequisites, even those the artificer already meets. This DM does not endorse such a ruling.