[RPG] Increasing Save DC for new magic items


Paizo PRD:

Magic items produce spells or spell-like effects. For a saving throw against a spell or spell-like effect from a magic item, the DC is 10 + the level of the spell or effect + the ability modifier of the minimum ability score needed to cast that level of spell.

I'm writing up some magic items, and I'm running into some difficulty, because I've got a few places where my items' effects are similar to existing spells, but use a higher DC than what I'd get with the above guideline.

For example, if I've got an "evil vizier"-type character who hypnotizes people to do as he tells them, I might give him magical lenses that let him cast suggestion once a day.

  • That's a third-level spell, requiring a 5th level caster; typical pricing should be 3 (spell level) * 5 (caster level) * 1800 (command-activated) / 5 (once per day) = 5400 gp.
  • Construction requiremenets are only Craft Wondrous Item and suggestion.

But if I left it there, I'd expect the save DC against the suggestion to be 14. And (for my game) I want it a bit higher, so it'll be a serious threat to court members and to PCs. Say I want to bump it up to 17.

How do I do that, mechanically? There doesn't seem to be a clear way to go about this.

  • I could use Heighten Spell for a 5-th level Suggestion, giving me a DC of 17, but that would increase the price enormously (from 5400 to 16200). That seems excessive, and also kind of raises the item out of the scope and value I want it available in.
  • Could I add Spell Focus feats or high Int abilities as requirements to bring the DC up? What does that do to the cost?
  • Should I be adding in other spells and abilities that affect saves, and going by that? That seems very awkward.
  • Should I be setting the DC where I like and fudging the price as I see fit?
  • Or something else?
  • Or should I just not be messing with the DC in the first place…?

Thanks 🙂

EDITED TO ADD: The vizier's lenses are just an example; this is a fundamental problem I'm running into repeatedly with my items. I like trying to make cool items out of low level spells, but I don't want them to be useless for mid-level characters. And if achieving that pushes the price range way, way beyond low level, then I've defeated the purpose of creating low-level items to begin with. Alas.

Maybe this is a balance issue? Is it really that tough to come up with general guidelines on how changing a DC affects the item's value? One would think by now there'd be at least some general advice, but I can't find anything anywhere beyond "avoid it," "fudge it," and/or "guesstimate it."

Best Answer

You are always welcome to fudge it, or not use the weirdo magic item economy in Pathfinder, but if you are wanting to go by the rules, you are doing it right. Higher DCs are supposed to cost that much more. Just like a +1 sword to +2 to +3 grows in cost squared, DC increase isn't priced linearly. A DC 14 is a lot less useful than a DC 17 and so the cost being 3x as much is how the system works.

You can try to eke out more "according to the rules" by adding cheesy limitations to the item to drop the cost, but it would be best to just wing it the way you want it. Unless you're publishing it, no one will care except inasmuch as it advances the play of your campaign.

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