Craft a Magic Item - Downtime Activity in D&D 5e

Downtime Activity
Craft Magic Items

Creating a magic item is different from crafting non-magical items, creating healing potions, or scribing magical scrolls. The process involves the following:

  • Tool/Skill Proficiency: Proficiency in an appropriate tool (i.e. smithing for a magic sword), or proficiency in the Arcana skill.
  • Rare Ingredients: One or more rare ingredients, collected from an adventure. This is different from basic resources and materials, since the rare ingredient can not typically be purchased. Rare ingredients can include:
    • Items recovered from a creatures corpse (i.e. a Tarraque's horn)
    • Items in an area guarded by a creature(s) (i.e. a leaf from a Dryad's grove)
    • Items of knowledge and lore, found in ancient ruins
    • A lost formula found in an Gnomish tomb, protected by ancient constructs.
    • Artifacts found in another realm, whose magic can be used in other creations.
    Note: Since this process involves an actual adventure, a DM may not want to deviate from the current campaign and may wish to forbid the creation of magic items by players.
  • Money: There is a cost for resources and materials involved with the crafting. This can include: the price of standard materials and ingredients, parts and labor, device construction, the creation of a special forge or lab.
  • Time: Each item takes time to craft. This time can include:
    • Time to acquire basic resources and materials.
    • Time to create fomulas and figure out how to make the item.
    • Time to consult with other sages and scholars.
    • Time to build unique items/devices for the crafting process.
    • Time to brew specific potions and oils needed for the item.
    • Time to actually craft the item.

Magic Item Ingredients

We have included the Xanathar's Guide to Everything (XGtE) table regarding the kind of encounters the players would need to face in order to acquire those ingredients. The players do not necessarily need to collect items from a creature's corpse, but the creature(s) could be guarding a location or resource that the player needs. This is all up to the DM to decide, as each magic item is unique. The DM should make the ingredients relate to the items being crafted (i.e. a Cloak of the Manta Ray may require an encounter underwater with a group of Kuo-Toa to retrieve a rare golden conch shell).

Item Rarity CR Range
Common CR Range:  1-3
Uncommon CR Range:  4-8
Rare CR Range:  9-12
Very Rare CR Range:  13-18
Legendary CR Range:  19+

Magic Item Crafting Time & Costs

In addition to acquiring rare ingredients, there is a cost and time involved with crafting powerful magic items.

Item Rarity Workweeks* Cost*
Common Workweeks*:  1 Cost*:  50 gp
Uncommon Workweeks*:  2 Cost*:  200 gp
Rare Workweeks*:  10 Cost*:  2,000 gp
Very Rare Workweeks*:  25 Cost*:  20,000 gp
Legendary Workweeks*:  50 Cost*:  100,000 gp
* Halved for a consumable item like a potion or scroll.

Magic Item Complications

Complications can arise when crafting magic items. There is a 10 percent chance for every five workweeks spent on crafting an item that a complication occurs.

Complication did not occur.
Complication Roll: 62% (greater than 10%)
d6 Complication
1 Complication:  Rumors swirl that what you're working on is unstable and a threat to the community.
2 Complication:  Your tools are stolen, forcing you to buy new ones.
3 Complication:  A local wizard shows keen interest in your work and insists on observing you.
4 Complication:  A powerful noble offers a hefty price for your work and is not interested in hearing no for an answer.
5 Complication:  A dwarf clan accuses you of stealing its secret lore to fuel your work.
6 Complication:  A competitor spreads rumors that your work is shoddy and prone to failure.
† Might involve a rival.


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