How to craft magic items in D&D 5e

5th edition has moved away from the "everyone must get magic items" of 4th edition and tried to make them difficult to acquire, while still being attainable if there's a specific one you really want. You as the DM can choose what magic items to hand out for whatever reason, but the DMG recommends random hoards: 7 hoards from CR 0-4, 18 hoards from CR 5-10, 12 hoards from CR 11-16, and 8 hoards from CR 17+ for a total of 45 random hoards over the course of a level 1-20 campaign. This won't necessarily include the items they want, and may have repeats that they decide to sell or scrap to make their own. You can use the Random Treasure Generator to quickly generate a batch of magic items for your party. You as the DM get final say, and if an item seems inappropriate for your campaign then you can choose something else.

Crafting Items

Your players may want a specific item, in which case you can either just swap it for one of their treasure hoards, or require them to craft it, which can be a fun adventure in itself. The Downtime Events Tool lists everything you need quickly, which you can reference in the future any time it comes up. The rules are spread across the DMG and Xanathar's Guide to Everything, but the simplest approach is to require 8 hours of crafting (one full workday) per 25 gp of value. Work can be split between multiple people, so a party of 5 players can craft 125 gp per day, in addition to any other help they might receive from other allies.

There are a few restrictions on crafting magic items, which you as the DM can use to gate the influx of custom items into your world and prevent some of the sillier things like the PCs dedicating a huge workforce to churning out items. Firstly, you must obtain blueprints, which can be a quest in itself. If magic is particularly rare in your world then the plans and knowledge of how to make it can be a closely guarded secret, or lost to the sands of time. You must have the relevant tool proficiency based on the type being made: Smith tools to make armor and weapons, Jeweler for rings and amulets, Alchemist for potions, Cobbler for boots, Leatherworker for leather items, or Tinker for any unusual gadgets. See also "Training" in the downtime events tool for rules on how to gain a new tool proficiency. Based on the rarity of the item being made, you also need a minimum character level as shown below:

RarityMin LevelCR HuntValue
Common3rd1-350-100 gp
Uncommon3rd4-8101-500 gp
Rare6th9-12501-5,000 gp
Very rare11th13-185,001-50,000 gp
Legendary17th19+50,001+ gp

If you've ever played Monster Hunter then you know it can be fun to require rare ingredients from exotic monsters in order to craft your item. The table above also lists a recommended CR for a monster you may require the PCs to hunt. Crafting a magic item and slaying an exotic monster is sure to cause rumors to swirl around the populace, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how magic is viewed in your world.

When determining the cost to craft an item you can use the basic ranges found in the table above, or use the Magic Item Prices list for a more nuanced cost per item.

If a magic item casts a specific spell or grants an effect based on an existing spell, then you'll need to know the spell and have the relevant components, while casting the spell (and using up the relevant spell slot) for each day of crafting. This can add an additional cost if the party doesn't have access to that spell and needs to find someone who can cast it for them.

After all that, the item is made! Try to have this be an exciting event if a lot of work went into it. In Star Wars the crafting of a lightsaber is a momentous and deeply reverent event, and that +1 longsword can be the same. Since the PC made the item, they can be the one to name it and describe how it looks. This is an item exceeding the workmanship of any blacksmith, and is few in match to any such item that ever existed in history, an item of legend in its own right. The Masamune or Master Sword was likely a +1 sword, Excalibur was maybe a +2 at best but it probably got pretty dull in that stone.

Need more help with your campaign? Check out all the other tools, generators, and articles: https://www.kassoon.com/dnd/

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