Recycling Magic Items

tglassy

Explorer
Hello All,

I am coming here because I am lazy and don't feel like looking up if anyone's done anything like this before, which I'm sure they have.

I'm about to start a new campaign in which I plan to throw a copious amount of magic items around. The challenge rating of this campaign should be up to par, but my players really, really like magic items.

But I want them to have some flexibility with the Magic Items, so they get things unique to them. So I was thinking of having an NPC who can Recycle Magical Items. I got the idea from a Drizzt book in which they throw two magic items in a forge, and use the magic of the forge to recreate a new magic item that combines or otherwise changes the magical item to be more suited to the person who is getting it. Heck, I may just use that.

However, I don't want it to just be "You change your Sword of Sharpness into a Spear of Sharpness. Tada." I want it to be a little more complicated than that. I want it to cost something more than just gold.

Currently, I'm thinking of making it cost Magical Items. You have an item with an effect you want, you have an item you want the effect on, and then you have a magical item (or items) that are used as fuel for the conversion. The result is moving the magic from one thing to another, or altering the specifics of the magic (like making a frostbrand rapier into a lightning brand rapier), but the magical items you used as fuel were consumed and destroyed, resulting in a net loss in magical items, in return for getting something more uniquely suited for your character.

I am wondering if there is anything out there that even remotely resembles something like that, or if anyone has any thoughts on the logistics of making that work, or if I just need to buckle down and create that myself. Any takers?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
In 4e’s default setting, disenchanting magical items produced a byproduct called residuum. Residuum was a highly magically potent material, which could be used to fuel ritual spells and enchant magic items. So, if you had a sword of sharpness and wanted a spear of sharpness, you could disenchant the sword, and use the residuum from that to help enchant a spear. But if I recall correctly, the process was not 100% efficient, so the residuum you’d get from disenchanting a sword of sharpness would be less than the amount of residuum required to enchant a weapon with “of sharpness.” In my own custom setting, I use this concept, and I add that residuum is a finite resource. No one alive remembers how the first magical items were made, so every time you break down a magic item, the risiduim lost in that process is gone for good. This is why ancient magical artifacts tend to be more powerful than newly-created magic items - enchanters are working with less and less of the raw materials required to create an enchantment with every cycle. It also makes such artifacts highly sought after, regardless of their specific effects, because they represent an influx of an incredibly valuable resource that can be used to make many more, if weaker, magic items. Sure, breaking down the legendary sword of king whoziwhatsit means one less Legendary item in the world, but it could also mean a dozen generic +1 magic swords to equip your army with.
 

aco175

Adventurer
I gave rewards to the PCs where a magical well in a hidden temple would bump the weapon or armor up +1 or something. I let the player pick from a list of some stuff.

I can see a cool quest where the group travels to a hidden forge to meet the supreme forgemaster. Go on a quest for him to bring back part of a god-corpse-island in the astral plane and he might hook you up with transferring a power from one item to another. You could let some bizarre items work or place limits on it. I had a player want to add a rope of climbing to a battle ax thinking he could attack at range with it and use it as a grapple. I let him use it to make range attacks at 20ft, but not gain reach.
 

S'mon

Legend
The 4e default Disenchantment Residuum rules gave you 20% of the item's value in residuum to make a new item. In 5e I'd suggest a 1-step lesser item; eg a Legendary item gives you enough Residuum to make a Very Rare item.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
However, I don't want it to just be "You change your Sword of Sharpness into a Spear of Sharpness. Tada." I want it to be a little more complicated than that. I want it to cost something more than just gold.
You could go the Elder Scrolls route and charge something a little more precious: souls. If a PC doesn't want to collect someone else's soul for enchanting an item, that PC can just give up a level instead.

I wouldn't bother with logistics unless you're already using some sophisticated magic system that your enchanting system must complement.
 

MarkB

Hero
Currently, I'm thinking of making it cost Magical Items. You have an item with an effect you want, you have an item you want the effect on, and then you have a magical item (or items) that are used as fuel for the conversion. The result is moving the magic from one thing to another, or altering the specifics of the magic (like making a frostbrand rapier into a lightning brand rapier), but the magical items you used as fuel were consumed and destroyed, resulting in a net loss in magical items, in return for getting something more uniquely suited for your character.
Make it a plot device. The process appears to be two-to-one in terms of efficiency as far as the PCs are concerned - put two items in, and get one out - but it's actually more like 3-to-2. Every third time the device is used, it saves up the equivalent of another item's worth of resources. Maybe the device's operator uses that extra to make and sell more magic items, or maybe he's saving up those resources to create some great and terrible artifact. Or maybe nobody's aware of the build-up of extra magical energy because the device didn't come with a manual, and all that energy is being stored up in its innards until there's too much for it to handle, and it eventually explodes in a release of strange arcane power.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I'm a huge fan of magical reagents: rare gems, extra planar materials, monster parts, etc. The exact reagent required would depend on what items you are trying to convert. This way, you can decide how easy or hard it is to get the reagent.

For example, if someone wants to combine a +1 weapon with a vicious weapon to make a +1 vicious weapon, you could decide that this requires 250 gp worth of behir bile. If you want to go easy on the PCs, there's some for sale in town. If you want things to be harder, then there is a shortage on behir bile right now -- it'll cost double, and arrive in two weeks. If you're starting to think that +1 vicious weapons are overpowered, then oops, everyone is fresh out of bile and if you want some you'll have to go kill a behir yourself.
 

MarkB

Hero
I'm a huge fan of magical reagents: rare gems, extra planar materials, monster parts, etc. The exact reagent required would depend on what items you are trying to convert. This way, you can decide how easy or hard it is to get the reagent.

For example, if someone wants to combine a +1 weapon with a vicious weapon to make a +1 vicious weapon, you could decide that this requires 250 gp worth of behir bile. If you want to go easy on the PCs, there's some for sale in town. If you want things to be harder, then there is a shortage on behir bile right now -- it'll cost double, and arrive in two weeks. If you're starting to think that +1 vicious weapons are overpowered, then oops, everyone is fresh out of bile and if you want some you'll have to go kill a behir yourself.
Or at least make one vomit. :)
 

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