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D&D 5E Sane Magic Item Prices

Chaosmancer

Legend
1: Because it does lead to "3e ish" desire from the PCs to buy their own magical items.

1a: The existence of a price list is a rational conclusion that a magical item market (shops, regular auctions, guild mandated price, something) exist. Otherwise, how were the prices determined, in world? Value is determined by something, and that something is usually the market. I'm in a home right now. I could give you every detail of the home itself, and you would not be able to tell me its value... until you knew where the home was, then you could look up the market and see how much similar homes are being sold for in this part of town.

1b: Therefore, players will rationally conclude that such conditions exist.

1c: However, it is highly questionable that the existence of such a market does make sense. After all... who's paying for these magical items? Who keeps a price list?

How much is a jade statue from the Ming Dynasty of China worth? There is probably an exact price, and a way to determine it. Just like we know that a gold cup set with emeralds is worth 7,500 gp in the game.

People do buy and sell things. That doesn't mean that there is a shop, that means there is a "marketplace". Money is a medium of exchange, and maybe the prices do fluctuate a lot... but know that there is an elderly wizard who is willing to part with his old battle staff for 100,000 gp to the party, and whether or not that makes sense, is a useful metric. Sure, the guy would rather leave it in his will for his granddaughter, but she took up with some bards and she isn't going to be using it, and he needs the money to make sure her dowry is taken care of.

Things have a value. Knowing that value is important, especially since a set standard of value would have been developed. You can say the Mona Lisa is priceless, but it was valued at $850 million for insurance purposes.

2b: Rational pricing of magical item is questionable because the utility of items is very specific and very circumstantial. Of course, a +2 weapon is worth more than a +1 weapon... but is a bag of holding worth more or less than a +1 shield?

This is tricky, but this is also why the range of prices for rarity levels make so little sense.

3: It is up to the GM yes, but player expectations is a thing that exists.

Sure, they exist, but that doesn't change the utility that the DM can get from having a more steady pricing tool to utilize. Because, one thing that we aren't acknowleding is that if you want to indicate that an item is going cheap or is worth more becuase of its history... you really can't do that currently. Aladdin's magic carpet should be more expensive than just any old magic carpet, but if you say it is worth 30,000 gp, when the price is 5,000 to 50,000... is that more or less than a normal magic carpet? How could you tell?
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Ignoring most of the pointless blathering, let's bring it back to the original topic.

Since the original author hasn't responded to the thread, is there anyone that would be wanting to pick up the torch to update and revise the list for those that want a utility-based pricing system?
The issue with utility is utility for whom and what is the cost to create the item. A Timex and a Rolex have the same utility but vastly different cost. A Decanter of Endless Water could be expensive simply because it's incredibly difficult to craft.

Is a flame tongue longsword significantly better or worse than a +1 longsword or a +2 dagger? Depends on who's buying. How you want to organize (I just do by rarity because it's as good as anything) is going to be pretty arbitrary.

I think if you're going to attempt it though, you'll have to come up with some general categories first and then come up with a system to put items in categories. Categories could be something like common, uncommon, rare and so on ... which sounds an awful lot like what we have right now. Except of course you'd put things in different categories based on preference.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Does anyone remember what the 2e crafting rules involved? Tons of hunting for rare and arbitrary ingredients followed by repeated castings of spells just to make a single +1 weapon. I’m surprised anyone bothered.
By and large, PCs probably didn't. Then 3e came along that made crafting an easy thing to administer by the rules and all hell broke loose (in item creating behavior).
That's also where we learned that the prices set in the 3e DMG had a lot of problems and that trying to base prices on equivalent utility was... difficult... at best.
 
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smetzger

Explorer
1) I think having prices is a good thing. Purpose of the DMG and books is to aid the DM with running a game. It is very difficult to price magic items. If you ever want to trade, make, sell, or buy magic items in a game having suggested prices is a help to the DM.

2) Suggested guidance on how to use the prices would also be good. With explanation of the consequences of the different choices.

3) If some people want a lighter less immersive game that includes magic shops this is not 'bad, wrong, fun'.

4) If some people want magic items to be completely mysterious, never allow a PC to know how to make one, and they are never for sale. That also is not 'bad, wrong, fun'. It seems this thread is not for this type of game.

5) If some people want a game that is somewhere in-between #3 and #4 that also is not 'bad, wrong, fun'.

I would like to see more discussion of #2 and less discussion of how magic item costs is not a good thing for the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Also, eventually, you ARE giving out those large sums of money. Remember that Troll hoard I mentioned? Single day making over 2,000 gold? With that amount of money the party could easily hire 50 mercenaries for a few days, it only costs 100 per day for that many if you are using the Skilled Hireling rules. Which, you won't do and you will charge more, if your players even attempt it, which they probably don't because it isn't worth the boredom of not being able to play the game.
Actually, I WOULD use the skilled hireling rule, which means it WOULD cost more. A company of mercenaries would include corporals to manage squads, sergeants to manage the corporals, a lieutenant and a captain. The skilled hireling rules specify very clearly that the 2gp price is the MINIMUM, so those others would be more and the officers considerably more. Base mercenaries don't just hang around to be hired. They are groups.
Ah, but you said "free money" which brings me to a second point. What is free money? Is figuring out the average daily intake from working as a blacksmith with my passive blacksmithing proficiency somehow "more free" than looting the corpse of a mindflayer? I don't even know how that mindflayer died, it could have been far easier than the 8 hours of smithing work I put in.
Yes. A riskless roll to just get money for sitting around is more free than going into the very, VERY highly risky underdark and happening across a mindflayer body. Not only could there be other mindflayers around, but whatever manage to kill it is probably also in the area. Have fun with that. Actually, it would be fun, but hardly free.
Generally, it seems that DMs have an aversion to "free" money, because it is safe. No chance of player death or maiming. Which circles me back to the top of my posts in this thread. 1) Pricing certain magical items at insanely high prices solely to prevent money exploits is bad design and 2) There is no need to fear "free" money, as long as your players have a motivation beyond profit. You can have a player or two whose motivation is profit, but much like Han Solo could have made far more money turning in Lea and Luke than fighting with them, the players should be able to easily recognize that participating the game they want to play is the most rewarding part.
It's good for Luke and Leia that he 1) hated the empire with a passion, and 2) had a crush on Leia that turned into love.
So an Airship that can hold 20 people and 1 ton of goods, with a crew of 10, that can fly at 8 mph costs 20,000 gold.

A Galley which can only work in the oceans or sea, with 80 crew and 150 tons of cargo space and moves at 4 mpg costs 30,000 gp.

These are exact prices.

A magic carpet that can carry 1 - 2 people (depending on size), 200 lbs to 800 lbs (depending on size), and can move from 20 mph to 54 mph (depending on size) costs... between 5,000 and 50,000 gp. Because it is impossible to put an exact price on it? It could be a 1/4 of the cost of an airship that can transport more people and goods or more than double the price.
The carpet is faster, can be carried with a group(though still bulky), doesn't require a hired crew and is more maneuverable. That makes it much better for an adventuring group.

The carpet also has a specific price, which you the DM give it. The DMG gives 5000-50000gp as the range for rare items, not for flying carpets. Where in that range it specifically falls is part of 5e's mantra of rulings over rules and is for the DM to decide. He should have a good idea based on other rare items. Weaker rare items fall towards the 5k end of the range. Stronger, better items fall towards the 50k end of the range. Middle strength items? You guessed it. Around the 25k area of the range. It's not rocket science.

You also need to get a galley with better gas mileage. ;)
 


I base my prices on the utility of the items.
Then please give the examples I asked for earlier. Just forget about whether is on a lonely island, desert, big city or the underdark. How much should those items cost, based on their utility for a classic adventuring party (which basically is the only thing of interst for the purposes of this thread)?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Like I said earlier, the pricing can be fully meta, i.e. I want to improve my weapon. DM: okay, you can choose x at this amount of gold, or y for that amount or z for the same amount as x costs. Player then chooses.
No magic shoppes needed. No loss of control for DM.
How is that different from, "The shop has a sword that does X at this amount of gold, a sword that does Y for that amount and a sword that does Z for the same as the price of X." and then the player chooses?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Then please give the examples I asked for earlier. Just forget about whether is on a lonely island, desert, big city or the underdark. How much should those items cost, based on their utility for a classic adventuring party (which basically is the only thing of interst for the purposes of this thread)?
So you do realize that utility will change based on location, right? A flying carpet in the underdark bazaar is going to cost you less than the heirloom one for sale in the desert by a noble who wants a bit of extra cash, but doesn't really need it, because the utility is going to be less that the one in the desert and a merchant who needs the money and has no attachment and the noble doesn't need the money and has an attachment. The desert carpet will cost more based on utility, but also based on circumstances. A well run game should consider both.
 

How is that different from, "The shop has a sword that does X at this amount of gold, a sword that does Y for that amount and a sword that does Z for the same as the price of X." and then the player chooses?
It's not different. But some people apparently have serious issues with gold being converted into mechanical benefits by just going shopping, not to mention having severe difficulties accepting magic items being for sale because it's not realistic or something in a fantasy world and the DM will loose all control, soon seeing his campaign dissolve into anarchy and chaos.
Just being meta about converting gold to items (thus creating an actual use for gold that the DM is supposed to handle out by following tables etc, for parties not interested in downtime or playing most of the WotC adventures) might alleviate some of those fears.
 

So you do realize that utility will change based on location, right? A flying carpet in the underdark bazaar is going to cost you less than the heirloom one for sale in the desert by a noble who wants a bit of extra cash, but doesn't really need it, because the utility is going to be less that the one in the desert and a merchant who needs the money and has no attachment and the noble doesn't need the money and has an attachment. The desert carpet will cost more based on utility, but also based on circumstances. A well run game should consider both.
Did you read my post?
Stop talking about circumstances (which I agree are endless) and just assume a white room shopping list
Edit: Besides, I asked about other items as well. For the flying items, just assume a wildrness travelling/adventuring, with smaller to midsize dungeons between.

Edit edit: or even better, gold as meta currency.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Did you read my post?
Stop talking about circumstances (which I agree are endless) and just assume a white room shopping list
Edit: Besides, I asked about other items as well. For the flying items, just assume a wildrness travelling/adventuring, with smaller to midsize dungeons between.

Edit edit: or even better, gold as meta currency.
I'd put an Animated Shield(very rare) at a the low end at 5k. It's useful, but not fantastic. While an Amulet of the Planes(very rare) would be mid range at 20k. It's much more useful, but the downside to failure makes it risky and you have to have been to the plane you want to travel to prior to using the amulet. Without those downsides it would be worth more. The flying carpet(very rare) I'd list at 30k-50k, depending on size. Unlimited flying, with the larger sizes able to hold entire adventuring groups is pretty amazing. Heck, you can even fight on it, depending on how many people are on it.
 




1: Because it does lead to "3e ish" desire from the PCs to buy their own magical items.

1a: The existence of a price list is a rational conclusion that a magical item market (shops, regular auctions, guild mandated price, something) exist. Otherwise, how were the prices determined, in world? Value is determined by something, and that something is usually the market. I'm in a home right now. I could give you every detail of the home itself, and you would not be able to tell me its value... until you knew where the home was, then you could look up the market and see how much similar homes are being sold for in this part of town.

1b: Therefore, players will rationally conclude that such conditions exist.

1c: However, it is highly questionable that the existence of such a market does make sense. After all... who's paying for these magical items? Who keeps a price list?

2: Magical item pricing in this context is not a rational way to determine who should get what, item wise. If your party finds an axe +1, a pearl of power and a wand of fireball, and the party consists of a barbarian and a wizard... the wand and the pearl are worthless to the barbarian, but the axe she can use.

2b: Rational pricing of magical item is questionable because the utility of items is very specific and very circumstantial. Of course, a +2 weapon is worth more than a +1 weapon... but is a bag of holding worth more or less than a +1 shield?

3: It is up to the GM yes, but player expectations is a thing that exists.
Sure it is, here is how it would look given those items using 3.5 prices. I can remember splitting loot being reasonably common back then too. Here are the 3.5 prices for those
  • +1 axe dmg221 ~2000gp
  • Pearl of Power: They came in different slot level types but lets say a near 5e equivalent 3rd level slot for, dmg249/263 ~9000gp
  • Wand of fireball(lets say caster level 5) for dmg246 ~11,250gp
A 2 person party of a barbarian & wizard is unusual both for party size as well as the class composition of such a limited party. It's also shockingly noteworthy that apparently they found zero in coins gems artwork etc. There are all kinds of studies you can dig up that how how humans handle egalitarianism as the group size goes up & it's a matter settled enough to just point out that it breaks down as group size goes up so lets fix up your example to make it into something that fits the reasons for doing things like splitting by value
  • Add a cleric & a sorcerer
  • Given the values, power of the items, & how they fit into the wealth by level chart your kind of applying 5e's monty haul or nothing treatment as some of those are going to be character defining magic items or the party is high enough level that nobody cares about the +1 axe
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  • Lets say the party is level 10 as that's a reasonable level to find the PoP/wand of fireball in a treasure trove from the bbeg The party also found 7000gp because WotC's post treasure point debacle no coin adventuring is just bizarre & past editions nicely explain why it's problematic
  • Three players are drooling over the PoP & everyone in the group points out that the limited charge not recharging wand of fireball should go to the wizard or sorc to use in case of emergencies.
  • The barbarian agrees with the consensus about if the wand should go to the sorcerer blaster or crowd control/buff/debuff wizard who both mostly agree & aren't too concerned about ho gets the "oh naughty word stick". Not only that he acts selfishly & suggests the wand come out of the party share rather than arcane caster who gets it because if it comes out of the party's share rather than Bobs hhe has more say in how& when it gets used as a member of said party. Lets say it goes to the sorcerer because it sets up an interesting conundrum on the PoP
  • The cleric says he should get the PoP since it means more heals, The wizard says he should because it means more buff/debuff/cc to mitigte the risk & maybe even remove the need for that healing. Both make a good point.
  • As the party treasurer the barbarian isn't sure if he likes the wizard's buffs more than the heals or vice versa & certainly doesn't want to piss of either & doesn't like the idea of randomly assigning it by die rolls so he looks at the party coffers & points out that the wizard has very few expenditures beyond his share while the cleric is sporting that fancy suit of ghost touch plate (a +3 item) that was an 18,000gp (dmg218) buying for him a while back.
  • The cleric agrees with the barbarian & the PoP goes to the wizard
  • Between the axe, the 700gp & the PoP it adds up to 18,000gp. Split 4 ways that is a 4500gp cut each.
  • The wizard is 4500gp in the hole & the barbarian might note that or just note that an amazing 3rd level slot 9000gp PoP was awarded
  • The cleric might be due 4500gp or some fraction of it might go to the barbarian & sorcerer because he's still so far in the hole. but with only 9000in gold/sellable trash that divides 3 was into 3k each with the barbarian/sorcerer getting between 3k & 4500gp
I deliberately got a bit overly detailed showing the kinds of influences such a practices & benefits split by coin value can enable. At the end of the day it doesn't matter who does the pricing but rogues often enjoy it since it gives them a chance to go fence things & such. The actual item distribution ussually wasn't handled all that different from 5e parties doing it mid session unless there was debate over who gets a given item. The important part is that everyone felt the treasurer was using fair reasonings when they give bob a cup worth 75gp alice a bag of 400gp dave a painting worth150gp takes his cut of this undead bane dagger & puts the rest in the party treasury for when there is a need for something.

Using 5e style
  • The sorcerer has a freaking epic grade wand of fireball that gives 1d6+1 fireballs per day for life.
  • the cleric probably got the PoP for more healing word & spirit guardians because LWQF is a thing in 5e & nobody really cares about his (de)buffs or crowd control
  • everyone splits the 9k for 2250 gp
  • the wizard/barbarian are still in the hole from when the cleric pushed them into helping him buy that sweet set of armor the gm didn't expect the party to be capable of affording
For all the complaints made by 5e's defenders about how past editions had player running around as walking christmas trees high magic or whatever it' hard to overstate just how far over level & often deep into epic grade legendary gear 5e's forever recharging magic items are
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
And what should other flight enabling items then cost comparatively, based on their utility and power?
And the armor, amulet and gauntlets?
I don't know what armor, amulet and gauntlets you are talking about, but I'll do the flight items and then be done. You aren't going to trick me into making your price list ;)

1. Winged Boots: 4 hours of flight that can be broken up into 240 one minute blocks, doesn't have to be carried around with bulk, like the carpet, doesn't have the same space issues the carpet has, but only for one person. 45K.

2. Wings of Flying: 1 hour of flight, but faster than the boots. Also just one person. 30k

3. Broom of Flying: bulkier than the two above. Doesn't allow much combat to happen as you have to balance yourself on a stick while you fight. Fighting on it is a great way to die from splat. Speed is in-between the two above. However, the flight is unlimited and the broom can be summoned to you from up to 1 mile away. No attunement. Still only 1 person. 35k.

4. Cloak of the Bat: 40 fly speed, but takes both of your hands and has to be in dim light or darkness, which greatly reduces its utility. You can polymorph into a bat, though, while in dim light or darkness and retain your mental stats. Unlimited night/dark flight. 25k.

5. Potion of Flying: 1 use for 1 hour at probably 30 speed. 2500.

6. Ring of Air Elemental Command: 100k It has much more than just flight, which is unlimited and not visibly the reason for the flight like the wings, broom, carpet and boots.
 


And where is that? I (and I think others are too) am very interested in some examples. Especially since I find it very hard.
How about some flight items comparatively, a +2 chain shirt, and a +1 scale mail vs a +1 plate. Throw in a amulet of health to get us started.
Thanks.
I don't know what armor, amulet and gauntlets
The ones I asked you to price like 80 posts ago.

Not counting +2 to AC in for two handers for special in a system with bounded accuracy is baffling.
 

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