[Comp.Sci.Dept, Utrecht] Note from archiver<at>cs.uu.nl: This page is part of a big collection of Usenet postings, archived here for your convenience. For matters concerning the content of this page, please contact its author(s); use the source, if all else fails. For matters concerning the archive as a whole, please refer to the archive description or contact the archiver.

Subject: rec.games.frp.dnd FAQ: 9/9 -- Gamespeak 2: For DM's Eyes

This article was archived around: NNTP-Posting-Sat, 01 Apr 2006 08:46:48 -0600

All FAQs in Directory: games/roleplay/dnd
All FAQs posted in: rec.games.frp.dnd
Source: Usenet Version

Archive-name: games/roleplay/dnd/part9 Posting-frequency: monthly Last-modified: July 2004 URL: http://users.rcn.com/aardy/faq/rgfdfaq.html
REC.GAMES.FRP.DND FAQ Part 9 Gamespeak 2: For DM's Eyes =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= * designates topics which have been updated. + designated topics which have been added. For DM's Eyes K1: What books do I need in order to be a DM? K2: Which campaign world should I use? K3: How do you deal with critical hits? A) Determination of criticals B) Resolution of criticals K4: How much do coins weigh? K5: What can I do to make the hit point system more true to life? K6: How do you apply multiple multipliers? K7: Is caster level a prerequisite for creating magic items? K8: Where else can I look for info about being a Dungeon Master? =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= For DM's Eyes K1: What books do I need in order to be a DM? A: Unlike players, for whom it can be possible to play with just pencil, paper, and dice (if that), a DM generally (with some exceptions) needs a bit more in the way of rulebooks. The minimum needed by most people to DM a satisfying *D&D game is: the DMG, the PH, and the Monstrous Manual. These three references are the core of the game; everything else just adds window dressing. K2: Which campaign world should I use? A: Well, if you don't have the time, or don't wish to take the time and energy to create your own world, *D&D has had a plethora of "official" choices of worlds published over the years for you to campaign in. Here is a brief description of each. Greyhawk: Greyhawk is the first widely-known campaign world; in fact, the characters behind the names in most of the "named" spells and magic items in the PH & DMG originated in Greyhawk. The world is essentially a general fantasy-genre world, similar in that way to the Forgotten Realms, but with its own very distinct flavor. Since most of the modules published before the arrival of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance are actually set in Greyhawk, there is a wealth of information out there for gaming purposes. Also, D&D generally uses Greyhawk as a "default" world of sorts, so that modules that otherwise would not be set in any specific game world use Greyhawk's towns, deities, and NPCs. Additionally, all of the examples in the current PH & DMG are set in Greyhawk, and all mentions of gods and locales in the PH & DMG use Greyhawk deities and Greyhawk locations. Forgotten Realms: The Core Realms (Faerun): The main section of the Realms is intended to be a generic *D&D world. It has many similarities to medieval Earth. It also has enormous cities, many countries with foreign flavors, hordes of NPC's, and more room to maneuver than you'll ever need. There are also wild magic and dead magic zones, where magic can surge in power (and unpredictability) or not work at all. There are also a lot of supplements out for the core Realms, and a lot more on the way. The "Baldur's Gate" and "Icewind Dale" computer games are also both set in the Faerun of the Realms; the former in the Sword Coast area, the latter in the far north. Al-Qadim: This setting is located far to the south of the core Realms, but can easily be placed on any campaign world. It encompasses the genre of the Arabian Nights, with djinn, magic lamps, Sinbad-like sailors, emirs, and the ever-present Hand of Fate. It is intended that players in Al-Qadim use Al-Qadim characters, but it is possible to take "normal" characters into the Al-Qadim setting. Kara-Tur: This setting is located far to the southeast of the core Realms, but like Al-Qadim, may be transported anywhere. It is an "oriental" setting, with much of the flavor of ancient China, Japan, and Mongolia. There are martial arts, intrigue, highly civilized areas, family honor, and wild horse-folk. It is intended for use with oriental characters, but "normal" characters can easily be worked in. Maztica: This setting is located far to the west of the core realms and, unlike the previous settings, can only be reached via a long sea voyage. It is meant to represent the Americas during the time of the Spanish conquistadors. While it is possible to play a "conqueror" from the core realms, it is intended that native characters be created. This setting has its own unique magic variant, which not only changes the way priests and wizards operate, but many warriors as well. Dragonlance: The world of Krynn is fairly well-known, through the series of novels and modules which started it. Gold has little or no value there, as the world is on a steel standard. Clerics are relatively unheard of as well, because the main focus for the world is the ongoing battle between the deities Takhisis and Paladine; other "normal" deities have been pretty much forgotten. In addition, as the name might suggest, dragons are more active here than elsewhere, as they are strongly polarized on the Takhisis-Paladine battle. There are also several time periods to adventure in; the time of the War of the Lance is only one. Dragonlance: Fifth Age takes place long after the War of the Lance, and uses a completely different game system instead of *D&D. Spelljammer: In a nutshell, Spelljammer is *D&D in outer space, but in more of the swashbuckler pirate genre than a hard science fiction one. Many of the typical *D&D races of characters and villains are present, but many behave very differently from any you may have met before. In addition, Spelljammer may include adventuring on many of the other published game worlds, as spelljammers visit almost all of them from time to time. Ravenloft: Ravenloft is a world of gothic horror. It is located in the Demiplane of Dread, and fairly reeks of evil. Many who go there are corrupted and never return. Some new mechanics are fear and horror checks. A failed fear check involves running in abject terror. A failed horror check, well, lets just not talk about that right now. The mists of Ravenloft often gather up unwary travelers and take them to the demiplane, from whence half the fun is trying to find an exit which supposedly doesn't even exist. Masque of the Red Death: This setting is based on Ravenloft, but with a twist; it is set in the equivalent of the Victorian-era--but in a world where magic has existed since the very dawn of time. There is a much higher technology level than most *D&D worlds, and like Ravenloft, terror is everywhere, now aided by the after-effects of the Industrial Revolution. Every time a character casts a spell, that character is drawn a step closer to the "Red Death," a powerful force of evil in this world. However, "Masque..." is technically a separate game from *D&D which happens to use the Ravenloft rules. Therefore it is not intended to be a place that "normal" *D&D characters visit. Not that that will stop many DM's from having them do so anyway... Dark Sun: Athas is a metal-poor desert world, which by itself makes life quite a challenge. Add to that the fact that almost everyone on the planet has some degree of psionic ability, and you get a pretty lethal world. Also, clerics are different from usual, in that they are either templars who are granted spells by their sorcerer-kings or clerics who gain spells by worshipping the elements around them. Mages, too, are changed; all magic is powered directly by the life force of the world around them, which tends to be a detriment to the continued existence of any plants and animals in the area. Planescape: This is basically the 2nd ed. revamp of the Manual of the Planes, but it is much more than that, as well. This setting is designed for entire campaigns run on the planes themselves, with all the interesting beings that may involve. Characters may belong to any of a number of factions, which interact in a similar way to secret societies in Paranoia. Adventures are typically set in Sigil, an enormous city in the neutral center of the planes, and involve visits to one or more of the other planes. It also comes with its own lingo, so if you hear the occasional "cutter" (someone in the know) or "berk" (someone not in the know) comments on the newsgroup, you'll know where they're from. Mystara: Mystara is the world which used to be the setting of Basic D&D, altered to fit the 2nd ed. rules. Like the Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk, it is a general high fantasy world with an individual flair. It is unique from the other worlds in that several of its supplements also came with audio CD's for sound effects and storytelling. The Red Steel and Savage Coast lines are also part of the world of Mystara. Council of Wyrms: Ever wanted to have a dragon PC? That's exactly what Council of Wyrms was designed to do. This campaign setting is located on a remote group of islands where dragons and half-dragons reign supreme, and the other races are minor players. Birthright: In this setting, the players are characters of noble birth. They must deal with intrigue, spying, wars, the occasional adventure, and succession to the throne. Special powerful magic spells whose power is drawn from the land one controls, as well as the possibility of magical traits caused by royal bloodlines, are also thrown into the mix. It is essentially a mix of "normal" *D&D, tabletop miniature wargaming, and Diplomacy. Diablo II: This setting is based on the computer game of the same name. It is essentially a typical high fantasy world, with plenty of evil- doers to challenge the heroes, lost treasure-hoards to uncover, and the like. To this end, it has a greater-than-normal emphasis on combat and the accumulation of wealth and magic, though it also retains plenty of opportunities for character interaction. K3: How do you deal with critical hits? A: There are almost as many different ways of determining and resolving criticals as there are players. Here is a selection of various methods, in no particular order, gleaned from various postings on rec.games.frp.dnd. The standard 3rd edition rules for determination and resolution of criticals are included for comparison. A) Determination of criticals 1) Backing a Critical: If a natural '20' is rolled, roll again. If the second number would have hit, then the '20' is considered a critical hit. If the second roll was too low, then the first was only a normal hit. Also, if a natural '1' is rolled, roll again. If the second roll is high enough to hit the creature, then the roll is considered a normal miss. If the second was too low to hit the creature, then the '1' is considered a critical miss. VARIANTS: 3rd edition standard rule: A natural '20' always hits, but is not always a critical hit. All weapons (including the natural weapons of monsters, and spells which require a normal to-hit roll) have a "threat range", usually of "20", "19-20" or "18-20". If a number in that range comes up on the die, and the result is a hit, then roll again. If the second roll is also high enough to be a hit, then the first roll is considered a critical hit; otherwise the first roll is condidered a normal hit. Optionally, if you rule that critical hits result in double damage, if the second roll is also a '20' then roll a third time. If the third roll was sufficient to hit the creature, then the original '20' is a critical and the damage is tripled. Continue the pattern as long as you wish. Also optionally, for certain powerful creatures, lower the reroll number so that, for example, rolling a natural '19' or better requires a second roll. If the second roll is good enough to hit, treat as above. If you also use option 1B and the second roll is, for example, a '19' or better, then the critical does triple damage, and so on. 2) Always Hits: If a natural '20' is rolled, then that attack automatically succeeds, and damage is rolled normally. If a natural '1' is rolled, that attack automatically misses. No special critical damage is awarded in either case. VARIANT: A natural '20' always hits, with normal damage, and a natural '1' always misses. However, in either case, roll again. If the second roll is identical to the first, then it is a critical. If not, then ignore the second roll. 3) Extra Attack: If a natural '20' is rolled, the character gets an immediate extra attack with that weapon, no matter what kind of weapon, save those such as heavy crossbows that take more than one round to use. 4) Straight 20: If a natural '20' is rolled, and a '20' was not the minimum number needed to hit, then it is a critical. If a natural '1' is rolled, it is a critical. 5) Over the Top: If a 20 is rolled, roll again and add the two results together. If the combined total is greater than the minimum needed to hit by 10 or more, then it's a critical. If a 1 is rolled, roll again and subtract. If the combined total is 10 or more less than what is needed to hit, then it's a critical. VARIANTS: If a natural '20' is rolled, roll again and add the result to '19;' the same end result as above is needed to hit. I.e., if a character needs a '22' to hit, the character must roll a natural '20,' followed by a minimum roll of '3.' A total of 10 higher than the minimum needed to hit still results in a critical hit. If a natural '20' is rolled, roll again and add the new result to '19.' If the second roll is also a '20,' roll again. If the third roll is a natural '20,' then it is considered a critical hit. Combat & Tactics optional rule: If a natural '18' or higher is rolled and the to-hit number, after any bonuses, is 5 or more than the minimum needed to hit, then it is a critical hit. B) Resolution of criticals In all cases that result in a critical hit or miss, they can be resolved by any of the following: 1) Chartbuster: Use your favorite chart; Best of Dragon V and Combat & Tactics are good places to look. 2) Double Damage I: Double the damage on critical hits and damage yourself on critical misses. VARIANT: Combat & Tactics optional rule: Double the rolled damage, and do any other multipliers necessary (such as for charging or backstabbing), then add any damage bonuses. 3) Double Damage II: When a natural '20' is rolled, roll damage twice; i.e., if damage die is 1d8, roll 2d8. VARIANT: 3rd edition standard rule: When a critical hit is rolled, each weapon has a "multiplier" that tells the number of times to roll damage. For example, "x2" means roll damage twice, "x3" means roll damage three times (i.e., if damage die is 1d8, roll 3d8). 4) Double Damage III: A roll of natural '20' always hits, and damage is rolled normally. However, if a character rolls the maximum damage (i.e. '6' on a d6), no matter if it was a to-hit roll of natural '20' or not, roll damage again, but subtract 2 from the second roll; negative numbers are equal to '0.' If the maximum is rolled again, roll again and subtract 2 from the third roll. Keep going until the highest number on the damage die doesn't come up. 5) Full Damage: Do full weapon damage on critical hits and full damage to yourself on critical misses 6) Random Multiplier: On a roll of natural 20, the player rolls damage, adding any bonuses he might have. He then rolls a d6, multiplying the damage done by the result. 7) Dexterity Check: If a natural one is rolled on an attack roll, roll a DEX check at half DEX (or a number the DM assigns in the case of a monster). If the check is made the attack simply misses. If it fails a fumble occurs, and any remaining attacks for that round are lost. In addition, every opponent who is in melee with the character who fumbled and/or any opponent who is aiming a missile or hurled weapon at this person gets an immediate free attack at +4 to hit, due to the poor character leaving himself wide open. 8) Lose an Attack: On a roll of a 1, the attacker fumbles and misses out on 1 attack. This means that a fighter with multiple attacks or someone with more than one weapon loses the next attack that round, and someone with only one attack per round may not attack during the next round. 9) D10 Method: Roll 1d10. If the result is 1-8, then the weapon does its maximum damage. If the result is 9-10, the weapon does double damage. 10) On a roll of natural '1,' you lose your weapon. 11) If a natural '20' is rolled, the attacker rolls again. If the second roll is higher than the attacker's level/HD, then it is a normal hit. If the second roll is lower than the attacker's level/HD, then the defender rolls. If this roll is lower than the defender's level/HD, then the hit does maximum damage. If this roll is higher than the defender's level/HD, then roll on your favorite critical hit chart for the results. 12) Free attack: If a natural '20' is rolled, damage is resolved normally. However, the character immediately gets a free attack, unless a natural '20' was required to hit in the first place. If a natural '20' is rolled on the free attack, then the character gets another free attack, and so on. 13) When resolving crits where another dice roll indicates whether extra damage is done, STR bonuses, magical weapon bonuses, etc. are added after the "extra" damage has been added to the rolled damage. 14) On a roll of natural '1,' the attacker must make a DEX check at -1 to -4, depending on the situation, or drop the weapon and lose initiative for the next round. If the DEX check is made, the character simply loses initiative for the next round. 15) Any combination of any part of 1-14. K4: How much do coins weigh? A: In first edition AD&D, ten coins weighed one pound, regardless of what metal the coins are made of. In second and third edition AD&D, fifty coins weigh one pound, regardless of what metal the coins are made of (DMG2, p. 134; DMG2R, p. 181; PH3, p. 96; PH3R, p. 112). This should result in coins of different sizes, with copper pieces being much larger than gold pieces due to the weight difference between the two metals; while there was no mention of any such distinction in the second edition rules, the third edition rules directly state that all standard coins are the same size. Historically speaking, coins of different denominations were of varying weights and sizes--making an accurate scale a merchant's best friend. You may wish to introduce this detail into your campaigns, as well as naming the different denominations something other than "gold pieces" and "copper pieces", in order to add more local flavor. K5: What can I do to make the hit point system more true to life? A: The *D&D system intentionally simplifies combat as much as possible. See the previous Section for details and suggestions for combat in general. If you are concerned about a higher level character's good chances of surviving an attack by a mob while wearing nothing but a loin cloth and while tied to a stake, or surviving at ground zero of a thermonuclear explosion, read on. The hit point system works as is, if you keep a couple of things in mind when dealing with characters with hit points to spare. 1) Overbearing: As outlined in the PH & DMG, overbearing is an excellent way for a group of low or 0-level characters to incapacitate a tougher opponent (such as a high level PC who can take a blow or four from any normal weapon and ignore it). Once incapacitated (pinned to the ground by sheer weight of bodies), the victim can be knocked out, tied up, gravely injured, or even killed with much less difficulty than normal, as there is a +4 to hit bonus for prone characters. Even a high level fighter will think twice about trying to take on a group of people single- handed after suffering such an ignominious defeat; his high number of hit points will do him no good. 2) Entanglement: Some weapons are excellent for entangling a character's limbs, thus preventing normal actions, or even resulting in a fall. Chains, ropes/lassos, and nets are good examples of this. The Combat & Tactics book outlines the "Pull/Trip" maneuver, which is one method of achieving this; it also describes the game effects of several "non-standard" weapons (like chains & lassos). Since these attacks do not have much direct effect on hit points, a high number of hit points will not be nearly as important as in one-on-one combat. Also, if a victim is completely entangled and tied down, the DM may rule that that counts as "held", and thus all attacks automatically succeed. 3) Strike to Subdue: A strike to subdue is the same concept as the above "sap" maneuver, but with different resolution. Instead, such attacks do "subdual" damage; if the amount of subdual damage a character has taken is ever more than his remaining hit points (not total hit points), the character is knocked out. Subdual damage goes away at the rate of 1 point per hour per character level. 4) Missile attacks: An attack by a single bowman may not faze a character with a lot of hit points much, but a group of longbowmen or crossbowmen at medium range, or in sniper positions, will cause any intelligent character to fear for his life. If enough arrows are fired into a given area in a single round, chances are that some of them will hit. If this continues for multiple rounds (which is a good bet if there is any sort of range between the bowmen & the character, or in the case of snipers), any character, no matter how many hit points they started out with, will not feel so hot. Crossbows have the additional bonus of being able to punch through armor, according to the optional Combat & Tactics rules. This is one of the quicker ways to reduce hit points. 4) Be sure to watch out for situations that may result in automatic or near-automatic hits. The above are some examples of this; there very well may be others. 5) Memorize the combat bonuses table, and apply them judiciously. Many otherwise "intolerable" situations would be helped if the PC had a greater chance of being hit. 6) Intelligent opponents: Be sure to play opponents intelligently, unless the situation dictates otherwise. Villagers should know that going toe-to-toe with a grizzled war veteran is not a smart move, and thus will take actions accordingly if they wish to attack him. Mob actions, sniper fire, and deadfalls are all examples of tactics 0-level characters can use. Creatures or characters fighting on their home turf should know exactly where to stage pitched battles and when to flee to a more favorable combat arena. Higher ground and staircases are prime examples of this. 7) Fudge: Either keep track of all hit points yourself, or retroactively add on to or subtract from opponents' hit point totals, and thus make battles last as long or as short as seems appropriate. If you are keeping track of all hit points, then players don't get cocky from knowing that they have enough hit points to grin and bear an attack. 8) Remember that any character who receives 50 or more points of damage from a single attack and survives must immediately make a fortitude saving throw (2ND: save vs. death) or die from the sudden, intense shock. However, if you decide that the system simply does not work for you as is, there are a number of options you might try. 1) Assign a certain percentage of the character's hit points to the torso, head, and each limb. Then use hit location rules. This works best with no increase or slow increase in character hit points. It also increases the effectiveness of called shots. 2) Whatever a character rolls for hit points for 1st level are that character's "body points"; all others gained through normal advancement are "fatigue points". Certain types of attacks & certain spells automatically affect only the body points; otherwise, the fatigue points are affected first. When all fatigue points have been lost, the character loses consciousness; when all body points are lost, the character dies. 3) As for #2, but rather than having certain attacks target the body points, one body point is lost for every (Level) points of damage taken. The rest is subtracted from the fatigue points. 4) Don't give increases in hit points for level advancement. 5) Reduce the hit point increase for level advancement, giving characters an extra hit die at every other level or every third level. 6) Hit points are rolled as normal. All hit points up to the character's CON are "body points" and the rest are "skill points." Damage will be taken from the skill points first, unless the to-hit roll was 5 or more than needed or a saving throw is missed by 5 or more, in which case the damage is split evenly between the skill points and the body points. Skill points are recovered at (character's level/day); body points are recovered at (CON bonus+1/day, maximum of 3) starting the day after all skill points have been recovered. 7) Change the hit dice used for each class; for example, reducing all classes by one die, with mages getting 1d3. 8) Give damage bonuses or even multipliers for some situations, such as those listed in the PH & DMG as giving to hit bonuses. Possibly even give damage bonuses or multipliers to some weapons, such as bows or crossbows used at point-blank range. 9) Reduce the availability and/or effectiveness of healing magics, so that when a character gets hurt, he won't be immediately up to full strength for the next encounter, and may start thinking twice about head-on combat. Lasting injuries (scars, wounds that refuse to heal, and the like) are also good ways of keeping characters humble. 10) Critical hits: If you are concerned about characters with a lot of hit points shrugging off combat as too easy, use a critical hit system. Most include ways for even 0-level characters to do significant amounts of damage with one good hit. Those systems that have location-specific results will increase the effectiveness of called shots, and increase the chance of a character losing the use of his sword arm, for example. Smart characters will think twice before charging into combat. 11) Make characters who lose more than half of their hit points in a single round roll for system shock, losing consciousness if they fail. 12) Any combination of the above. A warning for options 1 through 5: if you take one of these options, you will most likely have to rewrite the damage dice for weapons table as well as the damage done by certain spells, such as fireball, which could then kill every character every time, regardless of whether or not a save was made. K6: How do you apply multiple multipliers? A: Since multipliers aren't actually "multipliers," but rather represent extra dice, they do not work the same as they would with normal mathematics. "x2" does not mean "multiply the damage by 2", but rather means "roll damage an extra time"; "x3" does not mean "multiply the damage by 3", but rather means "roll damage two extra times". To figure out the proper multiplier to use when several of them affect a single damage roll, subtract one from each multiplier, add all of the results together, and add one to the total. For example, if you are using a lance from the back of a charging horse (x2) with Spirited Charge (x2), and achieve a critical hit (x3), the result is (2-1) + (2-1) + (3-1) + 1 = x5. Another way to do the math is to take the first (or highest) multiplier as is, subtract one from all of the others, and add the results together. In the above example, this would be 2 + (2-1) + (3-1) = x5. K7: Is caster level a prerequisite for creating magic items? A: Not directly, no. Items' "Caster Level" entry is an end result of the item creation process and represents the creator's caster level or the level at which the creator set the item to function. Thus, the Caster Level listed for magic items is an inherent property rather than a prerequisite. Some magic items also have caster level prerequisites; this information is then included in the prerequisites section of the description. (For example, see /Bracers of Armor/ and /Ioun Stones/.) The Caster Level listed in the DMG represents the default level for random magic items found over the course of an adventure. This is used for level-dependent effects (such as duration), for dispelling magic items' effects, and for determining saving throws bonuses magic items get to avoid being damaged themselves. (It could, if the DM chose, also be used for determination of saving throw DCs for item's effects, but the normal rule for that is to use the minimum needed for the spell.) For example, the Caster Level for a /Pearl of Power/ is 17th, which is the default caster level for random /Pearls of Power/ found in dungeons. If someone found a Pearl of Power and then was the target of a /Mordenkainen's Disjunction/ spell, the Pearl of Power would have to make a Will save; its saving throw bonus would be (2 + half the caster level, rounded down) = +10. (In this case, the caster level is set at 17th in part because that is the level needed to cast 9th level spells and thus be able to create all types of /Pearls of Power/.) Also, if you look through the list of magic rings, the minimum level at which one can get the Forge Ring feat is 12th; thus all rings have 12th as a minimum level prerequisite, but many or most of the rings have caster levels far below that, generally more in line with the level needed to cast the prerequisite spells. For a single character doing all the work of creation, the minimum caster level necessary to create a magic item is the level required for the necessary item creation feat, or the minimum needed to cast the highest level spell listed as a prerequisite, whichever is higher. Thus, a wizard creating a /Pearl of Power/ for 1st level spells must be at least 3rd level to do so; while one of the item's prerequisites is the ability to cast spells of the desired level, the minimum level at which a wizard can gain the Craft Wondrous Items feat is 3rd. However, for potions, scrolls, and wands, that's just the price for entry; the person creating the item can set the level the item acts at as high or low as is desired and possible. A wizard creating a /Wand of Magic Missiles/ must be at least 5th level to do so, as the minimum level to cast the spell is 1st level and the minimum level at which the wizard can take the feat is 5th. If the wizard in question is 9th level, he can set the "Caster Level" of that wand at anything between 1st and 9th, with all level-dependent effects being set accordingly. If he picked 9th (to get 5 magic missiles per charge) the "Caster Level" listing of the magic item description would be 9th, even though the minimum necessary to create the item was only 5th. If he picked 1st, in order to save on costs, the "Caster Level" listing of the magic item description would be 1st, even though the minimum caster level necessary to create the item was actually 5th. If multiple characters are working together to create an item, then the minimums vary by which task each character performs; the one who supplies the feat must meet the feat's minimum, each one who provides a spell must meet that spell's minimum, and so forth, but the one chosen as "creator" must still meet any creator-specific prerequisites and must have a caster level equal to or higher than that needed to cast the highest-level spell in the prerequisites (even if she does not know that spell herself). If working on a potion, scroll, or wand, the end result can then have any "Caster Level" within the limits of the spells involved and the level of the character who is the chosen primary creator. This is currently explicitly stated in the rules. In earlier versions of the 3rd edition rules, this was not as clear, so what follows is an explanation of why the actual intended game play has not changed between then and now; rather, the wording in the DMG has been made clearer. In the section of the DMG on Creating Magic Items, the rules state, "A creator can create an item at a lower caster level than her own, but never lower than the minimum level needed to cast the needed spell." No mention is made that this statement is limited to potions, scrolls, and wands, therefore it is not so limited. This means the actual caster level of a type of magic item may vary from actual item to item as the creator (or DM, when arming NPCs or stocking a dungeon) wills it. That section also states, "Note that all items have prerequisites in their descriptions. These prerequisites must be met for the item to be created." Therefore, the minimum creator caster level needed to create an item on one's own is the minimum needed to fulfill the "prerequisites" section of the item's description. Also, because the "Caster Level" section of the description is as typographically separate from the "Prerequisites" section as the "Market Price" section is, when the DMG says "prerequisites" it means only the prerequisites list; not the market price, and not the caster level. (This is similar to the concept of a "bonus" meaning only a positive modifier, so that someone with a -2 penalty when swimming who has something that doubles a swimming bonus must use zero rather than -4.) The first statement in the second paragraph on Magic Item Descriptions says, "For potions, scrolls, and wands, the creator can set the caster level of the item at any number high enough to cast the stored spell and not higher than her own caster level." That exactly matches the statement in Creating Magic Items, but note the difference between "cast the stored spell" here and "cast the needed spell" there. In the 3rd edition rules, the second major statement in that paragraph originally read, "For other magic items, the caster level [of the item] is determined by the item itself. In this case, the creator's caster level must be as high as the item's caster level..." This statement caused no end of argument. It was poorly worded (in a paragraph about determining item caster level, it suddenly flipped over to discussing determining the creator's caster level), but apparently because what it said was technically true, WotC did not consider it as a candidate for errata (which, by definition, only includes mistakes--witness the difference between the errata and the clarifications files for the v.3.0 Player's Handbook). According to the section on Creating Magic Items, the minimum item caster level is the minimum needed to cast the highest-level spell listed in the prerequisites. Therefore, what the problematic statement meant is that, even when a creator is working with other spell casters, and even though no spells are actually stored in the item and the items effects may be different from the listed spells' descriptions (which is different from potions, scrolls, and wands, and is apparently why the writers felt two statements about caster level were necessary) the creator's caster level must still be at least high enough to meet the minimum item caster level (that is, the minimum needed to cast the highest-level spell listed in the prerequisites) or the selected item caster level if it is being set higher than the minimum needed to cast the highest-level spell, though other prerequisites may require the creator to have a higher caster level than the final item caster level. The final item caster level does not have to be the same as the item caster level listed in the item's description. Not far below that, in the section on Prerequisites, the rules provide two methods for getting around the prerequisites. The first is to use a spell trigger or spell completion item (such as a wand or scroll) or have access to spell-like abilities that mimic the desired spell. In this case, the item creation feat becomes the minimum requirement for the caster's creator level, but the final caster level of the item itself (for the purposes of dispelling magic items' effects and damaging magic items) can still be set anywhere between the maximum of caster's actual level and the minimum needed to cast the highest-level spell in the prerequisites list. The second method is to have multiple spellcasters cooperate in magic item creation. In this case, one can provide the item creation feat, another can provide the spells, and others can fill any necessary skill, race, alignment, or feat requiremenets. Then, "they must agree among themselves who will be considered the creator for the purpose of determinations where the creator's level must be known." Determinations where the creator's caster level must be known include meeting caster levels listed in the prerequisites section, as well as the maximum (and indirectly, the minimum) item caster level that can be assigned to the item. (Note that choice of creator is also affected by prerequisites such as "creator must be an elf," since there can only be one "creator" per magic item, even when characters are cooperating.) Via this method, the item creation feat and some of the prerequisites may be provided by someone other than the assigned creator, but the caster level of the character chosen to be the creator "must be as high as the item's caster level" (that is, the caster level selected for the item, which cannot be set below the minimum needed to cast the highest-listed spell). Thus, the rule, as it was originally written, was in harmony with the rules for creating magic items, and the listed Caster Level entries are not themselves prerequisites. In the section on Prerequisites, the rules also state, "These include feats, spells, and miscellaneous requirements such as level, alignment, and race or kind." Every magic item has at least one feat prerequisite (an item creation feat), and every or almost every magic item has at least one spell prerequisite. Of the listed miscellaneous requirements, very few magic items have a prerequisite of alignment, race, or kind. If the listed caster level were indeed a prerequisite, it should have been listed with feats & spells as common prerequisites; however, if you look at how few magic items specify a level requirement, if the listed caster level is not a prerequisite, then this list makes perfect sense as is--meaning caster level is a rare, miscellaneous prerequisite. If the listed caster level were a prerequisite, then the Creating Magic Items sentence and several magic item descriptions would be wrong and in need of errata. Chief among these is the entry for Ioun stones, which has a listed Caster Level of 12, and a listed prerequisite of "Creator must be 12th level". If the Caster Level entry were to be considered a prerequisite minimum creator caster level, then the listed prerequisite entry for that item would be an erroneous duplication and errata would have been issued for it long ago. If the listed caster level were an unchanging prerequisite, then many of the listed caster levels would make absolutely no sense in light of other listed prerequisites that require higher caster levels, unless almost every item is always created cooperatively, with the necessary feat being provided by someone other than the creator. Chief of these is the item creation feat for rings, which requires a caster level of 12 to take, even though most rings have listed caster levels less than 12. If the listed caster level were a prerequisite, then it would be nearly impossible to create brand-new magic items that aren't written up anywhere. Such an item does not have a writeup, therefore it does not have an official caster level. Since there are no separate instructions anywhere in the rules for the DM to determine the prerequisite number, even instructions to simply make one up, then the only existing rule that could cover this is the above-quoted rule from the "Creating Magic Items" section that the creator can choose to set it anywhere from the minimum needed for the highest-level spell and the maximum of his own caster level. Since this must be the case for brand-new items, it must also be the case for existing items. (Otherwise, the caster level rule could be trivially circumvented by creating a new item that is essentially identical to an existing item, but adds a trivial additional spell and effect to the item. For example, add Arcane Mark to the list of prerequisites for a 1st level /Pearl of Power/, with the differences that the item is permanently inscribed with the creator's "maker's mark" and has a item caster level of 1 instead of 17.) K8: Where else can I look for info about being a Dungeon Master? A: There is a very interesting FAQ about DMing, complete with tips, tricks, and things to do & not do, with something for any level of experience as a DM. Written by lucifer (No, not that one, lucifer@infernal.demon.ac.uk), it can be found at <http://www.egms.org/faqs/dming/dmfaq.htm>. ***End Part 9*** ***End FAQ*** -- Aardy R. DeVarque Feudalism: Serf & Turf Rec.games.frp.dnd FAQ: http://users.rcn.com/aardy/faq/rgfdfaq.html