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Magesmithing 101
 
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Magesmithing 101
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Magesmithing 101
Publisher: Dog Soul Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/12/2006 00:00:00

Magesmithing 101 is a 18 page pdf product and the second in Dog Soul Publishing's 101 series of products, the other being Golemcraft 101. The 101 series aims to provide DMs and players with different sets of options for their d20 game, and in the case of Magesmithing 101 an alternative crafting system for magical items is presented as well as several other related options.

The product itself comes as a single extensively bookmarked pdf file. Bordering and background is light enough that it should be easy to print as is. Layout and editing looks good, although there were one or two editing errors that slipped through, one of them being an incorrectly referenced table in the text. I found the writing to be generally good, but the organisation of the material appeared a little confusing and a brief overview or summary of the magesmithing process would've gone a long way in making the rest of the material easier to read and absorb. Mechanics was often buried in the text and not explicitly stated or highlighted. Generally, though, a well-presented product.

Magesmithing 101 presents a number of new options for crafting magical items, and in particular the option for non-spellcasters to craft magic items or the ability to craft magic items without casting any spells. Magesmiths have the option to create any kind of magical item from any kind of material, and there are some additional options that make this process easier. Fundamentally the system is an extension of the Craft skill rules for the core rules, with some additional modifications to allow for non-casting during creation.

Unlike a normal spellcaster who applies magic to an already crafted item, the magesmith applies the magic while actually crafting the particular base item itself. In order to do this the magesmith requires protocols and materials, the former being a set of instructions, as it were, on how to craft the items and is very similar to a ritual of sorts. Materials include all the normal materials to cover the cost of creating the item, and could include the use of special materials depending on the nature of the item being created. For example, some fire giant hair may be required to craft a flaming weapon.

To research a protocol requires a number of days based on the caster level of the item in question. This means it can take long to learn a protocol before crafting is even started but this is to a certain extent balanced out by the fact that crafting with magesmithing is often a lot quicker than the standard magic item crafting rules. Once a protocol is learnt, it can be applied indefinitely to item creation after that.

The need to learn or research protocols limits the magesmith's ability in the sense that most magesmiths won't know protocols for every magic item or every spell effect. Given a particular protocol, a magesmith can create a weapon or other item by following the standard craft rules, with the exceptions that the magesmith is required to succeed on additional Spellcraft checks to apply the protocols correctly. This makes crafting a very high risk proposition unless you have a lot of ranks in Spellcraft, something that non-casters won't have, but most casters would. The pdf does attempt to alleviate this risk by adding optional rules where only one set of checks is required per item rather than multiple checks as the item is crafted.

The pdf also presents a different craft system using Craft Units, a neat idea where the complexity of the item is based on its number of Craft Units rather than its price. So a silver item would be no more difficult to craft than a platinum item, and the extra cost is represented by the cost of the materials. If doesn't consider the fact that most items from other materials vary widely in how easy they are to craft, but it's a good simplified system to use for crafting a wide variety of items.

The latter parts of the pdf are devoted to a number of different and eclectic topics - advice on running magesmiths in a campaign, suggestions for various special materials required for magesmithing, advice of playing magesmith characters, new materials that make crafting certain items easier and a magesmith base class and a magesmith prestige class. Both the latter are top-heavy, in the sense that it's very easy to just invest a few levels in each without a significant loss of other abilities, and as a result are not the best or most interesting mechanical designs. The special materials are interesting and a neat idea, and can be used quite readily even using the standard crafting rules.

Magesmithing 101 is an interesting idea that presents some new options for crafting magical items without having to cast spells. While it's a good idea the mechanical implementation is stringent in its requirements and therefore has debatable utility. Since magesmiths require Spellcraft checks to apply protocols, the only non-spellcaster class that has Spellcraft as a class skill is the Expert. Non-spellcasters are as a result very rarely going to invest cross-class ranks in Spellcraft, something that could cost them dearly if they fail a check.

In addition, since a magesmith still requires the relevant item creation feat to create items, and since most characters that can realistically be magesmiths will be casters, there's not that much incentive to use magesmithing skills (unless, of course, you want to craft something that requires a spell from another spell list). It's also worth pointing out that once a protocol is learnt for an expensive item, said items can be churned out very quickly, in most cases less than a day for Wondrous Items - a less than desirable result.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: This pdf provides a number of options and alternatives for crafting magical items. There are a number of good ideas in there such as the special materials and the concept of Craft Units that would enhance any game. The magesmith concept is interesting, and DMs can easily implement this concept in game. Well-presented with some interesting options and material.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The text is somewhat confusing in its organisation with mechanical details buried within long paragraphs of explanatory text. In addition, there are some traits and aspects of the magesmith crafting rules that some DMs and players may find undesirable, such as high risk, lengthy (and sometimes overly short) crafting time, stringent skill requirements and others.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Magesmithing 101
Publisher: Dog Soul Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2006 00:00:00

Magesmithing crafts a unique new magic item creation system for your d20 game that is incredibly different from both the standard SRD feat inspired model and the craft points alternative SRD model. Though more flexible than either system, its multiple rolls and seemingly increased crafting time, makes it more tedious as well.

As the book suggests, Magesmithing brings up images of a large burly Dwarf blacksmith smelting steel while his dainty Elf friend waits for the item to be finished so he may begin his enchantments. Of course, Magesmithing diverts from this stereotype by beginning its system in the library. Because Magesmiths do not need to know the spell they are enchanting an item with, they must first research the spell. This research includes not only the spell needed for the item but enchantment spells as well. The Magesmith then creates the item using the standard craft system or its alternative craft point system.

For the Player:

Magesmithing includes a feat tree allowing to you jump into spellless magic item crafting soon. It also includes a Magesmith core and prestige class. If you play a fighter and are jealous of the Wizard???s monopoly on item creation, now is your chance to shine.

For the Dungeon Master:

If you dislike the current magic item creation system and are looking for something slightly more complicated and time consuming for your PCs, then Magesmithing is for you. Though It makes perfect sense that people with no aptitude for magic would take longer to create items, it begs the question why bother. If one of my players is itching so badly for certain magic items, they could climb the deadliest mountain, slay the grumpy dragon, save the princess, steal the horde and be back by the time it took to craft a pot of reappearing soup (16+ days). The process also calls for questing for material to make the item, which increases the processes time even longer. Not only does one have to spend the immense amount of time researching the spell, they can not make certain elemental items (such as a fire shield or wand of cold) without questing for particular elemental material. I love the flavor of the idea, but dislike the execution

I do know of some DMs whom would love this system. This fits in well in a campaign where players spend a lot of time in a city and village. However, for campaigns that spend a considerable amount of time adventuring, it would take a few months of gaming to produce anything decent.

The Iron Word

This works better as an option for your players as opposed to a replacement for magical crafting. The time consumption is a great distraction for the party on the go, but may be beneficial in faster moving and city oriented campaigns.

The book really never steps up and says what makes it system better than the original. And not being the kind of DM whom enjoys drawn out item creation processes from my player, I failed to find that reason, too.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: I liked the craft material options. This is also a great option for fast moving campaigns. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Edited since first publications: The time it takes to make the magic item seems like a poor choice for players in my style of gaming. I tetered on giving this product either a weak 3 or a strong 2. For 3 bucks, it certainly meets its value. But, I just could not see myself or the majority of DMs using this option for any justifiable reason in a typical campaign. For fast moving campaigns, this product would have a 3, but for the type of games I'm used to in which a campaign might consist of an entire month, there is not enough time to utlize the option.

I went into the product with high expectations after reading the remarkable golemcraft, and felt it did not supercede the uniquness of its predecesser. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
We thank Nathan for his exhaustive review, however we question his final rating of two stars. If there is nothing wrong mechanically with the system (aside from the extended creation time, which is a subjective issue), then why does this product deserve such a poor rating? This system is not meant as a replacement for the standard system of magic item creation, but as an alternative or supplementary system. As such, it is along the same vein as Scott Carter's previous book "Golemcraft 101" which presents an alternate system for the creation of constructs. The 101 series is about options and choices. Entire campaigns can be run around the options presented in either book. The utility of the products is there, and it saddens us that Nathan chose to cast doubts on the very differences that make this system unique. To avoid confusion among our customers, we will amend the product descriptions for both products to better explain the premise behind them. Sean C. Frolich, Dog Soul Publishing
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