Making a Post-Scarcity Society in D&D 3.5e

Making a Post-Scarcity Society in D&D 3.5e, or

How to do Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom in the Forgotten Realms (or Eberron)

By: Gavinfoxx

Also see my transhuman guide, which a society that does the sorts of things described here should be able to do:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Z9NJIs751Af3i0IEIJwCkIp9H9YFiZYZ7u-wmYVaheI/edit?usp=sharing

Also see my Airship creation guide (with a bit of digression on golems in general):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/14zilT4WGOyHM0AfpG4-GmD2FkgDg1HZ9HC1cTleQHds/edit?usp=sharing

A note about the intention of this guide.  This guide is (for now), intentionally limited in scope.  It does not talk about the difficulties (beyond what the rules say) in doing the methods it describes.  It does not talk about reasons — either logical or setting-based — why these methods might not be done, either in the past, or why they might not be possible for a character going forward in a particular game.  That is for individual players to talk with their DMs about.  This is, instead, purely about the hows.  It is intended to be something that a player shows the DM, if they wish to use any of these methods, or for a DM to decide what is or is not possible in their game, or to help a DM flesh out either an ‘ancient fallen empire of magic users and magic item makers’ (like the Netherese in Faerun, or Mind Flayers before the whole Githzerai/Githyanki thing that ruined their society), or even a currently-existing society that functions by using the methods described here.  This guide is not intended as a value statement in running a game set in such a society (where huge categories of ‘things’ become so common so as to be near meaningless to put a cost to them, except as a method of social control), or to declare whether gaming in a magic based star trek like society would be fun or not.

There are several ways to use magic to sort of industrialize and make a magitech-punk or dungeonpunk society in D&D, using just the crafting rules and written up items and spells. You can even completely make a fully post-scarcity (like Star Trek, what with replicators and near infinite energy and such) economy using these tools and options. There are PLENTY of ways to make wealth on incredible scales… Also note that Artificers (Eberron campaign setting) can start doing some of this stuff at level 3, when they get access to Craft Wondrous Item… it’s even easier in a 3.PF (ie, a game that picks-and-chooses which aspects of pathfinder and 3.5e rules to use, generally in a way that is negotiated between the GM and players to fit their combined goals best) game, where there are TWO ways to pretend to have various prerequisites for items (for an Artificer, I mean; Spellcraft like everyone uses or Use Magic Device for them), and where items do not require the expenditure of XP to make.  Further, Pathfinder has a slightly different set of utility spells, and a different spell than ‘Magecraft’ to improve crafting skill (called “Crafter’s Fortune”, remember all the Pathfinder rules are at the pfsrd), and with the 3rd party support on the pfsrd page, it is more easy to find extremely obscure low level utility spells which can change society — what this guide thrives on.

This is primarily a guide for 3.5e, rather than Pathfinder 1e, however.

Anyway, on to the 'how's'!

First, here is a list of ways to get spells into items to cast spells, without the items being depleted in the casting:

1.) Eternal Wands, from Magic Item Compendium. They have a little bit of an extra surcharge on them from the DMG formula, but gives 2/day casting of spells levels 1-3, for anyone who happens to be able to cast any arcane spell at all (like every gnome ever), to use them.

2.) Magical traps using the DMG rules for automatic reset magical traps. Note that if you want precedent for magical traps that are beneficial, look at the Boon traps in Dungeonscape.  Note that if the DM doesn’t think that a self-resetting, repeating magical trap that casts a spell can be small, ask him or her pointedly whether or not it is possible to put a magic spell casting trap on something small and portable, like the locking mechanism of a treasure chest. Do note that, technically, these requirements are different from the details of the Boon traps in Dungeonscape, which are more tactically complex and designed specifically for dungeon use, so ask your DM whether that is the only possible way to make beneficial traps.

3.) Drow House Insignia sorts of items, first explained in the book Races of Faerun, pg 175. They were updated to be more pricey in Drow of the Underdark. These basically use the DMG rules, but this gives a specific form, 1/day limitation, and certain spell levels, 1-3. The Drow of the Underdark (this is the most recent set of rules for them) ones cost more than the DMG rules for wondrous items that cast spells.

4.) Minor Schema, from the book Magic of Eberron. A way to cast spells lvl 1-6, once a day. Further, these work better for Artificers (the best crafters in D&D), who can apply their class features to this. If An Artificer makes a Schema of Wall of Iron, and he has a Rod of Invisible Spell, he could — for example — make Invisible Iron… he can't easily do that with a Magical Trap or anything like that..

5.) Generic wondrous items that cast spells, per the DMG rules for custom magic items. ESPECIALLY go for infinite use, use activated ones once you have the money, (and you will have the money)!  These can be fantastically cheap! Remember, an at-will item of a level 1 spell costs 1800 gp or 2000 gp on the open market, depending on the particulars.

6.) Spell Turrets, from Dungeon Master's Guide II. Those are pretty swank, automatically casting spells on targets in range.

7.) Spell clocks, from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20140309175702/https://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/cw/20070312a which automatically cast a spell after a timer goes off, and then resets the timer

8.) A Divine caster, especially one with bonus feats and lots of spell access (like an Archivist, from Heroes of Horror) can make Runes via the Runecaster prestige class from Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (and Player’s Guide to Faerun), which are not depleted in the casting of their spell. The character would need eight levels of the Runecaster prestige class to do this.

9.) Rings can cast spells.  This is basically the same as making a generic wondrous item that can cast a spell, except it is ring slot rather than slotless or any slot other than ring slot.

Of course use as many of the Cost Reduction techniques as is viable, especially from the Cost Reduction Technique Handbook here: http://minmaxforum.com/index.php?topic=1000.0

An Artificer could, of course, use techniques to get spells more cheaply, perhaps using the Bargain Bin list here: http://bg-archive.minmaxforum.com/index.php?topic=12661.0, perhaps. Note Fabricate and Wall of Stone are a level 3 spells on the Trapsmith list, using this… this might lower the price of some items that require Fabricate… Ask your GM for details!

Further, there is a secondary, hidden use for Fabricate.  Mining… in the sense of randomly finding a place, and using Fabricate to extract the trace minerals of the ground you happen to be walking on!  See this for ideas:

http://web.archive.org/web/20160913015953/http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=6793

Of course, a traditional Wizard or Cleric or Archivist or whatever could simply use scrying techniques to seek these sorts of people out, and pay them to help cast their cheaper spells into the devices (or the prayerbook, for the Archivist). Remember the Archivist's 'lowest level version of spells' list: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?445204-Lowest-level-versions-of-spells there. Also remember, people can work together to craft, per here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130531085107/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20041207a

Also, see if you can join an arcane college that can be treated to have the last mechanical benefit given to “Lady’s College of Silverymoon” is, in the Forgotten Realms book “Silver Marches”, page 62.  That has a rule where you don’t have to actually have the relevant magic item creation feat to make an item — you just have to have the spell, caster level, and material component costs, however.  There is also a 10% surcharge added onto the normal base price of the item as a fee if an item is made without the relevant item creation feat.

And there are two places which have rules for Sharing XP in crafting, here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130531085350/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20050118a

and here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20140219152605/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060526a

Here are some of the spells you use to put in things, or to just cast yourself, depending on how you use it. They all are multipliers of the sort of work that can be done in society, or relieve various constraints on production of goods or services. Several of these can create infinite amounts of work or help with skills or infinite raw materials of the appropriate type or infinite finished goods:

Wall of Iron (this does cost 50 gold a pop, but the price of iron and the amount of iron it makes is valued well above that.  Some math: Wall of Iron. 5th level spell for Shugenja.  Minimum possible caster level: 9th.  9 inches thick x 5’ tall x 45’ long. Cast iron is 450 lb per cubic feet.  Total cubic feet is 168.75 cubic feet.  So 75937.5 pounds.  Iron is 1 sp per pound.  So that is about 7,593 gp from a 50 gp outlay.  This does not work in Pathfinder.  The default Wizard level for this spell is 6.)

Wall of Stone (The default Wizard level for this spell is 5.)

Wall of Salt (Sandstorm, and Salt is listed as a valuable trade good; at places where salt is rare, this is a huge moneymaker!  4th level spell on all lists, minimum caster level 7th. 7” thick x 5’ tall x 35’ long.  Salt is directly a trade good, at 5 gp a pound.  Salt is about 75 lbs per cubic foot. This is about 102 cubic feet, or 7,650 pounds of Salt, equaling 38250 gp.)

Water to Acid (stormwrack, this can also be used as a money maker, to make industrially useful acid. This spell, level 3 on all lists it appears on, converts 1 cubic foot per level of water to valuable acid, a flask of which costs 10 gp when full. Each empty glass flask costs 3 cp and holds a pint [as flask of oil]. At lowest caster level (5), this converts 5 cubic feet of water to acid, which makes about 299 pints, or about 2990 of gp worth of acid, minus about 9 gp worth of flasks)

Stone Metamorphosis (from Underdark. Useful for making better quality Stone from Wall of Stone.  However, this doesn’t increase the technical value of the stone.  Consider making things Marble and Granite, and the various obscure colors thereof too! And remember, granite and marble are worth lots of money in real life.  Ask your GM about this.  On the Wizard list, this is a level 6 spell, Cleric it is 4)

Bestow Curse, Greater (this allows you to shift someone’s alignment gradually toward a target alignment. Useful for rehabilitation)

Greater Stone Metamorphosis (Again, from Underdark. On the Wizard list, this is a level 8 spell)

Clearstone (this works with Permanency! Makes Transparent Stone with some XP outlay!)

Transparency (probably better than Clearstone, to be honest)

Permanency

Plant Growth (Grow ANYTHING, in large quantities) – (Low level, spell level 3)

Ironwood (One major interpretation of the rules is that this can make magic items, which are talked about later. It also makes very useful material that doesn't rust…)

Transmute Rock to Mud

Transmute Mud to Rock

Transmute Stone to Sand

Transmute Sand to Stone

Transmute Sand to Glass

Transmute Metal to Wood (All these transmute x to y are very useful for making things… the sand ones are in Sandstorm)

Darsson's Cooling Breeze

Darsson's Chilling Chamber

Darsson's Fiery Furnace

Soften Earth and Stone

Stone Trap (You can build floating cities with this! Use impossible triggers for the trap to fall. This is in Forgotten Realms Shining South)

Move Earth

Unseen Servant (Low level and very useful)

Wood Wose

Greater Mage Hand

False Gravity (make elevator hallways!)

Hardening (this is useful for improving the properties of materials in a general way)

Unseen Crafter (VERY VERY useful in large quantities, from Races of Eberron — Low level!)

Shape Metal (EXTREMELY useful… from Races of Faerun)

Metal Melt (with creativity, this is low temperature welding, from Spell Compendium)

Stone Shape

Greater Stone Shape (From Underdark)

Fabricate (So very very very useful — especially in magical traps! Will talk about this later)

Nature's Rampart (A much easier to do Move Earth, from Spell Compendium. Low level!)

Magecraft (Actually very useful for NPC's to improve their skills; Eberron Campaign Setting. Low level!)

Disintegrate

Excavate

Reverse Gravity

Tongues

Planar Binding (note, you don’t generally want to use Planar Ally, because ,

Lesser Planar Binding (All of the ally and binding spells can be used to get access to ridiculously powerful Spell Like Abilities of various creatures, and there are techniques so that they essentially have no risk. Essentially, you combine several debuffs onto a creature to force them to fail a save to get them to do what you want, pre-preparing so that even the most resistant creature is a docile and willing slave.  This is an example of the sorts of tricks you could use: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?135096-Planar-Binding-and-You-%28Bonus-Stories-Included%29. Also, read this document to give you ideas for what abilities you can farm with Lesser Planar Binding and Planar Binding, as taken from the Demonologist list: http://mxyzplk.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/the-malconvoker-report.doc)

Technically, you could use ‘Stone to Flesh’ for an infinite food source, especially with Wall of Stone, but there are so many cheaper/easier options that using this is possibly a bit excessive.

Some good Pathfinder spells to add to this are “Crafter’s Fortune”, rather than Magecraft, and to bypass expensive material components with the spell “Blood Money”, Create Armaments to make armaments, including of valuable materials that can then be melted for cash (combine with Blood Money, and there are rules for making Gold gear in Pathfinder), perhaps combined with Masterwork Transmutation and Mending.  There’s also Full Pouch, which can actually improve alchemical gear it makes rather than dilute it.

Also use Decanter of Endless Water, Decanter of Endless Sand, Lyre of Building, planar bind or planar ally things all the way from Lantern Archons for infinite Continual Flame with little to no price, to Djinn for infinite of ANY plant based items!  The Decanter of Endless Water can be used to do work, and to irrigate farms, and remove the need for towns to be built near sources of freshwater (a major constraint on where towns can be placed, of the normal medieval stasis default settings of D&D! There’s even the spell ‘Create Spring’ from Oriental Adventures, which solves this problem as well, as a 2nd level divine spell, perfect for an Archivist or Artificer) There are lots of superwoods in D&D; Laenar Wood in Dragon Annual 5, Bronzewood in Eberron Campaign Setting, Darkwood in DMG, Serrenwood in Book of Exalted Deeds, Duskwood in Magic of Faerun, Wildwood in Races of the Wild, Livewood in Eberron Campaign Setting, Soarwood in Eberron Campaign Setting, Densewood in Eberron Campaign Setting, Coldwood in Dragon Magazine 357, Fey Cherry Wood in Dragon Magazine 357, Bluewood in Unapproachable East.

There are many more great plant based things, several of which are very expensive trade goods, with statted out prices. Not all of these are statted out, but you could get things like lacquer, biodeisel, rubber, resin, glue, paper, cardboard, cumin, silphium, coffee, saffron (VERY expensive, it is costed out in Arms & Equipment guide!), tobacco, pepper, oil, chilies, paprika, cacao, anise, poppy, cannabis, khet, etc. etc.. You can make advanced plumbing / aqueducts / water generation with just a single Decanter of Endless Water, some Walls of Stone and Stone Shape!

Beyond plant based stuff, you could Planar Ally or Planar Bind Efreeti or Noble Djinn for full Wishes (which get 25k worth of mundane stuff or 15k (possibly more, depending on rules used) worth of magic stuff a pop; check the 3.0 vs 3.5e srd rules on Wishes for extra details).  Or you could use a Candle of Invocation to chain-summon Noble Djinns or Efreeti.  Of course you will want to Simulacrum some of these entities (investigate getting some planar bound Mirror Mephits, they can make simulacrums as a spell like ability), especially the 'Ha ha you're screwed' Efreetis and Noble Djinn's.  Infinite free Wishes for everyone!

Another way to get a large amount of Wishes is the Shapechange spell; just change into a different Zodar (Fiend Folio) each round.  Here’s the Shapechange handbook for such things: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?517934-The-3-5-Shapechange-Handbook Of course by the time you are level 17, you are SUPPOSED to be able to do this sort of thing… the trick is getting these things by level 10 or 11 or so.

When you get access to Plane Shift (at what, level 8?), make an expedition to the elemental plane of earth for some gem and rare mineral and metal mining!

If you don't want to do the full Wish Economy, then you might want to research custom spells to do work, using the rules in the DMG to do so. Unseen Laborer, a Profession variant of Unseen Crafter, from Races of Eberron.  Consider the possibilities:  profession: Miner, Profession: Lumberjack, or Profession: Farmer? There are lots of things that can be done by invisible mute entities wielding hand tools, and unlimited castings of this would be useful for massive parallel work..

Also a few more 'Transmute' spells or ‘Wall of’ spells might be a good idea, to get better metal than low quality Iron from the Wall of Iron. I would suggest trying to research a Transmute Iron to Greensteel (a metal from Fiendish Codex 2), the closest thing D&D has to a very high quality modern steel that is actually functionally different than Iron and holds a useful edge.  There are actually a few ‘steels’ in D&D, start looking into these for ways of making ‘better iron’.  It is, after all, very very hard to produce large amounts of Mithral if you aren’t using Wish or repeating Fabricate traps for the raw materials.  Some of the other (and in my opinion, worse than Greensteel) ‘better than normal iron’ steels that are actually more durable than iron are: Living Metal (Magic of Faerun), Fever Iron (Magic of Faerun), Solarian Truesteel (Book of Exalted Deeds, note that this is a bit brittle, having fewer hit points), possibly Pearlsteel (Stormwrack, but this doesn’t have a listed hardness, might be 12 if it follows the other steels; ask your GM. Note that this stuff doesn’t rust, which is highly useful in a steel, but it apparently needs pearls to make it; as with some of the other steels, the idea is to develop a spell that bypasses difficulty in making these materials. Also note that Pearlsteel appears to be a composite alloy, ask your GM if the process will work for other materials).  A ‘slightly less durable than Mithral’ (and thus like real world) steel is something that could conceivably be used on, say, breech loading cannon and firearms, not to mention skyscrapers, being strong enough for it.  Just remember that in some settings, like Faerun, the normal formula for gunpowder doesn't work (instead requiring a different, magical formula), and you might have to use compressed air guns or something which magically pops back to normal size and shrinks again, perhaps based on some researched version of Shrink Item, for cannons or guns in places like that.

And once you get your truly modern machine shop (see later parts of this post) set up, it would be FANTASTICALLY easy to make firearms that are at least as good as the Winchester 73 Rifle (D&D Past has it as 2d10 20/x2, 50’ RI, 15 shots).  Gunpowder and gunpowder-like substances exist in several D&D settings, even if (like previously mentioned) the formula is supposed to sometimes be different than real world Gunpowder.  Remember that lots of spells can be stacked to improve knowledge checks, should you need an epic knowledge check in order to bypass several hundred years of real world firearms and chemistry design in a few days worth of design and writing down ideas with alchemy, mechanics, tooling, etc. You also might want to invent safe elevators and the necessary brakes to make skyscrapers possible, and things like bicycles, steam engines, batteries and capacitors, the diesel engine and diesel generators (for all the biodiesel you will be conjuring), electric motors and electric cars (those were actually invented earlier than people think…) etc. Remember that if you need ideas for summoning different materials or transmuting metals to different metals, the spells that the transmute and wall of X spells were based off of ARE in pre-3.0e editions, and there ARE rules for getting more obscure sorts of 'walls of x' and transmuting from that.  Specifically, in the Original D&D Rules Cyclopedia, right next to the Wall of Iron spell and wall of Stone spells, there are spells called “Ironform” and “Stoneform”, which do similar things to those two spells, but there is also such gems as “Steelform”, “Woodform”, and “Clothform”.  While these are not in 3rd edition, you can perhaps consider using these precedents for researching other, more obscure Walls of X spells, such as the aforementioned Greensteel, which would (of course) require a more expensive material component than the basic Wall of Iron spell would, and if it followed the pattern set in Wall of Iron in 3.5e rather than (hopefully) Pathfinder, the value of the material made would still exceed that of the material component.  If you want other ideas for useful things to make, consider this handbook:

http://web.archive.org/web/20140309180625/http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=11066.0

It talks about a LOT of useful stuff — Shapesand in particular is incredibly useful in making almost anything mundane with a little bit of willpower, provided you are using it immediately, and it talks about expanded uses for alchemy too.

Remember, D&D material science is potentially better than the material science in our real life world, so take advantage of that fact (check out the Armor and Weaponry handbook here: http://web.archive.org/web/20140309180825/http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=12837 for lots of ideas for things to do with mundane crafting materials). Glassteel, most recently in Champions of Valor, from its D&D stats, basically combines the best aspects of Glass, Titanium (which is *worse* than how Mithral is described in D&D…), the best steels, and super strong far future sci fi materials (which is what Adamantine or Mithral basically is in D&D). It’s basically a perfect construction material for nearly absolutely anything — if you can get it in large quantities!

Create several perpetual motion machines, make advanced machine shops and such to stack bonus upon bonus for crafting.  A solid low-level perpetual motion machine uses a simple repeating trap of a Blockade spell, a level 1 spell, from Complete Scoundrel to run a turbine, mill, or a flywheel, perhaps with some rollers.  The particular design I am thinking of looks like a Ferris Wheel or water wheel, and should be about as powerful as a V6 engine at high RPM with appropriate gearing.  Another good way to get work is to use permanency’d animated objects to be perpetual motion machines.  There are lots of methods — get creative.

Another very important thing to do is to get, for public use, repeating traps of things that help quality of life and productivity, like:

Endure Elements (shelter for everyone! – Low level)

Prestidigitation (people can, if they have a variant of this which gives them the ability to do Prestidigitation effects for the duration, clean things and flavor food however they want for the next hour! And there ARE more powerful spells to add olfactory illusions — look up Programmed Image to add a pleasant smell)

Create Food and Water (infinite food for everyone! There goes the agrarian economy!)

Goodberry (see Create Food and Water — combine this with gardens and Plant Growth)

Festival Feast (see Create food and Water)

Feed the Many (see Create Food and Water)

Create Spring

Purify Food and Drink (For the infinite food from the Create Food and Water Traps; this lets it last a bit longer)

Good Hope

Elation (Book of Exalted Deeds; Good Hope and Elation are specifically to combine for the production of infinite crafting XP, see discussion later)

Emotion (a 3.0 spell that does some of the things of Good Hope or Elation)

Make Whole (with this, you can fix anything!)

Lesser Restoration (infinite wakefulness, no one need ever sleep! It removes Fatigue and Exhaustion! Check with your GM if this will have any negative long term effects.   That said, ‘Remove Fatigue’ was a spell in Oriental Adventures and later, Book of Exalted Deeds. Your GM might rule that this higher level one is better for long term use)

Panacea (from Miniature’s Handbook. Heal anything! Ability damage, poison, disease, whatever! This is an incredibly useful healing spell, and lower level than a full Heal)

Low Light Vision

Superior Darkvision (from Unapproachable East. Unlimited distance darkvision; everyone is now productive at night!)

Mount (unlimited work in the form of however many draft animals you could want! Low level! And they are arguably edible!)

Whispering Sand (From Sandstorm. Set up a cell phone network for anyone! Low Level!)

Also, here is the expanded Permanency and Incarnate (Psionic Permanency) list; there are lots of useful things that can help folk to do things! This is especially useful when you think of how spells can help a society… beware dispelling though, you might want to use Circle Magic to get the caster level up to mitigate that risk! Unfortunately, you might need access to the Epic Rod of Excellent Magic, or Thought Bottle tricks (it’s in Complete Arcane… seriously, look at that thing, with an eye to ‘How can I use this to avoid paying XP for something I plan on doing?’; it’s absolutely crazy! Anything you do only costs 500 xp…)  to overcome the XP costs of Permanency… or you could just pay them, and centralize useful uses of the spell.

(Here’s a good link to some useful Thought Bottle tricks:

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?217819-Nesting-Thought-Bottles-millions-of-wishes

This link also has a useful trick with the Absorption spell, to get infinite spells:

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?212739-Absorption-Never-run-out-of-spells-again!

But hopefully, the idea is to do this before a character can get to cast 9th level spells! But back to the Permanency stuff)

http://web.archive.org/web/20080416113118/http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-332210

Also for cheap and easy birth control, set up a trap device of 'Bestow Curse – Infertility' (this is allowed, per BoVD, and is not an evil use of the spell) and one of 'Remove Curse', if your population boom from all the free food and items threatens to overwhelm your infrastructure creation in a campaign with lots of time skipping.  There are other methods, such as the herbs in some of the Forgotten Realms splatbooks, but this is safer and longer term and easily removable with a Remove Curse trap right next to it.  Free and safe contraception seriously can improve quality of life!

Use a combination of Elation, Good Hope, and Emotion with Distilled Joy to make Ambrosia. Make sure to get someone like a Factotum or anyone who has casting as a spell like ability, like a Dwoermerkeeper, from the Complete Divine web enhancement, see here: https://web.archive.org/web/20130531123317/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20040522a), to cast the Distilled Joy (from Book of Exalted Deeds) into the trap as a Spell Like Ability, thereby negating the long casting time.  Ambrosia can be used in place of experience points for crafting.  I don’t like using the BoVD version of this trick, so I won’t mention it beyond this one shout-out.

You could also just get the Wood Shape / Wall of Iron / Transmute Metal to Wood / Ironwood combo going for *anyone* for unlimited +1 Ironwood weapons and armor for your entire civilization — that's always nice and useful.  Of course, this would have to follow the interpretation of the Ironwood and the Crafting rules working such that they actually can make permanent magic items when combined with the appropriate Craft check — but this is still a plausible interpretation of the passages.  Also, remember that an Artificer could drain those for XP to put into other crafting items, thereby negating xp cost issues for himself. And remember, I already linked to the things about sharing crafting XP costs, and those can be used too!

—begin digression on wooden armor—

A more detailed example of some of the Ironwood trick is this, with a breastplate as an example:

Per the PHB and the SRD, in the "craft" section, at http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/craft.htm

"A successful Craft check related to woodworking in conjunction with the casting of the ironwood spell enables you to make wooden items that have the strength of steel."

In the Ironwood spell description, it says, at http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/ironwood.htm

"Effect: An ironwood object weighing up to 5 lb./level"

and

"Using this spell with wood shape or a wood-related Craft check, you can fashion wooden items that function as steel items. Thus, wooden plate armor and wooden swords can be created that are as durable as their normal steel counterparts. These items are freely usable by druids.

Further, if you make only half as much ironwood as the spell would normally allow, any weapon, shield, or suit of armor so created is treated as a magic item with a +1 enhancement bonus."

"Darkwood

This rare magic wood is as hard as normal wood but very light. Any wooden or mostly wooden item (such as a bow, an arrow, or a spear) made from darkwood is considered a masterwork item and weighs only half as much as a normal wooden item of that type. Items not normally made of wood or only partially of wood (such as a battleaxe or a mace) either cannot be made from darkwood or do not gain any special benefit from being made of darkwood. The armor check penalty of a darkwood shield is lessened by 2 compared to an ordinary shield of its type. To determine the price of a darkwood item, use the original weight but add 10 gp per pound to the price of a masterwork version of that item.

Darkwood has 10 hit points per inch of thickness and hardness 5."

In the Armor section, it says, at http://www.d20srd.org/srd/equipment/armor.htm

"Breastplate …. 200 gp … 30 lb."

and

"A masterwork suit of armor or shield costs an extra 150 gp over and above the normal cost for that type of armor or shield."

So, combined, what does this mean?

1. Make a Masterwork Darkwood Breastplate

2. As part of the crafting, cast a CL 11 Ironwood on it. This should work on an object up to 55 lbs. Further, since the actual Darkwood breastplate weighs half the normal weight — 15 lbs instead of 30 — it invokes the 'half as much ironwood as the spell would normally allow' clause, and the item becomes +1.

3. Enjoy your swank new armor! Many DMs rule that the +1 is permanent and won't go away; some GMs rule that the +1 goes away when the Ironwood spell runs out in a few days.  It shouldn’t be difficult to get a ruling that it remains as strong as steel after the spell wears off.  Regardless, it is Masterwork Light armor, like Mithral, and is as strong as steel, and doesn't burn like wood, being as resistant to fire as steel.

Now… looking at 3.0e and 3.5e, a Darkwood armor *was* possible. In Dragon Magazine 279 pg 49, Darkwood armor (described as treated with alchemical leaves) has spell failure chance decreased by 5%, max dex bonus increased by +2, armor check penalties decreased by 2, and it is treated as 1 category lighter. This was updated to 3.5e in Eberron Campaign Setting, and given the exact same stats, but called "Darkleaf".

But what are we doing? We are replacing the Alchemical treatment with a magical treatment, and taking a shortcut to get an item that has almost (but not quite) equivalent to a "+1 Mithral Breastplate", or at least a Mithral Breastplate.

—digression on wooden armor end—

Of course if you are going to be doing the large scale, setting-changing crafting YOURSELF, you will need Craft Construct or Craft Homunculus to make hosts and hosts and hosts of mass Dedicated Wrights (Eberron Campaign Setting) to do all of this work,what with your unlimited wealth and supplies and infinite XP.  DM buy-in will be needed for this bit to overcome the 'a single person can work on only a single magic item at a time' thing, but with the various ways of producing magic items, even this restriction doesn't *dramatically* lower wealth in a society (it just means you need to work on other methods of making items, or train people to start doing this constantly, or set up a magic school/factory, and so on).  This opens up constructs to be a large part of the area you are uplifting as well. Use the ideas from the Mechonomocon handbook here: http://web.archive.org/web/20141229184841/http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=177 to figure out how to do Construct crafting most effectively!

Generally, Effigies work really well, even if you don't go insane with the Mr. Roboto trick here: http://web.archive.org/web/20141101000000*/http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=4540.0. Also, Homunculus, as the SRD / Monster Manual creature, can have customized skills and feats, so you could make one which, with the right feats and skills, could perpetually play a Lyre of Building, taking 10 the whole time, and just get huge massive amounts of labor done wherever that creature goes. Of course, there are several ways of giving constructs intelligence; my favorite is simply to embed an intelligent item into the construct, and tell the construct to do what the item says. Also, you should look at the Airship design link at the top of this document — it has options that use effigies.

There is also another trick, with the spell 'Fabricate' and magical traps. When you build a repeating magic device trap, you put in 100 * the cost of the material component of the spell… after that, the trap can cast the spell as if it had the material component. This would work fantastically well with Fabricate traps made to make only one specific standard item, perhaps rare raw materials (if not the refined end product! Perhaps prefabricated items? People in real life have put together various types of lego-like building materials!) over and over and over again.

Thus, a Auto Reset trap of Fabricate designed to make a diamond worth 30 gp costs raw diamonds requiring 100 * 1/3rd of 30 gp, or 1,000 gp of uncut diamonds.  Of course, the other parts of the trap cost 7500 gp to make for an Artificer crafting it with the Trapsmith version.  Still, it spits out a 30 gp cut diamond every time it it works… and it works 14,400 times a day, forever… this can be done with silver, platinum or gold made into, say, an intricately designed and etched, easily stackable metal platter (which can then be melted down at will to hide it’s magical origin, thirding the value, but you don’t care about that).  An artificer making this would take 17 days to do so  As a 5th level spell at caster level 9 (the Wizard way of making it), the other bits of this trap costs 22,500 gp and 180 xp and 47 days of time to craft. In one day, it will make 14,400 30 gp diamonds, or 432,000 gp worth of diamonds. It would be cheaper if you have access to Fabricate as a 3rd level spell… which artificers can have, because there are classes that get it at third spell level!

A version with 3,000 gp diamonds costs raw diamonds requiring 100 * 1/3rd of 3,000 gp, or 100,000 gp in materials. Then, it spits out a 3,000 gp cut diamond every time it goes off. This one takes 245, 122,500 gp and 180 xp, to give you a 3,000 gp diamond every round forever. After one day (14,400 rounds), you have 14,400 3,000 gp diamonds, or 43,200,000 gp worth of diamonds. In One Day.

Another interesting way of solving the food problem — perhaps more cheaply, and likely with higher quality than Create Food and Water / Purify Food and Drink / Prestidigitation traps, is combining the spell "Energy Transformation Field" from Spell Compendium, and key it to the spell "Hero's Feast". This lets an area absorb magical energy, and then cast an extremely high quality food spell, and with the amount of magic going about this setting, you could feed a large number of people with this.

Here are some ideas for improving methods of communication.  You can use Aspect Mirrors in Complete Scoundrel as a high-end magical Communications infrastructure, in a hub-and-spoke network, with old school phone operator switch boards.  Thought: Perhaps with some method of making lots of these, such as the Wish + Energy Transformation Field + Blink Dog farm, to aid in creating lots of them.  Another great method for communication is the Spell, from Sandstorm ‘Whispering Sand’.  A few traps of this scattered around a city, and encourage people to carry a pound of Shapesand with them (it’s a useful multi-tool!  Have artists shape it into something fashionable), and set up name directories for people to call, and you have — essentially — something better than a cell phone network, assuming you can distribute enough of those traps.

Now, with regards to getting things moving everywhere, You can nest Bags of Holding, as long as it is ONLY Bags of Holding.  Make sure the GM doesn’t have a misconception with how these items behave before you try this due to their interaction with other, different magical items!  This means that with Ring Gates (the DMG item, also on the SRD, here: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#ringGates ), you can get near any amount of item you can put in a bag of holding to the other end of the Ring Gate. Also, Teleportation Circles, which can move a ridiculous amount of supply (or soldiers, or whatever) fantastically far to wherever you want, so that very well defended, very dense urban centers start to become the only viable means of guarding against attack… because it is very, very, very hard (even with these sorts of things available) to guard against attacks via Teleport or Teleportation Circle, especially when an enemy empire can dump their entire army on your doorstep at a moment's notice via a single Teleportation Circle… Even if a homebrew version of the Lair Wards from Draconomicon is developed that prevents or shunts a teleport somewhere, that still only reduces, not eliminates the issue… and Weirdstones (a GREAT anti scrying and anti-teleportation item from Player's Guide to Faerun, but quite expensive), aren't completely impossible to circumvent.  For example, see the spell ‘Wish’ as far as teleportation goes, and note how many of these anti-Teleportation measures require line of effect (so get some form of Earthgliding and teleport in the ground underneath the ward!) to work! Also note, that a properly designed level 11 Warlock is capable of getting access to Teleportation Circle, so you don't precisely need a level 17 Wizard or whatever to do it…

A thread that talks about the more plausible effects of Teleportation Circles on society is here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=222007 Make sure to read it!  Many of the ideas in this thread make use of some of the ideas in that one. The possible changes are perhaps more intense than the repeating traps I mentioned earlier!

Basically, what you have with all of this set up is the ingredients for basically no one to ever need to do manual labor, and an economy where no actual 'things' are scarce, except for things that are unique and handmade by hand the old fashioned way, and everyone has lots of built things and magic items and stuff, and there is no disease or illness and no one needs to sleep if they don't want to, etc. etc. AND people can materialize in the streets from far away, and as long as they don't start killing people, no one bats an eye.. — you know, a civilization that has more in common with Star Trek than the Middle Ages…

Now, the question is, with all of these tricks possible — why DO D&D worlds tend to look like medieval stasis worlds?

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