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    The Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less: Volume 1—Armor and Weapons


    Welcome to the first book in the Loot 4 Less line, where we deal exclusively in items with a cost-to-consumer of 2,500 gp or less. That’s right: no epic artifacts, rods of eleventy parts or even typical moderate magic items here. This is a forum for the cheapest of the cheap, and that’s it. And just to up the level of difficulty, we also don’t deal in one-shot (or even two- or three-shot) magic items. No scrolls, potions, talismans or fire-and- forget tattoo magics here. Everything here is a legitimate permanent magic item, free of charges and able to be used in adventure after adventure.

    To kick things off , this first volume deals with weapons and armor, bread-and-butter items that everyone can use. Not only do we provide each magical enhancement with a full description and cost, sidebars explain those costs. Each Behind the Counter sidebar explains how a price was arrived at, allowing GMs to apply the logic to other abilities (and be better able to change the pricing to match the needs of their campaign, with a firm knowledge of where the numbers come from).

    INVESTMENT ITEMS

    Okay, so let’s say that all sounds great, but you’re not sure why you should care. Do campaigns really need a few dozen more magic item options? Why would anyone care about more cheap magic items that aren’t one-shots? Doesn’t such options as masterwork and mithral items provide enough items of use at lower costs to take care of inexpensive treasure needs? Aren’t potions and scrolls magic enough for low-level characters?

    Not really, no.

    The problem with using one-shot items to flesh out the treasure piles of lower-level characters is that once used, they’re gone. This makes it difficult for low-level characters to accumulate wealth. Since the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game assumes characters built to specific wealth levels as they gain levels, a GM is forced to either boost treasure given at lower levels, or have a group of PCs who are slightly underpowered. By giving PCs minor but permanent magic items, a GM gives them the ability to save some wealth value. These items can be resold for half their full value. A low-level character can take a few minor items and sell them to pay for (or at least off set the full cost of) a more major item at higher levels.

    Another benefit of cheap, re-usable magic items is they are more tempting for low-level spellcasters to craft themselves. The investment in gp and time to make even a +2 sword is more than most 6th level casters want to attempt, and a party only needs so many +1 weapons. By expanding the number of cheap options lower-level casters have, a GM gives them more opportunities to be useful to their party and explore the rules regarding item creation.

    Finally, having more low-cost items allow both players and GM to customize characters more. With only a few items in their price range, the treasures of low CR npcs often look very similar. By the same token, when all anyone can afford is a +1 weapon and +1 armor, their characters don’t seem that different. Compare that to a rogue with a faux flaming shortsword and leavened armor. He may not have as high an AC or hit as often, but since he’ll work with what he’s got he’s more likely to try to sneak quietly and quickly to a target area, bluffing any guard he comes across with the threat of setting a fire. That leads to more interesting games, and more memorable moments for everyone.

    WEAPONS AND ARMOR

    Though not the number one choice for arcane spellcasters (for whom we recommend you take a look at our bevy of bargain rings or wands, to be presented in later books), magic weapons and armor are of use to pretty much everyone else. They’re a critical part of combat classes ability to keep up with the monsters they face, and a good augmentation for anyone else. At low levels they’re also a good choice to place in monster hoards because they’re often popular with multiple characters. Rather than worrying about exactly what item each PC is going to want, throw a few useful but cheap weapons and shields into the mix and let them work it out.

    Because armor and (especially) weapons can get very expensive very quickly, our book takes some liberties with the normal rules for adding special abilities to weapons and armor and adds a new concept — the +1/2 bonus.

    FRACTIONAL BONUSES

    Not every special ability is useful or powerful enough to qualify for even a +1 bonus cost. For more minor abilities, the +1/2 bonus cost has been added. A +1/2 bonus special ability can be added to another +1/2 bonus to use the existing chart (a +1 swift striking, hammerblow short sword is priced as a +2 bonus weapon), or the GM can use the new armor and weapon pricing charts to allow non-whole number bonus costs.

    Because these fraction bonus abilities are so minor, armor suits and weapons can have a single +1/2 bonus special ability without being masterwork, as well as without any other magic enhancement (they are not required to have at least a +1 enhancement before they can add a +1/2 bonus special ability), so a cost for a total bonus of +1/2 is given. However, no item may have more than a single +1/2 bonus special ability without being masterwork and having at least a +1 enhancement bonus. (Spellforged weapon and armor are an exception to this rule, along with several other rules for magic weapons and armor. See that special ability’s description, below.)

    BEHIND THE COUNTER: WHY ALLOW NON-MASTERWORK, NON +1, MAGIC ITEMS?

    Really, the answer is one of game balance. Normally, items are required to be both masterwork and have at least a +1 enhancement bonus prior to having any other special abilities to ensure that the more effective special abilities aren’t available until upper levels. While it wouldn’t really be unbalancing for a character to have a flaming longsword (with no masterwork quality and no enhancement bonus) for 2,015 gp, it’s important that a vorpal weapon not be available until players can afford a single item worth 72,300 gp minimum. A vorpal longsword (with no enhancement bonus) priced at a mere 50,000 gp could actually unbalance a game.

    However, with fractional bonuses this is less of a concern. A weapon with a single fraction special ability isn’t going to unbalance a game even if it’s available at 1st level. The benefit of allowing such very simple magic items (more interesting treasure, a better chance to build wealth naturally, and more differentiated low-level characters) far outweigh the slight bending of the rules to allow them. Since this exception is restricted to a single fractional bonus, the impact is minimal at best.

    The spellforged ability can also be useful to players who grow emotionally attached to their starting equipment, which rarely includes masterwork items. It may just be a longsword as far as game-mechanics are concerned but if a player has decided it’s his grandfather’s longsword, carried in the Five Marches Against Darkness and used to slay Grunthas the Half-Orken, it’s a bummer to tuck it away when magic weapons become a requirement for adventuring. Much nicer to be able to get someone to slap the spellforged ability on it and start adding magic properties, keeping the family heirloom as a usable tool of dungeon-delving.

    A magic weapon with just +1/2 bonus abilities never gives off light, and does not count as magic for purposes of bypassing damage reduction.

    ARMOR

    Most classes have some access to armor, and thus magic armor is a popular choice for GMs to pass out as treasure. Armor isn’t as universal as weapons, since so many characters have fairly specific armor needs (a fighter wearing a breastplate is unlikely to turn it in for a mildly magic suit of studded leather, while the rogue depends on such light armors). If several characters in a group carry shields, a few magical bucklers and kite shields may actually be better received.

    MAGIC ARMOR SPECIAL ABILITIES

    The following special abilities can all be used to create a shield or suit of magic armor with a cost of 2,500 gp or less. Of course they can also be used to make more expensive armors.

    Elusive

    A enhancement bonus to AC provided by an elusive suit of armor or shield is 1 higher against ranged weapon attacks (but not melee weapon attacks or spells).

    Faint abjuration; CL 3rd; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; entropic shield; Price +1/2 Bonus.

    Fleet

    A suit of heavy armor can be made fleet. A character running in fleet heavy armor may run at x4 his base speed, rather than the normal x3 for being in heavy armor.

    Faint transmutation; CL 1st; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; expeditious retreat; Price +1/2 Bonus.

    Leavened

    A leavened suit of armor or shield has half its normal weight.

    Faint abjuration; CL 3rd; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; entropic shield; Price +500 gp.

    Remedy

    This special ability works against a specific weapon, including natural weapons (such as short sword, arrow, warhammer, claw, or unarmed strike) which is defined when the armor is imbued with the ability. Against the specific weapon selected, the remedy armor grants damage reduction 3/–.

    Faint abjuration; CL 1st; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; protection from evil; Price +1/2 Bonus.

    Restful

    A suit of medium or heavy armor can be made restful. A character trying to sleep in restful armor may make a Fortitude save to avoid being fatigued. For Medium armor this is a DC 15 Fort save, for heavy armor it is a DC 20 Fort save.

    Light armor can already be slept in without the character being fatigued, and thus never has need of this special ability.

    Faint enchantment; CL 1st; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; sleep; Price +1/2 Bonus.

    Spellforged

    A spellforged suit of armor can accept other special abilities as if it had a +1 enchantment, despite not giving any actual bonus to AC. Additionally, armor need not be masterwork to be spellforged (and can still accept other special abilities).

    Minor illusion; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft (armorer) 5+ ranks, magic aura; Price +1/2 bonus.

    Tough

    A tough suit of armor has its hardness increased by 1 and gains an additional 10 hit points.

    Minor abjuration; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Toughness; Price +250 gp.

    Willing

    Willing armor takes half as long to don or remove as it would normally under the same circumstances. Shields cannot be willing.

    Faint conjuration; CL 1st; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; unseen servant; Price +500 gp.

    SPECIFIC ARMORS

    Armor and Shield Costs

    Item Base Price (gp)
    +.5 2,250
    +1 1,000
    +1.5 2,250
    +2 4,000
    +2.5 6,250
    +3 9,000
    +3.5 12,250
    +4 16,000
    +4.5 20,250
    +5 25,000
    +5.5 30,250
    +6 36,000
    +6.5 42,250
    +7 49,000
    +7.5 56,250
    +8 64,000
    +8.5 72,250
    +9 81,000
    +9.5 90,250
    +10 100,000
    Though obviously the number of shields and suits of armor that can be made with these rules is huge, here are a few specific examples to help GMs short on time.

    Boltcatcher

    These special shields are often given to troops expecting to come under heavy enemy fire. They are masterwork elusive remedy (bolt) spellforged heavy steel shields. This means they grant a +2 shield AC bonus, +3 vs. ranged weapons, and grant damage reduction 3/-- against bolts.

    Faint abjuration and illusion; CL 3rd; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; Craft (armorer) 5+ ranks, magic aura, entropic shield, protection from evil; price 2,420 gp; Cost 1,295 gp.

    Footman’s Armor

    Used for heavy foot troops (often assault troops), these suits are masterwork fleet banded mail. This allows the foot troops to maneuver more easily to intercept foes.

    Faint transmutation; CL 1st; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; expeditious retreat; Price 650 gp; Cost 525 gp.

    Light Mail

    Designed to provide maximum protection for minimum cost, light mail is a masterwork +1 leavened chain shirt. Weighing only 12.5 pounds this armor gives five times the protection of ordinary padded armor for only a fraction more weight.

    Faint abjuration; CL 3rd; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; entropic shield; Price 1,750 gp; Cost 1,000 gp.

    WEAPONS

    We all know you can’t get a magic weapon cheap. With the minimum enchantment of +1 costing 2,000 gp, and the need for the weapon to be masterwork (another 300 gp), even a common short sword ends up costing 2,310 gp once it’s a +1 short sword. And if you want to do something else with your weapon, something to make it unique and interesting, you’re looking at another 6,000 gp minimum.

    Well, not anymore. With the Loot for Less +1/2 bonus abilities, along with the spellforged property, it’s possible to have a magic short sword for as little as 510 gp. And, by the time you’re shelling out 2,500 gp, you can have a sharp spellforged short sword for 2,310 gp. It may lack the attack or damage bonuses of a traditional +1 weapon, but it has the advantage of being different, and still having room to grow. A duelist who wanted to make the same magic short sword willing would also be looking at only another 2,500 gp, making it easier to upgrade in small steps.

    MAGIC WEAPON SPECIAL ABILITIES

    The following special abilities can all be used to create a magic weapon with a cost of 2,500 gp or less. Of course they can also be used to make more expensive weapons.

    Faux Flaming

    A faux flaming weapon appears to be a weapon with the flaming property, but it’s flames are illusionary. They are visible (illuminating as a torch does), audible, and even give off the scent of fire, but deal no damage and can not set anything alight. Anyone struck with the weapon immediately knows the fire along the weapon is fake, and anyone observing it in use may make a DC 18 Will save to realize the fire is false. It’s possible to make faux frost or faux shock weapons for the same cost and with the same prerequisites, but such weapons are much less common.

    Minor illusion; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, disguise self; Price +500 gp.

    Hammerblow

    A hammerblow weapon deals bludgeoning damage, rather than its normal damage type. Bows and crossbows so crafted bestow the bludgeoning property upon their ammunition.

    Minor transmutation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, shillelagh; Price +500 gp.

    Hovering

    A hovering weapon does not fall to the ground when dropped. Instead, it fl oats next to the character that dropped it. It floats adjacent to that character, moving up to 60 feet/round to do so. If the hovering weapon is ever unable to remaining adjacent to the character that dropped it, it falls to the ground. While hovering it counts as an unattended object, and can be freely grabbed by anyone able to reach it as a swift action without provoking attacks of opportunity.

    Minor evocation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, floating disk; Price +1/2 bonus.

    Hurtful

    A hurtful weapon’s enhancement bonus to damage is +1 higher. Thus a +2 hurtful weapon grants a +2 enhancement bonus to attack rolls, and a +3 enhancement bonus to damage rolls. Bows, crossbows and slings so crafted bestow the hurtful property upon their ammunition. It is possible to have a +0 to hit, +1 to damage hurtful weapon.

    Minor transmutation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, magic weapon; price +1/2 bonus.

    Leavened

    A leavened weapon has half its normal weight. Ammunition must buy this property separately, or retain its normal weight.

    Minor transmutation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, mage hand; Price +1/2 bonus.

    Penetrating

    A penetrating weapon deals piercing damage rather than it’s normal damage type. Slings so crafted bestow the penetrating property upon their ammunition.

    Minor evocation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, magic missile; Price +500 gp.

    Proficient

    A proficient weapon has no non-proficiency penalty. Anyone can use it without taking a penalty to attack rolls. Because simple weapons are easier to use, they accept this property much more easily. (The cost for a martial or exotic weapon is given for completeness – they don’t qualify as Loot 4 Less.)

    Minor divination; CL 3rd, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, true strike; Price +500 gp (simple weapon), +5,000 gp (exotic or martial weapon).

    Sharp

    The sharp property is essentially a lesser version of keen. It can only be placed on a piercing or slashing weapon with a threat range of 19-20 or 18-20, and it increases this range by 1. Thus a sharp rapier has a threat range of 17-20, and a sharp short sword has a threat range of 18-20. The increase to threat range granted by a sharp weapon does not stack with any other ability or effect that increases threat ranges, including the Improved Critical feat and keen special ability.

    Minor universal; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, prestidigitation; Price +1/2 bonus gp.

    Slicing

    A slicing weapon deals slashing damage rather than it’s normal damage type.

    Minor transmutation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, bleed; Price +500 gp.

    Spellforged

    A spellforged weapon can accept other special abilities as if it had a +1 enchantment, despite not giving any actual bonus to attack or damage rolls. Additionally, a weapon need not be masterwork to be spellforged (and can still accept other special abilities).

    Minor illusion; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft (weaponsmith) 5+ ranks, magic aura; Price +1/2 bonus gp.

    BEHIND THE COUNTER: WHY IS SWIFT STRIKING CHEAPER THAN MIGHTY CLEAVING?

    On the face of it, it might seem that the swift striking property should cost the same as the mighty cleaving property. And it should. Here at the Loot 4 Less emporium, we’re convinced mighty cleaving is overpriced. Have you ever seen anyone commission a mighty cleaving weapon, as opposed to bane or flaming? We heartily recommend changing mighty cleaving to a +1/2 bonus property, to bring it back in line with other magic abilities.

    Swift Striking

    A weapon with this special ability can be used for one more attack of opportunity each round than normal by a character with the Combat Reflexes feat. Thus, the total number of attacks of opportunity that may be taken with a swift striking weapon and Combat Reflexesis two plus Dex modifier round. If the character does not have Combat Reflexes, he gains no benefit from a swift striking weapon.

    Minor transmutation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, expeditious retreat; Price +1/2 bonus gp.

    Tough

    A tough weapon has its hardness and hit points increased by 1 each.

    Minor abjuration; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Toughness; Price +500 gp.

    Willing

    Once each day, a willing weapon can be drawn as a free action (as if the wielder had the Quick Draw feat). If the wielder does have the Quick Draw feat, the weapon may be put away as a free action once per day.

    Minor transmutation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, expeditious retreat; Price +1/2 bonus.

    SPECIFIC WEAPONS

    Weapon Costs

    Item Base Price (gp)
    +.5 500
    +1 2,000
    +1.5 4,500
    +2 8,000
    +2.5 12,500
    +3 18,000
    +3.5 24,500
    +4 32,000
    +4.5 40,500
    +5 50,000
    +5.5 60,500
    +6 72,000
    +6.5 84,500
    +7 98,000
    +7.5 112,500
    +8 128,000
    +8.5 144,500
    +9 162,000
    +9.5 180,500
    +10 200,000
    Though obviously the number of weapons that can be made with these rules is huge, here are a few specific examples to help GMs short on time.

    Fencing Sword

    This is the among the cheapest of magic weapons, but still of use to any serious duelist who can’t afford better. It’s a non-masterwork sharp rapier, giving it no bonus to attack or damage rolls, but a threat range of 17-20.

    Minor universal; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, prestidigitation; Price 520 gp; Cost 270 gp.

    Footman’s Glaive

    This is a simple masterwork hurtful glaive. Though it grants a +1 enhancement bonus to both attack and damage, it doesn’t count as a magic weapon for purposes of damage reduction, and can’t gain any further magical abilities until it’s made at least a +1 weapon. It is, however, a good cheap magic item for the rank-and-file soldiers of a rich lord.

    Minor transmutation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, magic weapon; Price 808 gp; Cost 558 gp.

    Tombkeeper

    This impressive weapon is a spellforged, hammerblow, faux flaming greatsword. Since it deals bludgeoning damage it’s great for fights with skeletons, and it’s fake flames often keep mummies and animals at bay – at least for a moment. Designed for guards of family crypts, a tombkeeper sword is as much about ceremony as substance, but it does lend anyone the weight of authority.

    Minor illusion and transmutation; CL 1st, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft (weaponsmith) 5+ ranks, disguise self, shillelagh, magic aura; Price 1,850 gp; Cost 1,100.