Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Elder Scrolls Conversion Project; Enchanting and Magic items

In the world of the Elder Scrolls magic items and creating magic items (Enchanting) is relatively common. Some mages have steady incomes from creating, selling and recharging magic items for mercenaries, sellswords and adventurers. Below you will find how magic items work, some example magic items and the rules for enchanting.


Magic items in the world of Elder Scrolls are powered by the magic of souls, save for a few relics and artifacts. To create a magic item, one needs to capture a soul in a soulgem, and then using the soul enchant the mundane item.
Using the item uses up some of the charges. Once all the charges are expended the item loses its magic until recharged.
Magic items are also quite different from D&D magic items in their magical abilties. They do not usually give flat attack and damage bonuses, but rather they contribute to the combat with an effect.

In this conversion, to keep the essence of how magic items work, the following rule is applied.

When a character hits with a magic weapon, he can choose to expend one of the uses of its magic, consuming a charge, instead of consuming a charge on every hit.
If the item is not a weapon, but a staff or a ring, the user can expend the charges at will.

For example, when a character hits with his Sword of Burning, he can expend a charge to add an extra 1d6 fire damage to his attack.
Or using a Ring of Invisibility consumes a charge and the user becomes invisible for 1 minute.

Unlike in D&D, the charges of the magic items are not returning each dawn, but also, using up all the charges does not risk destroying the item.

Soul gems

Soul gems are special gemstones capable of storing the souls of the deceased indefinitely. Soul gems can be used to create and recharge magical items. Creating magical items requires an Enchanting Altar (see below), but recharging can be done easily without special training.
There are five sizes of soul gems, each can contain a different number of charges for magic items. These sizes are: Petty, Lesser, Common, Greater and Grand. There are also Black Soul gems, you can read more about them below.
Capturing a soul requires casting a soul traping spell at the target before it dies. Only one soul traping spell can be active on a target at a time. Casting a second spell cancels the previous one. When the target dies, its soul fills the smallest gem it can fit on the possession of the caster.

Petty soul gems are the smallest, weakest type of gems, they can contain up to 5 charges. The souls of creatures below 1/2 CR can be captured in Petty gems. Only the weakest magic items use petty gems. Petty soul gems cost 10 septims empty and 50 septims filled.

Lesser soul gems can contain twice as much charges, up to 10, than petty stones. The souls of creatures below 1 CR can be captured in Lesser gems. Many lesser items use lesser gems. Lesser soulgems cost 25 septims empty and a 100 septims filled.

Common soul gems are the average gems, most commonly used for creating magic items. They can hold up to 20 charges, and creatures below 2 CR can be captured within Common gems. Common gems cost 50 septims empty and 200 septims filled.

Greater soul gems are rare and powerful, only used for strong and important items. They can hold up to 40 charges, and creatures below 5 CR can be captured within Greater gems. Greater soul gems cost 150 septims empty and 500 septims filled.

Grand soul gems are the most powerful, largest soul gems, and they are used for creating exceptionally powerful magic items. They can hold up to 60 charges and creatures below CR 10 can be captured withing Grand gems. Grand soul gems cost 250 septims empty and 700 septims filled.

Black soul gems are Grand soul gems corrupted by necromancers and dark magic. Only black soul gems can hold sentinent souls, and they are exclusively used to create dark and evil items. They can hold up to 60 charges, like Grand soul gems. Black soul gems cost 500 septims empty and 1250 septims filled.

Once a soul gem is used to capture a soul, it cannot be reused and when the charges are lost, either by recharging or creating a magic item, the gem breaks into fragments.
Black soul gems can be created at special necromantic altars by using a dark ritual.


Enchanting always was the trade of magic users in the Elder Scrolls universe and I prefer to keep it that way. In the light of this, here are the rules for enchanting

New tools: Enchanting Altar
The Enchanting Altar allows the user to create magical items. Enchanting altars are usually quite big and bulky and there is no "travel-size". The Enchanting altar consists of several key parts, like Magetallow Candles.
To be proficient with enchanting altar, one must be a spellcaster.

To create a magic item, one must know the magical effect from another source. If you do not know any fire spells, you cannot create a magic item with fire enchantement.

Creating a magic item requires: A mundane item, a filled soulgem, the spell effect you wish to use and expensive material components.

Certain spell effects may use more than one charges on each use. Certain spells for this reason might require a minimum size of a soul gem to work, and might not work with any gem.

Here are the prices for the material components and a level cap used during creating the magic item depending on the size of the soul:
Petty - 300 septim - Level 3 Mage
Lesser - 600 septim - Level 7 Mage
Common - 1200 septim - Level 9 Mage
Greater - 2400 septim - Level 11 Mage
Grand or Black - 6000 septim - Level 15 Mage

Creating a magic item is great work. A character can spend 8 hours of work and that progresses a 100 septim in the total price of creating the item. Creating an item with petty magic takes 3 days, while a grand takes 60.

Recharging: To recharge a magic item, a character needs a filled soul gem. Using the gem, the character can spend a short rest to recharge one of his items with magic. A soul gem cannot be used more than once, even if it posseses more charges than the item needs. At the end of the short rest, the soulgem transfers all of its charges to the magic item. Any excess charges are lost, and the soul gem breaks.

Example magic items

Steel Sword of Minor Burning
Charges 5. Availability: Common, Price 500 septim.
This steel swords has a faint bright red glow when it posseses charges. It is slightly warm to the touch. When the sword hits, and deals damage, the user can expend 1 charge to deal an extra 1d6 fire damage. The user can also spend multiple charges to deal increased damage.

Silver Sapphire Ring of Lesser Cold Resistance
Charges 10. Availability: Uncommon, Price 800 septim
This silver ring has a small saphire gem in it. The wearer can spend a charge and gain resistance against cold damage for 10 minutes. The wearer can spend 2 charges and gain immunity to cold damage for 1 minute.

Lesser Staff of Frost
Charges 10. Availability: Uncommon, Price 900 septims
This wooden staff always feels cold to touch, and when left alone for a while the moisture in the air freezes on it. The user can expend 1 charge and make a ranged spell attack with +6 (or if the user has better, use that) within 60 feet. On a hit, the attack deals 2d4 frost damage.
The staff can also be used as a quarterstaff.

On a later post I will give guidelines how to create balanced magic items for your players.

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