Item Rarity

( ⇪ Adventuring Variants )

Your ability to find any given item in a community is influenced by a number of factors:

Table: Item Availability Factors
Factor Description Relevant Term
Population The size of the community. The community’s “gp Limit”
Fame How much word of your deeds has spread. Your party’s “highest ECL”
Availability How much supply of it might be available. “Rarity Rating” (usually 0)
Legality How legal it is to have the item. “Illegality Code” (usually none)

These factors are tools for monitoring and limiting how powerful or rich the PCs can become through buying and selling items. It’s vital that the GM understand the concepts of “Item Levels” (IL) (MIC p226) and the ”gp Limit” (MIC p232). The following methodology is used both for finding an item for sale and for finding someone to purchase an item (such as loot), but for simplicity’s sake the terms below assume you’re looking to buy.

Base Item Level

The “Base Item Level” in any given situation is the Item Level (round down, minimum 1/2) of either “half the gp Limit” or “half your party’s highest ECL”, whichever is lower. Most items worth the Base IL or less can be found without effort in that community (see below).

Table: Item Level Limits by Community
Community Size gp Limit Minimum IL Maximum IL
Thorp 40 gp 40 gp1 (1/2) 400 gp (2nd)
Hamlet 100 gp 50 gp (1/2) 800 gp (3rd)
Village 200 gp 150 gp (1st) 1,300 gp (4th)
Small town 800 gp 400 gp (2nd) 1,800 gp (5th)
Large town 3,000 gp 1,800 gp (5th) 5,000 gp (9th)
Small city 15,000 gp 10,000 gp (12th) 35,000 gp (16th)
Large City 40,000 gp 25,000 gp (15th) 80,000 gp (19th)
Metropolis 100,000 gp 64,000 gp (18th) 140,000 gp (22nd)

1 Purchased quantity must be within the gp limit.

Some items simply cannot be found for sale in a given community. You can never find an item with an IL higher than the “highest ECL in your party” +2. This is because you are simply not famous enough for whoever actually has the item to even consider selling it to you. In addition, you can never find an item with an IL higher than the “IL of the gp limit” +2. This is because even the richest person in that community will never be willing to sell something so valuable. As you approach these limits (which ignore the community’s set gp Limit) when purchasing an item, the odds increase that you’d need to leave the community soon afterward or rumors of your purchase may draw the attention of unsavory characters who’d want to steal it from you.

Rarity (unless it’s especially rare), having no “Illegality Code”, or having “Illegality Code A” are not on their own factors which make it require a check. Items higher than the Base IL or with Illegality Code B or C require a complex Gather Information check to find someone that’d be willing to consider selling it to you. Each PC can attempt such a check for that item once per day, but any combination of PCs failing the complex check for two days in a row means the party can’t make another check for that item in that community for a month (it’s not that they can’t so much as it would be fruitless, as it would take a while for it to become available in that community). Generally, only PCs can make these checks, and can’t take 10, 16, or 18. Other PCs can use the “aid another” option on these checks, but any PC that does so cannot aid anyone else in their checks that day nor can they attempt to find the item themselves that day. Each roll in the check represents 2 hours of time spent. Before any roll, you can choose to abort the search without determining an overall success or failure for that day’s attempt (aborting has no consequences, but wastes your search for that item that day).

Rarity Rating

The Rarity Rating is a measure of how much supply is available in that community:

  • 0 = You can find it at any suitable shop or vendor, if there is one.
  • 1~5 = Increase the market price by 10% and recalculate the Item Level.
  • 6~15 = As above, but instead increase the market price by 30%.
  • 16+ = As above, but instead increase the market price by “2×[Rarity Rating]%”.

Most items (especially commodities like gems and steel) have rarity zero, with unusual materials, construction, or combat utility usually getting a rarity of 2. If it makes sense that it would be likely be hard to find, increase rarity to 4 or even 5. Particularly rare items could have a rarity of 6~15, with unique items like artifacts being rarity 16 or higher. If the item would reasonably be more common in this setting (such as most psionic items) reduce its rarity by 1. Just because something is magic or psionic does not make it rare, although if it’s an unusual kind of magic item it might be relatively rare. In-general, suggest a rarity rating to your GM and get approval. See the list of example items below to get a ballpark estimate. Remember that having a rarity rating above zero will increase the market price and recalculate the Item Level.

Illegality code

The Illegality Code (if it has one) is expressed with a letter and a number. When in an unusual locale (such as a backwater planet or fringe society), determining the Illegality Code of an item requires a Knowledge (Local) or Gather Information check, at the DCs shown below. In common locales like the Hyperion core worlds or prominent colonies and spaceports, the specific items mentioned below can be assumed to be in that category. The number is a measure of whether the criminal element of the area has a particular use for that item (such as because it could enable the worst sort of person to be even more terrible, as compared to them just having a dagger), thus making it even harder to find. Like with rarity, suggest an illegality number to your GM and get approval. See the list of example items below to get a ballpark estimate, but an illegality number is almost never going to be higher than 10.

  • No illegality code: It’s legal to own, carry, and use even outside of an emergency. (Typically items without any ability to incapacitate, annoying to the target at worst, helpful wands and helpful grenades at best)
  • Code A (DC 10): It’s legal to own and carry the item in the general public even without a permit, but illegal to use except in emergencies. (Typically refers to Non-gun Simple Weapons, Non-Lethal Dangerous Wands, etc.)
  • Code B (DC 8): It’s legal to own the item, but illegal for it to be carried in public without a permit. It can still be used in emergencies. Purchasing it legally involves immediately registering that permit. (Typically refers to Lethal Wands, Firearms, Pistols, Rifles, all other Grenades, Martial Weapons, Exotic Weapons, Acid Flasks, etc.)
  • Code C (DC 6): It’s illegal to own it. (Typically refers to Contraband, Narcotics, Poisons, Gunpowder Explosives, Turrets, Rocket Launchers, etc.)
Table: Example Items
Item Name Cost Item Level Typical
Rarity Rating
Pole, 10 ft 0.2 gp 1/2 0 N/A DC 11
Dagger 2 gp 1/2 0 A-0 DC 11
Magic Missile Pistol, CL 1, max 10, stable 0 30 gp 1/2 0 B-0 DC 11
Burning Hands Pistol, CL 1, max 5, stable 5 165 gp 2nd 0 B-0 DC 14
Masterwork Longsword 315 gp 2nd 0 B-0 DC 14
Stabilize Grenade, 1 charge, rechargeable, RI 5 ft 540 gp 3rd 0 N/A DC 16
Shiftweave 500 gp
550 gp
3rd 1 N/A DC 17
Sleep Grenade, 1 charge, rechargeable, RI 30 ft 100 gp
110 gp
1st 2
(+10 gp)
B-4 DC 18
+1 Longsword 1,315 gp 5th 0 B-0 DC 20
Masterwork Deep Crystal Longsword 1,315 gp
1,446.5 gp
5th 1
(+131.5 gp)
B-0 DC 21
Strong Ditherbomb (RDr p122) 300 gp
330 gp
2nd 3
(+30 gp)
C-7 DC 24
6-pound Explosive Pack (SoS p138) 600 gp
660 gp
3rd 5
(+60 gp)
C-10 DC 31
Hat of Disguise 1,800 gp
1,980 gp
(+180 gp)
B-5 DC 30
DC 32
+1 Keen Longsword 8,315 gp 12th 0 B-0 DC 34

The Complex Check

By default, you need 4 successes before 3 failures to find the item as for sale. Some factors may change the number of successes, the number of failures, or the DC of the Gather Information checks. There may also be special consequences after the complex skill check resolves. The Base DC is 10+2×[Item Level].

GM’s Note: Complex skill checks amplify the difficulty or ease experienced with individual rolls depending on whether your probability of success at each roll is more than ~65%. For example, a 74% chance of success per roll means a 81% chance of success at a typical “4-before-3” complex skill check. It also increases the difficulty if you increase the number of required successes or lower the number of allowed failures.
Table: Influences on the DC
Influence DC Modifier
The item is illegal in some way
(Illegality A, B, or C).
DC + Illegality Code Number
A rival is searching for the item too. DC + Rival’s CR
Someone else is actively inhibiting your search. DC + Hindrance’s CR
The item has a Rarity Rating of 1~5 DC + Rarity Rating
The item has a Rarity Rating of 6~15 DC + Rarity Rating + 2
The item has a Rarity Rating of 16+ DC + Rarity Rating + 5
Miscellaneous unfavorable/favorable circumstances DC +2 or DC -2 as appropriate
Table: Influences on the Required Successes
Influence Required Successes Modifier
The item is illegal in some way
(Illegality A, B, or C).
Successes + 1
You are given a false lead. Successes + 1 for each false lead
You’re given a really good lead. Successes – 1 for each really good lead
A rival is searching for the item too. Successes + 1
Table: Influences on the Allowed Failures
Influence Allowed Failures Modifier
Illegality Code B Failures – 1
Illegality Code C Failures – 2
Two or more other PCs will be aiding you. Failures + 1
Table: Circumstances with Consequences
Circumstance Consequence
Illegality Code B, you fail at least 1 time, but succeed at the attempt. You find the item. If you buy the item, your permit will be filed immediately as-normal, but local authorities might flag it for investigation 24 hours later.
Illegality Code C, you have at least 2 successes, and you fail the attempt or succeed with only one failure remaining. You find the item. Regardless of whether you buy it, the local authorities are notified 6 hours later.
You fail with only one success remaining. You find the item. Roll 7d6 and re-roll until you get a 25 or higher. Increase the price by a percent equal to the result-24 (do not recalculate the Base IL).
You fail with two successes remaining. You find the item, but it’s not for sale. Are you the kind of person who would steal it?
You fail with three or more successes remaining. You find the item, but it’s not for sale. Additionally, the owner will use his contacts to actively inhibit your group’s attempts to find any of that item in that community for a number of months equal to 2 + Illegality Code Number (if any). The hindrance CR is equal to the IL.
A rival is also searching for the item, and you find the item with 1 or 0 failures remaining. You find the item, but your rival found the item too! Both of you must compete in some way to determine who gets to acquire or buy the item.
You succeed with exactly 2 failures remaining and there are no other possible consequences. You find the item. Roll 3d6. On an 11 or higher, reduce the price by a percent equal to the result-1 (do not recalculate the Base IL).
You succeed with 3 or more failures remaining and there are no other possible consequences. You find the item. Roll 5d6. On an 18 or higher, reduce the price by a percent equal to the result-8 (do not recalculate the Base IL).

Selling Items

A shop might be unable or unwilling to purchase an item from the PCs:

  • The shop may not be high-class enough have someone on staff skilled enough to properly appraise the item, so they’d have no idea how much to pay for it.
  • The shop may not feel it has the security or facilities necessary to store the item, even for a short time.
  • The shop may not have the cash on-hand to purchase it (this is generally not an issue if The Bank is available unless the item is illegal in some way).
  • The shop may not consider the item something they can realistically sell to anyone else, making it effectively worthless to them.
  • The shop may be forbidden by law or by policy from purchasing the item.

Note that the price-changing consequences should change the sale price in the opposite manner, and do so by a percentage of the original sale price (1/2 the market price).

Gather Information Specialists

You can pay a Gather Information Specialist (DMG2 p155) to find the item for you (the cost for which does not count when determining the item’s Item Level). They cannot be convinced to buy the item, no matter how much you pay them. They take 10 on all checks, take 2 hours per check, do not benefit from Aid Another in any form, and ignore all consequences (good or bad) for the search. If the players give any leads, those leads are investigated first. If this results in not being paid enough to make all of the needed successes, the specialist aborts the attempt for the day when he runs out of money. If the players then give the specialist more time and money, he continues the search where he left off (he doesn’t restart the search from scratch). If the players then follow up on the specialist’s findings, all that means is they find someone who by-default will sell it to them with none of the listed consequences, but it doesn’t mean there are no consequences for how you handle buying it (or for buying it at all).

For the purposes of determining the maximum IL that can be found, a Gather Information Specialist uses his own ECL but ignores the gp Limit of the community. If the IL is more than 2 higher than the community’s gp Limit, a successful search results in telling the players a rumor of where it might be found in another community and the name of a specialist in that community that might know more.

GM’s Note: A specialist giving the name of another specialist can be used as a plot hook. You can take advantage of player greed to send the PCs anywhere you like.
Table: Gather Information Specialist Prices
ECL DC Cost per Check Cost for 4 Checks
1st 23 0.65 gp 2.6 gp
2nd 24 0.7 gp 2.8 gp
3rd 27 0.85 gp 3.4 gp
4th 32 1.1 gp 4.4 gp
5th 33 1.15 gp 4.6 gp
6th 34 1.2 gp 4.8 gp
7th 36 1.3 gp 5.2 gp
8th 37 1.35 gp 5.4 gp
9th 38 1.4 gp 5.6 gp
10th 39 1.45 gp 5.8 gp
11th 40 1.5 gp 6 gp
12th 41 1.55 gp 6.2 gp
13th 43 1.65 gp 6.6 gp
14th 45 1.75 gp 7 gp
15th 47 1.85 gp 7.4 gp
16th 49 1.95 gp 7.8 gp
17th 50 2 gp 8 gp
18th 51 2.05 gp 8.2 gp
19th 52 2.1 gp 8.4 gp
20th 54 2.2 gp 8.8 gp
Table: Gather Information Specialist Fees
Reason Additional Fee
Illegality Code B +300 gp
Illegality Code C +600 gp
Accomplished Specialist (6th~10th character level as reflected in Table: Gather Information Specialist Prices) +500 gp
High-level Specialist (11th~15th character level as reflected in Table: Gather Information Specialist Prices) +1000 gp
Exceptionally high-level specialist (16~20th level as reflected in Table: Gather Information Specialist Prices) +2000 gp

Calculate the final cost and convert it into an IL to determine whether you’ll also need to try (or hire someone) to find the specialist in the first place.

Character Creation and Item Creation

At character creation, the GM should specify the size of the largest community the PCs could have visited so far. Assume the PCs take 16 at their highest ECL when determining starting equipment, although they can pay for a specialist (who instead takes 10 and incurs a separate cost for 4 checks, plus any fees). These searches have no rivals, hindrances, false/great leads, or consequences (good or bad), and can’t benefit from aid another.

Assume your character automatically owns at least one outfit of normal clothes. Pick any one of the following clothing outfits for free: artisan’s outfit, entertainer’s outfit, explorer’s outfit, monk’s outfit, peasant’s outfit, scholar’s outfit, or traveler’s outfit. Note however that NPCs may make assumptions about you based on your clothing or equipment. Also assume that all PCs have an apartment (with all of the basic amenities, including internet access) somewhere in a settlement near the location where they entered the game which requires no noteworthy monetary upkeep, so PCs can store things in their apartment if needed.

Commissioning someone to create an item has the same restrictions as when trying to buy the item. Use the market price of the item (after deducting the cost of the base item, if the party has one) to determine whether the players can find someone capable of crafting it. Commissioning creation of an item requires paying a fee of 25% of this market price in addition to all other costs of item creation, and may involve transferring XP .

As for creating an item yourself, the restrictions are much tighter. If the market price of the final item is of an IL higher than your ECL +2, you instinctively know that you will fail at creating the item and do not attempt it. If the final item is magical (or psionic) and you do not have the base item on which your magic item will be built, you must first acquire or craft that item (which has its own IL) before attempting to craft the magic item. Once you’re ready to craft the magical properties of the item, you must succeed on a complex Spellcraft or Psicraft check (as appropriate for the item creation feat) with the following properties:

  • The DC is equal to 10+3×[IL of the magical part of the final item’s market price]
  • Unlike normal crafting with the Craft skill, you cannot use the Aid Another action on these checks.
  • The required number of successes is equal to half the number of days required for crafting it (rounded up, to a maximum of 4).
  • The allowed number of failures is always 3.
  • The GM makes these rolls secretly using the crafter’s skill modifier, although the crafter is allowed to modify the rolls by declaring that he’s pressing his luck. You may not use action points or awesome marks for this purpose during character creation.
  • The GM should not reveal the end result of the overall crafting attempt until the required amount of time for crafting ends.
  • If the crafter succeeds or fails early, the GM should continue to ask for a skill check at the end of every single day of crafting (to a maximum of “[required successes]+2” days total, after which the rest of the time is spent without making a check).

Item Levels

Source: Magic Item Compendium, page 226

Table: Item Levels
Item Level Max Price (gp)
1/2 50
1st 150
2nd 400
3rd 800
4th 1,300
5th 1,800
6th 2,300
7th 3,000
8th 4,000
9th 5,000
10th 6,500
11th 8,000
12th 10,000
13th 13,000
14th 18,000
15th 25,000
16th 35,000
17th 48,000
18th 64,000
19th 80,000
20th 100,000
21st 120,000
22nd 140,000

There is a level rating to each item, based on the item’s market price. This is not the same as an item’s caster level. Instead, the level rating of an item is a tool for the DM.

An item’s level provides a useful guideline to the DM as to when such an item becomes appropriate for the PCs. In general, PCs should own items (or groups of similar items such as magical arrows) of their own character level or lower. Small exceptions to this general guideline exist — a 12th-level magic item is okay in the hands of a 10th-level PC — but straying too far can cause trouble.

An item’s market price determines its level. Find the market price range on the table above in which this value falls; this tells you its level. For example, a market price of a 2,500 gp item is between 2,301 gp and 3,000 gp, which makes it a 7th-level item.

Item Rarity

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