Leveling Intelligent Items

First up for today, it’s a quick question about Intelligent Items – and whether or not they can have levels.

According to the SRD, Intelligent items are considered constructs. In fact, the rules refer you to the Construct type. Thus, by default, they’re immune to all mind-affecting effects, gain bonus hit points based on size (for most items that’s nothing, although two-handed weapons and such may reasonably be considered “small” for +10 HP), and gain other benefits according to their hit dice or class levels. Of course, normal intelligent items don’t have any hit dice – but the rules never tell you whether or not a sapient item that can act on it’s own can gain experience and level up. After all, pretty much everything else with an independent mind – including awakened animals and golems – can level up.

On the other hand, that would be a fabulous pain to fiddle with – and intelligent items are already bothersome enough. Far be it from me not to provide rules for it though…

  • Intelligent Items are tightly bound to their current forms, to their creator’s purposes, and to their users. Thus they do not count as party members and gain experience extraordinarily slowly – so slowly that there’s no point in tracking it; it would require many centuries just to pay off the ECL penalty for their construct traits.
  • Intelligent items can be crafted with levels built it. 1/2/3/5/7 levels equate to a +1/2/3/4/5 special property. Of course, they may have trouble using a lot of those abilities – although they can act through their users if the user opts to allow it.
  • Intelligent items may also be taken as Followers. In this case, they’re considered to have a +4 ECL template – meaning that their level will be at least six levels below that of their user. Worse, at least from the items point of view, it’s abilities are limited by how much power it’s user can pour into it; lose the user, or have one who isn’t interested in empowering an item-follower, and it’s levels become unusable.

Obviously enough, some kinds of levels are more useful than others. Not too unexpectedly for a unique entity, customized Eclipse point-buy levels are usually best. After that, psionic classes are probably best. Physically-oriented classes, such as Fighter, are usually only helpful when the user lets them take over their body.

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3 Responses

  1. If it’s truly sapient, in how we understand human intelligence, then levelling the itme seems perfectly apropos. However, limited intelligence items; eg. those that cast spells for you, or some other description that fits; don’t necessarily “learn”. IMO that is the core of the question about items levelling: “Do they learn?”

    If they do then it stands that they should level.

    • Well, as per the System Reference Document…

      Intelligence: Any creature that can think, learn, or remember has at least 1 point of Intelligence. A creature with no Intelligence score is mindless, an automaton operating on simple instincts or programmed instructions. It has immunity to mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects) and automatically fails Intelligence checks.
      Mindless creatures do not gain feats or skills, although they may have bonus feats or racial skill bonuses.

      Wisdom: Any creature that can perceive its environment in any fashion has at least 1 point of Wisdom. Anything with no Wisdom score is an object, not a creature. Anything without a Wisdom score also has no Charisma score.

      Charisma: Any creature capable of telling the difference between itself and things that are not itself has at least 1 point of Charisma. Anything with no Charisma score is an object, not a creature. Anything without a Charisma score also has no Wisdom score.

      Intelligent items get all three scores; ergo. they can think, learn, and remember, perceive their environment, and tell the difference between themselves and others. On the other hand, the rules make no provision for intelligent items gaining XP, or – really – acting as party members. If they did, who would want one? They’re enough trouble now without being an XP drain.

      Most items that simply cast spells for you, or otherwise react, normally have Int scores of zero (and usually have no specified ability scores at all); they’re simply programmed devices. They are not, however, “Intelligent Items” as described in the SRD.

  2. […] Leveling Intelligent Items. Turning your magic items into henchmen. […]

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