# Thread: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

1. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by icefractal
Not true - things like the result of dividing by zero...
No one here is dividing by zero.
What is happening here is X-X=0
There are no outside factors beyond addition and subtraction, neither of which have an equivalent math break problem to the issues with multiplication and division.

Using divide by zero here is comparing apples to oranges.

2. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Promethean
No one here is dividing by zero.
What is happening here is X-X=0
There are no outside factors beyond addition and subtraction, neither of which have an equivalent math break problem to the issues with multiplication and division.

Using divide by zero here is comparing apples to oranges.
That's the point though. You aren't subtracting X from X. You are subtracting ERROR from ERROR. That's why divide by zero was brought up: because it also results in ERROR, and trying to continue to calculate with ERROR is an exercise in futility.

An artifact's market price is not just an unknown. It's non-existent. It's like putting an enhancement bonus on an undead's Con: the end result will still be a non-ability.

3. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Tzardok
An artifact's market price is not just an unknown. It's non-existent.
While true, this leaves open the question of what happens in an RPG when you try to perform calculations on non-existent numbers.

We know what happens in a computer program: the program spews error messages. Data gets corrupted. Either the program crashes or your whole computer does. No meaningful result is obtained. The best case is that you get to restart from the last time you saved and try something different.

RPGs can't crash in the same way as a computer can. There's still going to be the same people sitting around the same table, wondering what happens next.

I think this is going to have to come down to a DM decision. This is a case where the rules are literally inconclusive: the question is "what's the price for upgrading such and such and artifact like so and so?" and the answer is "well, first you reference this number (which doesn't exist) . . . "

There are a lot of cases in DnD where DM discretion is required becasue a literal reading of the rules is inconclusive or silly. I mean, nothing in the rules stops you from downgrading a magic item to extract gold and Xp. You can just take a +2 sword and craft a +1 sword using it. Nothing in the rules says that the starting cost of the item needs to be lower than the final cost, so the price difference can be negative. All of the relevant math in the DMG still works when you run negative numbers through it. Obviously you can't do that at a real table, and the reason why you can't is that any reasonable DM would decide against it. It's less clear how a DM would rule about upgrading artifacts, but the same principle applies: the rules are dysfunctional as written, so you need to ask your DM.

4. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

The people arguing that NaN - NaN = NaN not zero are correct, but that is somewhat advanced mathematics. Not super advanced, but beyond what you should need to interpret the rules of an RPG. Ideally, we should be able to adjudicate this question without relying on that kind of thing. And luckily we can:

The rules for upgrading an item are the same as the rules for creating it from scratch, except that you get to subtract the cost (and therefore, indirectly, time) for the work already done on the item. Which means you need to be able to make the finished item. But the upgraded artifact is still an artifact, which means that by definition you cannot make it.

Definitionally therefore, you also cannot upgrade it either.

5. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Tzardok
That's the point though. You aren't subtracting X from X. You are subtracting ERROR from ERROR. That's why divide by zero was brought up: because it also results in ERROR, and trying to continue to calculate with ERROR is an exercise in futility.
Originally Posted by glass
The people arguing that NaN - NaN = NaN not zero are correct, but that is somewhat advanced mathematics.
No, it is X-X, the object is being subtracted from itself. This is not complex mathatics, this is Formal Logic.

Both of your point only hold up if we are making a calcalution involving 2 unknowns, 2 infinities, or 2 error values, we are not. We are using the same value twice.

You are commiting to a logical fallacy by building a false equivalence between X-X=0 and X-Y=Z.

Granted, all of this is tangential. There are a number of ways to use magic to ignore the gold value calculations entirely when making magic items.

6. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Promethean
No, it is X-X, the object is being subtracted from itself. This is not complex mathatics, this is Formal Logic.

Both of your point only hold up if we are making a calcalution involving 2 unknowns, 2 infinities, or 2 error values, we are not. We are using the same value twice.
It doesn't matter how many times you repeat this, it will not magically make this true. We are not using the "same value twice" because we are talking about something that explicitly has no value. Therefore we cannot say its nonexistant value is the same as anything else (and cannot do arithmetic on it).

And as I pointed out in my previous post, even if you were right about the maths, you still would not be able to upgrade artifacts.

7. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by glass
It doesn't matter how many times you repeat this, it will not magically make this true. We are not using the "same value twice" because we are talking about something that explicitly has no value. Therefore we cannot say its nonexistant value is the same as anything else (and cannot do arithmetic on it).
And we aren't comparing it to anything else.

We are taking said value and comparing it to itself. You are still making the X-X=X-Y fallacy.

Originally Posted by glass
And as I pointed out in my previous post, even if you were right about the maths, you still would not be able to upgrade artifacts.
Which one? I've honestly lost with the discussion about math.

8. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by glass
The people arguing that NaN - NaN = NaN not zero are correct, but that is somewhat advanced mathematics. Not super advanced, but beyond what you should need to interpret the rules of an RPG. Ideally, we should be able to adjudicate this question without relying on that kind of thing. And luckily we can:

The rules for upgrading an item are the same as the rules for creating it from scratch, except that you get to subtract the cost (and therefore, indirectly, time) for the work already done on the item. Which means you need to be able to make the finished item. But the upgraded artifact is still an artifact, which means that by definition you cannot make it.

Definitionally therefore, you also cannot upgrade it either.
This post here.

9. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by JNAProductions
This post here.
Oh....
Fair enough.

I wonder if there are ways to get around this by not "crafting" the item, but instead enhancing via an effect?
Wish is clear on it's stance on artifacts so...hmm...

10. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Herbert_W
There are a lot of cases in DnD where DM discretion is required becasue a literal reading of the rules is inconclusive or silly. I mean, nothing in the rules stops you from downgrading a magic item to extract gold and Xp. You can just take a +2 sword and craft a +1 sword using it. Nothing in the rules says that the starting cost of the item needs to be lower than the final cost, so the price difference can be negative. All of the relevant math in the DMG still works when you run negative numbers through it. Obviously you can't do that at a real table, and the reason why you can't is that any reasonable DM would decide against it. It's less clear how a DM would rule about upgrading artifacts, but the same principle applies: the rules are dysfunctional as written, so you need to ask your DM.
Maybe not extract it for yourself, but using it as "material" for another item seems like a cool concept. I'm gonna have to explore this concept. I can't believe I've never thought about this.

11. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by glass
The rules for upgrading an item are the same as the rules for creating it from scratch, except that you get to subtract the cost (and therefore, indirectly, time) for the work already done on the item. Which means you need to be able to make the finished item. But the upgraded artifact is still an artifact, which means that by definition you cannot make it.
So, I'd like to call into question that bit of text that I've just bolded.

I'm not aware of any rule that says that you need to be able to craft the whole item when you add more magic to an existing magic item - AFAIK you just need to meet the prerequisites to craft the feature that you add. I'll admit that I've pulled a bit of a sneaky one and asked about this in the simple RAW thread, and at least one person agrees with me. (I think. Their reply was a bit terse.)

So (unless I'm missing a rule somewhere) this line of reasoning doesn't hold. Maybe you can't enhance artifacts, but if you can't, this isn't the reason why.

Just so that it doesn't seem like I'm taking sides:
Originally Posted by Promethean
No, it is X-X, the object is being subtracted from itself . . . We are using the same value twice.
Beware! There are many situations in mathematics where using "the same value" twice can lead you to prove a contradiction, when that value does not actually exist!

Grandi's series is a well-known example. Consider the sum:

S = 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 + 1 . . .

Group it as follows:

S = (1 - 1) + (1 - 1) + (1 - 1) . . .

Now solve:

S = 0 + 0 + 0 . . .

OK, so this has a sum of 0. That was easy, right? Not quite! Group it as follows:

S = 1 (- 1 + 1) + (- 1 + 1) + (- 1 + 1) . . .

Now we have

S = 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 . . .

Err . . . now we have a sum of 1. Either 1 = 0 or we've made a serious mistake here.

As it happens, we've made a serious mistake: we assumed that S exists. We tried to find the value of the sum of the series without thinking to ask whether it even has a sum. It does not. Oops.

By doing math of any kind with "the market value of an artifact," even just cancelling it with itself, you are implicitly assuming that the number exists. If it doesn't, you don't have a mathematically valid proof of anything.

Now I'm going to switch sides again:
Originally Posted by JNAProductions
To upgrade a magic item, you take the cost of the new item, subtract the cost of the current item, and pay the difference.
How much do artifacts cost?
This proves that, when you enhance an artifact, the math blows up and the price is NaN.

That doesn't mean that you can't do it! I am not aware of any rule anywhere in the game which prohibits characters from doing things that would cause type errors in the game's code, were the game written in code.

Let's make an analogy to a similar case. There are prestige classes which grant class features (like spellcasting) that cause a character to loose the prerequisites of the class (such as not having spellcasting). Loosing the prerequisites of a prestige class means that you loose that class' features - but then you get the prerequisites back, so you get access to the class' features again - but then you loose them again, etc. RAI is obvious here: you are supposed to have no spellcasting other than what the class grants. RAW gets stuck in an infinite loop.

You can still take levels in these prestige classes! This would crash the game, were it on a computer and following strict RAW, but you can still do it.

So, you're all kinda right and kinda wrong. You can enhance artifacts. It's just that, when you do, the cost is NaN and that would cause a crash. This can only be resolved by your DM.

12. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Herbert_W
So, I'd like to call into question that bit of text that I've just bolded.

I'm not aware of any rule that says that you need to be able to craft the whole item when you add more magic to an existing magic item - AFAIK you just need to meet the prerequisites to craft the feature that you add. I'll admit that I've pulled a bit of a sneaky one and asked about this in the simple RAW thread, and at least one person agrees with me. (I think. Their reply was a bit terse.)
Fair point. I have always believed that you have to be able to craft the full item for the reasons previously mentioned: It doesn't mention you do not need them. But to be fair, it does not mention you do either. So maybe we do need the mathematical answer after all.

Originally Posted by Herbert_W
This proves that, when you enhance an artifact, the math blows up and the price is NaN.

That doesn't mean that you can't do it!
I think it does mean that you can't do it. Because to upgrade the item you need to pay the cost, and a cost of NaN is impossible to pay.

13. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by glass
I think it does mean that you can't do it. Because to upgrade the item you need to pay the cost, and a cost of NaN is impossible to pay.
Not necessarily, If you have a method that side-steps cost entirely like with a Sp/SU of Wish, then the cost ultimately doesn't matter.

The sticking point is How you'd go about doing that. You Technically can improve any magic item you want with wish for example, but Wish also puts wishing for artifacts in the "Greater Effects", so things become fuzzy depending on whether or not you rule "improving an artifact you already have" falls in the same category as "Wishing for an artifact".

I'm pretty sure there are other methods of waving the gold/xp cost of crafting a magic items via Special Locations, items, associations, class features, etc, but Wish has been to go-to method for so long that I can't recall them off the top of my head.

14. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by glass
. . . Because to upgrade the item you need to pay the cost, and a cost of NaN is impossible to pay.
To determine whether a character is able to pay the cost for an item, you need to compare the cost to the amount of wealth they have available. If the cost is NaN, you can't do the comparison. You are probably thinking about the fact that, since you can't do the comparison, you can't say that a character is able to pay the price.

However, since you can't do the comparison, you also can't say that a character is not able to pay the price! I'm aware that paying a price of NaN would further break the game by setting a wealth total to NaN - but nothing in the rules says that you can't break the game like this.

Of course, any reasonable DM would object. There are a number of houserules that they might choose to implement: "you can't do crafting on artifacts" is one, but then again so is "we calculate prices as if artifacts have a market value that's an unknown and arbitrarily large but real number." I think this really does come down to a case where you need to ask your DM. There is no RAW answer.

Originally Posted by Promethean
You Technically can improve any magic item you want with wish for example
Wishing to improve an artifact is complicated. I've just read the text of the spell carefully, and . . . heck, it's not well-written.

First of all, one minor listed effect is to "Create a magic item, or add to the powers of an existing magic item." No limit is given on the type or market value of the magic item thus created. Artifacts are magic items, so you technically could just outright create an artifact with wish. Obviously the designers didn't intend this.

Secondly, even when using wish, you still need to know the normal cost for crafting or improving the item becasue that goes in to the calculation for the XP cost of the wish spell. That makes the XP cost for this type of wish NaN, so we're still breaking things if we do it this way.

15. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Herbert_W
First of all, one minor listed effect is to "Create a magic item, or add to the powers of an existing magic item." No limit is given on the type or market value of the magic item thus created. Artifacts are magic items, so you technically could just outright create an artifact with wish. Obviously the designers didn't intend this.
Yes, the designers didn't intend that. The SRD just has this annoying habit to skip things like examples. In the description of Wish in the PHB, wishing for artifacts is listed amongst the examples for "major uses that may backfire".

16. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Herbert_W
To determine whether a character is able to pay the cost for an item, you need to compare the cost to the amount of wealth they have available. If the cost is NaN, you can't do the comparison. You are probably thinking about the fact that, since you can't do the comparison, you can't say that a character is able to pay the price.

However, since you can't do the comparison, you also can't say that a character is not able to pay the price! I'm aware that paying a price of NaN would further break the game by setting a wealth total to NaN - but nothing in the rules says that you can't break the game like this.
Except that to pay the cost you have to subtract the appropriate amount of gold from you character sheet, and you cannot do that if the appropriate amount of gold is NaN.

17. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by glass
Except that to pay the cost you have to subtract the appropriate amount of gold from you character sheet, and you cannot do that if the appropriate amount of gold is NaN.
When you subtract NaN from any number, the result is NaN. This means that this sets your wealth total to NaN. Nothing in the rules says that you cannot cause your wealth total to become NaN.

(More practically, you'd probably want to put some gold into a bag or something and say that you're paying using the gold in the bag. Then you have NaN gold in a bag instead of corrupting your character's main wealth total.)

Again, this is obviously crazy. DnD isn't a computer game, but if it was, this would be a game-breaking glitch.

Originally Posted by Tzardok
. . . wishing for artifacts is listed amongst the examples for "major uses that may backfire".
In my copy of the PHB, wishing for a staff of the magi (so one specific artifact) was given as an example of a major use which may backfire. Nothing whatsoever was said in the description of the wish spell about wishing for artifacts in general.

I think we're in agreement that wishing for artifacts is bonkers and clearly against RAI, though. This spell is just really badly worded.

18. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Herbert_W
In my copy of the PHB, wishing for a staff of the magi (so one specific artifact) was given as an example of a major use which may backfire. Nothing whatsoever was said in the description of the wish spell about wishing for artifacts in general.
That's pendantry IMO. There's no reason to assume that a staff of the magister is special in any way, that other artifacts wouldn't be as major. "No, you can't safely wish for a staff of the magister, but the Hand of Vecna is A-OK!" Do you really think that's the take-away from that example? They put in a (fairly minor and unspectacular) artifact in the example to show that artifacts in general are a major and dangerous use of wish.

19. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Tzardok
That's pendantry IMO.
You're entirely right. This is pedantry - but when interpreting RAW, pedantry is expected.

Realistically the answer is "ask your DM." It's almost certain that wishing for other artifacts is going to backfire in some way; how and how badly depends on your DM.

20. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Herbert_W
T
Wishing to improve an artifact is complicated. I've just read the text of the spell carefully, and . . . heck, it's not well-written.

First of all, one minor listed effect is to "Create a magic item, or add to the powers of an existing magic item." No limit is given on the type or market value of the magic item thus created. Artifacts are magic items, so you technically could just outright create an artifact with wish. Obviously the designers didn't intend this.

Secondly, even when using wish, you still need to know the normal cost for crafting or improving the item becasue that goes in to the calculation for the XP cost of the wish spell. That makes the XP cost for this type of wish NaN, so we're still breaking things if we do it this way.
That's why I talked about Sp/SU wishes specifically.

The XP cost of creating magic items is in the XP component section. If you use any means of ignoring the XP component(Like Dweomerkeeper's supernatural spell) then both gold and XP calculations are ignored entirely.

I agree that super-charging artifacts Should be a bonkers use of wish according to RAI, even if RAW doesn't say that.

21. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Promethean
That's why I talked about Sp/SU wishes specifically . . . both gold and XP calculations are ignored entirely.
Ooh, I missed that. Thanks.

A caster of high enough level to cast wish can already break the game daily and twice on Sundays, but this is pretty crazy.

I'd like to point out and draw emphasis to the fact that outright creating artifacts with a Sp/SU wish falls under the same category as enhancing them, in that both are technically allowed by RAW but very obviously against RAI. If you somehow persuade your DM to allow you to enhance artifacts in this way you might be able to make artifacts too.

22. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

I mean if you're making items with cost-free Wish you've already reached NI level anyway and any kind of limits are only a voluntary restriction.

23. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Herbert_W

Isn't that ALWAYS the answer when it comes to D&D? lol

24. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by RNightstalker
Isn't that ALWAYS the answer when it comes to D&D? lol
Not when you don't WANT to hear what you know the DM is going to say.

25. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by RNightstalker
Isn't that ALWAYS the answer when it comes to D&D? lol
It's particularly unhelpful to forever DMs like me who here to do thought experiments between games.

World breaking RAW quirks are actually a my favorite way to mine ideas for new settings and adventures.

26. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by RNightstalker
Isn't that ALWAYS the answer when it comes to D&D? lol
There's a big difference between "the GM could override this" and "there is no default answer, the GM has to make a ruling", IMO.

And TBH, while I've heard a lot of praises sung over the "everything goes through the GM, the players don't even need to know the system" style, it's not usually what I'm looking for from a game. I want to be able to make plans and then do them, without every step being a "maybe".

Also, as Promethean mentions, a lot of discussion here is more about interesting thought experiments than practical advice for the table, and "everything is up to the GM" isn't useful for that purpose.

27. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

If this is just a thought experiment, where's the harm in investing wealth into the artifact? A Staff of the Magi is still a magic staff with a caster level of 20th. Adding more spells beyond the second is only half cost and you can make it use 2 charges to halve the cost again. A magic staff is NOT a quarterstaff so you can't enhance it as a weapon; however, staying within the bounds of the type of magic item shouldn't make items that are crazy.

28. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Darg
Not when you don't WANT to hear what you know the DM is going to say.
But we ask anyways, hoping that we might be pleasantly surprised.

Originally Posted by Promethean
It's particularly unhelpful to forever DMs like me who here to do thought experiments between games.

World breaking RAW quirks are actually a my favorite way to mine ideas for new settings and adventures.
I brainstorm out loud here myself.

Originally Posted by icefractal
There's a big difference between "the GM could override this" and "there is no default answer, the GM has to make a ruling", IMO.

And TBH, while I've heard a lot of praises sung over the "everything goes through the GM, the players don't even need to know the system" style, it's not usually what I'm looking for from a game. I want to be able to make plans and then do them, without every step being a "maybe".

Also, as Promethean mentions, a lot of discussion here is more about interesting thought experiments than practical advice for the table, and "everything is up to the GM" isn't useful for that purpose.
The problem with the players not knowing the system is they slow the game down. I have no problem coaching a new player up on the intricacies of the glory known as D&D, but when a vet who should know wtf is going on and is constantly running behind or doesn't have their character together, it really grinds my gears. And trust me, I put what I want to do past the GM before the game starts and ask how a ruling will go before I get there. If my concept doesn't fit that campaign, I'll use another character idea.

Originally Posted by Darg
If this is just a thought experiment, where's the harm in investing wealth into the artifact? A Staff of the Magi is still a magic staff with a caster level of 20th. Adding more spells beyond the second is only half cost and you can make it use 2 charges to halve the cost again. A magic staff is NOT a quarterstaff so you can't enhance it as a weapon; however, staying within the bounds of the type of magic item shouldn't make items that are crazy.
Why can't you enhance a magic staff as a magic weapon? It's a weapon, and it can be enhanced; all it takes is gold. For example, the Staff of Power is given stats as a weapon.

29. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by RNightstalker
Why can't you enhance a magic staff as a magic weapon? It's a weapon, and it can be enhanced; all it takes is gold. For example, the Staff of Power is given stats as a weapon.
Because it wasn't designed as a weapon. You can't retroactively make an item a masterwork weapon. You can start with a masterwork quarterstaff and turn it into a magic staff. However, the staff of the magi is not such a staff considering it doesn't even get a masterwork enhancement bonus.

30. ## Re: You can apparently enhance artifacts.

Originally Posted by Darg
Because it wasn't designed as a weapon. You can't retroactively make an item a masterwork weapon. You can start with a masterwork quarterstaff and turn it into a magic staff. However, the staff of the magi is not such a staff considering it doesn't even get a masterwork enhancement bonus.
It's a staff! By it's very definition it's a weapon! It's even a pound heavier than the standard quarterstaff because it's shod in iron.

Can your "run of the mill" Staff of the Magi be enhanced as a weapon? RAW no. But if someone is going to build a better one it would be foolish to not include double masterwork components: +1 eager/+1 warning anyone?

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