Magic items sometimes have intelligence of their own. Magically imbued with sentience, these items think and feel the same way characters do and should be treated as NPCs. Intelligent items have extra abilities and sometimes extraordinary powers and special purposes. Only permanent magic items (as opposed to single-use items or those with charges) can be intelligent. (This means that potions, scrolls, and wands, among other items, are never intelligent.) In general, less than 1% of magic items have intelligence.
Intelligent items can actually be considered creatures because they have Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. Treat them as constructs. Intelligent items often have the ability to illuminate their surroundings at will (as magic weapons do); many cannot see otherwise.
Unlike most magic items, intelligent items can activate their own powers without waiting for a command word from their owner. Intelligent items act during their owner’s turn in the initiative order.
Creating a magic item with intelligence follows these simple guidelines. Intelligent items must have an alignment, mental ability scores, languages, senses, and at least one other special ability. These statistics and abilities can be improved during creation, increasing the item’s overall cost. Many of these abilities add to an item’s Ego score. Intelligent items with high Ego scores are difficult to control and can sometimes take control of their owner, making them dangerous to possess.
An intelligent magic item has a base price increase of 500 gp. When determining the total value of an intelligent item, add this value to the sum of the prices of all of its additional abilities gained through being intelligent, before adding them to the magic item’s base price.
Any item with intelligence has an alignment (see Table: Intelligent Item Alignment). Note that intelligent weapons already have alignments, either stated or by implication. If you’re generating a random intelligent weapon, that weapon’s alignment must fit with any alignment-oriented special abilities it has.
Any character whose alignment does not correspond to that of the item (except as noted by the asterisks on the table) gains one negative level if he or she so much as picks up the item. Although this negative level never results in actual level loss, it remains as long as the item is in hand and cannot be overcome in any way (including by restoration spells). This negative level is cumulative with any other penalties the item might place on inappropriate wielders. Items with Ego scores (see below) of 20 to 29 bestow two negative levels. Items with Ego scores of 30 or higher bestow three negative levels.
Intelligent magic items possess all three mental ability scores: Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each one of these ability scores begins at a value of 10, but can be increased to as high as 20. Table: Intelligent Item Ability Scores shows the cost to increase one of the item’s ability scores. This cost must be paid for each ability score raised above 10. For example, an intelligent magic item with a 15 Intelligence, 12 Wisdom, and 10 Charisma would cost at least 2,400 gp more than the base item (including the 500 gp for being an intelligent item).
Like a character, an intelligent item understands Common plus one additional language per point of Intelligence bonus. Choose appropriate languages, taking into account the item’s origin and purposes. If the item does not possess speech, it can still read and understand the languages it knows.
Every intelligent magic item begins with the ability to see and hear within 30 feet, as well as the ability to communicate empathically with its owner. Empathy only allows the item to encourage or discourage certain actions through urges and emotions. Additional forms of communication and better senses increase the item’s cost and Ego score, as noted on Table: Intelligent Item Senses and Communication.
Empathy (Su): Empathy allows the item to encourage or discourage certain actions by communicating emotions and urges. It does not allow for verbal communication.
Speech (Su): An intelligent item with the capability for speech can talk using any of the languages it knows.
Telepathy (Su): Telepathy allows an intelligent item to communicate with its wielder telepathically, regardless of its known languages. The wielder must be touching the item to communicate in this way.
Senses: Senses allow an intelligent magic item to see and hear out to the listed distance. Adding darkvision or blindsense allows the item to use those senses out to the same range as the item’s base senses.
Read Languages (Ex): The item can read script in any language, regardless of its known languages.
Read Magic (Sp): An intelligent magic item with this ability can read magical writings and scrolls as if through read magic. This ability does not allow the magic item to activate scrolls or other items. An intelligent magic item can suppress and resume this ability as a free action.
Each intelligent item should possess at least one power, although more powerful items might possess a host of powers. To find the item’s specific powers, choose or roll on Table: Intelligent Item Powers. All powers function at the direction of the item, although intelligent items generally follow the wishes of their owner. Activating a power or concentrating on an active one is a standard action the item takes. The caster level for these effects is equal to the item’s caster level. Save DCs are based off the item’s highest mental ability score.
Some intelligent items have special purposes that guide their actions. Intelligent magic items with a special purpose gain a +2 Ego bonus. An item’s purpose must suit the type and alignment of the item and should always be treated reasonably. A purpose of “defeat/slay arcane spellcasters” doesn’t mean that the sword forces the wielder to kill every wizard she sees. Nor does it mean that the sword believes it is possible to kill every wizard, sorcerer, and bard in the world. It does mean that the item hates arcane spellcasters and wants to bring the local wizards’ cabal to ruin, as well as end the rule of a sorcerer-queen in a nearby land. Likewise, a purpose of “defend elves” doesn’t mean that if the wielder is an elf, he only wants to help the wielder. It means that the item wants to be used in furthering the cause of elves, stamping out their enemies and aiding their leaders. a purpose of “defeat/slay all” isn’t just a matter of self-preservation. It means that the item won’t rest (or let its wielder rest) until it places itself above all others.
Table: Intelligent Item Purpose has a number of sample purposes that a magic item might possess. If the wielder specifically ignores or goes against an intelligent item’s special purpose, the item gains a +4 bonus to its Ego until the wielder cooperates. This is in addition to the +2 Ego bonus gained by items with a special purpose.
A dedicated power operates only when an intelligent item is in pursuit of its special purpose. This determination is always made by the item. It should always be easy and straightforward to see how the ends justify the means. Unlike its other powers, an intelligent item can refuse to use its dedicated powers even if the owner is dominant (see Items Against Characters). The caster level for these effects is equal to the item’s caster level. Save DCs are based on the item’s highest mental ability score. See Table: Special Purpose Item Dedicated Powers for a list of dedicated powers.
Ego is a measure of the total power and force of personality that an item possesses. An item’s Ego score is the sum of all of its Ego modifiers plus an additional bonus for the cost of the base magic item (excluding the cost of all of the intelligent item enhancements). An item’s Ego score helps determine whether the item or the character is dominant in their relationship, as detailed below.
When an item has an Ego of its own, it has a will of its own. The item is absolutely true to its alignment. If the character who possesses the item is not true to that alignment’s goals or the item’s special purpose, personality conflict—item against character—results. Similarly, any item with an Ego score of 20 or higher always considers itself superior to any character, and a personality conflict results if the possessor does not always agree with the item.
When a personality conflict occurs, the possessor must make a Will saving throw (DC = item’s Ego). If the possessor succeeds, she is dominant. If she fails, the item is dominant. Dominance lasts for 1 day or until a critical situation occurs (such as a major battle, a serious threat to either the item or the character, and so on). Should an item gain dominance, it resists the character’s desires and demands concessions such as any of the following:
In extreme circumstances, the item can resort to even harsher measures, such as the following:
Naturally, such actions are unlikely when harmony reigns between the character’s and item’s alignments or when their purposes and personalities are well matched. Even so, an item might wish to have a lesser character possess it in order to easily establish and maintain dominance over him, or a higher-level possessor so as to better accomplish its goals.
All magic items with personalities desire to play an important role in whatever activity is under way, particularly combat. Such items are natural rivals, even with others of the same alignment. No intelligent item wants to share its wielder with others. An intelligent item is aware of the presence of any other intelligent item within 60 feet, and most intelligent items try their best to mislead or distract their host so that she ignores or destroys the rival. Of course, alignment might change this sort of behavior.
Items with personalities are never totally controlled or silenced by the characters that possess them, even though they may never successfully control their possessors. They may be powerless to force their demands, but most remain undaunted and continue to air their wishes and demands.
Additional (Unofficial) Intelligent Item Properties
Source: Paizo blog.
None of these are “official,” “core,” or even “supported” but you may enjoy them!
Hiding: The item can make itself invisible as per the spell once per day. Although it cannot be actively used while hidden in this way, any constant powers or bonuses it grants or possesses remain active. Item Type: Any. Price Modifier: 1,200 gp. Ego Modifier: +1.
Leaping: The item can leap to its possessor’s hand or become instantly equipped. As long as the possessor has the item on his person, as a free action he can call out to the item, causing it to jump into his hand (if that is how it is wielded) or equip itself in the appropriate slot (if it takes up a slot). Items that are not wielded or do not take up a slot cannot have this power. The possessor must have a free hand or the appropriate slot free for this ability to function. Item Type: Special. Price Modifier: 2,000 gp. Ego Modifier: +1.
Maneuvering: Whenever this weapon is used to perform one specific type of combat maneuver, usually disarm or sunder, the possessor receives a +2 bonus on the check and does not provoke attacks of opportunity when attempting the combat maneuver. This does not stack with the bonus gained from the feat that grants the same bonus, such as Improved Disarm. Item Type: Weapon. Price Modifier: 8,000 gp. Ego Modifier: +1.
Proficiency: The possessor is automatically considered proficient in the weapon’s use. This power does not grant the possessor the ability to use other weapons of the same type or to use this magically granted proficiency to meet prerequisites. Item Type: Weapon. Price Modifier: 2,000 gp. Ego Modifier: +1.
Recharging: The item regains one charge each day that it does not use a power that consumes a charge. If the item is a wand, it is not destroyed when it is reduced to 0 charges. The item cannot have more charges than its maximum (50 for a wand, 10 for a staff). Item Type: Staff, Wand, or other charged item. Price Modifier: 18,000 gp. Ego Modifier: +2.
In addition to powers, you might want to consider giving the item a drawback or two, to fit with its flavor. These drawbacks reduce the ego of the item, but do not otherwise affect its cost. An item should not have more than one drawback. A caster that crafts an intelligent item cannot build it with a drawback. These develop naturally over time or as the result of a botched creation attempt.
Forgetful: The item does not remember its possessor. Each morning it treats its possessor as if it does not know him. As a result, he must constantly earn its trust. Ego Modifier: –1.
Secretive: The item’s special powers are not discernable by detect magic or identify. The special powers can be identified with analyze dweomer. The powers and the abilities of the base item can be learned normally. Ego Modifier: –1.
Singing: The item sings or talks at inappropriate times, giving its possessor a –4 penalty on Stealth skill checks. The item must possess the ability to speak to have this drawback. Ego Modifier: –1.
Split: The item has two alignments, and each day the GM determines which one of the alignments manifests. These alignments are always opposite one another. Ego Modifier: –2.
Uncaring: The item does not care about its possessor’s safety or goals, and will gladly put him in harm’s way if it gets the item closer to its purpose. As a result, the possessor must make a Will save against the item’s Ego each day. If the save fails, the item does not function that day, unless events or the actions of the possessor bring it closer to its purpose. Ego Modifier: –3.
Unreliable: The item is very old and has forgotten how to reliably use its abilities. Whenever a possessor attempts to use its powers, there is a 25% chance that the power does not work. Ego Modifier: –2.