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D&D 5E What do you want out of crafting rules?


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MGibster

Legend
Some people complain about 5e’s crafting rules. Others think it’s just fine. What do you want out of them?
I think what I'd like most out of crafting rules is to figure out a way to make it useful to the adventure/campaign beyond generating some extra revenue. I don't necessarily mean crafting something that helps with combat. But maybe crafting a Silver Swan automaton with the expressed purpose of impressing an important wizard. Some ideas on how to incorporate crafting into adventures in a meaningful way would be very helpful.
 

FireLance

Legend
I'm going to take a contrary, and maybe controversial, view. I want crafting to be expensive for the characters and/or the players.

As a GM, I don't want to sit and watch players spend an hour doing crafting stuff, having their characters spend two months making an awesome sword/armor/whatever. *

...

Also, crafting is boring. The LOTR movies didn't show three hours of Aragorn crafting a sword - they showed Aragon out doing exciting stuff while someone else crafted the sword and brought it to him.

The weaponsmiths and alchemists and herbalists are the people the adventurers say goodbye to on their way to having adventures.

_____
* Also, as a GM I don't want to sit and watch players do stuff without me. :)
These points would also support the crafting system I prefer, which is a simple, no-nonsense trade gp and downtime for a magic item transaction. It literally takes about as much time to resolve as the DM needs to say, "Ok, you spend 5,000 gp and 10 days of downtime. You now have a ring of free action."

Now, if you don't want give your players more freedom to customize their characters' magic items, that's a separate issue.

If crafting is effective (the return is more than the investment) then why would a character even enter a dungeon and risk their life and limb?

There's the dungeon of the snow lich! There's a magic sword entombed with the undead monster!
No thanks, I can make a better magic sword myself.

That bandit group have thousands of gold. We should raid them.
No, when I finish this armour I can sell it for thousands of gold.
I think that's more a character or player issue than a crafting issue. If the cure for the Shadow Plague ravaging the PCs' country is detailed in an old medical text in the lich's library, or if the PCs want to free villagers captured by the bandits, they have reason to embark on the adventure apart from money and magic items.

More technically, I don't want crafting in the game because I don't want an economy in the game, because economies of swords & sorcery worlds are complex. Allowing the players to craft stuff means someone (probably me) has to worry about supply and demand, material costs, inflation, scarceness of resources, etc.
As an economist myself, I feel you. However, years of exposure to the PH equipment list have desensitized me to the point that it no longer bothers me.
 


hopeless

Explorer
Can you enchant say a short sword and a dagger to +1 if you're just a cleric?
Need to double check on what tool kit you'd need mind you!

Uncommon, requires Smith's Tools or proficiency in the Arcana skill?
So needs to be 5th level first?
 
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Ganders

Explorer
I'd like crafting rules that allow a character to upgrade items they already have.

A character without crafting would need to sell/trade/recycle their +1 sword and then find a way to buy/loot/acquire a +2 sword, but a crafter could have their favorite items grow with them.

I believe that would be enough of a distinction for RP purposes, and provide some logistical advantage to crafters without overpowering them.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Mundane Crafting

1) Probably two timeframes: One for consumable type items and one for your more permanent items.
2) Generally reasonable timeframes for making items.
3) I would recommend like healing rules, set some default times (aka downtime) but then allow for a quicker variant for DMs doing the nonstop quest as opposed to the longer campaign style.

Magical Crafting
1) I am fine with GP as your main "ingredient", aka I don't want a lot of granularity and detail. That said, I think adding in the notion of a "special ingredient" would be fine. Aka this magic item requires 2 secret ingredients. If you don't do this, than I would put in a sidebar that drives home the notion that most magic items really are rare for a reason. A PC making a single rare item is fine, a PC mass producing that same item is something the DM should give consideration to.

2) I am fine with costs being due to item category (uncommon, rare, etc) instead of item by item. However, for best results, the item list needs to be reviewed (some classifications are simply not right for the power of the item), and I would add in one level of granularity to give you a bit more control over prices. I think that's enough price points to do the job.

So
Uncommon
Uncommon (Special)
Rare
Rare (Special)
etc

3) What I would like most, are rules and tables for various magical item quirks and personalization. To me crafting is not just about getting cool ability X, its about putting a bit of creativity into the item. Add some tables of ideas to inspire people to really tailor their items, not just in ability, but in form, usability, etc.
 

I would suggest that crafting magical items for resale needs to be economically unviable: you shouldn't be able to make a meaningful profit from crafting magic items to sell on the open market. There's a lot of ways to do this, but if it's possible you create a big verisimilitude problem where a sufficiently skilled character is better off not adventuring. It could be a number of reasons (genuinely rare ingredients, no one actually has the cash to buy them, etc) but at least one should be present.

In addition to verisimilitude: you don't want a party with a crafter to have more magic items than a party without a crafter, or you create a role that "needs" to be filled by one player or the whole party is weaker. It's a variation on the "the party needs a cleric" problem: the crafting rules need to allow for the fact that sometimes, no one wants to play a crafter.

Having a crafter in the party should matter, but the advantage should be more about control than quantity: a fighter who can make her own magic swords gets exactly the sword she wants, whereas a fighter who needs to buy or loot a sword is more subject to what fate puts in front of her.

Crafting mundane gear for market can and probably should be profitable, just not more so than any other profession with the same opportunity cost.
 
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Dausuul

Legend
As an amateur blacksmith, I can crank out an utilitarian dagger in a week / 30 hrs. The first 8-10 hrs will require a forge, the rest will be filing, drilling, and carving. The first bit I couldn't do on the trail, but the last part would be possible. If you wanted it to be pretty, that would take longer; as long as the actual production of the piece, actually.
So, you're saying the amount of time it takes to make a simple dagger is about 1/6 the time it takes to heal from a broken arm?
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I haven't paid much attention to the mundane crafting rules, but just yesterday I worked on my first "recipe" for a magical item which will appear in the marginalia of a necromancer's spellbook they found).

I wrote it up like this and this is the kind of thing I'd like listed (or at least suggested) for each item:

Creating Bag of Bones (rare) requires:
  • a leather bag or satchel of masterwork quality especially made to have the arcane runes for "death" and "spirit" woven on it it (the cost of which is part of the listed cost of the item).
  • The bones of 20 soldiers killed in battle and left to rot on the field
  • The ashes of a holy text or scroll
  • a vial of unholy water
  • Be at least 5th level
  • Be able to prepare and cast Animate Dead every day of crafting
  • 5000 gps in materials
Furthermore, the instructions include guidelines for creating a magical circle for enchanting the item, the ideal times and places for doing this work (the night of the new moon, at midnight, in a graveyard, or ancient battlefield, etc. . )

Lastly, I have increased the GP increment for determining number of days from 25 gps to 100 gps - so it'd take 50 days - but have decided this number of days is modified by your spellcasting ability score modifier for each 1000 in the cost. So, a Wizard with a 16 Intelligence would modify the time by 15 days, doing it in 35. If multiple crafters work on it together only the highest score applies to modifying it, but the total time is halved for each additional person to a minimum of one full day.

In some cases, items have limits as to how many people can work on them at once.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
consideration: should not be more complex than most video game crafting system.
For reference, I recommend Dragon Age's crafting system. I like that you have to collect schematics and rare ingredients, and then find, purchase, or build the proper workstation, before you can start making stuff.

And I also like Mass Effect, and how you can reduce items into "gel" that is used to make other items. This could be an interesting way to upcycle magic items into more useful things as the party outgrows them. The existing enchantment on a magic +1 dagger could be transferred to another item somehow, or used as an ingredient. "In order to craft a cloak of protection, you need a protection enchantment to build from. A magical shield or suit of armor will suffice, but it will be destroyed in the process."

I would avoid Skyrim's crafting system completely...especially the alchemy and smithing. Being able to crank out multiple identical objects quickly, then sell them for a small fortune, is ridiculous. The enchanting is slightly better, requiring you to collect parts of creatures (trapped souls, in this case), but it is still too easy to spam it for insane profit.

EDIT: I don't want to be too harsh on Skyrim, because there are some merits to their crafting system. Having separate "skill trees" for alchemical items/potions, mundane items, and enchanted items is a really good idea. In D&D terms, this could be expanded to also include Cooking, Scribing, and whatever.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
For the record, the part of 3E I threw out immediately, was the idea of "wealth-by-level advancement" and the inclusion of magical items in that consideration.

I have never had magical item shops in my games (and probably never will). It is not that it is impossible to sell or buy items, but in my settings, it is both economically difficult and culturally looked down upon by the customs of wizards and others who can make such items. And thus magic items remain "special."*


*Heck, if it wouldn't be too much to house rule and make work, I'd get rid of all damage-dealing endlessly repeatable cantrips from the game - and all cantrips would be simple practical "household" magic. Run out of spells? Pick up a crossbow! But that is neither here nor there.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Something else I want out of the crafting rules:

The ability to cook interesting foods. I'd like to see recipes for nourishing soups and stews that reduce exhaustion, rules for turning monster meat into rations (and all the good/bad things that could happen from eating them), and so on. Too often, this gets lumped together with "potions," which then gets lumped together with "alchemy." I'm not weaving magic here; all my druid wants to do is make a friggin' cuppa tea to settle her upset tummy.
 

Mind of tempest

Adventurer
Something else I want out of the crafting rules:

The ability to cook interesting foods. I'd like to see recipes for nourishing soups and stews that reduce exhaustion, rules for turning monster meat into rations (and all the good/bad things that could happen from eating them), and so on. Too often, this gets lumped together with "potions," which then gets lumped together with "alchemy." I'm not weaving magic here; all my druid wants to do is make a friggin' cuppa tea to settle her upset tummy.
so what go full monster hunter with cooking?
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I can see some value in enabling the possibility of a PC to craft a special item now and then. It could be magical or just masterwork, consumable or permanent, a replica of a DMG item or completely original.

But if it turns to be a mere commodity then I am not interested. I don't want it to be just a way to make a profit, otherwise I'd just rather hide all the details and give the PC some weekly pocket money but who cares if they earn them by crafting or another way. I don't want it to be replicable in a way that once the PC knows how to make e.g. a Cloak of Elvenkind then it's Cloaks of Elvenkind for everyone.

I want the process to be generally slow but not with fixed times, and I want it generally expensive but not with fixed prices. One month and 1000gp is meaningless to me, when I might be once running a fast-paced campaign and another time a lifelong saga, and either could be monty haul or grim and gritty.

I think the only way is to make the "recipes" subjective to DM's discretion, by including priceless ingredients. Then the DM can indirectly infer a cost in terms of time and monetary expenses, and can also decide whether to handwave all the details or bring them to the forefront with a quest where how the time and money is spent becomes very visible.

I hardly think that a "crafting rules system" can achieve this, but then it is also unnecessary. The best a book can do is provide guidelines and examples.
 

hopeless

Explorer
I've been wondering about upgrading weapons for example could you first upgrade say a sword and dagger to become moon touched first and then upgrade to a +1 and so on?

Will either need training in the Arcane proficiency or the Smith's Tools Kit proficiency but sounds very possible, how would you look at that?
 

Mind of tempest

Adventurer
I can see some value in enabling the possibility of a PC to craft a special item now and then. It could be magical or just masterwork, consumable or permanent, a replica of a DMG item or completely original.

But if it turns to be a mere commodity then I am not interested. I don't want it to be just a way to make a profit, otherwise I'd just rather hide all the details and give the PC some weekly pocket money but who cares if they earn them by crafting or another way. I don't want it to be replicable in a way that once the PC knows how to make e.g. a Cloak of Elvenkind then it's Cloaks of Elvenkind for everyone.

I want the process to be generally slow but not with fixed times, and I want it generally expensive but not with fixed prices. One month and 1000gp is meaningless to me, when I might be once running a fast-paced campaign and another time a lifelong saga, and either could be monty haul or grim and gritty.

I think the only way is to make the "recipes" subjective to DM's discretion, by including priceless ingredients. Then the DM can indirectly infer a cost in terms of time and monetary expenses, and can also decide whether to handwave all the details or bring them to the forefront with a quest where how the time and money is spent becomes very visible.

I hardly think that a "crafting rules system" can achieve this, but then it is also unnecessary. The best a book can do is provide guidelines and examples.
I have a question why do you assume it would only be used for making money or as a pure magic item farm, lots of others also seem to share your fear.
 



CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
if it gives that little extra bonus they will care.
I'm thinking something more along the lines of "we don't have to buy rations, we can hunt for food along the way" or "yeah the meat of that creature is mildly toxic, but it's better than starvation." Maybe "that creature is really rare! If we properly butcher and salt the meat, we can sell it for X sp back at the market!" Or at the very most, "a tea made from these leaves will let you ignore one level of exhaustion for 1 hour...but be careful, two doses in 24 hours is toxic."

I'm not interested in anything like "this sandwich cures pneumonia and stab wounds" or "carrot stew gives you a +X bonus to Perception because it's good for eyesight or whatever." That's what potions are for, imo.
 
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