IMPORTANT NOTICE: Although this crafting system leverages many existing mechanics published under the 5e SRD and OGL, the final product is completely home-brewed. The finer details of this system are still being revised, and those changes will slowly be introduced into this document. However, the system as a whole is totally functional and ready to be used in any campaign. Furthermore, the rules and concepts discussed are intended to work in-tandem with the expanded artisan's tools rules found in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. If nothing else I hope this document and its siblings can be used as a source of guidance and inspiration for whatever crafting system you decide to go with.
When I started my artisan’s tools series I didn’t really have much to work with. Other than a few vague references in the SRD, and some light coverage in the official material, Wizards of The Coast left DMs to their own devices when it came to how to use these tools. While I am sure some people appreciated the open ended nature of the tools, even a cursory glance online showed there was a lot of confusion surrounding what you can and cannot do with each toolkit.
I was also one of those people who was confused. This was a problem because I was DMing a campaign with a group of players who expressed an interest in crafting. The easy option would have been to simply fly by the seat of my pants and make it up as I go, but I decided that the existing crafting system could stand to benefit from a couple of minor alterations.
I started off by making some enhancements to the existing 5e crafting system.
Questionable Arcana Item Crafting Rules At A Glance
Overview: The Questionable Arcana Crafting System is a homebrew set of rules that builds on the RAW crafting system. The goal of the system is to increase the rate that items are crafted while introducing an element of variability(aka dice rolling).
- A Lead Artisan - An artisan with the appropriate tool who can lead the crafting process.
- Crafting Materials - Materials to craft with. The items should be valued at 50% market value for mundane items and 100% market value for magical items.
- Means of Production - Any special equipment or location requirements such as a forge for blacksmiths.
- Instructions - Memorized instructions for mundane items or a written blueprint for magical items.
- Labor - Time and energy measured in 8 hour increments and proficiency dice rolls!
Crafting Capabilities Definitions
- LEAD - You can serve as the lead artisan when creating this item.
- ASSIST - You can work under a lead artisan to create this item.
- OPTIONAL - You could potentially create a non-RAW version of this item at the DM's discretion.
- N/A - You cannot use this toolkit to contribute to the creation of this item.
- SPECIAL - Special cases defined on a case by case basis.
Crafting GP Progression Formula
[PROGRESS IN GP] = 5 + (Proficiency_Dice_Roll * 5)
The goal was to add some variability(aka dice rolling) to the existing system, and help speed up the crafting process to give players more opportunities to craft more things. These changes worked well for the standard kits such as the poisoner’s kit or woodcarver’s tools, however I was worried that kits with a more creative bent such as the painter’s tools would be underused.
This eventually lead to the creation of our artwork system which enabled virtually all kits to create valuable artwork for show and for sale.
Questionable Arcana Artwork Crafting Rules At A Glance
Overview: The Questionable Arcana Artwork Crafting System is a homebrew set of rules that allows your players to create potentially valuable artwork. The goal of the system is to allow for crafting options beyond the defined RAW items. This is especially important for artistic toolkits such as the painter's supplies where RAW crafting options are limited.
- Obtain Means of Production - Obtain any special equipment or set up in a location that allows you to use the artisan's tools. This step does not apply to all kits. For example a smith needs a forge to create art, but a painter can create artwork anywhere.
- Roll Artisan's Tool Ability Check - A skill check that involves using the artisan's tool to create a piece of artwork. If you succeed the check add Crafting Progress Roll value to the estimated value of the artwork. If you fail the check no progress is made. If you fail the check by 5 or more you subtract the Crafting Progress Roll value from the estimated value of the artwork.
- GP Progression Roll - Roll your proficiency dice to determine how much value is added or subtracted to the estimated GP value of the artwork being created.
Artisan's Tool Ability Check Formula
[Ability Check DC]* = [Target Item's Current Estimated Value]** / 10
* Values are rounded down and the Max DC is 20
** Does not include the value of materials used to create the artwork. For example the value of any gemstones installed using a jeweler's tools are not used to calculate the ability check DC.
Crafting Progress Roll
[Target Item's Estimated Value] = [Target Item's Current Estimated Value] +/- ([Proficiency Dice Roll] x 5)
Important Disclaimer: The Questionable Arcana Artwork Crafting Rules and lists are not official material. The concepts and ideas provided by this write-up are simply suggestions. I happen to think they are good suggestions, but ultimately your table's DM has the final say when it comes to any and all artwork crafting rulings.
This artwork system caught on right away in my campaign, and thus far has been the most commonly used form of crafting. Although this was a good start in balancing out the kits, I still found myself getting tripped up by the minutia of each kit.
It was at this point in time that my casual tinkering of the rules turned into an obsession. I kicked the next stage of my new found madness off by doing a detailed analysis of the artisan’s tools being used by players in the campaign. However, this only lead to me deeper down the rabbit hole as I searched for ways to expand non-crafting tools or internally debated what a woodcarver could do and a carpenter couldn’t. It was at this point I decided to commit to my madness, and did what as far as I could tell nobody else had bothered to do.
I decided to complete a detailed analysis of every artisan’s toolkit in the game.
The Journeyman’s End
As of this article being published I have completed my journey. Below you will find a number of tables, overviews, and links to write-ups detailing the systems and case-studies mentioned above. Each write-up contains a historical overview of the tool, rules around which items can be created and how to create them, and examples of additional adventuring utility beyond crafting that each tool can provide.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT MOST OF MY CONTENT WOULD BE CONSIDERED HOMEBREW!
However, I stand behind all of the assertions I have made in my write-ups, and encourage anybody interested in using a more robust set of rules surrounding the artisan’s tools to use all of them.
IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THESE RULES WERE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO WORK IN TANDEM WITH THE ADDITIONAL RULES DEFINED IN XANATHAR’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING.
You are able to use the special bonuses for each toolkit mentioned in XGTE without compromising the integrity of the system I created. You are also able to swap out our crafting rules with XGTE’s and the other aspects of these guides remain the same.
Below is a list containing a short description of each artisan’s toolkit, and links to the detailed guides for each kit. If anything, think of these write-ups as crafting companion that works along-side whatever crafting system you decide to use. At the end of the day my only hope is that my work can serve as a source of inspiration for the artisans in your campaign.
The Artisan’s Tools
Alchemist’s Supplies – A popular toolkit and for good reason. Between the ability to effectively convert GP into HP via healing potions, and the ability to create magical potions this kit is an effective choice for virtually any class in the game.
Brewer’s Supplies – Although the list of craft-able items is very limited, this kit has some very strong home-brew(pun intended) potential. This kit can also make a pretty penny brewing and selling alcohol, especially if the campaign is centered around a single location.
Calligrapher’s Supplies – A sneaky strong crafting kit. Although standard crafting options are limited, the ability to produce spell scrolls make it one of the most accessible crafting kits in the game. Your improved literacy can also be used to make you more persuasive, which can change the course of a campaign when applied at the correct moment.
Carpenter’s Tools – An extremely versatile toolkit that allows you to lead in the creation of many wooden items, and assist in the creation of even more. Furthermore you are one of the key artisans when it comes to creating structures in the D&D universe.
Cartographer’s Tools – Although the crafting options are virtually non-existent, you become a god-send when it comes to navigating charted areas. Furthermore if you are looking to conquer the wilderness in something like a west marches campaign, you won’t want to miss out on the benefits provided by this kit.
Cobbler’s Tools – Crafting options are limited, but everyone needs shoes. You are able to lead the creation of magical footwear used by all classes, and the ability to maintain footwear is a valuable addition to any globe-trotting party.
Cook’s Utensils – Everybody eats. This tool has very limited RAW crafting options, but the ones it does have can be applied literally every day. At worst this kit is a major cost-savings device, at best it is an extremely potent kit when used to create magical home-brewed dishes and stews.
Glassblower’s Tools – A toolkit that can create a limited but useful number of magical and mundane items. Furthermore the ability to assist in building creation adds a nice bit of utility. Lastly the artwork created through glassblowing can fetch an excellent price on the market.
Jeweler’s Tools – Another very accessible crafting choice. This kit can craft a decent number of mundane items, but its ability to craft magical rings usable by any class cannot be overlooked. Furthermore the ability to embed gems in all manner of equipment make this kit a very strong artistic option.
Leatherworker’s Tools – A great kit for light armor users and a sneaky strong kit for wizards. Has a solid list of magical items that it can lead the creation of, and a surprisingly strong list of items it can assist in the creation of.
Mason’s Tools – Although the RAW crafting options are somewhat limited, a flexible DM can alleviate this issue somewhat. However mason’s are essential to large construction projects and are able to create magnificent works of art. Furthermore, their mastery of stone gives them capabilities in stone caves and structures that cannot be overlooked. Don’t sleep on this kit.
Painter’s Supplies – Although this kit is limited in RAW crafting options, it is arguably the best kit in the game when it comes to artwork creation. Furthermore it rivals the calligrapher’s supplies in its ability to augment your party’s ability to persuade people at scale.
Poisoner’s Kit – Another popular choice for good reason. There are all manor of natural poisons in the world that can be used to give your party temporary, but potentially game breaking buffs at the right moment. Furthermore the ability to more proficiently interact with all manner of poisons make this kit a strong choice for any player.
Potter’s Tools – Although it requires some flexibility from the DM, the list of ceramic mundane items you can possibly create is solid. Furthermore this is a fairly strong choice when it comes to crafting and selling magical items.
Smith’s Tools – The quintessential fantasy crafting kit. With the ability to lead the creation of the most items in 5th edition, this is basically a requirement for any power-gaming party. Furthermore the ability to mend and otherwise work with metals gives this kit an huge amount of utility.
Tinker’s Tools – Looking for a flexible crafting kit? This is the one you want. With the ability to assist in the creation of most items in the game, proficiency in this kit turns you into the ultimate assistant. Furthermore there is quite a bit of home-brew potential if creating mechanical items interests you.
Weaver’s Tools – Although fairly limited on the mundane item crafting front, this kit makes up for it in spades when it comes to creating magical items and artwork. Furthermore the adventuring bonuses granted to interacting with knots and cloth objects is nearly worth the price of admission on its own.
Woodcarver’s Tools – Offers arguably the best balance between functionality and flexibility in the game. Can create a staggering number of RAW mundane and magical items, and has an amazing amount of adventuring utility. This is easily one of the strongest kits in the game.
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