D&D 5e – Questionable Arcana – Crafting: Brewer’s Supplies

Merchant hauling kegs of ale
Questionable Arcana Crafting System
Item Crafting Rules Artwork Crafting Rules
The Artisan's Tools
Alchemist's Supplies Brewer's Supplies
Calligrapher's Supplies Carpenter's Tools
Cartographer's Tools Cobbler's Tools
Cook's Utensils Glassblower's Tools
Jeweler's Tools Leatherworker's Tools
Mason's Tools Painter's Supplies
Poisoner's Kit Potter's Tools
Smith's Tools Tinker's Tools
Weaver's Tools Woodcarver's Tools
Other Homebrew Rules
Critical Hit Charts Wild Magic
More Martial Actions D&D Drinking Game


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.


The Brewer’s Supplies At A Glance

RAW Cost: 20 GP
RAW Weight: 9 lbs
*Example Items: Boil Kettle, Mortar and Pestle, Mash Tun
Crafting Restrictions: Access to heat is required. This can be done on the road, but housing a meaningful amount of ale will required additional containers, and likely a cart. Typically brewing is done in a fixed location.
Mundane Item Crafting: Ale, Wine, and Liquor. Ale and Wine are RAW, Liquor will be up to the DM.
Magic Item Crafting: No RAW crafting options. However there is some home-brew potential here. Entirely DM Dependant.
Artwork Creation: Can potentially create extremely high quality spirits, however spoiling the batch is very easy.
QA Artwork Bonus (Ale): Able to find a buyer in 1/3rd the time.
QA Artwork Bonus (Wine/Liquor): +20 to roll modifier on the “Selling a Magic Item” table.
Structure Building: N/A
Adventuring Utility: N/A

* These items are specific to the Questionable Arcana system. Other similar crafting systems may utilitize a different list of items.

Now that we know how we can use the Glassblower’s Tools to create a variety of liquid containers, the next step in the process is to learn how to fill them. Today we will be covering a very different type of home-brew. Yes the Brewer’s Supplies are up next, and we are going to learn how they can be used to recharge your party and your coin-purse. However, before we dig into the D&D mechanics, it is important we build a functional understanding of how brewing works in both historic and modern times.

Beer is one of the oldest beverages in existence with the earliest recorded instances dating back to 5th millennium BC. Beer is often credited with being one of mankind’s most important discovering along-side bread. This is because the long but reliable process of creating those products enabled and incentivized groups of people to stay in one location. As soon as a reliable source of this warm and soothing liquid became known, people would flock to that location, and eventually form villages, towns, or even cities.

For the most part brewers stuck to making beer for the local populace. The idea of mass-producing and distributing beer did not really pick up steam until the Industrial Revolution. During the revolution improvements in technology allowed the beer to be created at scale, and transported more easily. This resulted in the production of beer shifting from artisanal manufacturing to industrial manufacturing. Today both Artisanal and Industrial beer manufacturers are still very prevalent, but improvements in technology have allowed smaller artisanal brewer’s to utilize industrial style equipment.

Although there is a great deal of nuance to the brewing process, at a high level the process of making beer can actually be broken down into 5 simple steps:

  1. Malted barley is soaked in hot water to release the malt sugars.
  2. The malt sugar solution is boiled with Hops for seasoning.(This step was often skipped in pre-industrial revolution era ales)
  3. The solution is cooled and yeast is added to begin fermentation.
  4. The yeast ferments the sugars, releasing CO2 and ethyl alcohol.
  5. When the main fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled with a little bit of added sugar to provide the carbonation.

This overall process has remained more or less unchanged over the course of history, however it is important to note that medieval ales often skipped the second step where hops were boiled into the malt.

Although there are some styles of beer that can be produced in as little as 4 or 5 days, most brews require around 6 to 8 weeks to complete. Because of this typically do their work in a fixed location where they have consistent access to the ingredients and supplies needed to create, store, and sell their beer.

Last but not least it is worth noting that the process of creating beer is very similar to the process of creating wine and alcohol. At a small scale an individual brewer with knowledge of each process could switch between products fairly easily. However, there are enough key differences between the processes to make it cost-prohibitive to create all 3 at scale. As a result most people looking to create alcohol usually pick one type of booze and stick to it.

Lets Have(Make) A Drink!

Rather than restrict the kit to just ale, I recommend you allow the player to create wine and spirits as well. In this case the only thing that imposing these restrictions would accomplish is to limit the creative potential of the player. Using both the RAW and our home-brewed Questionable Arcana crafting systems there is no material advantage to brewing beer vs wine vs liquor because all three use the same gold-based progression system.

However, the process of creating spirits of any kind is a long and tedious one, often requiring large amounts of bulky equipment. As a result I recommend you require the brewer to operate out of a brewery of some sort, unless they take extreme measures to create a mobile brewing setup. A horse and wagon would potentially allow the brewer to work on the road, but they still need extended amounts of time at an open flame to complete the process. As a result any party with a party member brewing on the road should needs to stop and go frequently, resulting in a slow travel pace. While “travel brewing” the party also does not gain any of the benefits of a slow travel pace because of its hurry up and wait nature.

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).

FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR THE COMPLETE RULES


Crafting Requirements

  1. A Lead Artisan - An artisan with the appropriate tool who can lead the crafting process.
  2. 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.
  3. Means of Production - Any special equipment or location requirements such as a forge for blacksmiths.
  4. Instructions - Memorized instructions for mundane items or a written blueprint for magical items.
  5. 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)


Important Disclaimer: The Questionable Arcana 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 crafting rulings.

As far as weapons, armor, and adventuring gear goes; there really isn’t much a brewer can make on their own. However, there is a list of Food, Drink, and Lodging options in the SRD that the brewer can contribute to the creation of. Using either the RAW or Questionable Arcana crafting system, a player can create these spirits.


Food / Adventuring Gear Crafting List
Item Cost Weight Crafting Capability
Rations (1 day) 5 sp 2 lb. ASSIST
Ale, Gallon 2 SP LEAD
Ale, Mug 4 CP LEAD
Meal, Squalid 3 CP ASSIST
Meal, Poor 6 CP ASSIST
Meal, Modest 3 SP ASSIST
Meal, Comfortable 5 SP ASSIST
Meal, Wealthy 8 SP ASSIST
Meal, Aristocratic 2 GP ASSIST
Meat, Chunk 3 SP ASSIST
Soap 2 CP ASSIST
Wine, Common (Pitcher) 2 SP LEAD
Wine, Fine (Bottle 10 GP LEAD

If you want to expand on the idea of producing ales and wine even more, I created table of the prices of various alcoholic beverages at different sizes.


Beverage Goblet(8 oz) Mug(16 oz) Bottle(24 oz) Pitcher(48 oz) Gallon(128 oz) Barrel(50 gallon)
Ale N/A 4 CP N/A 1 SP* 2 SP 5 GP*
Common Wine 5 CP* N/A N/A 2 SP 4 SP* 10 GP*
Liquor(Any)* 2 SP* N/A N/A 8 SP* N/A 40 GP*
Fine Wine 5 GP* N/A 10 GP N/A N/A 1000 GP*

NOTE: Marked values are not RAW. These home-brewed values assume that there is some type of bulk pricing discount as the amount sold increases, and are priced accordingly.

I typically try to avoid creating exceptions in our crafting system, however, the length of time it takes to create alcohol cannot be overlooked in this case. As discussed above it typically takes at least a week(or longer) for the ale to properly ferment. Fortunately, the most difficult and restricting portion of the brewing process that involves heating the ingredients over an open flame happens on the first day. This means we can still adhere to the typical crafting requirement of 8 hours in a single day to craft, but once the initial work has been done to the batch, a brewer needs to manage the fermentation process for at least a week. Once the week has passed the ale is considered fermented, and is usable/salable. Wine requires two weeks to ferment.

Magical brews function exactly the same as any other magical item. Once a player has procured a recipe for a special brew, they are able to produce the ale at will as long as they have the ingredients needed. Unfortunately, the brewer’s supplies has a very limited number of RAW magical items that it can create.


Magic Item Crafting List
Item Rarity Category Crafting Capability
Efreeti Bottle Very Rare Wondrous Item OPTIONAL
Eversmoking Bottle Uncommon Wondrous Item LEAD

However, I would expect that most DMs would throw the player a home-brew recipe or two should a player express interest in using the tool.

EXAMPLE HOME-BREW ALE

Recipe: Flask of Hill Giant’s Brew
Item Rarity: Uncommon
Total Material Cost: 210 GP
Item Type: Ale Flask
Item Origin: Home Brew
Materials Required: Materials for 50 Gallons of Ale(10 GP), 1x Potion of Hill Giant’s Strength(200 GP)


Item Description: One swig of this brew grants the imbiber a temporary boost of drunken strength. For one minute the user gains +4 to strength. After one minute needs to roll at DC 10 Constitution savings throw. on failure they are afflicted by the poisoned status. Regardless of the outcome of the roll, the hangover from the ale starts to set in, and the user suffers one unit of exhaustion.


Crafting Instructions: Create a small batch of Ale. Once the ale has reached the fermentation stage pull a flask’s worth of ale aside and pour a Potion of Hill Giant’s Strength into the container. This will cause the yeast to ferment very quickly, as a result you will need to regularly add more yeast over the course of the brew(about 100 GP worth). Eventually the the fermentation will end resulting in an extremely potent brew with magical properties.

The Takeaway: A player with brewer’s supplies proficiency can create beer, wine, and liquor. Usually they are required to brew in a single location unless extreme measures are taken to create a mobile brewing setup. However, if the player does decide to try and brew on the road, it limits the party to a slow movement speed. Other than soap, a player is able to produce ale, common wine, liquor(homebrew), and fine wine using normal crafting rules. However, once the GP value of the alcohol produced is rolled, that batch does not become available until it has fermented(1 week for ale, 2 weeks for wine and liquor). There are no RAW magic items that the brewer’s supplies can create.

Going Sideways – The Art of Brewing

Anybody who has been to a high end spirits merchant knows that some people will pay exorbitant prices for exotic wines and brews. If a player in your group is looking to create some artisan spirits, then I recommend you use our home-brew Artwork System or something similar. For more information on our artwork system you can reference the Questionable Arcana Artwork System article, but for your convenience the basics of the system can be found below:

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.

FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR THE COMPLETE ARTWORK CRAFTING RULES


Crafting Process

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

The rules of brewing artisan spirits are the same as other non-alcoholic forms of artwork, but there is one key exception. Normally when a player fails their Artisan’s Tool Ability Check, nothing happens unless they fail by 5 or more. However, due to the sensitive nature of the brewing process, any mistake made when using the brewer’s supplies results in the batch going bad. As a result should a player using the brewer’s tools fail their artisan’s tool ability check, the artisan spirits they are trying to create are reduced to a value of 5 GP, and can no longer be worked on. This means that your barrel of booze thought to be worth 50 GP may suddenly become only be worth 5 GP of common ale.

While this may seem like a tough bargain for brewer’s kit users, there are some special benefits they gain in the selling process above and beyond many other crafting tools. High end beer and wine tend to attract somewhat different audiences, therefore they are given different benefits during the sales process.

A keg of artisanal beer will have a much wider audience than most “works of art”, so as a result a merchant looking to sell said keg will be able to accomplish that task in 1/3rd the time that a similarly priced item could be sold. Mechanically this means that all “days to find a buyer” rolls on the “Salable Items” table are reduced by 1/3th. Functionally this means that artisanal ale will often sell in a single day. This makes it a very attractive option to craft if you are looking for a quick turnaround.

Artisanal Wine and Liquor on the other hand have a more particular audience. Like other forms for artwork, it may take a fair bit of time to find the right buyer. However, once that buyer is found it is often easier to convince them to pay a higher price. Functionally this means that artisanal wines and liquors gain a +20 bonus to their roll modifier on the “selling an item” table, often resulting in selling at a much higher price.

The Takeaway: A player can create artisanal ale, wine, and liquor. Ale is much easier to sell than virtually all other forms for “artwork”, and wine can often fetch a much higher price relative to the effort put in. However, should an artisan fail their artisan’s tool ability check during the crafting process, any potentially valuable brew they are making is totally ruined.

Conclusion

Although there aren’t many functional items that the brewer’s tool can create, there is still a lot of value they could potentially bring to a player or party. Any party playing in a campaign based around a single location would likely benefit greatly from the the brewer’s tools since ale and wine is always in demand.

When it comes to magic items, there aren’t really any RAW items that the kit can create, however if a player emphasizes using the kit I wouldn’t be surprised to see the DM throw them home-brew recipes or two for them to use. Overall the kit is mostly used to produce and sell alcohol, but it does that job so well that it should be strongly considered by any player looking to make some extra coin between dungeons.


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