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 Cooks’s Utensils At A Glance
RAW Cost: 1 GP
RAW Weight: 8 lbs
*Example Items: Kettle, Frying Pan, Pot, Spoons, Knives, Bowls, Plates
Crafting Restrictions: Need access to a heat source.
Mundane Item Crafting: Bread, Cheese, Meat, Meals, Banquets
Magic Item Crafting: No RAW crafting options. However there is some home-brew potential here. Entirely DM Dependant.
Artwork Creation: Can potentially create very valuable meals for wealthy customers, but if a customer is not found within the day the product will spoil.
QA Artwork Bonus: Able to find a buyer in 1 day, and you can add your cooks utensils proficiency to the investigation check used to find a buyer.**
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.
** This bonus is added on top of any existing investigation proficiency or expertise a character has.
Now that we’ve made ourselves a decadent wine pairing, it is time to fire up the hearth and make the main course. This means the cook’s utensils are on our plate(pun absolutely intended) so let’s step up our food game. However, as always before we dig into the mechanical goodness of creating chocolaty goodness, we need to go over the basics of cooking in both historical and modern times.
The true origins of cooking are hotly debated, but something that is generally agreed upon is that the creation of a well cooked meal requires the chef to… well… cook it. Whether you are Baking, Broiling, or Boiling your meal; the core competence of the craft of cooking is your ability to control heat.
Medieval kitchens varied widely between the rich and the poor. A peasants kitchen often only consisted of a small fire in the middle of a home with a spit, kettle, pots, and pans. This was enough to cook the grains, vegetables, and occasional meat/bone soup that a peasant’s diet usually consisted of. Nobility on the other hand often would often employ staff members who much like modern era kitchen staff executed specific tasks around the kitchen. This allowed for the preparation of a steady stream of ingredients while the more skilled kitchen staff tended the fire to ensure everything was cooked to perfection.
Most cooking in the early days was done over open flame, however over the course of time new heating methods such as charcoal, propane, convection heating, and even sous vide were discovered.
Tending The Fire
For the sake of simplicity I recommend you stick to medieval cooking methods in your campaign. This means that in order to use the cook’s utensils a player must have access to a stable heat source that is strong enough cook the dish they are trying to make.
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)
Once a heat source has been located a player can use whatever ingredients they have available to make any of the basic foods listed in the SRD:
|Adventuring Gear Crafting List|
|Rations (1 day)||5 sp||2 lb.||LEAD|
|Banquet (per person)||10 GP||—||LEAD|
|Bread, loaf||2 SP||—||LEAD|
|Cheese, hunk||1 SP||—||LEAD|
|Meal, Squalid||3 CP||—||LEAD|
|Meal, Poor||6 CP||—||LEAD|
|Meal, Modest||3 SP||—||LEAD|
|Meal, Comfortable||5 SP||—||LEAD|
|Meal, Wealthy||8 SP||—||LEAD|
|Meal, Aristocratic||2 GP||—||LEAD|
|Meat, Chunk||3 SP||—||LEAD|
Unless you have a specific reason to catalog specific ingredients in the party’s possession, I recommend you stick to a simplified approach of ingredient tracking. Both the RAW and Questionable Arcana Crafting Systems state that mundane items require half their cost in materials to craft, and the requirements to create basic foods shouldn’t be any different.
Assuming you are requiring the party to bring food on their adventures, I strongly recommend you use the “meal” items listed on page 158 to keep track of food. Instead of tracking individual ingredients this allows you to simply have the party trade gold for the appropriate number of meals, which are then consumed on a daily basis. Players with cook’s utensils proficiency are able to spend half the regular cost of a meal in ingredients, and utilize your crafting system of choice to prepare meals for the party’s upcoming adventure.
Questionable Arcana Crafting System: Meal Prep Example
A party is tasked with clearing out a goblin den about 3 days travel from town. Renlia the Bard has proficiency in the cook’s utensils and offers to prepare the meals in advance to save the party some coin. Fortunately for Renlia the party has relatively simple tastes, and will only require meals associated with those who keep a modest life-style.
There are 5 members of the party and everyone agreed it would be best to prepare 8 days worth of food. This means a total of 40 meals are required costing 3 SP each. This would cost the party 12 GP on the open market, however using Renlia’s expertise the party is able to cut this cost down to 6 GP.
QA Basic Crafting Progress Formula(Proficient): 5 + ([Proficiency Dice Roll]*5) GP/Day
QA Basic Crafting Progress Formula(No Proficiency): 5 GP/Day
Renlia could potentially complete all of this work on her own, but in an effort to ensure the party stays on track she has Rkard the Barbarian help her prepare the meals. Rkard is able to follow Renlia’s instructions, however since he is not proficient in the tools he can only contribute 5 GP worth of crafting progress per day. However this is okay because Renlia with her 1d4 proficiency die will contribute anywhere between 10 GP and 25 GP per day. Since there is only 12 GP worth of meals to be made, the crafting duo will have no problem preparing all of the meals before night’s end.
If you want you can try to incorporate a shelf-life into the meals being cooked, however for the sake of simplicity I recommend you avoid this book-keeping for trips that only last about a week or so.
For longer trips it can pretty easily be assumed that players can craft their meals as they go when they make camp. For the sake of simplicity I recommend you waive the 8 hour rule the applies to most crafting when turning a days worth of meal materials into actual meals. However, should the player try to do more than a days worth of meal prep on the road, they will need to adhere to the usual crafting rules of at least 8 hours per crafting session.
The Takeaway: While there is some variety on mundane crafting options, for simplicity’s sake most party’s will create meals instead of individual items. These meals can be crafted at half price, and keep for at least a week on the road. During longer trips a player can still save coin by creating meals on a day to day basis.
This Dish is (actually) Magical
For the most part there aren’t really any obvious options when it comes to crafting magic foods. There are a few items such as Keoghtom’s Ointment or Sovereign Glue where cooking knowledge could be applied, but for the most part this is entirely up to the DM.
However, there are all kinds of opportunities to creature some home-brewed(home-cooked?) items that the party could create. The sky really is the limit when it comes to magical recipes, but if you are looking for some inspiration a basic example can be found below.
EXAMPLE HOME-BREW STEW
Recipe: Hill Giant’s Stew
Item Rarity: Uncommon
Total Material Cost: 210 GP
Item Type: Meal(Special)
Item Origin: Home Brew
Materials Required: Materials to make 20x Comfortable Meals(10 GP), 1x Potion of Hill Giant’s Strength(200 GP)
Item Description: Eating this meal has a strengthening effect on living creatures. Once a creature finishes eating the meal they gain +1 to strength and +1 to all hit-points gained when rolling hit-dice during short rests. This effect lasts until the creature completes a long rest.
Crafting Instructions: Set up a bonfire with enough wood to last 8 hours. Start creating 5 meals worth of a modest stew. Once the stew has started to boil pour the entire Potion of Hill Giant’s Strength into the stew. The potion will start to quickly consume the stew, as the water-line of the stew lowers, introduce more materials to maintain the same volume of material in the stew. Once you have put another 5 meals worth of material into the stew, allow the stew to reduce until only 1 meal worth of stew remains. At this point the potion should be fully cooked into the stew can be stored in a sealed jug for a virtually indefinite amount of time.
The Takeaway: Although RAW magical items are extremely limited, don’t let that stop you from creating some interesting culinary creations of your own!
Top Chef – Cooking As Artwork
Anybody who has eaten at a fancy restaurant knows that some chefs have the ability to create otherworldly meals, often at otherworldly prices. While resting in town, the master chefs of a party might decide that rather than do boring meal prep, they would rather attempt to create a lavish meal in hopes of attracting the attention, and coin of a wealthy buyer.
Should a player decide to go this route, I recommend you use our Questionable Arcana Artwork System or something similar to determine the quality of the meal, and if the player is successful in finding a buyer. You can find the details of our artwork crafting system in our system document linked above, 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.
- 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.
The rules around creating five-star, five-course works of art are almost the same as crafting any other type of artwork, however there are a couple of key bonuses and limitations we need to discuss.
The first and most important limitation is that any artistic meals that are created will “go bad” within 24 hours. Anybody looking to drop 10, 20, or even 50 GP on a meal will certainly want it fresh, so you can’t expect them to be interested in a 2 day old turkey leg even if it was prepared perfectly. However, should the chef fail to find a buyer, they are still able to use the meal as an aristocratic quality meal until it completely expires, which depending on the DM could confer a different set of benefits.
Secondly, artwork quality cooking can only be done to one meal at a time. What separates a high-quality aristocratic meal from a meal that is considered a work of art is the extensive time spent preparing and arranging the food.
Fortunately for the would-be chefs in your party, the ability to only keep a meal for a single day is as much of a blessing as it is a curse. New and exotic dishes are highly sought after, so a chef will typically have a much easier time finding a buyer than other artists.
Mechanically this means that if the player succeeds their investigation check to find a buyer, their “Days to Find Buyer” roll is automatically set to 1. Furthermore, the high demand around selling food grants the chef a massive bonus in their selling a magic item roll. When rolling against the “Selling a Magic Item” table, the player is granted an additional +30 bonus to their roll. To clarify that means if they are selling a “common” rarity work of art worth under 100 GP, they will gain 10 + 30 = 40 to their d100 Roll Modifier.
So while it may be difficult for a player to sell individual items at exorbitant prices, high quality meals are a good way to generate a steady income if there are ample buyers available.
The Takeaway: Chefs can create artwork like any other artisan, however they must sell their wares before the end of the day otherwise it will “go bad”. This limitation is offset by the fact that cooks can find same-day buyers quite often, and once they find them they can often sell their wares at a considerable premium.
On the surface the cook’s utensils seem like a boring option for the intrepid adventurer. However, once you look past the allure of creating shiny swords and learn the value of a well cooked meal, this under-appreciated toolkit starts to become more appetizing.
Any party playing in a campaign that tracks daily food costs will benefit enormously in the long run if they have a chef in their party. Furthermore, the ability to create delicious works of art and home-brewed magical foods can help pad their character’s coin purse and character sheet. The ability to use this kit on the road also makes it a very palatable choice for any adventurer with downtime to spare. The flexible nature of this kit means that it is viable option even if a player already has proficiency in another type of artisan’s tools.
So while you may be tempted to use another kit, it is important to remember that sometimes there is nothing quite like a home-cooked meal.
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