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 Potter’s Tools At A Glance
RAW Cost: 10 GP
RAW Weight: 3 lbs
*Example Items: Wire Clay Cutter, Brushes, Ribs, Ribbon, Wire End, Needle, Boxwood Tools
Crafting Restrictions: Need access to a heat source, preferably a furnace. Somewhat DM dependant.
Mundane Item Crafting: Barrel, Bell, Bottle, Bucket, Cnadle, Flask/Tankard, Jug/Pitcher, Mirror, Pole, Pot
Magic Item Crafting: Small list of utility items. Definitely some solid home-brew potential here. Very DM Dependant.
Artwork Creation: The main reason to pick up this kit. Can create valuable artwork that sells fairly quickly due to high demand.
QA Artwork Bonus: Selling Products takes half as many days 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.
Now that we’ve fully baked the details around using the cook’s utensils, it is time for us to step away from the more commonly used tool kits and drift back into the obscure. Today’s focus is on possibly the least helpful artisan’s tool-kit in the entire game, the potter’s tools.
I typically try to keep these how-to’s as positive as possible, however the potter’s tools were a bit of a doozie. For starters there are no obvious ways that the potter’s tools can help you kill the denizens of the dungeons you are crawling. It is true that other tools such as the glassblower’s tools that run into this same issue, but in that case the lack of combat related utility is at least partially offset by its ability to aid in large construction projects.
Furthermore, I at least initially assume that other commerce focused tool kits such as the brewer’s supplies will come out ahead. This is because unless you live in Hyrule the demand for booze would generally be greater than the demand for pottery ever could be.
However despite my initial misgivings, I held the line and cracked open every (digital) tome on the subject I could fine. In the end I learned some interesting things about pottery, and number 2 might shock you!
It turns out that part of the reason I didn’t think the potter’s tools would be useful was because I didn’t actually know what pottery was. According to The American Society for Testing and Materials pottery is “all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products”. This definition was much wider than my original assumption of pottery only being hollowed out pots.
Historically, examples of ceramics such as animal and human figurines have been dated as far back as 24,000 BC, however it wasn’t until around 10,000 BC that the first functional pieces of pottery were discovered around Mesopotamia and India. Around 8,000 BC is when glazes were discovered, and consequently this is purported to have lead to the tangential discovery of glass-making.
Initially the process of creating ceramics and pottery was a very crude and laborious process, however sometime between 4000 and 3000 BC the potter’s wheel was invented which revolutionized how artisans created pottery. The wheel granted potters the ability to quickly sculpt and mold their wares in a symmetrical fashion which greatly increased their throughput.
The industrial revolution and beyond brought a number of improvements such as synthetic refractories for more temperature resistant furnaces, electricity, and automation. However, the core process of shaping(spinning), firing, and decorating ceramics have for the most part have not changed over the years.
Now that you understand the basics of pottery, lets dig into the game mechanics.
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)
I highly doubt any but the most… creative of DM’s would allow you to create RAW weapons and armor using the potter’s tools, but I would argue that ceramic versions of the following items could be made using the potter’s tools:
|Weapon Crafting List|
|Adventuring Gear Crafting List|
|Arcane Focus, Rod||10 gp||2 lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Arcane Focus, Staff||5 gp||4 lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Arcane Focus, Wand||10 gp||1 lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Barrel||2 gp||70 lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Bottle, Glass||2 gp||2 lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Chest||5 gp||25 lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Flask or Tankard||2 cp||1 lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Jug or Pitcher||2 cp||4 lb.||LEAD|
|Lamp||5 sp||1 lb.||ASSIST|
|Lantern, Bullseye||10 gp||2 lb.||ASSIST|
|Lantern, Hooded||5 gp||2 lb.||ASSIST|
|Mirror, Steel||5 gp||½ lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Pot, Iron||2 gp||10 lb.||OPTIONAL|
|Signal Whistle||5 cp||—||OPTIONAL|
|Torch||1 cp||1 lb.||OPTIONAL|
Beyond this basic list is all manner of pots, dishes, and other commonly known pottery items that a DM might include in their campaign as well.
As far as magic items go, there are a handful of standard items that the potter’s tools could reasonably create. However, if your DM is open to the idea of magically reinforced ceramics the list of magical items this toolkit can create expands dramatically.
|Magic Item Crafting List|
|Bowl of Commanding Water Elementals||Rare||Wondrous Item||LEAD|
|Brooch of Shielding||Uncommon||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Candle of Invocation||Very Rare||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Censer of Controlling Air Elementals||Rare||Wondrous Item||LEAD|
|Dagger of Venom||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Decanter of Endless Water||Uncommon||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Efreeti Bottle||Very Rare||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Eversmoking Bottle||Uncommon||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Horn of Blasting||Rare||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Immovable Rod||Uncommon||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Javelin of Lightning||Uncommon||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Lantern of Revealing||Uncommon||Wondrous Item||ASSIST|
|Pipes of Haunting||Uncommon||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Pipes of the Sewers||Uncommon||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Rod of Absorption||Very Rare||Rod||OPTIONAL|
|Rod of Alertness||Very Rare||Rod||OPTIONAL|
|Rod of Lordly Might||Legendary||Rod||OPTIONAL|
|Rod of Rulership||Rare||Rod||OPTIONAL|
|Rod of Security||Very Rare||Rod||OPTIONAL|
|Scarab of Protection||Legendary||Wondrous Item||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Charming||Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Fire||Very Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Frost||Very Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Healing||Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Power||Very Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Striking||Very Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Swarming Insects||Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of the Magi||Legendary||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of the Python||Uncommon||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of the Woodlands||Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Thunder and Lightning||Very Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Staff of Withering||Rare||Staff||OPTIONAL|
|Vicious Weapon – Dagger||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Vicious Weapon – Javelin||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Vicious Weapon – Spear||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Vicious Weapon – Dart||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Binding||Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Enemy Detection||Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Fear||Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Fireballs||Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Lightning Bolts||Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Magic Detection||Uncommon||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Magic Missiles||Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Paralysis||Very Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Polymorph||Very Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Secrets||Uncommon||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of the War Mage, +1, +2, or +3||Uncommon||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Web||Uncommon||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Wand of Wonder||Rare||Wand||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +1 – Dagger||Uncommon||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +1 – Javelin||Uncommon||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +1 – Spear||Uncommon||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +1 – Dart||Uncommon||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +2 – Dagger||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +2 – Javelin||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +2 – Spear||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +2 – Dart||Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +3 – Dagger||Very Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +3 – Javelin||Very Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +3 – Spear||Very Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
|Weapon +3 – Dart||Very Rare||Weapon||OPTIONAL|
This list might even be able to be extended further if the DM is open to the idea of magically reinforced ceramics as a substitution for wood or metals: As you can see there is actually quite a bit of potential on the magic item front if you define pottery as ceramics instead of literally just pots and pans.
There is also some potential for home-brew here as well. After-all, what campaign wouldn’t benefit from a pan with a hole into an extra-dimensional space the produces a never ending supply of pies?
EXAMPLE HOME-BREW POTTERY
Recipe: Pot of Pies
Item Rarity: Rare
Total Material Cost: 1000 GP
Item Type: Adventuring Gear
Item Origin: Home Brew
Materials Required: 10 lbs of clay from the grove of the tree of Life(500 GP), 1x apple from the Tree of Life(500 GP)
Item Description: When opened this pot creates a portal into what appears to be a half-ling kitchen in Elysium. Once per day the user can reach inside, and an unknown creature hands them a random pie from the kitchen. Eating this pie restores one hit-dice + con modifier worth of hit points. If this pot is placed inside of another item leading to an extra dimensional space such as a Bag of Holding, both of the items break down and a portal to a random point in Elysium is created.
Crafting Instructions: Take the apple and clay from the grove of the tree of life and mix it together. From there go through the regular process of spinning and firing the pot. It is rumored that the process can be aided by eating nothing but pies during the crafting process, however this is unproven and likely just an excuse halflings make to eat more pie.
The Takeaway: Although crafting weapons and armor is generally not an option, there is still a solid variety of magical and non-magical adventuring gear that can be created with the potter’s tools. This list can be widened even further if the DM is open to the idea of magically reinforced ceramics serving as a substitution for wood or iron.
The Art of Pot(tery)
Having already exceeded my initial expectations on the general crafting front, lets dig into what I initially assumed would be the main purpose of picking up the potter’s tools.
While most buyers are typically just looking for basic ceramics to complete their daily tasks, there is still a strong market for high quality ceramics from wealthy buyers. A particularly well spun piece of pottery could catch the eye of a nobleman, and after some skilled negotiation leave you with a hefty amount of coin in your purse.
If you are looking to create artisanal ceramics/pottery I recommend you use the Questionable Arcana Artwork System or something similar to craft the item.
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.
Since it can be reasonably assumed that an artisan can work meticulously on the same piece over a long period of time, and we don’t have to worry about the items shelf life, the potter’s tools don’t really have any exceptions you need to worry about when it comes to the creation of fine art.
In fact, I would argue that given the fairly high demand that ceramics typically command, you would have a much easier time finding a buyer for ceramics than many other forms of artwork such as jewelry and paintings. If you are using the Questionable Arcana Artwork Crafting System this means that a potter can cut the “time to find a buyer” roll in half when rolling against the Salable (Magic) Items table.
The Takeaway: The process of creating ceramic artwork is very straightforward, and ceramics sell twice a quickly as other forms of art if you are using the QA Artwork Crafting System.
Much to my surprise, the potter’s tools ended up being one of the more robust artisan’s toolkits I have analyzed thus far! The combination of mundane and magical items it can reasonably create exceeds many other toolkits, and its capabilities in the artistic space are nothing to be scoffed at.
Although there are other toolkits that are more consistently useful on the adventuring front, if you are looking for an unusual toolkit to that offers a bit of utility in everything, you could do a lot worse than the potter’s tools.
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