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Secrets of Crafting

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This chapter includes several new subsystems and options to enhance or replace the rules for crafting new items presented in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.

The Crafting Alternate Rules section presents complex crafting rules, which can make crafting more complicated but also more nuanced. These rules allow for more distinctions between the time required to craft a permanent item versus a consumable, and include adjustments for decreasing the time required to craft an item by increasing the difficulty of the crafting process. This section also includes downtime events to make the story of crafting items more interesting and varied, and rules for deconstructing and repurposing items the party has for use in crafting new items.

The Nature Crafting section presents options for a world in which druids and creatures of the wild might be the primary intercessors and power sources for crafting items. This section presents the Grow activity, an alternative to the Craft activity for items that can be grown from the natural world. These bestowed gifts represent magical items as creations awarded to the PCs in acknowledgment of their heroic services to powerful magic creatures. Gardens represent a type of renewable resource that can provide temporary consumables for the group and allow characters to create places in the setting wherein they can readily acquire or requisition items they want for their adventures.

The Story-Based Crafting section offers a system where every notable magic item the player characters acquire is part of an epic story and adventure. The players work with you, the GM, to determine what items they want to acquire and what kind of adventures they might have to assemble the necessary pieces. These variant rules work best in campaigns where player input and direction on the story are desirable, and where the core story of the campaign is primarily a “sandbox” or open world whose events are dictated by player choice.

Story-based crafting and nature crafting can be used together in the same campaign with little issue, though it's still recommended that you try out each subsystem one at a time. A garden for consumables can nicely compliment permanent items gained via bestowed gifts and crafting quests. The crafting alternate rules, especially complex crafting, are meant to interact with the core crafting rules and may have unintended and undesirable consequences that can either confuse the crafting process or affect the game disproportionately when used in conjunction with either of the new variant systems.

Crafting Alternate Rules

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Complex Crafting

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The Craft action as presented in the Core Rulebook works at a simple rate: you can Craft any item, regardless of the item level, in exactly 4 days, spending additional time for a discount on the item's final cost. While easy to implement at the table, this system focuses on simplicity and leaves some avenues unexplored. For example, items of the highest possible level (your own level) provide you far more value for those 4 days than lower-level items. In addition, the system provides few options for players to attempt to craft an item quickly, even if doing so comes with risk of failure. This complex crafting variant is suitable for groups who view crafting items as a central part of their play experience. For most groups, the simpler crafting system is probably sufficient to complete the occasional item.

This variant adds a choice to the system of crafting, allowing characters to decide how they want to approach a job, taking a slow and methodical approach or rushing the process and risking loss of material or even the creation of a cursed item! This system also incorporates changes in time based on the item's level and whether it's a consumable item or a permanent item.

To begin, you must meet all of the requirements listed in the Craft action of the Crafting skill. At the start of the process, you must determine the setup time based on the type of item and its level compared to yours, then decide on your approach to the job, which is limited by your proficiency. The GM determines the base DC as normal based on the item's level, rarity, and other circumstances.

To determine setup time, check the item's level and whether it's a consumable or permanent item. Compare the item's level to your own and look for the number of days on Table 5–1. This setup time is the base number of days it takes to create the item. If you decide to take the slow and methodical approach, you spend that number of days, and then attempt the Crafting check to determine your success (see Finishing the Item).

You can instead rush the process, taking days off the time needed to setup the item while introducing a greater risk of failure. If you're at least an Expert in Crafting, you can reduce the setup time by 1 day by increasing the DC by 5. If you're at least a Master in Crafting, you can reduce the setup time by 2 days by increasing the DC by 10. If you're Legendary in Crafting, you can reduce the setup time by 3 days by increasing the DC by 15. If you're crafting a consumable, and this reduction would bring the number of days to 0 or less, the crafting time is instead reduced to 4 hours.

Table 5-1: Days of Setup

Item's Relative LevelConsumable Permanent
Equal to your level 4 6
Your level –1 or –2 3 5
Your level –3 or lower 2 4

Finishing the Item

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After the setup time is complete, you must attempt a Crafting check to determine the overall success of your creation. If your check is a success, you expend the raw materials and can complete the item immediately by paying the remaining portion of the item's Price in materials. Alternatively, you can spend additional downtime days working on the item.

For each additional day you spend, reduce the value of the materials you need to expend to complete the item. This value reduction is determined using Table 4–2: Income Earned, based on your proficiency rank in Crafting and using your own level instead of a task level. After any of these downtime days, you can complete the item by spending the remaining portion of its Price in materials. If the time is interrupted, you can return to finish the item later, continuing where you left off.

You can decide to speed up this process as well. If you are at least an Expert in Crafting, you can rush the finishing process, reducing the value of the materials you must expend to complete the item by twice the amount listed in Table 4–2: Income Earned. Doing so comes at a risk; at the end of the creation process, once the item is finished, you must attempt a flat check. The DC of this flat check is equal to 10 + the item's level – your Crafting proficiency bonus. If the check is a success or critical success, the item is complete and works perfectly. If the check is a failure, the item is still completed, but it gains a quirk. If the check is a critical failure, the item is ruined or might become a cursed item attached to you (GM's discretion).

Crafting Items with Adjustments

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Adjustments are item modifications that can provide specific special abilities to a particular type of equipment. Instead of crafting adjustments separately from a suit of armor, you can simply craft the armor with the adjustment already in place by adding the price of the adjustment to the total crafting cost of the base armor and calculating the rest of the crafting process as normal.

Skill Feats

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When using this variant, consider allowing the Quick Setup skill feat to enable characters to Craft exceptionally low-level items even more quickly. This skill feat is listed as rare and is never available to a character except when using this variant. This rapid form of crafting could cause your players to end up with higher treasure values or more items than an adventure expects them to have, so be careful about allowing this feat in campaigns that already provide significant amounts of downtime.

Crafting Downtime Events

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Plenty of things can happen during downtime that might derail your efforts or complicate your plans. When crafting, it might be easy enough to put down the creation and deal with a problem, but sometimes these events can threaten the project itself. The Gamemastery Guide provides three examples of downtime events related to crafting: a delayed shipment of materials, a superlative work drawing attention from collectors, or the discovery of a new and efficient crafting technique. Even adding these to the events around earning income (which are generally applicable), a group that spends a great deal of time crafting might find these to be repetitive. The following downtime events are tied directly to the crafting process and should be used to supplement those found in the Gamemastery Guide.

Table 5–2: Crafting Downtime Events

1–3Select an event from the Gamemastery Guide
4 Annoying interloper
5 Banned ingredient
6 Delicate components
7 Formula contradiction
8 Infestation
9 Instability within
10 Mutation
11 Name dependence
12 Natural disaster
13 Otherworldly interference
14 Overwhelming energy
15 Planar convergence
16 Resonant magic
17 Spirit magnet
18 Suspicious offer
19 Technical challenge
20 Unexpected flaw

Annoying Interloper: Whether it's a nosy relative, gossipy friend, finicky safety inspector, or any other sort of guest, the crafter's workshop has attracted the attention of an annoying interloper. It's someone the crafter can't just kick out unceremoniously, either. The situation might require roleplaying, as well as Diplomacy, Intimidation, or other skills, before the crafter can get back to work.

Banned Ingredient: The crafter realizes that one of the ingredients they need for the items they're crafting is banned or heavily restricted in the local area. If they've already crafted the same item here without a problem before, maybe it's a new ban or they had to refill their stores of a tricky ingredient—or you can just reroll this event and save it for when they build something new. To deal with the banned ingredient, the crafter might have to engage in shady dealings on the black market, lobby for the ingredient's ban to be lifted (especially if the ban is suspicious or prevents the general public from crafting an important item like healing potions), travel abroad where the restriction doesn't exist, or try to devise a substitution.

Delicate Components: Whether it's just the nature of one or more components that make up this item, or the crafter just received a fragile batch, the components the crafter is dealing with are incredibly delicate. The crafter might need to use Thievery (or find someone who can) to handle the sensitive components gently, or else find some way to reinforce the ingredient or the equipment in which it is stored for later use.

Formula Contradiction: The crafter runs into an issue in their formula book. The formula includes two (or more) contradictory instructions, and as a result, they must pause their work while they try to figure out the contradiction. Which one is correct? Is neither right? Are they both functional and the crafter must refine their understanding of the process? This event might involve research or dangerous experimentation.

Infestation: Some sort of infestation of vermin, spores, or other troublesome contaminants threatens the crafting project and perhaps other portions of the crafter's workshop. On top of protecting their in-process project from being damaged by the infestation, they'll eventually also need to find the infestation's source and put a stop to it. Was it a coincidence, or did someone use mundane or magical means to bring it here on purpose?

Instability Within: The magic or mechanics inside the item have grown increasingly powerful and unstable, and the crafter isn't sure why. The cause could be a simple mistake, an instability in the crafter's own magic, or even just a coincidence. Whatever the case, the crafter must investigate the source of the instability to fix and, potentially, take advantage of it.

Mutation: The item has undergone a mutation and is now on its way to becoming a different item—maybe even an item of a higher level than the crafter can normally craft or that is uncommon, rare, intelligent, or otherwise outside of the crafter's normal ability to create. Be very careful when choosing this as an event; ideally, you as the GM want the mutated item to be something you specifically chose to be interesting, rather than an item at random, since presumably the crafter was choosing to create the best item they could think of. That said, the crafter can either find a way to halt the mutation process or lean into it and see what the item becomes!

Name Dependence: The item's progress is stalled due to the fact that its magic requires it to gain a name— and not just any random nickname that pops into the crafter's head! The crafter must engage in serious contemplation to select a name that suits the item, as it will be attached to it forevermore. Once chosen, if the item accepts the name, the crafting process can continue. The choice of the name might have other implications as well; for instance, if the item has a command activation, it might require shouting the item's name.

Natural Disaster: A huge natural disaster is about to hit the workshop. Whether it's a tsunami, a tornado, an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, or something else, it represents a huge danger to the crafting process, and potentially the crafter's life. On the other hand, it could also be an opportunity to harness the power of the natural disaster into the item! Consider allowing the crafter to attempt a Recall Knowledge check to remember some formulas that discuss special benefits for harnessing a disaster and offer them a reward (extra progress on the item, an improved item, or something else) to tempt them into staying in the path of danger.

Otherworldly Interference: Be they deities, celestial, fiends, monitors, or other extraplanar entities, Golarion is full of a surprising number of beings from other worlds that attempt to sow mischief, cause mayhem, or offer assistance to its inhabitants. The crafter is one such lucky or unlucky mortal who now has to deal with this otherworldly interference. Even if the otherworldly creature is trying to help, it might not understand mortals well enough to do so effectively. This could possibly create even more trouble than an entity who was trying to sabotage the process, since a crafter can at least root out such a perpetrator and stop them decisively.

Overwhelming Energy: There's just too much magical or mechanical energy building up in the item. That could be a good thing, as it could eventually grant the item more power or provide additional progress, but it's also extremely dangerous, as the energy threatens to overload and cause the item to explode, wasting the crafter's initial investment. They'll have to carefully figure out a way to use the energy (or at least discharge it harmlessly) to protect the item.

Planar Convergence: Many planes of existence overlap with the Material Plane at certain points. Sometimes, those points drift as the planes move and shift, leading to planar convergences where the veil between two planes draws especially thin. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for the crafter, one such planar convergence passes over their workshop. If they're crafting a related item, they might be able to take advantage of the convergence, but otherwise, they'll need to insulate the item from the convergence or pack up and move far enough away to avoid it. Leaching out the energy from the convergence might even require them to find a location with a convergence to an opposing plane.

Resonant Magic: When multiple sources of magic cluster together, for good or ill, magical resonance builds up between them. The crafting process is interrupted by magical resonances in the workshop between the in-process item and other magic items or spells. The crafter can try to clear out or rearrange the sources of magic that led to the resonance, or they can explore the resonance to try to unlock a new power in the item that only appears when the item is affected by the other items or spells that caused the resonance; in this case, consider using the rules for item sets or something similar.

Spirit Magnet: The item has become a magnet for minor disembodied beings, either spirits (beings formed of spiritual essence) or vitae (beings formed of nature's life force, sometimes called “spirits of nature”). That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's certainly distracting, as the spirits interfere with the work and might wind up possessing or otherwise merging with the item. The crafter needs to find a way to communicate with the spirits and warn them off or work with them to make the item an even better conductor for spirits. In the worst case this could ruin the item's creation, but in the best case, the spirits could grant the item special powers or intelligence.

Suspicious Offer: A questionable figure offers the crafter special ingredients or techniques that supposedly will shave time off the item's crafting process while providing a steep discount on the necessary materials. But something about the offer—no, maybe everything about it—seems too good to be true. The crafter might dismiss or accept the offer outright, but they also might try to determine the truth of the figure's claims, either by understanding their motives or performing a test. Either way, if the crafter decides to use the mysterious figure's offer, you can decide what sorts of effects it might have. Who knows? Maybe it was genuine.

Technical Challenge: An unusual interaction during the item's creation provides a significant technical challenge. The crafter will have to pause and determine how to proceed before continuing. There might be several possible approaches to the problem, each with different benefits or drawbacks.

Unexpected Flaw: Something within the item isn't functioning properly, and the crafter needs to first figure out what went wrong and why. Were some of the components faulty? Did someone tamper with the item? Did the crafter make a small error that cascaded? Once they can hunt down the flaw and figure out how to prevent it in the future, they need to determine the most expedient way to fix it and bring the item back on track.

Critical Crafting

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The critical success and failure effects of the Craft activity are safe, reasonable effects that are appropriate any time a character wants to Craft: on a critical success, they make more money per day Crafting, and on a critical failure, they ruin 10% of the item's raw materials. However, these monetary rewards and penalties are not the only potential outcomes of crafting criticals. With this variant, you can consider rarely handing out custom critical success rewards and critical failure penalties appropriate for the situation. However, you won't want to do this too often, especially since a high-level crafter who makes a lot of low-level items will critically succeed with some frequency. If crafting is a big part of your game, consider limiting the special effects to natural 20s and 1s, and even then, only when a special item is being created.

Most often, the special critical success or failure effect will be something distinctive and appropriate to the exact situation in your campaign. For instance, if a PC Crafts a commissioned sword for a prideful ruler obsessed with their heroic ancestor, perhaps on a critical success the item manages to call forth the spirit of the ancestor, who nods gravely while acknowledging the sword. On a critical failure, the PC finishes the sword but accidentally includes a part of the heraldry of the traitorous noble family that murdered the ancestor, enraging the monarch. As you can see from this example, the critical failure effects sometimes tend towards possibilities where the item is still created despite failure, but its completion creates a serious problem that must be resolved. When using this system, consider rolling the checks to Craft the item in secret to prevent a player's knowledge from influencing their decisions.

While it's usually best to invent your own special critical success or failure effects, here are a few examples of possibilities that can be used in a variety of circumstances.

Critical Success

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  • The crafter's dazzling success and passion imbue a fragment of their self into the item, causing it to become an intelligent item.
  • If the crafter was creating a max-level item, they can pay more to create an item above their level that they normally couldn't Craft. For instance, while trying to Craft a wand of fireball (a 7th-level item), a 7th-level wizard might be able to create a wand of 4th-level fireball (a 9th-level item).
  • The item has a minor beneficial special ability beyond other items of its type. This can be whatever you choose, but it's usually another minor activation with a daily frequency. The benefit should be better than a quirk (as quirks are meant to be neutral).
  • The item is so well made that it's nearly impossible to damage, doubling its Hardness or greatly increasing its total Hit Points. The item might also be resistant to grime, tarnishing, or other cosmetic changes.
  • The item is so beautifully made that it grants a bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidation checks when displayed or used as part of the check. Alternatively, it could be worth more than usual just as an art object.
  • The item is so finely crafted that it distracts the attention of opponents when used in battle, granting a bonus to checks made to Feint or Create a Diversion when used as part of the check.
  • The crafter is in tune with the object, its powers, and its potentials, turning it into a relic. In addition to its base abilities, the crafter can designate other abilities that the object develops over time.

Critical Failure

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  • The crafter Crafts the item, but the item is secretly cursed.
  • The crafter Crafts the item, but the item permanently drains a portion of the crafter's life force and resists attempts at destroying it, permanently reducing the crafter's Hit Points until they complete a quest to destroy the item once and for all.
  • The creation process explodes or otherwise exposes the crafter to significant harm with a long-term effect that demands interesting interplay to remove. There's little point in dealing Hit Point damage during downtime, as it's usually trivial to restore it before adventuring.
  • The Crafting process is so flawed that it draws a malevolent intelligence that chooses to complete the item and inhabit it. The intelligence of the item is opposed to the crafter and attempts to secretly thwart them at every turn.
  • The item appears perfectly normal and fully functional, but when someone attempts to use it for its intended purpose, it fails. For example, armor might fall off, weapons might break, or a wand might simply emit an acrid, burning odor instead of the desired spell.
  • The crafter is cursed by their own failure and takes a penalty to all future Crafting checks until they get a critical success or a casting of remove curse to end the effect.
  • The Crafting goes so poorly that it pollutes the nearby environment. This might mean that the workshop needs extensive cleaning to be usable again, or it could be much worse, polluting the local water supply and making those who live nearby seriously ill.

Converting Magic Items

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Many magic items found by higher-level characters never see play, destined instead to live at the bottom of a backpack, forgotten and unused. Others are quickly sold to fund the purchase of a more appropriate item. Others still are so irredeemably evil that selling them is an unconscionable act, and the item ends up being destroyed. All of these situations can make it difficult for the GM to properly calculate and balance the party's wealth, which can lead to imbalanced encounters and other problems at the table.

This variant simplifies the problem by giving the players another option for items that they don't intend to use, allowing them to break an item down and recycle its parts for the creation of another item.

When breaking down an item, you have a choice on how to proceed. You can immediately use the components to create an item with a similar theme to the one that you deconstructed, or you can save the components for use in any one item created later. If you create a similar item, such as deconstructing a magic weapon in order to create a different but similar type of magic weapon, you can harvest more of the components and residual magic for the new item, giving you more in return than you might otherwise get by simply harvesting the best parts of an item.

The GM determines whether the new item is similar enough to warrant this benefit, but the new item should be similar either in ability or in general theme. For example, deconstructing a cloak of the bat to create winged boots certainly qualifies, as does deconstructing a ring of climbing to create slippers of spider climb. Items of the same general type might qualify, but only if their abilities are thematically similar.

Generic components can be saved for later, but they can't be combined with other components from another deconstructed item. If excess value remains after making a new item, that value is lost, as the remaining parts are just the leftover bits, with the best parts being used for the new creation. The deconstructed item has the same Bulk as the original. GMs might want to put an expiration date on deconstructed items to prevent too many of them from piling up in character inventories, but unless players are breaking down items all the time, it shouldn't be a problem.


Rare Downtime 
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You deconstruct an item to provide the starting point to convert it into a new item. You need the Alchemical Crafting skill feat to deconstruct alchemical items and the Magical Crafting skill feat to deconstruct magic items.

To Deconstruct an item, you must meet the following requirements.
  • The item is your level or lower. An item that doesn't list a level is level 0. If the item is 9th level or higher, you must be a master in Crafting, and if it's 16th or higher, you must be legendary.
  • The item isn't a cursed item, artifact, or other item that is similarly hard to destroy. The item isn't a consumable item.
  • The item has a listed Price.
  • You must have an appropriate set of tools and, in many cases, a workshop. For example, you need access to a smithy to deconstruct a metal shield or an alchemist's lab to de-concoct alchemical items.
At the start of this process, you must decide if you're using the deconstructed item to build a new, similar item, of if you are simply breaking it down for raw ingredients that can be used at a later date for any item. In either case, this activity takes 1 day to perform, but if you're using the item to create a new, similar item, that day can be counted as one of the crafting days for the new item.

At the end of the activity, you must attempt a Crafting check. The GM sets the DC of this check based on the level of the item you are attempting to deconstruct, its rarity, and other circumstances.

Critical Success If you are deconstructing the item to make a new, similar item, you can apply 80% of the cost of the deconstructed item to the new item. If you are deconstructing the item for raw materials alone, you can apply 55% of the cost of the deconstructed item to a single new item. In either case, if this is in excess of the new item's cost, the remainder is lost.
Success As critical success, but you can only apply 75% of the deconstructed item's cost to the new similar item and 50% of the deconstructed item's cost to any single item.
Failure You fail to deconstruct the item, wasting your time. You can try again.
Critical Failure You fail to deconstruct the item and damage it in the process. You must either repair it before attempting again, or you can attempt to deconstruct it again but lose 5% of the value of the item.

Nature Crafting

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Growing Items

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In an ancient forest, an elf plays a haunting melody on a flute among the trees, growing entire buildings seamlessly from still-living wood. Elsewhere, a fungus leshy holds a conversation with the mushrooms of an underground cavern, convincing them to twine together into a latticed armor to defend the cavern against a new threat encroaching from the Darklands. The traditional methods of crafting items tell the story of a crafter retrieving the necessary raw materials and then working those materials via forging, woodworking, tailoring, or other such means; however, this is but one of many ways to create magic items. In a primal setting or adventure, or in a campaign taking place in a natural region like the fey forests of the First World, it might fit your story better to grow an item from a living thing instead. While most such stories take place in a natural environment, they can just as easily occur in a hidden laboratory, where an alchemist might form magical oozes into specific shapes before curing them with magical reagents, producing a sword as durable as any steel.

Mechanically, the process of growing an item uses the same principles as Crafting it normally, though the details and the story differ. Use the Grow activity, a variant of the Craft activity. This activity has the rare trait; it's only available if you've decided to use this variant in your campaign.


Rare Downtime Manipulate 
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You can grow an item from a living thing, most commonly a plant. You need the Alchemical Crafting skill feat to Grow an alchemical item, the Magical Crafting skill feat to Grow a magic item, and the Snare Crafting feat to Grow a snare. To Grow an item, you must meet the following requirements.
  • The item is your level or lower. An item that doesn't list a level is level 0. If the item is 9th level or higher, you must be a master in Crafting, and if it's 16th or higher, you must be legendary.
  • You have the formula for the item; see Getting Formulas for more information.
  • You have an appropriate set of tools for growing the item. While cultivation and gardening tools are typical for plants, you might also use a different technique that requires a different set of tools. For instance, if you play music to help your plants grow, you might use a musical instrument instead.
  • You must supply special fertilizers or other magical nutrients worth at least half the item's Price. You always expend at least that quantity of fertilizers and magical nutrients when you Grow successfully. If you're in a settlement, you can usually spend currency to get the amount of magical nutrients you need, except in the case of rarer precious materials. You can also bring them with you in advance or forage for them with a skill like Herbalism Lore, gaining an amount of value based on the rules for Earn Income.
You must spend 4 days at work, at which point you attempt a Crafting check. The GM determines the DC to Grow the item based on its level, rarity, and other circumstances. Depending on the specifics of the type of item, it might be easier to Grow than it is to Craft, or vice versa; typically, the GM can represent that by making an easy or hard DC adjustment.

If your attempt to create the item is successful, you expend the fertilizers and other magical nutrients you supplied. You can pay the remaining portion of the item's Price in additional growth accelerants to complete the item immediately, or you can spend additional downtime days cultivating the item. For each additional day taken, reduce the value of the accelerants you need to complete the item. This amount is determined using Core Rulebook Table 4–2: Income Earned, based on your proficiency rank in Crafting and using your own level instead of a task level. After any of these downtime days, you can complete the item by spending the remaining portion of its Price in accelerants. If the downtime days you spend are interrupted, you can return to finish the item later, continuing where you left off.

You also have the option to allow the item to grow mostly untended, only stopping to supervise it occasionally, though the pace is much slower without your direct intervention. At the end of each season in which you spent at least 1 day of downtime to Grow the item, roll an additional Crafting check and reduce the value of accelerants you need to expend to complete the item by the corresponding amount.

Critical Success Your attempt is successful. Each additional day spent Growing reduces the materials needed to complete the item by an amount based on your level + 1 and your proficiency rank in Crafting.
Success Your attempt is successful. Each additional day spent Growing reduces the materials needed to complete the item by an amount based on your level and your proficiency rank.
Failure You fail to complete the item. You can salvage the raw materials you supplied for their full value. If you want to try again, you must start over.
Critical Failure You fail to complete the item. You ruin 10% of the fertilizers and nutrients you supplied, but you can salvage the rest. If you want to try again, you must start over.


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If Lini wanted to Grow a suit of leaf weave armor, she would spend 2 gp on initial fertilizers and nutrients and allow four days for the armor to grow, attempting a DC 14 Crafting check. At the end of the fourth day, if she succeeds, Lini can choose to either use accelerants to complete the growth right away or to instead spend more downtime to cultivate the armor over the course of a few weeks. She has time to spare and finds this kind of task soothing, so even though a level-0 task doesn't provide profit at an especially fast rate, she decides to spend 5 additional days growing the armor. She's quite fortunate and rolls a critical success on her Crafting check, allowing her to make 2 sp of progress per additional day, for a total of 10 sp (or 1 gp). This reduces the remaining amount she needs to pay to 1 gp, so she spends that amount on a magical additive that promotes plant growth, at which point she is finished growing her new armor. This new armor, which Lini grew herself and is in accordance with her principles as a druid, provides much greater satisfaction than anything she could buy in a shop.

Adjusting Skills

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In a game or setting where the act of creating new items happens primarily or exclusively through careful cultivation of living organisms, GMs can choose to have Grow use Nature instead of Crafting. In worlds or settings where this ruling is in play, inventors are likely nonexistent, or at least rare, while druids serve an even more central role in their communities, going beyond spiritual guidance roles to also serve as innovators and economic leaders. Such a change should be made carefully and intentionally, with an eye toward the type of story being told. There's little point in allowing a hybrid system where you can choose between Crafting or Nature to craft items, since Nature has many other uses and thus can easily make Crafting obsolete by comparison. Instead, consider a hybrid version where players use Nature to Grow items and Arcana to craft items the normal way, cutting the Crafting skill entirely.

Bestowed Gifts

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In fairy tales and folklore, stories abound of heroes receiving special items out of gratitude, friendship, or simply a desire to assist them on their quest. A nymph might grant a token of their favor and agree to act as an artist's muse, establishing a long-term relationship that will ripple out through that mortal's life for years—or perhaps even generations, as the nymph continues to look over those who came after. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an aging unicorn approaching their end might willingly sacrifice their horn to grant a hero great powers at the cost of their ebbing life.

From these two extreme cases, a pattern emerges: in each, the gift establishes a lasting bond between the giver and recipient. For this reason, a bestowed gift is like the proverbial goose that laid the golden eggs: giving the gift freely grants it power, meaning those who would attempt to wrest it through theft or violence are doomed to fail. The connection between the giver and the recipient plows a magical furrow and plants a seed that can grow with time. For this reason, relics are a perfect way to tell this type of story. There's even a shared nomenclature that hints at this connection: the abilities relics gain are called “gifts.”

However, even if your group isn't using relics (or introducing one would be too complicated or long-term for the situation at hand), a bestowed gift with the powers of an otherwise-normal magic item can still make an especially meaningful moment in a campaign, far more so than simply purchasing such an item from a store or finding it in a hidden cache. A player is likely to remember a scene where a faerie queen spins a suit of autumn's embrace armor for them out of the plants of her domain, surrounding their character's body and protecting them from incoming harm for years to come, more than if they bought the same type of armor during downtime.

Bestowing Gifts in Your Game

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Even if you're granting a PC a gifted item based on an existing magic item's statistics, consider tweaking it in certain ways to make it more distinct without requiring an entirely new item and stat block. For one, gifted items typically only work for the creature that received the gift, or perhaps an heir or protegee of the initial recipient if the gift is passed down. As when the gift is initially received, the intent remains important; a bestowed gift keeps its power when earnestly given to an heir as a true inheritance, but it loses its power if transferred for a sale, quid pro quo, or other attempt to cheapen the gift into a commercial exchange. Beyond that, consider adding an item quirk or two that you choose specifically to match the nature of the creature gifting the item, rather than rolling completely at random.

If the creature granting the gift is especially beloved by your player, or the whole group, but you'd rather not have them tagging along everywhere, another option is to make the gifted item an intelligent item with an imprint of the creature's personality, or just a conduit to speak with the creature from afar. Be careful when exercising this option, as you would with any intelligent item, as this adds another NPC to roleplay into the mix. Intelligent items are people, not possessions, even though they take the form of objects.

While a bestowed gift is more memorable than most treasures, you can easily take them into account using the normal method for treasure distribution. Keep track of bestowed gifts just like you would any other magic item using Core Rulebook Table 10–9: Party Treasure by Level, counting them among the items that the party received as treasure during that level.

Bestowed Gifts as the Baseline

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If your group particularly likes bestowed items, you can use them to replace most or all other forms of treasure in your campaign. In that case, you're establishing a narrative where pacts, connections, and friendships with supernatural creatures are extremely important for adventurers and other creatures hoping to unlock the power of magic items. This has several interesting implications on the world at large. For one, since bestowed gifts aren't usually transferable by violence, theft, or monetary trade, it would mean that looting magic items or buying them at a store are off limits. Count any bestowed gifts against the party's treasure for that level and consider adding an additional handful of consumables to their treasure allotment to counterbalance the lower flexibility in their treasure. Alternatively, consider presenting them with a consumable garden or similar option.

Depending on who and what are capable of bestowing a gift in your campaign, PCs with significant power could use the Crafting skill to bestow gifts of their own unto their fellow adventurers, which could limit the necessity of binding ties with magical creatures. Regardless of the variation, a campaign where most or all magic items are bestowed gifts tends to either be lower magic in general or else have an extreme degree of interconnectedness, full of magical creatures that bond with heroes to an extent greater than most settings. For a lower-magic feel, you can also use the automatic bonus progression rules to handle all the item bonuses for you so that you can focus on handing out gifts that are more thematic and meaningful to the PCs.

Gardens of Wonder

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A toxicologist alchemist walks through a carefully tended garden, its medicinal and poisonous plants growing and blooming in neat, colorful rows, each separated from the others and meticulously labeled. Elsewhere, a druid explores a wild grove welling with primal power, using their knowledge and intuition to choose exactly the plants they need for their latest poultice. Whether cultivated or purely natural, a garden of wonder is a location where an herbalist, poisoner, or other character interested in plant-based concoctions can gather ingredients with ease.

As the Game Master, you should handle the tending or exploration of such a garden using the downtime rules for Earn Income to represent the construction of an artificial garden or exploration of a natural garden, as well as the harvesting of ingredients to make herbal concoctions. This is the simplest method and the one that fits most easily into the existing structure of downtime. Note that while this section focuses on gardens in the traditional sense, these rules are equally applicable to a variety of different endeavors and structures (see A Garden by Any Other Name).

Another method would be to use the ritual garden of death to gather up poisonous creatures in the area and establish such a garden right away. Ritualists more interested in healing others than harming them can develop a garden of healing ritual that has the same costs and effect, but for creatures and plants that provide medicinal benefits rather than deadly toxins.

Establishing a Garden

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Using a ritual or spending personal downtime are two ways to establish a garden, but your group might be interested in establishing a garden, orchard, or other location that grows consumable items for them as a shared party resource within the campaign. For such a scenario, GMs should use the following guidelines, which are based on the cost differences of a magic scroll and a magic wand. A player can't establish a garden unless the GM and the group have agreed to use this variant together.

Essentially, a garden is a living item or collection of items that produce herbal alchemical items, poisons, or similar consumables at a steady rate (typically one per day) without the need for additional downtime. These consumables are only temporary, however, typically taking the form of a short-lived fruit, flower blossom, or other perishable good. As such, they expire at the end of the day; since characters with a garden can't stockpile their bounty, they're encouraged to use the consumable items each day. Even magical and other extraordinary means of preservation have no effect.

To seed the garden with enough plants or animals to produce sustainably, the PCs must pay a cost equal to the maximum cost of a permanent magic item that is 2 levels higher than the consumable's level. For example, it costs 2,000 gp to plant sufficient antidotal herbs to obtain a perishable greater antidote each day, because greater antidotes are 10th-level consumables and the maximum cost for a 12th-level permanent item is 2,000 gp. PCs with skill in herbalism or gardening can attempt to use Earn Income to help defray the setup costs of a garden, using Lore skills such as Gardening Lore as normal. If you are also using the variant for growing items from this chapter, a character could use the Grow activity to grow a garden. Additional gardens can be used to increase the number of daily consumables the PCs have access to, but the PCs should have enough space to accommodate the expanded gardens. A given group of PCs shouldn't maintain more gardens than half the number of PCs in the party, rounded down.

Using Gardens as a Reward

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Some players tend to wait for the perfect moment to use a consumable item, which can ironically lead to them not using any of their items unless the situation is extremely dire, since they're always anticipating that the next encounter might be a better time to drink that potion or elixir. Unfortunately, this can sometimes mean the party never has the fun of trying out a strange consumable or seeing the bit of variety it can introduce. Gardens are a great reward for groups that are hesitant to use consumables because they feel more permanent, reliable, and safe, and since gardens' rewards need to be used each day or lost altogether, players are incentivized to find creative uses for the consumables each day. Since the garden is located at a specific location, that means the group needs to be able to return to that location to retrieve the consumables. If you give the group an especially elaborate garden capable of producing multiple consumable items each day, the group can become more invested in setting up roots nearby and establishing a base of operations organically. This can be a perfect incentive to get players invested in the local area.

A Garden by Any Other Name

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While a garden is especially narratively attractive to characters like herbalists, druids, poisoners, leshys, and the like, these same guidelines are perfectly capable of describing locations far different than a natural location lush with plant life. Here are a few examples.

Bakeries and Kitchens

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A fighter sponsors a bakery with her tournament winnings, and in return, the baker agrees to bake a fresh magic pastry for her each day when she stops by on her morning run. This “garden” is likely tended by a friendly NPC who the PCs have assisted in some way. Perhaps the cost of founding the garden was an investment in the baker or chef's startup, or maybe the PCs were granted the land on which the bakery sits as a reward for services rendered to the local community. If the land and buildings are a reward for services rendered by the PCs, the reward itself might cover all or a portion of the costs of creating the garden.

When using Earn Income to help defray the costs of creating this kind of garden, Accounting Lore, Baking Lore, and Society are all appropriate skills.

Haunted Churches and Sites of Power

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A cleric creates a living scroll factory from parchment scraps won from contract devils and mummy wrappings, producing eerie-looking (and presumably evil) scrolls each midnight that explode into black flame the following midnight. Any of a variety of undead or extraplanar creatures might serve as the central seed for a “religious garden” that supplies the character with scrolls, catalysts, or other thematically appropriate consumables. This type of garden is most likely to be appropriate at higher levels, where a PC has the power to compel service from the undead or extraplanar entity who powers the garden. However, a PC who dedicates themself to the service of such a creature might be able to create and benefit from this type of garden as part of their tenure.

When using Earn Income to help defray the costs of creating this kind of garden, Architecture Lore or a lore skill related to a type of creature tied to the site (such as Devil Lore or Mummy Lore) are appropriate skills.

Ooze Farms

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An alchemist from the ooze-loving city of Oenopion establishes a laboratory of strange oozes, generating a beaker-full of odd, mutagenic gloop each day that can be used in the creation of almost any alchemical consumable of an appropriate level. Ooze gardens are most appropriate for generating alchemical consumables, particularly bombs and elixirs, though they might also be used to generate alchemical foods. This garden requires a full alchemist's lab in addition to the other requirements mentioned previously, though the alchemist can still make use of that lab when generating alchemical items that aren't part of the daily consumables produced by the garden.

When using Earn Income to help defray the costs of creating this kind of garden, both Crafting and Ooze Lore are appropriate skills.

Rock Gardens and Stalagmite Caverns

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A deep gnome druid carefully tends a cavern where the slow drip of limestone grows a forest unlike anything born from soil and sunlight. Gardens of stone and gems are actually more common beneath the surface than gardens containing flowers and herbs, and they can be an excellent source of consumables like talismans, mineral-based alchemical items, and other consumables crafted from gems and stones. Such subterranean gardens are most common among drow and svirfneblin, though any ancestry or species that makes its home in the Darklands might have the necessary skills to manage a garden of stone and gems. These types of gardens are particularly good for creating consumables like gadgets or talismans but require a repair kit in addition to the normal creation costs for establishing a garden.

When using Earn Income to help defray the costs of creating this kind of garden, Crafting, Engineering Lore, and Mining Lore are appropriate skills.

Wildlife Preserves

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A grizzled big-game hunter has grown attached to the animals she once poached and has retired to create a walled green space with carefully tended grasslands, ponds, and other habitats. Animals roam free, safe from the outside world. A wildlife preserve could operate as a zoo, an animal safe haven, or a private hunting ground for a noble, but at their core they all need to maintain a stable population of wildlife. The animals in one might produce resources like milk and eggs, and can be hunted or slaughtered for meat, pelts, feathers, and components for items like alchemical foods and bottled monstrosities.

When using Earn Income to help defray the costs of creating this kind of garden, Hunting Lore, Fishing Lore, or a lore skill related to creatures on the preserve (such as Canine Lore or Dinosaur Lore) are appropriate skills.

Additional Materials

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While many materials are covered by the Core Rulebook, some relatively mundane crafting materials not fully described there can be appropriate for use in weapons and armor produced from gardens or similar nature-oriented sources. Materials made from alchemically nurtured oozes (as described in Ooze Farms on the previous page) can be as strong as iron or might emulate more fragile materials like bone and stone. Bone and stone aren't precious materials, and as such don't impact the number or type of runes that can be placed on a weapon or suit of armor crafted from them.

Story-Based Crafting

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Crafting by Questing

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A young farmer's village is destroyed by a ferocious red dragon, and they set off to forge a sword imbued with the power of ice to lay the dragon low. An elven scout's companions are slain by a fearsome, ancient bulette, and she seeks a suit of armor capable of resisting the beast's claws so she can claim vengeance for her lost friends. A wizard sets out to forge a staff that will enhance their magical power. Story-based crafting is a system by which every major magic item a PC might want is gained through a narrative and may or may not involve the Crafting skill at all. The goal of story-based crafting is to let players seek out the equipment they want for their PCs in a fun and satisfying way that can make every significant, permanent item they use part of an epic and memorable story.

Note that the crafting by questing rules are intended for permanent magical items that will be part of a PCs story for at least the better part of a level, possibly more. Having your PCs quest for simple consumables is liable to get a boring over time and isn't meaningfully different from just getting treasure for completing an encounter as normal (since most level-appropriate consumables won't require more than a single encounter to cover their entire cost anyways). Of course, a rare and powerful consumable item might still make for an interesting quest, but this should be an exception, not the rule.

Treasure by Encounter

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The crafting by questing rules work best when used in conjunction with the treasure by encounter guidelines, reprinted here for your convenience. The rules presented in this section assume that you, as the GM, have the treasure by encounter guidelines in play.

The standard rules count treasure over the course of a level, rather than dividing it up by encounter. If you need to select treasure for a single encounter, such as in a sandbox game, you can use the table above. It takes the treasure budget for each level from Table 10–9 of the Core Rulebook and breaks that down per encounter based on the encounter threat, similar to how XP varies by threat. The final column shows extra treasure you should award if you build an entire level this way. Unlike the standard table, this doesn't include items by item level, as the value doesn't cleanly break down for most single encounters. It's recommended you still give out those permanent items, but you'll need to borrow from other encounters' treasure to account for their value. Include encounters against creatures without treasure to account for this.

Table 5-3: Treasure by Encounter

LevelTotal Treasure per LevelLowModerateSevereExtremeExtra Treasure
1175 gp13 gp18 gp26 gp35 gp35 gp
2300 gp23 gp30 gp45 gp60 gp60 gp
3500 gp38 gp50 gp75 gp100 gp100 gp
4850 gp65 gp85 gp130 gp170 gp170 gp
51,350 gp100 gp135 gp200 gp270 gp270 gp
62,000 gp150 gp200 gp300 gp400 gp400 gp
72,900 gp220 gp290 gp440 gp580 gp580 gp
84,000 gp300 gp400 gp600 gp800 gp800 gp
95,700 gp430 gp570 gp860 gp1,140 gp1,140 gp
108,000 gp600 gp800 gp1,200 gp1,600 gp1,600 gp
1111,500 gp865 gp1,150 gp1,725 gp2,300 gp2,300 gp
1216,500 gp1,250 gp1,650 gp2,475 gp3,300 gp3,300 gp
1325,000 gp1,875 gp2,500 gp3,750 gp5,000 gp5,000 gp
1436,500 gp2,750 gp3,650 gp5,500 gp7,300 gp7,300 gp
1554,500 gp4,100 gp5,450 gp8,200 gp10,900 gp10,900 gp
1682,500 gp6,200 gp8,250 gp12,400 gp16,500 gp16,500 gp
17128,000 gp9,600 gp12,800 gp19,200 gp25,600 gp25,600 gp
18208,000 gp15,600 gp20,800 gp31,200 gp41,600 gp41,600 gp
19355,000 gp26,600 gp35,500 gp53,250 gp71,000 gp71,000 gp
20490,000 gp36,800 gp49,000 gp73,500 gp98,000 gp98,000 gp

Crafting Quests

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As in normal crafting, the first step in initiating a crafting quest is for the player to decide what they want to craft, or for you as the GM to present them with a handful of possible things they can quest to create. You might also plan out a few crafting quests during your session zero so that they can be built directly into the narrative of the campaign and worked into the PCs' backstories. One of the simplest ways to do this is to have each of the players give you a wish list of items during your session zero, listing key items their characters would like to acquire during the course of the campaign. These could be as general as “a magic sword” or “a magic staff,” or as specific as “a suit of devil's bargain armor for my Asmodean cleric.”

Crafting quests should always be significant events for the players and their characters. Don't send the PCs questing to create a simple dagger. Instead consider what items could become iconic parts of the character's story, like a magic bow for an archer, a powerful staff for a wizard, or lucky boots for a rogue. The nature of crafting quests as events that will permanently inform the characters' stories and shape their builds means that there should always be a high level of collaboration between the players and GM. When using crafting quests, you typically won't need to use the Extra Treasure values from Table 5–3: Treasure by Encounter, as those values are to compensate for the PCs finding loot that they won't use or for missing some of the loot entirely. Since the PCs are always set up to get the loot they want when using story-based crafting, and because the value of these items is subtracted from their total treasure, these additional values are superfluous and could give the party too much treasure for their level. If you prefer a campaign where the PCs have a bit more treasure on hand as a way to encourage the use of consumables or “non-essential” equipment, you can use the treasure values as presented.

The items you select for the PCs should all be items that are of a level appropriate to the characters (typically the same as their current level) or appropriate to the level they will be when they complete the crafting quests. For complete examples of crafting quests, see Example Quests.

Building a Narrative

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Once you know what item the characters are questing to create, it's time to build a narrative around that journey. Think of this like a subplot to the main story, with key moments and pivotal scenes that occur alongside the overarching plot of your campaign. If the entire group is searching for crafting quest components, then some parts of this story can take the spotlight and be the focus of an entire part of your campaign. In any event, you should give this story the same consideration you give any other part of your campaign narrative, balancing player desires with appropriate narrative decisions and combat challenges. Make sure that no one character's crafting quests take the spotlight for too long, and always watch for opportunities to align the interests of the various party members.

Start by determining how many encounters you want the PCs to complete before the item is finished. For each required encounter, reduce the required cost of the story-crafted item by 10% of its total value. These cost reductions should never reduce the equivalent cost of the item below 50% of its base cost. This ensures the PCs don't end up with significantly more wealth than they should have and makes sure that their crafting quests don't stretch across too many levels of play. Next, take the remaining price of the item and divide that by the number of encounters. Reduce the reward for these encounters by that amount, to balance it against any other rewards you might include.

Crafting quest encounters should generally be between low and severe difficulty; trivial encounters are too easy to justify the reduction in cost of the story-crafted item and generally won't be narratively satisfying for the players, while extreme encounters are simply too dangerous and may feel unfair to the player trying to story craft.

Low-difficulty encounters are appropriate for a single crafting quest component, while moderate and severe encounters should provide crafting quest components for multiple characters. A severe-difficulty fight against a powerful monster with a treasure hoard, like a dragon, might provide crafting quest components for the entire party. Having the entire party's crafting quests intersect in encounters like this also helps bind the PCs together through shared goals and accomplishments.

Finally, map these encounters and their narratives to your overall campaign or adventure, giving plenty of space between each to allow them to feel like earned pieces of a growing story.

Beginning the Quest

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Starting a crafting quest begins like any other story in your campaign. The PCs might learn of the item and how it can be made through one of any number of sources, from an old formula in a book to a cryptic prophesy that came to them in a dream. The key is to give the PCs an idea about the journey they must undertake and an idea of the reward that awaits them at the end.

Next, give the PCs an opportunity to learn about the locations of the first crafting quest component for their item. They could gain this information through Recall Knowledge checks, Research at a local library, or by Gathering Information. Again, this first piece might also be part of their initial discovery of the quest, but later components should certainly require research or exploration to uncover.

You don't need to give the PCs the locations of all their crafting components up front; as long as they know where to find the first piece, you can leave clues and opportunities to uncover the location of the next crafting quest component at key points in the campaign for PCs to discover naturally during the course of play. Alternatively, you can give the PCs the location of all the crafting quest components up front, though giving them such information all at once works best in a campaign intended to be more of a player-directed sandbox than one trying to follow a central narrative through line.

Once the PCs have learned the location of their first crafting quest components, it's time to begin the adventure!

Gathering the Components

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Locating the individual crafting quest components for a single story-crafted item should occur in separate and distinct areas, even if they're all in one larger location (like a dungeon or one large forest). This makes the item feel like it was earned, rather than given, and prevents the characters from exceeding the normal time limits that are a part of the crafting process.

Each component should be either a part of the final item or something used during the creation process itself. For example, if you were trying to create a powerful bow that calls upon storms, you might need to find the heart of a tree burned by lightning, the scale of a blue dragon, or even the breath of a powerful air elemental. Alternatively, the component might be a person or place necessary for the crafting, like a woodcarver who survived a shipwreck, or a workshop located atop a mountain. In any event, each component should feel like it's building toward a completed item as part of the well-rounded story that tells of its creation.

Forging the Treasure

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Once the PC has gathered together all of the crafting quest components for their item, it's time to assemble the pieces. Depending on the nature of the crafting quests, this might not require a skill check. For a longer crafting quest that included at least three encounters spread across different locations, the simple act of bringing the components together can be enough for their magic to do the rest of the work, uniting the components into a single, completed item the PC can immediately put to use. For a shorter crafting quest taking place in a single location, you can instead require a skill check (likely a Crafting check, but possibly using a different skill depending on the item and circumstances).

When requiring a skill check to assemble a story-crafted item, you should make the check itself something appropriately exciting and epic, a fitting capstone for the completed crafting quest. For example, if the player's dwarf fighter completed a crafting quest that required them to assemble the materials for the haft, head, and grip of a magic hammer, their check could take place at an ancient dwarven forge blessed by Torag, God of the Forge. The DC of this check should be based on the item's level, rarity, and other circumstances. If successful, the item works as intended. If the check fails, it may have a quirk of some sort. If the check is a critical failure, it might be destroyed or even result in a cursed item!

Story-Based Crafting as the Baseline

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There are many reasons you might consider making story-based crafting the base assumption for your game. This system results in items that feel more special and integral to the narrative, which the players have more agency in helping to create. Story-based crafting can make an item feel unique and less like something they just bought down at the local shop.

It's important to note that this style of crafting works best in sandbox campaigns and other adventures where the players are expected to inform a lot of the story's direction and progress, and is less compatible with campaigns seeking to tell a very specific and involved story. The encounters dedicated to crafting just the right weapon still give experience, and since each player should have the opportunity for a roughly equal number of crafting quests, you'll find that a campaign that uses story-based crafting as the baseline won't leave a lot of time open for other encounters and side quests.

An important element of using story-based crafting as PCs' primary method of acquiring new key permanent items in a campaign is ensuring that one player's crafting quests don't overwhelm the narrative and put the other players in the “back seat” for too long. Here are a few general tips for managing this game experience.

Don't feel pressured to do an entire PC's crafting quest through to completion before starting another PC's quests. You should intermix their adventures as much as possible, so that pursuing one character's crafting quest can naturally position the party to tackle another character's quest along the way. For example, if the fighter is crafting a flaming sword that requires traveling into a volcano, and the wizard is crafting a magic staff, you should try and place one of the encounters for acquiring staff components (or perhaps forging them together) inside that same volcano. This both reinforces the party's mutual goals, giving them strong story reasons to adventure together, and keeps the campaign feeling organic and connected.

When weaving multiple characters' crafting quests together, look for key opportunities to align their goals. A single dragon's hoard could easily hold components for an entire adventuring party, along with other treasures. Using powerful monsters with large treasure hoards or notable access to rare materials is a great way to both keep the party's goals united and layer in deeper story threads and some altruistic motivations for the party.

Example Quests

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Included below are an array of sample quests showcasing story-based crafting in action. Story-based crafting works best when individually tailored to each group, but the quests below can serve as examples of how to assemble and run a crafting quest. They can even be modified and dropped directly into a level-appropriate game to help fill out a session or allow your group to try out story-based crafting before committing to a longer-term campaign centered around the system.

Quest 1: Forging the Holy Sword (Level 13–14)

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James is running a game that includes Logan's character, a champion of Iomedae. The party is getting close to reaching 14th level, and Logan has expressed a desire for his character to gain a holy avenger. James has decided that in order for Logan to forge his holy avenger, he'll need to recover the sword's hilt, blade, and pommel stone, for a total of 3 encounters. James takes the cost of the holy avenger, 4,500 gp, and reduces it by 10% for each of the three encounters (for a total reduction of 30%), arriving at a final total of 3,150 gp. James decides that each piece of the sword is worth the same amount, or 1,050 gp per component.

James plans the following three encounters out for Logan.

Retrieving the Hilt: The first encounter James has planned for this crafting quest is a mission to retrieve the holy avenger's hilt from the clutches of a pair of liches. As 12th-level creatures, the liches are worth 30 XP each for a 13th-level party and collectively comprise a low-difficulty encounter worth 1,875 gp. James subtracts the value of the pommel from the encounter's loot and adds in some consumables and other minor treasures for the rest of the group.

Liberating the Pommel Stone: The second encounter James has planned for the crafting quest is a mission to retrieve the holy avenger's pommel stone from an abandoned dwarven vault. While no monsters guard the vault, it's located behind a maze of twisting tunnels. When the party eventually finds the room and Logan's champion retrieves the pommel stone, they find out that the other treasures along all four walls are actually telekinetic swarm traps! Four 12th-level complex hazards constitute a severe encounter for a 13th-level party, so James deducts another 1,050 gp from the encounter's treasure for the pommel stone. Since there's over 2,000 gp remaining in the encounter's treasure value, this would also be an excellent location for James to leave items for other party members' crafting quests, along with some consumables and other treasure like art and coins.

Since this was a severe encounter and the champion's crafting quest is nearing completion, this would also be a good time for the party to level up to 14th level, which is what we assume happens going into the final encounter of the holy avenger crafting quest.

Restoring the Blade: The final piece of the holy avenger is its blade, which it turns out is still lodged between the scales of the ancient black dragon Sharzathinek. As an ancient black dragon, Sharzathinek is a 16th-level creature—a Moderate encounter for the 14th-level party. James deducts 1,050 gp from the 3,650 gp Sharzathinek is worth. This also leaves room for James to include a couple other crafting quest components for other party members in the dragon's loot. With the dragon slain, Logan's champion claims the holy avenger's blade as his piece of the treasure for the encounter and rejoins it with the hilt and pommel stone. The magic of the blade's components, awakened by the champion's holy quest, causes the pieces of the sundered blade to fuse with each other, and the champion's holy avenger is complete.

Quest 2: Weaving the Wizard’s Robes (Level 7)

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Jessica's character is an evoker wizard who has just reached 7th level and wants to celebrate her ascension by creating a set of fire energy robes. Jessica's wizard has trained with a prestigious archmage as one of the archmage's many apprentices; the robes will serve not just as protection for her wizard on future adventures but as a symbol of the completion of her apprenticeship. Her GM, James, has decided that to create these robes, Jessica's wizard will need to collect spider silk, a gemstone imbued with the power of elemental fire, and a scale from a white dragon to protect the robe's wearer from the gemstone's flames. All three of these materials can be harvested from within the magical demiplane where the evoker's archmage master trains his apprentices, and the final step for Jessica's wizard will be to weave all the components together at the archmage's magical loom. James takes the 320 gp base cost of the fire energy robes and reduces it by 10% for each of the three encounters, arriving at a final total of 224 gp. James has decided that the encounters will consist of one low-difficulty encounter and two moderate-difficulty encounters, with the value of the spider silk set at 50 gp and the value of the other two crafting quest components each set at 87 gp.

James plans the following three encounters out for Jessica's wizard.

Bargaining for Silk: The first encounter Jessica's wizard will need to navigate is retrieving the silk for her robe from a trio of ether spiders. As 5th-level creatures, the three spiders collectively are worth 60 XP for a 7th-level party and constitute a low-difficulty encounter worth 220 gp. James deducts 50 gp from the value of the encounter for the silk and distributes the rest in the form of various consumables the archmage left behind for his successful apprentices to find. While the ether spiders are deadly threats, Jessica's wizard recognizes that killing the spiders would destroy her master's silk supply, so she instead bargains with the ether spiders and trades them food and treasures from her earlier adventures in exchange for the silk she needs, completing the encounter nonlethally.

Retrieving the Fiery Gemstone: The second encounter awaiting Jessica's wizard requires her to travel to the magical furnace powering the archmage's tower and retrieve a gemstone imbued with the power of elemental flame. When Jessica's wizard arrives at the furnace, she discovers that the archmage has prepared a surprise for her and has left the furnace gate open, allowing a pair of salamanders to slip in from the Plane of Fire! As 7th-level creatures, the two salamanders collectively represent a moderate encounter worth 290 gp for a 7th-level party. James deducts 87 gp from the value of the encounter to account for the value of the gemstone and gives the rest of the treasure to the party as consumables that will help them resist the icy breath of the elite young white dragons the PCs will have to face in the final encounter.

Claiming a Scale: Singed but undeterred, Jessica's wizard and her party face their final challenge: a pair of elite young white dragon guard the magical loom on which the wizard must weave her magical robes. As 7th-level creatures, the dragons collectively represent a moderate encounter worth 290 gp for a 7th-level party. James deducts 87 gp from the value of the encounter for the dragon scale and provides the rest as treasures for the wizard's party members. Once the wizard has fought, bargained, or tricked her way into retrieving a scale and accessing the archmage's loom, she attempts a DC 23 Crafting check at the loom (the standard DC for a 7th-level item) to weave the crafting quest components together into her completed fire energy robes.

Quest 3: Shaping the Armor of Yggdrasil (Level 5)

Source Treasure Vault pg. 175 1.1
Ianara's character is a druid seeking to craft a +1 wooden breastplate for herself. Having just reached 5th level, Ianara's druid will soon be leaving the relative safety of her grove and the surrounding woodlands to venture out into the wider world as a champion of nature, an endeavor which will call for greater protection than she has had need of so far. Her GM, James, has decided that for Ianara's druid to create this armor, she'll need to gather four essential materials from the woodlands around her grove: fur collected from grizzly bears to line the armor, darkwood bark collected from trees protected by arboreal warden, a section of wood freely gifted by an awakened tree for the main plate, and sticky sap from a grove guarded by a dryad and her pet basilisk to bind it all together. James has decided that this crafting quest will require Ianara's druid to complete four Low difficulty encounters, so he has reduced the 160 gp cost of the +1 wooden breastplate by 40% for a final crafting cost of 96 gp, with each component having a value of 24 gp each. He deducts the 24 gp from the 100 gp value of each of the encounters and assigns the remaining 76 gp from each encounter to consumables and crafting quest components for the other characters.

James plans the following four encounters out for Ianara.

Shaving the Grizzly: Ianara's first task is to collect the grizzly bear fur, and fortunately, three large grizzlies with fur to spare can be found fishing salmon from a nearby stream. While the bears do constitute a potentially engaging, or even deadly, combat encounter, Ianara's character is a druid and unwilling to harm the creatures just to line her armor. By leveraging a combination of primal magic and Nature-oriented skill feats, she's able to calm the bears and convince them to donate some of their fur to her.

Working Around the Wardens: Next, Ianara's druid must convince a pair of arboreal wardens to allow her to collect fallen scraps of darkwood bark from the grove of darkwood trees they're dedicated to protecting. Whether through combat, stealth, bargaining, or fleetness of foot, the druid manages to retrieve the necessary bark and completes the encounter before seeking out the next component for her armor.

You're Not Using That, Are You?: Next, Ianara's druid needs to convince a mighty awakened tree to gift her a section of its living body to form the main plate of her +1 wooden breastplate. Combat isn't an option here; not only would attacking an otherwise-peaceful awakened tree potentially be anathema for the druid, but the wood has to be freely gifted or the armor will be ruined. Guile, diplomacy, and magic are Ianara's only options, but fortunately, if anyone can convince a tree to give up a part of itself, it's probably a druid.

Sticky Situation: Having collected most of the components to create her armor, the druid just needs the sticky sap to bind everything together. The dryad and basilisk protecting the sap are cantankerous, cruel, and unwilling to share, and their grove is littered with evidence that the basilisk isn't too picky about who or what it petrifies and eats, either. While the party has thus far attempted nonviolent solutions wherever possible, the clearly evil nature of the dryad and basilisk likely mean that Ianara's party might just choose to fight this one out for the good of the forest, though it's also possible that they will choose to try and redeem the dryad and her pet. Regardless of the resolution they choose, once the dryad and basilisk are dealt with, Ianara's druid has all the crafting quest components she needs to Craft her armor, and she can begin the process of assembling them.

Since the encounters were all contained within the same woodland, James requires Ianara's druid to attempt a Crafting check inside the druid grove to complete the armor. Ianara's druid successfully completes a DC 20 Crafting check (the standard DC for a 5th-level item) and can now don her +1 wooden breastplate.