Crafting an Item Competently (5e Variant Rule)

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Crafting an Item Competently[edit]

With these variant rules, how good you are at making items matters. They are presented individually, so you can cherry pick which ones you like.

Base Rules[edit]

As a reminder of the base rules from the DMG on objects, items have hit dice of the same size as a creature of their size category - 1 hit die if fragile, and their size category (counting Tiny as 1, Small as 2, etc) in additional hit dice if resilient, with an effective Constitution of 10 (+0). They have an AC based on their material, ranging from 11 for paper to 23 for adamantine. Magic items are assumed to have resistance to all damage types, in addition to the baseline immunity all objects have to poison and psychic damage, and items in general have damage vulnerabilities, resistances, and immunities specific to their material, as determined by the DM, but the DMG has some suggestions.

Material AC Psychic, Poison Bludgeoning Piercing Fire, Lightning
Cloth, paper 11 Immune No No Vulnerable
Rope 11 Immune or Resistant No
Crystal, glass, ice 13 No
Wood 15 Immune or Resistant
Bone 15 No
Stone 17 Not Immune
Iron, steel 19 No
Mithral 21
Adamantine 23

Above, for the damage types, "No" means no information available - anything else is explicitly in the DMG. Naturally, the above rules are contradicted in other rules sources: rowboats have AC 11 despite being made of wood, and airships have AC 13, despite being depicted as being made of wood and cloth. Ghosts of Saltmarsh makes this worse, adding rules for attacking a ship's sails, which are AC 12, despite being cloth. In the PHB, nets are AC 10 despite being made of rope, but also can only be removed with slashing damage; webs from monsters in the MM uniformly use net stats, except they are vulnerable to fire and only immune to Psychic, Poison, and Bludgeoning, letting you get out of them with any damage type. Speaking of the PHB, various spells violate these rules: Wall of Ice makes AC 12 ice (1 below the rules), and Wall of Stone makes AC 15 stone (2 below the rules). If you're petrified, as the condition - regardless of source - you're at advantage to be hit but your AC remains the same (even including your Dexterity modifier, if appropriate), rather than matching the AC of stone, and you become resistant to all damage, so you're not immune to psychic damage (you're immune to "poison", which may or may not include poison damage) like stone is.

Size Fragile Resilient
Tiny (bottle, lock) 2 (1d4) 5 (2d4)
Small (chest, lute) 3 (1d6) 10 (3d6)
Medium (barrel, chandelier) 4 (1d8) 18 (4d8)
Large (cart, 10-ft.-by-10-ft. window) 5 (1d10) 27 (5d10)

Again, the above rules are often contradicted elsewhere: rowboats are large objects but have 50 hit points, and nets have 5 hit points even though ropes have 2 - with no explanation. Wall of Ice is a higher level spell than Wall of Stone, but the wall you summon with it has fewer hit points - the ice is 30 hit points per foot of thickness, while the stone is 30 hit points per inch - implying that material should be relevant to hit points, not just size.

To make an item, you must be proficient in the relevant tool, in which case you need resources equal to half the cost of the item, and then you craft the item at a rate of 5 gp every 8 hours until you reach the item's cost.

There are tool-specific exceptions to this, such as Cook's Utensils; when an ability check is listed under a specific tool, the DCs are uniformly multiples of 5.

Passive Crafting Bonus and Crafting Checks[edit]

Unless otherwise noted, for all variant rules below, your Passive Crafting Bonus (PCB) is 10 + your proficiency bonus with the appropriate tool + Dexterity or Intelligence modifier, whichever is less, adding 5 for advantage and the appropriate number for any additional dice (2 per d4, 3 per d6, etc).

Unless otherwise noted, for all variant rules below, a crafting check is an ability check rolled with the appropriate tool, where the ability is lower of your Dexterity or Intelligence modifiers.

Variant Rule: Aesthetics[edit]

You may decide to attempt to make a particularly pleasing item, such as a meal that tastes particularly good, or a particularly good-looking length of rope. Make a crafting check when the item is finished and divide the result by 5; on a 0, you have ruined the item, and must start over. On a higher result, see the list below. You can always choose to take a lower result than you rolled. You may not make this check more than once for any given item, although you may give up on an item early, as normal, and begin a new one.

  1. You make a particularly shoddy item, such as a hat fit for a beggar. The item functions normally, but is distasteful.
  2. You make a perfectly normal item in every way.
  3. You may decide to double the selling cost of the item, which increases its crafting time and raw materials cost normally (the item is considered partially complete right now). The extra cost is due to how pleasing your item is, aesthetically.
  4. As 3, but triple.
  5. As 4, but quadruple.
  6. As 5, but quintuple.

Values above 6 only result in continued increases in the value of the item per DM discretion; ordinarily, once you beat DC 30, you have made the best possible item.

Variant Rule: Alchemical Resistance[edit]

You can render non-magical items damage resistant. When making any item, you can also incorporate your PCB with Alchemist's Supplies and your active checks with them, as appropriate. You must use the lesser of these and the original PCB and original checks. If you do so, the item is resistant to all damage, despite not being a magical item. This requires 10 gp per pound the finished object will weigh in raw alchemical materials, in addition to the original raw materials for the item.

While adamantine weapons are not considered magical, unlike adamantine armor, all adamantine objects are assumed to be resistant to all damage, whether or not they are magical. The same is true of all mithral and dragonscale objects.

Variant Rule: Object Hit Points and Saving Throws[edit]

So first, we need a way to reconcile rules for things like rowboats versus all other ships, and while the spells wall of ice and wall of stone need not manifest actual materials, their claim of different materials having different hit points seems valid.

Take the eventual object's AC and subtract 9, then divide by 2; this is the object's assumed Dexterity modifier, should it be subject to a Dexterity save (without this rule, you can easily snap an adamantine weapon in half with a common hunting trap). Adamantine objects are assumed to be immune to critical hits unless struck with adamantine, and apply Evasion (no damage on a successful save) to all saves to resist damage from a non-adamantine source.

Objects you make have an effective Constitution score equal to your PCB, which modifies their hit points and Constitution saves accordingly. For example, a dagger normally has 5 hit points, due to having 2d4 hit dice. If your PCB is 16, your daggers have 2d4 + 2*3 = 11 hit points. If this is a magic item, maximize its hit dice for hit points purposes - in our example, you would take a magic dagger from 8 to 14 hit points.

You may make a crafting check with a DC equal to the eventual AC of the item. If you fail, you have ruined the item and must start over. If you succeed, the object is proficient in Constitution and Dexterity saves, with a proficiency bonus equal to yours. If this is a magic item, it is proficient in all saves instead.

Variant Rule: Object Damage Thresholds and Reduction[edit]

If you find your items aren't durable enough across the board, consider giving the item its constitution modifier as damage reduction and its dexterity modifier as a damage threshold.

Here's what that looks like for a PCB 16 steel dagger (Dexterity modifier 6, Constitution modifier 3) taking 15 or 14 points of damage it is resistant to:

  1. Apply reduction: 15 -> 12 or 14 -> 11
  2. Apply resistance: 12 -> 6 or 11 -> 5
  3. Check threshold: 6 is high enough, so the object takes 6 damage. 5 is not, so the object takes no damage.

Variant Rule: Speed[edit]

PCB/2 is how much progress you make in gp per 8 hours, rather than a static 5. If you round fractions down, this means the base rules assume a crafter with a PCB of +0 or +1, but this is not necessary, as half a gp is simply 5 sp.

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