Divorcing Crafting from Normal Skills


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One thing that has always bothered me in tabletop games, including this edition of PF, is how crafting is handled. It never made sense to me that characters get better at trade skills because they killed some goblins or a dragon. Of course, I can see how fighting those creatures inspire characters, but it never sat right for me. In addition, it seems to limit NPCs who only focus on their crafts. For these reasons, I think crafting should be under a different system of experience to become better. I think this can be achieved by giving each piece of equipment, their quality levels, and materials a set DC, which can then be given a level of difficulty for experience, using the current system for experience for leveling up.

For example, an iron dagger could be given a DC of 10 with a level of 1; therefore, a level 1 blacksmith (different from the class) would gain 40 experience for crafting an iron dagger (and maybe something for a failed attempt as well), and a level 4 blacksmith would gain 15 experience for crafting an iron dagger.

Also, I think that the check should be divorced from ability scores, at most requiring an prerequisite for a score. As a separate system, crafting level could also start at 0, requiring some experience to become trained (at level 1), which would allow the creation of normal quality items (with the possible addition of crude items); level 5 and every 5 levels thereafter would allow for the next tier of item (expertise at 5, masterwork at 10, legendary at 15). Having comparatively low DCs (when compared to DCs per level for characters) would allow characters to rely more on their level of craftmanship than stats, allowing average people to be great at their professions (or at least work toward it) without being outclassed by PCs with their inflated attributes.


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It is a fair point.

The downside of this idea is that it is a lot of tracking to do. An entire separate pool of experience and level. An entire sub-RPG in an RPG.

I don't know that it would be fun to have to grind up your skill in building weapons and armor in order to be able to have a character that can build weapons and armor.

Also, the same argument can be made for social encounters. Just because a character has spent a lot of time slaying foes doesn't mean that the character can successfully navigate the wedding ball of the local duke. Should we also have a separate mini-RPG for leveling up social skills?


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Yes, it is a fair point, and others have made the point with better writing than mine.

For example, The Order of the Stick: On the Origin of PCs by Rich Burlew has the following conversation between the human rogue Haley and the elf wizard Varsuvius at the tavern. Varsuvius had complained that despite six decades of study, human wizards with only two decades of study had greater mastery.

HALEY: Well, if you're serious about increasing your power more quickly, there is a work-around. Be an adventurer.
VARSUVIUS: You jest.
HALEY: Nope, adventuring is like the H.O.V. lane to power. You need other people in your party, but once you got that going, you just zip.
VARSUVIUS: Preposterous! I hardly think I will learn more lurking in dank basements and thwacking monsters than I would be staying in my library and studying. It's not as if I will be on about the countryside when I spot a rabid hydra, which I will summarily dispatch and then think, "My gods, killing that reptilian horror gave me the most insightful revelation about the quantum nature of reality!"
HALEY: Wanna bet? Like two weeks ago, I'm on an adventure where we're fighting kobolds. Nothing but kobolds as far as the eye can see, in dark little cramped caves. I get back to town, and BAM! I'm better at picking locks. I didn't even see a lock during the entire trip.

Leveling up improves many skills that did not get practiced during that particular adventure. The only thing special about crafting is that it almost always occurs during downtime while the other skills might be used during an adventure, though not necessarily that adventure. However, in Pathfinder 2nd Edition, we have equipment, especially shields, that will need regular repair with crafting skill during adventuring, so crafting will no longer have that special exception. And an alchemist crafts alchemical items every morning during an adventure, too. Sorry, but Narxiso's idea would better fix PF1 than PF2.


I'm disinclined to include any subsystems that don't encourage players to tell interesting stories. Now maybe there's a way that "I spent a year crafting iron daggers" could be an interesting story, but I'm not seeing it, and I'm inclined to let players just handwave "why they are better at some unrelated task now" as something which happened "offscreen" during downtime.

Also, if we make an exception for crafting to work via "get better by doing it" why shouldn't all skills work the same way? I feel this creates an environment of "I will choose what to do based on what gives me the skill XP I want" rather than "what is in character" or "what makes sense".

So I'm inclined to just ask players to "tell a story" about why they are now better at a given skill than they were before, despite nothing happening "on screen" to suggest they have had practice. I mean, skill ups are only every other level for non-rogues, so there's probably some downtime in there somewhere.


one solution is to give extra skill trainings in "non-essential" skills.

Similar vas option in 3.5e/PF1

You would get 2 skill points per level for various craft, proffesion, perform categories, appraise, handle animal, pick pocket etc...


Joey Cote wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

one solution is to give extra skill trainings in "non-essential" skills.

Similar vas option in 3.5e/PF1

You would get 2 skill points per level for various craft, proffesion, perform categories, appraise, handle animal, pick pocket etc...

But doesn't that just get back to the OP where it seems weird that fighting monsters gives you skill points that you apply to crafting skills, which had nothing to do with fighting the monsters.

I don't remember a system that gave you extra skill training in PF1, but maybe it wasn't in the main books, and that was all we ever used. But if your ability to access those is based on your class level, which is based on basing monsters .....

Only simple system I can think of is something more like the old Call of Cthulhu game. You skill is a percentile, if you succeed at a test using that skill, you checkmark it. At the end of the adventure you roll percentiles against each skill. If you roll higher then the skill, you increase the skill (I think the increase was 1d6). So as you become better it starts to become harder to increase your skill. But that would require a complete revamp of how crafting skills are done.


Players should not get XP for crafting. It does not lend itself to exciting tales. NPCs get the level the level they need for the story I want to tell, the explanation for their level is entirely up to me. That an NPC got better at crafting by crafting is perfectly fine by me.

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I have seen that some people do not like it that NPCs are made with different mechanics in this edition, and I think NPCs needing to have class levels to become better at crafting under the same rules is something that does not fit into all the character types I want for characters. At least with this change, or at least some change, the level of the character can be separate from how well a character can craft something. I want master herbalists and woodcrafters who are not level 7, just to perform their main duties without handwaving, and I want PCs to be able to have the ability to focus on their crafts in their downtime if they so wish it and actually feel like they are getting better at it if they so wish to spend more downtime. Of course, at least in my games, I will make it so the world does not stop moving while PCs do stuff and make material costs for items.


The "Downtime Activities" system in Wizards of the Coast's D&D game seems like it might be a good fix here, at least for crafting: "Ok, so, in the three months between delving into that tomb and going to the baron's castle to steal his magic orb, I want to practice making bows and arrows for the local hunters." "Ok, you get X amount of XP for making bows and arrows for three months."


I think having crafting run on a separate track wouldn't really be good for the game. There's too many possible pitfalls. You might wind up needing to grind your crafting to get to relevant levels, which isn't fun. Or you might wind up with a PC whose crafting exceeds their level, and starts busting out items way beyond what they are supposed to have.

NPCs who don't spend their lives adventuring simply shouldn't use PC rules for adventuring, simple as. PCs are exceptions, not the rules.

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