Can we agree the utility of crafting is entirely secondary in a campaign where you can simply spend gold and pick items from the Treasure chapter of the rulebook?
Now then, can you recommend me any good suggestions on how to boost the Crafting skill, so a player might want to pick it even if playing in a Magic Shoppes campaign?
(I am entirely aware such a boost isn't what Paizo intends for the default campaign, hence posting this in Homebrew)
Maybe something as easy as a 10% discount on a successful skill check, which doubles to 20% if you have the formula or score a critical... or something.
Yep, unrestricted magic marts make crafting pretty bad (though you could still use it for crafting uncommon+ items, if the mart doesn't have those).
My advice would be have certain "crafting ingredients" the players could find. These wouldn't sell for much, but would be efficient when covering the cost of crafting. For example, a Vrock's electrically charged heart might only sell for 40 GP, but can be used as 400 GP worth of crafting material when crafting some kind of electricity-related item.
* Lower crafting time. Normally its 4 days minimum and going for cheaper increases the duration; So you could lower the minimum duration to say 1 day for every 500 gp cost up to 4 days.
* Lower the cost of crafting for additional days. For example you could double the reduction, so a 5th level expert would reduce the price by 2 gp/day instead of 1 gp/day. Using the Ezren example on aonprd, he would only pay 45 gp after 10 days (5 days on a crit success) instead of 55 gp.
* Similar to what Henro suggested, you can have special and harvested materials provide some type of value (monetary, time spent, etc) when crafting. However, I would say to consider the material source and usage before giving them a value. Higher level and magic creatures are often rarer and more dangerous so their parts would cost more but also provide higher benefits. For example: A Cloaker hide might provide the entire material cost for a Cloak of Displacement; While a poison stinger from a scorpion might provide only a gold coin towards Poisoner's Gloves.
Personally I would prefer a variant that lets me announce the rule at campaign start and then remain hands-off during play.
For example, if there was a general rule that allowed an attempt to discover a formula by making a Crafting skill check at the cost of X downtime days...
...and that using a formula to craft items provide a simple Y percent discount on the market price.
As you hopefully see, this makes the benefits of Crafting independent on the availability of magic shoppes in the campaign. That is, even if items are freely purchasable, you can always count on the Y percent discount. The goal is to give information before campaign start that allows the player to make an informed decision whether to take Crafting as a skill.
That said, the default rules that involve a variable number of downtime days seems needlessly cluttery to me. I'd prefer a simple rule that lets the player know how much work he can accomplish per week of downtime.
Say a crafter can craft any combination of items and formulas in a week whose combined levels don't exceed his own level. A level four crafter could then create items/formulas of levels 1+1+1+1 or 1+1+2 or 3+1 or 4 or any other legit combo. You get four consumables in place of one permanent item.
Assuming Y is 20% discount for the sake of example, make a single Crafting check each such downtime week:
Critical Success - you get to add your proficiency rank to your effective level that week (+2 if Trained, +8 if Legendary) and you then create your item(s); if you have a formula, you pay 80% of the market value for that item(s).
Success - you create your items. If you have a formula, you pay 80% of the market value for that item(s).
Failure - your effective level is at -2, and formulas don't provide any discount.
Critical failure - you fail to craft anything, and you must pay money equal to a permanent item half your level.
This might make Crafting "essential" to a powergamer, and maybe it does. All I see is that the player gets substantial information pre-campaign with which he can base his decision to become a crafter.
Let me rephrase/clarify the above rules proposal:
Replace the overall crafting process in the CRB with the following:
A crafter can craft items during downtime but not while adventuring. Crafting requirements (pages 244 and 535) remain in place, except that formulas are not mandatory (for common items).
The cost is 100% of the market value. However, formulas provide a 20% discount on item market value (for common items). That is, formulas aren't necessary but allows you to pay 80% of the market value. The market price for items are found in the Equipment and Treasure chapters of the CRB. The market price for formulas is listed in Table 6-13 on page 293.
During one week of downtime a crafter can create any combination of items and formulas whose combined levels don't exceed his own level. You get four consumables in place of one permanent item.
Example: A level four crafter could spend a week and then create items/formulas of levels 1+1+1+1 or 1+1+2 or 1+3 or 4 or any other legit combo.
Make a single Crafting check after each downtime week spent crafting.
Decide on the highest item level you're trying to craft, maximum your own level. This decides the Crafting Skill DC per table 10-5 as modified by table 10-6 (pages 503-504). You do not need to decide what exact items you craft until you see the result of your check; you only need to decide on what level a regular success will let you craft.
This means you don't have to check how much gold your party has available have ahead of time. You simply make the roll and can then sell items to your friends as if you were a Magic Shoppe. Easy. Whether you pocket any discounts or pass them along is up to you :-)
Critical Success - you get a discount of 20% even if you don't have a formula. If you do have the formula, the combined discount is 30%. You can also craft item(s) two levels higher than what you decided on.
Success - you create item(s) up to the level decided upon
Failure - your effective level is at -2, and formulas don't provide any discount. (You can then choose to craft nothing. This wastes the week, but you pay no gold.)
Critical failure - you suffer a mishap and fail to craft anything that week. You must also replace tools and materials before you are allowed to craft again. You (and your party?) must pay gold equal to the first listed permanent item two levels lower than the decided level (on Table 11-1). For example, as a sixth level crafter deciding on level 4 item(s), the cost of a critical failure is the cost of a level 2 "full plate": 30 gp.
Example: As a level 6 crafter, Drachma decides to spend a week of downtime creating moderate healing potions. As these are level 6 items, she announces she's aiming for level 6 which sets the DC to 22. Success means she gets to craft the equivalent of one level 6 permanent item, such as four moderate healing potions, but she could also reconsider and create any number of lower-levelled items whose total doesn't exceed 6. If she has the formula for moderate healing potions, they each cost 40 gp (20% discount; 160 gp total) otherwise 50 gp.
If she scores a critical success, she could create a level 8 item. Perhaps she forgets about the potions, and instead crafts a +1 resilient armor for herself (assuming she has the requisite feats). She probably doesn't have the formula for this, so she would have to pay 400 gp for the armor (20% discount). She could alternatively craft the formula for the armor (20 gold with the discount), so she could craft them for everyone in the party later on.
If she scores a critical failure, she needs to pay 75 gp ("bag of holding type I").
Again, the main benefit isn't to give free loot to adventurers, but to make Crafting independent on settlement sizes and campaign specifics and formula availability etc etc. Please don't respond "but this means everyone will take Crafting", that misses the point. :)
Basically, you know what Crafting gives you already when you create your character.
An alteration to the rules that you can state at the beginning of a campaign and boost crafting?
Let crafting make items higher level than the PCs.
Expert +1 (Total +2)
Master +1 (Total +3)
Legendary +2 (Total +5)
If they upgrade crafting to legendary at 15, that lets them make lvl 20 items. They'll at least consider it at that point.