How specific are formulas?


Rules Discussion

The Exchange

So I'm playing a Giant Instinct Barbarian, due to the difficulty of finding large weapons I'm looking to craft my new weapon upgrades now that my party has some significant downtime and coin to burn. But the Crafting rules are vague at best.

For Example, I know I could make a normal Greatsword with just the formulas in a formula book. Do I need a separate formula to make a large greatsword? what about a large mithril or adamantine greatsword? If special materials do require their own formulas and I were making weapons for other party members with the same materials too would that require even more specific formulas? IE would I need specific formulas for every weapon, or would I just need an adamantine formula for example that can be combined with any weapon formula to make that weapon in that material?

Sovereign Court

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The rules don't really say. The closes they get is:

CRB p. 293 wrote:


Items with Multiple Types
If an item has multiple types of different levels, each
type has its own formula, and you need the formula for
the specific type of item you want to Craft. For example,
if you have a formula for a type I bag of holding but not
for a type II bag of holding, you must acquire a separate
formula to Craft a type II bag of holding.

Large greatswords aren't a different level than regular greatswords. Precious material versions arguably are, since previous material grades do come with levels.

That's got the potential to lead to a ridiculous number of different formulae for every weapon/metal type/grade combination though. And the CRB doesn't actually say that you should be doing it that way. So as a GM I'd show some restraint.

A decent compromise might be to rule that you need a formula for precious metal of a certain grade, and for the weapon, and that you can combine those formulas to craft the weapon.

So to make a standard grade cold iron greatsword you'd need a greatsword formula (trivial) and a formula for working with standard grade cold iron (costs some actual money, but cold iron is still common so you can get it).


Glorf Fei-Hung wrote:
what about a large mithril or adamantine greatsword? ... IE would I need specific formulas for every weapon, or would I just need an adamantine formula for example that can be combined with any weapon formula to make that weapon in that material?

Nothing in Crafting activity, Precious materials, Formulas, Materials sections mentions getting any separate formulas for precious materials or items made from them. But verb 'substitute' is used at least once. So I'd suggest to keep it simple (and RAW) - just satisfy conditions in Precious materials section and be done with it. So you need just common generic formula for an item.

Liberty's Edge

Precious Materials absolutely 100% require specific new Formulas for each different combination of Weapon/Armor and each specific grade of Precious Material without a doubt since any Items made from them have different Item Levels than default and that is one of the hard and fast pre-reqs for needing a new Formula.

As for varying sizes, I do not believe that you need additional special Formulas since the Item level, Item Name, and Stats are not changed in any way.


Themetricsystem wrote:

any Items made from them have different Item Levels than default

So what?

I think this is more than enough to do as written (plus there are character level, crafting proficiency and availability of precious material requirements):
CRB p577 wrote:

Materials with the precious trait can be substituted for base materials. For example, a hammer’s head could be made of adamantine instead of iron. Items made of a precious material cost more than typical items; not only

does precious material cost more, but the crafter must invest more time working with it. In addition, more powerful items require precious materials of greater purity.

Liberty's Edge

Errenor wrote:
So what?

This what.

Formulas CRB pg. 293: Items with Multiple Types wrote:
If an item has multiple types of different levels, each type has its own formula, and you need the formula for the specific type of item you want to Craft.

Weapons, Armor, and any other type of equipment made of Special Materials have a distinctly different and higher Item Level as determined by the Precious Material that you are using and therefore require their own formula.

A low-grade Silver Shortsword requires a separate formula than the normal Shortsword since it is a level 2 Item, a standard-grade Silver Shortsword is Item level 7, and high-grade is level 15. All of these would require their own formula and the same thing goes for every Special Material + Weapon/Armor/Gear combination one could come up with or craft. Now, this IS sort of a "feels bad man" situation in that it absolutely EXPLODES the number of specific formulas that a dedicated crafter would need in order to functionally help keep a party equipped with at-level Precious Material Weapons and Armor but that's how it works, they are different types and levels than the standard versions of their base equipment.

Sovereign Court

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I think you're pulling that to its most extreme possible conclusion, more than is really needed.

The example in the CRB talks about obvious cases of items with multiple levels, like a bag of holding type I and II.

How exactly precious metal items are organized isn't as strictly defined. You could say "there's a formula for a standard grade silver greatsword" or you could say "there's a formula for a standard grade silver weapon (of any kind)". Or even just a formula for "standard grade silver anything".

That'd still mean you need several formula through your career, but it avoids a combinatorial explosion of them. And it solves problems like "I know how to make a standard grade silver longsword and greatsword and I know how to make a regular katana and a low grade silver katana but there's no formula for standard grade silver katana for sale, it's a too niche combination in this market". Which is taking the rarity system far away from setting up fun reward situations, and into just being miserable bookkeeping. And it's just not necessary to run it that way because the book doesn't say you should.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I know in PFS they've set the pattern that is it one formula per previous material x item combo, with some adamantine shield formulas.

I also know in a homebrew campaign I'm writing I'm taking the opposite approach, each precious material has a 'crafting manual' or 'crating legends' associated with it. Possession/long term study of one unlocks all recipes using it, if you know how to make the base item. These items are generally rare, (not capital Rare), and more generally quest rewards (either from befriending master crasftsmen, in the case of silver/cold iron, or finding/exploring ancient towns, etc for the more rare materials. But my campaign also has more elements about 'do you share forgotten knowledge you uncover and how does that impact the local area" so this felt like the right way to stay consistent with other aspects.


I would require separate formulas for each special material version of any given item, based purely on the Items with Multiple Types section quoted above. Since each item has a different level based on the material used, that rule should apply in my opinion. And this even makes sense, as the processes and procedures you would need to craft a steel or iron sword are going to be Much different if you wanted to make that same sword from a completely different metal like silver or adamantine.

Where things get muddy is with differently sized items. The only real difference between a Greatsword and a Large Greatsword is bulk value and actual gp cost. This makes me lean towards requiring a different formula personally, as the two swords will naturally take different amounts of time to craft and require different amounts of materials.

But I could equally see the argument that this unfairly punishes small characters or Giant Instinct barbarians, so it wouldn't be ridiculous to rule that formulas are naturally scalable to different sized equipment, for simplicities sake if nothing else.


Ascalaphus wrote:


The example in the CRB talks about obvious cases of items with multiple levels, like a bag of holding type I and II.

Exactly. Like also staves, wands and other such things with 'Type'.

Ascalaphus wrote:


How exactly precious metal items are organized isn't as strictly defined.

But for me it's defined quite clearly, precious materials only replace common ones and have additional requirements given in the respective section. That is all.


Themetricsystem wrote:


Weapons, Armor, and any other type of equipment made of Special Materials have a distinctly different and higher Item Level as determined by the Precious Material that you are using and therefore require their own formula.

No.

And your quote is not about this case.
But you can apply any home rules you like provided your players can tolerate them.

Liberty's Edge

Errenor wrote:

No.

And your quote is not about this case.
But you can apply any home rules you like provided your players can tolerate them.

Answer this question: Do Weapons made of Precious Materials have different Item Levels than their base item and change the Item Name?

If the answer either or both of these is yes, which it factually is in both cases, then each version requires a specific unique Formula, it is simple as that. The moment you alter the Item level, name, or "type" of a given base item from the norm you need a new Formula for that special version or type that you're making.

This is the Rules discussion forum where we talk about what the printed rules actually mean though and how we feel about them or how we'd change them. I linked and quoted the rules straight from the book for you, if you don't like it (for the record I don't like the way it actually works either) you can elect to ignore the rule but that doesn't change things or invalidate the printed rule which is not at ALL ambiguous despite it being, IMO, kinda dumb when interfacing with Special Materials.


Themetricsystem wrote:


The moment you alter the Item level, name, or "type" of a given base item from the norm you need a new Formula for that special version or type that you're making.

I still do not see anything in the rules which says that if an item is modified by something that gives it a different level, it requires reparate formula in all cases.

But. In this case it seems you are actually right.
Because I found (or re-read...) shields and armor made from precious materials (p 555,586). And they are different-Type items, exactly like bags of holding, staves and everything else like that: Type 'standard-grade adamantine shield', Type 'high-grade adamantine buckler' and so on.
So it is not requiring separate formulas for precious material items would be a home rule. =(
Themetricsystem wrote:


that doesn't change things or invalidate the printed rule which is not at ALL ambiguous despite it being, IMO, kinda dumb when interfacing with Special Materials.

It is vague, because they did not write explicitly that precious items require separate formulas, or even that each precious item is a separate Type of item (which does require a formula). There are only examples of shields and armor.

But yes, it's a bit sad, because this means if a GM wouldn't give players this specific formula for this specific combination (or this specific item directly to reverse-engineer with a chance to lose it and still not get a formula) they can't make what they want at all. Even the feat Inventor won't help because it only allows to get common formulas and apart from cold iron and silver all other precious materials are at least uncommon (may be some new ones? don't know all of them).


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Errenor wrote:
But yes, it's a bit sad, because this means if a GM wouldn't give players this specific formula for this specific combination (or this specific item directly to reverse-engineer with a chance to lose it and still not get a formula) they can't make what they want at all. Even the feat Inventor won't help because it only allows to get common formulas and apart from cold iron and silver all other precious materials are at least uncommon (may be some new ones? don't know all of them).

I mean, if the GM isn't willing to make a formula available to a player, what would be stopping them from preventing that player from getting the formula, or the item itself, without their direct approval?

Even in more "serious" games, the GM and Party should work together to maximize everyone's fun, right? If a character wants to craft their own gear, the GM should recognize that and work with that player to make that happen. Otherwise, why allow crafting in the game at all?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Agree with beowulf, though I can see why it might be annoying from a storytelling standpoint, that you can't just get access to better materials and become a better smith and make a better sword, but rather need to find a specific recipe to follow before you can qualify.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I guess it's a good thing that formulas aren't terribly expensive.


beowulf99 wrote:


I mean, if the GM isn't willing to make a formula available to a player, what would be stopping them from preventing that player from getting the formula, or the item itself, without their direct approval?

Nothing, of course. Even in my 'home rule' GM could just not allow to get any precious material, and then knowledge of base formula won't help.

Squiggit wrote:
Agree with beowulf, though I can see why it might be annoying from a storytelling standpoint, that you can't just get access to better materials and become a better smith and make a better sword, but rather need to find a specific recipe to follow before you can qualify.

It's not even that. It's even if you had desired precious material, and you knew all needed base formulas, and even knew for example 'standard-grade adamantine longsword' you still can't make 'standard-grade adamantine rapier' unless you specifically ask GM for it or she says something like 'you can find all precious material formulas for items you already know how to make'. It's just more hoops to jump through.

Grand Lodge

Themetricsystem wrote:


Answer this question: Do Weapons made of Precious Materials have different Item Levels than their base item and change the Item Name?

Technically neither of these are true. The low grade silver and high grade silver aren't broken down by item type at all in the book, and they are all the same level. They only list Low grade silver weapon, mid grade silver weapon, etc.

So if we go completely strict RAW, you get the ability to make any low grade silver weapon with one formula (low grade silver weapon).

Personally, I would run it as Beowulf, and have 1 formula for the basic item, and a second for the material.

Sovereign Court

I think you can also say "standard grade silver weapon" is an item in the book, you can just have a formula for that.

The RAW really doesn't have a paragraph talking about formulas for special material items directly, so all of this is really just people taking inferences and analogies from somewhat different types of items. You can draw one conclusion, but you can also draw another equally valid conclusion, neither of which contradicts what little RAW there is.

So don't pick an interpretation that makes your game less fun.


Jared Walter 356 wrote:


Technically neither of these are true. The low grade silver and high grade silver aren't broken down by item type at all in the book, and they are all the same level. They only list Low grade silver weapon, mid grade silver weapon, etc.

Hmm, yes, interesting... But armor and shields are specific for each item. So we do have another inconsistency.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I for one treat "generic spell wand" as a single formula per spell level. Same with spell scrolls.

For armor and weapons, I'd be inclined to treat items made of special materials as needing their own separate formulas(that is, a longsword and low-grade adamantinelongsord would need two differentformulas), though a player might be able to talk me into doing something a little easier (such as treating the special material as its own item).


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Items with multiple types are further defined under the Crafting & Treasure rules, particularly under Reading Items:

Multiple Types wrote:
If multiple types of an item exist, the title line gives the minimum level followed by a plus symbol (“+”). The description includes information on the base version of the item, and the Type entries at the bottom of the stat block lists the specifics for each version, including the level, Price, and any modified or added abilities of the different types. For some items, the types listed are upgrades to the base item. For other items, such as aeon stones and wondrous figurines, each type is distinct from the others.

There is an example wand of heal on page 597 of the CRB that lists each spell-level version of the wand as multiple types in the same format as the generic magic wand given on the same page. This parallels the format used by precious material weapons/armor, so it seems they would also require the more specific formula of base item + precious material + material grade.

Definitely feels weird to require knowing each scroll's formula by spell independent of having access to that spell. It does seem to be in line with how alchemists learn specific item + level pairs, but I've never really been sold on that either.

Sovereign Court

I'd say alchemical items are different, in that there are really only a few dozen different bombs, even counting all the different leveled versions. And each of them is specifically listed in the equipment tables.

Meanwhile, if you needed a formula for each different spell, or even for each differently heightened version of a spell, that would run into hundreds or thousands of formulae and then the system really doesn't make sense anymore.

Now, notice that for spells and wands, there is a generic price for a scroll of a given level. This isn't the case for bombs; each bomb of a different flavor and grade merits an individual table entry.

So my approach would be to say, "scroll of level X spell" is a type of item for which you can learn a formula, just like "wand of level X spell" is.

And for weapons and armor, specific material versions occur sporadically in the tables, more as examples that "these things also exist", but there isn't row upon row listing each weapon with each possible material grade.

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