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So, my party is just starting Island of Empty Eyes. One PC got the bright idea to buy a Lyre of Building to assist with construction on the island.
I think it's a fantastic idea, but I'm not sure how to adjudicate it. How many man-hours does it take to reconstruct the Fort? Should using the lyre to rebuild the fort count towards the Respect score at the end of the adventure, and if so, how much?
Here's the description:
This magical instrument is usually made of gold and inlaid with numerous gems. If the proper chords are struck, a single use of this lyre negates any attacks made against inanimate construction (walls, roof, floor, and so on) within 300 feet. This includes the effects of a horn of blasting, a disintegrate spell, or an attack from a ram or similar siege weapon. The lyre can be used in this way once per day, with the protection lasting for 30 minutes.
The lyre is also useful with respect to building. Once a week, its strings can be strummed so as to produce chords that magically construct buildings, mines, tunnels, ditches, etc. The effect produced in 30 minutes of playing is equal to the work of 100 humans laboring for 3 days. Each hour after the first, a character playing the lyre must make a DC 18 Perform (string instruments) check. If it fails, she must stop and cannot play the lyre again for this purpose until a week has passed
First, I would rule that the first paragraph is prospective protection, not retrospective rebuilding.
Second, I'm not going to do a bunch of checks for playing the lyre. Instead, I'm going to make a ruling that playing the lyre substitutes for a certain number of BP or Plunder used to build per week. Note (in general) that the lyre doesn't supply building materials. It just uses what's available. So the PCs are still going to have to order building materials and have them transported to a remote, creepy island. So I'd probably rule that the lyre can substitute for, say, the greater of either 5 points of Plunder/BP or 1/2 the cost of a particular project, whichever is lower. I would also likely limit the lyre to one project per week.
Third, The lyre magically build things, but it does not provide expertise in any sort of engineering or architect. So I would require that the PC playing the lyre, in addition to having a Perform skill of a certain level (say, at least 10 ranks), would also need to make a Knowledge (engineering) or Craft (architecture) roll to put things together.
The typical professional in pathfinder has +3(assume wisdom 14 and 1 rank). He therefore earns 6.5 gp/week, or 6.5 gp/40 hours, or approximately 0.2 gp per hour.
The lyre does 2400 man hours of work in 30 minutes (100 humans × 8 hours per day x 3 days).
The lyre does approximately 50 gp per work per 30 minutes.
I agree you don't want to be making checks. If the PC has plus 17 perform I would cap this at 4 hours per day. This amounts to 400 gp per day. If your player has a lower perform skill you need to determine how long he or she can expect to play per day.
So every 2.5 days the lyre saves the party 1 plunder. That is pretty good, and I would let the PC feel good about it.
Use these rules to let the player cut the building costs in half to a maximum of 1 plunder per 2.5 days. Based on the adventure, time is unlikely to be a limiting factor, so functionally the lyre is giving the pcs double bang for the buck.
I would go even further, and double the plus 2 bonus for impressing avinar soreness to plus 4 and have him comment he is impressed with what the pcs did with the time and workforce they had. Now PC feels extra good.