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Pathfinder 2e crafting redone

March 2023


Traits: Downtime, Manipulate

Choose an item to make from raw materials. To begin crafting, you must meet the following conditions:

The crafting process takes an amount of days determined by 7.5% of the item’s nominal price divided by your daily income per the Income Earned table using your level and proficiency in Crafting.

At the end of the process, make a Crafting check against a DC chosen by the GM (generally from the DCs by Level table using the item’s level).

Critical Success: You successfully craft the item using less time, use the daily income value for one level above yours.
Success: You successfully craft the item.
Failure: You fail to craft the item on time, but you may try again with the same materials, which are now worthless for other tasks.
Critical Failure: You fail to craft the item on time, and ruin 20% of the materials. You can try again if you replace the ruined materials.

Alternate crafting time rules

Instead of taking 7.5% of the item’s nominal value, determine the value of labour required using this table:

Item Level Consumables Permanent items
0 1 sp 5 sp
1 4 sp 2 gp
2 6 sp 3 gp
3 1 gp 5 gp
4 1 gp, 6 sp 8 gp
5 2 gp 10 gp
6 4 gp 20 gp
7 5 gp 25 gp
8 6 gp 30 gp
9 8 gp 40 gp
10 12 gp 60 gp
11 16 gp 80 gp
12 20 gp 100 gp
13 30 gp 150 gp
14 40 gp 200 gp
15 56 gp 280 gp
16 80 gp 400 gp
17 110 gp 550 gp
18 180 gp 900 gp
19 260 gp 1300 gp
20 400 gp 2000 gp

The GM may adjust the crafting time for items whose price is significantly higher than that of other items of the same level.

What’s wrong with crafting?

Crafting, as written in the Core Rulebook, seems to be designed to give the PCs a “crafting-themed” way of getting items while not giving any discounts or even making crafting more expensive than just buying the item.

This means that crafting’s only advantage can be in availability: If you can craft the item, you don’t have to rely on the current town’s merchants to have it in stock. This, however, seems like a slim advantage for potentially weeks of time and multiple skill increases put into Crafting. Not to mention that crafting still requires having formulas, which can be just as rare as the desired item, meaning that a GM must design their economy specifically to make crafting worthwhile.

The availability of raw materials is also suspect. One could imagine many exotic gems, woods and inks needed for the construction of high-level magical items, and not providing these items to players in small settlements makes crafting only useful for low-level items, those that they can already most likely buy.

The rules also stop making sense when applied to NPCs. When crafting items costs more than the usual sale price, who’s supplying the merchants?

This also applies to the variant crafting rules introduced in Treasure Vault, since they did not fundamentally change the balance, only provided a little more nuance and variety.

Behind the rules

With the problems clear, let’s see how the new rules stated above fix them, and how the specific constants are derived:

First, we have to make a number of assumptions:

With these (semi-realistic) assumptions, we can see that crafters spend ~65% of an item’s nominal value on materials. The remaining 15% of their income then goes to the labour of crafting items.

As seen in the chart below, the chance of success at making an n-th level item for an n-th level character with maximum Crafting proficiency is around 50% 2. To remain profitable, crafters overbudget their labour by a factor of two. This means that one attempt of Craft only requires half the budgeted time, 7.5% of the item’s nominal value’s worth.

This all means that a player will receive a 20% discount 3 by crafting an item over simply buying it and using Earn Income.

Crafting success chance

This system prevents economic catastrophe by requiring that any crafter, regardless of their level, spend more than 50% of the item’s nominal value. This means that selling crafted items isn’t viable outside a regular job.

Deriving crafting time from price has the benefit of creating a consumable vs permanent distinction “for free”, as the latter cost 5-10 times more.

A less proficient crafter will fail more and therefore profit less, but they would also receive less from Earn Income, making the system at least conceptually consistent.

Consumable crafting time (equal level)

Permanent item crafting time (equal level)

The typical crafting time for a consumable of the character’s level is between two and four days, the crafting time for permanent items is higher (please mind the scale change!), from 8 days to 25.

Consumable crafting time for 10th level Expert crafter

We can see that if we fix a specific crafter (here at 10th level), their crafting time decreases exponentially as they craft lower level items. This mirrors how the purchase price of an item is an exponentially smaller piece of a character’s total wealth as they level up, since the crafting time is based on price. The same effect would be seen with permanent items.

Median permanent item crafting times with different Crafting proficiency

The chart above shows that increasing proficiency decreases crafting time by a few days for a few levels after it becomes an option, but eventually becomes a necessity, as being just Trained, crafting high-level items takes months.

Behind the alternate rules

As you saw from the “equal level crafting time” charts above, the crafting time goes up as the level increases, even though the character’s level and Crafting proficiency are also increased. This is a consequence of item prices rising faster than Earn Income profits.

It is questionable whether this is desirable. On one hand, parity with Earn Income guarantees some kind of “economic stability” and leads to the smallest modification of the original rule. On the other hand, Treasure by Level does scale enough that a permanent item of the character’s level costs a roughly equal share of the total wealth, irrespective of character level. It also seems more in line with the game’s general approach to leveling that crafting items of one’s own level should always take roughly the same time.

Permanent item crafting times with different Crafting proficiency (alternate rules)

Recreating one of the previous charts for the alternate rules, you can see that the crafting times are simply set so that a crafter with maximum attainable proficiency completes consumable items in 2 days and permanent items in 10 days.

As before, gaining more proficiency in Crafting becomes essential at some point, even if the effect is not as large (keep in mind the success chance changes as well).

Closing notes

Crafting in Pathfinder 2e has been a contentious topic ever since before its release. I hope this document presents an alternative to the official rules that not everyone might want to use, but everyone agrees is sound.

There have been many other attempts at tweaking or rebuilding crafting in PF2e, and some of them include various additions to make the process more flavourful. While the specific rules as written here are bare-bones, they could very well serve as a basis for expansion. Allowing crafters to over-exert themselves for faster crafting at the cost of exhaustion, or allowing them to modify items for harder DCs could make crafting more varied and fun.

This document is as much about new crafting rules as it is about its format: Machine-readable databases of PF2e rules and items are readily available, and with a little programming, this kind of document could be made for nearly any mechanical concern, putting hard statistics and pretty charts behind arguments in the latest “martials vs casters” debate. If you’ve been inspired by this page, you can take a look at its source code.

Other homebrew crafting rules:

  1. This applies to goods the merchant requests from an artisan, not opportunistic sales by adventurers. The real-world analogy here is “buying from a B2B supplier vs. buying used goods as a pawnbroker”.↩︎

  2. Bonuses could further boost this chance, but I feel this is a good baseline.↩︎

  3. This assumes the player already has the necessary formula. Having to buy it first would still be cheaper than buying the whole item, though.↩︎