Trying to solve crafting.

Like most folks who attempt a Fantasy Heart Breaker” I swear mine, Pilgrim’s Passages, has different goals from the big dragon game. A focus on travel, narrative character progression, simplifying the statistics involved in characters, and meaningful crafting to start. In this article I am going to talk about the last one, crafting.

Augustus Burnham Shute, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsAugustus Burnham Shute, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In my experience crafting in TTRPGs has had 5 problems.

1. Crafting is too prescriptive.

Don’t worry about recipes, or being realistic. Let the player justify that they have all of the ingredients they need. If it’s too outlandish the referee or the table can push back.

2. The outcome of crafting isn’t meaningful.

I attempted this in Pilgrim’s Passages by making crafting the most reliable way to cast spells through something called Talismans. In a more trad fantasy setting this could be scrolls, wands, or potions being the main method of crafting.

In addition to that, +X items are no longer magical they are just higher quality (called Grade). Magical items have special things they do besides improving their effectiveness. Crafting a +X item isn’t easy though. You need to be lucky, skilled, or have a ton of ingredients for it. In addition to that Enchanting items can only be done by someone who is/has all of the above.

3. The ingredients for crafting aren’t convenient to attain at a base level, nor are they rare enough to be valued.

Make iron valuable. Make a rare wood a treasure. I think more folks should pull currency from their RPGs. Instead give them glass, marble, gold, and shells. Give them pieces to a pie that hasn’t been baked yet. Rare ingredients make crafting better items easier (via the ingredient’s Grade). Gold is rare and since it is rare it gives a bonus to the results of your crafting rolls when it is used as a ingredient.

4. The progression for crafting isn’t rewarding and flexible.

Every PC in Pilgrim’s Passages is someone who makes things. All of the characters come with a Skill that gives them a way to use the raw ingredients they will find and trade for. Skills grant +1 to any relevant rolls, so the more relevant Skills the better the finished craft. They can get better at that Skill, or develop new ones, by doing things related to that Skill.

5. What your character carries is not all that important.

Pilgrim’s Passages has what I would call a fairly punishing and important encumbrance system. Every single thing has a weight/bulk I call Load”. An item’s Load is subtracted from its porter’s Stamina (HP for other dungeon games). This means that every single thing a character carries has to be important or useful. This makes gear upgrades very valuable, which means players want reliable ways of upgrading their gear. That’s where crafting comes in. Make finding better gear harder but make finding the raw ingredients to new gear easier.

Crafting in Pilgrim’s Passages

The process for crafting a new item is really x steps:

1. Determine the Load of the final craft.

To craft an item first determine what you are wanting to make, then determine the Load of that item. For example: a knife has a Load of 1, a sword has a Load of 2, and a warhammer has a Load of 3.

2. Assemble the ingredients.

Assemble an amount of relevant ingredients equal to or greater than the Load of the final craft. These ingredients should be useful in the construction of the final craft. Justify their usefulness to the table if necessary. Note these ingredients’ Grade for later.

3. Assemble Justifications.

The player should justify any relevant tools, circumstances, traits, and aid that might improve or hinder their chances at crafting the item.

*Pilgrim's Passages*' rolls are modified by Justifications, typically by the Grade and Load of the thing being used in the roll. The naming is intentional to encourage the players and referees to feel free to *justify* the tools, circumstances, traits, etc that might aid or hinder a roll.

4. Roll for your Craft.

The crafting character must then make a roll for each Load of ingredients being used in the craft. Each ingredient’s Grade (noted in Step 2) modifies its corresponding roll. Rolls are modified by any Justifications listed in Step 3. The player compares the results of each roll to the table below, then add the results of the table together into a Grade for the final crafted item.

A note about how I handle rolls in *Pilgrim's Passages*. All rolls are 2D6. Every time a character initiates a roll, they must spend 1 Stamina. This naturally creates crafting that takes time if it's complex, since the character will have to rest and eat in order to complete that number or rolls.

5. Compare your results to the Crafting Table.

Result Grade
22+ +5
19-21 +4
16-18 +3
13-15 +2
10-12 +1
7-9 0
3-6 -1
2 The Craft is ruined and the ingredients are lost.

Optional: If the final craft is successful, the crafter may choose to enchant it with one of their Skills.

I’m unsure if I want to limit this to positive Grades, +5s only, or not limit it at all. We’ll see…

And there you have it. That’s Pilgrim’s Passages crafting system. My players have a good time making things so far. I will note that the above table is not final. I’d love any feedback you all may have, feel free to leave it in the comments or contact me another way.

Bloggers Note: This article has been edited on Aug. 29, 2023 to make the wording clearer and keep the rules relevant with the current version of the rule set.

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