Dungeons & Dragons Online

Percy’s Streamlined Enchanting, Scribing, & Brewing

Homebrewery Version & Player facing version

Enchanting, Scroll Scribing, and Potion Brewing typically happen in the background of most D&D games, because 5e's Rarity system is fundamentally unbalanced and allowing ad hoc crafting can accentuate that. Still, even when no PCs are directly involved, a crafting system is quite useful especially when they're developing a Stronghold or a West Marches hometown.

This is my attempt at a loose set of guidelines for item creation that:

  • Is easy for the players
  • Is relatively easy for DMs, and can be done away from the table
  • Balances item power via total price gut check
  • Allows a level of mystique, customisability, & uniqueness
  • Avoids multitudes of tables & recipes
  • Can be done primarily by NPCs, but works for players
  • Fits with Xanathar's downtime rules.

I accomplish this by having the players actually just "buy" the item (with time, money, and magic), rather than "craft" it.

Incidentally, this method is similar to a back-end version of the one present in Minsc and Boo, though it was created before that book came out.

Note: This system was developed with Gritty Realism and a West Marches playstyle in mind, but I see no reason it would not work with others.

Summary

  1. Determine item's Magical Formula
  2. For enchanting, acquire relevant Potion or Scroll
  3. Acquire magical Reagents & costly Components
  4. Gather final exotic Essence, or have a Heroic Moment
  5. Craft item through a skill challenge, commission, or time

DM Process

  1. Provide magical reagents & artisans as rewards
  2. Determine a requested item's formula through the rarity tables below
  3. Let the players do the rest!

Magical Formulae

The hardest thing to balance in any enchanting system is the wide variety in power between items of the same rarity – such that any table charting item prices only by rarity is fundamentally flawed.

Hence, D&D Magical Item Prices – a combination reference of the Sane and the Discerning Merchant's Magic Item price guides. Minsc and Boo's price tables would also be relevant here, and I'm sure the owners of this spreadsheet will add them eventually. Use it to determine the item's total cost, as fits your campaign. Obviously, you can always choose a different cost more appropriate to your campaign.

Fundamentally, each magic item's formula is:

  • One thematic scroll or potion of equal rarity
  • Enough magical Reagents and nonmagical components to equal the cost of the item on the price guide (discounted 20-50% at your discretion, and minus scroll/potion cost)
  • One Essence or Heroic Moment
  • One capable crafter

Potions & Scrolls

Potions are crafted through this same method, but without this step. Crafting uses Herbalism or Alchemist's tools.

Scrolls have their own crafting table, and need only reagents (most likely magical inks and high quality parchment). However, the creator must have the relevant spell prepared or known, as usual, casting it once per day. Crafting uses Calligraphy.

Reagents

Reagents are magical bits & pieces that have a value and rarity – things of innate magic, be it dragon bones, crystal roses, or fairy ink for scrolls. Give these out to your players as loot or monster pieces via Harvesting.

Have your players keep track of their reagents' sources, which can add great extra flavor to the final item, once crafted. A demon-horn-tipped spear looks much different than a unicorn-blessed one!

Harvesting

When a creature of appropriate CR is slain or defeated, players may appraise and harvest it for reagents. This should be an Intelligence then a Dexterity check, proficiency determined by the kind of creature:

Check TypeCreature Type
ArcanaAbberation, Fey, Undead
InvestigationConstruct, Ooze
MedicineGiant, Humanoid
NatureBeast, Dragon, Monstrosity, Plant
ReligionCelestial, Fiend

Success, as determined by the Harvest DC column, rewards reagents of the appropriate rarity. I would suggest awarding 1 to 4 reagents per monster, depending on the creature's CR within the band and the degree of the successes. At least one reagent could be of one rarity higher than the rarity of the creature.

Mundane Components

No good ring of power is made without starting with a high-quality, gem-studded ring (worth a fortune, of course). These components are other ways of meeting the item's cost.

Exotic Essences & Heroic Moments

As extra flair (and extra control over item availability for the DM), each item requires one central component – perhaps the hoof of a Goristro for a +3 warhammer or a Half-dragon's spit for a potion of fire breath. These are valued at approximately 3 reagents of an equal rarity.

For extra inspiration, see Hamund's Harvesting Handbook or one of the many other monster harvesting homebrews out there.

Alternatively, a Heroic Moment could be the item's final transforming moment – perhaps striking the killing blow on an Umber Hulk (CR 5) with a Magic Weapon (level 2)-enhanced sword, then replacing it into a sheath just made of Giant Crocodile (CR 4) hide (reagent) would permanently transform it into a +1 sword.

Either way, the result is the same – one dramatic creature or moment around which the crafting pivots.

Crafters

You would not ask a cobbler to make your armor, nor a blacksmith your shoes. The final crafting skill challenge uses the many tool kits – Calligraphy for scrolls, Herbalism for potions, Woodcarving for arrows, Jewelery for jewelry, Cobbler's for boots, and so on.

If your PCs are building a stronghold or other home town, consider offering NPC experts as hirelings proficient in these tools. This can offer an extra limitation on crafting based on the NPC's proficiency, as seen on the next page.

Crafting

Once the Reagents, Components, and Essences are in hand, players have two options – taking the time to guarantee a perfect crafting (or more likely, commissioning it), or performing a Rush Job.

If they do a Rush Job, run a skill challenge using relevant tool kits and proficiencies like Arcana, Nature, and Religion. For example, a Cleric's Scroll of Raise Dead could use a Dexterity (Calligraphy), Wisdom (Religion) check, and Intelligence (Arcana). I'd require 2 out of 3 to be successful, but requiring 3 successes before 3 fails (or fails in a row) would be more lenient.

Notes:

Costs:

All listed costs are purchased costs, though these items should not necessarily be available for purchase. For selling a reagent or essence (roughly worth 3 reagents), I recommend offering 40% + % equal to a persuasion check by the players.

References:

Parts of this ruleset have been inspired by Xanathar's magic item crafting & Scroll Scribing, KibblesTasty's Enchanting & Alchemy rules, and Hamund's Harvesting Handbook. I encourage you to reference the latter two for increased system depth when desired!

Abbreviations:

For brevity, the tables below use the following shorthand:

  • C: Common
  • U: Uncommon
  • R: Rare
  • V: Very Rare
  • L: Legendary
  • k: thousand
  • h: hour
  • d: day
  • w: workweek (5 days)

Tables (the important stuff)

Items, Potions, & Reagents

RarityAppropriate CRsReagent CostCraft Time*Rush Job*Rush Job/Harvest DCCrafter Proficiency
C1-310gp2w2d10-11+2, Novice
U4-840gp4w1w12+3, Journeyman
R9-12200gp8w2w13-14+4, Artisan
V13-181k gp16w4w15-17+5, Master
L19+5k gp32w8w18++6, Savant

*: Crafting times are reduced by half when working on a consumable, like a potion.

Spell Scrolls

Spell LevelRarityCost*Reagents requiredCraft TimeRush JobRush Job DC
cantripC15gp1 C2d4h10
1C25gp2 C1w1d11
2U80gp1 U2w2.5d12
3R400gp1 R4w1w13
4R800gp2 R8w2w14
5V2k gp1 V12w3w15
6V4k gp2 V16w4w16
7V6k gp3v24w6w17
8L15k gp2 L32w8w18
9L50k gp5 L48w12w19

*: plus costly components. Or, use Ogmha's pricing.


Example:

Ring of Fire Resistance

  • Rare
  • DMPG values at 3500, a 40% Crafting discount takes that to 2100gp
  • Potion of Fire Resistance (500gp, DMPG)
  • High-quality ruby-studded ring (600gp)
  • 5 Rare reagents (1000gp)
  • Essence: heart (or blessing) of young red dragon (CR 10)
  • 8 weeks to craft, or 2 with a DC 14 risk of failure over a few Jeweler's tools, Arcana, and Nature checks.

Source

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