Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Crafting: Simplified Crafting System

Actually, the source post is a bit
interesting too.
So I was thinking of crafting systems recently, and that shows because I was working on the food and scrounging posts for a bit, and I had a thought on a simplified type of crafting system with no frills, no thrills, but basic and generic enough to work anywhere, and probably extend it in ways to make it more interesting. This focuses on a fantasy and not-so-serious world, kinda like Dungeon Fantasy if it didn't preach against the tedium of long term down-time tasks so often. Let's take a look.

Raw Materials

Dungeon Fantasy 8 has a section on deriving the cost of raw materials from monsters. As a note, I think the formula is a bit convoluted, and since a lot of monsters nowadays have easily accessible CER values, let's instead just do a conversion factor and say that the dollar amount per pound of product extracted from a monster is CER/5. This actually gives significantly more than the example shown, but hey, dividing by 5 is easy.
In any case, that is... somehow maybe not relevant? Good thoughts I think, but pretty irrelevant. Raw materials for making stuff are about 1/5 the price of the raw product, 4/5 of the price is labor. this is marked up to make a living, so again, that makes 10% of the cost raw materials, 40% is labor, and 50% is profit.

Calculating Labor

So, 10% of the cost of an item is typically raw materials. The labor is 40%. So if we want to forge a sword that is $1000, that means the labor to produce it is $400. We can now use the chart on p. 517 of Basic Set - Campaigns for typical monthly salary. If we pretend we are in pseudo TL3, our monthly typical pay is $700. A month of work, pretending they had fair labor and OSHA and weekends and etc, is around 160 hours of work, so about $4.38 worth of sword is made an hour with our $100 worth of metal. It will take us about 92 hours to make $400 (actually, $402.96) worth of sword, or 11 and a half working days. The obvious skill to make this sword is Armoury (Melee Weapons).
For typical salaries for a lot of jobs one might be interested in checking out Low-Tech Companion 2.

Other Thoughts

This makes creating all items simply a matter of time. A Very Fine version of our sword costs $20,000, and simply takes 1,840 hours, or nearly a year to make. Of course, someone with a lot of skill can easily do a rush job and make things go faster by using Haste a la Basic Set - Campaigns, p. 346. I'm thinking that a skill modifier for having an enhanced cost factor might be necessary too, but an easy rubric for calculating the penalty doesn't occur to me and the easy method (linear) makes things either too easy for small enhancements, or too hard for big enhancements (which Dungeon Fantasy is full of.) So I'm thinking of employing the speed/range table which gives us a bit of a logarithmic curve, but is easier than coming up with a logarithmic equation. The penalty for a craft skill to create something with a CF of +N is found by looking up N in the yards column and then taking the negative number in the Speed/Range table. It might make sense to have techniques for some of the common modifiers, but maybe locking them behind prerequisites, because when a character can soak -10 for Haste and -6 for Very Fine and they just start p**ping money, things might break.


  1. I looked at quality as being a function of high skill; fine items are produced at skill 20 and very fine at 25, with an increased pay rate for skill level-double and triple, with the possibility of an item being made one quality level higher on a critical success.

    1. That way could also work, but for me, the most interesting metric I was looking for was time to create something. I think your concept comes close to my thoughts that trying to create an item with a positive modifier would require a negative modifier, just putting the spin in a positive direction: Instead of needing tremendous skill to overcome a negative penalty, you either need enough skill to be allowed to make a fine item on the regular, or get a critical success. 6 in one hand, half a dozen in the other.

      Though I'm feeling my penalties might be slightly light using the speed/range table, maybe they need a 1.5x or 2x multiplier as well.

  2. From my readings into pre-modern logistics, for the kinds of eras Fantasy tries to root itself in, labor is the *minority* cost. Most of it is materials, which is why things like spears are common battlefield weapons, and why farm tools were cheaper to repair at the smith than rebuy (and why they largely didn't feature iron parts unless required). And why iron ploughs are not one-per-farmstead.

    1. That's an interesting thought. Do you have a ballpark ratio that might be more appropriate? 40% is labor right now, would maybe a 20% be better? It kinda matches what is in the book, and while requiring more expensive raw materials, would mean crafting time would be cut nearly in half as well.

    2. I'd have to dig up my notes (if I've still got them!). I think it was in the realm of 10-20%, however, depending. I've been meaning to do a "big list of references" post for a while, so if that ever goes live it might show there, too.


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