Reworking Crafting, Dexterity, and Calculating Outcomes.
Problem: Dexterity and crafting is such a simplistic tool that every character in the game has equal chance to create perfect level 100 equipment, creating no character variance.
TL:DR Adding uncontrolled elements, as well as controllable influences, will add agency and diversity to the crafting skill sets and characters. I am unsure of all numbers, but the formula would look something potentially like:
(random number)+(dex)+(race)+(faith)+(tools)+(proficiency)+(gem bonus)=(less than 0-100+ number, 0 being garbage, 90+ being perfect item).
Currently every person in the game is a craftsman, dexterity only relates to how long it takes you to learn a craft skill, and puts dedicated crafting characters at a serious disadvantage. Crafting is something many characters do simply because they are bored and wanting to make a quick buck, with no reward to those who have defined their character into the role of ‘craftsman’.
The reason this is true is because crafting is not a ‘difficult’ thing to do. It is simply a time factor, as with most other skills in the game, without any of the prohibitions on the skill that other skills have (no dangers from monsters killing you in a fight, no stat block preventing you from learning, no ‘class selection’ to say you are a druid/mage). This, in and of itself is not necessarily bad, but it does not lend itself well to creating a system where a character can stand out.
I love the crafting system. I want every player, and every character, to be able to interact with the crafting system. I even want it to be that every character can reach the highest echelons of crafting, and can attain greatness in crafting.
I want crafting to actually mean something.
If you design a character to be a great warrior, it is ‘designed’ to be a great warrior. There are things that you can do to augment a warrior, and supplement weaknesses. Potions, gems, magic glyphs, items, all make contributions to how effective a person performs as a warrior.
Crafting lacks all of these dynamics. In crafting, you seem to have one ‘attribute’ in play: dexterity. This dexterity also does nothing to impact the quality of which you craft, but rather the rate in which you learn. This means that a person with a dexterity of 1, at level 100, can craft with the same quality as someone with the dexterity of 2000 at level 100. The only difference that can exist between the two of them are primarily gems and potentially glyphs.
Because of this, every person in the game is a craftsman.
Solution, Part A: Random Number Bonus
Instead, I suggest a bit of randomness mixed with modifiers, in order to make crafting a bit more dynamic.
Let’s start with a basic idea:
You are a level 50 carpenter, making a level 50 shield.
A dice is rolled.
You might notice that these numbers are not an even, smooth, progression. Well, that’s because it should be difficult for something to be so bad that it is essentially unrecognizable as to what it is.
Why is the 5th section so large? Because that means the object was made adequately. It is not noticeably fantastic. It is ‘average’.
However, having a straight random roll is dull and frustrating.
Solution, Part B: Influencing Choices
Section A: Dexterity
We as players desire agency!
Let’s take the ideas from dnd (I can hear the groans, but thats fine), and apply them here.
If average dexterity is 9-11, then every number beyond those should have meaning.
In theory, you could go up from there, or maybe make a system more punishable.
Section B: Race
We talk about how races aren’t diverse enough. This is a simple way to add some diversification.
Lizardmen: -10 in carpentry/goldsmithing +10 in tailoring/blacksmithing
Humans: no bonuses
Elves -10 blacksmithing/armorsmithing +10 carpentry/tailoring
And on down the line.
Section C: Faith
You could throw in a scaling attribute to favor of your chosen god as well. Maybe Elara blesses woodworking, and Irmorom gives a small bonus to all crafts, and wow isn’t it crazy how Moshran really likes you blacksmithing swords? (This, again, is a rough estimate). I would advise against adding subtracting forces to this number. While the gods may be capricious and easily angered, most of them would see the value in almost all of the other crafts, and this is again a small enough bonus to be easily passed by those who would rather not interact with gods in illarion.
Section D: Tools
But crafters also have tools:
Bad tools: -10
Average tools : 0
Good tools: +10
Section E: Proficiency/Expertise
They also have skill in the craft they have, to the 'minimum skill' require to make an object.
0-5 level difference= +0
I think that high level crafters should be able to outright smoke early recipes. Nail it every time. I am also generally in favor of not subtracting from players significantly, unless it can add a fairly easily overcome challenge, or a roleplay aspect that they have chosen. (Thus the race thing exists, but is so minor that eating a sandwich can overcome it, but the attributes are a bigger cost as there is more agency there, and is somewhat flexible.)
Section F: Gems
“But what about gems?”
Each gem percentage adds the flat amount. 1 latent adds 1, as per the percentage. A set adds 12, as per the percentage.
So calculating would look like at the finish of the craft:
(random number 1-100)+(dexterity number)+(race bonus)+(tool bonus)+(faith)+(expertise)+(gems)= final number.
I’ll admit that the numbers are not ‘perfect’. But while you are here, there are a couple of other things worth addressing:
Items Lacking Quality:
Some items don’t have quality at all.
Put them through the same process. If it’s below a 60%, the material is lost but experience is still awarded. This is important as it does add progression for a player, but encourages them to ‘play the system’ a bit. You don’t get to be a perfect baker with 0 dex.
Increase Crafting Reward:
BUT IN ADDING THIS VARIANCE, there needs to be pay off as well. Being a crafter sucks on the selling side. I get that we desire to make it ‘more profitable, enjoyable, relevant’ to sell to players. But players don’t want to buy ‘garbage gear’. Especially not in the day and age where the top of the class is supremely higher than the rest.
NPC pay should scale off the item quality. If an average level 100 armor is worth 100 gp, then a step up should be worth 10% more, at 110 gp. If you want to cut that number down to 10% value (which, again, is super-disheartening for players and I absolutely hate), fine, then they should get 11 gp. Reward good. I do not find the opposite worth being true. The lowest the pay should go down is by 10%. Absolute trash 100 gp armor should go for 90 gp at the market. It’s a trade off, but one that can be relatively easily avoided I think.
Add Item Effects:
There was a time when there had been plans to add weaknesses and advantages in fights with certain creatures dependent on what material an object was made with. This might be worth revisiting.
‘Perfection Bonus’: Should a person land on 100 exactly (after bonuses, etc), I think an object known as an ‘artifact’ version of the item could be made, that does some sort of additional effect. This is my ‘pie in the sky’ sort of hope.
The problems with my proposal is that I’ll admit I have not worked through the exact probabilities of everything. In its current state, I am almost 100% sure that a person could easily still make level 100 perfect objects, given enough time and equipment. I do not know what those numbers would exactly look like, or how to precisely get them to the right locations. I just think that by adding more influence the player has to control what is going on, it is more likely they will have a wider range of crafting interest, as well as variance of skill and ability. Also, it may be more likely that a low level craft/skill will have difficulty producing items under this system.