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Craft (Alchemy)


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#1 Phneri

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 05:14 PM

So, I'm looking at this skill for a character (doing a witch playtest in pathfinder), and I'm noting it's kind of..well..busted.

First off the craft DCs for utility items (tindertwigs, sunrods, etc) are all pretty steep compared to your standard d6 damage items.

Second, the time spent to make this stuff is measured in weeks...really? Because in the Pathfinder system I can make 4 cure light potions in eight hours. At level 3. For 100 gold total cost. But acid flasks take a week? Is this totally nuts to anyone else?

How've you dealt with crafting stuff in a game?
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#2 Ieqo

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 05:59 PM

If I were defending it in Rules Court, I would point out that creating potions involves actual magic, which makes everything better, faster, and cheaper. Any level 1 expert can have ranks in Craft (Alchemy), which is why a self-respecting spellcaster generally wouldn't bother with it; did Wan-Doo, the Wondrous spend years in study and demeaning apprenticeship learning to tell the Laws of Nature to sit down and color just so he could make sunrods for the masses like some toothless hack? No. Of course not.

Crafting in Pathfinder, like crafting in 3.5 before it, is the demesne of the faceless NPCs. Let the PCs do heroic things.
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#3 Phneri

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 08:17 PM

did Wan-Doo, the Wondrous spend years in study and demeaning apprenticeship learning to tell the Laws of Nature to sit down and color just so he could make sunrods for the masses like some toothless hack? No. Of course not.

Crafting in Pathfinder, like crafting in 3.5 before it, is the demesne of the faceless NPCs. Let the PCs do heroic things.


But did Eardon, the witch, learn to be a witch just to make brew potion checks unfailable? Or what about the character class alchemist? These are both things that exist as adventuterer classes, and as craft is a usable skill for an adventurer i don't think it works to delegate it to just an NPC thing.

Finally, no NPC in their right mind would ever learn this crafting skill in light of comparable magic-related skills.

A 3rd level NPC wizard or cleric vs. a 3rd level expert with alchemy, for instance. both need the same level of stat bonuses towards their focus. At 3rd level, with insight bonuses, tools, max ranks, and other bonuses pulled out of one's hind end, you're going to get +15 to a craft check at best.

The 3rd level cleric or wizard takes brew potion (note this is available to the spellcasting NPC classes, as well).

with a DC 25 check the alchemist manages to make troll styptic, which heals 4-16 hit points. After 1 week of work with an average result the alchemist is at best 2/3s done with one dose, at a cost of 35 GP+ alchemical equipment

The cleric (or adept) takes a DC 8 (5 + caster level) that should be virtually unfailable to make a cure moderate wounds potion (5-16 hit points) at a cost of 150gp (this potion is also instant with no side effect, the syptic occurs over multiple rounds and requires a fort save).

Here.s the thing. In the same time I make 2/3s of the syptic I can make 7 cure mod potions or 28(!) cure light potions. At a higher cost, yes, but still. The very high craft DC compared with the drawbacks should balance the crafting v. potion brewing.
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#4 Daniel

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 08:36 PM

You seem to have forgotten that Pathfinder is designed for all kinds of fantasy games, from the low magic, to the high. Just because the option is available to you, does not mean that it will fit the campaign you are running, or are playing in.
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#5 Telemergion

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 10:27 PM

When things don't make sense I badger my GM until they do, or I get told to sit down and shut up. If I am the GM I do the same. It's not a perfect system, but it works.
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#6 Ieqo

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 11:12 AM

Finally, no NPC in their right mind would ever learn this crafting skill in light of comparable magic-related skills.


Sure he would. Adventurers still want to buy sunrods, and tanglefoot bags, and flasks of acid. But as you and I both pointed out, they don't want to spend weeks away from adventuring making these things for themselves. Simple market economics is the reason why NPCs would learn the skill. You want a game-mechanics reason why the Craft checks take so long? One of them might just be 'so that player characters will go out and buy stuff'.
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#7 Phneri

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 07:15 PM

Finally, no NPC in their right mind would ever learn this crafting skill in light of comparable magic-related skills.


Sure he would. Adventurers still want to buy sunrods, and tanglefoot bags, and flasks of acid. But as you and I both pointed out, they don't want to spend weeks away from adventuring making these things for themselves. Simple market economics is the reason why NPCs would learn the skill. You want a game-mechanics reason why the Craft checks take so long? One of them might just be 'so that player characters will go out and buy stuff'.


Sunrods maybe. If you're making the DC 25 check to make a sunrod you make enough of them to make 43gp/week off the crafting (after costs and before lab expenses), but acid flasks? In one week you're making 14gp because you could make a grand total of 2 off the DC 15 check. 24 gold if you've gotten the same check result of 25 as you would for the sunrods. Working quickly to add 10 to the DC, ok, you've matched the sunrod profit. Now the problem with this is the check result of 25 as misc. work makes you 25 gold v. the 24 from the flasks. And of course, in two hours of work you've made 25 gold off of one level 1 potion. And the potion check is virtually unfailable and requires no lab.

I still think the "it's an NPC skill" argument doesn't work, as this is listed specifically as a character option, and crafting always has been. This isn't a low v. high magic setting issue. This is an issue of a character having brew potion and an alchemy check of +18. In a given evening this character can make a level 1 potion with ease while on watch, etc. Given the time requirements for alchemy, and only that, there's no way for this character to make use of that skill given a typical adventure. I admit this is a thing with most craft skills, but given the 1-shot nature of alchemical thingamabobs, it seems most applicable here.
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#8 Daniel

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 09:29 PM

Given the time requirements for alchemy, and only that, there's no way for this character to make use of that skill given a typical adventure.

You also have to think outside the 'average' adventure - if there is such a thing. If we're talking about the average adventure being investigate the town, prep, then dungeon. During the prep stage your cleric might be able to make one, or two, potions - which is cool if your campaign world supports it.

On the other hand, say your GM is running a low magic campaign, then everything is different. Your characters are going to be spending much longer in the prep stage, because they don't have access to clerics of 'insta-potion'. Suddenly, your Alchemist becomes much more viable. You could argue "why not make the alchemist an insta-potion man then?" To that I'd point out that by doing so you cheapen magic in the magical campaigns, and make Alchemists seem too 'magical' in low magic campaigns.

Then again, you can't forget the golden rule of character building: if you think its' shit, don't take it. :D

I'm posting after a mammoth bug testing session, so please excuse any typos.
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#9 Ieqo

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 07:18 PM

Necromancy...I love it. Anyway, Phneri, you may just find THIS of interest.
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#10 eformo

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 07:59 PM

Re-reading this, something else also struck me...

If a Craft SKILL could produce wealth as fast as a magical item creation FEAT, I'd be very unhappy with my feat choice.

And hey, playing Rules As Written, the Player Character actually makes identical profit per item created by the book rules - zero. You want to talk about unrealistic, try that on for size. Everyone in the entire world pays the same price and everyone gets the same price when selling the item, unless the seller is a PC. In that case, the PC only gets half price.

I'm really in a quandary about what might happen if Bob the Fighter decides to sell his old +2 studded leather to Jerry the Ranger. Jerry is a PC and as such cannot receive a discount to the price of the item. Yet unbeknownst to Jerry, Bob is also a player character and must receive only half price - a PC can't sell items for full list price. Therefore, something funny has to happen during the exchange. Let's see what happens.

Jerry, in her attempt to purchase the item, places 4,325 gp (full value for the studded leather, or as near as I can come off the top of my head) on the table. But Bob cannot receive this much wealth in exchange for the item. He must not receive more than 2,162.5 gp. The other 2,162 gold pieces and 5 silver pieces must be annihilated.

As we all know, real world physics applies to all events in an RPG, so we can use the weight of the coins (43.34 lbs) to further our understanding of the fallout of this PC on PC transaction. That's nearly 20,000 grams of precious metal being annihilated, which will require nearly 20,000 grams of anti-matter. The resulting matter/anti-matter explosion is the equivalent of roughly 850 Gigatons of TNT, wiping out the entire city of Waterdeep in the process, rendering a half-dozen gaming supplements worthless and prompting no fewer than eight poor impressions of Admiral Ackbar saying "Our cruisers can't repel firepower of that magnitude!" (Yes, I really did check the math. Shame on me.)

So as you can see, player characters must be very careful when engaging in transactions. Getting a crappy deal on some sunrods is far from the worst thing that could happen. ALWAYS know who you are selling to.
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#11 Dragonkin

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 02:50 AM

did Wan-Doo, the Wondrous spend years in study and demeaning apprenticeship learning to tell the Laws of Nature to sit down and color just so he could make sunrods for the masses like some toothless hack? No. Of course not.

Crafting in Pathfinder, like crafting in 3.5 before it, is the demesne of the faceless NPCs. Let the PCs do heroic things.


But did Eardon, the witch, learn to be a witch just to make brew potion checks unfailable? Or what about the character class alchemist?



A minor point, but keep in mind that the Alchemist class gets class abilities that makes creating alchemical items faster. At 3rd level they do it in half the time, and at 18th they can create any alchemical item in one round if they make their skill check and have the materials available to fund it.
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