Your thoughts regarding crafting time for crafting mechanics.

incarnum11

Registered User
Validated User
#1
I enjoy crafting in games but none of the games i played handled crafting very well so in my homebrew i tackled a crafting system that easy to use and useful. The only problem is figuring out crafting times and i don't mean how long it took a blacksmith to make a sword or suit of armor back in the day but how long should time be fudged for enjoyable gameplay. It's one of those things that i'm curious about, i would prefer players be able to enjoy the crafting system without being forced out of the main gameplay but i don't want the time to be so ridiculously short that not crafting could be seen as a gimp. What are your feelings about determining crafting time in a game?
 

1of3

Registered User
Validated User
#2
This depends on how time works in your game. Think Dresden Files. Harry has one high adrenaline case file lasting like 3 days, every six to twelve months. Between those he can do big things, like building a voodoo model of Chicago. During, he sometimes has the time to craft a potion or two. So there are only two kinds of time here: Can it be done with a few minutes to hours, or not?

If on the other hand you track every day, week or month in your campaign, you likely want something more involved.
 
Last edited:

Hituro

Eager Critmouse
Validated User
#3
What I've done with InBetween right now is to add an abstract unit of time "The Rest". A rest is the time required for characters to heal/eat/make something, i.e. all crafting attempts take 1 Rest. However if the crafting attempt fails you can continue to keep trying to accumulate the required successes, using more rests in sequence. The downside of that is that Rests are also the time that the NPCs need to do something useful, like get away, or set a trap, or complete their plans. i.e. it is a measure of narrative time. If you spend time crafting, your plot goals may fail. That way I can say "If you take a Rest, the rats you are chasing will get ahead, but you can still track them. If you take 2 rests they will get clean away" and then it is up to the players.

But this is all about "in the action" time. That's because InBetween doesn't really have downtime. Time passes between adventures, but you don't get to do stuff in that time (or rather that time is taken up eating, foraging, caring for your young, etc.)

In more traditional games, I have to say I prefer long, but slightly hand-waving, crafting times (which are the worst from a system's perspective, I know, I know). In actual history, most things were made on the spot, or to order, and the difference was between "hourse to days" and "weeks to months". Things like full suits of tournament plate, or castles, took inordinate times (months, or years, or decades) while most other things were done much more quickly. You can get your horse re-shoed while you eat your pottage. You can pick up your new dress a week after ordering it (or days, if you are a priority customer, or hours, if you are standing right there). It is so variable, that a water-tight player facing crafting system that actually accounts for all of this probably needs a different set of time-scales and rules for every craft, and every product! Sure, you can write such a thing, but would you enjoy it?

In my previous trad fantasy system (Sun Keld) I had a time scale like this: Hours, Days, Half Weeks, Weeks, Fortnights, Months, Half Years, Years. Crafting tasks had a base time on that scale, so making armour might be Weeks, for example. You looked up the type of item on a table to see what the base unit was, so for example a Polearm had a unit of 'days'. The base time required was 3 of whatever unit (so 3 days for the polearm). Extra successes on your crafting roll either improved the quality, or reduced the time by 1, dropping to the next unit down if you reached 0 (so 3 days, 2 days, 1 day, 3 hours ...). Failures reduced the quality, or extended the cost and time in the same way.
 
Last edited:

Victim

Registered User
Validated User
#4
One thing to consider is how mechanized downtime or resources in general are going to be. Blades in the Dark has limited, but essentially a fixed 'worth' of downtime, between heists. Fragged Empire limits how much stuff you can essentially afford to keep and maintain with resources, and also mechanizes other time with Spare Time Points spent to customize gear, do research, and so forth. In that sense, 'crafting' is one way of acquiring an upgrade, but someone could roll Wealth on their spare time roll to buy something instead. These mechanical systems mean that crafting stuff can be part of 'progression' without necessarily changing the balance between large amounts of downtime and short ones.

A purely time based system often ends up really limited in capability lest it turn large amounts of story downtime into massive powerups. Or crafting ends up a non-factor in games with more rushed pacing.

Another element is how much non-crafting needs significant downtime as well. For example, if significant training time is needed for skill/level ups instead of or in addition to pure XP type costs, then people may regularly be wanting breaks anyway, so slow crafting may be nice because it lets other people do something 'useful' while someone else is training (or vice versa, if some crafting project is mission critical). Similarly, there may be custom spells or whatnot for other characters to mess around with during downtime.
 

Xander

Registered User
Validated User
#5
It depends on what the crafting can do.

Hermione crafting a Polyjuice potion is a plot-critical event, but we don't really need to know how long it takes Ollivander to make a new wand.

It would be relevant if Harry was trapped on a desert island and needed to somehow make a new wand.

Also, Hermione can only make one or two doses at a time - if she could make 20 potions at a time, that defeats the fun of crafting something special.

Harry Dresden is another good example - he can't make potions anytime he needs one. I think he crafted his coat of protection between books.

So I think there should be significant investment of time and/or resources involved and some importance. Otherwise you might end up with the guy who figures out in Excel, "I can make 24 potions per day. Each potion costs 40 gold to make and sells for 60 gold. I leverage my 480 gp profit into the Advanced Potion Kit for +10% potion production..." :)
 

incarnum11

Registered User
Validated User
#6
This depends on how time works in your game.
That's more of a GM choice, sometimes every moment matters other times we can skip a few weeks because it really comes down to the story.


What I've done with InBetween right now is to add an abstract unit of time "The Rest".

In more traditional games, I have to say I prefer long, but slightly hand-waving, crafting times (which are the worst from a system's perspective, I know, I know).
The rest systems sounds pretty cool, i don't think it would function well for my settings but none the less it's really nice.
Yes i was thinking about steamlining the system so there were not tones of fiddly crunchy parts, if a game system is a chore it's not generally fun.

A purely time based system often ends up really limited in capability lest it turn large amounts of story downtime into massive powerups. Or crafting ends up a non-factor in games with more rushed pacing.
I'm thinking my next question might be "how low can you accept crafting times to be vs realism because i don't want crafter to get screwed over. They are forced to spend xp to learn their craft so it's balanced that way but if everyone is trying to keep the pace up and the crafter is left without time he is kind of screwed.

So I think there should be significant investment of time and/or resources involved and some importance. Otherwise you might end up with the guy who figures out in Excel, "I can make 24 potions per day. Each potion costs 40 gold to make and sells for 60 gold. I leverage my 480 gp profit into the Advanced Potion Kit for +10% potion production..." :)
If people want to go crazy like that i'm fine, there are so many factors where i don't see this as a problem. As for the need for lots of time it defeats any reason for players to take basic crafts for metal and leather working. Yea i might save half the coin for this sword if i make it but the week i spent crafting it i could have made ten times that via adventuring.
 

Dagor

Registered User
Validated User
#7
If people want to go crazy like that i'm fine, there are so many factors where i don't see this as a problem. As for the need for lots of time it defeats any reason for players to take basic crafts for metal and leather working. Yea i might save half the coin for this sword if i make it but the week i spent crafting it i could have made ten times that via adventuring.
And that's why you're an adventurer first and swordsmith second (or even third, fourth and so on). Meanwhile, the people who are swordsmiths first and adventurers never if they can at all help it don't have to put their lives on the line week after week just to earn their pay. :)

Part of the issue is really what situations the crafting rules are even supposed to address, I guess. Those can in principle range from "I need to improvise something to help us deal with problem X" over "I just want to be able to earn some coin during downtime when no adventures are immediately available, and perhaps maintain my own stuff while I'm at it" all the way to "I want to make something really special that I can keep using in the future to do better than I'm doing now with my regular kit (or maybe just to make for a suitably impressive gift to somebody important)". Time matters in the first case because the character is probably in a bit of a hurry and in the latter because it may take extra time and effort to get everything just right; for the one sandwiched between the two, though, it's probably a lot less relevant because the usual implication is that the character's under no particular pressure either way.
 
#8
I've struggled with this a lot myself, and the main thing I can recommend is this: have some system wherein crafting can be done retroactively. It might be by spending a metacurrency, or by taking a special ability, or by spending extra resources - that will depend on the rest of the system. I know Tephra has a retroactive crafting system, and I'm pretty sure Blades in the Dark has one as well. When you're playing a steampunk-y mad scientist, you're going to find yourself in situations akin to "if only I had prepared my mind-control poison before this adventure - let me roll to see if I did".
 

Xander

Registered User
Validated User
#9
Doesn't a retroactive crafting system mean pulling a save out of thin air?

It may have some metacurrency cost, but that is worthwhile if it solves your problem immediately.

Otherwise, the crafter should make a choice of "Do I want the mind control or fire resistance potion?" If the crafter has to leap into a burning building or go an adventure in Inferno Canyon, he or she is all set. Otherwise, they'll be stuck with a mind control potion as their hair singes...

What does the character who's not a crafter do? Do they have equivalent benefits that they can buy, or better skills/stats/abilities to make up for less gizmos?
 

Dagor

Registered User
Validated User
#10
Doesn't a retroactive crafting system mean pulling a save out of thin air?
Well, yeah; that'd be kind of the whole point.

It basically comes down to how one wants to run in-game logistics. There's the "realistic" approach, where everybody packs what they think they'll need and hope they got it right because if they didn't think of or couldn't afford something in advance, then when they need it they won't have it on their character sheet and, well, oops. In the extreme case this can of course mean that the entire group has to turn back and try again later, assuming that's even feasible... -- And then there's the "fiction-style" method...where stuff somebody might or might not lug along but ends up never actually using anyway probably doesn't rate mention during the preparation phase either because that'd just be a waste of the audience's time and attention, and in fact the preparation phase itself may be glossed over or skipped entirely. In fiction, if you see somebody pack an extra-special item before setting out for adventure, be it a magical potion, one of Q's gadgets for James Bond, or whatever, that's all but a guarantee it'll see use later; since in a game without a pre-existing script wanting to play that trope straight would usually mean the GM having to adjust their scenario on the fly to account for the PCs' gear as they acquire it, it's simply easier to handle that sort of thing retroactively via flashback, "well, of course I brought this and good thing I did!", or something similar.

What does the character who's not a crafter do? Do they have equivalent benefits that they can buy, or better skills/stats/abilities to make up for less gizmos?
Depends on the concrete system used, but yeah, retroactively establishing facts at some opportunity cost when it would make sense in context is something some games do indeed do, while in others define-in-play gizmos cost character creation resources.
 
Top Bottom