Introducing a New Crafting System for 5e

Let’s be honest here; loot is cool.  And what’s cooler than magic loot?  Nothing.  But sometimes you don’t get the magic loot you want, or someone else in the party wants the same loot that you do.  And when that happens, there’s only one thing you can do; make your own damn loot.

Unfortunately, 5e hasn’t been spectacular at allowing this.  The original rules presented in the Dungeon Masters Guide weren’t the worst ever, but left much to be desired, especially in regards to the length of time it took to craft a magic item.  Recently, the new Xanathar’s Guide to Everything introduced a new downtime mechanic, and with it new crafting rules.  These were much better, but for my purposes, the process still took too long.  I understand the desire to prevent characters from crafting high-level gear in an afternoon, but taking months upon months upon months to craft an item is still frustrating.  At that length of time a majority of players will never use the system, both because they won’t bother with it and because most campaigns (I think) don’t tend to have that kind of downtime.

Since the beginning of my campaign I wanted to provide my players with a better crafting system.  My initial attempt was complicated to the point of hilarity; I justified it at the time with the fact that the players would never have to touch it, and I’d be doing all the frustrating math.  Unfortunately, spending 15 minutes or more during a session with my calculator out while my players wait isn’t particularly fun game play, and I realized I’d need to make some changes.  I waited eagerly for Xanathar’s Guide to be released, hoping that Wizards’ new crafting system would take away all my concerns.  What we got, as I mention above, isn’t bad, but I wanted something… more.

Enter Crafting Magic Items: A Guide to Artifice.  This is the crafting system I, and a few of my friends, have started to use in our games.  The rules presented by Xanathar’s Guide make up the skeleton of the system, and the rest is tweaking numbers to make crafting a more attainable option for characters.  In truth, I think the Xanathar’s Guide system would be fine to use if you simply changed the time needed to craft.  You could incorporate only the section on calculating crafting time and still have a perfectly workable system.  But the rest of the document opens up more options, such as how to incorporate residuum (which is sadly missing from 5e).  Proficiency is used as a basis for crafting speed as a way to represent how a more skilled artisan can complete work more readily than a less-skilled one.

The many notes scattered throughout the document provide even more options to change the system, and to discuss how I myself run things at home.  The Hourly Rate variant, for example, is one I use in my game.  It’s presented as a variant rather than the base rule so that the core of this system can fit into the existing Xanathar’s Guide downtime system more easily., but feel free to use the variant instead!

Let us know if you decide to incorporate these rules into your own game, and how you tweaked them to make them your own!


Anything released through Geeks New England for D&D will be available completely for free, though you can donate to any project we upload at the “pay what you want” price on DMsGuild if you’d like.  I prefer DMsGuild for one simple reason; it lets me see how many people like the product, how many have downloaded it, and gives you (the customer) easy tools to rate and critique it.  But if you dislike DMsGuild for one reason or another, feel free to download from any other provider.




Google Drive


Version 1.0 21Feb2018


  • Newly crafted!

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