In which our intrepid hero addresses shortcomings in one of the most versatile skills in D&D.

As mentioned in a previous post, my old D&D character, Thune, was envisioned as a legendary spearwright in the making. A master of the weapon, he was also to be a noted maker of spears.

It was during brainstorming for Thune that I came across a number of irregularities with the rules for weaponcrafting.

Firstly, a 20th-level Expert—with 23 ranks in the appropriate Craft skill—can still only produce masterwork items, at best. Sure, he can make them relatively easily and reliably, but in the end, he can’t make anything a lucky character with only one rank can’t.

Part of the problem is that the various Item Creation feats all require spellcasting ability to some degree.

Atlas Games’ otherwise brilliant Nyambe rulebook contains an uber-smith prestige class called the Inyanga Yensimbi, but given that the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat is one of its prerequisites, it also has an implied prerequisite of at least five levels in a spellcasting class. The Gifted Maker prestige class from Mongoose Publishing’s Ultimate Prestige Classes Vol 1, however, goes some way to addressing this issue.

Secondly, with particular regard to armour- and weaponsmithing, I find it hard to believe that a smith otherwise unfamiliar with an item can create a normal example of a longsword, say, or a suit of armour, let alone a masterwork one. It seems absurd that a smith can craft a masterwork weapon when they’ve never even picked one up.

To address this last problem, I suggest the following addendum to the rules for the Craft skill. All materials within the shaded box are designated Open Game Content:

Craft (General): You must possess at least 5 ranks in a relevant Craft skill in order to attempt to create any masterwork item.

Craft (Armorsmithing): In order to craft a given type of armor, you must first be proficient in its use.

For example, to craft a suit of chainmail requires the Armor Proficiency (Medium) feat—and its prerequisite, Armor Proficiency (Light); to produce a buckler, you must have the Shield Proficiency feat. Note that some classes provide these feats as class features.

Craft (Weaponsmithing): In order to craft a given weapon, you must first be proficient in its use; masterwork weapons require at least a Weapon Focus with that weapon.

Synergy: If you have Weapon Focus with a given weapon, you receive a +1 bonus on Craft checks related to that weapon; if you have Weapon Specialization, then this bonus increases to +2. If your game features greater degrees of weapon proficiency, then each additional “level” bestows a further +1 (cumulative) bonus.

Craft (non-combat-related subskills): To make an item related to a skill that cannot be used untrained (see the table on p63 of PHB v3.5), you must possess at least one rank in that skill; in order to make a masterwork item, you must possess at least 5 ranks in the relevant skill.

For example, if you wish to make masterwork cooking implements, you must first have at least 5 ranks in the Profession (Cook) skill; in order to create a masterwork violin, you must have at least 5 ranks in Perform (Violin); and to create an alchemist’s lab (see p129 of PHB v3.5), you must have at least 5 ranks in Craft (Alchemy).

These modifications seem to mesh quite well with the Craft rules in Skirmisher Publishing’s Experts. However, given that I only own the 3e edition (and not the 3.5), I can’t guarantee how well the above works with the latest version.