It seems logical to me that any skill must be created with at least two different types of characters in mind. If a person really wanted to max out their skill, and the GM was willing to humor them, then I think the skills system is so fundamentally, mathematically flawed that it would be impossible to create a well balanced skill. The other type of character which the system must be balanced for, the Moderately Invested Character, is much simpler.
At first level, there’s already a variance of 6 between the moderately invested and the focused characters.
Forging ahead, now that we know which ranges the two character types will have available to them at each level, the question becomes: what acts should a character be able to perform at a given level?
Further work on my part is required, but at this juncture I’m eager to hear what others think. I’m going to hand you a page out of your own book (albeit possibly not the right one).
I also have a significantly different idea more in tune with my style of mechanics which is waiting in the wings. Spending 10% of a campaign looking for 1 magic item does seem a bit excessive, so I see where you’re coming from there. But for crafting, the system seems to suggest that those with only moderate training have at least a 5% chance of creating a masterpiece (if they roll a 20 on their skill check). Is this a system you’ve drafted, and if so, do you have it online anywhere to be read? I also increase all but Wizards, Witches, & Alchemists Skill Ranks by 2 and make the minimum Skill Ranks 2 instead of 1.
I prefer small changes that way new players don’t need as much adjusting to my methods.
What if you got points per week based on your skill level that you could put towards various crafting tasks, along with a “quality ceiling” also based on the skill level? Ya know, I was intentionally avoiding that option, because my goal here was to make crafting work within the frame of the skills system.
Whether the skill is a crafting or knowledge skill, or any other skill for that matter, this character is determined to be the best at what they do. But when attempting to craft these skills, I will assume that the players are not quite so obsessive, and the GM is not so foolish to indulge them if they are.


They do not make this skill a priority, but it is a class skill, and they do put skill points into it at each level. Materials cost will obviously help limit this crafting, but it’s important to me that I avoid requiring feats in this system.
Die roll with bonuses and negatives based on time spent working on the item, research done, and past item creation. Personally I don’t like any published magic item creation rules so this have me the opportunity to work on my own. So a roll of 20 won’t automatically result in a masterpiece, nor will a roll of 1 automatically result in a failure. Strictly speaking, no rolls would be required, though you could add in some randomness for interest if desired. I’ve got a completed, but unpublished post from mid Summer where I went on a rather vitriolic rant about the failings of the skills system, based on one of those unsuccessful attempts.
Through luck or point-buy, they start the game with an 18 in the associated ability score, and they select a race which grants them a +2 bonus to that ability score.
However, a moderately invested character should never feel as though the skill isn’t useful to them, nor should a focused character receive such significant rewards that they become overpowered. Those may not sound like very large numbers, but notice that a 10th level focused character has reached the same level of expertise that a 20th level moderately invested character can.
They’re also available for sale in large cities, so in the assumed Pathfinder campaign setting, +1 swords should be available to a character who has sufficient gold. If every magic item required that much work, then a single crafting character could take over the entire game.
A masterpiece might be DC: 35 for example, meaning a character must have at least +15 in the skill before they have a 5% chance to create a masterpiece. Regardless of the system’s failings, though, I do think that both of these skills are beneficial to the game and could be improved from their RAW state without fundamentally changing the way the skills system works. Every four levels, they improve that ability score by 1 point, culminating in a +6 modifier at level 8, and a +7 modifier at level 16.
Some races receive bonuses for specific skills, such as the gnomish +2 racial bonus to craft.
That, I think, is a sufficient level of involvement that a player should expect to see solid, level appropriate returns on their decision to invest in this skill, whatever it may be.


Players with less skill than a moderately invested character can be legitimately viewed as handicapped in the skill, and should not expect full at-level rewards from it. According to the wealth by level guidelines, a level 4 character should have 6,000 gold, so I think it’s safe to say that a character is meant to have +1 weapons by level 4.
Often, masterwork tools give characters a functionally permanent circumstance bonus to their checks. And characters with greater skill than a focused character can be considered overpowered already. If characters are to be able to craft magic items using the crafting system (as is my goal), then what should be the DC of crafting a +1 sword? Part of my thinking is that if the item’s creation requires only basic materials and gold, then that should be sufficient. And, obviously, this character has selected a class for which this skill is a class skill, and places new points into the skill at each level. There are even magical items which increase competency with a skill, though in my opinion these should be almost entirely ruled out of the game for reasons which will become obvious in a moment. That gives the moderately invested character a 25% chance of success at level 4, and the focused character a 40% chance of success at level 1.
Your proposed rules for learning a language translate swimmingly to learning a trade or craft. You could even make them have to learn from someone who already works in the field of magic item creation. Have them determine how many weeks they will devote to crafting, and give them bonuses or negatives for how long they spend working on it compared to how long you think it should take.
Research and talks with sages and people in the field would help them know appropriate lengths of time.
Assign a DC based on whether the item is minor, medium, or major, giving a bonus to the roll for the items they have made in the past (or cut out the die roll altogether).
If they fail that die roll, instead of saying the creation fails completely, come up with a similar, but vastly underpowered (or even cursed!) version of what they’re trying to create.




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