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What is the fastest way to earn money outside of adventuring?

Our DM is putting us into a war and we have to prepare for said war. We have X amount of time (not known) to make money and then we make the purchases with the money. We already have armor and weapons. I need the money to buy components and parts for constructs I am going to build for the war.

I have the Leadership feat with a score of 25 meaning I have the following followers.

Lvl 1: 135
Lvl 2: 13
Lvl 3: 7
Lvl 4: 4
Lvl 5: 2
Lvl 6: 2

What is the best way I could assign them to crafting themed or non-adventuring tasks to make money?

My character is a cleric with +30 on Craft (Weapons) rolls, +24 on Craft (Armor) rolls and +16 on untrained Craft rolls.

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What rules are you using? Are you following Ultimate Campaign's Downtime system? How much money do you have currently to invest? How long is X? –  dlras2 Nov 13 '13 at 20:55
@dlras2 I said X because I am not fully aware of how long. –  Aaron Nov 13 '13 at 21:44
what is your goal in terms of money? How much are you aiming for and where is it going? (rations, weapons, armor?) –  DanceSC Nov 16 '14 at 19:55
@DanceSC I spent it on weapons and armor on the rest of the group. I managed to raise enough money to build my section of the army out of constructs. –  Aaron Nov 17 '14 at 13:08

7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The obvious answer here is crafting. Your character and the underlings can earn a simple amount of money every week.

Note that you don't actually need to roll anything. Everyone can simply "take 10" and you get a static number for "gold per week".

But if you want to make big bucks in the Pathfinder world, you make magic items. A magic item crafter can create 1000gp worth of items each day. They have to provide 500gp in components, but that's still 500gp / profit / day of successful magical crafting. This isn't absolute, as scrolls seem to generate a little less per day.

But Craft wondrous item is available at 3rd level and many items can be "auto-crafted" with a simple "take 10".

Now, you have a lot of high level "minions" available via leadership. If you have not fleshed these out a little, now might be the time. Honestly, if I had a bunch of 4/5/6th level minions, they would all be Wizards and Clerics with magical item crafting feats. In fact, you're a Cleric, I would expect your highest-level followers to be other Clerics.

In any case, these followers can be outputting 500gp / day in net profits. And all of those lower level followers can be scribing scrolls of Cure Light Wounds for 10s of gold / day.

If this sounds a little absurd it kind of is. Pathfinder really breaks down when it comes to magic items and economics. On the other hand, crafting magic items is "where the money's at". Adventuring is fun, but it's high risk and it can have really crummy payoffs. Those who don't want to test their luck at adventuring are probably out there churning out magic items.

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-1: Typically, you can't sell magic items for full price as an adventurer. "In general, a character can sell something for half its listed price, including weapons, armor, gear, and magic items. This also includes character-created items." Do you have a way around this? –  DuckTapeAl May 3 '14 at 3:08
In fact who are you selling these items to, and what is the source of their money? I'm not going to-1, because this applies to nearly all the answers, but it is very odd to assume you can generate money in this way, creating highly expensive specialist items and offloading them in bulk to an some anonymous deep-pocketed buyers. As well as supply, there must be demand. All that crafting the items does is create a glut. You'd be like any old over-ambitious garage rock band from the 1980s with a shed full of unsold CDs. –  Neil Slater May 3 '14 at 6:29
@DuckTapeal hey it's for the kingdom... have the followers create the items on contract for somebody else. Make it for a fee, so they build 1000gp of work using 500gp of materials provided by the third party and then collect a flat fee of 250gp from that same party. There you go... no "character-created" items, so direct sales, rules bypassed. –  Gates VP May 5 '14 at 5:23
@NeilSlater to be clear here, you're cutting right to the core problem of Pathfinder Economics. They honestly don't work in any rational fashion. Two weeks in a Kingmaker campaign and this becomes pretty obvious. Equal questions to ponder: Who cares about gemstones? Magic items are way more valuable, portable and practical. Magic items never "go bad", so they're way better than gold. Nobody would actually trade in gold, they would pass around rings and belts and boots and wands and all manner of magical goods. Think about it, the boots never even go bad... –  Gates VP May 5 '14 at 5:28
@GatesVP Gems don't spoil, either, and are quite often a material for making magic items. –  Matthew Najmon Jun 2 at 0:59

You have a couple options here.

The first is to read the Craft skill description which states

You can practice your trade and make a decent living, earning half your check result in gold pieces per week of dedicated work. You know how to use the tools of your trade, how to perform the craft's daily tasks, how to supervise untrained helpers, and how to handle common problems. (Untrained laborers and assistants earn an average of 1 silver piece per day.)

Then you do math based on all those guys' Craft scores. Voila.

The second is to use the Downtime rules from Ultimate Campaign, conveniently also on the PFSRD, to abstract the activity into units of capital and such.

The third is some kind of weird munchkiny and time consuming process of figuring out what exact items these guys could craft that could be turned into maximum profit (ladders then split into 10 foot poles!). I'm not all that interested in that. Any GM worth their salt will call BS on you manufacturing a zillion potions for gold or whatever (who's buying them?!?).

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Uhm. Why aren't you using your followers to make armor and weapons?

It doesn't make sense to me to have them make stuff, to sell for gold, to buy stuff they need to make war. Just make the stuff you need for war directly.

I mean, war is largely fought with foot soldiers. Their equipment is more important than buying a magic staff of war-winning, isn't it? And since you have followers, I assume you don't need to buy yourself soldiers for an army.

In addition, buying war equipment with gold you manufactured is likely to tip off the enemy. Secretly making equipment allows for some element of surprise.

Talk to your GM. Negotiate. Ask if he'll give the foot soldiers bonuses for attack and defense for having equipment. See if he'll allow you an advantage for taking the enemy by surprise, because you didn't tip them off by buying a lot of equipment.

Not everything is numbers based. This is a roleplaying game. Think in terms of what makes sense in the context of this world.

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In pathfinder, foot soldiers aren't really the driving forces in battle. The XP system will reward you like they are, but the mechanics haven't really changed from 3.5, where the suggestion was that doubling the size of a group gave it CR+2 and even this failed to encompass the exponential level-based power difference after a while. A single level twenty character of practically any class can kill any arbitrarily large but finite number of CR 1 enemies, given enough time, and the time required generally isn't all that much, either. A staff of war-winning is more than worth not having an army. –  the dark wanderer Nov 16 '14 at 21:39

To quote Harry Potter and the Natural 20:

He'd owled Hermione, who had gone back to live with her parents until September, to ask how the Muggles managed to make so much stuff. She'd asked her mother, and sent back what amounted to a short essay detailing mining, machinery, smelting, and, the production line. Milo had scoffed at the idea of 1st level non-caster NPCs working together to create goods en masse—until he did the math. Ninety-nine unskilled Commoners, and one with 4 ranks and Skill Focus in the proper Craft skill, with one set of Masterwork Tools, all using Aid Another (which would give each a 50% chance to add +2) would have a colossal +108 Craft bonus. Using Quick Crafting, higher bonuses would lead to exponential returns. This group could make around thirteen thousand silver pieces worth of goods in a week—compared to the seven silver piece weekly wage they could expect working alone. With other bonuses, such as those from feats, better tools, or a decent Intelligence bonus, that number would increase dramatically. Sure, a Wizard could simply cast Fabricate and turn any raw material into any finished product, but Fabricate required a 9th-level Wizard, and how many thousands of level one Commoners were there per 9th-level Wizard?

Practically speaking though, the difficulty here is getting the idea of the "assembly line" as an idea. Setting aside discussions of the Philosophy of Technology, the methodology of an "Assembly Line" is quite modern and requires many modern concepts, like the idea of a study of "logistics" (which simply didn't exist for the great majority of history).

Given that you have more than 99 unskilled commoners, the math above works. though from my own extremely sad experience, trying to use 3.5 derived systems for anything vaguely touching on ideas of logistics fails horribly. I urge you to ask your DM, instead, for a strict budget and hand-wave away the specific source of the money.

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"Hey! What are you trying to pull? This 10' pole is full of holes!" –  GMJoe Nov 20 '13 at 5:10
"It's a feature, not a bug. Deliberately stressed so that after a trap takes off an end, you still have 9 feet left." ::rolls bluff:: 39. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Nov 20 '13 at 5:20

If your buddies are willing to work 16 hour days you can double that to 1000 gp a day profit per appropriate character by using Brew Potion. Unlike Craft Wondrous Items potions that cost 250 or less take 2 hours, not 1 day, and don't stop you from doing additional crafting. If you can find a potion that costs exactly 250 gp (hard, because 2nd level spells are 300 gp and 1st are 50. You need a 15% discount, so maybe the hedge magician trait plus a 10% discount of some kind (you could get an alignment restriction on the potions if your GM allows it)) then you make 250 gp of profit every 4 hours, which, if you work at least 12 hours, beats the wondrous items. Also it has the advantage that your level 1 dudes can be doing it too (with much less profit) which helps with the idea that your higher level tiers are just better versions of the lower level tiers.

The BEST way, however, (using magic item crafting) is to have all of your followers be dwarven wizards. Dwarves can take +200 gp/day in magic item crafting as their favored class bonus. Stack that with the Arcane Builder arcane discovery and Eldritch Smith (the dwarf-only trait) and you are rocking a 3142 gp/day limit for your level 6 buddies.

Also, you really shouldn't be selling the magic items you are producing. You should be using them to win the war/prevent it from happening in the first place. If custom magic items are allowed, make at-will versions of all of your favorite spells. Remember you (and your minions) can add 5 to the DC to bypass a spell requirement so you don't actually need to be able to cast a spell to make an item of it. I'd go for an at-will fabricate if you want money.

Otherwise, if the custom section is disallowed (which it probably should be) you should make yourself some kick-butt wondrous items (Mirror of Opposition comes to mind) and just tech-upgrade so the nation you would be fighting is no longer a threat. As a note, a couple of create waters at will (as per a decanter of endless water) is probably enough to wipe out any non-magical nation through environmental devastation.

If you have to go the non-magic crafting route, consider bedrolls. They are cheap as heck and the wool inside them counts as cash basically anywhere (its a trade good) which means you can exchange it at full price for ~240 X normal profit.

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an exactly-250-gold potion isn't hard, just make potions of level 1 spells, but with an elevated caster level. A caster-level-5 potion of a level 1 spell with no expensive component is exactly 250 gp. (from the potion rules: "The price of a potion is equal to the level of the spell × the creator's caster level × 50 gp.") –  Matthew Najmon May 2 '14 at 23:21

Work with your GM.

I don't want to get RAI in your RAW, but doing thing such as manipulating supply and demand, strongarm tactics, and unionization/ownership of means of production are actually things a lot of GMs find fun to explore. Especially if you can find a time to 'manage your commercial empire' outside the sessions (perhaps via email?), it can be a fun little side-plot and occasionally you can call on your connections or receive money from your enterprises to fix problems (ala Tony Stark).

Active, campaign-based usage of supply and demand will generally net you higher profits than just picking the best thing to make.

Short of that, the absolute best way to do it is to get all of your level 3+ followers to be Adepts and take Craft Wondrous Item (as someone mentioned) and earn 500gp/day provided you can sell their goods at full price.

Have the rest of your followers rob banks or something.

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From the Dark Ages onwards at the very least basically all the wars ever conducted have been funded largely through the sale of credit/taking out loans because its damn near impossible to dredge up the financing to fund a war in a short amount of time. Nations spent years, even decades paying off war debts through taxes and still do. If I were your DM instead of having you try to finagle Pathfinders frankly nonsensical economic system I'd have you roleplay borrowing, begging, and scrimping your funding.

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Welcome to the site. Take the tour. Necromancy isn't frowned upon (in fact, there's a badge for it), but I fear this answer might garner downvotes because of its focus on history instead of addressing how to use the resources that are available to the character in the question. Begging is certainly a legit and time-honored tradition, but it seems as if the DM may be expecting the PCs to make their money mechanically. Thank you for your participation, though, and thank you for helping strangers. –  Hey I Can Chan Jun 1 at 23:40

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