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We've started a campaign recently where we are shipwrecked on a deserted island. Our characters are fairly low-level and do not have any starting equipment other than the clothes on our back

As such, the survival skill is critical, as well as being able to craft things.

In a city or settlement, crafting is pretty straightforward:

To determine how much time and money it takes to make an item, follow these steps.

  1. Find the item's price in silver pieces (1 gp = 10 sp).
  2. Find the item's DC from Table: Craft Skills.
  3. Pay 1/3 of the item's price for the raw material cost.
  4. Make an appropriate Craft check representing one week's worth of work...

However, in the wilderness, we have no money (and if we did, it wouldn't be of use for us).

How does one craft things in the wilderness?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Craft Raw Materials

That's what adventurers call it; normal folks call this mining or logging.

Ask the DM if this is acceptable first, but the argument goes, though the game doesn't say raw materials can be crafted, raw materials must come from somewhere, and scrounging in the wilderness is as good a place as any to get them. All it takes is time.

The Pathfinder Craft skill says

  1. Find the item's price in silver pieces (1 gp = 10 sp).
  2. Find the item's DC from Table: Craft Skills.
  3. Pay 1/3 of the item's price for the raw material cost.
  4. Make an appropriate Craft check representing one week's worth of work. If the check succeeds, multiply your check result by the DC. If the result × the DC equals the price of the item in sp, then you have completed the item. (If the result × the DC equals double or triple the price of the item in silver pieces, then you've completed the task in one-half or one-third of the time. Other multiples of the DC reduce the time in the same manner.) If the result × the DC doesn't equal the price, then it represents the progress you've made this week. Record the result and make a new Craft check for the next week. Each week, you make more progress until your total reaches the price of the item in silver pieces.

If you fail a check by 4 or less, you make no progress this week. If you fail by 5 or more, you ruin half the raw materials and have to pay half the original raw material cost again.

Progress by the Day: You can make checks by the day instead of by the week. In this case your progress (check result × DC) should be divided by the number of days in a week.

Thus items costing less than 3 sp consume raw materials costing 0 sp. So the character crafts raw materials 2 sp at a time by spending 0 sp. The DM must determine the DC for crafting raw materials, but a reasonable house rule simply makes the DC equal to the DC of crafting the actual item (because were it easier folks wouldn't buy raw materials).

Example
Gulliver Robinson's ship sinks and he washes up on a deserted island. After a few years, he realizes he'd like not to be trapped on a deserted island any longer. He wants to craft a rowboat. A rowboat costs 50 gp. The DM determines that a rowboat is a typical item as per the Craft skill, but as the island is deserted (except for Gulliver Robinson, obviously), no one is available to sell him raw materials. He must make his own.

Gulliver Robinson's tracking his progress by the day. He needs to craft the raw materials for his rowboat first. He spends 1 day trying to gather 2 sp of raw materials. He is saddled with improvised tools and but his Intelligence 14 gives him a Craft (shipbuilding) skill bonus of +2. He takes 10 on his Craft (shipbuilding) checks, as 10 guarantees success.

He spends day 1 taking to to make 1 Craft (shipbuilding) check. He spends 0 sp to purchase raw materials. He takes 10 on his Craft (shipbuilding) check. He multiplies his check result (10) by the check's DC (10) to get 100 and divides that 100 by 7 for progress by the day for 14 sp, so Gulliver Robinson can make 8 Craft (shipbuilding) checks per day, making 2 sp of raw materials each check, therefore making 16 sp of raw materials per day.

It'll take about 11 days to craft the raw materials for a rowboat, whose raw materials cost 166 sp.

(By the way, if Gulliver Robinson takes 10 on his Craft (shipbuilding) checks to craft the rowboat he'll be done in 5 weeks.)

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By RAW, you could run it just as if you were in town, and just assume it's all abstract. You could use gathering skills such as Profession(Lumberjack), which allow a weekly income and treat that as abstract "virtual gold" (really just gathering materials worth that value) in order to spend on crafting.

As per the description of the Craft skill, you can also use the fabricate, ironwood and minor creation spells to help here.

If you want something more realistic, then you're probably going to have to go beyond RAW and RP looking for the specific components you need to make whatever-it-is you're trying to make.

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You Might Not Be Able To

This varies depending on what you want to craft. Are you trying to use the item creation feats to make things like magic weapons? If so, you'll need access to a proper workshop and tools.

Using an item creation feat also requires access to a laboratory or magical workshop, special tools, and so on. A character generally has access to what he needs unless unusual circumstances apply.

Making weapons would require things like a forge and tools to work iron & steel, which you are not going to find lying around in the wilderness.

With enough time and people, you could probably find a metal source, start up a mine, dig it out, build a forge, refine the ore, and make the proper tools in order to actually start creating metal weapons. But you're looking at a huge undertaking and several skills required to do it successfully. (Oh yeah, and you need someone else providing food and shelter while you're doing all those other things.)

Not every thing you want to craft would have this problem. Wood is likely plentiful, and if they have a metal tool already (like an axe), they will be able to work it more easily. Stone tools can be fashioned to work it as well, though they're not as good as metal ones. For a case like that, you could use Craft checks as normal, only you have to supply the raw materials instead of paying for them.

You can gather those using another Craft or Profession skill, like "Woodcutter". Take the result of that check and use it's value as the raw material for whatever you're trying to make.

There's spells to help with this, depending on the level of your characters. Fabricate can help you create something, and Ironwood can let you make wooden things and then use them as if they were metal things.

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