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One of my players in an upcoming game came up to me and noted that crafting items takes a ridiculously long time and/or is not much cheaper than just buying the item. This got me to look into the crafting system a bit deeper.

This is question #1, dealing with the money you save vs. buying on the market. Here is #2, about crafting times.

If you successfully craft an item, you get the same benefits as if you hold a job of your level. Instead of getting coinage, you lower the amount you have to pay for the item you create. But, to start crafting, you need to spend 4 days in which you gain no cost reduction, you always have to invest half of the list price. Also, you have to obtain a formula. In contrast, Earning Income the basic way, you get paid for every day you work.

Bottom line, by crafting you give up 4 days' pay plus the cost of the formula.

I am aware of the following factors:

  • You might not be able to find work of your level, while crafting always uses your level to determine profit.
  • The item you want might not be up for sale. But, the formula might not be either.
  • You can reuse the formula. The value of this will vary based on the item.

Is there any rule that I missed or misinterpreted? Or is Crafting really just a reflavoring of Earn Income, providing meager or circumstantial benefits?

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Crafting is less lucrative than other ways to gain money. It produces no income, and only produces a discount on the crafted item. Every other downtime activity produces income, so crafting is the worst way to earn money (lowering an expense instead of generating a profit).

However, crafting's main attraction is not to gain money. It is to create the items you want in the fashion you want regardless of the regional restrictions. As you identify in the question, this is entirely a circumstantial benefit. Being in a small hamlet without a weapon or armor-making blacksmith could leave the party in a lurch, or a party barely eking by on gold may need to craft their own equipment to save money instead of working to buy it all outright.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please refer to factors I am aware of #2. Add to that that I doubt that a village like that will be able to provide you with the materials necessary for a lv 5+ item. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 12 '19 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ RAW, crafting items does not require sourcing resources. It is absorbed into the amount of time it takes to craft the item, which is a contributing factor to why high level items take a long time. That said, does my answer address your question appropriately? \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Dec 12 '19 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ "You must supply raw materials worth at least half the item’s Price. You always expend at least that amount of raw materials when you Craft successfully. If you’re in a settlement, you can usually spend currency to get the amount of raw materials you need, except in the case of rarer precious materials." \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 12 '19 at 14:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, TBH, if the answer is that I got all pertinent rules, then I can't really expect more from an answer than simply stating "Yup". An answer with some added insight or information would be better, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 12 '19 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega My comment meant that you don't have to source resources, you have to provide them yourself. Apologies I wasn't clear. Your question is fairly clear-cut. Not much insight to give in regards to the profitability of crafting. My answer to your second question may give that insight as to the non-profit related benefit of crafting. \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Dec 12 '19 at 14:34
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Crafting can make just as much money as other professions

Used to earn an income, Crafting follows the same rules that other methods do. This should be used if the intent of the PC is to generate money, not make an item for themselves or an ally. Crafting Goods for the Market (in the Earn Income notes) has more details, but indicates that you should be able to find work of at least 2 under the settlement's level.


Crafting specific items for their use has opportunity cost associated.

You must pay to buy (or craft if you have the Inventor Feat, using the same rules) the Formula, and you must buy up to the full price of the item in components and give up the opportunity cost (4 days of Downtime). The benefit is you get the exact item you want.

Generally speaking, spending more than 4 days to decrease the cost of your crafted item is mechanically the same amount of money as Earning income. However, it will vary based on what work is available; you might have a better opportunity to work on a job higher level than you or more Rare than the item you are crafting, or there may be no normal work at your level available. In the first case, you may want to end your project earlier than planned (you can finish it on any successful day of work) or commit to finishing the project for reliable savings. The latter is far more likely because the type of settlement severely restricts the levels of work available.

Notably, you can turn the table on these ratios. The Impeccable Crafting Feat can be taken starting at level 7 (with a prerequisite) to turn your Successes into Critical Successes (decreasing the cost by a further Task Level at your Proficiency rank). This is a significant increase if you are invested into the Crafting skill. No such Feat exists for simply Earning Income.


For reference, I summarized the low-high end of the Earned Income table and juxtaposed it with the formulae costs and an estimated "money lost" assuming average income for a level. The letters in the Task Level indicate when you are more likely to start seeing Trained, Expert, Master, and Legendary opportunities (based on gaining access to that level of Skill at those levels). The * for formula indicate that you can have the ability to Craft them for the same price reductions here. Income is daily, costs are once per project (CraftingLoss) and once ever (Formulae).

\begin{array} {|r|r|}\hline Task Level & TrainedInc. & Legendary & Crafting Loss & Formulae \\ \hline 0 & 5c & 5c & 20c & 5s* \\ \hline 1 & 2s & 2s & 8s & 1g \\ \hline 2 & 3s & 3s & 12s & 2g \\ \hline 3 (E) & 5s & 5s & 20s & 3g \\ \hline 4 & 7s & 8s & ~30s & 5g \\ \hline 5 & 9s & 10s & ~38s & 8g \\ \hline 6 & 15s & 20s & ~70s & 13g \\ \hline 7 (M) & 20s & 25s & ~90s & 18g* \\ \hline 8 & 25s & 30s & ~110s & 25g* \\ \hline 9 & 30s & 40s & ~140s & 35g* \\ \hline 10 & 40s & 60s & ~200s & 50g* \\ \hline 11 & 50s & 80s & ~260s & 70g* \\ \hline 12 & 6g & 10g & ~32g & 100g* \\ \hline 13 & 7g & 15g & ~44g & 150g* \\ \hline 14 & 8g & 20g & ~56g & 225g* \\ \hline 15 (L) & 10g & 28g & ~76g & 325g* \\ \hline 16 & 13g & 40g & ~106g & 500g* \\ \hline 17 & 15g & 55g & ~140g & 750g* \\ \hline 18 & 20g & 90g & ~220g & 1200g* \\ \hline 19 & 30g & 130g & ~320g & 2000g* \\ \hline 20 & 40g & 200g & ~480g & 3500g* \\ \hline \end{array}

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Notes: 1. The increase in coin/day is really good at levels 1-4, but slows to about *1.3 after, to rise to *1.4 at lv18, and then to *1.5 at lv20. So, apart from the low levels, the time you need to invest for the same reduction is 75-70% until the very end. It is nice, but the coin/day values are still quite low. 2. Legendary proficiency is available from lv15, not 13. 3. The feat Experienced Professional can allow you to take higher level jobs (if available) and works only with Lore skills. The benefits are more circumstantial, but might be on par with Impeccable Crafting. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 13 '19 at 10:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused by note 1. Are you talking about compared to the total crafting time vs earning money the entire time? Experienced Professional (and it's sister one for Perform) are much more circumstantial and could give you better income; however, that instance is covered in the previous paragraph- it is possible to make more money than you save if jobs are available at your level but if you are in a smaller town or your GM doesn't provide at-level or higher jobs, then you're better off crafting to save money at the by-level rate. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Dec 13 '19 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, I am talking about the increase in "income" and thus speed Impeccable Crafting / rolling a crit provides. It wasn't clear, sorry. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 13 '19 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah I see. That's pretty accurate, then. I would estimate it closer to 60-65% of the time, without actually doing more math about it. Your assessment that it isn't strictly better than just earning money still stands. I do think it was targeted at being a toss up between earning money or saving money and that they hit pretty close to that value parity. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Dec 13 '19 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I still consider even a 25% savings (aka 25% increase in effective income) to be a "significant increase" per the games apparent economy \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Dec 13 '19 at 16:47
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Crafting provides you two different activities which provide revenue during downtime:

  • Crafting goods for the market
  • Crafting

Your conclusions are largely correct for the Craft activity. The Crafting skill can provide a minor discount compared to the cost of an item. The difference is (in my experience) largely about the availability of the item. Some items may not be available for purchase everywhere, or are in limited quantity, but can be crafted.

How important this is will depend on the specifics of your campaign. I regularly run Pathfinder Society games, where access to items is sometimes at a premium. Crafting in that situation can be quite valuable.

If you don't want items, just the silver/gold pieces, you can use the Crafting Goods for the Market activity. This lets you use Craft instead of Lore or Performance for Earn Income checks. In that sense, it is equally as good as Lore.

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Crafting is more lucrative, if you're in a backwater, and have a long downtime.

Crafting checks are always performed at your level, whereas other earn income checks are performed at a level depending on the availability of work. Therefore, in situations where work is scarce, crafting can be a better way of making money, if your downtime is long enough to overcome the loss from the initial unproductive four days of crafting.

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