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Going by only the DnD 3.5 SRD (I don't have my books handy)...

Find the item’s price. Put the price in silver pieces (1 gp = 10 sp). (SRD Crafting page)

So, Chainmail is medium armor and costs 150 gp. But, Mithral Chainmail would cost 4,150 gp.

My question is, when crafting (by RAW) is the "item's price" from the quote above, is it considered the base item cost or the actual cost?

As a DM, I have ruled/judged this to be the base item cost for calculating work accomplished and time to craft, but I use the actual cost when calculating the raw material cost. Since both are made of metal, crafting time should not change.

When only considering RAW from official WOTC material (not only the SRD), am I wrong about this?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I’ve always included the special material cost in the time calculation (imagining adamantine is more difficult to work with than steel), but I’m not sure if that’s actually written somewhere or if it’s just my assumption. Another option might be to separate it out as another “component,” the way masterwork is, though then you’d need a Craft DC the way masterwork has... \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 10, 2021 at 20:53

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The quoted rules from the Player’s Handbook description of the Craft skill are near-literally the only rules I can find anywhere that touch upon how long it takes to craft anything non-magical. The only exceptions I can find are the Dungeon Master’s Guide rules for trapmaking, the Dungeon Master’s Guide II rules for item templates, and the Drow of the Underdark rules for poisonmaking.

Rules Compendium doesn’t even bother to repeat the Player’s Handbook rules, and doesn’t touch on the Craft skill at all, which is kind of astonishing. And despite the fact that the errata for both Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide explicitly label the Dungeon Master’s Guide the “primary source” on “special material construction rules,” it doesn’t have any. It only describes what the advantages are for something that was constructed with such materials, nothing about the process of something getting that way. The Rules of the Game articles don’t even cover Craft, which again seems bizarre since it’s a fairly major thing and the rules are really confusing.

Which means literally all we’ve got here is

Find the item’s price. Put the price in silver pieces (1 gp = 10 sp). […] Make an appropriate Craft check representing one week’s work. If the check succeeds, multiply your check result by the DC […] 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.

No commentary, discussion, or caveats on “the item’s price.” Masterwork is a separate “component,” as are the DMG2 item templates, so we know those are worked out separately. Those also have separate Craft DCs, which special materials do not. And magical crafting, of course, is an entirely different system, and the rules specify that the costs and crafting of the magic part of an item are entirely independent. But nothing says that about special materials, or anything else. Rules-as-written, then, “the item’s price” is just that, whatever the item costs, however it got to cost that much, excepting masterwork, item template, or magic.

Which, yes, means that adamantine full-plate takes about half a year to craft.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course, crafting times are often comically large, anyway: as-written, it'd take a week to make a wooden spoon. \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Dec 10, 2021 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass It does say that if your (Craft check) × (Craft DC) is double or triple the cost-in-silver, you complete it in half a week or a third of a week or whatever. You can also try (Craft check) × (Craft DC) vs. cost-in-copper for progress-per-day for really cheap things. The biggest problem with the wooden spoon is as far as I can tell, we don’t have a value for that, so we don’t know what cost we have to match, whether in silver or copper. But yes, the times produced by the Craft skill are often intensely long. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 10, 2021 at 21:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Epic rules include adding a higher DC, +20 IIRC, to accelerate by the higher craft DC... \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Dec 11, 2021 at 3:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus Epic Level Handbook did introduce that rule, but the 3.5e update to Craft just folded that into the base use of the skill, so ELH doesn’t really have anything to add on the subject in a 3.5e game. (It’s +10, by the way. Honestly, the rule should be check² so long as check > DC.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 11, 2021 at 5:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, I think that the choosing your DC first is intended as a 'gamble and payoff' system... And yeah, I've seldom used the craft mechanic outside building a character or planning a game, but when I do use it I prefer to use the check ^2 when I can. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Dec 11, 2021 at 6:39

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