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In the Player's Handbook there's a list of about 20 "Artisan's Tools" that player characters might have proficiency with, and what those tool kits contain and can do is expanded on in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Two of those kits are Carpenter's tools and Woodcarver's tools, and Xanathar's breaks them down the way you'd expect from the names: Carpenter's tools are useful for constructing wooden structures and furniture, while Woodcarver's tools are for detailed carving work like figurines (and arrows). There's a clear distinction here between construction tools and artistic tools.

But there seems to be no such distinction for stone. Mason's tools are obviously the right tool for building brick or stone structures, but seem completely inadequate for doing sculpture work, and there's no "Stonecarver's tools" or "Sculptor's tools" listed.

One of my players has decided to work on a stone carving (for reasons) and I'm suddenly finding myself stymied on what tool kit makes sense for that kind of work. "Mason's tools" seem like the wrong choice for the same reason you wouldn't use carpentry tools to whittle (chainsaw sculpture aside, where part of the art form is that you're using the wrong kind of tools), but I just don't see what else to apply. Surely it wouldn't be woodcarving tools, which are explicitly for use with wood. The only kit that sounds even remotely like the artistic version of stonework is the Jeweler's tools, but again, that's a very specific discipline that's not related to carving works of art out of marble.

What's the "right" toolkit to roll for determining how well a statue comes out?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your comments about not being able to pick up the proficiency at creation and the choice of kit are confusing to me. Can you explain the situation in a bit more detail? Do you have a player who picked a certain proficiency and is now asking to do something you don't think that proficiency covers, are they looking to learn a proficiency, or is it something else? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jun 29 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ They're just asking me what proficiency would apply to a planned task, specifically statuary. I think the intent is to determine if anyone has an appropriate tool proficiency for the task. I just went to check the tool list and went "huh, that's weird" because there isn't a stone equivalent to woodcarving. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29 at 18:57

3 Answers 3

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Masons tools

pre-modern masonry involves a lot more stone carving and sculpting than you think it does.

these are made by masons.

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will there be slight variations in tools, sure but you can say the same for any artisans tools, a siege engineers carpenters tools will be different than a cabinet makers set. X tools is just a general guideline, just like a swordsmith, armorsmith, redsmith, and blacksmith all use "smiths's tools"

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Redsmith is probably a poor example if you assume you can use smith's tools for blacksmithing but point taken. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Jun 30 at 1:25
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Just make one up.

This is an area where the risk of unbalancing something with homebrew is nonexistent. Homebrewing magic items and class features have numerous issues that can come up with respect to balance. Homebrewing a tool so a player can have the desired theming for their character carries no such risk. If you think none of the published toolkits are appropriate, just give the character "sculptor's tools" or whatever you think they need to make statues. The tools obviously exist in a world that already has statues, so you aren't actually adding anything new to the universe.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Homebrewing a new toolkit seems like a bad plan after the game already started. That's functionally telling the player "there is no way you could have possibly started the game with this proficiency". \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym I dont understand what you mean. How is homebrewing a tool and giving it to the player now different from giving an existing one to the player now? The stakes are reallllly low here, just give the player what they need for their background theme and move on. Obviously statuecraft exists if there are statues, ergo the tools exist in the world even if they arent listed in the PHB. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, the players are looking at me and saying "We want to do X, what tool proficiency would apply to that?" And if I say "Oh it's a toolkit that you've never heard of before and didn't exist until this minute" then that's a kind of crappy answer that translates as "You can't possibly be proficient at this task". \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym Then make a ruling at the moment so you can move on with the game and then talking about what to do moving forward out of game. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym I don't understand why you don't just say "Oh, you meant to be a sculptor? Yeah, just erase 'mason's tools' and write down 'stonecarving tools' instead". \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Jun 29 at 15:39
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I see 4 options:

In order of how I would choose them.

Option 1

Pick the listed kit that sounds the closest and say 'that one'. It really doesn't matter what you pick as long as you can justify it and let your players know.

Option 2

Homebrew a kit that does what you want. If I did this I would probably let a player retcon a proficiency they have already picked if this was their intention all along.

Option 3

Why does it need a tool proficiency? Sculpture is art, so get them to make a performance check. Maybe a Dexterity (Performance) check rather than Charisma.

Option 4 (not a good options, but added for completeness)

All sculptures are magically created. There is no such mundane ability so your player is out of luck.

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