So, recently I've started RPing a Pathfinder Gunslinger in a city (we're running Curse of the Blood Throne with early firearms). According to the Gunsmithing feat, I can produce 1.000GP worth of ammunition daily, for 10% raw materials cost. The cost of a keg of black powder (5lbs) is 1.000GP.

Can I sell this black powder, effectively netting myself 900GP/day of work?

If I can, could a wizard sell scrolls in a similar way? If I can't, is there a mechanical reason or it's more a GM/Campaing thing? How does this compare to the use of Profession and Craft skills (from a money-making point of view)?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's not an answer, but your numbers are a little off. You would only be able to sell at half cost (assuming you don't go into business) for 500g, or 400g/day. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    May 4, 2017 at 4:02

4 Answers 4


To quote the core rulebook:

Selling Treasure

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.

"In general" means that selling for half the listed price is not always possible. But that players can expect to easily sell whatever they want for half the price without going through the trouble to figuring out if and who wants to buy their items.

Can I sell this black powder, effectively netting myself 900GP/day of work?

No, you could if you had enough daily demand for 5 lbs of black powder. Which is very unlikely, unless your country is at war and firearms are common (probably not the case for Curse of the Crimson Throne). However, that decision is up to your GM.

Pathfinder does not simulate a mechant lifestyle the way you think. It does that by using the Profession and Craft skills, and the downtime system, an optional system designed to expand on those skills from Ultimate Campaign. That said, you will notice that depending on how good of a seller you are, you might make around 1-2 gp a day without difficulty, but anything more than that means there is some kind of event that increased the demand for your products.

So, even if you have 10 kegs of gunpowder on your storage, you might have to wait for weeks before another gunslinger (or someone really interested in gunpowder) walks into your shop and buys one of your kegs.

What this means is that, even if a blacksmith can craft one longsword per day, the settlement he lives in does not have demand for that many longswords. So his wares will be sitting in his storage until a buyer shows up and they agree on a fair price for the goods.

In other words, even if you make 5 lbs of gunpowder a day, either the market has no demand for all that gunpowder, or you are simply a terrible seller.

Rules as written, yes

If you have access to a gunsmith’s kit, you can create and restore firearms, craft bullets, and mix black powder for all types of firearms.

The Gunsmithing feat does not allow you to craft a keg of black powder, it allows you to mix black powder, which by the definition given on Ultimate Combat, is a different item altogether. However, a keg of black powder is about 100 doses of gunpowder, and you can craft doses at 10% (1 gp) of their market value (10 gp). Since you are limited to 1,000 gp, this means you can craft enough black powder on a single day to completely fill a keg of black powder.

So, if you craft 100 doses (worth 1,000 gp), you have to pay 100 gp in raw materials and you could sell each dose back at the market for 500 gp, for a profit of 400 gp.

Of course, assuming the GM is okay with that.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I originally upvoted this because I thought it was referring to actual demand rules I was unaware of, but now that I’ve had a chance to read through them, I’m not buying that they mean what you say they mean. The concept of “demand” comes up a couple times, but only as “events” that change things. There is nothing here that suggests to me that Pathfinder actually has rules that show that there is a lack of demand for black powder at a rate of 5 lbs/day, or that using Profession or the downtime system is “the way” to simulate a merchant lifestyle. Your claim seems stronger than your evidence. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 5, 2017 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Merchants are different from craftsmen, who use Craft to earn a living, though. And that’s exactly what the question is proposing, using craft (with special features to make it cheaper) to sell goods. I could not find any interaction between that and the downtime rules, however. And as an optional rule (a point not made in your answer and not immediately apparent to me as I started to read), that kind of is a “campaign/GM thing” as brought up in the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 5, 2017 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's practicing a trade, i.e. holding down a job as a craftsman. Not making and selling your own goods. This answer really seems to not really address the same thing as the question is about. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 5, 2017 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan , ShadowKras, both your answers address some of the doubts me and our GM had. I'm accepting ShadowKras's answer as it bases itself on the rules, but we couldn't have reached a conclusion with our GM without both of them. \$\endgroup\$ May 6, 2017 at 0:23

Generally speaking, Pathfinder has extremely minimal economic rules. They aren’t a focus of the game and they don’t stand up to even the barest critical inspection. There are a variety of ways to use class features to make extreme wealth.

But you usually shouldn’t; wealth in Pathfinder is also heavily tied to power, which means it is heavily tied to character level. The game is designed expecting that characters of a given level will have roughly a given amount of wealth—no more and no less (or, more accurately, not substantially more or substantially less). The game expects the GM to manage this “somehow” and isn’t super-explicit about how—we have a question about that from the GM’s perspective.

If you look at my answer to the linked question, I spend some time talking about getting “buy in” from the players. Pathfinder is designed for a certain kind of game: PCs are specifically adventurers, and they’re expected to go on adventures. This is the primary way in which wealth and level are kept in sync: wealth generally comes from adventuring, which also gains you XP so you level up as you get wealthier.

So for you, as a player, you should generally respect that expectation and create a character who will go along with it. Attempting to play a character heavily interested in and involved in the economy of the world simply does not work well—Pathfinder doesn’t offer rules to handle it, and that sort of character, that sort of game, ignores the vast majority of rules Pathfinder does offer, which mostly pertain to adventuring. Save the mercantile capitalist character for another game in another system that actually supports that kind of thing, because Pathfinder doesn’t.

Which isn’t to say a Pathfinder character never engages with the economy at all; that certainly isn’t the case. It’s just not a focus, can’t be a focus, not even remotely. So your gunslinger certainly could make some money on the side this way. Your GM would have to figure out how to handle that, how to handle you having more wealth than expected for your level, and so on. You should discuss that with your GM before doing it; it may be a headache he doesn’t want or need. At the same time, though, he might be happy to do so—the gunslinger class, unfortunately, is hideously weak and needs all the help it can get.


Yeah, you can do this. You can trivially sell anything less that the purchase price of a settlement, which has a typical minimum of 500 gp (exactly enough to buy your powder). If the thorp (any settlement with less than 20 people is a thorp, for example your camp site. The GM can change this number trivially, though) is Impoverished, you will not be able to sell your powder without having to "settle for a lower price, travel to a larger city, or (with the GM's permission) search for a specific buyer in the city with deeper pockets."

In terms of economic power, it's not bad, but it's not really good either. Usually, we have a rogue or equivalent with Black Market Connections load up on the economic subsystem stuff and just share the money, items, and info with the rest of the group the same way we share the magic spells, info, and crafting feats with them. Since economic payout scales by orders of magnitude as you gain new abilities, rather than increasing linearly, a small investment in an economic ability is unlikely to help out your party's overall economic plan.

That's not to say you shouldn't do this! Financial independence can be helpful and your Gunsmithing feat costs you nothing. You're playing a gunslinger anyways, you can grab your 400 or whatever it is after modifiers gp/day, and at early levels that may well be a big deal! In fact, at level 1, it is the biggest deal (in terms of time-based wealth. Technically 'rich parents' and such allow for a bigger one-time money boost, but those are one time and even so will be made up for within 3 days). It's just that later on that income sort of peters out as compared to later economic sources.

As for the comparison to skills: Profession and Craft skills are very different from each other, but both are usually abysmal sources of wealth (though craft can be pretty great with careful optimization).

Profession skills don't make anyone any money. No one should ever use these for money. These are a complete waste of time, unless you have some exploit for infinite skill mods which, as far as I'm aware, doesn't exist. Even then, Craft is better. +10 to a Profession skill is doable at level 1, and nets you (check total)/2 gp per week, for about 1.5 gp/day.

Craft skills let you make stuff. Then you can sell the stuff. At base level, you make stuff for 1/3 it's price and sell for 1/2 so you get a 1/6 price profit margin. The better you are, the faster you can do this. You can make at most the better of (check total)^2/10 gp and (check total)/2 gp per week. At level one you aren't going to be doing much better than +10 to craft, and you'd be making about 6 gp/day. This is obviously not ideal as the primary source of income for your party.

As regards the prohibition of economic engagement by GM fiat, that's a playstyle thing. One way to play involves sticking to the WBL, in which case abilities like these don't actually do anything, or just slightly modify wealth by level, or something (you can see my question here about that. Unfortunately, there're no real answers posted at present :( ).

Typically, my group plays games where these abilities function as-written, which requires that the GM design the campaign with that in mind, but doesn't render play impossible or incoherent or anything. That said, using these abilities will make stock campaigns like Curse of the Crimson Throne very different.


Regarding the part of your question about wizard scrolls, D&D/Pathfinder have negated the ability for magical crafting to be used to make money by making it cost exactly as much to make the item as you can then go on to sell it for. You make items at half price, but also are only able to sell them at half price, in normal circumstances. Therefore, crafting scrolls and other magical items is revenue-neutral, unless you do it to make something for yourself; and either way you lose a considerable amount of time. You have the chance to actually make money out of the Gunsmithing feat because unlike every other crafting feat it allows you produce valuable items at 10% cost, not 50%.

Other answers address whether or not is reasonable for you to be able to sell the gunpowder that you make for profit. Just remember that when it comes to crafting it, the time requirements are probably meant to be similar to those of magic items; that is that a "day of work" corresponds to eight hours of uninterrupted labour, and the following rules apply:

The caster can work for up to 8 hours each day. He cannot rush the process by working longer each day, but the days need not be consecutive, and the caster can use the rest of his time as he sees fit. If the caster is out adventuring, he can devote 4 hours each day to item creation, although he nets only 2 hours’ worth of work. This time is not spent in one continuous period, but rather during lunch, morning preparation, and during watches at night.

Which is to say that if you're resting somewhere safe and peaceful, you can craft at full speed. If you're on the move, you can only effectively make 2 hours of crafting progress per day, and it would take you four days total to craft your barrel of gunpowder, not one. This isn't explicit by RAW, but is certainly how I think it should be ruled.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There are options for making crafting cheaper, though, which means it is possible to turn a profit from scrolls. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 5, 2017 at 20:17

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