The Wild West of D&D Content Publication

I used to visit the official D&D website every day or two, back when 3E was the hotness. In those days the site was nothing but content: new monsters, new spells, new items, new class features, all available for perusal or download. I have several folders of the art galleries from published books, and I think I have almost everything from the Map-a-Week archive. Even the ads for an upcoming book had previews of that book with playable examples of the things you’d find it it. Many of those pages still exist if you know where to look for them, and they’re an amazing resource for session material and inspiration.

In the move to 4E, the site changed. I think there were two big reasons for it. The first, and the only one I think people saw when it happened, was money. D&D Insider started, a monthly subscription service that gave players access to the aforementioned art galleries and new content. I think it was also the only place to find errata for a while, though that might have just been my inability to find it after the site redesign. I can’t fault the business aspect of it; it’s more profitable to sell some material than give away all of it. But with half of the content effectively locked behind a paywall, it became much less fruitful for a poor gamer to visit.

The other reason was quality control. The content on the website wasn’t tested the same way content in books was. There simply wasn’t time. We had to treat website material like we did material from the D&D magazines: either accept it carefully and allow it in your game on a trial basis in case it wasn’t as balanced as it purported to be, or save yourself the time and ban it out of hand. 4E was a very tight ship regarding balance. It couldn’t have anything that didn’t get a certain amount of testing and consideration because it couldn’t afford to let anything break the mold. The 3E style of website content couldn’t work with it.

There was another things that came from both of these points: the death of the SRD. The 3.5E System Reference Document was a downloadable list of files that gave you everything you needed to play the game without buying a single book. They were stripped of lore (meaning there were no gods, so good luck, clerics) and art and anything proprietary (beholders, mind flayers, the like) and in a few cases readable formatting, but they were there.

The 4E SRD exists, which I actually didn’t know until this week. In fact, this is probably news to every person I’ve spoken to about 4E over the last several years, especially the ones who’ve written their own content. It seemed its release was fairly quiet, and it’s not very useful besides. It’s just a list of the things in the books that can be used in licensed products. For example, it doesn’t say “the fighter does X at level 3″, it says “crushing blow” and trusts you to look it up. It’s not a document we can use to reference things in the system, so it’s not a System Reference Document at all. It’s just a list of things you can say about 4E without getting in legal trouble.

…Technically, if I’m reading this correctly, I can’t even legally tell you what I can legally tell you about the ostensible SRD. It’s probably safest to just link it.

I’ve gone off-topic. The point is that anything on the website takes a while to get to me, especially after things got even worse in the move to 5E. The site now has no content, just ads. As I write this the top five articles are for an adventure, a standalone dice game, shirts, an adventure, and a series of video games. If you’re interested in D&D the tabletop roleplaying game, like I am, and you create your own campaign settings, like I do, you can use none of this in your game. As I’ve said before, D&D as intended kind of isn’t for me any more.

But in bungling through archives I did find something that gives me a glimmer of hope. Wizards now has a real, honest-to-goodness SRD for 5E and provides an official, endorsed way for people to publish their own content. You can even charge money for it, and receive some of that money. It’s called the Dungeon Masters Guild and it’s actually pretty neat.

Yes, you can only use it to publish 5E material, even though they’re actively selling their own books from other systems on the same site. Yes, you can only publish material set in Forgotten Realms, because that’s what they want players to like (a sensation with which I, as a fan of professional wrestling, am very familiar, and there’s a whole other blog post about the similarities there). Yes, you’re probably still going to have to bribe your DM to allow any untested, unsupported content you find. But it’s a step in the right direction, and it’s the kind of thing that makes me more excited about 5E than I have been in a while, even if I don’t plan on putting anything up for download myself.

Heck, it might even give Wizards some ideas. The top title as I write this is the “Gunslinger Martial Archetype for Fighters”. Based on this I’d say there’s a market for guns in D&D, like there always has been. The only mention guns have gotten in any official Wizards material in the last fifteen years is a mention in the DMG that says “we suppose you could have alien guns that shoot lasers, perhaps”, so there’s an opportunity here. Though there’s probably equal odds between Wizards saying “huh, that’s clearly popular and we should do something with it” and saying “huh, that’s really popular, but we can’t top it so let’s do another Drizzt thing instead”.

Posted in Commentary, D&D 3.5, D&D 3rd Edition, D&D 4th Edition, D&D 5th Edition, Gaming Systems | Leave a comment

In Which We Attempt Mass Combat with Charisma

I think mass combat is one of those things everybody tries eventually. Large armies clashing, siege engines firing, monsters rampaging through ranks of soldiers, it all feels right in the context of medieval fantasy. But mass combat is also a huge pain. A hundred soldiers making a hundred attack rolls and forty damage rolls is a massive time sink, not to mention figuring out movement, damage, areas of effect, and the like. Plenty of attempts have come and gone trying to make armies viable, and none has been good enough to convince players it’s the best way to do it. Or, arguably, a good way to do it at all.

I’ve mostly avoided mass combat in my campaigns, treating pitched battles as a backdrop to a small-scale encounter where the party individually matters. But my DMs over the years have offered a few solutions. One designed his own system, full of math. Units had hit points that represented their soldiers, and they did proportionally less damage as soldiers died. Attack rolls compared to defense on a sliding scale, because when two armies meet it’s incredibly unlikely that nobody dies, and movement was strongly limited by facing and turning speeds. Unsurprisingly, we did this all via gaming software that ran the numbers for us; if you’ve ever had a player who can’t seem to add thirteen to eighteen quickly, you can imagine asking the same player to roll damage, cut it by a third because they missed AC but hit AC minus 4, and multiply that by 43% because the unit is heavily injured. It was pretty heavy.

I had another DM who wanted to run mass combats with an honest-to-goodness game of Warhammer. That never made it off the ground, not least because the players had no interest in learning a whole other system.

Regardless of these tales of caution, I’ve wanted to run a mass combat since I first learned Dynasty Warriors was a thing. The Hyrule campaign made it to a point where such a battle was appropriate, and Hyrule Warriors had brought the setting and style together, so I bit the bullet and set to work on my own mass combat system. From the beginning I had a few principles in mind:

  • It had to be simple. This was one battle, one session, in a two-year campaign. The less cognitive load it required, the better.
  • It had to be fast. An hour-long turn was unacceptable.
  • It had to let players matter. One character had to be as strong as an entire unit of enemies, not just because that’s awesome but because that’s how Hyrule Warriors works.
  • It had to give us room to describe things in the hilarious manner we were going to use anyway. The rules themselves couldn’t be more important than our narration.

I ended up with this:

Each group of units was represented by one mini with one set of stats. Hit points and damage were kept low; the highest damage was 3 and the highest hit point total was 14. Defenses ranged from 26 to 32, attack bonuses from +17 to +21. Everything was tightly constrained to keep it out of a situation where one unit rolls over another, mostly because the players couldn’t know if they were losing a rock-paper-scissors battle until they engaged an enemy, and losing two units at the beginning of an engagement is a pretty negative play experience.

Speaking of which, each player got to control themselves (a single unit with especially high hit points) and various friendly units. The intention was that players would always have something to do; they acted on their turn, and the spearguard’s turn, and the skirmisher’s turn, etc. We intentionally staggered friendly and enemy initiatives so nobody would take several turns in a row. Players could not use their normal powers but I tried to build some of their moves into their personal units.

Each unit got one action per turn, because I thought double-moving would make the map feel trivially small and I especially did not want to say “don’t forget, you still have another action” eleven times every round like I do in normal combat. There were no attacks of opportunity or off-turn actions of any kind. The only way to do two things at once was to charge, which still got the attack bonus because it made sense to me and we’d already internalized that rule.

That’s it for the core system. There were other interesting bits, like navigating terrain, searching for allies, and performing minor quests, but the fundamentals of the session fit on an index card. It was rules-light and abstract so we could fill in the gaps with narration. I thought I had hit all of the points I wanted, and once I explained the rules to the players I’d finally be able to run a set piece I’d been wanted to do for years.

It was kinda meh.

My players really, really didn’t like only taking one action per turn, and several rounds after they expressed this opinion they found a justification: charging was the only action worth doing. It allowed you to move and attack, it gave you a +1 to the attack, it increased the damage for certain units, and it never provoked attacks of opportunity so it made sense even in pitched melee. Since units had no action options besides moving and attacking (intentionally, to keep things simple), maximizing attack efficiency became the point, and charging was objectively the most efficient thing. If I let them take two actions, and thus double-move, they might have seen any advantage to leaving enemies and exploring the map instead of headbutting them for several rounds in a row. As it was, we only got to half of the map and a third of the side quests I had planned, so limiting their actions took a lot of the fun out of my end.

I also put too many units on the board. I expected the player to fan out and try doing several things at once because they had the manpower to do it, but they lumped in tight groups and largely steamrolled the enemies they outnumbered two to one. So I added reinforcements to shore up parts of the map and press the attack, and that’s when the party split up, which suddenly put them at the two-to-one disadvantage. I should have given the players fewer units but more opportunities to rescue or gain allies, letting them shed units to defend as they progressed and keeping the same active headcount, and had my units hang back on defense instead of swarming to stage an attack in the smallest place physically possible.

One player said the game needed more randomness, because with static damage certain actions become mathematically weaker than others. I’m not fully sold on it. Rolling for damage means more time per turn in an already long game, but I can understand the argument.

But besides those points the session wasn’t actually all that bad. Turns were fast; we just had a lot of them. The scary enemies were scary, the players got to do what they do, and the mundane units had both moments of great heroism and moment of hilarious failure. The terrain in the half of the map we did use was relevant. We didn’t have to go over the rules several times over the course of the night. The system hit every point I wanted and the session did what it needed to do in the context of the story. It just didn’t do either as well as I would have liked.

My players have since assured me that they were not as miserable as I thought they were. I’m not sure how much of that is my tendency to read the table as less happy than it actually is, or their tendency to remember good things better than bad, or something else. I’ll have to look at it a while longer and decide if this is something worth salvaging.

Posted in Campaigns, D&D 4th Edition, DMing, House Rules | Leave a comment

Strategic Healing and the Vigilante Campaign

In the hubbub around themes, I nearly forgot that I promised to update my opinion on the vigilante once our all-vigilante campaign ended. It turns out I was only 80% correct on the class, in that every problem was about 25% worse than I thought it would be.* The unified background for all members of the class was a huge issue in making characters feel distinct. The lack of class options meant everybody shared several abilities, even within their role subsets. The party didn’t all gather in the same room until the fourth session and didn’t consider themselves a group until the end of the campaign, if they did at all (which took a surprising amount of arm-twisting, because the “my character wouldn’t trust these people” built into the class trumped our “I signed up for a campaign where I knew full well this exact thing would happen”). My players were mostly acceptable, but the vigilante class was a mess exacerbated by the single-class concept. So, no, I’m not a fan.

It didn’t help that our party healer couldn’t make the first session, then couldn’t make the second, and eventually dropped out altogether. By that point nobody was willing to rewrite their character, so an NPC cleric got upgraded to party minion status, and then often wasn’t there because vigilantes are lone wolves and such. We ended up running the whole campaign on a few potions and heavy wand abuse.

Imagine my surprise upon learning that this is the exact way Pathfinder should work. As I understand it, the general consensus among the Pathfinder faithful is that healing, as a party role, is pretty much a joke. Healing capacity lags behind monster damage to the point where it’s more worthwhile to build a cleric who deals rogue damage and smack the dragon than it is to spend that action fixing the dying fighter. Instead the point of combat is to win fast so you can use several minutes and a few wands of cure light wounds to get back into fighting shape. My Pathfinder campaigns have only gone up to L11 and I haven’t seen anything like this, but the opinion is ubiquitous enough I imagine it must have some at least anecdotal merit.

I have strong opinions on this, and they may be better discussed in another post. But as it pertains to the vigilante campaign, we did find ourselves in a situation where we had to at least pretend healing was a joke and run the campaign accordingly. Luckily, four people in the party had the AC of a tank so there wasn’t all too much damage flying around, but I did beat on them hard enough for some post-combat hand wringing. About halfway through the campaign we figured this was unsustainable and we had to get creative.

One of my players has traditionally divided healing into two categories: tactical and strategic. Tactical healing occurs during fights or any other time your actions are measured in…well, actions. Strategic healing occurs between fights, or whenever your actions are measured in time. This designation can apply to any resource, and some straddle the line; “If I cast expeditious retreat now, I can get behind the altar in two rounds” is a tactical choice, and “My expeditious retreat will run out in six minutes, so we should hurry to the next battle so I can use it there too” is strategic. (My mnemonic device is to think about Final Fantasy Tactics, which was much more about round-by-round resource allocation than fight-by-fight, even if you could spend most of your time looking at menus deciding which chocobo is your monk’s best friend.)

In Pathfinder, the assumption is that the higher your level, the less tactical healing is a thing at all. The weight of party repair falls on strategic healing, where wands of cure light wounds maintain their worth even into epic play. This is the world in which we found ourselves for the vigilante campaign: assume healing during fights can only happen in the most dire situations and find a way to survive the day. As long as a member of the party could cast cure light wounds from a wand, we were golden.

Except nobody in the party could. And we only had one person with Use Magic Device, and he needed to roll fairly high to use it. If he rolled a 1, his wand was done for the day. Our post-fight healing was him rolling a dozen or more times for each ally, fishing for good rolls and hoping against hope for no failures.

We eventually found a solution in, of all places, 5th Edition. In 5E you gain Hit Dice equal to your Hit Dice (yes, the terminology is exactly that ridiculous). During a short rest (five minutes, or the space between fights) you can spend a Hit Dice to heal that many hit points. For example, an L6 fighter has 6d10 Hit Dice. She can spend one of them and heal 1d10 hit points, plus her Constitution modifier and anything that applies on a per-Hit-Dice basis. She regains half her Hit Dice during a long rest (eight hours, or the space between days). If she multiclasses, her Hit Dice get goofy but otherwise function exactly the same; she can spend her d10 from fighter or her d8 from rogue.

This works in Pathfinder without any change. We just lifted part of the 5E rulebook and dropped it into Pathfinder. Immediately it changed from a tense “let’s hope Rogue #1 is lucky today, or the campaign is over” to a much more reasonable “let’s roll for our wands, and if that fails use a resource we know will function”. But it also put strict caps on party healing, rather than the “heal to full between fights” we at some point considered and which wands provide, and didn’t make party survival based on the money they could scrounge from all the wolves and zombies they were fighting. The players took to it immediately, the campaign went on, and nobody died (not even, one could argue, the campaign villains. But that’s a story for another day.)

I don’t know if I want to keep this as a rule. I definitely understand it in campaigns within limited healing, as the Eight Arms and the Contract of Barl may be. And I like it a lot more than the “we’re injured, spend 400 gp, we’re not injured any more” mindset in Pathfinder now. But it’s definitely a case-by-case solution for a case-by-case problem.

* — See, since I was 80% correct, that means I was 20% incorrect, and 20% is 25% of 80%. Fractions!

Posted in Campaigns, D&D 5th Edition, DMing, Game Design, House Rules, Pathfinder | Leave a comment

Abilities without Limitations (or, the Rule that Proves the Exception)

There’s a phrase I love explaining to people, because I’ve only met about two or three people who understand it: “the exception that proves the rule”. Most folks think it means “the thing that does not fit a rule proves that a rule is in effect.” For example, if you assume all fighters have low Intelligence, a fighter with high Intelligence is the exception that proves the rule. This fighter does not fit the rule, so it means that all other fighters do fit the rule. If this sound ridiculous, that’s because it is. It’s the sort of understanding you get if you don’t think about the things you say or hear.

What it actually means is “an exception to an unstated rule is proof that a rule is in effect beyond the exception.” That is, a sign with “parking allowed here on Sunday” implies “parking not allowed here on days other than Sunday.” The exception is “parking on Sunday”, and the rule is “no parking any time”. The sign does not need to say “parking is normally not allowed here” because the exception proves that such a rule already exists.

There’s a converse to this logic that I ran into repeatedly when designing themes: if a rule says a character can perform some action when they meet certain conditions, that implies they cannot perform that same action if they do not meet the conditions. For example, a handicapped parking sign means “you can only park here if you meet certain criteria”. In D&D as in life this is normally obvious and in fact the point of many rules: Improved Initiative lets a player add +4 to their initiative check, which they cannot do without the feat or an ability that acts similarly. A cleric can cast spells using Wisdom, and a wizard cannot unless they have an ability that says otherwise. And no rule is in place that says “a 9th-level fighter can hold a shield in each hand”, so we assume all characters can hold a shield in each hand as long as that’s not barred elsewhere (though they don’t get the AC from both, because of a rule).

But a writer can get into trouble by specifying something he or she shouldn’t. Consider the feat Research, from the 3.5E Eberron Campaign Setting. It allows a character to use a Knowledge check to search a repository of information, like a library. This would be fine if it let characters do it faster, or in a way they couldn’t. But it didn’t do that. It just said “you can use your Knowledge skills to extract information from books, scrolls, and other repositories of facts and figures.” It gave the characters rules for using libraries and similar repositories and left it at that. And in doing so it stripped the same ability from characters without the feat.

In a campaign where Research exists, characters cannot use libraries without it. If they could, the feat would not exist. The action is “research in a library” and the condition is “have this feat”. Publication of the feat retroactively stripped library access from any and all characters unless they met a condition that did not previously exist. It’s pretty goofy, and so far I’ve only met two kinds of DMs: those who don’t know about Research, and those who ignore it.

And there’s where I hit a wall with themes. I couldn’t say “a criminal with the shady friends ability can fence stolen goods” because that implies no other character can fence stolen goods. I couldn’t say “a celestial with the guilty conscience ability can sense when an action would cause them to violate their alignment” because that disallowed players and DMs from coming up with their own methods of doing the same. Any time I had a fun or flavorful application of a skill, I had to consider whether it was something the rules could already support or, more restrictively, whether it was something I would allow in my campaigns. If I would let a player use Appraise in a certain way without themes, I couldn’t justify allowing only characters with a theme to use Appraise the same way.

That’s why there aren’t a lot of theme abilities that deal with how PCs interact with NPCs. A lot of that is already allowed, or the DM’s responsibility, or too fun to restrict. I want themes to expand character options, not restrict gameplay options through implication.

It is possible to do this well. Consider the feat Master Manipulator, in the 3.5E Player’s Handbook II. It gives a character two abilities. The less interesting one is the ability to make a Diplomacy check to reduce the Listen, Sense Motive, and Spot checks of some nearby creatures. Normally this would be something a character can already do, but the penalty is -4, greater than the normal -2 penalty D&D recommends. It also defines the limitations of this ability so it serves as a reference point for players or DMs who want to do something similar. It’s not a major deal, but it’s something.

The one we care about is the second ability, and not just because of its amazing art. It boils down to this: if somebody lies to you, and you detect the lie with Sense Motive, and you succeed at a subsequent Diplomacy check versus the target’s Bluff, your circular conversational stylings trick the person into explaining what they lied about and why. It brings multiple skills together in a way that counts as a new application for both, and with an appropriately clever player and DM it can make for amazing at-table moments. The existence of the feat doesn’t ban a character from taking any otherwise obvious action. It’s just good.

It is, however, hard. November was about getting as many themes done as possible, not making them all fully-fleshed exemplars of the mechanic. I do want to go back and come up with ways to combine skills to create new play opportunities, balance them, and phrase them in a way in keeping with Paizo’s language and formatting. That just wasn’t in the cards this month.

I’ll continue working on themes but I won’t be nearly as head-down on them as I was (and the players in my campaign, who may have noticed that November was mostly sidequests and cancelled sessions, will thank me). I want to get a few more done, like the royal, the vigilante (remember, the stimulus for this whole exercise?), the planar traveler, and a few more mundane ones. Once I have a decent set of them I can get started on the second drafts, which is where I’ll spend more time on each ability to make sure it’s something worth taking.

Posted in D&D 3rd Edition, Game Design, Pathfinder, Themes | Leave a comment

Themes: Craftsman

I thought real hard about the posting order for these last two themes. Originally I was going to end the month with a bang, albeit one of resignation, and let the dragonkin close out the example themes. But I decided against it, and not just to keep dragons out of their traditional spotlight-stealing role. The whole point of themes is to play up the parts of a character that most adventurers ignore or discard when they get their first class level. It’s only proper that the last theme be just as mundane on the surface but meaningful under analysis as the first. We start with the farmer, and we end with the craftsman.

I went back and forth for a long time on the name of this theme too. “Craftsman” is a placeholder. I want “craft” in the name because this is about people who use the Craft skill, but I rejected “craftsperson” for being too clunky and “crafter” for being too simple (and “craftsfighter” is a very specific in-joke). I also rejected anything with “skill” because that’s a game term, anything with “art” because Artistry is different from Craft in Pathfinder, anything with “expert” because it’s both a class and the name of a theme tier (“expert expertise” is the worst name ever), and any number of other names whose contention wasn’t important enough to even mention. If there’s a word I’ve missed, let me know.

You know the value of working with your hands. You trained in crafting the sort of items the average adventurer takes for granted, whether they’re made of wood, metal, animal parts, or alchemical reagents. While your allies think of your creations as “the sort of things you buy”, you appreciate the effort and care that goes into every item, and it shows in the rest of your life.

Theme Skills: Appraise, Craft (any), Disable Device, Knowledge (engineering)
Theme Feats: Catch Off-Guard, Improved Sunder, Improvised Weapon Mastery, Throw Anything

Theme Quests

Novice Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 3rd tier.

  • The market for a popular manufactured good is being flooded with fairly well-made items at great prices, all from a single magician. This is a problem for every other person who makes the same good, and it’s threatening to put a huge hole in the local economy. If the magician doesn’t stop, or if the locals can’t find a way to compete, a lot of businesses are going to close.
  • A patron requests a custom item from the craftsman. She’s willing to pay more than normal, though she has very specific requirements about what the item is, including some that set off some red flags. She intends to use the item in a ritual to bind a demon, kill a group of people, or otherwise perform some significant evil. If she succeeds, she is likely to succeed but captured or killed, and the item will put the craftsman in an uncomfortable spotlight.

Expert Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 6th tier.

  • Craftsmen of all types are disappearing from a major city and the surrounding area. Their homes and workplaces show signs of kidnapping, and the city watch suspects somebody is killing off the competition somewhere they can’t find. They don’t know the craftsmen are still alive, enslaved to build a giant weapon that will level the city.
  • A new guild is gathering skilled craftsmen, guaranteeing them a regular salary in exchange for a portion of their income. Their numbers are already fairly good, as people treat it as a sort of insurance for when times are lean. But as the guild’s cut grows higher and higher and mysterious accidents befall non-guild craftsmen, people suddenly learn the lengths to which the guild will go to prevent anybody from leaving.

Advanced Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 9th tier.

  • A high-ranking noble or member of a royal family is looking to commission a work from a craftsman. He wants has exacting standards, and though he does not explain exactly what he wants he is insistent that he’ll know it when he sees it. But anybody who offers him something he doesn’t like doesn’t make it home, so in order to get the payment and prestige from having such an influential patron, the craftsman must be certain to get it right the first time.
  • Objects are spontaneously animating, seemingly without rhyme or reason. They lack intelligence, so while some can perform helpful tasks others are a danger to those around them. They’re actually gaining motion through a fledging planar portal, whose magic is touching items with a particular composition, maker, or other trait. But only a skilled craftsman can identify the trait the objects share and which objects will animate next.

Legendary Quest: The craftsman has an opportunity to work with a once-in-a-lifetime material, like the still-smoldering remains of a fallen star or the petrified body of an elder treant. It’s the sort of material from which artifacts are made. But the material seems to have a mind of its own and actively resists being molded into something else unless the craftsman somehow proves their worth. At the same time, malign forces are making their way to the material to use it for their own purposes.

Theme Abilities

Craftsense (Su):You can sense when objects in your wheelhouse are nearby. You can cast detect magic at will, except that instead of detecting magical auras you can detect objects for which you have the appropriate Craft skill. You cannot detect schools of magic, but you can determine the quality of an item by making an Appraise check. Objects detected with this ability have no aura, so you cannot detect schools of magic, lingering auras, or whether the objects are magical. You must be at least 7th tier before selecting this ability.
Improved Jury-rig (Ex):You can apply what you know to things you don’t. You no longer need an appropriate Craft skill to jury-rig an item. Instead you can use knowledge from a Craft skill you have. For example, a carpenter could make a wooden splint to hold a sword together, and a blacksmith could create a metal brace to support a wagon. You must be at least 4th tier and possess the jury-rig ability before selecting this ability.
Improved Weak Point (Ex):Your knack for finding flaws in objects extends beyond those you’ve made. You no longer need an appropriate Craft skill to deal bonus damage when attacking objects. You must be at least 4th tier and possess the weak point ability before selecting this ability.
Jury-rig (Ex):You can make repairs on the fly. You can take ten minutes to temporarily repair an object with the broken condition. The object must be one for which you have the appropriate Craft skill. The object loses the broken condition, but if it becomes broken again it is instead destroyed. You can repair the jury-rigged item as normal to return it to full working condition.
Magical Appraiser (Ex):You know how magic items work. By studying a magic item for one minute, you can automatically identify its properties and requirements. You must be at least 4th tier before selecting this ability.
Reinforce (Ex):Your items are sturdier than they appear. You can make a Craft check to reinforce objects for which you have the appropriate Craft skill. Reinforcing an item takes eight hours. The DC for this check is 5 + the DC to make the original item. If you fail, the object gains the broken condition. If you succeed, the object’s hardness increases by one-half your theme tier (minimum 1). An object cannot be reinforced more than once, and an object loses this extra hardness if it is destroyed.
Speedy Crafter (Ex):Through trial and error you’ve learned exactly how fast you can work. When you use accelerated crafting, you can add any number to your DC.
Weak Point (Ex):You know where an object’s flaws are. When you attack an object for which you have the appropriate Craft skill, you deal bonus damage equal to half your theme tier.

Advancement Abilities

Magical Craftsman (Ex):You can imbue your items with limited magic. At 4th tier, you gain Master Craftsman as a bonus feat. In addition, you gain one item worth 5,000 gp. This item must be one you could make by taking 10 on a Craft check in which you are trained. This represents your efforts on making this item over time so you do not need to spend time or mundane material to make it, but you must have access to any unusual materials you need.
Trade Secrets (Ex):You have access to enough exotic materials that you can spoof some spellcasting when crafting. At 7th tier, you can ignore the increase to the Craft DC for any one prerequisite you do not meet when making a magical item. In addition, you gain one item worth 20,000 gp. This item must be one you could make by taking 10 on a Craft check in which you are trained. This represents your efforts on making this item over time so you do not need to spend time or mundane material to make it, but you must have access to any unusual materials you need.
True Forger (Ex):You are as capable at creating magic equipment as any spellcaster.. At 10th tier, you can craft magical items of any type. The items themselves must be items you could make with Craft skills in which you are trained, but they can function like any appropriate magical item. For example, a blacksmith could make an iron rod that functioned as a wand. You must still meet any prerequisites, except for this you ignore with trade secrets ability. In addition, you gain one item worth 50,000 gp. This item must be one you could make by taking 10 on a Craft check in which you are trained. This represents your efforts on making this item over time so you do not need to spend time or mundane material to make it, but you must have access to any unusual materials you need.

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