Magic item crafting and in-game profiteering

Here is a question for you all.

Is it proper behavior for a good-aligned character in a heroic adventuring party to charge a premium on magic items they craft for other members of the party?

For example, let’s say that the party witch has the “brew potion” feat. A CLW potion costs 50g. But it can be made for 25g. Would it be proper for the witch to sell the potion to a party member for, say, 30g? That saves the purchaser 20g, and nets the witch 5g in profit. Is that OK?

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18 thoughts on “Magic item crafting and in-game profiteering

  1. Hmmm. I do not think having a Good alignment necessarily keeps someone from being greedy, Good does not mean Perfect after all. It might change how they handle it, though. An Evil guy probably wouldn’t do this, or would make it into some kind of scam. A Neutral guy might just lie in-character to the party about how much it costs to craft. A Good character might be up-front, haggling with the folks in the party.

  2. Arbiter, to be perhaps more clear in my intention, I am not saying that a good character COULDN’T do this, I’m asking if it is appropriate team behavior. If someone in your group of good-aligned adventurers attempted to negotiate this with your character, would you be OK with that?

    I’ll be honest, I would not. I would consider the crafting character to be a profiteer attempting to increase his wealth at my expense. All characters in the group have abilities that the group as a whole benefits from, that’s the point of being a team. If I’m running a good-aligned character in a party and someone tried to pull this, I would refuse to buy items from them and let them try to sell them elsewhere. Just on principle.

    From a meta-gaming perspective I am opposed to this because this is essentially allowing one feat to give one character a huge wealth-by-level advantage, and that advantage is actually gained from taking a non-combat feat. It just reeks of profiteering to me, if not true cheese.

  3. Perhaps this is a question of Law versus Chaos. Lawful Good would do what is best for the party, perhaps even charging less than the cost of materials because it benefits the party to have the potions spread out, while Chaotic Good would think about what they had to sacrifice to learn this skill, and hope to recover some of the money they lost in having an alchemist teach them their trade.

    Rae

  4. Rae, the potion example was actually the mildest example. In games this actually usually happens with high-priced magic items which the crafter wants a fifteen percent “comission” for creating. So for a 20Kg item the crafter is pocketing 3Kg from a party member. Eventually the crafter can get well over 50% wealth by level above the rest of the party.

    If I were in a neutral or evil aligned party (where I would expect this to be more likely to occur) I would simply tell the crafter that it was fine for him to charge for crafting magic items but then I would give him my menu for buffing, healing, bodyguard, tracking, trapfinding or whatever skill I had that he benefits from. I’d base what I charge on the core rule books guidelines for hiring NPCs to do the same thing. I’d give him a “discount” for sure. Just like he is giving a discount.

    In a good aligned party, honestly, I might just kick the profiteer out of the party.

  5. In a good aligned party, if a fellow team member tried to make a profit off of me, I would not boot them. I would tell them the same as you said for a neutral or evil group, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. Otherwise I would refuse to buy from them and buy from an NPC.

    If I was playing a thief on the other hand…

    Rae

  6. If they don’t charge though you have a situation like this.

    Non-crafter has spend 2,000GP for 4,000GP item . their WPL has been doubled compared with
    the crafter. Sure the crafter can do that too but he has paid for it by a feat, the non-crafter has not.

    So now the party as a whole is above the WPL thanks to the crafter, so they get less treasure to bring it back into balance.

    One possible solution is to not allow the selling at a discount but the crafter uses the extra for some non-adventure purpose (I.e a buisness)

    Also could the crafter be out earning money instead of crafting?
    —-

    As for basing your hiring cost on the NPC cost, what happens when the crafter does the same thing to you and chages for his services in battle as well.

  7. There is a raging debate on this subject on the Paizo messageboards. The argument is exacerbated by a ruling by Sean K Reynolds (one of the developers I respect highly, though in this case he really laid an egg) which says that crafters WBL only counts at cost for items he makes for himself. This allows the crafter to have items that would normally boost his WBL above the rest of the party, which SKR says is the benefit of the feat.

    I don’t buy it. I think that’s a horrible ruling, and it essentially means crafters get their cake and get to eat it too. They gain the benefit of being able to make items tailored for their needs, and then they get to also receive additional “shares” of the loot to make up for their “lower” WBL value for anything they have crafted for themselves.

    If that’s not enough of an advantage already for the crafter, I don’t know what is. To add to that being able to profit off of the other party members is just gravy on a rich plate of potatoes already.

    If the crafter wants to charge for crafting, which leads to the healer charging for healing, which leads to the crafter charging for some other ability… well then perhaps the crafter should never have started that whole mess in the first place, eh?

    • They don’t get additional ‘shares’.

      2,000GP is 1 share.

      Non crafter gets an item that has a price of 2,000GP
      Crafter gets (after two days) an item that has a cost of 2,000GP

      They are now equal in wealth. and their is no need to balance their treasure.

      —-
      Now non crafter pays 2,000 Gp to the crafter for the item (I.e the non-charging item)

      Option A)
      non-crafter has a wealth of 4,000GP
      crafter has a wealth of 2,000GP

      Crafter gets extra to bring him back into line

      Option B)

      non-crafter has a wealth of 2,000GP (using cost not price)
      crafter has a wealth of 2,000GP

      Now the crafter has 1 feat that does not do anything for them compared with the characters that did not take the crafting feat.

  8. Cat:

    Using the SKR rule, crafter makes two sets of armor, each worth 4,000g at a magic shop.

    Crafter gives one set to the party tank. Party tank now has 4,000g WBL value, regardless of what it cost.

    Crafter keeps one set. Crafter now has 2,000g WBL value, by SKR rule. Crafter is now 2,000g below party in WBL and so receives 2,000g extra at next loot distribution.

    Crafter now has exactly the same WBL value as the tank, but has 2,000g more in his pocket.

    That’s how the current “ruling” works.

    On top of that, those who want to charge a fee want to move an additional 200 – 400g from the tank to the crafter so that the crafter ends up with 400g-800g additional advantage over the tank in WBL.

    If you ignore the SKR rule, then after making the two sets of armor, the tank and the crafter each have identical armor and each have the same WBL. If the tank pays a 10-20% “fee” to the crafter, then the tank is down 200-400g and the crafter is up 200-400g.

    There is no way that I have seen to work this out where the crafter does not at the very least break even. And in most ways, they come out well ahead.

    The value to the party of the feat is that the party can get exactly the items they want instead of having to hope to be able to loot or purchase it.

    • The thing is where did that wealth come from in the first place.

      They both get 2,000GP of coin from the loot.

      The crafter turns it into an item with a cost of 2,000GP

      They are equal to the 2,000GP worth of the non-crafter.

      If you consider the item worth 4,000GP then the crafter is ahead thanks to the feat and needs to be brought back. That is what that FAQ is about.
      ——
      And their is no benefit to getting the item you want at cost if you balance wealth with the rest of the party.

      4,000 GP of equipment comes to 2,000GP of coin. They buy the 2,000GP item they want and are now behind the rest of the party, thefore they need more treasure to be brought up to the total.
      —–

      Your example of 4,000 vs 2,000 is exactly why the non-crafter should not get it for cost price.

      They need to pay 4,000 GP from their money otherwise their wealth goes up.

      The best solution I have heard is the extra money does not go into his adventuring gear. (i.E a crafting tax for not personal use or a out of adventure item)

      —–

      Assuming you balance it by WPL,

      Two charcters exactly the same, one took CWI the other a combat feat(Extend spell for instance)

      They have x total price amount of equipment.
      It does not matter if they crafted it or brought it the equipment is the same.

      The only diffrence is the non-crafter has a feat for in combat use that the crafter does not.

  9. You are assuming that the party divvies up all wealth upon looting it, so that each member gets “their share”. That’s not how the vast majority of groups I have played with play. Our parties always keep a party gold pool and use that party gold to purchase items and craft magic items. We basically divvy out gold only after we have a significant downtime between encounters and everyone has been brought more or less up to par with everyone else.

    So the gold to craft an item almost always (in fact I can’t remember any time it hasn’t) comes from the party fund, not individual shares.

    This is also a way to protect the crafter from critical failures in crafting. He’s not crafting items for party members using his own gold, he’s using the party fund. If it fails, the whole party shares in the failure. The value of the crafted item is then factored into the receiving characters WBL and if there is a chunk of gold left after everyone gets their characters outfitted since their last trip to town, then the remaining loot is split up and each party member can do what they like with it.

    The crafter’s “in combat” feat is the crafting feat. They may do their work outside of combat, but the fruits of their labors contribute to combat, so they are just as much “combat feats” as the combat feats from a game tactics and action item economy perspective. Let’s say the crafter spends a week and makes half a dozen level 1 pearls of power. Those pearls will enable six additional first level spells to be cast in combat. They are combat effects from his feat.

    I disagree with the Sean K Reynolds ruling on crafter wealth by level. But that is the current “rule” of the game for those who play by rule books and online FAQs (which is a very high percentage of GMs who post on message boards). So unless a GM deliberately ignores, or is ignorant of, the SKR rule, then crafters get a huge bonus in items they can craft for themselves. A “wondrous item” crafter can end up with the equivalent of 30% or more WBL advantage over the rest of the group, and that same crafter frequently demands additional fees to craft for other party members.

    If you do ignore the SKR ruling, and the crafter does not charge the party members a fee, then the WBL is a wash, nobody gets an advantage. The crafter contributes to combat through his crafted items while the non-crafter contributes through his combat feats.

    That’s how the feat was originally intended to work, and is the stated reason going all the way back to the introduction of the feat, for the inability to craft magic items and sell them to NPCs for a profit. The feat is not intended as a means for one party member to become a profiteer and gain additional wealth. Because of the way the rules are written, the only way for the crafter to gain additional wealth is to charge a fee for their party members, which means that the crafter is selling his items at a premium to his party members. He calls this markup a “discount”.

    I don’t like it. I believe that doing such a thing is only justifiable for an evil, or in some cases, neutral character. A good character in a good party should not charge a fee. There is no justification for doing so. It is simply a desire to gain an advantage in amassing gold.

    • Yes that is how the feat works, he gets more equipment then someone without the feat..

      Real world example:

      You have a bunch of business partners. One of them comes to another one and says, you can paint houses, here is some paint, your painting my house this weekend.

      And he is not selling the item at a premium, he is not selling any items to the NPCS.

  10. Cat, I can live with how the feat works, even as SKR has modified it so that it grants a significant wealth advantage for a crafter. What irks me is when people claim that crafters are getting shafted in WBL distribution and therefore it’s not only reasonable for them to charge their party members, but required in order to maintain WBL. They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to gain the WBL benefit of the 1/2 price calculation for self-crafted items, AND they want to gain additional benefits over their party members by charging a fee.

    I’ve played this game for 30 years, and I’ve never charged a party member for crafting something for them. Not even my evil characters. I just don’t see the point of making a feat that deliberately increases the wealth of one party member. And as I said, the original wording of the feat will not increase the wealth of one party member, that only happens when you apply SKR’s rule to things. Perhaps SKR was deliberately trying to stop crafters from profiting off their party members by giving them a legitimate way to profit from the feat. It doesn’t really matter to me, I just don’t see the point of any feat which grants one team member more CASH than other team members. It just creates resentment and extra work for the GM to try to keep things balanced.

    It’s bad game design for the feat to provide a wealth advantage, and poor team play for a character to demand it.

    Just my $.02.

    • Crafter craftes 2,000GP item at cost = no change in wealth (By SKR rule) before they would have gotten a 4,000GP item at 2,000GP and their wealth has jumped by 2,000GP

      That is what the SKR rule says.

      Now non-crafter pays 2,000GP for the item. Their are two options:

      You count it as cost in which case wealth is :
      non-crafter = 2,000GP
      crafter = 2,000GP

      The non-crafter has a significant advantge. (getting all the benefits of a feat without taking it)

      Or you count it as retail in which case the wealth is
      non-crafter = 4,000GP
      crafter = 2,000GP

      The non-crafter has a significant advantge. (getting the extra wealth from the feat.)

      Best soultion I have seen is the wealth generated by the crafter for others goes to build a castle or similar.(I.E the player does not get the wealth themselves.)

  11. Cat, this is why I find the pro-profiteering argument so completely insane.

    Because SKR arbitrarily says that the identical armor on a crafter and a tank is worth 2,000g less on the crafter, somehow that translates into the crafter having less WBL…

    First of all, as I’ve repeatedly said, I find the SKR rule to be an insane rule. It’s an attempt to fix something that made what was broken worse.

    Second of all, using the SKR rule doesn’t reduce the actual effectiveness of what the crafter has, it just arbitrarily makes it worth less on the crafter.

    It’s insane. The crafter and the tank can have the identical gear but because of the SKR rule the crafter is supposedly suffering from a massive WBL deficit.

    It is like some sort of warped Bizarro world math.

    What matters in the game is what you actually have, not how much some crazy arbitrary meta-game rule says it is worth on you vs on a party member. Just because SKR arbitrarily and bizarrely says “it’s worth less” doesn’t make it less effective.

    But since it is “worth less” the crafter gets more stuff which makes him more effective even though he is supposedly “suffering” from wealth deficit.

    It’s just frickin insanity. And as I said, because of this insanity, crafters who already have better gear than their party members whine about being ripped off on loot distribution and demand even more gold for their services. It is truly absolutely insane.

  12. Heh…

    It’s a bizarre situation really. The issue that Cat and I are discussing is what impact to the entire party’s wealth by level it has for at least one character to take the crafting feat.

    On the Paizo messageboards there has been a 2,000+ comment raging screaming slugfest on the subject of why anyone would object to a character charging a premium on items made for other party members. As these things often do, this one turned into a geek-fest mathematical analysis of what happens to the party’s WBL situation if the GM goes by pure Rules As Written. This calculation was complicated by a message board post from one of the Paizo developers named Sean K. Reynolds who rather arbitrarily stated that for purposes of WBL calculation crafters get to consider any magic item they craft for themselves as being “at cost” instead of “at market” value. However, any magic item crafted by a PC that is given or sold to a party member is still treated “at market”.

    So you end up with the bizarre situation that if a crafter makes two identical sets of 4,000gp armor, gives one “at cost” to a party member, but keeps one for himself, then if the two were at identical WBL BEFORE the armor was crafted, then after making the items and putting them on, the crafter has 2,000gp LESS WBL than the party member he sold the other armor to, and therefore the crafter, by RAW, should receive a larger share of any new loot to make up the difference.

    Using this SKR rule pro-profiteering posters on the message board are calculating that an average crafter who spends a reasonable time crafting will end up with about 20% less WBL than their peers and therefore it is fine for them to charge 20% to party members to make up the difference.

    My argument is that this bizarre means of saying that the identical magic item is worth X or X/2 purely based on who wears it is just insane, and if you consider the identical item to be the identical value to the wearer, then the crafting character is already gaining 20% value over their party members, and then adding an additional 20% on top of that is just insult to injury.

    Or something like that.

    it’s really a silly argument, but it would be a lot less silly if SKR had not come up with such an insane rule and then thrown it out to the message boards for folks to exploit as much as possible.

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