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Swordsfall RPG | The Crafting System Sneak Peek

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  • Part of the Role Kickstarter

A tabletop RPG has many systems, combat and social, and more. But one keeps getting left out. Crafting. Not here, not in Swordsfall. So what’s the tabletop crafting system like?

Problems with Tabletop Crafting Systems

Tabletop crafting systems is one of those things that has divided not only games but gamers. The idea of being able to craft your equipment is an alluring one, right? It adds a sense of customization that preset gear doesn’t always satisfy. The problem, however, is that doing so at the table is often a frustrating one.

Some tabletop games have extremely robust crafting systems but it slows down gameplay at the table. Or it requires them to do all of their crafting outside of the game. Simply showing up with items. The other problem is that since some games let you craft just about anything, it means that many players come into conflict with the GM. More than a few players have spent their time making an item only for the GM to reject it.

So the goal of the crafting system for the Swordsfall RPG is to try and tow the middle. A crafting system that is deep enough to come up with various items, but also not so broken that every other GM would veto an item. But also not so deep that it takes hours to make an item.

Ebon Expedition Crafting System

For the next RPG adventure, The Fifth Ebon Expedition, I wanted to start introducing more elements of the full game for test and play. The journey to the Ebon Cascade felt like the perfect setting to introduce the crafting system.

For Fifth Ebon Expedition I’m calling it “The Infinite Forge”. It’s not the name of the system, but it’s the name of the story elements that let you do this sort of crafting out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a large, experimental forge that was constructed for the sole purpose of frontier crafting. It’s a fun way of saying, “Unlimited Crafting for everyone!”. The crafting system is open to everyone, but some of the finer points are saved for Forgewhisperers and Ellementalists.

Creation Points, the Currency for Crafting

One thing I personally hate about some tabletop crafting systems is money. It’s an arbitrary mechanic in a pen and paper tabletop RPG that I just don’t care for. In Swordsfall as a whole, I eschew standard money for a more barter like one. However, for crafting, I didn’t want to use that either.

Instead, we have Creation Points. It’s a measurement that sums up the overall time, work, and materials needed for a craft. So rather than it cost 500 credits for a component, in the Swordsfall crafting system it would be 20 Creation Points. This way there’s no juggling of money or materials. Just creation points.

Every component has a Creation Point Value. The rarer or more powerful a component is, the more CP it costs.

Once you’ve figured out what components you want your item to have, you then compare your final total to the Creation Chart. It will tell you what the Item Rarity is based on the CP, and then the time and energy it would take to make it.

Each level MUST be taken before the next one may be taken.

Example: A Striking Weapon starts at a Base Damage of 1. To reach Damage 4 you must buy Damage 2, Damage 3, AND Damage 4, making it cost a total of 20 Creation Points.

Karmic Weight

This is the step where we start to venture from other tabletop crafting systems. Once you’ve added up everything and decided what you want to do, you show it the GM. However, rather than saying no, a Gm can decide to add a Karmic Weight to the item.

Think of it as a Disadvantage for an item itself. Not quite Cursed, but maybe a bit unlucky. This Karmic Weight should weave back into the character and overall plot of the Session/Campaign, however. The goal is to allow player freedom but also have to deal with the consequences that come with powerful weapons and items.

Examples of a Karmic Weight

  • Someone is envious of the item.
  • It’s caught the eye of a criminal group.
  • Someone claims it was stolen from their exclusive collection.
  • You are noticed as a crafter…by a secret and dangerous cult
  • The weapon makes you feared by some people.

Creating Armor

For making armor you get to choose the amount of Soak (decreases damage taken), Defense (adds complication dice to the attacker) and encumbrance (how bulky it is to carry around) and Durability (how much dmg it can take before breaking). Those are the basic parts of every piece of armor. On top of that, you can add a max of three special effects.

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Creating Weapons

Making a weapon is has a few more steps due to the extra stats associated with them. You can choose the base type (fist, melee (light), ranged (heavy) and such), the Range on ranged weapons, base damage, critical rating (how many Advantages needed to inflict a severe injury), encumbrance, durability and a max of four special effects.

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Item Special Effects

While the base stats determine a lot, the biggest reason players have to craft is to add on Special Effects. These are your extra parts that make an item really badass. Some are Active which means they require Advantages to activate. And some are Passive which means they are always on. Either way, they power up an item which is why they have a maximum number.

Some of the Item Special Effects

  • Accurate (Passive) [10 CP per Rank] – Easy to use and aim. Each rank adds a Luck Die.
  • Concussive Blast (Active) [100 CP per Rank] – This attack hits the targets hard with some sort of shock that slams into people, inflicting the Staggered status effect. It lasts for one Round per ranking of Concussive Blast.
  • Grievous Wounds (Passive) [20 CP per Rank] – When attacks with this weapon cause a Severe Injury, you add 10 to their d100 roll.

Item Defects

To help weigh out the item cost, players can also add Item Defects. These are things that don’t make the item bad but do offer a consequence to it. Picking an Item Defect reduces the total CP cost depending on how many different ones you take and the ranks of them.

Some of the Item Defects

  • Awkward (Passive) [-10 CP per rank] – An Awkward item is an odd item to use that requires coordination to use. An item with Awkward requires one Rank of Agility per Rank of Awkward to use.
  • Cumbersome (Passive) [-10 CP per rank] – Large and unwieldy. Requires one rank of Vigor per rank of Cumbersome to use.

The Finishing Total, The Finishing Touch

At the end, you add up all your Creation Points to get your final total. If you’re making a melee weapon you can halve the total CP amount. This is due to the limited nature of melee weapons since they have Range and lower base damage than ranged weapons.

The amount of CP you have at the end will determine exactly how LONG it will take for your item to be made, along with the level of Craftsmanship (the crafting skill) you would need to be able to do it yourself. This time measurement isn’t just how long it takes to make it, it’s an overall estimate of how long it would take to get the materials as well.

In a roleplaying sense, there’s no need to specifically go grind for money or a specific material. All that is implied within that measurement. However, a GM could set the Karmic Weight as needed to go to a place to get the material, introducing a new quest for the party. Either way, once the time has gone by, the item itself is done.

  • Quick Easy | 0 – 50 CP – Under a Day to make
  • Rudimentary | 51 – 75 CP – One Day to make
  • Standard Work | 76 – 100 CP Three Days to make
  • Skilled Work | 101 – 150 CP One Week to make
  • Professional Work | 151- 200 CP One Month to make
  • Expert Work | 201 – 499 CP 6 Months to make
  • Master Work | 500+ CP One year or more to make. An additional 1 year per 200CP over 500.

Simple, yet Effective Crafting

That’s the whole process for crafting, and it’s one of those things where it takes longer to explain than to do. In fact, I expect most players to spend time trying to balance the sweet weapon they want versus the amount of time it would take to make it. However, the system really lends itself to the idea that simple items are quick to make, and complicated ones take time.

Here’s some example of a pair of Brass Knuckles. Nothing crazy, but it’s still effective.

Base Damage – 1 | Encumbrance – 1 | Immediate
2 Damage                         + 05
Crit Rating 4                    + 05
Durability  2                    + 05
Durability  3                    + 50
Accurate x 1                    + 10
Stun         x 1                    + 05
Total                                  = 80
Halve Cost for Melee     = 40

Awkward x 1                   – 10
Cumbersome x1             – 10
Total                                   – 20

Total Item Cost = 20 (Quick & Easy Work)

An Example of a Completed Weapon

As you can see it ends up being something less than a day to craft. Using the right number of Item Defects makes it a slam dunk. You could even double the Defects and make it “free”. While this means that someone with low Vigor and Agility would have an issue using them if your character has those stats then your perfect.

Forgewhisperers, Breaking the System

Lastly, I want to highlight one of the crafting classes in Swordsfall and one that will be in the Fifth Ebon Expedition. Forgewhisperers. For the class, rather than gate crafting to only them, I wanted them to instead to be really good at crafting. And above that, break the rules of crafting and show how expertise makes anything possible.

Here’s a sample ability so you can see how they “break” the system in a way you’d expect a crafter.

Tricks of Trade Technique
Tricks of Trade Technique

Tikor’s Finest Alpha Test

If you’re a Tikor’s Finest member then you can download the PDF for the crafting system now! Make some items and let me know what you made. Your feedback is welcome.

For everyone else, I hope you liked the preview! Be sure to catch the Role Kickstarter on June 2nd! Ebon Expedition is apart of the goals of their Kickstarter, so be there!

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Creator and Author of Swordsfall. He's a longtime omni-nerd who grew up during the classic days of Toonami, TechTV, and Transformers. However, as a black man in the hobby, he found himself longing for more stories that told the adventures of people that looked like him. Creating Swordsfall has not only been an effort to be the change he wanted to see but also as his own personal journey.

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