December 29, 2019

Crafting in Your Tabletop RPG

Today’s #worldbuildingMonday covers what I consider to be an under-served topic for TTRPG players: crafting.

Crafting is seen almost as an indulgence for hardcore players. It’s too rarely a point of emphasis and typically only encompasses weapons, armor, and potables.

Today’s post is a series of tips to how to better ingratiate crafting into your story, especially in fast-paced games.

  1. Offer incentives to invent/innovate
  2. Provide paths of different crafting options (buildings, vehicles, defenses)
  3. Reward when players cunningly use crafting to solve story beats

Incentives naturally lead players to certain choices when not exploited or overused. In this case, when developing your world, consider putting triggered events in place that positively reinforce the use of crafting. For example, if a player forges a weapon which turns the tide of battle, have the king who’s life was saved by the blade give a special reward to the player they would not otherwise have earned. Similarly, you can provide special “cool” abilities the players can use that allow for a sort of Macgyverism to solve problems.

Trapped in a jail cell? Pull a Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon – i.e. a well-timed crafting roll – to bend the bars for an escape. And of course, if your players solve situations through crafting, allow them to double down on their crafting prowess. Offer significant rewards for thinking and solving problems in this manner. Conscientious players will continually reinvest in crafting and do bigger and better things as the story rolls along.

Not the weapons, armor, and alchemy are bad – they’re great! – but you should be providing opportunities in your world to specialize in different types of crafting as well. Whether it’s siege weapons, vehicles, ships, turrets, castles‚Ķanything! Give them options and find ways to marry them to the player’s creativity.

Invest in the creators you have in your player group. And allow them to be a part of your world!