Non-money-based crafting and construction

So often, I see crafting and construction systems that use gold (or other currency) as the primary or even sole ‘ingredient’. This definitely streamlines the process of creating things in-game because things and people are mediated through a universal equivalent commodity instead of a plethora of ingredients, but I feel like this is missing out on a wider set of character interactions that could be possible.

For example, to start from a lower level, foragers could have materials like Branches, Flint, and Fiber. Permutations of these elements can be turned into various tools like blades or campfires.

On a higher level, one might need Stone or Wood to construct buildings, and employ workers with Food and other amenities (or keep them through force, if that’s the tone the players are going for).

Again, crafting and construction can easily be mediated through gold as a standard ingredient. It is even preferable since it reduces bookkeeping efforts. However, this restricts the setting to specifically money-based economies. At the least, it’s not fully representative of feudal worlds.

Is anyone else interested in this kind of development?


Wanted to offer one possible way of doing this! :slight_smile: Assuming that 1 copper is an hour’s wages,

Softwood is good for makeshift structures and cheap furniture.
25 Softwood (~133 cubic feet) can be collected each working day.
It costs 100 Softwood for every 100 square feet.
1 Softwood sells for 2 copper.

It takes two laborers to make the daily yield: one for cutting the tree, the other for transport. So, if a working day is 10 hours, it costs 20 copper to hire out one lumberjack and one wagoner to yield 25 wood a day. Alternatively, you could pay 50 copper out to a service to purchase 25 wood. This also means that if you sell lumber, you create 30 copper in surplus, enough to do it all again the next day with 10 copper left over.

Then, if it costs 100 wood for a 10’x10’ little house (found a resource that puts a house at requiring 6.3 board feet per square foot), it costs 200 copper in wood or 80 copper in labor to generate the resources yourself.

So this is sounds very convoluted, but making these kinds of calculations might be useful to ground the economics of the game world, and to support player who want to partake in this kind of economic activity. :smiley:

In my megadungeon, I usually measure the difficulty of clearing tunnels and obstructions in terms of food and time. Like “cave-in, 5 days and rations”. You might have five people working, all requiring food, or one person slugging away at it for nearly a week to clear a path. Since food is universally important, maybe this might be one way to measure it in a Stone Age game? I can’t remember where I read it, but in medieval times you’d need something like 100 farmers to support one dedicated non-farmer like a knight or glassblower (or wizard, perhaps) (it was probably Coins and Scrolls)

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A lot of the reason why this is - is because when you have gold for xp systems - than players need a lot of things to spend all their gold on. Its either that or you make everything really expensive.

I made a crafting system for magical items in the dark fantasy setting I made called Woodfall, that is based on monster hunting and does not involve gold. I can post some example illustrations, recipies and rules from that system here if you want?

I think you’re totally right! and using a crafting system based on monster hunting instead of money sounds like it lends itself really well for a combat-oriented game.

I’d love to see some of your rules+recipes! :slight_smile:

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Yeah I think monster hunting can be fun - especially for magic users if there is crafting recipes. It can lend itself to OSR gameplay because the players can research monsters, investigate them and then design a trap to catch them or stack the odds in their favour in a fight


This is fantastic! What kind of spells would go in Orbs as opposed to Wands or Scrolls? What about making your own enchanted weaponry?

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Hi Spwack thanks

The way I figured it would be :
Wands - offensive spells or spells which have very immediate effects
Scroll - any spell or ritual
Orbs - permanently contain a spell (like light , detect magic, water breathing etc)

As for enchanted weaponry - I had not thought about it. But I imagine you would need specific kind of metal that can house spells without breaking thats hard to find and hard to work with. Then maybe pour a potion or the ashes of a scroll you have already made into the metal when being forged. And have a semi random result in terms of how good the effect is , with a slight chance of it going really badly and becoming cursed

or somthing like that? I dono