Catalytic Crafting

Catalysts are exotic materials that harbour latent power. This energy can be utilised in the crafting of magic items. These rules expand upon the rules for crafting found in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p128.


Using Catalysts

Instead of requiring exotic materials when crafting a magic item - of uncommon rarity or above - requires charges from a magical catalyst. The number of charges requried is based on the following table:


Item Rarity Required Charges*
Common 0
Uncommon 2
Rare 4
Very Rare 8
Legendary 16
*Halved for a consumable item like a potion or scroll
 

Identifing Catalysts

Much like any other magic item catalysts need to be identified before use, either using the identify spell or focusing on it during a short rest. This will tell the character how many the charges the catalyst currently has, its rarity and if it is hazardous.

Learning more about the catalyst requires time spent experimenting with it, as described under the additional downtime activities.

 

Developing Formulae

When a crafter spends some downtime experimenting with a catalyst they learn the formula of the items that can be crafted with it. The full rules for this downtime action can be found below within Catalytic Experimentation.

Additionally, common magic items can be crafted without the need for a formula.

 

Buying and Selling Catalysts

The normal rules apply for buying and selling magic items, treat catalysts as a consumable magic item of their rarity.

 

Additional Downtime Activities

The following activities are suitable for any character who can afford to pursue them. The DM has the final say on which activities are available to characters.

 
Catalytic Experimentation

Before you begin to craft with any new material you need to test its properties. With time, effort and resources a crafter can learn how to utilise a catalyst to its fullest.

Resources. Engaging in this activity requires one workweek of effort and gold based on the Catalyst Difficulty and Cost table to cover the materials required to conduct the experiments.


Catalyst Difficulty and Cost
Catalyst Rarity DC Cost
Uncommon 10 100 gp
Rare 15 200 gp
Very Rare 20 800 gp
Legendary 25 2,000 gp










Resolution. Upon completion of this activity, the character learns the list of items this catalyst can be used to create.

Additionally, the character can make a check with an appropriate set of tools or the Arcana skill using the DC from the Catalyst Difficulty and Cost table.

If the DC is met this workweek counts as one workweek of effort spend crafting an item on the list of items the catalyst can create.

 

Complications. Many complications can arise when working with a new material for the first time. Every workweek spent experimenting brings a 10 percent chance of a complication.

If the catalyst is hazardous roll on the Hazardous Complications table below, or come up with one of your own. If the catalyst is not hazardous use the Crafting Complications table found in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p128.


Hazardous Complications
d6
Complication
1
You wasted some of the material while conducting a test. Reduce the charges of the catalyst by a third of its total, rounding up.
2
While working with the catalyst some of your tools break, forcing you to spend half their cost to replace or repair them.
3
Word gets out that you are working with a dangerous material.*
4
Working with the catalyst leaves a lasting effect on you, both physically and mentally.
5
A local artisan learns what you are working with and wants to get their hands on it.*
6
A merchant sells you some fake materials forcing you to spend half the material cost replacing them.

*Might involve a rival


 
Gathering

Not many locations offer the ability to harvest valuable resources in relative safety. But when possible you can spend your downtime mining, foraging, hunting or fishing for materials.

Resources. Gathering materials during downtime requires access to a location where appropriate resources can be found and harvested safely.

Additionally, appropriate tools are required to harvest and store the materials. If these conditions are met, the character can spend a workweek harvesting what they can.

 

Resolution. To determine the amount of resources the character is able to gather the character makes an ability check using an appropriate set of tools. Consult the Gathering table to see the value of the materials that were gathered. DM's are free to modify this table depending on the resources being gathered.


Gathering
Check Total
Material Value
9 or lower
5 gp of Trade Goods
10 - 14
10 gp of Trade Goods
15 - 20
25 gp of Trade Goods
21+
25 gp of Trade Goods + Uncommon Catalyst










Trade goods gathered in this way can be substituted for the material cost of crafting appropriate items.

 

Complications. Harvesting resources is often more complex than initially expected. Each workweek spent gathering brings a 10 percent chance that a character encounters a complication.


Gathering Complications
d6
Complication
1
A local group takes issue with your harvesting of their resources.*
2
A competitor spreads rumours that your harvest is spoiled and not fit for purpose.*
3
A local alchemist insists that you sell the resources to them.*
4
Stalked by a fearsome creature you are forced to end your harvesting early. Reduce the trade goods you gathered by one tier.
5
A artisan's guild requires you to become a member or they will stop local merchants buying your goods.*
6
While out gathering you found a location filled with resources but a strong foe guards it.*

*Might involve a rival


Example Catalysts

The following crafting catalysts are only examples, DMs should use these as templates for creating their own catalysts. Further information on creating catalysts can be found below.

 

Fiery Core

Hazardous Crafting Catalyst, Rare

This metallic multi-faceted orb is warm to the touch from the now dormant elemental essence that remains inside.

This catalyst has 6 charges. You can use the charges to craft the following magical items: Armor of Cold Resistance (4 charges), Flame Tongue (4 charges), Rod of the Pact Keeper (+2, 4 charges; +1, 2 charges), Magic Weapon (+2, 4 charges; +1, 2 charges), Necklace of Fireballs (4 charges), Wand of Fireballs (4 charges), Wand of the War Mage (+2, 4 charges; +1, 2 charges), Ring of Warmth (2 charges), Scroll of Plant Protection (2 charges), Driftglobe (2 charges), Potion of Fire Breath (1 charge), Potion of Cold Resistance (1 charge).

Once all the catalyst’s charges are expended the core becomes a mundane item worth 100 gp.

 

Adamantine Ore

Crafting Catalyst, Uncommon

This magical ore can be formed into ingots of extremely hard black metal. It can also be alloyed to achieve lighter or less brittle forms.

This catalyst has 3 charges. You can use the charges to craft the following magical items: Adamantine Armor (2 charges), Immovable Rod (2 charges), Eversmoking Bottle (2 charges), Magic Weapon (+1, 2 charges), Magic Shield (+1, 2 charges), Adamantine Weapon (1 charge).

Once all the catalyst’s charges are expended the item is consumed by the final craft.



Cover image: by Damion Otter
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