Who doesn’t love a good tool? If you check out fifth edition D&D, gaining tool proficiencies is a big part of character creation. Many classes and backgrounds give characters a proficiency or three to help round out what they can do.
Yet how many players are really using these tool proficiencies in play? Beyond thieves’ tools, forgery kits, and the like, what’s the mechanical value of tools? I find that many players (not all) need a mechanical reason to use the tools in order for those items to become entwined in their characters’ stories. Also, if some tools don’t matter, then why take proficiency with brewer’s supplies if you can just say, “My character knows how to make beer,” and also be proficient in thieves’ tools?
Here’s a few rules modules you can add to your D&D game to make those overlooked tools shine.
Alchemist’s supplies can be used to create, double, and identify potions.
Create Potion. Using the crafting downtime rules and the Potion Prices and Crafting DCs table a character can create any non-healing potion with the DMs discretion. After you spend the proper amount of time crafting the potion, you must succeed on an Intelligence check with alchemist’s supplies or the potion and the resources you used to create it are destroyed. The DC for this check is determined by the potion’s rarity.
Your DM may rule that some potions require special components not readily available for sale and that certain potions simply cannot be created by mortals.
Potion Prices and Crafting DCs
Double Potion. You can attempt to turn one potion into two of the same kind using your alchemist’s supplies. The attempt takes 1 hour. At the end of this time, you must succeed on an Intelligence check with alchemist’s supplies or the original potion and the attempted duplicate are destroyed. The DC for this check is determined by the potion’s rarity, as seen on the Doubling Potion DCs table.
Doubling Potion DCs
Identify Potion. You can use your alchemist’s supplies to identify a potion by working with the potion and testing it for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, make a DC 10 Intelligence check with the alchemist’s supplies. If you succeed you know the name and effects of the potion.
Brewer’s supplies let you craft fine ales (using the downtime crafting rules) and increase the potency of existing alcohols.
Increase Potency. Your brewer’s supplies allow you to attempt to increase the potency of alcohol. After spending 5 minutes per pint of alcoholic beverage you are trying to effect, make a DC 15 Intelligence check with brewer’s supplies. If you succeed, the alcohol becomes more potent and any creature that drinks the beverage must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 hour. If you fail, the drink simply tastes worse than it normally does.
Calligrapher’s Supplies, Carpenter’s Tools, Cobbler’s Tools, Glass Blower’s Tools, Jeweler’s Tools, Leatherworker’s Tools, Mason’s Tools, Painter’s Supplies, Potter’s Tools, Smith’s Tools, Tinker’s Tools, Weaver’s Tools, Woodcarver’s Tools
These artisan’s tools can be used to craft items per the downtime crafting rules and they can be used to appraise, gain inspiration, grow a business, reinforce, and repair.
Appraise. You can use your artisan’s tools to determine the historical and cultural relevance and worth of an art object by working with the art and appropriate tools for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, make a DC 10 Intelligence check with the appropriate tools. If you succeed you know the exact worth of the object and any historical or cultural significance the work of art may have.
Gain Inspiration. Working on a great piece of art can be inspiring. If you work with your tools on a personal craft project for one hour, at the end of that time, make a DC 10 Wisdom check with the appropriate artisan’s tools. If you succeed, you gain inspiration. You can only gain inspiration this way once per day.
Grow A Business. During downtime you can repair, craft, and sell small objects using your artisan’s tools. During this time you can maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 1 gp per day. After spending ten days of downtime in the same settlement crafting, make a DC 15 Charisma check with the appropriate tools. If you fail, there is no consequence and you make the check again after another ten days of crafting in the same settlement. If you succeed, you can afford a comfortable lifestyle in that settlement by spending your downtime crafting and at the end of ten days in the same settlement, you make another DC 15 Charisma check with the appropriate tools. If you fail, there is no consequence and you make the check again after another ten days of crafting in the same settlement. If you succeed, you can afford a wealthy lifestyle in that settlement by spending your downtime crafting.
Reinforce. You can use your artisan’s tools to reinforce a Medium or smaller object with your tools, such as a door or statue. The specific tool that must be used to reinforce the object is decided by the DM. The process of reinforcement takes one hour. At the end of the hour, make a DC 15 Intelligence check with the appropriate tools. If you succeed, the object gains hardness 5, or if it already has a hardness, its hardness increases by 5 to a maximum of 20. If you reinforce weapons or armor in this way and they gain the hardness, any creature that wears or wields the reinforced object has disadvantage on all attacks, since the items are more cumbersome than normal.
Repair. You can use your artisan’s tools to repair broken objects. After spending one hour working on an object in need of repair, make a DC 10 Dexterity check with the appropriate artisan’s tools. If you succeed, you restore 5 hit points to the object, plus 1 extra hit point for every number your check results exceeds the DC.
If you use your cartographer’s tools to make maps wild traveling through the wilderness, there’s a good chance you’ll never get lost and be able to find new shortcuts!
Avoid Getting Lost. If you use your cartographer’s tools while traveling overland, you can avoid getting lost. During this time you cannot gather food, hunt, or drive any vehicles. If you focus on mapping the area, you cannot become lost while traveling. You must be proficient with cartographer’s tools to use them in this way.
Find A Shortcut. You can find shortcuts for wilderness travel by studying maps of areas you have made. The map must cover the entire area you plan to travel. To find a shortcut, make a DC 15 Wisdom check with cartographer’s tools. If you succeed, you can move at a fast pace while traveling, but have all the benefits of moving at a slow pace.
A good meal can re-energize allies and influence NPCs, while a bad one can make an entire day crappy.
Influence An NPC. You can spend one hour cooking a meal for up to eight creatures. At the end of the hour, make a DC 15 Intelligence check with cook’s utensils. If you succeed, you have advantage on Charisma checks made to influence any NPCs while they eat the meal. If you fail the check by 5 or more, you have disadvantage on Charisma checks made to influence any NPCs while they eat the meal.
Prepare A Hearty Meal. You can spend an hour cooking a meal for up to eight creatures. At the end of the hour, the DM makes a DC 15 Intelligence check with cook’s utensils for you and keeps the result a secret. If you succeed, each creature that ate the meal gains one of the following benefits outlined below, chosen by you when you begin to cook the meal. If you fail the check by 5 or more, each creature who ate the meal must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or gain a level of exhaustion.
If you succeed on the check, here are the benefits your meal can bestow:
- Gain Inspiration. Creatures who ate the meal gain inspiration and cannot gain inspiration this way again until they complete a long rest.
- Gain More Hit Dice. Creatures who ate this meal regain 1 more hit die than they normally would the next time they finish a long rest.
- Remove Exhaustion. Creatures who ate this meal reduce their exhaustion level by 1.
Proficiency with a gaming set allows you to gamble and influence NPCs.
Gamble. You can gamble during between adventures, or at night when you’re cozied up in a tavern. For every four hours spent gambling, make an Intelligence check with the appropriate gaming set. Consult the Gambling Consequences table to see how much money you lose or gain.
|4 or lower
||You lose 2d6 x 10 gp
|5 – 9
||You lose 1d6 x 4 gp
|10 – 14
||You gain 1d6 x 4 gp
|15 – 19
||You gain 2d6 x 10 gp
||You gain 4d6 x 10 gp
Influence An NPC. Many NPCs are proficient in gaming sets and enjoy a good challenge. Nobles, military leaders, tavern goers, and more jump at the chance to play a game. When you play a game with an NPC, you make opposed Intelligence checks with the appropriate gaming set. Whoever has the higher result wins the game (and a tie results in a draw). If you win, you have advantage on Charisma checks made to influence the NPC for the next hour. If you lose, you have disadvantage on those checks for one hour. A draw has no effect on your relationship with the NPC.
Musical instruments can help you gain an audience with an NPC, influence an NPC, and soothe the savage beast.
Gain An Audience. You can gain an audience with an influential NPC (such as a noble or royalty) by playing your instrument for others at an open audition. The DM decides when and where the auditions take place. To gain an audience, you must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma check made with the appropriate musical instrument. The DM decides when and where the audience happens.
Influence An NPC. You perform at least one song for a group of NPCs. Any the end of your performance, make a DC 15 Charisma check with the appropriate musical instrument. If you succeed, you have advantage on Charisma checks made to influence any NPCs who listened to you perform for the next hour. If you fail the check by 5 or more, you have disadvantage on Charisma checks made to influence any NPCs who listened to you perform for the next hour.
Soothe The Savage Beast. As an action you can make a Charisma check with a musical instrument and each mammal with the beast creature type and an Intelligence score of 3 or less that can hear you must make a Wisdom saving throw. The DC for saving throw is equal to the result of the Charisma check you made with your musical instrument. A mammal who fails this check cannot take the Attack action on its next turn. A creature who succeeds on this check is immune to the effects of your music for 24 hours. The DM may rule that music has no sway over certain beasts (such as those trained by others).
Want a Free PDF?
Of course you do! Here’s these rules to have and hold forever. Find them with monsters, magic items, adventures, and more in the Free Game Resources section of this site.
New Tool Uses
If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!