Making Tools Useful in 5e: Brewer's Supplies
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Well this is awkward… Last time I did one of these, I talked about doing the Healer’s Kit… but as anyone can see the title of this post states: Brewer’s Supplies
What can I say? I’m fickle.
Now, for those that may not have seen my previous installments on this topic, I am making tools in DnD 5e to replace what was given in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Here are my previous two:
Now onto the beer!
For those that don’t care about the nitty-gritty:
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Like always, let’s go ahead and peek at what Xanathar’s has to say about the Brewer’s Supplies:
Brewing is the art of producing beer. Not only does beer serve as an alcoholic beverage, but the process of brewing purifies water. Crafting beer takes weeks of fermentation, but only a few hours of work.
Components. Brewer's supplies include a large glass jug , a quantity of hops, a siphon, and several feet of tubing.
History. Proficiency with brewer's supplies gives you additional insight on Intelligence (History) checks concerning events that involve alcohol as a significant element.
Medicine. This tool proficiency grants additional insight when you treat anyone suffering from alcohol poisoning or when you can use alcohol to dull pain.
Persuasion. A stiff drink can help soften the hardest heart. Your proficiency with brewer's supplies can help you ply someone with drink, giving them just enough alcohol to mellow their mood.
Potable Water. Your knowledge of brewing enables you to purify water that would otherwise be undrinkable. As part of a long rest, you can purify up to 6 gallons of water, or 1 gallon as part of a short rest.
Cost: 20gp / Weight: 9 lbs
Sigh… did you know there are 26 tools in Xanathar’s and they all are about as exciting as this one? Now, don’t get me wrong, I would totally walk that statement back if WotC wanted to contact me about a job, but my phone isn’t ringing so let’s keep going.
Now, let’s see if we can get any inspiration from that passage above. I like the bit for Persuasion and getting people to work with you, I couldn’t care less about making potable water and I’m not sure that being able to make beer and knowing historical events around beer are equatable… but sure, why not. Really, the only interesting thing I like in that section is that you can use alcohol to dull pain, but they don’t really explain anything about it. To me, that means we can totally use temporary hit points for a potential brew!
Now, another source of inspiration we can look at it is the Alchemy Manual that Paizo put out for their Pathfinder game. It has several useful items, and reading through it, has way more things that I want my brewed beer to do. It has small bonuses, effects and boosts to help you party fight through… well, pretty much anything. Now, you could always just use Paizo’s beers and ales, but I have one thing that they don’t… My brew is free, their’s costs a whole $8.99!
Now that I have a better idea as to what I want to do with my brews, I decided that this was the perfect time to read up on how it works. So I read the wikipedia article, and now I’m pretty much an expert on this subject.
I know that we need to mash our cereal grains with hot water to activate our sugars, then we need a boiling kettle (preferably of copper) where we will add in our spices and other ingredients, and finally we will have to wait for our brews to ferment… for several weeks to several months.
But, our characters don’t have that much time. This is why I decided that the characters can only create a single brew at a time. This single brew is literally enough to fill a single bottle, and will benefit only one creature that ingests it. Because of that, I think we can cheat a bit on the science and make it only take a few days of fermenting.
Now, let’s talk a bit more about our nitty-gritty. Our players, when creating a brew, will have to select a recipe and each recipe has an ingredient cost associated with it. The idea being that the players are going to buy these supplies in a town, and this cost includes special ingredients and the grains and hops they will need to produce their brew.
When they create their brew, they will need at least an hour (short rest) to mash, boil and filter their brew. They will then need to make a Brewer’s Supplies check… and here I am going to get distracted for a little bit, so skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to read my tangent.
What on earth is the best ability score for this brew!? I was thinking Wisdom as Hill Dwarves get a +1 to their Wisdom ability, and dwarves… drink beer… right? Well, I thought it was pretty cut and dry, but lo and behold, most of my DnD friends disagrees with me. They say there is too much science there, and that it should be Intelligence… well, to them I say… BAH! I’ll make a poll on twitter and make other people decide! Though… For now, I’ll just use Wisdom.
Now, if you didn’t read my tangent, and I don’t blame you, I came into a problem for our Brewer’s Supplies. Do I use Wisdom or Intelligence? Because this is a lot like cooking where we used Wisdom, we are going to go with Wisdom… until my mind changes.
So, our players get their mash together, boil it over a campfire with their copper kettle and filter it into their fermentation flask. Once they are doing filtering it, they have to make a Brewer’s Supplies check equal to the DC of the recipe they are attempting. If they succeed, huzzah they move on to the next part. If they fail, they can still produce the item, but it will not have any special effects that the brew has… it’ll just be a tasty beer.
So, our players are now at the last stage for their brews. The waiting stage. Their brew must ferment for several days until it will be ready to be consumed, and this is a great way to make recipes that are more powerful take longer. So our strongest brew, a Morning Stout, will take a full week to ferment. That can be a long time when playing a game… or it could be a really short time if you are doing a lot of Downtime Days. Either way, it still takes planning on the part of the characters if they want a drink to help them get past that Frightening effect those dragons produce, and even more planning if they want to make enough to share!
So our brew ferments, and then… right at the end of fermentations our character than has to make one last check to see if their brew succeeded! So they roll their Brewer’s Supplies check again, and on a success they have a finished brew ready to be consumed, on a fail they have something to drink while they start up their mash again to create another brew.
Now, I should point out that I never put an expiration date on these brews. According to the internet, beer is shelf stable for 6 to 9 months, or if in a refrigerator, several years. That’s a long time to be keeping track of how long your brew will last at the table, and frankly I find that that is too much bookkeeping for me.
So there we have it. Brewer’s Supplies, a simple crafting system to give your players a taste, heh, of what crafting can be all about in DnD! Now… maybe I’ll actually do the Healer’s Kit next… though, that Glassblower’s Tools is pretty tempting…