Making Tools Useful in 5e: Mason's Tools
After last week’s fun tool, gaming sets, I am going to jump into something a bit more… boring… Mason’s Tools! Before we go too crazy with our brick laying, the past tools created are: Gaming Sets, Tinker’s Tools, Healer’s Kit, Brewer’s Supplies, Smith’s Tools & Cooking Utensils.
For those that don’t care about the nitty-gritty:
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As always, let’s do a quick review of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and see what they have to say:
Mason's tools allow you to craft stone structures, including walls and buildings crafted from brick.
Components. Mason's tools consist of a trowel, a hammer, a chisel, brushes, and a square.
History. Your expertise aids you in identifying a stone building's date of construction and purpose, a long with insight into who might have built it.
Investigation. You gain additional insight when inspecting areas within stone structures.
Perception. You can spot irregularities in stone walls or floors, making it easier to find trap doors and secret passages.
Demolition. Your knowledge of masonry allows you to spot weak points in brick walls. You deal double damage to such structures with your weapon attacks.
Cost: 10 gp / Weight: 8 lbs
It’s fine… especially as I was quite certain what to do with Mason’s Tools anyway when I started this. I like the part for Demolition as I can actually see that being used more than once or twice in a campaign by a creative player… the rest of it, meh.
Layering It On
Now, let’s think about what our Mason’s Tools can actually be used for. When a mason does their mason thing, they are building stone structures. Typically, this is made of generic stone, but can include granite, marble, and other exotic stone materials.
But… that pry will take a long time, and how are we supposed to know how long it would take to build a structure? Luckily our handy, dandy Dungeon Master’s Guide has a section on building structures! By flipping over to page 128, you can see that they have 9 different structures that a character could commission, and that’s pretty awesome! What if one of our players could make their own structure? I’d definitely allow it at my table, of course, I’d also require some Mason’s Tools to go along with it… or they’d have to hire someone for an added on cost.
Raise It Up
So, we have our idea… Mason’s Tools will be required for building structures, and so now I get to figure out exactly how long that will take. Obviously the DMG already states how long it’ll take to build a structure, but what if a character wanted to do it themselves? They want to go out every downtime day and build up their structure, well… I think that’s a fantastic idea and will make sure their character doesn’t get into too much trouble during downtime! Plus, they have a place to put all that gold they got during their last adventure towards.
The only problem is… the DMG has widely different costs per day of building. What I mean by that is, a Tower, Fortified costs 15,000 gp and will take 100 days to build, whereas the Trading Post costs 5,000 gp and will take 60 days to build. Now, I am assuming that each structure is made out of stone, which is a bit of an oversimplification but it’s fine. A stone Trading Post is way sturdier than a wooden Trading Post and we don’t have proficiency in Carpentry anyways!
Looking at all the buildings, they all have different costs per day to build them up. It costs 84 gp per day to create a Trading Post, whereas it costs 150 gp per day to create a Tower, Fortified… Which got me thinking, well how can that be? And I realized, they are assuming more than one person is working on the structure every day, and that job sites have multiple workers! Which brings us to another question, how many workers per structure can work on it in a day?
Well, there is no information on that specific question, but if you go over to the next page, pg. 129, and look at the section on Crafting Magical Items it states that you can craft up to 25 gp per day towards your item… which works for me! Let’s go ahead and assume that each worker, proficient in Mason’s Tools, can produce 25 gp worth of progress per day. This means that we can easily find our maximum amount of workers per day by dividing the total Cost/Day by 25 gp. Here’s a chart:
Structure | Cost in gp | Days to Build | Cost/Day | Max Workers
Tower, Fortified | 15,000 | 100 | 150 | 6
Trading Post | 5,000 | 60 | 83.33 | 4
This means, we could have a max of 6 workers working on our structure. For each day you have the 6 workers working, it will be 25 gp per worker plus 2 gp for their wage. This means that every day, you must spend 150 gp + 12 gp (wages) to have your Tower, Fortified built in 100 days. A good chunk of money, but after they kill off that one dragon, they’ll be able to afford it!
Wages are taken from the Player’s Handbook were skilled hirelings make 2 gp per day, I assume these workers are skilled as they are proficient in Mason’s Tools, but you may adjust that for your own campaign. Though, if you character has proficiency in Mason’s Tools, you can save 2 gp per day by working on your own tower!
Now, we have our basic idea as to how this will work, and we can start getting into the nitty-gritty. Our players need: Land, Workers, Materials and Time.
Land is going to be more of the prerogrative of the DM, maybe your party did something for the king, maybe they killed off the king and have claimed this land to be the glorious land of MurderHobo-dom. I’m not judging, but either way, the land situation is something the DM will have to work on with the party.
Workers can be found in pretty much any city or village, though the amount of workers is up to the DM. If they are in a small, backwater village with three citizens… it might not be the best place for quality workers.
Materials are pretty important for our structures, and I decided to spruce it up a bit. Some players will want a bit of bling on their structure, and as such they are going to have to cough up a bit extra gold. I’m also adding in a damage threshold for our structure’s material. A damage threshold just means that unless they take that amount of damage or more, any attacks against it are superficial and have no impact on the structural integrity of the structure. It just makes it harder to destroy a wall than a wizard in the back casting magic missile over and over, there needs to be a brutish fighter in the front getting angry and smashing things.
Time is something that will be between players and the DM. This is a long progress, and you could consider having different parts of the structure finished at different times, like bedrooms or the great hall could get finished first in their new keep, and now they have a place to stay during the inbetween time of adventures.
Our last thing to talk about in this section is damage on the structure. When the structure is finally finished, it's nice to throw orcs against the walls of their new keep, just to test how good of a craftsman their workers are. I took inspiration from the Wall of Stone spell and abstracted out parts of the structure into 10-foot by 10-foot by 6-inch thick panels. This gives us something to work off of, and helps the DM keep track of what parts of the structure are damaged and not just giving the structure a stupid amount of Hit Points.
Our final bit of work on this is the new structure I added in, the Defensive Walls. These are just simple stone walls that a character with Mason’s Tools can erect when they know a battle will be happening around them, and act similarly to a Wall of Stone spell, though not quite as quick. For every day spent working on a wall, you can create two panels of stone wall. By having more time to prepare, you can build a pretty quick wall of stone to help protect the party from an oncoming horde.
And that’s the Mason’s Tools… not quite as sexy as some of the other tools, but definitely can be added into your game to give your players something to do with downtime and all that gold they get. Plus, I threw in that Demolition ability that was in Xanathar’s, and I think players can have a good bit of fun with that. If you liked this, make sure you check out our Patreon, there’s an option to get access to all of my homebrew in one central place, this includes the other tools I’ve done, future tools I’m still working on, monsters, items, etc!