A common complaint I’ve heard about Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is that tools are just… there. Each tool has distinct mechanical applications, but they’re so niche that unless your DM goes out of his way to include certain elements in his game, you can go an entire campaign without using your tools. I know I have!
Tools have a similar problem to what the rules-as-written Ranger has with Favored Enemy: it’s a totally empty feature unless you know ahead of time what elements are going to be featured in the campaign, and with what frequency.
Wizards fixed the Favored Enemy feature in their Unearthed Arcana rewrite, and they showed that they were aware of the tool problem with their foray into tool feats. But I don’t think feats are the proper approach because feat slots are way too valuable. In addition, requiring both a proficiency and a feat to make proper use of tools is too much; if you have the tool proficiency, you should be able to use that tool for all it’s worth.
To that end, I’ve created new rules for tool proficiencies that are written specifically for my house rules and my downtime rules. My house rules and downtime rules have been edited slightly in turn in order to accommodate these new tool rules. Note that these special tool properties can be used in conjunction with the rules-as-written properties, if you wish.
A fun little tidbit: The rules for the brewer’s tools are derived from the “Intoxicated” condition that was in the D&D Next playtest material. Specifically, I use the version of the condition from the 3/2/13 release of the playtest rules.
- SR: You can use this tool once per short rest. Only one tool can be used per short rest.
- DC: Once per downtime cycle, you can use each tool that has this tag once.
The selection of artisan tools has been whittled down, focusing on the tools that provide the most immediate mechanical benefits.
Alchemist’s Supplies (SR, DC)
When you use this tool, you have a number of points equal to your proficiency bonus. These points can be spent to create the items listed below. Each point counts as 50 gp towards making an item. There can only exist a number of items made with this kit equal to your proficiency bonus at a time.
- Acid (25 gp)
- Alchemist’s fire (50 gp; see revised stats in my house rules)
- Bomb (DMG 268; 150 gp)
- dust of disappearance (250 gp)
- dust of dryness (150 gp)
- dust of sneezing and choking (100 gp)
- oil of slipperiness (200 gp)
- philter of love (250 gp)
- potion of animal friendship (150 gp)
- potion of climbing (50 gp)
- potion of fire breath (150 gp)
- potion of hill giant strength (250 gp)
- potion of growth (200 gp)
- potion of poison (100 gp)
- potion of resistance (200 gp)
- potion of water breathing (150 gp)
Brewer’s Tools (SR, DC)
When you use this tool, you have a number of points equal to your proficiency bonus. These points can be spent to create brews, each of which gives a creature the Intoxicated condition for 1 hour when consumed. There can only exist a number of brews made with this kit equal to your proficiency bonus at a time.
Intoxicated: You have disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks. Additionally, you add the brewer’s proficiency bonus to your melee attack damage rolls, and subtract it from each instance of damage you take.
Cartographer’s Supplies (SR)
You map a number of location that you’ve visited today equal to your proficiency bonus, allowing you to “fast travel” to those locations (see the Exploration section of my D&D 5e house rules).
Cook’s Utensils (SR)
When you consume food and water during a short rest, a number of additional creatures equal to your proficiency bonus act as if they had consumed food and water.
Jeweler’s Tools (SR)
You can instantly Appraise (per the downtime action) a number of items equal to your proficiency bonus. If you have the Spellcasting feature, you can instead cast identify on one item.
Smith’s Tools (SR, DC)
You have a number of points to spend equal to your proficiency bonus, which you can spend on either weapons or armor. You must spend these points immediately after gaining them. Each weapon and armor cannot have more than one of these points.
When you spend a point on a weapon, a d3 is added to the next attack or damage roll made with that weapon (your choice; the decision must be made when the point is spent).
When you spend a point on an armor, a d3 is added to its base Armor Class for the next attack made against you while you wear it.
Thieves’ tools and vehicles have not been altered.
Disguise Kit (SR, DC)
You can choose to either obscure your identity, or to assume someone else’s identity.
The DC to see through your disguise is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. NPCs use their Passive Insight (10 + their Insight bonus) to see through the disguise. You lose the disguise when it’s seen through.
If you choose to assume someone else’s identity, your disguise is automatically seen through by those intimate with the individual.
Additionally, if you use the Sow Rumor downtime action while assuming someone else’s identity, if your disguise DC is greater than the Charisma DC, the action occurs automatically and takes the minimum possible time. In exchange, the disguise is seen through, and can never be assumed again in that location.
Forgery Kit (DC)
When you use the Gain Renown downtime action, you gain a number of renown points equal to your proficiency bonus, instead of 1.
Gaming Set (DC)
When you are using the Carousing downtime action, you can choose to automatically roll a 0 on the table, or to add your proficiency bonus to the roll.
Herbalism Kit (SR, DC)
When you use this tool, you have a number of points equal to your proficiency bonus. These points can be spent to create potions of healing. When you create a potion of healing, it heals 2d4+2 hit points for each point that you spend on it. There can only exist a number of healing potions made with this kit equal to your proficiency bonus at a time.
Musical Instrument (DC)
When you use the Busking downtime action, you get a number of gold equal to your proficiency bonus. In addition, you act as if all downtime actions have the Income tag while in civilization.
Navigator’s Tools (SR)
If the encounter die would advance, you can decide that it does not. You can only do this once per use of the tool. You can use this tool a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus per long rest.
Poisoner’s Kit (SR, DC)
When you use this tool, you have a number of points equal to your proficiency bonus. These points can be spent to create a poison (see DMG 257). Each point counts as 100 gp towards creating a poison. There can only exist a number of poisons made with this kit equal to your proficiency bonus at a time.