Monday, September 14, 2020

Changes to the Rogue and to Spells

Updated beacon rules posted.  This is version 7.3 and has a bunch of changes.

Quick summary of some changes:

  • Add reactions,
  • Static weapon damage,
  • Dwarves get an initiative penalty, 
  • Halflings can't use heavy weapons,
  • Added some weapon and armour limits directly to the classes,
OK that last one needs some explanation.  Ten years ago I thought it was cool to allow all classes to use all kinds of armour and weapons and then build in complex feedback systems to balance the classes so you didn't have plate mail enchanters running around waving dual great axes.  So one hand gives and the other takes it away.  Now I think its way better to just limit the classes. Its a lite rules game, so there's no time for this kind of backroom shenanigans.  This stuff should be as clear and simple as possible.  So going forward you will see even more of a shift away from some of the old mechanics to use more streamlined stuff.  Keep this in mind when I redo movement and range in the future.  I'll probably do a whole post on how I think its time to relax some of the design that is there just for compatibility with 'standard' D20 material.  There's just so much out there now its not really needed anymore.  
  • Merged the Rogue and the Non-class class,

One of my players in the play-test said, "Rogues should have the most skills".  I thought about that and I decided that they were probably right.  Instead of having the unclassed character option, I should just give rogues more skills that they can spend on doing tricky stuff.  Climbing-  physical skill, sneaking - subterfuge, disarm traps - crafting etc.  This solves a long standing problem of what to do with the horrible "non - classed" class which was always needed but never used.  Merging these two classes means you can now be a sneaky merchant or a backstabbing assassin, or even a tricky sage type pretty easily in the game by choosing a rogue class.  In return I've also changed the equally terrible rogue surprise attack mechanic to be a simple "if you have advantage add your subterfuge to the damage", a blend of 5th edition and Microlight mechanics.  Hopefully this works as well as it looks on paper.   Its too bad really because I had finally resolved to rename the non-classed class to "Journeyman".  This does leave room for a third non magic class.  I was thinking of a ranger type but, Druids might become jealous and recently I had the idea some kind of Tinker might be more appropriate.

  • Arcane casters get a new spell every level,
  • Reworked a lot of the level 1-3 spells.

The other thing I've decided to do is to rework all the spells and bring skill points into a more prominent role for spell effect.  One of the big changes is that many of the spells with scaling effects are based on caster level and I am working on making these rather be skill based instead.  This means there is actually a reason for a cleric to pump points into Communication and for Enchanters to increase their Subterfuge or Knowledge skills.  I will try to base these changes on the nature of the spells themselves but obviously the classes will have more spells that use their 'primary' skills than others.  All arcane casters will benefit from having higher Knowledge, but Druids will benefit from having higher Survival as well.  I think the effect of this will be casters will be more diverse, even within the same class, and it will really add value to the skills.

There's a bunch of other stuff too.  Yes I am changing a lot more than I intended to change at the beginning of this year.  The old game was pretty crap actually... huzzah!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Initiative and Damage Changes

Tycho says, "Roll for initiative".

So the play testing has been going very well and the players seem to agree that the new initiative system is very good and makes for some interesting and dynamic combats.  Using the Mike Mearls "Greyhawk" system of declaring actions and using that to roll lowest on different dice creates interesting scenarios where players weigh their need to act faster or take more time to move into advantage.  Having initiative every round makes the combats more dynamic and players are reacting to the events rather than just waiting out their turns.  Monsters have fled battle and been caught fleeing or fled successfully based on their initiative rolls over a couple rounds.  Its all been pretty good.

There are a couple things I want to add to lean into this concept even more.  I want to add a rule that if you are holding your action you can REACT to an opponents attack if they are later in initiative order.  You roll a 3 to cast a spell and the opposing wizard rolls a 6, you can cast your spell and hope to stop them or you can hold your action and try to counter their spell.  This is a more interesting choice I think.  Same as blocking, if your quick enough you can move to intercept an opponents attack and block it, saving the poor halfling rogue from being impaled on the bad guys spear.

The block and counter-spell actions have been in the Beacon rules since the beginning but are rarely used.  I think because they required you state your intention at the start of the round and forgo your attack, players thought they were both less fun and harder to execute.  In any system where you have to choose to attack or try some mitigating action, you are usually going to attack since its the simpler option and it has a net effect of taking out your opponents and ending the combat.  However in a specific instance it may be better to react to mitigate damage and so when you see those situations and can react to them its pretty fun.  You are now PLAYING the game.  I think it much more likely you will choose a block or counter-spell to interrupt an opponents action than it would be to declare that as your action at start of a round.  It also means that blocking or countering a spell cannot happen unless you have initiative, which I think is a good limiter to those actions and so they can be a bit more powerful than they might otherwise be if they were just regular actions.  I might look for other reactions to add as well, things to make the combat flow more fun, it seems to be a natural fit for this initiative system to have these type of reactions.

However not all is sweet in our delicious candy-land.  The other side of this initiative system is that it means that you are rolling three times in combat for every attack and this is causing things to go slower.  Rolling lots of dice is fun but also slows down the game.  Picking out dice and adding up the results is slow and so usually games will try to get rid of as many rolls as possible.  They usually start with initiative and I get that, but I think that's the wrong approach since initiative is such a great tool for modeling combat.  Why get rid of the good and interesting rolls where luck really does play a huge part?  I would rather get rid of the other side of things and get rid of the damage rolls, and in fact that's what I'm going to do.  

Beacon already has simplified damage for weapons, based on if they are light or heavy, and I think its time to go even further and just set the damage for those weapon types.  My initial thought is you would take the middle number and say its 3 points for light weapon and 4 for a heavy weapon and critical hits will always do double that, so 6 and 8 respectively (and +1 for two handed heavy weapons).  This takes out a whole roll and makes things resolve faster, and you still add all the STR and fighter damage bonuses etc. so the numbers will work out the same as they do now.  I'm not sure what to do with monsters at this point, although the obvious thing is to take half their HD type as the base damage amount.  Monsters in combat need some other attention in any case.

I might in the future look at trying some kind of system where I'd lower the amount of set damage and use the value on the to-hit roll to determine how much damage is done.  For example you roll 3 points higher than the target AC so you would do 3 with a light weapon and 3+1 with a heavy weapon (plus all the other damage bonuses).  This might work but it would need some thought to model that out without breaking the game, since you can roll a LOT higher than the required to hit in some cases, and that number goes up the higher the character levels so it would have a real scaling effect.  It would also really impact low AC monsters (and PCs) disproportionately which would be bad.  Also it would be a lot of adding stuff up which is doable, but again takes time.  If you know your hit is going to do 3+2 damage unless you crit that's easy to keep track of.  If you need to ask the GM the specific AC and calculate it multiple times in a fight, or Hermes for-fend, make the poor GM do all the damage calculations for the combat, then obviously not so much joy.

So just the fixed damage for now.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

August update

Play testing is still going on and at two games a week I hardly have time to think about posting updates.  I updated the Roll20 character sheet, adding in a calculated encumbrance field and updating the inventory page to make it easier to manage.  I also put in some dedicated slots for food etc.  I wanted it to be more prominent so that it would get used.  Also I named the inventory boxes so if one was so inclined they could use the storage locations for random events or to track when players drop their packs etc.  

The example below shows this character with (10 STR) can carry 7 weight before becoming encumbered.  On the sheet you see rations (1), 7 torches (most of 1 so 1), 1.5 wt of coins (1, noted to be in bag), in the backpack 50' rope (1), and in the sack, a pair of heavy candle holders (1) so 5 on this sheet but also if you add two more light weapons to go with that crowbar and her armour then she's at about 6 'weight'.  That number is beside the can carry number in a box marked 'current' and managed by the player.  If STR drops due to wounds, well then its pretty easy to see when you have disadvantage.  This is still somewhat manual, but its easy enough to eyeball, which is how it needs to be to work.

I did change the base amount of weight that a character with 0 bonus gets to 7.  I wanted characters with low STR to be able to carry at least 3 weight which is actually a lot more stuff than 2 weight given the way small items glob up*.  The next update of the rules will reflect this and also I'll be tweaking weights for some bulk items like rations etc.  I also make reference to the fact that hired help does not generally need to worry about the disadvantage that comes with being over-encumbered so those guys you can load up a lot more.  However if the guy carrying all your food, tools and water is killed you're going to have to make some decisions about your other gear.  Also if you load a poor torch bearer up with coins and treasure, he might just disappear on you.  All these things I think make for interesting play.

It's all opt in of course, but I've been pushing it in play and I think it does make exploration style games much better when you use something to track these resources and even a simple system like this is plenty good to manage it.  

*glob up is a pretty good way to describe grouping different things into abstract categories.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Some bigger changes

Posting another update to the v7 rules.  You can get it on the Get Beacon page using the preview rules link (is stamped version 7.2).  I was trying to get this out to fix some issues with STR bonus for melee weapon damage but I also wound up making some pretty big changes, again based on the on going play-testing.  A bunch of stuff in this one but here is a summary of the changes:

  • The 'biggest' change is also the smallest, Clerics will use their CHA bonus for casting divine spells.  I thought that was a really good idea since it makes sense that divine magic comes from personality and not smarts and also CHA was the odd one out with little mechanical effect hanging off it.
  • Beastmen will be able to become clerics but they will also get a -2 CHA as a racial modifier.  I think this balances the extra HP but we will see.  I hated having Beastmen so limited to classes that I considered cutting them out, but I think this might work and give some more options while not inadvertently making them the go to race for clerics.  They still can't use arcane magics but everyone should be able to have a spiritual life.
  • I added in the encumbrance rules but I dropped the numbers a bit and changed the 'stone' to 'weight' as a custom unit of bulk.  Average PC can carry 6 weight of stuff and not the 10stone/100lb situation I was talking about before.  I also put in a table of common weights which should make it simple to track.  This hopefully will remove any cultural/realism overhead but accomplish the same thing as the stone system.
  • Made some additional balance changes to creature ACs, spell descriptions etc.
  • Changes to costs of some items, notably hirelings, rations and ammo.
  • I changed the way taking damage works.  Now you cannot choose to take STR damage instead of HP.  Casters can  however choose to spend STR instead of HP for spells.

So that last two obviously are obviously pretty big but I think that the system of choosing STR vs hp was not working at all and some players were burning out their STR and others were not and falling unconscious all based on how they saw the situation instead of arising from the situation.  I think this rule was totally destroying the feeling of immediate danger in combat and was forcing players to meta game at exactly the wrong moments.  It also was super confusing to those familiar with other d20 systems and it broke the whole low levels is deadly vibe I want the game to have.  Now you hit 0 and then the damage spills over to STR as you would expect.  

HOWEVER I don't want to entirely give up on the concept of pushing limits that the rule was supposed to foster so I also changed the casting rules allowing casters to choose to use their STR points for spells.  I think this accomplishes the same thing I wanted to have with the old rule but without the other bad effects.  It does give casters more spell power but the price is pretty high.  The new rules for STR damage conditions are still in place so casters using these points pay a high price with long recovery times and conditions.  Also since a critical miss or other situation could zap your STR unexpectedly using it for spells can be pretty dangerous, so this presents an interesting decision mechanic.  I may at some point figure out a feat for fighters to tap into this STR pool somehow for the same reasons.  SO I think that in the original rules the idea was good, but the implementation and the costing was bad.  We will see how this works out.


Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Encumbrance one

I realized a while ago that if I was going to run a crawl style game I needed to deal with time and resource management.  Now play-testing Beacon and I'm seeing it come up where the players want to rest after each fight, especially if the spell casters are down a few points.  This is understandable from a meta-game/video game perspective, but it plays hell with the whole idea of ratcheting tension.  I do have the player using rations every rest and only allowing partial rests in the wilderness, but they routinely carry around piles of cheap rations so its not effective.  The only way I can think of to deal with this is to limit the amount of supplies.  I remember from all sorts of attempts in the past to limit player inventory that no-one really likes dealing with encumbrance and even if your players are game to try things start to slide and some will keep better track than others.  Finally it falls on the Game master to manage all this and man but do you already have enough to worry about.  So a non-starter right?

Well I want to at least have some rules in Beacon for this even if they are optional rules.  I’m going to try to come up with something to use in my games that I can stick with and hopefully it’s also fun for the players, or at least interesting for them.  It got to be simple so players can follow it and so the GM can keep an eye on it.  I’ve been looking at the question and reading up on some OSR solutions from the past decade.  The two most interesting to me are the Stone system or a slot system like the ‘Anti-hammerspace’ system.  I like both of these and can see using either system, but before going any further with this I need to figure out the problem so I can find out what works design-wise.

The first stop on this quest then is to figure out why even have an encumbrance system.  You can track encumbrance to limit how much treasure players can carry, which is the oldest reason.  Another reason is to track how many items or the kind of armour a PC can equip, this seems to me the reason it’s currently done in D&D now.  Another reason is to track resources for travel, another is for simulation ‘realism’, and there are probably some additional reasons that escape me.

In Beacon the main reason to have encumbrance is to manage resources and provide support for the HP and damage economy.  Beacon spends a lot of effort making HP management important and allowing players to make trade offs with STR and resting.  I think that that’s the answer there the encumbrance system is there in order to provide meaningful choices relating to PCs resting, and to give more weight (sigh) to using STR as a HP buffer.  So I’m not too worried about realism or tracking a PC's armour and weapons, but I am concerned with how much food and water players carry since that will determine how long they can stay out and how often they can afford to rest.  I’m also interested in hauling big items and large amounts of treasure, but not as much as the food and light resources.  So that’s the core of the mechanic I want to build.  How much food/water a group can carry and the PC's STR needs to be relevant to this so that as they get weaker they have more decisions to make.  I’m not designing for realistic item weights or to manage what kinds of armour a PC has although if I can include some nods to it that’s OK.

Now to what I don't want to do.  I don’t want to penalize a player for having a real low STR, it’s already pretty bad for these guys.  STR is the PC damage limit, and is heavily leveraged for combat so if you make it so low STR characters can’t use heavy armour is a double whammy.  I just recently removed minSTR from weapons and armour and don’t want it creeping back in in an encumbrance system.  So a character with 3 STR needs to be able to wear any kind of armour, carry a weapon or two and at least a couple days supplies, that’s my baseline.  I also don't want to have to sort out how many pounds  everything weighs and then have players arguing about how much something weighs in 'real life' or telling me they can carry twice as much because they did it one-time back in scouts.  I only want to deal with item weight for important things and the units should be fairly abstract.  

So far both the 'stone' system and the slot system seem like they will work.  So maybe getting into some details will help.  If I were to use the stone system I can see it working something like this: some base number based on armour type +/- STR bonus.  The worst STR ‘bonus’ is -4 so when wearing heavy armour, that base number needs to be a bit bigger than 4, I’m thinking 6 because that leaves 2 units for the rest of your gear.   In my mind before looking into this at all I was thinking 60lb =/- 10lb per STR bonus which would abstract into 6 ten poundish units or 'stones', so that fits pretty well.  If I make heavy armour about 4 'stone' then the base number for someone wearing no armour would be 10 which is nice and simple to remember.

So 10 stone +/- 1 stone per STR bonus would give PCs a carrying range between 6 and 4 stone and quickly assigning items some values here:

Armour would be 4/3/1 stone for heavy/medium/light.  
Shields and heavy weapons would be 1 stone,
light weapons maybe half a stone or 1/3 stone, 
10 torches in a stone, 50' rope 1 stone and etc
Rations (in this case food and water) would be 2-3 per stone most likely.

Most items are pretty easy to eyeball in this range and smaller items can be ignored or grouped into a bag or a kit of some kind.  For all a players miscellaneous items I would say a bag or a pouch of them would be 1 stone, so all those little mirrors, maps, potions, tools, lock-picks etc would just go in that one bag.   Coins is the next item to consider but since in Beacon I went with lighter coins at 50/pound that would mean ~500 per stone which is pretty nice and round as well.

So pretty simple yea, but how will this fix the stated problem?  Well now its easier to see how much a PC can carry without getting too much detail.  A PC with 12 STR can have medium armour (3), a heavy weapon (1) , a sling and two daggers (1), a bag of misc gear (1), 10 torches (1),  4 days rations(2) would have 2 stone left available to carry 1000 coins, (or say a couple heavy gold candle sticks and a bag of coins) before they are bogged down and encumbered. If that same character takes 3-4 STR damage they are going to have to make some decisions on what to drop when they need that encumbered condition removed.   And if they are encumbered, what happens?  Well encumbered has to mean something like disadvantage which is nice and simple .  Also no dashing, maybe slower movement.  It should have enough of a bite to dissuade players from getting there but not so bad that they can't flirt with it.  

The stone system seems to work pretty well.  One problem I can see is that smaller items are going to fall between the gaps so that one bag or misc items is probably going to have 50 lb of stuff in it.  However I can press the ignore button quite a lot on that, so long as the important stuff gets tracked.  I also see a lot of players chiming in on how this or that should weigh less, but again I think that's manageable. Stone is pretty good since it keeps the basic idea of tracking weights already there but just makes the numbers more manageable.

What about the slot system, or some other way to abstract away items altogether?  I've played some good games that abstract away tracking items with resource dice or item slots but the main problem I have with those is that they wouldn't have the same amount of compatibility with all the legacy d20 systems.  That compatibility (in feel as well as mechanics) is one of the core design goals of Beacon so there would have to be a big advantage to use those systems if they drop those mechanics for something else.  Certainly Beacon is flexible enough you can bolt on any encumbrance system and it would work, but I think I would leave that up to the GM and not try to change the 'default'  Beacon rules too far from home.  For better or worse, d20 has at its core the idea of counting little things like coins and hp so keeping that feel is essential I think.  Any system to abstract that needs to keep that same taste while making it easier to manage.  I'll have to think about that some more.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

July Update

Been a little while since the last post, but I'm unrepentant.  The play-tests have been going well and the players seem to be enjoying the game.  They also have flushed out some issues which is fantastic.  I have made corrections in the Roll20 character-sheet and made some additional adjustments to the version 7 draft which I updated and you can get here.

Most of the changes I have been makings are in purple text for now so the play-testers can find them easier, but here's a summary of the bigger things:

Melee weapon damage now includes the full STR bonus and two handed weapons get a +1 to damage.  I changed this from a practicality perspective because calculating half bonus is a pain in the ass and two-handed weapons were probably too powerful compared to one handed ones.  The +1 is good enough I believe.

I put in some conditions for taking various amounts of Stat damage, the system allows you to not use HP and instead take STR damage, and I like that idea since it allows for some decision making trade offs when a character wants to push themselves.  However now that Stat damage heals faster, a lot of players were using their STR as a HP heat sink in fights and then expecting to just heal up in downtime between sessions.  I didn't like this since it makes a HUGE difference for low level characters to soak up damage. So to balance things again I put in some conditions when you take various amounts of STR damage. 

Characters who have taken 2 or more STR damage cannot DASH and can only move once per round or half speed overland. A character taking 4 or more points of STR damage in one round are in Shock until they have had a Rest or proper attention. Characters in Shock are at disadvantage on all rolls. A character having 6 or more points of STR damage are in considerable and debilitating pain. They cannot take any actions unless they make a DC 12 Physical save to overcome the pain.

I have been toying with the idea of making these limits slightly different, perhaps use character level so that the available buffer grows along with HP, but I like this as a test and its a good way to include conditions which is something I wanted to do anyway.

I also formalized the time a little bit and fixed the definitions for turns vs rounds etc.  Some of this is to pave the way for fixing the spell descriptions and to add in a few exploration/resource rules.  Also I added in some rules for the weapon durability and adjusted the critical tables for that.  I like it and its pretty simple to track I believe, we'll see what the players think.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Looking at magic (again)

I have to admit that magic is a bit of a mess.  I've been looking over the spells and see a lot of fixing needed.  Years ago I made a couple passes through the original Microlite and d20 System Resource Document (SRD) spell lists in order to make things work better with HP based casting, but there is still a lot of spells that are either duplicates or sub-par versions of other spells.  There'e also spells that are too weak or powerful for their level/cost, like Fly is the same level as Illusory Script for example.  I don't take all the blame for this since the source material is pretty wonky as well and some of those old D&D spells are unbalanced with some just not great and others are too good.  That approach can work if you have to pick X spells every morning, but not when you can cast any spells you know if you have enough zap left.

In any case a lot of spells have suffered in translation.  I've been whittling away at fixing these again.  I'll give some examples;  Magic Missile is a first level mage spell and so costs 3 points to cast for 5-8 damage, and you have to roll for it.  In game terms this means its about as good as one sword hit but with a HP cost and I can;t see myself using that spell over a dagger if I was playing a mage.  I think it might work better as a level 0 spell costing 1 hp and doing 1d4 damage.  It's more likely to be used at the lower level BUT at the same time its not going to be like 5th edition 'eldritch bolt' kind of laser blast because it does take 1 HP to cast.  A 3rd or 4th level mage is still going to rip a few of these off now I think. 
I'm also looking for spell 'overlaps' to fix, consider the Enchanter spells Stinking Cloud (lvl 3) vs Rainbow Pattern (lvl4).   These are essentially the same thing but Stinking Cloud is probably better mechanically and in line with other 3rd level spells.  However thematically a stinky cloud is more a Druid kind of thing.   I think its probably better to merge these into one spell, like Glitter Cloud and replace the level 4 spell with something more interesting.  I picked up Modify Memory from the SRD which is actually a really nice fit.  I liked the idea of a druid having a stink effect like a skunk so I made a new stinky spell cantrip for them.  There's a lot more tweaks and pokes I've been making as I have been looking through the spell list correcting some of these issues.

I really wish I could get rid of the level 0/cantrip label and just re-number the spell levels 1-7.  That would be a lot more streamlined, but I don't want to do it because I think it would really break a lot of comparability for new Beacon DMs using d20 source material. So I am leaving it as is for now. 

Read Magic

One of the larger changes is I'm considering is to remove Read Magic as a spell.  This spell is so essential to a arcane caster that it should be a class ability.  Who's not going to take Read Magic?  They take it or they won't be able to learn any new spells or use scrolls?  So its a wasted slot in the list.  One benefit to making it a class ability is that you can let other classes do it too, I was thinking of having rogues be able to read magic scrolls at some point or maybe making it something anyone could do with sufficient communication skill or something.  To be clear, not thinking of extending magic use to other classes, just thinking it might be fun letting a non magic character try casting a hella dangerous-scroll.

Spellbooks and Learning Spells

Spell books are needed to keep track of what spells arcane casters have learned.  When casters find new spells they can write them into their books and then those new spells are available to be cast.  So spell books are a way to turn magic into treasure that can be discovered, but also a way to give magic users things to spend treasure on, since they don't buy expensive armour or weapons generally.   It costs magic users time and money to write the spells into their books so this is additional cost to level up vs what a fighter or rogue would need to spend but that's an not necessarily a bad thing.  How else can magic users gain spells?  Presumably by training with a teacher or studying.  Both those options line up with other class training costs and downtime so I don't see a problem there. 

Just from a physical perspective, spell books are hard to manage - how big are they? Can they get wet? Can they be lost or destroyed?  Can they be stashed someplace?  I thought about removing spell books and just abstracting this mechanic, but I think that these are interesting questions that can be handled in game so I'm inclined to keep spell books as they are.

Making potions and scrolls (and magic items):

The other thing I've been pulling my hair out over is players making magical things like potions and scrolls.  I really wanted to have this working since players generally like the idea, hell I like the idea, but part of me just wants to remove this from the game entirely.  The v6 rules have some simple ideas for creating potions and scrolls but its not well balanced and I'm concerned that it puts a huge cost burden on magic users since they are going to be torn between spending cash making potions and scrolls vs. leveling up.  I guess the party could all chip in to make potions or scrolls but that makes it now like buying magic items from a shop with extra steps.

I'm leaning towards dropping this entirely.  There are strange forces out there who can make magic stuff but its not the PCs and that's quite OK by me.   Not having to deal with PCs making these items makes treasure easier, it takes away the problem of balancing magic item creation system against other class spending or trying to figure out why the PCs don't just make dozens of scrolls to get past their HP based spell limits. PCs are there to have adventures, if they wanted to make scrolls or potions they could sit in a tower all day and do that instead, that's a different game.  If you want to run an adventure where players make a magic item you can do it as a one off adventure with all sorts of crazy items to collect and strange challenges to overcome.  Its magic, the rituals might not even work a second time.  I think its all around much better for magic in general to be mysterious and part of the world/campaign and not something codified in the rules.  NPC magic users just don't follow the same rules as PCs and that's OK, in fact its better than OK since it makes them interesting opponents instead of half-assed PCs.  Let those NPCs craft all the goodies and the PCs can find them in dusty old libraries and forgotten tombs.
The only reason I am still considering keeping these things in the game would be to have an excuse for the Crafting skill, and that's kind of a crappy design.  If the Crafting skill needs entirely new mechanics to justify it then its not essential or it isn't balanced with the other skills enough.