More than a year ago, I started working on a crafting system. I kind of painted myself in a corner by creating a system that included both foraging and item creation and that was aimed to make economical sense. What I had ended up with was a system in which raw materials for magic items would become so valuable, the incentive to sell them would be really high.
The potential way out was to make stumbling across such resources a highly unlikely event, whether through increasing the skill needed to find or gather these resources, or through limiting their availability in the first place. Yet that solution, while effective in some abstracted way, would make the system more and more cumbersome and therefore unattractive to actually implement in my game.
I don’t think you should develop homebrew systems you don’t want to use in your own game.
And then I revisited the system I already had in place for alchemy crafting and for some reason… I kind of liked it and had no idea why I wanted to move away from it in the first place. Here’s how it works: the alchemist in my gaming group chose a feat we called Elixir Mixer and its description is as follows:
Through extensive practice, you have mastered the art of alchemy and are proficient in using Alchemist’s Supplies. You can brew potions using your Supplies, at the expense of brewpoints that are regenerated every Long Rest. You can consider all ingredients necessary for a potion to be included in your Supplies, unless the recipe explicitly calls for rare ingredients.
You have a number of brewpoints equal to your character level. You can expend these points to brew potions. After a long rest, all spent points are regained.
If you know a recipe, you can spend brewpoints to brew potions, according to their point cost as listed in the respective recipe. It takes one hour per brewpoint to brew a single potion. To make one, you must make an Alchemy (Intelligence) check to which you add your proficiency modifier. The DC of crafting a potion is indicated in the recipe. You will need to be in possession of Alchemist’s Supplies when brewing a potion and doing so requires your full attention: you cannot travel, fight or otherwise engage in activities. The brewpoints are expended whether the crafting is successful or not.
If your Alchemy (Intelligence) check fails, you will need to roll 1d20. On a 1, you lose your Alchemist’s Supplies.
Recipes, including crafting DC and brewpoint cost, are established in collaboration with your friendly DM. They are added to your inventory as items with zero weight.
There are two recipes you know so well that you automatically succeed at the Alchemy check required to make them. You can choose which recipes they are when choosing this feat. Crafting them will still consume brewpoints.Elixir Mixer Feat, version 0.8
This system is not elegant: the game master will need to dream up a recipe fo each singular item that can be crafted.
But, and this is the nice thing, creating such recipes on the fly is not difficult at all: you can limit the amount of potion that can be made per day by increasing its brewpoint cost, and you can lower the frequency of succesful crafting by increasing the crafting DC. Despite these limitations, the player experiences growth because both the available brewpoints as well as the proficiency modifier scale with level.
This system is not calibrated for treasure gains at all, but as the brewpoints are a time indicator you should be able to tweak it into this direction.
I made the Elixir Mixer feat my fist shared homebrew on D&D Beyond. If you want to check it out or use it in your campaign, it’s here:
Comments are more than welcome, as I’d gladly tweak this feat. I will also see if I can publish some of the recipes used with this feat.