Arson and Arson tools question.

So I am playing an Arsonist in a PBEM game and I have ran across a bit of a problem. That problem is Arson tools. Now Arson is the skill to use common household items to set building on fire quickly. The problem is that since Arson is a special skill it requires an Ob 5 Resource test to buy those common household.

It seems to me to be a slight disconnect with the either the rules or my perception of what Arson really needs.

I honestly have no clue what someone needs to commit arson, other than oil and matches and such. So is it suppose to be that pricey?

Funny, we had a spot of (unskilled) arson in my game last night (it didn’t turn out so well). My players used scavenging to find fuel and accelerant on the spot. I set it as an ob 3 scavenging test.

Yeah well I’m trying to burn down an orphanage and I am skilled in Arson, just isn’t going the way I hope. Damn meddling guards.

But I’d love to have actual Arson tools so that I can burn down other building when trouble arises.

Consider that Arson is a very unpredictable, very dangerous skill. If you can get the good stuff—the good oil, the good fuel—your arsonist’s life is a lot easier. If you have to do it with matches and rolled up newspaper, anything could happen.

Fair enough. I’m not really up on fantasy economics so it just seemed odd to me that I could pay the wages of a lord or a captain, or pay for the wages of ten household staffs for a month for the same cost as arson tools.

And yeah the double obstacle for no tools is killer but it is fun to fail.

Don’t consider it equivalent in price. Consider gunpowder something rare and hard to acquire.

Or change the price of the tools. I promise we will not ride forth on our horses and toss torches onto the thatched roof of your dwelling.

I would consider part of using the arson skill is that you’re masking the fact that it is arson. So a successful test means you not only burned down the house, but it can’t be traced back to you.

Mostly because it’s too expensive.

I always think of a toolkit as being “The full set of everything a master professional would need”.

Consider the differences in arson:

  1. “Everyone’s got a woodpile out back. And most of the time the roof is dry. So…”

  2. “It’s a special bottle half filled with a heavy fluid and phosphorus, which I got from the alchemist. I leave it tucked by the headboard of the bed, the heavy fluid drips out slowly, giving it a 12 hour delay. Once the fluid is gone, the phosphorus will ignite completely. I’ll be far out of town, when his bed, starting from the head board, explodes into flames. It will go quite nicely with the all the rumors we’ve strewn about demonic influence. The bottle will melt instantaneously in the process.”

If you pay for a Toolkit, I assume you have all the stuff necessary to pull off any kind of A-Team/Mission Impossible type thing appropriate to the skill.



I’d agree if the didn’t say “This skill allows the character to use common household items to quickly set a building on fire”

An ob 5 tool kit isn’t really common household items, and having your obstacle doubled without them doesn’t really equate in my mind to being able to quickly do something. Which is what caused the disconnect in my mind between the rules. It seems that the answer is that it’s not really suppose to use common household items, but rare and specialized tools to quickly burn down a house.

Maybe there’s confusion about tools vs. a tool kit?

Tool: “I need a hammer”
Toolkit: “I need a full set of carpentry tools”

Having an appropriate tool is necessary for many skills. Having a tool kit is necessary to do professional level things. It’s relatively easy to get individual tools for many things (well, some things like surgery or astronomy, maybe not…), but not as easy to get tool kits.

Arson is pretty easy because most places where people live are going to have firewood and something to make fire with. We’re talking Scavenging Ob 1 or 2 at most. Scavenge it, you probably have enough to set a hut or house on fire.

If you want to burn down a neighborhood or a keep, or make it look like an accident, or have some timed delay, or burn with a substance that won’t be doused with water? Better get a toolkit.

What’s arson without tools?

“I’m going to wedge off a piece of the door frame and rub it against the wooden support pole until we start a fire.”
“Yeah, I’ve got nothing.”
“Ok, double Ob and we’re just going to assume it takes twice as long.”


That’s not the way the rules work though. Their is no tool/tool kit just Tools. Yes, No, Traveling Gear or Workshop. And expendable. So if you want to do carpentry a hammer will give you a double obstacle, a workshop is needed to take that penalty away. So If you don’t want a double obstacle for for Arson you must either buy the tools at Obstacle 5 [or character burning] or scavenge at whatever the obstacle the GM thinks is appropriate. So by the rules Arson isn’t easy at all, in fact only humans and roden can even commit arson using the arson skill.

And Luke did intend that Arson use the special skills, as he mentioned earlier in the thread [which I’m fine with]. It just seems that the description is at odds of the skill [the fluff, for lack of a better term] didn’t jive to me with the mechanics of the skill and system. [Which was my problem]

I guess I imagined Scavenging and Arson used together. I didn’t think about people buying Arson tools.

Bear in mind also, that the use of phosporus to create matches didn’t reach Western civilisation until 1699. When I set fire to houses, I usually use whatever is available at the site; it looks more accidental that way.

Yeah well I didn’t think about it till I actually had already committed to the arson attempt. Which was rather poor foresight on my part.

True, candles and slow burning fuses would probably be better suited. Of course had my plan gone correctly I would have started the fire in the kitchen orphanage… man the more I type the more horrible I seem…

Here’s the language from BWR (let me know if this has changed significantly in Gold):

“Many skills require tools. If a skill is listed with “Tools: Yes,” then a character must spend resource points on a toolkit in order to be able to adequately perform skill tests. Tests without tools (for skills that require them) are at a double obstacle penalty.”

It seems absolutely reasonable that you need basic tools to do whatever the goal is (task + intent) - “I need a saw to saw a piece of wood” or face double obstacle (“I’ll use my cooking knife to saw” “Wow. Desperate.”).

It does not seem reasonable that you need a full tool kit to do most basic things, and that one would able able to scavenge, steal, or buy a tool or few tools to do the appropriate job for a single task. Larger projects would need full kits (“I need to build a cabinet.” “You’ll want drills, screws, hammer, saws, sanding tools, etc.”)

I think this is a place where the common sense rules of Intent + Task make more sense than literally reading that any possible thing with Tools: Yes means needing a full out tool kit. Otherwise we’re left with stuff like, “I want to write a message in chalk on the wall.” “Nope, you’ll need a full Chalk Tool Kit to do so”.


Well even that exert from BWR implies you need to buy a tool kit to be able to use the skill with out taking the double obstacle penalty. Of course BWR isn’t as an important since I’m using Gold, and gold is even clearer on the point. I’m not quoting all the rules text thought.

Well, you asked about some options and folks made suggestions.

Is there anything else folks can do to help you?