“A Tinker’s debt is always paid: Once for any simple trade. Twice for freely given aid. Thrice for any insult made.”
Despite their elevated status in folklore and literature, a tinker was a very simple type of tradesman. They dealt in mechanical devices.
A tinker could make a wind-up toy, a clock, a watch, or even a minor electrical device. The tinkers of today are those who can rig batteries and old car alternators and generators.
I once witnessed one who was tired of his van overheating in the summertime while parked outside, so he put a solar panel on top and used it to operate a small fan that blew out of an open window.
Inventors of a mechanical mind, tinkers have their roots in Dungeons and Dragons among the gnomish people who, stereotypically, had a fascination with little clockwork trinkets that may or may not have exploded on impact.
What Are Tinker’s Tools in DnD 5e?
Tinker’s Tools are specialty tools for those who tinker with clockwork, minor magic items, simple machines, etc.
- Type: Tool
- Cost: 50 gp
- Weight: 10 pounds
These special tools include the items needed to pursue a craft or trade. Proficiency with a set of artisan’s tools lets you add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make using the tools in your craft. Each type of artisan’s tools requires a separate proficiency.
A Player’s Guide to Tinker’s Tools
Tinker’s Tools allow you to add your proficiency bonus when performing any check requiring…? That’s right. Tinker’s Tools.
Well, what does that even mean? Don’t worry, I made a chart of what skills would benefit from tinker’s tools and how. When used in these ways, you could ask your DM to allow you the proficiency bonus granted by your tinker’s tools.
Which Classes Can Make the Best Use of Tinker’s Tools?
I’m sure if you thought hard enough, you could find uses for every class to benefit from having small mechanical trinkets lying around. However, there are definitely some classes that will absolutely benefit more from Tinker’s Tools than other classes.
The Artificer is the obvious one here. They literally have an ability called Magical Tinkering. This little trinket has a magical property in addition to its mechanical one.
That little toy monkey with the cymbals? You can make it say a recorded message while it bangs away at your eardrums like you want money. You could drop a coin behind you with an image of an arrow pointing the way to go. Or you could even make a little fan that blows the scent of roses.
Little trinkets can also be the spellcasting focus for your artificer spells. Those spells are supposed to use tools anyway, so why not make them into trinkets?
If you can cast Magic Stone, why not make it work by putting the stone into a small tube that has an explosion inside that propels the stone at high speed?
If you can cast an alarm, make it an actual alarm clock with little bells and everything. Have fun!
The Rogue can also highly benefit from Tinker’s Tools, specifically, the type of rogue that’s into petty larceny.
Have you ever actually tried to open a window from the outside? Pry bars are useful, but you are just as likely to break the glass as you are to pop the lock. A little clockwork jack, though, could work quite nicely.
As do tar paper (where you put the sticky side of paper onto the window and then break the glass, but the glass sticks to the paper and doesn’t fall), glass cutters (diamond-tipped razors that are actually used in jewelry making), and hand drills (which allow you to undo the setting in which the window rests to remove it completely).
Timed clockwork mechanisms can release smoke bombs for you after a delay, small noise poppers can distract guards from your location, clockwork pulleys and carabiners can turn climbing into ziplining, spring-loaded pincers can extend past your reach and pull something back into an open sleeve, and a prosthetic hand can allow your actual hand to maneuver unnoticed.
If you are worried about why I, a mere writer for Black Citadel, know all of these larcenous things, do not fret.
I simply grew up in the 90s. It was a wild, lawless time before the current dystopian panopticon came into power.
Rangers and Druids
Finally, rangers and druids benefit from Tinker’s Tools while in the wild. Carabiners can hold ropes, which in turn operate on pulleys and release mechanisms to move heavy objects like rocks and logs into place.
Sparkers make tending fire much, much easier than your typical flint and steel or… rubbing two damn sticks together for an hour.
Sharpening an ax is much simpler when you have a whetstone holder that you can run your blade through instead of just the simple rock, and a multi-tool will allow you to make all sorts of little cuts and twists that can allow you to debark, slice, chunk, divot, pierce, twist, bind, and knot different types of trees and vegetation into cordage or structures.
A clockwork mill placed over running water can operate routine machinery like saws, and spring-loaded traps can bring down bigger game more safely than precarious deadfall.
Now go forth and do likewise. Use this knowledge well!
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.