Elaborate Weapon Design (5e Variant Rule)

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Elaborate Weapon Design[edit]

This rule introduces a system which gives price values to weapons based on their other properties. It is not designed to be used with the PHB weapons list, but rather as a complete and total replacement of the weapons available in the game.

Ever notice how the value of a weapon in the PHB is arbitrary? Isn't it strange that unusually effective weapons are also unusually cheap, while some technically inferior weapons are comparatively expensive? Isn't it strange that Wizards of the Coast, a company known for brilliant balancing acts of cost and effect in other products, like Magic the Gathering, would put out something so poorly thought out? Isn't it unfortunate that weapon craft is limited to stuff you can get anywhere anyways, despite 5th edition having the holy grail of RPG crafting systems? Let's resolve these issues.

This rule determines the value of a mundane weapon based on its mechanical properties alone. It can be used to rebalance the value of the PHB weapons, dramatically increasing their values to make weapon shopping an actual activity, not a one time event during first or second level. This rule can also be used to create brand new mundane weapons with precalculated balanced value. Finally, with DM consent, a player could use this rule to design and craft an original weapon using 5e's magnificent DT crafting rules. It is largely inspired by Magic the Gathering; in that game, a card's casting cost is mostly determined by a set of unwritten rules regarding the card's properties. Some cards are altered in value to liven up the game a bit with some destabilizing elements. This rule applies the same philosophy to weapon design.

To design a weapon, simply follow the steps as they are presented below. At the end of each step, calculate the new value of the weapon according to any changes you may have made.

Remember that this is for mundane weapon design only. It does not cover magical enhancement.

Step 1: Damage Die[edit]

Choose up to 2 dice in any combination and add their gold value together to get your base value. If it does not deal damage by dice, the base value is 10.

d4 = 40gp
d6 = 60gp
d8 = 80gp
d10 = 100gp
d12 = 120gp

Step 2: Damage Modifier[edit]

You can apply a flat modifier to damage ranging between -5 and +5. Multiply the modifier by 10 and adjust the base value by that as a percentage. (IE: -4 = -40%) A weapon's minimum damage output is 0, there is no such thing as negative damage. A weapon which does not deal damage by dice cannot have a damage penalty.

Step 3: Damage Type[edit]

Anyone can make a weapon which deals bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage at no additional cost. Other damage types may only be crafted by those with access to more advanced technology, and at an additional cost based on the damage type. A weapon that deals multiple types of damage at the same time (IE, all of its damage counts as both piercing and poison) costs the combined price of all damage types, plus 100gp per additional damage type. Alternatively, a weapon may deal its damage as one of several types, in which case, the additional damage type costs 50gp. (IE: A weapon that deals 2d10 slashing and poison, or piercing and necrotic would cost 150gp extra for the "and poison", 50gp extra for the "or slashing", and 600gp extra for the "and necrotic".)

Acid = 100gp
Poison = 50gp
Fire = 200gp
Ice = 250gp
Lightning = 300gp
Thunder = 150gp
Force = 350gp
Psychic = 400gp
Radiant = 450gp
Necrotic = 500gp

Step 4: Condition Effects[edit]

Some weapons can inflict a condition. (IE: A Bola is a thrown weapon which deals 0 damage but inflicts the restrained condition.) A weapon inflicts its condition on the target on a successful hit. The condition ends at the end of the target creature's next turn. You may halve the cost of the condition if the weapon only inflicts it on a critical hit. Conditions marked by a * can only be made using advanced technology.

Blinded = 200gp
*Charmed = 500gp
Deafened = 150gp
Frightened = 50gp
Grappled = 100gp
Incapacitated = 200gp
*Invisible = 500gp
Paralyzed = 350gp
*Petrified = 400gp
Poisoned = 100gp
Prone = 250gp
Restrained = 150gp
Stunned = 250gp
Unconscious = 300gp

Step 5: Weapon Traits[edit]

Weapon traits are explained in the PHB. A weapon may have any number of traits. Traits can be useful, called assets, or detrimental, called liabilities. Assets increase the value of the weapon, while liabilities decrease its value. Simply combine all of the percentages of the weapon's traits to get a single % modifier. Apply this modifier to the weapon's value.

There is only one change to one weapon trait. The loading trait need not be associated to a ranged weapon, nor need it be associated to ammunition. Rather, it simply means the weapon can only be used once per round, regardless of extra attacks. This change in phrasing does not alter it's function in any regard, it merely abstracts it for more uses.


Finesse = +25%
Light = +50%
Range = + Maximum range in ft as %
Reach = +25%
Thrown = + Maximum range in ft /2 as %
Versatile = + damage die gp value as %


Ammunition = -5%
Heavy = -10%
Loading = -25%
Two-Handed = -10%

Step 6: Weapon Category[edit]

Simple weapons require no special training to use beyond a basic understanding of what a weapon is. Most classes have simple weapon proficiency. If a simple weapon deals an average of 5 damage or more, increase its value by 50%.

Martial weapons require dedicated training to use, and are mostly relegated as specialist or military gear. Fewer character options provide martial weapon proficiency. If a martial weapon deals an average of 5 damage or less, reduce its value by 50%.

Step 7: Weight[edit]

A weapon's weight represents a slight penalty to its usefulness, so it has a slight impact on weapon value. Reduce the weapon's value by a percentage equal to its weight. (For instance, if a 100gp weapon weighs 10lb, it's value is reduced by 10%, making it worth 90gp.)

Step 8: Craftsmanship[edit]

An aesthetic excuse for the DM to tweak weapon value arbitrarily.

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