Ethnic Weapons (5e Variant Rule)

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Ethnic Weapons[edit]

In baseline D&D, weapons are intended to be balanced against each other, and no amount of favoritism is displayed towards any particular culture. This is for the sake of balance and realism, but if you are the DM you have no real obligation to follow this precedent. Instead of treating exotic weapons as alternatives of existing weapons, you may wish to treat weapons as genuinely better than comparable alternatives. Alternatively, if you dislike a culture and think its weapons are trash, you may wish to treat their weapons as rubbish in your game as well. These rules are intended to allow that as a possibility.

Better Weapons

If you think a weapon deserves special status in your setting as a better weapon, then apply the following rules: First, any creature wielding the weapon gains a +1 bonus to attack rolls with the weapon. Second, the weapon deals one-step greater damage than normal:

  • 1 → 1d4 → 1d6 → 1d8 → 1d10 → 1d12 → 2d8
  • 2d4 → 2d6 → 2d8

For example, a katana, which we all know is better than any Western sword and a contributing factor to why medieval Europe never conquered Japan, inflicts 1d10 damage on a hit, or 1d12 damage with the versatile property in use.

Additionally, a creature attacking with the weapon scores a critical hit on a roll of 19-20. If the creature already scores a critical hit on a roll of 19-20, it scores a critical hit on roll of 18 as well. If the creature already scores a critical hit on a roll of 18-20, it scores a critical hit on a roll of 17 as well.

Worse Weapons

If you think a weapon is overrated, then apply the following rules: First, any creature wielding the weapon gains a -1 penalty to attack rolls with the weapon. Second, the weapon deals one-step lesser damage than normal:

  • 1d12 → 1d10 → 1d8 → 1d6 → 1d4 → 1
  • 2d8 → 2d6 → 2d4

For example, a katana, which we all know is the worst sword ever seen and a contributing factor to why feudal Japan never conquered Europe, inflicts 1d6 damage on a hit, or 1d8 damage with the versatile property in use.

Additionally, whenever a creature attacks with the weapon and rolls a 1, the weapon breaks or otherwise becomes unusable. The cost of such a weapon typically remains the same, because users of the weapon are ignorant.


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