High-quality weapons (and tools)


Alex said in an old thread:

“In order to keep ACKS’s prices somewhere similar to traditional D&D prices, I made the decision to assume that the equipment on the lists was good quality. The treasure section has information on low-quality weapons. For example, a knight’s sword is 10gp. A peasant’s sword is probably rusty, off-balance, and shoddily constructed, and therefore 4gp. Leather armor is 20gp, but a peasant’s makeshift rattling leather armor is only 12gp.”

First, let me say that I LOVE the information on low-quality weapons and armor.

As the subject indicates, I am interested in “reversing” the information on low-quality weapons to create high-quality weapons and armor (+1 to attack, damage OR initiative, OR resistant to sundering, OR reduced encumbrance, etc.) Once in a lifetime masterpieces might have two such qualities. (Like the tournament armor made for a young Henry VIII.)

I’d also like, for example, high-quality thieves’ tools, navigational tools, maps, etc.

My question is, have any of the Autarch folks developed rules for pricing such items for their campaign? If so, could you share them here? (Or maybe even add a final half-page to the Player’s Companion?)

Thank you very much!


Hmmm. Just thinking out loud here.

It costs 5,000gp to make a magic sword. A magic sword has +1 to hit, +1 to damage, +1 to its saving throws v. various effects, and the ability to hit magical monsters. Let's lump saving throw and ability to hit magical monsters into one power and call this three separate powers, "hitting" "harming" and "innate magic". Some quick math suggests that if we start with 10gp and multiply it by 8^3 we get approximately 5,000gp.

So from there, I'd say let each "power" increase the sword by x8. So a normal, good-quality sword is 10gp. A non-magical sword with +1 to hit is 80gp. A non-magical sword with +1 to hit and damage is 640gp. 

For armor, the magic increases AC and decreases encumbrance. Some quick math similar to the above suggests that armor with a non-magical +1 to AC or -1 to encumbrance should cost 10x as much, and with both 100x as much. So non-magical plate mail with +1 AC (AC 7) but 6 encumbrance would cost (60x10) 600gp. Non-magical platemail with AC7 and 5 encumbrance would cost 6,000gp.

I think, at least for my games, that I would want a sharper increase at the low end, and more expensive than magic for the same benefit at the high end. I.e., without working out the specific multipliers:

A sword of +1 damage: 500 gold.
A sword of +1 to hit: 500 gold.
A sword of +1 to hit & damage: 2,000 gold.
A sword equivalent in all ways to a magical +1 sword: 6,000 gold.

I really can’t see adventurers passing up a +1 to hit or damage for 80 gold at 2nd level; or a +1 to both for 640 at 3rd.

Awesome suggestions for “just thinking out loud”.

Different folks will prefer different curves depending on their campaign world. I am looking for increased frequency of items on the low end and decreased frequency of permanent magic items on the high end, while still following the ACKS treasure guidelines. An exponential curve likely fits those expectations better. Coming close to the cost of historical masterpieces would be a bonus.

Also, it could be interesting for world building if the one quality items are expensive but not too expensive, such that elite units could be equipped in ways reflecting their background and training.

Interesting perspective. I think I’d be inclined to say that there is a horizon of performance (Alex’s “third characteristic”) that mundane objects simply cannot reach- if a creature is immune to normal weapons, you can’t cross that divide with craftsmanship. The saves might be a bit more debatable.

In a way what you describe, contra Alex’s exponential curve, is basically a logarithmic one. This is an interesting approach, because it allows for a different take on the creation of magic items- that much of the cost is in crafting a vessel for enchantment that may actually get you most of the benefit simply by virtue of its craftmanship, and that the enchantment is a kind of “last mile” consecration of the thing. So then you might start saying that a high quality sword gains these attribute according to some logarithmic curve for which the value of f(3) is equal to 5000g minus the cost of the enchantment spell. Something interesting to think about!

I think I’m a bit more inclined towards the exponential approach, in part because I regard an outcome in which seasoned fighters all feel like they need to carry a finely crafted weapon that costs ~600g as a feature, as it’s a way to temper the introduction of magic items while still working with much of the scaling strength of enemies. It also justifies upkeep cost nicely: Without the preservative benefit of magic, that fighter needs to keep their masterwork arms in a state of careful maintenance…

I think I’m going to have to steal this whole thread.

If it takes 5000 gp to make a +1 sword, though, it’s going to sell for more than that. Wizard’s got to make a living, after all.

If it takes a level 9 wizard a month to make a magic sword, then the cost ought to be 5000gp base cost + 7250, the cost of hiring a level 9 henchman for a month. (OTOH, the book says you can buy items for twice the base cost, so either the market for magic swords is depressed or the extra 2000-odd gold is “hazard pay”…)

That price doesn’t take into account the possibility of failure, either, which should probably drive the cost up. On the other hand, having the formula halves the cost and time, so that probably helps make up for it.

Sorry for the necro, but I’m not aware of the +1 saving throw granted by magic swords. Where can I find the rules?

The improved saving throw is for the sword itself. You can find an example on page 173 of the core in the description of a Gray Ooze. A magical weapon is allowed a save v. death (at its wielders saving throws) + whatever magical bonus it has. So a +1 sword would save on an 8+ for a 9th level fighter or a 13+ for a 1st level fighter.

My game had no magic items, but I did have better quality equipment for a premium:

Masterwork armour and weapons

There are two better-than-normal qualities for weapons and armour (but not shields or ammunition), good and exceptional. Good items cost four times the listed price, have one special property and give +2 against Sunder maneuvers. Exceptional items cost ten times the listed price, have two properties, and give +4 against being Sundered.

The other mechanical impacts are as follows:

  • Good weapons: +1 initiative or +1 damage.
  • Exceptional weapons: +1 to hit and with either +1 initiative or +1 damage.
  • Good armour: Reduce Encumbrance by one stone.
  • Exceptional armour: Reduce Encumbrance by one stone and +1AC.

Better quality armours are tailor-made for their wearer, and cannot simply be taken from one person and worn by another. They require the attentions of an armourer to refit them for a new wearer, and until that has happened, function as regular armour of the same type.

Great rules, thanks for sharing.

I’m running my game with magic though I’m trying to slow down the spread of magic items. Any thoughts?

Exceptional Items
Craftsmen can, with effort, produce exceptional and even legendary quality items. These items can have a number of qualities that alter how they function. The costs of weapons, armor, and other items all increase their costs exponentially but at different rates. Qualities can only be applied to an item once.

The only exception to both rules is the ornamental quality. This quality represents engraving, embossing, inlayed precious metals and gems, and other such embellishments. Any amount of money can be spent on ornamentation. For every 500gp the character spends on an item in embellishments only the character gets a +1 to reaction rolls in social situations where it’s worn prominently. At the same time flaunting such obvious wealth can attract the attentions of unsavory types.

Each quality increases the cost of the weapon by eight times. Any number of qualities can be added to an weapon, each time the cost of the item is multiplied by eight. (ie- a 10 gp sword with one quality costs 80gp, one with 2 costs 640, one with 3 costs 5120gp, etc).

Weapon Qualities
+1 initiative
+1 damage
+1 to hit
+2 vs Sunder attempts
+1 to save

Each quality increases the cost of the armor by ten times. Any number of qualities can be added to an weapon, each time the cost of the item is multiplied by eight. (ie- a suit of chain mail costs 40gp, with one quality it costs 400gp, with 2 it costs 4000gp, etc).

Armor Qualities
+1 initiative
+1 AC
-1 stone of encumbrance
+2 vs Sunder attempts
+1 to saves

Exceptional tools cost 25 times what a normal set of tools would cost. An exceptional set of tools grants the user a +1 on whatever applicable proficiency throws they are used in. They also have a +1 to saves, and a +2 to Sunder attempts.

My only thought: quality armour is tailored to a specific individual - it shouldn’t be transferable from one person to another. Thus finding/liberating a suit of high quality armour should require a trip to a decent armourer to get it re-fitted for the character in question.