Weapon Materials

This is a reposting of some of my older material, but given a few of the materials on the list tie into some upcoming work i’m doing, I thought people might like to see it again.

Weapons in D&D are, unless otherwise stated, presumed to be made from forged metal, heated, shaped, strengthened. The rapid heating, coupled with localised compressive force from hammering causes the crystalline structure at the heart of the metal to be re-aligned. Once the forged metal has cooled, it can be polished and sharpened into the deadly bladed surfaces used by so many adventurers.

But… not all weapons are metal, not all weapons are hot forged. In some worlds, materials such as obsidian are exotic, and are found in the treasure troves of kings. In others, metal is scarce, and common materials such as bone are used for almost all weapons.

Cold Iron
While most metal is hot working in a forge, some believe that weapons that have been touched by the fires and heat that beings from the Abyss endure are weak. And so some metal is worked while cold. Dwarves disdain of the process, and it requires a great amount of strength to work metal in this way, so goliaths, muls, and minotaurs are often seen working in these forges. Weapons made this way are less flexible, and prone to shattering with hard trauma, though what they lose in durability, they gain in other ways.

Cold Iron weapons cost an additional 100 gp, deal an additional point of damage to devils and demons, and follow the weapon breakage rules from Dark Sun as if they are not metal.

It is a well known fact that lycanthropes are weakened by the damage caused by weapons made with silver. Since it is prohibitively expensive to form full blades for weapons much bigger than a dagger, for adventurers with the money to flaunt, the common practise is to add silver to the iron mix when working hot metal.

Silvered weapons cost an additional 500 gp, and have the appropriate effect listed in monster statblocks.

Copper is an incredibly easy metal to mine, and work, but to ensure the best material for weapon use, the copper is usually part of an alloy, improving its hardness. Naturally conductive, and also medically sterile, copper is commonly used by primitive cultures, or in ceremonial weapons.

Copper weapons cost an additional 100 gp, deal an additional point of damage when used with lightning attacks, and deal one less point of damage when used with necrotic attacks.

Stone weapons are typically used in blunt weapons, maces, clubs, hammers. For some dwarven clans, there is more honour in striking a killing blow with a stone craghammer than there is in drinking 20 barrels of ale from the skull of an orc king. Chiselled, and ground into the desired shape, while uncommon, stone weapons can be used for bladed weapons as well.

Stone weapons cost half as much for blunt weapons, while they costs twice as much for bladed weapons. Force attacks made using a stone weapon deal an additional point of damage.

Flint is an ancient material, commonly found along coastal regions in strange formations that vary in size. It’s easy to work the material to form primitive axe heads or sharp blades, but had to master the material in order to use it for the kind of weapons used by adventurers. Flint weapons are surprisingly sharp, and care must be taken when wielding them to ensure your own safety and that of your allies, for the wounds inflicted are jagged and heal badly.

Flint weapons cost an additional 50 gp, and ongoing damage caused by them will automatically fail the first save.

This dark black, glass like volcanic mineral is almost identical to flint, fracturing into sharp flakes in the same way, making it just as useful for arrow heads. However, the actual sharp edge of the flaked obsidian is thinner and straighter, creating an incredibly fine cutting surface that can sever arms with ease.

Obsidian weapons cost an additional 200 gp, and deal an additional point of damage.

Almost all weapons used by adventurers use wood in their construction, from the handle of the club, to the shafts of bolts, and at some point, most fighters will have practised with wooden ‘wasters’. But some weapon smiths swear that wood is more versatile than metal and that their swords are just as powerful and deadly in the hands of a skilled warrior. Lighter than any other material, wooden weapons, are quick, swishing through the air with a fluidity f motion unseen with a metal blade. The soft nature of their material gives them a degree of tactile recoil, and both the attacker and the target will feel the contact of the wood. While lacking the piercing qualities of metal or stone, they make up for it in speed and blunt trauma, and the techniques of their users involve a lot of attacks to trap their opponent, and to damage fragile limbs and digits.

Wooden weapons cost half as much, and weigh half as much as their metal equivalent. Wielding a wooden weapon gives you a +1 initiative bonus.

Bone is an incredibly common material, all adventurers have them, and all adventurers kill foes that have them, so there is never a short supply of suitable specimens to be bleached white and then intricately carved into weaponry. It is unsurprising then that the use of bone in making weapons has survived from the early days of hunter-gatherer tribes in the foothills of Nerath, to the modern day where magic can be embued into the bone as it is being worked. A key reason would be the effect on a targets psyche when they see a bone weapon in use. Commonly used by adventurers of a darker persuasion, such as necromancers, and assassins, these weapons exude a feeling of evil, death and decay.

Bone weapons can only be bought on the black market, and targets hit by a bone weapon take a -1 penalty to saves against effects from the attack.

Much like bone, tooth is a common material, though it takes the teeth of incredibly large or magical creatures such as dragons or xorn to create a tooth weapon, limiting the amount that can be made, and restricting their use to the greatest of adventurers who have felled mighty beasts. Weapons made from teeth almost seem to retain their desire to bite at prey, their sharp point or flat grinding surface tearing through armour with ease.

Tooth weapons can only be made once an adventurer has killed a dragon, and cost an additional 200 gp to have carved. Tooth weapons gain a +1 bonus to attacks made against natural enemies.

One would think that weapons formed from glass would be fragile and weak, though their is evidence that the ancient cultures of Nerath, especially those in the coastal regions, with access to the finest quality sands, used them regularly. It is only in recent years that their use has risen again. It is uncommon to see a large or heavy blade made from glass, but small weapons such as daggers are common. The fine cutting edge of a glass blade is made from fractures in the materials surface, resulting in tiny, accurate slices. Another common use of glass weapons is to embrace the fragile nature, and store an alchemical item within the blades centre.

Glass weapons do not have an additional cost. They last for a number of attacks equal to  1 plus their level, before crumbling into a pile of collectable residium. Glass weapons deal an additional point of damage on all attacks.

Many forms of exotic crystal are used in the construction of adventurers items, though none have gained the widespread use, or indeed the wanton desire as a diamond blade. More than just a symbol of wealth, diamond weapons are a sign of survival, for the adventurer who has found the raw materials must have quested deep underground, to where the lava of the molten core of the world bubbles forth, and dug into the very rock itself with their hands, metre by metre, stone (block) by stone (block). And should you be lucky enough to find the diamond, you must make it safely back to the surface for others to know of your triumph. So why do adventurers risk death in dark caverns for this shimmering crystal? Diamond is unnaturally hard, incredibly durable, and highly abrasive. A single cut from a diamond blade can cause you opponents armour to weaken.

Diamond weapons can not be bought, but weapons made from the material can be found while adventuring. A diamond weapon weakens the targets armour, imposing a -1 penalty (not cumulative) to AC until the end of the encounter.

Some races call it the moonlight metal, for Mithral sparkles like the stars at night. Incredibly light, and yet as strong as well forged steel, mithral is not as rare as some metals and can be found in many items of the fey races, from the tips of elven arrows, to eladrin tabak’s. Worked carefully, a mithral weapon retains it’s glimmering sheen, though some races choose to mix it with other lesser materials, resulting in a pearlescent sheen.

Mithral weapons cost and additional 500 gp, weigh half as much, and deal an additional point of damage with radiant attacks.

Adamantine, or adamantium as it is also known, is the fabled metal of the Underdark, coveted by dwarves and drow alike. Found only in meterorites or in the deepest, most inaccessible veins, adamantine is an ultra-hard metal, that is used sparingly in the construction of armour. Incredibly dense, heavy, and pretty much indestructible, few races know the secrets of how to work this rare metal and as such, weapons made fully from adamantine are rare.

Adamantine weapons cost and additional 500 gp, and when taking the Full Defence action, you increase your AC by 1.

Leave a Reply