[RPG] How to make weapons of differing quality?


I'm building a fantasy world for D&D 5th edition, in which different races have different crafting abilities – the human kingdom has a monopoly on the creation of magic items, but they're trading with the dwarfs who have superior craftsmanship.

How can I represent the superior craftsmanship of, say, a dwarven-made sword versus a human-made sword?

Best Answer

If you're really interested in making this an important part of campaign flavor, you might want to take a page from 4E Darksun and the "Reckless breakage" option:

Reckless Breakage: When you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll, your weapon has a chance to break. You can accept the result, automatically missing the attack as usual, but keeping your weapon intact. Alternatively, you can reroll. Regardless of the reroll result, a nonmetal weapon breaks once the attack is complete. A metal weapon breaks only if you roll a natural 5 or lower on the reroll. This rule gives you a say in whether a weapon breaks. You can play it safe and [accept] the errant attack, or you can attempt to avoid a miss by risking your weapon.

For your world, substitute "human-made" for "nonmetal" and "dwarven" for "metal". I really enjoyed this in Darksun, since the breaking is the player's choice — it gives a bit of fun to what is normally an "aw crap, wasted turn" roll. And it doesn't make the default a penalty, since no one has to reroll — it's just an added option.

You could vary the "natural 5" to give different levels of dwarven quality, or even make it so dwarven weapons never break in this case.