A Guide to Crafting Weapons With Fantasy Materials
Forged by Kiteran and heated by Banyan & Raven
Thanks to TSR for all the 2nd edition materials we melted down and re-forged. And special thanks to roleplayingtips.com for the years of great advice.
Crafting has a long-standing tradition in the realms. Through the ages crafting has reached new heights. As a player, one has the potential to craft weapons of great power. This article will attempt to go over the various aspects of Weaponsmithing from the materials used, and the time it takes to craft.
Many details, such as the time it takes to craft, are not a realistic depiction of how long it actually takes to craft. In fantasy games we assume that players are on the move and time limits can be a restraint for the rest of the non-crafting party, so the time needed to craft has been changed drastically for the sole purpose of fun and campaign momentum.
Materials can play a part in the crafting. Iron and steel are the metals commonly employed in the making of arms and armor. Man, however, did not always have access to these superior metals and in the Forgotten Realms even better metals may be available. Here are a few metals for the use of forging armor and weapons, with the bonuses and penalties they incur.
Superior and even rarer then Mithral, Adamantite alloys are second to none in terms of strength. Adamantite itself is pliable but very difficult to work when alloyed. A player should expect to spend more time working this resilient metal. Adamantite can only be found deep in the earth, and so the black metal is very hard to obtain; human miners simply don’t go that deep.
Drow are rumored to have an abundance of it, but they somehow taint the forging process with their dark magics so that Drow-forged Adamantite immediately deteriorates when exposed to sunlight on the surface world. Fortunately, a few clans of deep-delving dwarves have come across the metal and utilize it to meet their own needs. The few Adamantite-alloy items on the surface are most certainly dwarven-made.
Weapons made from Adamantite are heavy, weighing approximately 25% more than normal weapons and are slower with a +1 to speed. Adamantite is black, but has a clear green sheen in candlelight. This sheen sharpens to purple white under the light given off by most magical radiances and by will-o-the-wisps.
An Adamantite object is tricky to make, and must be forged and worked at very high temperatures by smiths who know exactly what they are doing and who have access to special oils to slake and temper the hot metal. Almost all such expert smiths are dwarves, as the Deep Folk guard the secrets of working Adamantite jealously. However, a priest or wizard seeking to enchant items can make use of finished Adamantite items and need not necessarily have to work with a smith to create an Adamantite work anew.
Adamantite readily takes enchantments, adding a +2 bonus to all saving throws of awakening, enchant an item, holy vesting, and wondrous web spells cast upon it. It is often the primary material for enchanted armors. Items made primarily of Adamantite automatically succeed in all item saving throws vs. normal fire, cold, and electricity.
They receive a +6 bonus to all item saving throws vs. acid, crushing blow, disintegration, fall, magical fire, and lightning. Adamantite weapons are granted a +2 to hit and damage and make saves at +4. Like Mithral, Adamantite is an ideal receptacle for magical enchantments.
Once the exclusive secret of the gnomes, this legendary metal has since been worked by elven smiths of Nor-quendi. Many gnomish locks and hooks, as well as some fabled elven war blades, have been forged of Arandur, though new forgings and folk who know how to work the ore are rarer than ever today.
Arandur is a rare natural metal found in igneous rock, usually as streaks of blue-green ore amid vitreous glass. So that it does not become as brittle as the glass it is found in, it must be tempered with the blood of a red or blue dragon in its forging. Due to this, working it is not a task for the roadside village smith. The finished forged metal is silver-blue with a green reflective shine.
Arandur bonds with other metals so well that Merald’s Meld and Crown Meld spells are not necessary when enchanting an item made melding it with other metals. It is famous for holding a sharp edge even when abused and was the favored material of old for making swords of sharpness and vorpal weapons.
Items made primarily of Arandur automatically succeed in all item saving throws vs. fall, normal fire, cold, and electricity. They receive a +3 bonus to all item saving throws vs. acid, crushing blow, disintegration, magical fire, and lightning. Arandur also partially absorbs magic missile energy pulses; folk who wield a sword or shield made of Arandur or wear Arandan armor take 1d2 (to a minimum of 1) fewer points of damage per magic missile bolt directed at them.
An alloy made from copper and tin, bronze is an attractive metal but still inferior to common iron and steel. Any weapon made from bronze must make a saving throw on a natural roll of 1 or break. Likewise, bronze armor is one armor class below what a normal steel armor should be.
One of the first metals to be used in the making of armor, weapons and various other utensils, copper is relatively soft compared to steel and iron. This well-known pure metal, with its distinctive pinkish sheen, is the best widely available purifier and algamator among metals. It is soft and easily worked, widely known in Kiras, and appears here because its role as a magical purifier and neutralizing agent cannot be overemphasized.
The wizard and, especially, the priest seeking to work with a substance or item not suited to his or her faith or purpose can make the offending item usable by adding at least half the item’s weight of copper to the item. (For example, by sheathing it in copper or adding a longer handle plated in copper or similar means.) Holy or unholy water should not be stored for any length of time in copper vessels, because the metal will neutralize either in 2d4 months, changing them to normal water.
Any weapon forged of copper must make a saving throw on a natural roll of 1, 2, or 3 to avoid breaking. Likewise, copper armor is two armor classes below what a normal steel armor should be. Copper tarnishes quickly, so copper items require weekly upkeep to look nice; otherwise they eventually turn green from oxidation. Copper is lightweight, thus copper armor has +25% to encumbrance. For all its problems, copper items are beautiful when polished and cared for.
This bone-white metal can take a high polish, and is often mistaken for ivory when seen in finished items, but it has a distinctive greenish sheen in candlelight and when in the presence of magical radiances. Dlarun is a little-known metal of the Halflings, who take care to keep word of it as paltry and as inaccurate as possible. Dlarun is usually encountered after having been formed by Halflings into small figurines, inlay plates, or knobs and pommels shaped like beast claws, acorns, or other elements of nature.
Dlarun is derived from roasting clay dug from the banks of certain rivers. Dlarun is first gathered as white chips among fire ash that are then melted in a hot crucible that is filled with a secret mixture of liquids, resulting in a lump of soft, soap-like metal that can be readily carved by anyone with a sharp knife. When the desired result has been achieved, a second heating in the open flames of a fire fueled and supplemented by secret ingredients transforms the metal into lightweight rigidity.
It is thus ideal for item adornment and has the added property of steadying the mind of any being in direct (bare flesh) contact with it, allowing them to make all saving throws vs. enchantment/charm and illusion/phantasm spells (and similar psionic or spell-like power effects) at a +1 bonus.
This well-known pure metal is the softest of workable metallic substances, and one of the best conductors among them. Despite its high value, it is relatively common and is favored for use in ornamentation in the making of magical items, often being used as an inlay in graven runes or inscriptions, where meld magics can keep it from being damaged or falling out through rough handling.
Gold has the important ability to hold multiple enchantments, even conflicting ones, and to keep them from affecting each other or the stability of the gold-adorned item. It therefore makes all dweomerflow magics entering an item in which it is present (even in very small amounts) automatically succeed. In other words, saving throws for magical charge transfers always succeed at the receiving end, if that end is an item having gold in its makeup. Items made primarily of gold make all item saving throws at the normal listings for metal.
This extremely rare white metal is named for its long-ago dwarf discoverer and is found only in scattered, but very rich, deposits deep in the Underdark as a soft, greenish-gray clay-like ore or a flaky mud. Its preparation is complex and is a secret known only to a very few senior dwarven smiths and elders. If even a single element of the process is wrong, the Hizagkuur remains mud and not a usable metal.
If successfully transformed into a metal, Hizagkuur must be cast, worked, or forged into final form within a day and thereafter can never be worked again. (If an item made of Hizagkuur is broken, only magical mendings accomplished by limited wish or wish spells can repair it.) If Hizagkuur is left untouched for those 24 hours, it becomes inert and unworkable unless either a wish or limited wish is cast and properly worded to allow a second chance at working it.
Hizagkuur is unsuitable for use in the crafting of magical items or items that are to be worn because once it has cooled and hardened after being worked, it reflects all magic cast at it 100 percent back at the source and also deals 2d12 points of electrical damage per touch (or per round of continued contact) to all beings coming into contact with it. It sees most use as sheathing for fortress gates, vault doors, and seals on coffers or hatches of crucial importance.
Items made primarily of Hizagkuur automatically succeed in all item saving throws vs. normal fire, cold, and electricity. They receive a +6 bonus to all item saving throws vs. magical fire and lightning and a +1 bonus to all item saving throws vs. acid, crushing blow, fall, and disintegration.
The rarest metal of them all. It was said that great weapons of power were crafted from such a metal that was sent down from the sky by the gods. The properties of meteorite vary with each rock. Some are magical some mundane. In game terms the GM would determine what (if any) properties exist from a found meteorite.
Known as “truemetal” to the dwarves, this silvery-blue, highly enchantable shining metal is derived from soft, glittering, silvery-black ore found in rare veins and pockets all over the realms, from the depths of the great mountains to surface rocks, particularly in the easternmost North Coast Lands.
Mithral is the lightest and most supple of metals. Any armor or weapon fashioned from this amazing metal weighs 50% less. Mithral readily takes enchantments, adding a +2 bonus to all saving throws of awakening, enchant an item, holy vesting, and wondrous web spells cast upon it. A weapon forged from this metal is granted a +1 to hit and damage and the weapons speed is improved by 1.
Armor forged from Mithral is not only lighter but it affords the wearer an additional +1 to his/her AC (armor class) due to the resilience of the metal. Mithral is an excellent metal to enchant due to its composition. Items made primarily of Mithral automatically succeed in all item saving throws vs. normal fire, cold, and electricity. They receive a +2 bonus to all item saving throws vs. acid, disintegration, magical fire, and lightning and a +4 bonus to all item saving throws vs. crushing blow and fall. And for these reasons, Mithral is coveted by the dwarves and elves.
This relatively common valuable pure metal is known to the elves as, “the sheath and shield of Art”, because, of all metals, it is the most associated with, and suitable for, magic. Some in Kiras believe silver is the hardened tears of the goddess Ilye, and in the eldest dwarven tongues, the names for silver meant, the blood of alloys, referring to its versatility in making one metal combine with another.
Many dwarves use silver in various alloy formulae of their own devising or formulae that have been handed down through clans for generations. Most of the beauty of metalwork down through the ages has been associated with the gleam and hue of mirror-polished, untarnished silver and it has always been associated with the adornment of magical items.
Enchanted items containing 60% or greater silver compostion by mass that involve moon-related magics, electricity or lightning, and pure energy discharges (such as magic missiles) will always automatically make all saving throws related to awakening, enchant an item, holy vesting, wondrous web, Merald’s Meld, Crown Meld, Obar’s lesser purification, Azundel’s purification, higher consecration, and any other purification spells cast upon them. If the silver content of an item is between 50% and 60%, the metal instead confers a +4 bonus on all such saving throws.
For other sorts of magical items with a silver content of 50% or greater, silver confers a +2 bonus to all rolls associated with the success of purification, strengthening, and melding spells. Certain elven folk, and many senior Mages, are known to command secret processes that exploit other magical benefits of silver.
Dwarves are known to be able to combine it with Mithral to make several lightning-warding alloys, so that a warrior clad in full plate armor made of such alloys can take the lightning strikes of a furious storm without harm and fight on. Items made primarily of silver make all item saving throws at the normal listings for metal.
Originally a gnomish secret, this alloy of copper, Mithral, platinum, and silver has been adopted by the Halflings and by certain elven and orc peoples in Kiras. Its making remains known to few, and in many writings it is hidden behind the term, “truesilver” (which has also has been applied to Mithral), or the phrase, “the trusty metal”. This is often misunderstood by human sages to mean steel or perhaps bronze; the very mistake the writers hoped would be made.
Telstang is dull silver in hue, rather like pewter, and is known as the singing metal because it gives off a clear bell-like tone when struck. It is nonferromagnetic but readily forgeable, though it tends to be brittle and easily snapped off or shattered in large pieces. It never oxidizes and so lasts forever if not struck or dropped.
Telstang’s shortcomings make it unsuitable for use in weapons or armor, but it is often worn (by folk who know of and can get it) as bracers, buckles, brooches, pendants, and the like because of its most valuable property. Telstang and all organic material in contact with it is resilient vs. spells that would alter one’s state or being; that is.
A warrior wearing Telstang saves at +4 vs. alter spells and the Telstang items themselves cannot be affected by paralysis spells, polymorph spells, disintegrate, petrification, shape change, and similar attacks. However, such a being also cannot be aided by beneficial magical state altering effects such as those conferred by spells such as spider climb and water breathing.
Except where the special property of Telstang comes into play, items made primarily of this metal automatically succeed in all item saving throws vs. normal fire, cold, and electricity. They receive a +1 bonus to all item saving throws vs. acid, disintegration, magical fire, and lightning, and save normally vs. crushing blow and fall.
This rare, durable, amber-to-red ferromagnetic metal is (thus far, at least) found only in volcanic mountains and in certain sand-scoured fissures. Orcs have long used this metal to craft shields and in some cases armor. Zardazik has a magnetic quality to it. Opponents who’s weapon comes into contact with a shield or armor made from this rare metal must make a Strength check to pull their weapon from the shield or armor.
Zardazik is somewhat difficult to work with as it resists the craftsman’s hammer. Crafting time is doubled and the crafter suffers a +4 proficiency check if the crafter does not have a suitable non-metal hammer.
Miscellaneous: Other materials used in the creation of armor and weapons are bone, bark, hide, chiton and dragon scale. There are many more creative materials a player could use. I suggest the GM use discretion and creativity when assigning special abilities to the different materials.
List of Example Material Crafting Modifications
-3 skill check
Weapons are +2 to hit and damage, and +1 on speed
Armor is +2 and saves at +4
-2 skill check
+2 skill check
Weapons save on 1 or break
Penalty of +1 on armor class
+4 skill check
Weapons save on 1-2 or break
Penalty of +2 to armor class
-1 skill check
Dlarun is not used in weapon construction
+3 skill check
Weapons save on 1-2 or break
Penalty of +2 to armor class
+6 skill check
Hizagkuur is not used in weapon construction
-2 skill check
Weapons are +1 to hit and damage and +1 on speed
+1 to armor class
+1 skill check
Damage vs. lycanthropes
-1 skill check
-4 skill check
Weapons are +1 to hit and Damage and have magnetic properties
Special Weapon Treatments
Dwarven, gnomish, and elven smiths all know ways to make metal weapons and armor beautiful, durable, and rust resistant. In fact, there are almost as many secret treatments as there are smiths at work. The most well-known of these are “Blueshine” and “Everbright”, practiced by dwarves for centuries; another is “Halabar’s Stealth”, a treatment that improves the ability of a metallic weapon to be employed covertly.
Blueshine is normally acquired through a complex series of precisely timed heatings, slakings, and prolonged baths in arcane mixtures of rare and enchanted liquids known to include cockatrice feather distillate, drops of the blood of various draconian species, and sweet water potions.
A human wizard, Toth of Larkspur, recently developed a spell that duplicates the effects of Blueshine and was rumored to have been slain by the dwarves for his efforts. Toth’s spell had already been stolen by a rival mage before the Dwarves tried to make it exclusively their own. It is a 4th-level wizard spell whose effects precisely duplicate the end result of the successful blueshine process.
Blueshine (Wiz 4; Alteration)
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 4
Area of Effect: The metal parts of any one item that is less than the caster’s own body volume in size
Saving Throw: None
This spell serves to alter and protect metals. The caster touches one item, which may be crafted of any number of inorganic substances joined together but must not be larger in total volume than the caster’s body. The Blueshine instantly takes effect. Organic substances, such as glues, can be present in the object, but if they make up more than a tenth of its total volume, the spell fails. Any fractures or weaknesses existing in the item are purged, so that they are whole, look like new, and are free of blemishes.
In addition, the metals are made more resistant to acids. An item treated with Blueshine gains a bonus of + 1 on all item saving throws vs. acid and all corrosive effects from venom, various bloods, ochre jelly secretions, and black dragon acid. A Blueshine spell also prevents future rusting and purges the metals of all oxidation, causing affected metal to revert to its former state, not merely melting rust away and leaving the item thinner or with gaps and holes. All metals treated with a Blueshine spell glow with a deep blue sheen when they catch available light.
The material component for this spell is a small piece of cobalt blue glass or a chip of a blue-hued gemstone.
This long, difficult, and exacting dwarven process is now known to smiths of other races, but it has thus far defied all efforts to duplicate its end results with a spell. At least three mages, Athlagh of the Many Locks (who resides in Firepost Towers in Ithmong), Halandrar Crowncloak of Ulkan, and Spelargh of Phelzol; and one archpriest, Beltorvan Duircragh, Bright Blade of Tempus in the Bloodbright Temple of Dolselar, have mounted long-running, continuing researches to this end with no success.
Metals treated with Everbright gain an enduring bright shine (akin to chromium) and become immune to tarnishing and other discoloration, acidic corrosion, and rusting even that caused by rust monster antennae. The passage of time does not affect the efficacy of Everbright protection, but it can be broken if a protected item is shattered into more than three pieces or comes into contact with lava, dragon fire, spellfire, or the heat of a forge hotter than that used in the latter stages of the everbright application.
The only widespread metal treatment devised by a human is this process of immersing and boiling items in a bath of stealthslake. The secret formula for stealthslake is known only to the House of Halabar, an assassin clan in Hycraland which guards it viciously. The descendants of Halabar are rumored to employ certain intelligent, shape-changing monsters to strike at lore thieves if they cannot easily do so in person as well as to attack targets such as Waterdhavian nobles and lords of Westgate.
Halabar’s stealth renders metallic items nonferromagnetic, nonreflective, and silent, not clanging even when struck against other metals or stone with force. Treated items are able to take dyes and paints, so that even bare sword blades can readily be changed in color and thus concealed from long-range detection. Treated items still strike sparks at sharp impacts and when broken and conduct lightning as well as ever.
This proficiency allows a character to create metal weapons. As mentioned in the player’s handbook, a weaponsmith does need to have a smithy. The costs for having a smithy are given above in this section, under “Armorer.” In fact, the same smithy can be used for armoring and weaponsmithing.
At the end of the weapon-making process, the weaponsmith makes his Weaponsmithing proficiency ability check. He’ll use the Proficiency Modifier based on the materials and the weapon quality he’s trying to achieve. See the modifiers, times and other factoids below, under Weapon Quality.
If he successfully makes his check, he’s created the weapon he wanted to create. If he fails, the quality of the weapon might not be what he was trying to achieve or he might have created a weapon that looks like what he intended to make, but he knows it has a serious structural flaw. He can still sell the weapon, of course, but eventually, after he’s done this sort of thing a few times, his reputation as a craftsman will be utterly ruined. It’s better just to break the item, sell it as a wall-hanger, etc.
The true signature of a master smith is in the quality of his work. Not many crafters have the ability to create master works. It takes a great deal of patience, time, and above all, experience to make such an item. It is possible for a player to construct weapons of all types of quality. They might have to assess the time needed in such a creation or the player might simply have to look at his skill and ask themself if this is something he/she is capable of doing.
The risk is lost time, pride, and materials. The reward is an items worthy of praise. Below are the four basic types of crafting.
Poor quality weapons are shabbily made. They look bad, and like the flawed weapons described above, they break on a natural attack roll of from 1 to 5. They don’t hit as well (this is a penalty to the attack roll) or do as much damage (penalty to the damage) as their average-quality equivalents. Poor crafting might be used when time is an issue. Maybe the player needs to outfit a group of villagers with weapons but he only has a week. If a player rolls a critical success when crafting a poor item, the item in question gets moved up to average quality.
- Skill check +5
- __ construction time
- A missed roll makes the item useless.
Average quality weapons are not especially notable; they get the job done, they’re reliable, and they’re inexpensive. Average quality is what you might see given to a military outfit. If a player rolls a critical success when crafting a Average item, the item in question gets moved up to fine quality.
- Skill check +3
- Standard construction time
- A roll missed by 5 drops the quality to poor. A roll missed by more than 5 means the item is destroyed and unusable.
Fine quality weapons are very well-made and are a worthy weapon for an adventurer. They also cost twice that of average weapons. Enchantments are typically made on weapons of at least Fine quality. When crafting an exceptional item the player needs to determine one aspect of its creation he is trying hard to focus on. He can choose from a +1 to hit, +1 to damage, or a +1 to speed. This bonus is not magical; it comes from improved balance, sharpness, etc. If a player rolls a critical success when crafting a fine item he/she gets to roll on the critical success chart.
- Skill check +3
- Standard construction time X 2
- A roll missed by 1-5 drops the quality to average. A roll missed by 6-10 makes the item poor quality. A roll missed by 11 or more renders the item useless.
- Player must declare what ability he would like this item to have. +1 to hit, + to damage or -1 to speed
Exceptional quality weapons are like fine weapons, but they may have multiple bonuses depending on how much time the player spends on the item in question: They might be +1 to attack rolls, +1 to damage, and +2 speed. Each additional bonus must be rolled for. However the crafter may add his margin of success into his/her next proficiency check. It takes much more time to craft an exceptional weapon. Each additional bonus the crafter is attempting adds days to the crafting.
The additional days are based off the average construction time. (Please note the example below.) A failed roll is days wasted. They are very expensive as only the finest of materials are used. This type of weapon is reserved for items worthy of a lord or King. If a player rolls a critical success when crafting a exceptional item the item they are granted a +5 on their next roll. In addition, the player may roll on the critical success chart.
Gunther is attempting to craft a an exceptional battle axe. He hopes to have bonuses to damage, attack and speed. He lays out his materials and begins crafting. His weaponsmith skill is at 16 and he has a +5 to his ability check due to this attempt at an exceptional weapon. After 15 days at the forge he must roll and he rolls a 9, the weapon is created with a +1 to damage. He is not done with the axe and he presses on attempting to add a +1 to attack. 4 days later he rolls again at +5.
The player rolls a 3 and the weapon is finely balanced and this adds a +1 to his attack roll. Gunther in not done though. He hopes to make this weapon lighter and even more balanced so that it might add a +2 to speed. Four days later he rolls again with a +5, this time failing with a roll of 14. Gunther could continue adding additional day but he risks damaging the work he has done. And he has pressing business to attend to so he stops his work. For 27 days he worked the forge and he steps out with a battle axe worthy of a King with a non-magical +1 to attack and damage.
- Skill check +5
- Standard construction time multiplied by each bonus the crafter is trying to achieve. Roll for each one.
- For the first initial crafting stage a roll missed by 1-2 drops the item down to fine. It can be worked no further. A missed roll of 3-5 drops the quality to average. A roll missed by 6-10 makes the item poor quality. A roll missed by 11 or more takes the item down to quick quality. A fumble renders the item useless
- Crafter may add the margin of success from his/her last roll to the next proficiency check
- Player must declare what ability he would like this item to have. +1 to hit, + to damage, or +2 to speed
|Battle Axe||2 days||4 days||7 days||15 days|
|Hand Axe||1 day||2 days||4 days||7 days|
|Dagger||1 day||2 days||4 days||7 days|
|H. Crossbow||4 days||7 days||15 days||30 days|
|L. Crossbow||3 days||5 days||10 days||20 days|
|Fork, Trident||4 days||7 days||15 days||30 days|
|Spear, Lance||2 days||4 days||10 days||20 days|
|Short Sword||4 days||7 days||15 days||30 days|
|Long Sword||5 days||6 days||20 days||40 days|
|Sword||7 days||15 days||30 days||60 days|
|8-13||1/3 Reduction in crafting time|
|22-30||_ Reduction in crafting time|
|36-40||+5 to saving throws of item|
|41-50||-1 to speed|
|51-55||Add 1 point to skill (learning experience)|
|56-60||+1 to hit|
|61-65||+1 to damage|
|66-70||Impervious to damage (ruined only on a critical failure)|
|71-75||+10% to all critical rolls|
|76-80||81-90 +1 to hit and damage|
|81-90||Roll twice (disregard anything above 80%)|
|91-93||+2 to hit|
|94-95||+2 to damage|
|96-97||+1 rank to critical roll (i.e. B becomes as C)|
|98-99||Magical (minor blessing of Gornhiem)
Book 1, PG 16 of encyclopedia magica
|100||Item is a vessel for a Psionic imprint of the creator or it
houses a wandering entity. Roll on the intelligent weapon chart.