Weapon materials in D&D 5ed

I am trying to avoid adding complexity and sub-systems to my game, but for my campaign world to be thematically coherent I did decide to make a system for weapon materials, so there is a difference between bronze and steel. As the group is in  a remote land, as part of the first settlement in this “undiscovered” realm, I try to enhance the need to be self-sufficient, add incentive to explore and find new things, and that when exploring you need to be selective in what you bring with you on your travels (I know, that consideration disappears when they get a big bag of holding…)

6-krigsscene-farve-stor (1)
Imagined scene from the early Iron Age, done in connection with the bog body of the Danish Tollund Man. Image by Niels Bach. Read more at: http://www.tollundman.dk

I’ve tried not to make it too punitive to the characters, but it should push them to carry alternate weapons, rest after encounters and take down-time to craft their own items and so on.

As magic weapons and armour slowly will become available, I don’t foresee this to still be a very relevant rule-set after level 10. But as mentioned, the rules are meant to create mood and atmosphere.

Weapon quality and material
As not all cultures have the same level of technology within manufacturing of arms and armour, different enemies will have weapons and armours made from various materials with various properties, strengths and weaknesses. As to not skew the combat rules overly, most of the materials have their most significant impact on weight, price and production time, which can be important far from civilization.

Damaging and breaking weapons and armour
Whenever a combatant rolls a natural 1 in combat with a weapon, not made from steel, he has to roll a DC 10 DEX ability check to avoid the weapon breaking. If he succeeds using the weapon still confers disadvantage until it has been serviced during a short rest.

Whenever a combatant is hit with a natural 20, his non-steel armour gets damaged and he loses 1 point of AC, until he spends a short rest mending the damage.

Steel can in the old world (almost) only be crafted by dwarves, who knows its secrets and can create the temperatures necessary to forge it. Their arms and armours are highly prized, also among its enemies, and can easily fetch several times the price of regular iron forged weapons.

Steel weapons don’t need to roll for damage or breakage, unless fighting against a foe with magical weapons or armour.
Medium and heavy steel armour weighs 10% less than iron armour, as it needs less material for the same level of protection.

Rapiers are a new type of weapon used by the wealthy in the City-States, and it can only be made from steel.
Steel weapons and armor costs around 5 times the listed price in the Player’s Handbook.

Half-Plate and Full Plate are always made from steel and cost the price listed in the PHB.

Bronze spear heads

Iron weapons are the default weapons in the Player’s Handbook. They comply with the breaking and damaging rules above.
Half-Plate and Full plates cannot be made from iron.

Copper & Bronze

Both materials are weaker than iron, and when fighting against steel weapons they automatically suffer the effects of damage on a roll of a natural 1 or natural 20 (for armor). If fighting against iron weapons the normal rules for breaking apply.

Stone & bone
Stone weapons suffer a -1 damage penalty against iron and steel armour. However, some cultures have processes that make the stone hard as iron or steel. The weight is still greater than comparable iron or steel weapons.

flint arrows

Bone breast plate: Made from mighty beasts, these breastplates function as regular breastplates, due to the high level of craftsmanship and density of the bone used. They would be highly prized in their culture.

Scale Armour: scale made from regular scales of beasts or from thick bone chips work as a hide armour, but scales or bones from truly dangerous beasts or magically treated can work as a scale mail or splint mail, depending on the construction. The scales of these beasts are equivalent of iron, but can be broken by steel.

Magical weapons:
Magical weapons or armour cannot be broken through regular combat. Special significant events have to occur to endanger them, such as Elder Dragon fire, volcanos and epic level magic.

Mortal Wounds in D&D

I received the comment from one of my players that he in D&D would miss the worn and battered look of PCs after years of adventuring that is the natural outcome in a game like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I agree with him, and I do think that the consequences of falling in battle in D&D can seem a bit trivial. Therefore I made a simple Mortal Wounds system, which is a merger between a regular critical hit table and the Lingering Injuries presented as an option in the Dungeon Masters Guide.

There are a couple of purposes:
– Having a consequence of dropping to 0 hit points for the individual (it is dangerous!)
– Giving characters marks of leading a rough and dangerous life
– Draining additional attention and resources during combat

I’ve already tested it in my 1st and 2nd level group playing Temple of Elemental Evil. During the first session, when I hadn’t introduced it yet, the Paladin dropped to 0 hit points three times (!). It is not that uncommon at low levels, so I introduced a Constitution save to mitigate the risk somewhat among the front-line types.
During the second session, the paladin dropped twice and the monk once. Both failed one saving throw, and the paladin lost 3 teeth and the monk bled badly. My conclusion is that from my limited experience it seems to be working. Both examples added drama and fun.

I have both a table for physical and energy attacks. The rule and physical table looks as follows:

Mortal Wounds:

Whenever a creature drops below 0 hit points, and thus receives a potentially mortal wound, there is a risk that the being will suffer some kind of permanent injury, or a more long lasting injury that requires special care or treatment. The player rolls a Constitution Save DC 8 + damage exceeding 0. If he fails the adventurer or creature rolls on the mortal wound table.

Physical Attacks:

Roll: 2d10 Effect:
2 The blow knocks you into a coma. You will not awake for 2d6 days unless a greater restoration is cast.
3 A rib is broken and causes internal bleeding. You receive disadvantage on stabilization rolls.
4 Your kidney is bruised, and you subsequently frequently piss blood, and have to go several times per night to piss.
5 You are hit on the head and receive a concussion. After stabilizing you will need 3 days of full rest. Until the rest has been completed you receive disadvantage on all saving throws, and cannot gain benefits from short rests.
6 A kneecap is hit, shattering it. The leg is useless until 10 points of magical healing is administered, and you are in incredible pain until it is done, screaming as loud as you can unless succeeding in a DC wisdom save.
7 The blow destroys a tendon in one of the legs, and you cannot walk without support until you have fully restored your hit points. You receive a limp on either left or right leg.
8 The blow damages either a non-magical weapon or shield held, armour worn or backpack. Roll randomly between them. You have to have the item repaired by a professional before it is usable again.
9 One of your limbs is broken (roll 1d4). Until at least 10 points of magical healing has been received the limb is useless.
10 A major vein is hit and you are bleeding heavily. Disadvantage on stabilization roll.
11 1d3 teeth are shattered or knocked out.
12 The hit will leave a large scar on a random body part 1: head 2: left arm, 3: right arm, 4: body, 5: left leg, 6: right leg
13 Your nose is broken and bleeds heavily. The nose has to be set or become misaligned.
14 The blow crushes or slices of a finger. Roll 1d8 to determine which digit.
15 The blow shatters the bones in one of your arms (roll random), damaging the nerves. Anything held is dropped, and you have disadvantage on any attack rolls using the hand, until restored to full hit points and having a restoration spell administered. You will retain a slight shake in the hand, which can only be removed by a regenerate.
16 You are hit heavily on the jaw dislocating it (which makes you unable to speak clearly) until magical healing has been administered.
17 One of your ears is mangled or sliced off by the blow. Roll randomly which. It can be restored if you receive at least 10 points of magical healing within 3 rounds.
18 Several bones in your face are crushed misaligning your face. You lose 1 point of Charisma, unless a cure spell is administered every day for the next three days to restore it. Regenerate or heal will also remove the damage.
19 One of your hands is destroyed. Unless magical healing is applied within 3 rounds, the hand is useless or severed.
20 An eye is destroyed. You receive -2 on ranged attacks. Regenerate can restore the eye.