Monday, March 8, 2010

Quality Levels for Items

I've always liked the idea of having different quality levels for weapons, armor, clothes and pretty much everything else that can be made. For example GURPS keeps it simple (yes that's right they keep this simple) they have two levels of quality that make a weapon a better. A fine weapon will get you +1 to damage where a very fine weapon will get +2 to damage. Slap your hands together and you are done. In a product I bought recently, Goods and Gear: The Ultimate Adventure Guide, has five levels of quality. The highest is Masterwork, then Sovereign, Standard, then you start getting into the lower end with Inferior and finally Shoddy.

One of the main reason I like the different levels of quality is the economics of it. In a world where monsters roam freely the wars are waged regularly there will be a premium on weapons and armor. A young warrior may have to settle for an inferior sword or used armor. If you go through low level dungeons and take a look at the loot often times the weapon the bandit or goblin is using is worth many times more than the coins in their pockets. In my campaign I have scrappers in all the larger locations. They are like a used armor and weapon store. When an adventuring party comes in they will buy the metal by so much per stone. Most of the weapons gathered by the party will be melted down and remade. While some of the other weapons may be good enough to resell. The players often get more coin from the scrap they sell.

Another reason I like the quality levels is that it adds a value to the craftsmen themselves. If you go over to Stabber's you get good stuff, reliable, nothing fancy. If you go to Slasher's he makes great swords, but his knives are not balanced for throwing and so on. It gives you a crunch element that you can add to your shops. As a GM you can into as much detail as you want in this, but just to have a minimum layer of quality levels adds a lot to the game.

And the last reason I'll give, because I am running out of time, is magic item creation. All those +5 swords of awesomeness, but no fly out of a mage's butt. They needed to be made by a master craftsman. This can add another element of acquiring the right person to build the item before it gets enchanted.

I'm late gotta run. Don't think of it as Monday, think of it as 4 days before Friday.


  1. Good stuff, Tim.

    > winces at the thought of passing a +5 sword through the lower tract <

  2. Or magic and good quality, for the +2.

  3. I use this as well, however not as advanced. Simply a finely crafted weapon will give you a +1. If the players insist on fighting with junk, er, weapons they loot or pick up, any time an attack roll is a 1 or a 20, I roll a saving throw for the item to see if it breaks or not. Substandard craftsmanship is the same way.