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Weapon Construction Rules

Note: These rules are 3.5 compatible. There are also 5e Weapon Construction Rules.


These rules are designed to free people from the tyranny of a weapon list. By selecting various qualities, you may choose the stats of your weapons directly, thus allowing you freedom to customize the construction of your weapon. You must select one quality each from Handedness, Damage, Crit, Complexity, Reach, and Damage Type, and any number of traits from General. The overall value of the weapon cannot be positive, but you are free to construct weapons with a negative overall value. The weapon's qualities should be reasonable, given the weapon's design.


These rules will construct weapons for Medium creatures. If creating weapons for creatures of another size, first construct the weapon using this list as if the creature was Medium, and then increase or decrease the damage according to the "Larger and Smaller Weapon Damage" table in the PH. As usual for 3.5, a cumulative -2 penalty applies on attack rolls for each size category of difference between the size of its intended wielder and the size of its actual wielder.



(+0) Light

(-1) One-handed

(-3) Two-handed

(+0) Double Weapon (each head)¹



(-2) 1d3

(-1) 1d4

(+0) 1d6

(+1) 1d8 / 2d4

(+2) 1d10

(+3) 2d6 / 1d12

(+4) 2d8



(-1) x2

(+0) 19-20x2 / x3

(+1) 18-20x2 / x4

(+2) 19-20x3



(+1) Simple

(+0) Martial

(-1) Exotic



(+0) Normal

You threaten squares adjacent to you, according to your size.

(+1) Extended

You threaten squares at twice your normal reach, but do not threaten squares within your normal reach.

(+3) Full

You threaten all squares within double your normal reach.


Damage Type

(+0) Bludgeoning

(+0) Piercing

(+0) Slashing



(+2) Ranged

Your weapon does not threaten any squares, and attacking with it in a threatened square provokes AoOs, but you may attack with a range increment of 50 ft. Your weapon uses ammunition, but you may reload as a free action. (Additional range costs additional GP, but does not improve the value of the weapon.) Most other General properties will not work on a Ranged weapon.

(-1) Slow Reload

Requires: Ranged

Reloading your weapon is a move-equivalent action that provokes AoOs.

(-1) Really Slow Reload

Requires: Ranged, Slow Reload

Reloading your weapon is a full-round action that provokes AoOs.

(+1) Throwing

You may throw your weapon with a range increment of 10 ft. Using it at Range provokes an AoO, but otherwise it does not gain any of the bonuses or penalties of Ranged weapons.

(+0) Monk Weapon

Requires: Simple weapon, and either Light or Double-Headed weapon

Your weapon is a special monk weapon. This designation gives a monk wielding this weapon special options.

(+0) Unarmed

Requires: Tripping

Your weapon is your fist - it is an unarmed strike, and obeys all the applicable rules for unarmed strikes.

(+1) Nonlethal

The weapon deals nonlethal damage rather than lethal damage. You may choose to deal lethal damage with this weapon with a -4 penalty to your attack.

(+½) Tripping

You may use this weapon to make trip attacks. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop your weapon to avoid being tripped.

(+½) Disarming

You gain +2 bonus on opposed attack rolls made to disarm an enemy (including the roll to avoid being disarmed if such an attempt fails).

(+½) Set

If you use a ready action to set your weapon against a charge, you deal double damage on a successful hit against a charging character.

(+1) Mounted

You deal double damage when you use this weapon from the back of a charging mount. If the weapon is two-handed, you may treat it as one-handed while mounted.

(+2) Shielding

Requires: Light or One-handed weapon

Your weapon is built for both offense and defense (or is a shield that can be used as a weapon). As long as you do not use it to attack in a round, it grants a +2 shield bonus to AC if it is a One-handed weapon, or a +1 shield bonus to AC if it is a Light weapon.

The shield component of the weapon does not benefit from any weapon enhancement bonus; it must be separately enhanced as a shield.

(+0) Light Shielding

Your weapon has a small amount of defensive ability, but at the cost of ease-of-use. If you do not use it to attack in a round, it grants you a +1 shield bonus to AC. However, all melee attacks with this weapon suffer a -1 penalty. Ranged attacks are unaffected.
The shield component of the weapon does not benefit from any weapon enhancement bonus; it must be separately enhanced as a shield.

(+1) Improvised

Improvised gives no penalty or benefit. An item not meant to be used as a weapon must include the Improvised quality when its stats are constructed.


¹ To build a double weapon, build two separate weapons each with Double-Weapon handedness, representing the two heads of the weapon.  Wielding a double weapon always requires two hands: either as a normal two-handed weapon using one of the heads, or as a TWF weapon, treating one head as a One-handed weapon in your primary hand and the other as a Light weapon in your off hand. You must choose at the beginning of each round how you are wielding the weapon. Each side of a double weapon must be enhanced separately, as if they were separate weapons, but all feats and class abilities applying to a particular weapon apply to both sides equally.



Final Notes

It is, unfortunately, impossible to be completely exhaustive in this list. Some weapons are still not well-represented in these rules. Mostly this is due to the presence of 'free' properties, such as the Rapier's ability to be used with Weapon Finesse, or the double damage types that the Morningstar has. These free properties do not affect the value of a weapon (as can be simply demonstrated), but should still be restricted to thematically appropriate weapons. A very small number of weapons (to the best of my knowledge, just the Gauntlet, Shortbow, and Greatclub) come out with a cost of -1 or less when built using these rules. Considering that the vast majority of weapons come out at either -½ or 0, this implies that these rare weapons are actually underpowered. A simple boost in damage by one or two steps fixes them again, though.  Similarly, a very small number of weapons come out slightly overpowered (the dagger, for instance), but it's never by any significant amount, and presumably the designers felt the slight imbalance was insignificant and worth the flavor.


As well, certain oddities in the weapon rules are purposely not represented, for they are too complex or are represented purely by a GP cost difference. Mostly this just applies to Ranged weapons. Crossbows are now used like any other weapon, rather than having special wielding rules. All bows factor your Str mod into damage rather than making a distinction between Mighty/non-Mighty. This means that low Str will actually hurt your bow damage as well. Finally, range is purely a factor of gp cost, rather than being a direct input into the rules.


Also, the exotic monk weapons are utter shit.  They're in the Exotic category for flavor, not for mechanics; this is done solely to keep them out of the hands of "normal" player characters, as D&D generally defaults to Western fantasy, only allowing Eastern influences via the Monk.  The monk weapons are all Simple weapons, mechanically.


Finally, when constructing analogues for Unarmed Strike or Gauntlet, keep in mind that they should be treated as Tripping weapons. Without this, the Unarmed quality is too cheap.


Flexible Weapons

A side-effect of constructible weapon stats is that it immediately brings up the possibility of changing those stats. I am completely in favor of this, and present the following rule:


While a weapon is generally built to be wielded in a particular fashion, skilled warriors can put them to entirely different uses at the cost of some degree of ability. As a free action, you may redefine the statistics of your weapon. However, the redefined statistics must include the Improvised quality. At any time you may return to the base statistics of the weapon.


Weapon Flexibility

Benefit: When you take this feat, choose a single weapon and create two alternative balanced sets of statistics for it. You do not have to include the Improvised quality when designing these alternate stats. These alternate stats are treated as base statistics of the weapon, and you may change to them as a free action as described in the Flexible Weapons section. If you change to any other form of alternate statistics, however, you must still include the Improvised quality as normal.

Normal: When changing the statistics of your weapon, you must include the Improvised quality in the redefined statistics.

Special: This feat can be taken more than once. You may select the same weapon and gain an additional two alternate sets of statistics, or select a new weapon.


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