The inside of a weapons shop with many weapon parts strewn all around.

Recently I’ve been writing a few articles that highlight some of the homebrew changes I make to D&D5e to make it more epic and open (Simpler Currency System and Point Buy Feats). The current game I’m running is in a Final Fantasy world and I’ve wanted to make sure things felt more open and accessible. Today I want to share the Modular Weapon and Armor system I use to make weapons more interesting and variable. This system is definitely not RAW or appropriate for more OSR style games, but what it does is allow weapons to be more interesting and adaptable to character concepts. It gives an upgrade option outside of magic +1 weapons and armor. With stock D&D rules there aren’t a lot of ways to make a dagger “better” except by making it a +1 weapon. Older editions had things like Masterwork, which were interesting and added some definition to the weapons and armor. This system separates weapon mechanics and narrative aspects to allow more interesting weapon types.

The Core Concepts

The core concept of this system is to start with a base cost for the weapon or armor based on the core effect it has. From there you add weapon properties and other modifiers that change the base cost of the weapon or armor. Here are the steps for building this system out for use, but you can just modify prices in the tables later on and insert into your game for ease of use.

Creating The Tables

  • Step 1 – Assign Tiers – Assign quality tiers to the basic categories for weapons and armor. Those would be Simple and Martial Weapons and Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor. In the tables presented later I have the various tiers set up as Poor, Basic, Good, Great, Excellent, etc. but they can be modified to fit your setting constraints.
  • Step 2 – Base Costs – Find a base cost for each quality tier within the category based on the relevant factor. For weapons that is damage and for armor that is the AC provided. For example: A simple weapon of Poor (d4 damage) quality would be ## sp, while a weapon of Basic (d6 damage) quality would be ## sp, etc.
  • Step 3 – Modifiers – Create mechanical weapon and armor modifiers that affect the price by a percentage. The Light weapon property that allows a weapon to be used with two weapon fighting style is now set up as a modifier that adds a %% to the base cost of the weapon.

That’s the basic setup of the system for your game. What comes next is building the weapons and armor when you need one. Let’s imagine that a magic using character who can only wield simple weapons wants to get a new staff made that is capable of withstanding combat as well as channeling magic. They would follow the following steps to build the weapon (or armor) and determine the cost.

Building Weapons and Armor

  • Step 1 – Base Cost and Effect –  Determine the base damage / quality of the weapon you want to create.
  • Step 2 – Modifiers – Add weapon property modifiers and cost modifiers associated with those. Weapon modifiers add or subtract together to get a final %% which is applied against the base cost. A +20% and a -10% modifier would be a final +10% modifier.
  • Step 3 – Calculate Final Price Calculate the final Price and add any GM modifications, “taxes”, or cost modifiers to represent non-mechanical elements or help with balance issues.

That’s it. New weapon acquired and priced. Let’s look at it a bit more in-depth though.

  • Step 1 – Base Cost and Effect – Aven’s player wants a new staff that is more capable and sturdy in combat to represent their nature as a battle-mage. The GM says sure, figure it out and then we’ll come up with the narrative of how you get it. The player wants it to be the max damage possible, so she picks a d8 for 120 sp.
  • Step 2 –  Modifiers – A regular quarterstaff is written up with the Versatile property, so Aven’s player adds that. From the list of modifiers versatile is a +10% cost. At this point, we have a regular if slightly more damaging quarterstaff. Aven’s player doesn’t want to just let it stop there. They are a magic user, they want something really special. How about an extra damage type. Let’s add slashing and piercing! Well, that’s two +10% modifiers so we are up to +30% total.
  • Step 3 – Calculate Final Price – At 120sp + 30% we have a staff that costs 156 sp, but this isn’t the final price necessarily. Aven’s player talks with the Game Master and they determine what the narrative elements are around this. They decide that Aven meets another traveling battlemage who knows some unique tricks. They teach Aven how to add some unique “quicksilver” channels into the staff that will make it more sturdy as well as let Aven channel some magical energy to create energy blades and spikes around the staff. So the slashing and piercing come from Aven channeling a little energy into the staff to form a small energy blade that cuts. The GM thinks on this and likes it, but decides that the staff might count as a concealed weapon, at least part of it would so they say add +10% to the base cost. That takes the modifier total to +40% which makes the final cost 168 sp. They do a quick montage of the battlemage showing how to carve the channels, giving Aven the bottle of “quicksilver” to pour in and showing how to channel the energy into a blade. The material cost is considered to be spent on special components rather than paying the battle-mage.


There are a lot of benefits that come out of using a system like this.

What This System Gets You

So, why would you use this system over the core D&D system that’s already written up? There are a lot of benefits that come out of the small amount of extra work you need to do.

  • Narrative Freedom with relative mechanical balance – If a player wants a weapon for a character that is unique or special in some way, it’s easy enough to create. Let’s imagine that a player with a rogue character wants a kind of Armblade built into a bracer. We start with a Martial Weapon of Good Quality providing 1d6 damage and costing 60 sp. At this point it’s the same as a handaxe or shortsword for damage. The player wants to use it for dual wielding and with dexterity, so that adds the Light modifier at +10% and the Finesse modifier at +10%. Now it’s more in line with a shortsword for damage and properties.
    • The final stats and cost: Armblade – 1d6 damage + DEX or STR, Light (dual wielding), Finesse (DEX or STR) – cost 72 sp.
  • Upgradability – Does this scene sound familiar? The players are in town and you ask them what they are looking for. One player wants to find a “better” set of daggers, not magical because they don’t have that much money yet, but something better that does more damage. Hmmm. You want to say yes, so you’ll have to just homebrew something that feels right. With a system like this, you can figure out the costs and decide how to handle it from there. Upgrading from a d4 dagger (Finesse, light, thrown (range 20/60) – 26 sp) to a d6 dagger is merely a matter of determining the difference in cost. The 3 modifiers at +10% each equal 30% and the new base cost is 60 instead of 20. Buying the daggers new would be 78 sp. You could determine that someone in town could sharpen and re-hone them for a difference of 52 sp or say that it costs 78 sp to reforge them, just as a new set would cost. The process to determine the difference in cost is already in place, it’s just a matter of deciding if the thematics of the work are accurate enough.
  • Cost by function, not form – In stock D&D 5e, a handaxe costs 5 gp while a shortsword costs 10 gp. The handaxe has thrown while the shortsword has finesse. A scimitar is 1d6 slashing with finesse, just like a shortsword, but has a cost of 25 gp. A trident costs 5 gp and the damage is 1d6 piercing with thrown and versatile. Much of the actual price in these instances is solely based on narrative functions and older fantasy gaming concepts, which is fine but lacks a balance. Using a system where cost is based on function allows things to match up in decently similar ways. You could set narrative costs, but those will be largely arbitrary. A handaxe made with elven craftsmanship to be a finesse weapon? You know how much that costs mechanically. If you want to consider it more expensive because it is an art piece or because it is made with a special material that is fine. The extra cost reflects the narrative elements.
  • Expandability – A system like this that provides mechanical basis for the modifiers allows you to figure out ways to add in your own special properties rather easily. Taking the armblade example above, imagine that the player wants the armblade to be a concealed weapon. A modifier for that isn’t currently written up, but all you have to do is decide the parameters and cost. You may quickly jot down that a +20% concealment cost would make the weapon concealed at a quick glance while a +60% would mean it would be concealed from nearly any visual inspection, but not necessarily a pat-down. You could even decide that adding concealment would just straight up be +100% or +120% because it would take a lot of mechanical elements and tricks. If the player wanted to have a greatsword with a 1d12 damage as a concealed weapon, well you have a basis to determine that would cost +300% of the normal cost. The concealment could be magical, it could be a very special expanding greatsword, it could be a very thin but sturdy greatsword that is disguised in a thick oaken staff. It could be a metal pole that has mechanical blades that slide out from the sides. It could be the magical metal morphing powers of the elemental blood that is your legacy allowing you to perform a minor, practiced change in the metal bar of a specific composition that you always carry with you. The verisimilitude of your campaign is up to you, but the option to say yes and figure out the cost is available in a slightly more balanced way.
  • Flexibility – If you use this system to determine the base mechanical costs of the weapons and armor, you have a basis to decide costs narratively but still have a solid core. Maybe a concealed armor is easier with a certain kind of material (a cloak) compared to a set of noble’s clothes. One may require just a bit of tailoring while the other requires some kind of special steel spider-silk. That could be the difference between a +20% and a +80% based on the narrative. You may be making a semi-arbitrary decision, but you are basing it on a system. It isn’t just +40 gold or +130 gold, it’s a percentage based on difference in effort. You can make changes after that if it doesn’t feel right, but you have a solid basis to guide your decisions. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” That saying is attributed to Pablo Picasso, but there is also a similar one attributed to the Dalai Lama.  The idea is to have a solid system in place that allows for modifications in a standardized way. You can determine how wide of a change you want to make rather than having it feel arbitrary to your players.

All the Details

I’ve gone on long enough talking about the benefits of the system, so let’s end this article with the information you REALLY needed – the tables and costs. These are based on my FFXIV x DND costs but I’ve tweaked them back to silver costs to integrate more easily into a standard D&D game. You can get an approximate gold costs by dividing by 10.

Armor Creation Table

Light Armor

Light Armor Cost AC Strength Stealth Weight
Basic 125 sp 10 + Dex modifier
Good 250 sp 11 + Dex modifier
Great 500 sp 12 + Dex modifier

Medium Armor

Armor Cost AC Strength Stealth Weight
Basic 500 sp 12 + Dex modifier (max 2)
Good 1,000 sp 13 + Dex modifier (max 2)
Great 2,000 sp 14 + Dex modifier (max 2)
Excellent 4,000 sp 15 + Dex modifier (max 2)

Heavy Armor

Armor Cost AC Strength Stealth Weight
Basic 1,000 sp 14 Disadvantage
Good 2,000 sp 16 Str 13 Disadvantage
Great 4,000 sp 17 Str 15 Disadvantage
Excellent 8,000 sp 18 Str 15 Disadvantage



Armor Cost AC Weight
Shield 400 sp +2 6 lb.

Armor Modifiers

Armor Cost Properties
Clunky -10% Disadvantage on stealth
Silenced, Heavy +30% Heavy armor does not incur disadvantage on stealth
Concealed +20% Does not appear as armor
Concealed, Heavy +50% Heavy armor does not appear as armor


Standard 5e Armor Costs

Light Armor

Armor Cost Armor Class (AC) Strength Stealth Weight
Padded 225 sp 11 + Dex modifier Disadvantage 8 lb.
Leather 250 sp 11 + Dex modifier 10 lb.
Studded leather 500 sp 12 + Dex modifier 13 lb.

Medium Armor

Armor Cost Armor Class (AC) Strength Stealth Weight
Hide 500 sp 12 + Dex modifier (max 2) 12 lb.
Chain shirt 1,000 sp 13 + Dex modifier (max 2) 20 lb.
Scale mail 1,800 sp 14 + Dex modifier (max 2) Disadvantage 45 lb.
Breastplate 2,000 sp 14 + Dex modifier (max 2) 20 lb.
Half plate 3,600 sp 15 + Dex modifier (max 2) Disadvantage 40 lb.

Heavy Armor

Armor Cost Armor Class (AC) Strength Stealth Weight
Ring mail 1,000 sp 14 Disadvantage 40 lb.
Chain mail 2,000 sp 16 Str 13 Disadvantage 55 lb.
Splint 4,000 sp 17 Str 15 Disadvantage 60 lb.
Plate 8,000 sp 18 Str 15 Disadvantage 65 lb.


Armor Cost AC Weight
Shield 400 sp +2 6 lb.


Weapon Creation Table

Simple Melee Weapons

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Poor 20 sp 1d4 Choose one damage type
Basic 60 sp 1d6 Choose one damage type
Good 120 sp 1d8 Choose one damage type

Martial Melee Weapons

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Poor 20 sp 1d4 Choose one damage type
Basic 60 sp 1d6 Choose one damage type
Good 120 sp 1d8 Choose one damage type
Great 250 sp 1d10 Choose one damage type
Excellent* 600 sp 1d12 or 2d6 Choose one damage type, may have some counterbalance like heavy, two handed, or a special material.

Weapon Modifiers

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Ranged, Thrown +10% Range (20/60), have to retrieve
Ranged, Ammunition +30% Range (30/120), uses ammunition
Ranged, Long +40% Range (80/320), uses ammunition
Ranged, Very Long +60% Range (150/600), uses ammunition
Loading -10% Can only be fired 1 / turn
Light +10% Weapon can be used for dual wielding (max 1d6 damage)
Heavy -10% Small creatures have disadvantage
Finesse +10% Use DEX or STR as attribute (max 1d8 damage)
Two-handed -10% Requires 2 hands to use it
Versatile +10% Can use one handed or 2 handed (up one damage die type, 1d6 becomes 1d8)
Extra Damage Type +10% Add piercing, bludgeoning, or slashing to weapon
Ranged / Melee +10% Weapon functions equally well as well as a ranged or a melee weapon, requires ranged ammunition
Special Materials or Complexity Tax +1 level base cost / extra % costs Made of some special material that allows it to be unique in some way or fairly complex in some way as the mechanical parts and labor are more expensive. If the base cost is a d8, consider it as if it were a d10 instead. Alternatively, add in an extra +10%, +40%, +200%, etc. as relevant. Used to justify special options.

Standard Weapons List

Simple Melee Weapons

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Club 22 sp 1d4 bludgeoning 2 lb. Light
Dagger / Dart 26 sp 1d4 piercing 1 lb. Finesse, light, thrown (range 20/60)
Greatclub 114 sp 1d8 bludgeoning 10 lb. Two-handed
Handaxe 72 sp 1d6 slashing 2 lb. Light, thrown (range 20/60)
Javelin 72 sp 1d6 piercing 2 lb. Thrown (range 30/120)
Mace 60 sp 1d6 bludgeoning 4 lb.
Quarterstaff 66 sp 1d6 bludgeoning 4 lb. Versatile (1d8)
Sickle 22 sp 1d4 slashing 2 lb. Light
Spear 24 sp 1d6 piercing 3 lb. Thrown (range 20/60), versatile (1d8)

Simple Ranged Weapons

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Crossbow, light 144 sp 1d8 piercing 5 lb. Ammunition (range 80/320), loading, two-handed
Shortbow 90 sp 1d6 piercing 2 lb. Ammunition (range 80/320), two-handed

Martial Melee Weapons

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Battleaxe 132 sp 1d8 slashing 4 lb. Versatile (1d10)
Flail 120 sp 1d8 bludgeoning 2 lb.
Glaive / Halberd 225 sp 1d10 slashing 6 lb. Heavy, reach, two-handed
Greataxe / Greatsword 320 sp 1d12 slashing 7 lb. Heavy, two-handed
Lance 400 sp 1d12 piercing 6 lb. Reach, special
Longsword 132 sp 1d8 slashing 3 lb. Versatile (1d10)
Morningstar 120 sp 1d8 piercing 4 lb.
Rapier 132 sp 1d8 piercing 2 lb. Finesse
Scimitar / Shortsword 72 sp 1d6 slashing 3 lb. Finesse, light
Trident 72 sp 1d6 piercing 4 lb. Thrown (range 20/60), versatile (1d8)
War pick 120 sp 1d8 piercing 2 lb.
Warhammer 132 sp 1d8 bludgeoning 2 lb. Versatile (1d10)
Whip 24 sp 1d4 slashing 3 lb. Finesse, reach

Martial Ranged Weapons

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Blowgun 12 sp 1 piercing 1 lb. Ammunition (range 25/100), loading
Crossbow, hand 72 sp 1d6 piercing 3 lb. Ammunition (range 30/120), light, loading
Crossbow, heavy 275 sp 1d10 piercing 18 lb. Ammunition (range 100/400), heavy, loading, two-handed
Longbow 168 sp 1d8 piercing 2 lb. Ammunition (range 150/600), heavy, two-handed
Net 24 sp 3 lb. Special, thrown (range 5/15)
Gunblade, Basic 350 sp 1d8 slashing / 1d8 piercing (ranged) 3 lb. Ammunition (range 30/120), Ranged / Melee, Machina, Extra Damage Type