Thieves & Kings
Masterwork Quality is a title given to exceptionally well-made equipment, arms and armor. It represents qualities that are exceptional and traits that the creator must have developed that are not easily copied or applied to their manufacture. They are often considered lost techniques and often represent the skilled work of a master artist or craftsman. They often have qualities which allow them to survive the vagaries of age and wear, thus are often discovered in ancient ruins or among monster lairs, as they do not rust easily or wear out as quickly as standard equipment.
Masterwork is not a title that can be given to an item after it has been crafted, it must be applied when initially manufactured. This applies to all categories of equipment, weapons and armor. In most cases, the quality of such equipment is what attracts its use in the manufacture of magical gear; it’s easier to enchant a blade that is already very good at its job.
All masterwork gear is considered to have a blank market value of ten times (10x) its standard value. This price is not set in stone, as some might appreciate the item, but intending to find their own markets for the gear they will offer a lower price in order to make a profit like any merchant. Some masterwork items might earn more as a true work of art, bejewelled and crafted in an especially pleasing way. Most merchants, however might not recognize or appreciate this, and treat one sword as just another sword, however pretty. There is a certain prestige to owning a recognized blade, however, so some might pay a great deal. Price is thus subjective.
It is implied by this cost, that the item also takes a commensurate amount of time and materials to craft. Masterwork armor cannot be produced at the same rate as regular armor, nor can masterwork thieves’ tools be churned out of a factory at a great rate. They are loving representations of a single craftsman operating at the height of their skills and knowledge. A warrior encountering a masterwork sword in a dungeon, is like Conan finding the sword in the giant’s tomb from Conan the Barbarian (Yes, I’m familiar with the remake, but let’s not go there), where he acknowledged the skill and craftsmanship of the blade, using it to great effect and even destroying his own father’s masterwork blade in the process. They are art to adventurers, the equivalence of a Van Gogh or a Manet, or a Hattori Hanzo if you will. They will be as rare as magic items. They should be treated with role-playing awe by those that appreciate this.
Masterwork Weapons : The title Masterwork to a weapon implies an ease in striking opponents, a better balance to the weapon, or a shape that applies well to its damage category. In any case, the masterwork weapon applies a bonus +1 to attack rolls, but has no other application in combat. An example of this might be the Valyrian swords of Game of Thrones, the blades from a fallen realm of weapon smiths, whose techniques are lost to history.
Masterwork Armor : The title Masterwork to a suit of armor or a shield implies an ease in their use, the lightening of its penalties to the wearer, granting the masterwork armor the Lightened trait (50% normal weight). A good example of this might be the armor worn by Heath Ledger in the movie A Knight’s Tale. It didn’t provide an exceptional protection, but its reduced weight allowed him to mount his horse easier and concentrate on other matters.
Masterwork Equipment : The title of Masterwork to a piece of equipment implies an ease of its use towards the application of a skill, such as a particularly clever set of smith’s tools. These sorts of gear apply a +2 bonus to the DC of skill checks regarding the task they are intended to be employed in, such as drawing poison from a fallen giant centipede, or a brighter burning oil that grants more light, or a rope that is easier to grasp.