Masterpiece!

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“… an ancient horn, small but cunningly wrought all of fair silver with a baldric of green …and set upon it were runes of great virtue…”

Masterwork Quality

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.

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Masterwork Qualities

“These look like good blades”, said the wizard… “when we can read the runes on them, we shall know more about them.”

Most common folk will never see such extraordinary items in their lifetimes, much less use one. Yet adventurers, who dare to delve into lost armories and magical laboratories often encounter such goods, discovering them when their need is great in the world.

When a masterwork quality item is first encountered, its capabilities are not likely readily apparent. While it is possible that a hero recognizes the item’s quality through careful examination, it is also possible to divine them through using the objects and recognizing their superior quality in fulfilling their tasks.

Masterwork Quality objects generally exalt the natural characteristics of their owners; granting its bearer a masterwork bonus on using it, such as Wisdom (Herbalism) for herbalist’s tool kits, or Strength (Climbing) for a rope.

Masterwork Tools : These are various artisan’s tools which grant a Masterwork bonus to ability checks while using them, equal to the character’s normal proficiency bonus. For example, a Masterwork smith’s tool set would grant a bonus to trained smithing tasks. Items produced by such a set of artisan’s tools can create masterwork objects as well; jewels that catch the smallest amounts of light in the room, or maps that show near impossible levels of detail.

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Masterwork Weapons and Armor : The virtues of masterwork weapons and armor are often readily apparent to those who encounter them; a glittering blade of a sword found deep in a troll’s den, or graven runes of a master smith on armor can usually betray the exceptional quality of such a relic.

All such items tend to have ancient names associated with either their creators or their makers, and their qualities can be discovered either through continual use (much like normal attunement), or by careful research to discover the items history. Players may, of course, name these items themselves, and begin to forge a legend around the weapon through their own actions. Legendary heroes tend to remake the world around them in the ways they envision.

There are effectively three sources of masterwork weapons and armor, each crafted by historically important cultures in the world; Elven, Dwarven, and Human. While other races make the odd relic, none made them in as great a variety as these three races.

Elven Craftsmanship : The best enchanted weapons found in forgotten hoards were made by the elven forgewrights used in the wars against darkness in ancient times. Long swords, short swords, daggers, and spears were commonly made by the elves, and while other forms of war gear were made, they are rare and hard to discover.

Dwarven Craftsmanship : Many extraordinary swords, helms and suits of armor were wrought by the ancient dwarves, either for the use of their chiefs and champions, or as gifts to their allies among the great lords of man and elf. Swords, axes, shields, helms and coats of armour are typical among these relics.

Human Craftsmanship : The weapon-smiths of humanity also produced swords, axes, spears and knives in great profusion for their wars. They often acquired their skills at the feet of the elves and dwarves, forging sell-wrought weapons using forgotten metals of their own devising. Humanity has devoted itself to making many weapons, but generally avoided armor, as they recognized the greater skills of the dwarves.

Masterwork Virtues

There was a flash like flame and the helm burst asunder. The orc fell with a cloven head."

Each masterwork armor or weapon has at least one virtue attributed to it, such as “Cunning Make” (Armor or Shield improves AC +1), or “Sure Shot” (Ranged Weapon never suffers disadvantage on ranged attacks). Most master smiths produced the same virtues across all their weapons and armor, though some were capable of varying the virtue to tailor them to a particular hero or task.

The exact virtue(s) attributed to a masterwork item is at the design of the DM.

Ancient Close Fitting
Craftsmanship : Elven, Dwarven
Item : Armour

This Virtue enhances the AC rating of an item by (+2). Additionally once per short or long rest, if your proficiency bonus is (+4) or more, after an enemy strikes you, but before damage is rolled, you may declare the blow missed you instead.

Ancient Cunning Make
Craftsmanship : Elven, Dwarven
Item : Armour

This Virtue enhances the AC rating of this armour by (+1). Reduce this armour’s weight to a quarter of normal. All Strength requirements are waved, and its user no longer suffers disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks. Additionally, the wearer is immune to critical hits, taking only normal damage on such a strike.

Cleaving
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Close combat weapon

When you successfully strike with this melee weapon, you automatically deal an additional amount of damage equal to your Proficiency Bonus to another enemy creature engaging you in range.

Close-Fitting
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Armour

Increase the AC of this armour by (+2).

Crushing
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Close combat weapon

This weapon deals an additional number of hit points equal to three times your proficiency bonus on your first successful attack. You must take a short or long rest before using this quality again.

Cunning Make
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Armour or Shield.

This Virtue enhances the AC rating of this armour or shield by (+1). Halve this armour’s weight. Strength requirements are lowered by 3, and the user no longer suffers disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.

Fell
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Any weapon

Add (+2) to all attack rolls with this weapon.

Grievous
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Any weapon

This Virtue adds 2(d4) bonus damage to all damage rolls made with this weapon. This bonus damage is also doubled on a successful critical hit.

Keen
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Any weapon

This weapon adds (+1) to the range on which it can score a critical hit.

Mithral Armour
Craftsmanship : Dwarven
Item : Armour
Special : Cunning Make or Ancient Cunning Make

This Virtue adds a further (+2) bonus to this armour’s AC. Additionally you have resistance to piercing and slashing damage.

Reinforced
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Shield

(+1) AC bonus to the standard armor class this shield normally provides. Additionally, this shield cannot be shattered or smashed by normal means.

Superior
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Any weapon, armour or shield

A weapon crafted with this Virtue gains a (+1) bonus or attack and damage rolls. Armour or a shield crafted with this Virtue gains a (+1) bonus to its AC. This Virtue is the most commonly encountered among all masterwork items.

Superior Fell
Craftsmanship : Dwarven
Item : Any weapon

This Virtue adds its bonus to attack and damage rolls is equal to half the bearer’s Proficiency Bonus, rounded up.

Superior Grievous
Craftsmanship : Elven
Item : Any weapon

This Virtue adds a bonus to all damage rolls equal to 2(d4) plus half its bearer’s Proficiency Bonus, rounded up.

Superior Keen
Craftsmanship : Dwarven, Elven
Item : Any weapon

This weapon adds 2 to the range on which it can score a critical hit.

Superior Reinforced
Craftsmanship : Any
Item : Shield

Gain a (+2) bonus to the standard AC this shield normally provides. Additionally, if your Proficiency Bonus is (+4) or more, once per combat after an enemy has hit you, but before damage dice are rolled, you can declare that the blow clanged off your shield wihtout harming you. Finally, this shield cannot be destroyed by any means.

Masterpiece!

Thieves & Kings Robling