While Dungeons and Dragons already has an impressive set of weapons to choose from, sometimes you want something custom. You might need a cool set piece or a variant weapon for a player’s character. Beyond just laying out the concept, balancing the weapons cost, damage, and utility can also be a challenge. So we decided to lay out a simple solution for your next game. We’ve refined the process to make your own custom DnD weapons down to just 6 steps. No need to fuss over complex rules or extensive balancing.
Custom DnD Weapons in 6 Steps
1. Choose the Weapon Type: Melee or Ranged
The weapon type is your first decision because it informs so much about the rest of the process. Melee and ranged weapons each have their own sets of rules, and by choosing this first you’re selecting the basis for all future decisions you make. From this you get your most basic possible weapons for each type.
- Basic Melee: 5ft range, 1d4 damage.
- Basic Ranged: (30/120), 1d4 damage, Requires Ammunition & Loading.
These basic weapons are the cornerstone of any custom creation you make and will be modified and shaped in the following steps.
2. Choose the Damage Type and Handedness
For your custom weapon choose a type of damage: slashing, bludgeoning, or piercing. Slashing is used for cutting weapons, piercing is for stabbing weapons, and bludgeoning is for anything that damages by blunt force alone. For example, swords are typically slashing, slings do bludgeoning damage, and arrows do piercing damage.
Next choose if the weapon is one-handed or two-handed. Increase the dice used by one type (example: a d6 would become a d8) when setting it’s damage if it must be used two handed.
3. Add Weapon Modifiers and Properties
Apply up to three modifiers/properties from the following lists:
- Heavy – The weapon must be used at disadvantage by small creatures, increase the damage dice by one type (example: d6 would become a d8), apply the Martial characteristic
- Improvised – The weapon is not meant to be a weapon or has no way to be trained for and proficiency is not added to the weapons rolls
- Silvered – Weapon has a silver coating and may affect monsters with non-magical weapon immunity/resistance
- Special – Weapon has a special rule for use (examples: the net or lance from the Player’s Handbook)
- Finesse – Weapon can use Strength or Dexterity for attack and damage roll modifiers
- Light – The weapon can be used with Two Weapon Fighting
- Reach – Increases the area threatened by the character by 5 feet, apply the Martial characteristic
- Thrown – Can be thrown without being counted as an improvised weapon with a range of (20/60)
- Versatile – Can be used one or two handed. Two handed use increases damage by one dice type (example: a d4 would become a d6)
- Remove Ammunition – Weapon fires without ammo
- Remove Loading – Weapon can be reloaded as a free action or automatically reloads
4. Set the Weapon’s Damage
Your weapon’s base damage is always 1d4. As weapons go up in damage they become harder to use and gain the Martial characteristic instead of Simple. Weapon damage may be increased from a d4 to a d6 with the weapon still being simple, but any additional increase beyond that makes the item a martial weapon, indicating it takes special training to use it properly (see more on weapon proficiency).
Additionally, if you want a weapon to be more consistent you can add an additional dice to its damage roll instead of increasing the type of dice rolled. This is even stronger than doubling the dices base value, as the lowest number you can roll increases by 1 for each additional dice which drives the average roll up. For example, 2d6 and 1d12 have the same maximum damage, but the average damage for 2d6 is 7, where the average damage for 1d12 is 6.5. Any weapon that uses two or more dice should be a martial weapon.
5. Set the Weapon’s Value
The value of a weapon is hard to calculate individually, so it can be helpful to use a table for a quick estimate of base prices. Below is listed 5 weapon classes and their associated price:
- Class 1: 1 gold
- Class 2: 25 Gold
- Class 3: 50 Gold
- Class 4: 75 Gold
- Class 5: 100 Gold
Basic melee weapons with no modifiers are class 1. Every modifier or damage increase moves the weapon up one class with the exception of Improvised which instead moves the weapon down one class. So a basic weapon with the added Versatile modifier would cost 25 gold. Similarly a weapon with 1d8 Damage would cost 50 gold as is has been moved up the damage scale twice from its base value of 1d4.
6. Describe Your Weapon
Steps 1-5 are about getting your rules in place, but step six is the finishing touch. The weapon you describe can be anything and you can describe it however you like. You’re free to do more with your description since you’ve already figured out the rules to make the weapon function properly within the game. Once you’ve got your description in place, you’re done!
Custom DnD Weapons Quickly
DnD weapons are vast and varied, but sometimes you want something with some unique flair. By following these simple steps you can create functional weapons that work within the game quickly and easily.
Create your weapon with these 6 steps:
- Choose Melee or Ranged
- Choose Damage Type and Handedness
- Add up to Three Modifiers
- Set the Weapon Damage
- Set the Weapon Value
- Write a Description
These currently only cover non-magical weapons, but a part two discussing magical weapons will be created to detail the different ways in which magic can be added as well. If you create any fun custom DnD weapons please feel free to share them with us @masterdadungeon on Twitter.