Masterworks

This text is taken from Green Ronin’s Black Company campaign setting book.

In a world of limited magic, the differences in normal craftsmanship become more apparent.  Successful adventurers can and do pay extraordinary sums to acquire the finest tools.  Impoverished mercenaries pick through battlefields littered with the arms and armor of the fallen seeking to improve their personal kit.  Courtiers and potentates demand the finest garb and furnishing from all corners of the world to improve their standing when compared to their peers and rivals.  In each case, these people seek to own items of the highest quality they can lay their hands on, because they tangibly benefit from them.  Such items also serve as trade goods, some being worth more than their weight in gold.

Above Average

Above average items come in 6 levels of improved quality.  Each level increases the number or strength of benefit the item’s quality can provide.  Each level adds one “benefit” to the item, increasing its usefulness or effectiveness.  Higher levels of quality allow the same benefit to be taken twice, or even three times, making the item much better for a particular purpose or use.

Fine

A not uncommon example of extra care and effort being put into an item’s manufacture.  Fine items gain one benefit suitable to that type of item, and are often available for sale in most towns, and almost always found in most cities.

Excellent

Requiring much more time and care than an average item, most excellent items are made by craftsmen wishing to create a showpiece to demonstrate their skills, or as the result of a commission.  Excellent items gain two benefits.

Exceptional

Always a major undertaking, exceptional items require the labor of an above average craftsman and often a bit of luck.  Only the most successful (and wealthy) craftsmen have the time to lavish on such work for their own amusement — most exception items are the result of important commissions, and as a result the item often has some small place in stories from that time.  Unless newly made, this item can be identified with a DC 30 Knowledge (history) check.

Superior

Only possible for craftsmen who’s skill far exceeds those of common artists, superior items reflect a broad knowledge of how the item is to look and be used, combining many small improvements over typical examples.  Unless newly made, this item can be identified iwth a DC 27 Knowledge (history) check.

Masterwork

Some o the finest work a person can ever hope to see, true masterworks are often the culmination of a lifetime of practice and learning.  Unless newly made, this item can be identified with a DC 24 Knowledge (history) check.

Masterpiece

Only craftsmen of legendary skill — and often supported by magic or the work of years — are able to produce such items.  The pinnacle of their type, these items are usually remembered in song and story, even if their original owner is forgotten!  Unless newly made, this item can be identified with a DC 21 Knowledge (history) check.

Crafting Masterworks

Creating a masterwork item takes considerable skill and patience.  To attempt to create an above average item, the craftsman must commit additional time depending on the Masterwork level he is hoping to create, as describe on the table Masterwork Levels, below.  The craftsman then makes his check to create the item.  The quality of the result item depends on how much he beats the DC for the check, with the time taken setting the maximum level of quality he can achieve.  Only on a result less than the normal DC does the craftsman fail to produce at least an average item.

Example: A tailor tries to make a superior robe.  This would normally take him 2 days, but he must take 16 days because of the time multiplier for superior items (x8).  At the end of this time, he rolls his Craft check.  He beats the base DC, so he successfully creates a robe, but he only beat the DC by 5 — the robe is of excellent quality (+4 or more above the DC), but not exception or superior.

Taking 10 and Taking 20

The craftsman may take 10 normally when trying to create an item of above average quality.  When taking 20, the time required is the base time * time required multiplier * 20 — thus making the undertaking a very long endeavor indeed.

Masterwork Levels
Name Cost Rarity Beat DC By Time Required Benefit
Average

No change

+0

X1

None
Fine

+500 sp

No change

+2

X2

1 benefit
Excellent

+1,500 sp

+1 grade

+4

X3

2 benefits
Exceptional

+3,000 sp

+1 grade

+6

X5

3 benefits, may double once
Superior

+6,000 sp

+2 grades

+10

X8

4 benefits, may double once
Masterwork

+8,000 sp

+2 grades

+15

X12

5 benefits, may double twice or triple once
Masterpiece

+10,000 sp

+3 grades

+25

X20

6 benefits, may double twice or double and triple once

Masterwork Benefits

Below are listed various improvements and benefits an item could receive from being of above  average quality.  Each masterwork benefit indicates what sort of item it can be applied to, and comes in three levels: single (listed as the standard benefit), double, and triple.  Benefits that can only be applied to “gear” may not be chosen for weapons or armor.  Quality bonuses do not stack with themselves.

Accurate (any weapon)

This weapon does what it’s supposed to — hit the other guy!

Benefit: The wielder gains a +1 quality bonus to hit attack rolls with this weapon.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +2.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +3.

Balanced (any weapon or shield)

A weapon or shield with above average balance makes it easier to move in combat.

Benefit: While this item is in hand and readied, the wielder gains +1 quality bonus to his initiative total.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +2.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +3.

Concealable (any item)

These items are particular easy to secret on one’s person.

Benefit: The bearer gains a +4 quality bonus to Sleight of Hand checks to hide this item on his person.

Double: The quality bonuses increases to +8.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +12.

Crushing (bludgeoning weapon)

This weapon beats people senseless with ease.

Benefit: In addition to the normal damage, this weapon inflicts 2 points of nonlethal damage, with every successful hit.  This is a quality bonus to damage.

Double: The additional nonlethal damage inflicted increases to +4.

Triple: The additional nonlethal damage inflicted increase to +6.

Deadly (any weapon)

Attacks with this weapon are often decisive.

Benefit: Increase the threat range of a weapon with a x2 critical multiplier by 1.  This bonus is applied after any feats or other modifiers.

Double: Increase the threat range of a weapon with a x3 critical multiplier by 1.  This bonus is applied after any feats or other modifiers.

Triple: Increase the threat range of a weapon with a x4 critical multiplier by 1.  This bonus is applied after any feats or other modifiers.

Decorative (any item)

This item is designed to impress with the understated elegance and subtle but unmistakable marks of quality.

Benefit: The other gains a +1 quality bonus to Diplomacy checks while displaying ownership of the items.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +2.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +3.

Forgery (any item)

This item is intended to appear to be another similar (and often unique) item.

Benefit: The DC to determine this is not the genuine object is increased by +4.

Double: The DC is increased by +8.

Triple: The DC is increased by +12.

Fortified (armor)

Extra attention has been paid to covering your vitals.

Benefit: There is a 10% chance that any critical hit or sneak attack (or ambush) damage is negated while wearing this armor.

Double: The chance increased to 20%.

Triple: The chance increased to 30%.

Guard (any weapon or shield)

This weapon or shield is easy to use defensively.

Benefit: The wielder may reduce his attack rolls by 1 for the entire round to gain an equal deflection bonus to his Armor Class for that round.  This deflection bonus is doubled if this item is a shield.

Double: The wielder may reduce his attack rolls by up to 2 to gain an equal deflection bonus to his Armor Class.

Triple: The wielder may reduce his attack rolls by up to 3 to gain an equal deflection bonus to his Armor Class.

Lethal (any weapon)

A good hit always hurts with this weapon.

Benefit: Wielder gains a +2 quality bonus to all rolls to confirm a critical hit.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +4.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +6.

Light (any item)

This item is carefully designed to accomplish its usual function without wasted material or bulk.

Benefit: The item functions normally and has the usual number of hit points, but is 10% lighter than normal.

Double: The weight is reduced by 20%.

Triple: The weight is reduced by 30%.

Mastercraft (armor or shield)

This armor is lightweight and less cumbersome than others of its type.

Benefit: This armor reduces its armor check penalty by 1, to a minimum of 0.

Double: This armor reduces its armor check penalty by 2, to a minimum of 0.

Triple: This armor reduces its armor check penalty by 3, to a minimum of 0.

Ornate (any item)

This item is heavily decorated, possibly with precious metals and/or jewels, and is far more valuable and impressive than other items of its sort, even those of similar quality.

Benefit: The cost multiplier for this item is increased by 5.  It also adds a +2 quality bonus to Diplomacy checks when given as a gift.

Double: The cost multiplier for this item is increased by 10.  It also adds a +4 quality bonus to Diplomacy checks when given as a gift.

Triple: The cost multiplier for this item is increased by 15.  It also adds a +6  quality bonus to Diplomacy checks when given as a gift.

Rugged (any item)

This item is particular resistant to wear and abuse.

Benefit: The item gains a +2 bonus to its hardness and Break DC.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +4.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +6.

Poisoned (any weapon)

This weapon has grooves and channels that allow it to hold poison more effectively until the weapon strikes.

Benefit: The number of strikes the weapon may make before the poison is rubbed off is doubled.

Double: The number of strikes the weapon may make before the poison is rubbed off is tripled.

Triple: The number of strikes the weapon may make before the poison is rubbed off is quadrupled.

Sharp (slashing or piercing weapon)

This weapon has a fine edge on it.

Benefit: Add a +1 quality bonus to all damage rolls with this weapon.  This bonus is applied before any multipliers.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +2.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +3.

Sturdy (any item)

This item uses robust design and quality material to ensure that it will last a very long time.

Benefit: The item gains a +50% quality bonus to the number of hit points it has.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +100%.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +150%.

Thick (any armor)

This armor is able to absorb some punishment so the wearer doesn’t have to.

Benefit: A suit of medium or heavy armor provides Damage Reduction 1/- against melee and ranged weapons.

Double: A suit of light armor provides Damage Reduction 1/- against melee and ranged weapons.

Triple: Any suit of armor provides Damage Reduction 2/- against melee and ranged weapons.

Threatening (any item)

This item is crafted and decorated to intimidate any who look upon it.

Benefit: The wielder or wearer gains a +2 quality bonus to Intimidate checks while displaying the item.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +4.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +6.

Well-Crafted (any gear)

This trait can apply to nearly any tool or device that is employed when using a skill.  For example, a well-crafted dark cloak could provide an equipment bonus to Hide checks.

Benefit: This item provides a +1 bonus to one skill when used for its intended purpose.

Double: The quality bonus increases to +2.

Triple: The quality bonus increases to +3.

Examples of Masterwork Items

While the Annals of the Black Company do not linger on the gear of the brothers or their enemies, there are a number of otherwise mundane items that stand out.

Ash Wand

(Masterpiece Bastard Sword)

Uncle Doj wielded a magnificent sword called Ash Wand.  Made of folded steel, it was razor sharp and could cut through the thickest of plate armor.  Ash wand is a greatsword with the accurate (x2), balanced, and sharp (x3) benefits.

Black Company Banner

(Well-Crafted Banner)

This black cloth banner features a stylized skull breathing flames.  Attached to the Company’s standard, it served as a rallying point for the mercenaries.  The Black Company Banner is a well-crafted (x2) banner that confers a +2 bonus to Command checks made within 30 feet of the banner.

Croaker’s Bow

(Masterpiece Longbow)

Provided by the Lady for the purpose of slaying the rebellious Taken at the battle of Charm, this weapon proved both reliable and elegant.  IT is a longbow with the accurate (x3), balanced (x2), and ornate benefits.

Lady’s Barrowland Model

(Exceptional Map)

The Lady created a table with a miniature representation of the Barrowland so accurate it was spooky.  It has the sturdy and well-crafted (x2) benefits.

Lady’s Sword

(Masterwork Longsword)

The Lady once had a sword created and consecrated by Carqui in the days of the Domination.  Tales of the weapon did not survive that era.  It has the accurate (x2), lethal (x2), and light qualities.

Narayan’s Bonebreaker

(Exceptional Deceiver’s Tool)

Narayan’s pick was silver and gold, with an ebony handle inlaid with ivory and a few rubies.  It has the balanced and ornate (x2) benefits.

Officer’s Batons

(Excellent Clubs)

Used by the Black Company Black until the fall of Sham, these fifteen-inch long sticks were decorated with ugly runes.  They have the crushing and threatening benefits.

Patience’s Engine

(Exceptional Springdal)

Built by Patience, a Roi nomad turned caravan guard turned soldier in the Black Company.  It has the lethal (x2) and poisoned benefits.  Patience further enhanced its performance by coating the projectiles with a powerful paralytic poison.

Raven’s Daggers

(Superior Daggers)

Raven’s blades cost the former aristocrat a small fortune, but he kept them in perfect condition.  They are daggers with the balanced (x2), concealable, and sharp benefits.

Shapeshifter’s Armor

(Masterpiece Half-plate)

Found by Bomanz at the Barrowland, this glossy black armor shined like rubbed ebony and was emblazoned with Shapeshifter’s seal.  It has the fortified, ornate, thick (x3) and threatening benefits.

Tracker’s Arrows

(Excellent Arrows)

Tracker used these accurate and deadly arrows with great skill to overcome his enemies.

Name

Cost

Rarity

Beat DC By

Time Required

Benefit

Average

No change

+0

X1

None

Fine

+500 sp

No change

+2

X2

1 benefit

Excellent

+1,500 sp

+1 grade

+4

X3

2 benefits

Exceptional

+3,000 sp

+1 grade

+6

X5

3 benefits, may double once

Superior

+6,000 sp

+2 grades

+10

X8

4 benefits, may double once

Masterwork

+8,000 sp

+2 grades

+15

X12

5 benefits, may double twice or triple once

Masterpiece

+10,000 sp

+3 grades

+25

X20

6 benefits, may double twice or double and triple once

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