Advanced Search

The Armorer’s Handbook: Equipment Upgrade and Rune Magic System for 5E
Full‑size Preview

The Armorer’s Handbook: Equipment Upgrade and Rune Magic System for 5E


The Complete Armorer's Handbook

Armorer's Shop Sign

The Armorer’s Handbook is a complete equipment upgrade ruleset enabling weapons and armor to grow along with your characters in an organic way that feels anchored in your setting.

This supplement is a comprehensive modular framework that allows characters to improve their equipment as they see fit by seeking out craftsmen and spending some coin! Chapter 1 covers nonmagical upgrades, which approximate the basic +1-3 progression of magic items in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Chapter 2 introduces rune magic as a means to imbue your equipment with magical properties, including a fully-realized crafting system for characters wishing to create their own runestones using simple gemstones.

The two chapters comprise the following, with each option being adjustable, ignorable, or replacable without impacting the whole:

Chapter 1 header


  • A Revised Armor table based on real-world historical armor, weight and prices, with scalable purchase options and three types of shield, each filling a unique role.
  • Armor Upgrade rules including 14 unique upgrades.
  • A minimalist Revised Weapons table, offering four new weapon properties.
  • Weapon Upgrade rules including 13 unique upgrades.
  • 7 types of Special Ammunition with easy crafting rules.
  • 8 of Special Materials with simple modifications to the upgrade rules.
  • Rules for equipment Wear and Repair.
Chapter 2 header


  • Rune Magic lore and how to introduce rune magic and runestones into your campaign.
  • Runestones – socketable gems used to empower equipment with magical properties.
  • Runesmithing – a complete ruleset for player-crafting of runestones.
  • Runesmith’s Tools – a new toolkit used to craft runestones using gemstones.
  • The Runesmith’s Guild – a complete ruleset for joining and progressing through a crafting guild, with tangible benefits to those who achieve status among their peers. Also includes new downtime activities!
  • A New Feat only available to veteran runesmiths.
  • Two New Artificer Infusions to enhance the potential of runic equipment.
  • 39 Runestones, plus guidance on creating your own. Its also easy to repurpose the properties of magic items from any source—and you can even allow characters to "trade" magic items to help the guild scholars in their quest to discover/create new runestones!

Quick Previews:

pg. 8 preview pg. 9 preview pg. 16 preview pg. 17 preview

Creator's Note:

The Armorer's Handbook is the first in a series of toolkit expansions I hope to release in 2020. A bit of a serial number-cruncher, I enjoy figuring out complex systems, making them work inside constraints (the official rules), and presenting them in a functional and easily understandle form for you fine folks to enjoy. If you like what you see, please consider showing your support by making a purchase! You can also join the mailing list ( to receive notifications of new product releases (new release notifications only, no spam!) or find me on Twitter @DMheavyarms.

Praise for the Armorer's Handbook:

comment by Travis of the Hook & Chance podcast

comment by Mike Shea / author of Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master

Current Version: 1.9 / 24 February 2020

 More from this Title's Contributors
 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (21)
Discussions (19)
Customer avatar
Jeremy L February 24, 2020 3:51 am UTC
Typo in one of the rune stones:
Runestone, rare
Item: A simple of martial weapon with the ammunition property
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 24, 2020 5:03 am UTC
Good spot, thanks! This will be fixed in version 1.9 which will be going up later today.
Customer avatar
rick R February 22, 2020 1:12 am UTC
Good book, but I had a question.

How would you convert/create a +3 magic weapon? Using the example in the FAQ to convert a magic weapon into a comparably upgraded one, the system would only allow for the conversion of +2 magic weapons (a weapon with the "balanced", "keen", "silvered", "magical", and "masterwork" tags).

I can understand concerns of power-creep, but is there no way to convert / make a vanilla +3 (seems weird that a player could find and upgrade a weapon to 1+ and +2 but not +3).
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 22, 2020 4:52 am UTC
Hi Rick, thanks for reaching out!

The weapon upgrade system is intended primarily as an alternative (and more interesting/engaging) progression to +1–3 magic weapons. As such, there is no way (following the guidance in the FAQ) to convert a +3 weapon, as +3 is intended to be equivalent to "fully-upgraded". In other words, its not recommended that allow upgrading of a +3 weapon as its the maximum allowed in official material. However, if you wish to change this at your table then go right ahead (with the knowledge it might unbalance your game to some degree!)

I've received a few queries now about how to "recreate" magic weapons, and on rereading that section of the FAQ isn't as clear as it could be. I'll try and update it when I can find the time.
Customer avatar
rick R February 22, 2020 8:24 am UTC
Thanks for the response.

Follow up question, what if I had a rune stone of the very rare variety give a +1 effect. That would allow +3 weapons to be compatible with the system at the cost of giving up your rune slot.

+3 magic weapons with effects already built in would be considered legendary objects that somehow have multiple rune slots in it and cannot be tampered with or upgraded.

Would this be better balanced?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 22, 2020 2:19 pm UTC
This is into the realm of judgement, but that sounds reasonable to me if its a avenue you're still interested in pursuing :)
Customer avatar
Krzysztof U February 14, 2020 8:02 pm UTC
I had a question in regards to the rules on Brutal tag. It says:

"When you roll the maximum damage for an attack with this weapon,
you can roll the weapon damage dice again and add the new
roll to the damage of the attack. If you roll the maximum amount
again, you can repeat this process until you don’t."

Sooo what is considered the "damage for an attack with this weapon"? Let's consider an example of a rogue that crits on a sneak attack and has applied a poison to the weapon that requires failing a saving throw to work. What dice does he have to roll maximum on, and what does he get to reroll then?

1. JUST the d8 from the rapier counts, and only that gets rerolled?
2. The d8 from the rapier AND the d8 added because of a crit have to be maxed, but they can both be rerolled?
3. All of the dice that get multiplied on the crit, so the d8 from the rapier and 2d6 from sneak attack?
4. All of the dice, including the poison...See more
Customer avatar
Krzysztof U February 14, 2020 8:58 pm UTC
Damn, my editing window has expired. Oh well...

I also wanted to ask why would you price increased crit range upgrades so low. For the Chamption it's basically their whole thing, and you give it out for 100/200/400 gold? Not to mention that paladins, rangers and rogues can benefit from from it so immensely!

I also wanted to share my thougts about crit range stacking. First, let's take the Heroism Paladin from the new UA, Hexblade Warlock, and a Chamption Fighter. Their abilities RAW do not stack with each other (which is probably a good thing because 17-20/16-20 with weapons is nuts), but when we apply your crit range upgrades, it's still 18-20. It sounds really powerful, but actually, it increases the critting potential of the SUBCLASS by 50% (adding 1 range to a range of 2, for 3 total). It makes their already good crit range even better. But ALL THE OTHER classes/subclasses basically have their critting potential increased by 100%.

You have tested the impact of each...See more
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 15, 2020 4:52 am UTC
1. Weapon damage is weapon damage. That doesn't include additional damage from add-efffects like poison, or extraneous sources like Sneak Attack.
2. As you say, the impact of the critical tags have been modeled—but also this has been run in my home game for more than a year. Yes, barbarians, paladins, and rogues have additional feature-synergy, but by default it is also mathematically the weakest upgrade to begin with. It shouldn't cause you any issues unless...

> "For my home game it's especially impactful, since I use a rule that makes crits add maximized dice instead of just doubling the dice."

Obviously I can't balance content for others' houserules, and you will probably need to make your own adjustments (as you have done) as this is indeed a powerful synergy—though imo the houserule itself is causing the lion's share of the issue as its much stronger than +1 expanded crit range (looked at individually) to a barbarians, paladins, rogues.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 15, 2020 6:51 am UTC
Sorry, my editing window also expired XD For the first point, I just wanted to clarify that the brutal tag specifically refers to "weapon damage dice" and these are the only dice that are exploded/ rerolled!
Customer avatar
Christopher H February 13, 2020 9:06 pm UTC
Are there plans for a non euro-centric book?
Customer avatar
Jonathan L February 13, 2020 3:39 pm UTC
Hi, I'm confused about the magical status of Special Material Armours. Are they just magical items (as the DMG version of Adamantine & Mithral has them) and thus not upgradeable with tags, or are they like the Special Material Weapons and thus upgradable? Love the expansion so far.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 13, 2020 4:12 pm UTC
Hey, glad you're enjoying it! Mithral and adamantine are intended to work just like any other special materials—the only difference between special materials and normal materials is that special materials have additional properties (as per the description for that material) and as such the "base item" typically costs more to purchase.
Customer avatar
Charles B February 11, 2020 5:45 am UTC
As with many gamers, when I first got this I immediately set out to break the system. I built a custom weapon (warhammer with a pick on the back end). As a DM I had allowed a player to have one of these crafted for 25 gp and 4 lbs of weight. It did 1d8 for piercing or bludgeoning (player chose as he rolled). It was versatile so he could do 1d10 with 2 hands.

First I added Spiked and Sharpened so both ends would Crit on 19+. That was 200 gp. Then I added Balanced and Keen so it did +1 to hit and +1 damage. Another 200 gp.
Then I added Brutal for both ends so max on the damage die meant that I could roll another damage die. 2000 gp for that.
Then I added Superior for both ends (d10/d12 damage die type). Another 2000 gp
On top of all of this I added Masterwork for +1 to hit and +1 damage for 10,000 gp.

Adding up the whole thing and it's close to 15,000 gp. The weapon can do 1d10 bludgeoning or piercing, 1d12 with 2 hands. It Crits on 19+, has +1 to hit and damage and if...See more
Customer avatar
Krzysztof U February 14, 2020 8:13 pm UTC
You are incorrect in calculating the price, good sir! The document states that:

"Upgrading a weapon has a base cost associated with each
tier, with subsequent upgrades of that tier costing twice the
previous amount for that tier."

Meaning that applying Spiked, Sharpened, Balanced and Keen to the weapon costs 100+200+400+800= 1500gp. Applying two Brutal and two Superior tags costs 1000+2000+4000+8000=15000gp, and then the 10000gp for the Masterwork tag.

Your weapon costs 26525gp, good sir! Also, it's trash because it can be destroyed by a goddamn black pudding, as well as a rust monster, or broken when a giants steps on it. Not to mention it doesn't overcome resistance towards non-magical weapons.

Making it magical would add another 1600gp for Silvered and 16000gp for Magical. That would make the total 44125gp. Also, add another 2000-5000gp if you want it to be made of adamantine so it becomes indestructable.

And yes, adamantine...See more
Customer avatar
Blane D February 17, 2020 5:20 pm UTC
Considering the prices laid out for magic items in Xanathar's guide, I'd say that puts it on par with a very rare or legendary item, price-wise, which seems fair, given it's abilities. If you throw in Runic, and a Mimic runestone... it definitively pushes it into legendary territory, both power and cost-wise (another 3200gp for Runic, 5000+gp for the runestone, and then having access to a magic item to copy the powers from)
Customer avatar
Jasper M February 07, 2020 11:21 pm UTC
I hope this gets a Fantasy Grounds conversion.
Customer avatar
Hunter K February 10, 2020 2:22 am UTC
Same here, I cant wait to implement this!
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 15, 2020 5:37 am UTC
FG version is now available! Link in the description above :)
Customer avatar
David S February 07, 2020 8:09 pm UTC
Has anybody tried this one in combination with the Ancestral Weapons supplement by Dungeon Rollers?
Customer avatar
Gage R February 07, 2020 9:17 am UTC
Is there a changelog for the various versions?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 07, 2020 9:22 am UTC
Account > My Library > Updated Titles > hover over the circled "i" under the updated column, where you can (hopefully) see the patch notes for each update!
Customer avatar
Jacob B February 06, 2020 6:38 pm UTC
I found this by watching the review on Nerd Immersion. Thanks! I've been looking for a good equipment augmentation product like this.
Any chance of making this print on demand, and I would easily buy it.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 07, 2020 2:38 am UTC
Hi Jacob, thanks for checking it out! Brian asked a similar thing a few comments down, so while you can read the details there short answer is (to the best of my knowledge) a POD option is out of my control at this time :(
Customer avatar
Filip N February 06, 2020 11:13 am UTC
I have a question when it comes to armor proofing. Lets say we have a Heavy Armor with 3rd tier proofing (or 1st tier for that matter). Then we add the Heavy Armor Master feet (HAM) found on p167 PHB. My question is about how these things interact with each other. Since HAM lowers all non-magical attacks by 3, and 3rd tier armor proofing makes all damage that 8 or less and just make you take no damage at all it matters a lot how these things interact. If Armor Proofing must be considered first, the HAM just works like it does in vanilla and is rather boring. If HAM applies before since it isn't actually a resistance but damage reduction, it basically means that armor proofing now works on 11 instead of 8. This is incredibly powerful, but on the other hand you spent a feet on it and 6k GP to get a basically +2,5 Heavy Armor as well. I am not saying this is OP or broken based on the fact you actually have to go through a lot to get it. I am just looking up the balance as I am the forever DM trying to stay ahead...See more
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 06, 2020 11:47 am UTC
Hi Filip, vulnerability is the -only- thing that gets applied after resistance (PHB, pg. 197) and as such the damage reduction from the Heavy Armor Master feat is applied prior to the armor proofing threshold test.
Customer avatar
Krzysztof U February 14, 2020 8:20 pm UTC
So, if I understand this correctly, you can make an adamantine plate armor for 18000 gp, then armor-proof it for additional 6000 gp over 3 workweeks (it's 5 work days PER ONE armor-proofing tag added, so 15 days for 3 upgrades at once, right?), and add Heavy Armor Master on top of that...

You now have 6 damage reduction against non-magical damage that gets applied before you check the threshold or apply resistances/vulnerabilities. (oh, and probably an adamantine tower shield for 1500gp that adds +4 to your AC, for 22 AC before applying other things like fighting styles).

Basically, you reduce all the damage of 14 or lower to 0. And if someone hits you for 15 damage or higher, you still reduce that by 6 points. Buuuut if someone bonks you on the head with a torch (and somehow hits), you take damage as normal, despite that amazing defense. Correct?
Customer avatar
conner C February 03, 2020 3:30 pm UTC
been looking through, noticed that reinforced's description lists shield as well as heavy armour, but the prerequisites only list heavy armour.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 03, 2020 3:55 pm UTC
Editing never ends! Thank you Conner, I've made the correction and it will be processed as part of the next update (v1.7) which will be pushed in a few day's time!
Customer avatar
Benjamin G February 03, 2020 10:42 am UTC
Just noticed that the prerequisites for the Flanged weapon tag include the Critical - Sharpened tag. As Flanged can only be applied to maces and mauls, and neither can have the Critical - Sharpened tag, that seems like a bit of an oversight.
Also, minor nitpick: When describing Adamantine, you mention electrum and silver as being parts of the alloy. As electrum is a natural alloy of silver and gold, was this intended to mean that there is a substanial larger amount of silver in it or was that also just an oversight?
Great work btw, can't wait to have my players play around with this!
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 03, 2020 11:58 am UTC
Hi Benjamin, these are both errors so thank you for pointing them out! As it happens, I was just going through a version update to include a no-art-and-no-background file (per the request of another comment below) and was able to process these as well—which should be corrected in v1.6 onward which is now available for download.
Customer avatar
Brian S February 02, 2020 7:52 pm UTC
any chance of a POD version?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 03, 2020 3:13 am UTC
Hi Brian, unfortunately this one's largely out of my control. My understanding of POD (Print-on-Demand—or physical copy—for the benefit of others reading) on the DM's Guild platform (and take the following with a grain of salt as its just what I've heard) is that you must first apply and be approved for POD, and for the time being submissions are closed. Furthermore, in the most recent round of approvals (that closed some months ago) it was required that the POD option be part of the initial product release and not added at a later date. Presumably this is due to the economic reality of the investment to set up POD / missing the release window.

However, the document was created with InDesign and has the necessary bleed edges and CMYK color profile, so I guess my answer is: if the folks running DM's Guild are ever game then I am ready!
Customer avatar
Weston S February 02, 2020 6:17 pm UTC
Its missing 1 page on runes
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 02, 2020 6:39 pm UTC
Hi Weston! I've just checked, and in addition to the Runestone A-Z page there should be three full pages of runestones (pages beginning with the Bastion, Earthshaker, and Nondetection runestones, respectively.) However, there are four files available to download and one of them is marked "preview-file" which is incomplete (this website works in some funny ways and doesn't let you do noncontinuous page previews any other way), so please double check you are reading the full document (it should be 27 pages long)!
Customer avatar
Filip N February 02, 2020 8:04 am UTC
So I have been having a look through this PDF but I have some bugbears with it. First of the printer friendly version is not printer friendly. The images are cool and beautiful for sure, but the ink in my printer do not hold the same opinion. Maybe that can be addressed in a later revision. Maybe some minimalist pages just for the printer version to save people some ink can be added. There is no point to have a printer friendly version if it is just the same as the PDF but at lower image quality. You have a printer version so it can be printed in Black and White and not drain all ink you have. Ink cost more then this PDF for sure, a lot more.

Another disappointment is some of the language used. It is flawed to the point some things are outright missing. On page 21 there is one massive error. The runestone for Wolfsbane to be precise. When you read the text for Wolfsbane it says that a shapechanger must pass a Constitution saving throw or assume its true form. Problem is that the DC for the save is...See more
Customer avatar
heavyarms . February 02, 2020 1:53 pm UTC
Hi Filip, thank you for raising your concerns!

The DC for runestones is described in the core rules for using runestones on page 15 (excerpt: "For magical effects created by runestones, your spell attack modifier and spell save DC use the ability modifier of the weapon used for the attack.") Also, you correctly infer that there is no artificial numerical restriction on the number of concurrent tags an item can possess beyond meeting the prerequisites for each tag (and being able to afford them!)

Your point about none of the current PDF options being -truly- print-friendly is a fair one, and a new alternative will be available soon that contains no art assets in addition to background elements. Originally I meant only to remove the background elements (as that will reduce the majority of ink requirements) while not leaving weird gaps on the page where there is no longer art. Please bear with me for a day or so while I prepare this new alternative.

If you have any...See more
See 16 more
Narrow Results
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!

Product Information
Mithral seller
Community Content
Rules Edition(s)
Original electronic
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Last Updated:
February 24, 2020
This title was added to our catalog on January 13, 2020.