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

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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

CHAPTER 1: UPGRADING EQUIPMENT

  • 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

CHAPTER 2: RUNE MAGIC

  • 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!

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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 (https://mailchi.mp/62cb4e9f2fb3/heavyarms) 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: 2.0 / 4 April 2020


 
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Reviews (33)
Discussions (35)
Customer avatar
Chirmaya N June 01, 2020 10:33 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Loving the book!

When it comes to stuff like Flanged and Bodkin, do they only affect actual armour, or do they also affect monsters with a listed "natural armour"? If they do, would the bodkin arrow effect apply against a dragon's scales, but the Flanged wouldn't? Or would the Flanged also work and the dragon would have to rest a night to heal the broken scales and remove the negative armour effect?
Customer avatar
Donovan C May 29, 2020 6:30 am UTC
My DM of course passed the system out to all of his players before we got into the meat of the campaign, and I don't think he's said anything about it so I thought I would. In the text you list a rare rune for weapons as "Spelleater" but there is no information on what that rune is. Love the content, I think we're gonna have a lot of fun with this! I just wanted to give a heads up, no big deal otherwise though.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . May 30, 2020 4:10 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hi Donovan, this was fixed a few months ago in an update—if your DM checks their library the new version should be available :)
Customer avatar
David S May 22, 2020 2:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
A reviewer wrote: "I hear that you are also working on a system for Potions/Herbalism/Alchemy."
Is this so? It would be great! If so, when will it be available? :)
Customer avatar
heavyarms . May 22, 2020 3:27 pm UTC
CREATOR
The rumors are true! Unfortunately I'm can't give you a more accurate timeframe than "hopefully before the end of summer" :)
Customer avatar
David S May 22, 2020 8:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Still great news! Thank you!!
And keep up the great work!
Customer avatar
Florian D May 14, 2020 5:00 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi! I've recently bought this Handbook; it's a great resource, super well crafted both on the content and the appearance. I've been trying to get it printed in multiple places but facing a couple of issues: various print-on-demand websites rely on distinct files for interior and cover, which is a bit difficult to do without source for the spine and Acrobat Pro.

Do you think it would be doable to provide such configuration in future releases? (I imagine it's a lot of work for not many people, so I would completely understand a negative answer).
Cheers!
Customer avatar
Steven B May 05, 2020 3:51 am UTC
PURCHASER
I just purchased this title along with a few others. This was the only title that did not show up to be downloaded. Yet when I check my order history, it's there.
Has the pdf been taken down for updating? Any idea what's going on?
Thanks.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . May 05, 2020 4:29 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Steven, I just checked (again—see comment below!) and the files are DEFINITELY there, I even asked some people in my Discord server who have confirmed they can see the files. You should be able to find them by clicking on [My Account] at the top of this page and then navigating to My Library > [All Titles]. If they aren't there then please let me know and I'll elevate the issue to site support.
Customer avatar
Steven B May 05, 2020 5:18 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the prompt reply. I checked My Library > [All Titles] and it's still not listed there.
Furthermore, when I go to my Inbox and open the email from DM's Guild, the Armorers Handbook is listed there.
But if I click the Download link, it opens a My Library page as a new tab listing on the Armorers Handbook. But where the title information and download links are usually listed, it just says "No data available in table" and then Showing 0 to 0 of 0 entries.
So the mystery remains.
I did not have any problem downloading any of the other products I purchased in the same order. So that leads me to believe the problem is not likely at my end. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the Handbook, and grateful for any assistance you can provide towards resolving this. Thanks
Customer avatar
heavyarms . May 05, 2020 5:58 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Steven, thanks for the update!

If the product is failing to display in your library that sounds like a higher-order technical issue for which you would need to contact support (I have already contacted them but it would be helpful for them to know the order number). If you have a few minutes we can try and resolve it together if you're able to contact me through Discord (server link: https://discord.gg/jy4GuXs), and worst case I can try "gifting" you a copy directly :)
Customer avatar
heavyarms . May 05, 2020 11:49 am UTC
CREATOR
I've confirmed there is no underlying issue with the product—if your problem persists then its likely an unfortaunate glitch and I can only advise you contact support to get things resolved (use this form for best results: https://support.dmsguild.com/hc/en-us/requests/new)

Hope that helps! If you'd like to get in touch the above Discord link will always be available :)
Customer avatar
Steven B May 05, 2020 3:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I contacted support and now the Armorer's Handbook is in My Library. Looks great! Thanks!
Customer avatar
Charles A May 04, 2020 5:18 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I am having issues downloading the pdf. This is my first DMsGuild purchase, and from what I understood, you download it from the view order page. However, it shows that there are no items to be downloaded. Does anyone know if this is a bug or if it is normal? And if so, where do I download the pdf?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . May 04, 2020 5:42 pm UTC
CREATOR
Your first purchase, I'm honored! :D

I just checked and the files are still attached—you should be able to find them (and the files of any future purchases) by clicking on [My Account] at the top of this page and then navigating to My Library > [All Titles]
Customer avatar
Alvaro P April 29, 2020 3:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi! Quick question here. The rules for Armor Proofing say: "While wearing this armor, if you would take 6 or lessnonmagical slashing damage before resistance is applied, you take none of that damage instead"

Does this mean that if the attack excels the threshold of 6 points of damage you would apply resistance to it? Or it just protects you from those 6 points?

Example, i'm taking 28 of slashing damage, wich is obviosly more than 6. Do i suffer 14 points of slashing damage due to resistance or the whole 28?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . April 30, 2020 5:10 am UTC
CREATOR
Hey Alvaro! In your example you would take the whole 28 damage—proofed armor is intended to negate minor damage amounts only. However, it can be used in concert with resistance from other sources such as Rage (Barbarian) or Saint of Forge and Fire (Forge Cleric).
Customer avatar
Ian N April 06, 2020 9:59 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Fantastic system. Allows players to modify their equipment to keep up without outpacing magic items. The system is simple enough that it wont bog down gameplay, and useful enough that players will want to spend their hard earned blood money on.

Fantastic supplement that compliments existing mechanics.
Customer avatar
Kyle R April 02, 2020 10:13 pm UTC
PURCHASER
If you have a sword with the Tempest Runestone, and the brutal tag, does the damage from the runestone also have to roll max in order for the dice to explode?

Likewise, with the Saw-toothed dagger, does the extra 1d4 of damage have to also be a 4 to explode?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . April 03, 2020 5:53 am UTC
CREATOR
Hey Kyle thank you for asking! The intent of the brutal tag is that it only "sees" weapon damage dice—with "weapon" being the key word in the phrase. The full phrase is only used in the weapon table, critical hits, and the Brutal Critical, Savage Attacker, and Orcish Fury features. These are the *only* sources that should be considered.

However, its muddy waters for features like Sneak Attack which arguably adds weapon damage dice without saying so directly (as it doesn't specify its own damage type). There's a similar-but-different issue with Flametongue that adds extra fire damage (the ruling for flametongue would apply to the tempest rune and saw-toothed tag—my reading is these all work like Divine Smite, which isn't weapon damage.)

I'll revisit the property/description for this tag in a coming update and hopefully do a better job of clearing up any confusion, but for now: the intent is that the brutal tag doesn't consider the extra damage from the saw-toothed...See more
Customer avatar
heavyarms . April 04, 2020 8:32 am UTC
CREATOR
Version 2.0 has just been uploaded which should clear up any room for confusion over the brutal tag!
Customer avatar
Zachary J April 01, 2020 8:19 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Just started implementing this glorious system into my own game. Its really a wonderful thing to keep items instead of just chucking them for the sake of something better. Gives more chance for understandable role play.

I have a questions in regards to +1, +2 and +3 items. As stated in a cliff note, you have an optional rule to do armour proofing as +1 at three times the amount. Was there intent for this to be used in conjunction with finding +1, +2 and +3 items still out in the world? Or was this intended to over rule the use of that in armour and shields?
Secondly, was their any intent to add stuff to increase shields beyond just what they are made of? I saw in an earlier comment response that you had intended for +1 via Adamantine construction, but is that the only way to increase a shield without runic capabilities?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . April 02, 2020 5:25 am UTC
CREATOR
Hey Zachary, thanks for the kind words :D to answer your questions in order:

1. The handbook can either completely replace magic weapons and armor or act as a complimentary addition. I use it in its "replacement" capacity, with magic items in our games being primarily wondrous items with the occasional plot-relevant sword/shield/armor of exceptional significance. The variant +1–3 to armor class rule does exactly what it says on the tin: replaces proofing for those who prefer the familiarity of bonuses to AC.

2. I didn't include anything for upgrading shields, but that's a personal choice and you're more than welcome to allow proofing to apply to shields also. Generally I don't give out standard +X shields, as the trade-off for wielding a shield is ~+2 damage for 2 to AC: the damage-side of that trade remains static as you progress through levels, so why should the additional AC increase to +3, +4, or +5? :P The adamantine shield option acts as a flavorful way to introduce...See more
Customer avatar
Kyle R March 30, 2020 9:56 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Is the whip eligible for things like sharpen? It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense for it to benefit from sharpening, since real whips actually work through snapping through an area quickly, imparting their damage through sudden acceleration, rather than through high pressure, or excessive mass.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . April 02, 2020 5:09 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Kyle, sounds like you know your whips! You can check appendix B for a quick reference table of available upgrades for each weapon type.

I do see your point, but you seem to be conflating how a weapon is wielded with its intrinsic qualities or construction. I completely agree that a majority of a weapon's overall effectiveness is determined by skill of the wielder—but weapon properties (both here and magic items) only focus on the latter, with the skill being determined by character stats and proficiency.

While I'm no expert of whips I'm confident that there is such a thing as a "bad whip" and a "good whip" and ways to make a whip intrinsically more effective which is all we're representing here :)
Customer avatar
nyal J March 29, 2020 4:38 am UTC
PURCHASER
I love the handbook I was looking to include something just like this in my Eberron campaign. I am confused about the shields though. Is the buckler the same as a normal shield aside from shape and lower AC? Does the Heater shield have any difference aside from a strength requirement when compared to the standard shield?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . March 29, 2020 3:25 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hey there, thanks for checking it out! You're correct those are the only differences; the idea is to provide more of an interesting trade-off without getting bogged down in minutiae in keeping with 5th Edition. However, if you wanted to add some more of your own then go right ahead!
Customer avatar
Dennis R March 20, 2020 2:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Are there any plans for making this available to Fantasy Grounds?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . March 20, 2020 2:52 pm UTC
CREATOR
A Fantasy Grounds module was released a few weeks back (see "more from this title's contributors".) If you've already picked up the PDF you can grab the FG module individually at a discount by picking up the bundle :)
Customer avatar
Joe L March 08, 2020 6:20 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Love the product, but Im a bit confused about greatswords. They seem just outright worse than mauls, costing 40gp more, not having siege and not getting flanged. The only reason I can see to take one over a maul is that it is 4lbs lighter, which is hardly much of a benefit.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . March 11, 2020 11:38 am UTC
CREATOR
Feel free to add something for greatswords! What's presented is aimed at a better overall balance of weapons but of course there are some winners and some losers—and striving for perfect balance is a sure path to madness :P

I hope, at least, that the new dilemma for a great-weapon player (greataxe or maul) is more interesting and nuanced choice than the current dilemma (bludgeoning or slashing damage—because 2d6 is simply better for anyone who isn't a level 9+ orc barbarian (or a level 13+ non-orc barbarian).)
Customer avatar
heavyarms . March 11, 2020 11:53 am UTC
CREATOR
Follow-up (by way of offering a useful suggestion): you might consider a second tier 3 upgrade only available for greatswords (ultimately costing an extra 20k if you also want masterwork—so a huge investment!) that requires the brutal tag and allows the brutal tag to trigger for each weapon damage die individually.

Disclaimer: this is completely off-the-cuff and thus untested, but this seems like a possible option if you wanted to give greatswords a unique boost/bit of nuance in your games. To anyone else reading: please don't come at me with math as this probably isn't something that will be considered for inclusion in the handbook itself :P
Customer avatar
Michael B March 03, 2020 11:52 pm UTC
Question about the brutal tag. It just seems particularly weaker for greatswords. Does it only add additional dice if I roll both 6s, or does it treat each die separately, so a roll of 6+2 would let me roll one additional die?

having to roll 12 to get additional dice means only a 1/36 chance of proccing, where everything else is 1/8 or 1/12 as the next least likely.
Customer avatar
heavyarms . March 04, 2020 4:13 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Michael, this is clarified in the FAQ of the most recent revision, but you are correct brutal is weaker on a greatsword. The alternative (either or both die) results in a ~30.6% chance of at least one exploding die on every swing, which vastly overshoots acceptable limits for an incremental damage upgrade. The fact that its weaker on a greatsword is mitigated by 2d6 being better than 1d12 in almost all scenarios (all except high level barbarians), so its better to think of brutal as a way for 1d12 weapons to "catch up" to 2d6 for additional cost. The math for all this is in appendix A.
Customer avatar
Michael B March 04, 2020 5:35 am UTC
My DM gave us version 1.1 so I didnt have those FAQs and math tables, so thank you for the response for clarification.

I can understand the reasoning, yes ~30% proc rate would be unfair to the other players, especially considering I also have Great Weapon Fighting Style, but I just didn't see a good tier 2 option for greatsword then. Ah well
Customer avatar
heavyarms . March 04, 2020 5:43 am UTC
CREATOR
No problem, there have been a number of fixes/clarifications since 1.1 so maybe worth updating :)
Customer avatar
Elijah G February 29, 2020 7:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I really like this and love the idea of having a bulker and tower shield in 5e but I was thinking about the plus 3 of the tower shield and when put in conjunction with full plate a characters AC can get pretty high then I thought about plus 1 to 3 shields and armor, I came to the conclusion that the only way I could effectively harm a character with this build is with insta-hit/saving throw spells like Magic Missile or a spell like Heat Metal(if the shield or armor is even metal) and I know these rules are a replacement to the standard +1 to +3 bonus armor and weapons can get in standard 5e but what about the Artificer who can give these bonuses out during a coffee break do you have any tips on how to get around this little hiccup of characters having 27 to 30 AC?
Customer avatar
heavyarms . March 01, 2020 5:27 am UTC
CREATOR
Hi Elijah, thanks for your comment!

I'll be honest, I'm not sure I understand the issue here? If you're using the system as presented (including the standard proofing rules) you are replacing up to +6 AC from magic armor and a shields (+4 if we assume an adamantine tower shield). Sure, the artificer can overcome this deficit on a single character by up to +3 if they sink in two infusions (Enhanced Defense and Repulsion Shield), but this is costing them class resources and an infusion can only be used once globally. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't see how your issue is specific to the rules presented here as maximum potential AC would seem to be higher using the default options for magic items.

If the answer here is "the DM can choose to not hand out magic items" then I'd point out the DM can just as easily choose to not make adamantine available—meaning your issue is reduced to the single point of AC from the default tower shield (which comes with the significant...See more
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Adamantine seller
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28
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This title was added to our catalog on January 13, 2020.