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The Armorer’s Handbook: Equipment Upgrade and Rune Magic System for 5E
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/10/2020 11:20:46

Before I get into my thoughts on this book, I want to say that the TLDR; is that this is a very good book.
The look of the high res version is nice and professional, the system is well thought out and interesting, and the ideas for further work that it inspires is nice too. All in all worth the price and a value add to any DM. It does seem that the high res is a resource hog and causes most viewers to stutter when reading the pdf. I suggest using the no background version as it does not have this issue.

Thoughts on Changes or just things that bug me. Keep in mind that the book does mention the golden rule of "Your Game, Your Rules" so these are just my thoughts.

  • Magic Item Interaction: First thing to note is the FAQ section at the end. It addresses a LOT of the initial questions I had. One thing that was not answered to my satisfaction is the possibility of "enchanting" upgraded items or items with runestones and if that is not preferred, then items with runestones need to be treated as magic items to be usable with some of the existing features of the game. I would hate to make the item in the FAQ and then it not be considered magical for purposes other than resistances.
  • Armor Proofing: I get that the math is sound on Armor Proofing being worth the time and money. But my experience leads me to be glad of the Armor Proofing Variant. The prices of the variant are well within the magic item prices for comparable +s to armor. And I would even go so far as to require that you purchase each tier in succession to reach the +3.
  • Tags in General: I love the tag systems!
  • Special Ammunition: I really like this section as well. I think that crossbow bolts should have their own category as some things could be applied to them that may not be applied to arrows. The Bodkin and Broadhead need a little more detail IMO. Bodkin says targets wearing armor, but would this also apply to natural armors? (There may be a rule in the DMG that I am not remembering.) or would you need to use the Broadheads for creatures with natural armor. Using the idea of Firecracker, you could have ammo that are for "grenade" delivery of oils and the like. Maybe even a syringe ammo to deliver health/potions. I feel that the creation rules are a bit strict. To create a pack of 10 Bodkin ammo would require 4 days. Seems a bit much to me.
  • Special Materials: This section needs to be more fleshed out. Prices are kind of vague. And they don't seem to take into account if you are providing the material.
  • Wear and Repair: Great stuff. I would even go so far as to attach a negative tag such as scarred to the item if it is constantly being damaged. Having to be removed by the application of a positive visual tag.
  • Runesmithing: Great stuff. Refer to point #1.
  • Guild system: It is probably just me, but I could use a little more of an example to explain the tuition terms. Is this like monthly dues or is this hiring a tutor for the term at the prescribed cost to advance? If that is the case, then what are the monthly dues? Apart from that, this is good work and could easily be adapted to other guild types for characters to use.
  • Feat: And though there may be controversy about it, the Runsmithing Feat IS less valuable to an Artificer than any other official class. If there are 3 benefits for the other classes, but only 2 for artificer then that is a problem. Easy fix...Artificers can employ their Magic Item: Adept/Savant/Mastery to runestones. And in my opinion, the whole crafting system.

One of my CO-DMs of our group has reservations about some of the Legendary Runestones listed being OP and spell affects used by the imbued item being based on the combat ability of the wielder.

Ideas for expansion:

  • Equipment: You can easily apply the upgrade tags to items. Not much of a change needed. Probably treat them like the armor tags and there wouldn't be a lot of tags per item. But you can come up with some really nice touches. Everything from a simple +1 to tools/sets for skill rolls, to adding properties that help with usage. Oiling theives tools, Shatter proofing vials, or even making them easier to break on impact. Loads of stuff.
  • Actual Crafting: Crafting the items to begin with. There are basic steps in the DMG, but I think going off of this material you could easily have a chapter about creation of the items. And even a bit on putting tags on the item from creation.
  • Magic Crafting: Revamp the magic crafting rules. This would mostly be to clear up the division between your system and traditional magic items. Probably wouldn't be more than a paragraph. Maybe even a path to turning your item into a legendary item.

I hear that you are also working on a system for Potions/Herbalism/Alchemy. I would love to see that and be more than willing to purchase if it is as good as this one.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Armorer’s Handbook: Equipment Upgrade and Rune Magic System for 5E
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Creator Reply:
Thank you so much for this well-thought out review! I have appended some comments below which are intended to act as clarifications for yourself and others reading, and are *not at all* meant to challenge or refute your kind words: * **Magic Item Interaction:** Your interpretation of this section of the FAQ is a fair one, and I apologize for the misunderstanding. Indeed, the magic item in question *should* continue to count as a magic item as you aren't "replacing" it with a simulacrum, but the example is illustrating how you would determine which tags/runestones is already possesses (or equivalent) so you can then see which upgrades remain available and at what cost. This is to prevent, for example, allowing a +3 magic longsword to be upgraded and then applying the full suite of upgrades to it—which would end up at an equivalent of *c.* +6! * **Armor Proofing:** The variant armor proofing rules do require purchasing each tier in succession as the wording is "cumulative +1". This means an upgrade cost of variant-proofed plate would be 3,000 gp (+1), 9,000 gp (+2), and 18,000 gp (+3). As you correctly stated this isn't too far from the guideline prices of +1/2/3 armor in the magic item section on the DMG, which are rare (501–5,000), very rare (5,001–50,000), and legendary (50,001+), respectively. * **Special Ammunition:** (1) *"Against targets wearing armor"* is intentional wording for bodkin ammunition that excludes natural armor. (2) The crafting rules here are just a throwaway sentence that mirrors XGE as the focus of chapter 1 is helping add some mechanical depth/aison d'être to artisan NPCs instead of a complete framework for player-crafting of base equipment. * **Guild system:** The intent behind guild tuition is it is something a character must pay for once in order to sit an exam. They can choose to spend the full term attending classes (take as a downtime activity) in order to gain advantage on the check to pass the exam. A character can re-attempt a failed exam freely at the end of each following month, and they can also elect to pay for another term's tuition and attend those classes for advantage on the check. There are no persistent dues beyond the initial registration fee, as the guild makes its money from taking a large cut of any guild work performed by its members. * **Feat:** Its true that the feat is less valuable to an artificer than other classes, and you are not the first to bring this up. My reasoning here is that the artificer is the **only** class that receives direct and significant "buffs" to two core class features (Infusions, and Tool Expertise) via the introduction of runesmithing—and it gets these benefits automatically without any investment (in addition to this, Intelligence is one of the two options for a check with runesmith's tools and this is the natural primary ability score of the artificer class.) The feat is—in my experience running this system—less about further buffing the artificer and more an avenue for the other classes to close the gap (at a cost): the artificer is already a significant net-beneficiary of the system as a whole, and I am very wary of creating a system who's implementation creates ugly questions like *"so who's going to be the artificer?"* This is a problem that is (or would be) naturally compounded by the introduction of additional similar "toolkit" systems.† Of course, a DM is encouraged to implement whatever changes they wish to increase enjoyment at their table—but this is why the feat is written as it is. † Of which I am planning to release more, and you heard correctly that Herbalism and Alchemy is next!
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