D&D 5E Renaming +1, +2, +3

MechaPilot

Explorer
Not just any generic "Sword of Shearing +1". Sheep-biter can be recognized by its ram-horn hilt and pommel, and by the engraving along blade, which reads (for those who know the script) "QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS OVES"

Cortana, Excalibur, Durandal and Gram make fun of Sheep-Biter, but that's just because they're jealous.

The wielder of Sheep-biter has double HP for purposes of their resistance to the Sleep spell. Wake up, sheeple!

Don't forget the engraved image of a naked, shivering sheep on the handguard.
 

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Not really. Without relatively high-tech monitoring equipment, it's exceedingly hard to measure the exact striking force of a weapon, and it's even harder for a human being--even an expert--to swing with the exact same force, strength, and angle multiple times in a row.
It really depends on how abstract you take combat to be. It might take a hundred strikes with each one, if you want any real certainty in determining accuracy, but it should be pretty simple to figure out that one sword can cause wounds more grievous than another is capable of making.

Or you could figure out some other metric for determining weapon power. Say you find five trees of the same type and thickness, and just see how deep each sword cuts. Since the +3 sword causes more injury in the best-case scenario of a direct strike (which reflects a maximum damage roll, where all of the variables turns out in your favor), it should also cut deeper against an inanimate object. Likewise, line up a series of long bows, and the +3 bow will fire arrows that penetrate more deeply into a target than a +1 bow will.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Not just any generic "Sword of Shearing +1". Sheep-biter can be recognized by its ram-horn hilt and pommel, and by the engraving along blade, which reads (for those who know the script) "QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS OVES"

Cortana, Excalibur, Durandal and Gram make fun of Sheep-Biter, but that's just because they're jealous.

The wielder of Sheep-biter has double HP for purposes of their resistance to the Sleep spell. Wake up, sheeple!

And he gets a +2 bonus to Wool saves.

...

I'll show myself out.

Don't forget the engraved image of a naked, shivering sheep on the handguard.

In the Greyhawk setting, it is a blade held in high regard in the East and West Flannels.
 

But again, a human being doesn't know that he inflicted exactly the maximum damage the weapon's capable of. All he knows is he left a slash in the tree/body/whatever. The fact that one slash is a fraction of an inch deeper than another? If it's even noticeable, it could be due to a hundred different things. The strikes were off by a degree in their angle. The second swing had the tiniest bit more muscle behind it than the first. This particular square foot of armor/bark was the tiniest bit thicker than that square foot of armor/bark.

You need mechanical precision in both the weapon and the target to make comparisons of that sort--again, unless you're averaging out over hundreds or even thousands of strikes. A well-built crossbow solves the mechanical weapon part, since there's no human muscle, and therefore no human subjectivity, involved. But even then, there are factors of target resistance, target angle... Heck, wind speed.

Could it be measured eventually? Sure. But you won't have time to actually take the thing on adventures or into battle any time soon. ;)
 


Li Shenron

Legend
We have all this wonderful names for items like the Apparatus of Kwalish and yet we still call most of our weapons and armor by their plusses. Some people take the time to craft histories and give specific names for their weapons, but I don't always want to do that. So I went through the 4e Player's Handbook and the Adventurer's Vault and coopted the names of the special armors to replace the +1, +2, +3 moniker:

I think it's a neat idea, although your specific names suggested are too fancy for my tastes.

I would prefer to use more "mundane" names, either based on the materials or the manufacturing process or cultural origin.

I don't name the pluses, I name the weapon.

The two things can coexist.

The downside of naming the weapon IMHO is that it tends to be over the top.

In a setting where magic items are scarce, it makes more sense they carry individual names. On the other hand if magic items are common, it sounds nice to have more interesting names for the enhancement type. But for me the main benefit of this idea would be to make them sound less magical.

It's not, though. The fact that it is 5% more likely to strike true (in an absolute sense), and causes more grievous wounds, is a fact that can be measured and understood in-game. If you have a series of otherwise-identical swords, each one with a greater bonus than the last, then someone in-game could test them and order them based on their efficacy. Referring to the middle sword as a "sword +2" would be eminently practical!

Maybe, but (real) people don't say "I love hunting with this rifle, it's a +2 rifle", or "I just bought a +2 fishing pole / guitar / golf club" even if there probably are items that make you 10% more successful at those.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
I asked some friends about Sheep-biter...if it was the kind of weapon they'd like. Response was pretty positive!

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SoulsFury

Explorer
I still keep the +1s, but I do allow certain +s due to material. For instance, a weapon made with meteor ore, is +1 and considered magical against creatures who cant be hit by non magical weapons, though it isn't technically magical. Dragon scale, should it ever come up, will be the same except for armor and shields. However, you can't just take any dragon scales to make such armor. You have to use a freshly killed adult dragon, and it will cost a significant price to have an armorer be able to do the treatment process... so basically it will be hard to get, but purchasable, and more feasible (for my setting) than a bunch of +1 magic items laying around.

In game wise, it would never be, nor any item be referred to as +x. That is just stupid.
 
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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I think generally it is enough to say it is "enchante." You can get fancy, saying it "is a war axe from Elder Days, wrought in the long forgotten forges of Baarruum." You might even name the thing, "Drasig's Doomhammer, the Trollbreaker." In the end, the pluses go on the character sheet and the name goes in the game.

More importantly to make those weapons feel special is to give them unique features. These features might have minor mechanical effects but even if they are purely descriptive they go a long way in stopping the "+1" mentality. Luckily in 5E items are intended to be rare enough you should not be expecting PCs to throw out the +1 sword by 3rd level when they find the +2.
 


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