D&D 5E Should the +1 Sword Exist in 5E?

Should +1 swords exist?

  • Yes, +1 swords should exist and give +1 to hit/damage.

    Votes: 110 53.9%
  • Yes, +1 swords should exist and do something else.

    Votes: 36 17.6%
  • No, +1 swords should not exist.

    Votes: 58 28.4%


First Post
I also think +1 swords should be kept around. I think if you kept masterwork from 3.5 +0/+1 and then added grandmasterwork (as suggested) as +1/+1 and finally legendary work as either a +1/+2 or +2/+2 it would cover the base of really well made mundane weapons. Costs for creations would need to be high enough to keep the better swords from being made like candy and legendary works might require special materials like obsidian or mithral or what have you.

Additiionally you could then require that only weapons of legnendary work or greater could even be made as magical weapons and that any magical weapon requires a name and history. I'm sure handy charts could be provided for cooking up quick histories and names of weapons and items.

I also completely agree with:

Another possibility that comes to mind is something that I've been playing with in my own game. What if bonuses only "un-pack" when the PC gets to a certain level? Let's say that a PC can only use a bonus at a rate of something like +1/5 levels; this means that a +5 sword in the hands of a 2nd level character would be a +1 sword; they simply don't have the experience and "magic resonance" to unlock the full power of the weapon. So it would be something like this:

Level: Bonus
1-5: +1
6-10: +2
11-15: +3
16-20: +4
21-25: +5
26-30: +6
31+: +7

log in or register to remove this ad


First Post
Sometimes you just want to award a player with something that is both meaningful and irrelevant to the campaign, so yes.

Just not too much more than +1.


Personally I would like to see the +1 to +5 bonuses be removed from the "Magic Item" venue and given its own schtick under Masterwork weapons, gaining their bonuses from the use of special materials or special properties.

Example 1 - Real World: All REAL* katanas would be considered Masterwork weapons. They are made from a highly specialized steel (Tamahagane) and an even more highly specialized forging process. Additionally, Damascus weapons would also be considered masterwork weapons.

* Katanas made of Tamahagane steel and forged properly; and NOT the cheap $300 knockoffs.

Example 2 - Fantasy: Any weapon made frm the following would be considered Masterwork weapons: Valyrian Steel (Song of Ice and Fire), Mithril (Tolkien), Dureum (Lensman), Arenak (Skylark) Star Metal (meteor stones - many sources), Adamantine (Greek), Red Steel (Mystara), Orichalcum (Atlantis Mythology), Obdurium (D&D 3E), etc.

For "Magic" weapons, I would prefer to see actual magic effects that can only be added to a Masterwork weapon. Magic effects would be your classic "additional" magical effects such as flaming, frost, weapon shapeshifting, element/energy resistance, ghost touch, etc.



Yes, I think the +1 sword should exist, but like a few others, I think that should be it. There's a long history of swords that are just magically good at being swords, and not much else. But the key is for +1 to be THE thing about the sword, and not the stepping stone to something else.

To take the other classical magical sword that tends to get brought up in these conversations . . . the flaming sword. In pretty much every other edition of D&D, the flaming sword is actually a +X sword WITH flame. Because the +X was important in its own right for damage reduction, mathematical formulas or whatever else. But if you get rid of that, the sword could JUST BE flaming. You have a +1 sword OR a fire sword. Never, ever a +1, flaming sword.

So then, the +1 just becomes one among a list of potential powers. It's the most mundane, but then sometimes you don't want a sword that's anything more that a sword that's really good at being a sword. And a 5% difference is not enough to require a math adjustment to keep up, or make the player without a +1 sword feel weak in comparison.


Krampus ate my d20s
I hate them. I hate them with the passion of a 1000 baatorian chili cookoffs. They exist only to justify the skeleton of the game system. I don't like to see bones poking through where they shouldn't, so drop 'em.
You want a simple magic weapon? Give it a glow or favored enemy. Leave the flat bonus to class and theme mechanics.


Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
I would like to see WotC include a paragraph or three* about the naming of magic weapons. Perhaps they could have a huge article/list/table on their website.

Or we will buy the issue of Kobold Quarterly when they publish it.

*Not two. Never two.


First Post
The problem isn't +X weapons.

The problems are
(1) The expectation built into the rules that every character will have a +X weapon by level Y.
(2) If characters can't find +X weapons, they can just create them with ease.


Registered Ninja
I am not a fan. +X weapon the way that they currently exist in Pathfinder or 4e inevitably lead to the so many of the problems people mention.

I think 3.x/Pathfinder makes it even worse by assuming that NPCs of a certain level have magic weapons. After defeating a group of powerful mercenaries, no DM in the world can make twelve more +1 swords interesting and "magical."

I'd maybe be okay if they only added to damage.

I'd be perfectly fine if the swords had an "accurate" property that added a +1 to hit, and that's as high as it ever got.


I am on the magic weapons with pluses (as opposed to virtues) are problematic wagon as well. However, I would argue magic shields and armor are far worse from a game balance point of view. One of the bad features in 3.X and 4E was the difficulty that low level creatures had in hitting high level characters. In fact, 4E had to create the minion as a "hack" so that weak creatures could have a "to hit" bonus that wasn't embarrassing.

In Pathfinder, around 12th-13th level, I often find the characters (who have focused on AC) cannot be hit by lower level opponents (except on a natural 20). This makes a group of 6-8 lower level characters much less challenging than one would normally expect.

A high level character having an "auto-hit" ability is no to bad so long as the number of attacks doesn't scale up (the 3.X disease) as it improves effectiveness but only modestly. Being impossible to hit (in a game with healing magic) makes for a much stronger distortion.

I would like players to take a warband of Orcs seriously at 12th level, without having to scale them up to be "12th level appropriate Orcs".


First Post
I don`t like +1 weapons either ansd I hate the way those +n weapons were implemented in 4E as a necessity. Such items are colourless and share the same level of excitingness as do tax bills and math exams.

Magic items do have a large inflluence over character performance, which leads to the endless dark spiral of pain known to gamers as the 'item-trademill', because handing them out as a GM requires to spread them over the party evenly. It is not my idea of balancing classes to give more magic items to underpowered characters to round them out. Instead I would prefer to see classes performing equally well WITHOUT magical gear.

In 4E there are some classes(Ranger, I am looking at you!) that can milk magical weapons and items for a lot more than can most other characters because they can apply their magical boni at least twice per turn. This did create balancing-issues, because the way boni worked almost enforced going the multi-attack route no matter what striker you were actually playing, to the point where in one party two strikers of the exact same level have a damage-discrepancy of 40%. Despite the fact that both players put their best effort into milking their classes for what they are worth.

Long story short, I am all in favor of leading the sacred cow of +n weapons to the altar of sacrifice!:)

An Advertisement