I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword.
If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.
— Hattori Hanzo, Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Miramax Films, 2003.
Keeping with this week’s theme about equipment in D&D, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the current edition’s lack of mid-range, minor items between “normal” and magical.
I’m not the first person to notice the game’s 5th edition is missing what in 3rd-edition (and its many derivatives) was termed a masterwork weapon — a nonmagical weapon with a better-than-normal bonus, but still clearly inferior to a blade imbued with magical power. Masterwork items were fine gear for low-level characters who were between their fledgling 1st-level status and their higher-level paragon achievements.
And that has left DMs and players who are eager to work in a Hattori Hanzo-type sword (from the Kill Bill movies, and particularly scenes like this one), or any other superior-craftsmanship items, stuck deciding between two options:
1. Use a magical item’s stats and description, but describe the item’s properties as coming simply from craftsmanship. It’s a +1 sword, but without the italics.
2. Or use a normal item’s stats, but role-play as though it’s superior in some way, even though that superiority has no game effect. This option turns the item into treasure, valued mostly because it’s valuable.
I have seen some frustration with that decision on message boards and thought I might toss out a way DMs could address it.