Equipment deterioration

I love the idea of (Diablo style) finding things like a rusty axe and (not Diablo style) having that actually be useful. So that’s the motivation behind this system. I would probably pair it with a silver standard for XP while leaving weapon costs in GP. So a long sword might cost 150 SP (15 GP, looking at the Swords & Wizardry Complete price list), but expected treasure found per level would be much less.

This is totally a knockoff of Logan’s notch idea. I’m just posting my formulation here so that I can reference it. I think Brush of Fumbling came up with rolling under the quality number. See also Goblin Punch, which reminded me about this whole thing not too long ago (I think there was another relevant post on Arnold’s blog, but I can’t find it right now).

Note: an updated, simplified version of this system is here:

Weapon quality ranges from 1 to 5, with 1 being best and 3 being default. Attack rolls less than or equal to the quality number result in a point of wear. Make a mark next to the item on the character sheet to track this.

Armor quality ranges from 20 to 16, with 20 being best and 18 being default. Wear accrues to armor as described for weapons above, but the relevant roll is the enemy attack (so when an enemy rolls high to hit you, your armor will take wear).

After three points of wear, an item becomes damaged, and becomes less effective (one less point of AC protection for armor, and -1 to attack rolls for weapons). Additionally, every time a damaged item takes wear, there is a quality in 6 chance that it is ruined outright (jumps immediately to six points of wear).

Six points of wear indicate that an item is ruined (falls apart, snaps in half, etc).

Repair costs are 1/6 of new cost per point of wear.

Item costs double per quality rank (round any fractions up). For example, a item that costs 10 GP (100 SP) on the rulebook price list (representing the default quality of 3), would result in the following price chart by quality:

  1. 400 SP
  2. 200 SP
  3. 100 SP
  4. 50 SP
  5. 25 SP

Items other than weapons and armor (such as grappling hooks) may accrue wear as well.

2013-11-27 edit: damaged items have a quality in 6 chance of being ruined when taking a point of wear rather than 50%.

11 thoughts on “Equipment deterioration

    1. Brendan Post author

      Yeah maybe. I really like, in concept at least, how this could make a high quality weapon kind of a big deal without layering on the masterwork bonuses.

      Do you think the auto-breaking of damaged weapons should be a “quality in 6” chance rather than flat 50%? I’m uncertain.

  1. Logan Knight

    Rolling under Quality was a team effort with Brush of Fumbling after the first post, but categorising what fell under the range 1-5 was mostly him, I just made offhand comments about apprentice swords and Blooddrinker iron.

    If you’re going to be rolling for breakage once the weapon is damaged I’d keep it as Wear or Quality on a d6 rather than 50%.

  2. Ynas Midgard

    I may need to make some probability calculations first, but it seems more intuitive to me to make the d6 roll against the number of notches received thus far (e.g. an attack roll results in acquiring your third notch, so if the d6 comes up 1-3, it breaks). Although this may result in Quality’s de-emphasising, the current wording doesn’t work with armours, where the Quality score ranges from 16 to 20.

    Also, 1/5 costs seem to be easier to calculate than 1/6 costs; although it encourages buying new stuff earlier, it can be countered by limiting the availability of new equipment (which also seems natural to me, unless item quality is meant to drain money more quickly).

    1. Logan Knight


      In my original Notches rules, once you have 2 Notches (or Wear) you roll two of the weapon’s damage die after every attack, if it’s equal or less than the current Notches, it breaks. (Since it’s rolled after every attack instead of when it takes another Notch the breakage chance would be too high on a single die)
      So for me Quality’s emphasis ends at the chance of taking a Notch, not how likely it is to break afterwards. (And for armour I have it lose a point of AC every time it’s damaged instead of giving it a breakage chance)

      Also I think Brendan made the repairs 1/6 of the cost to match up with the fact that every weapon can take 6 points of Wear.

      I let weapons take damage up to their damage die, so repairs are 1/10 of the new cost, which means that it’s always cheaper to repair than buy a new weapon (well except for a d10 weapon with 10 Notches).
      Brendan does damage by class HD though which meant coming up with the flat 6 points of Wear, 1/6 repairs so that repairs still end up cheaper than new items.

  3. Tad Davis

    I dig it! It’s a very simple system for handling wear and tear. I’ve decided to go with a damage absorption system in my game. Armor doesn’t add to AC but rather offers damage reduction. The armor has a certain amount of HP. Whenever it absorbs damage HP are lost. When greater than or equal to 1/2 of the HP are lost, the armor becomes broken, meaning that it only absorbs half the damage. Mending costs are assigned to units of 5 HP: mending 5 HP of studded leather might cost 2sp, mending the same amount of damage in plate mail would be 5sp.

    1. Brendan Post author



      I’m curious what HP totals you are using for various armor types. The “armor has HP” approach seems to give more scope for different kinds of armor compared to the light, medium, heavy division that basic D&D uses, without providing the direct numerical inflation of increasing AC.

      Also: armor that doesn’t take damage from certain damage types (like, immune to cold damage or immune to slashing damage), while not totally eliminating damage to the wearer might be an interesting way to add some minor bonuses to special armors.

      1. Tad Davis

        I’ve just written a blog post outlining this system. I give some tables that provide, among other things, the HP totals of each suit of armor. Here’s the link:

        I agree that there is room here to play around with interesting minor bonuses to armor, but I haven’t gotten far enough along with this system to fully explore them. I’ll keep your suggestion in mind though, it sounds like a fruitful idea.

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  5. Mike

    This is a pretty cool idea. I’ll have to give it a shot in my house rules. I use a combination of armor as Dr and armor as conversion. I was going to go with an item HP system similar to the Fire Emblem games, but I believe this one with a few tweaks will streamline the process without the whole.. Fire Emblem Never Get It Back method.


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