Sunday, May 29, 2016

Special Materials

The choice of one's weapon or armor is an important one, with entire character archetypes being defined by whether they're using full plate or studded leather; a greatsword or a quarterstaff. However, many players then fail to consider a very important part of their equipment - what it's made of.

Dungeons and Dragons, being set in a fantasy equivalent of medieval Europe, gets to enjoy medieval Europe's relatively higher concentration of forgeable iron, meaning steel arms and armor for everyone. However, being a fantasy setting, it also gets to enjoy psychic crystals, screaming silver and dragonhide. Heck, you can even wear armor made of water - and I don't mean in a frozen state. Throughout the various books there is a long list of possible building materials: some impressive, some regrettable. Here I've collected every one printed in official capacity and given a brief explanation of what they do and what they're best suited for. Also included is the short but nonetheless exhaustive list of templates that can be added to your equipment.

Abyssal Bloodiron (PH): Iron infused with centuries' worth of spilled blood, mined from the Abyss.
Weapons - Counts as Cold Iron, and gives a +4 bonus on confirming critical hits. Costs an extra 10 000 gp, and magical enhancements all cost an extra 2000. Maybe useful for specific crit-fishing builds, but it's very expensive. Crit-fishers usually want two or more weapons, too, meaning I'd probably look elsewhere.

Adamantine (DMG):
Incredibly tough metal, with 40 HP/inch of thickness and hardness 20.
Armor - Grants DR/- based on the weight of the armor. 1 to 3 points isn't much, but it can add up over long fights. I'd say DR 1/- for 5000 gp is worth it.
Weapons - Much nicer here. Lets you ignore hardness less than 20, allowing you to hack through most any mundane materials. Bust holes in iron bars, doors, statues, walls, whatever! DR/Adamantine is also something you see every now and then. Having a bonus on sundering probably isn't something you'll want to take advantage of, but having hardness to help RESIST sundering can be very comforting.

Alchemical Silver (DMG): Silver had its stats changed between 3.0 and 3.5... but only for weapons. Silver armor was left neglected in Magic of Faerun, so it's technically grandfathered in. Keep this in mind.
Armor - "Magically treated silver" armor grants Electricity resistance 2. Nothing to write home about.
Weapons - Deals 1 less damage on every hit (still with a minimum of 1) but overcomes DR/silver (mostly seen on lycanthropes.) Reasonably cheap, but how often will it come up? Keep in mind that Alchemy Capsules will let you beat DR/Silver while still using a different, superior material for your weapon.

Arandur (MoF): A blue-green volcanic ore renowned for keeping a sharp edge even under wear.
Armor - Grants Sonic resistance 2. Unless you're trying to get all the chaos emeralds, it's not worth the 2000 gp price tag.

Astral Driftmetal (PH)A pseudo-ghosty metal mined from islands in the Astral Plane.
Armor - Blocks incorporeal attacks as if it were force, though it can only be used to make a breastplate, shield or heavy armor. 12000 gp is way too much to be worth it.

Aurorum (BoED): Can be made into a weapon, armor or shield. If sundered, it can re-bond and restore itself to perfect condition in a round. Nice peace of mind if your DM is sunder-happy. More interestingly, you could break an aurorum item into pieces and have several different people smuggle those parts in somewhere, wherein they can effortlessly reassemble. Getting a weapon in somewhere they're not allowed seems to have obvious use, especially since the material is nonmagical and can't be sought out with detect magic.

Baatorian Green Steel (FC2): Weapons - Slashing or piercing weapons get a +1 untyped point of damage on all attack rolls. It stacks with everything, including even enhancement bonuses added later, making it well worth the 1000 gp pricetag. One of the better choices for weapon materials.

Blended Quartz (A&EG): Armor - Weighs twice as much but reduces arcane spell failure by a hefty 20%. Faecrafted Blended Quartz Armor with thistledown will reduce spell failure by a total of 35%, letting a wizard wear even full plate without issue. Note that the cost of blended quartz shields adds up by weight, not a flat amount - unlike armor, which makes for a nonintuitive system. A heavy shield will cost three times as much as a suit of full plate.

Blood Glass (SoX): Weapons - Adds +1 damage for piercing or slashing weapons, but is easier to break than steel (and subject to shatter and the like.) The damage is untyped, so it should stack with everything. Blood glass is also the only material that you can add the Shifting special ability to - it's basically the Morphing quality, but for a flat 3000 gp. Overall, blood glass is a good deal for 500 gp, but I wouldn't say it's one of the best choices.

Blue Ice (FB): Iron-hard ice that is continually cold, but doesn't actually melt unless in extreme heat (think smelting temperatures.) Blue ice items also weigh half as much as normal. This is one of those rare materials that is below consideration for combat purposes, but rife with utility. An eternal cooler could keep food/drinks/materials cold, making it easy to always have snow on hand for the Snowcasting feat. Goblets and mugs made of the stuff will keep their contents cold even in a desert, making them very desirable in hot climates. Plus, imagine the culinary opportunities opened up for a sailing vessel if it can refrigerate food while on voyages. A helmet made of the stuff could be great relief when crossing a desert. I imagine it could also be useful for preserving severed limbs/organs... you know, assuming the regeneration spell didn't exist.
Armor - Reduces armor weight category by one, increases Maximum Dex bonus by 1, reduces armor check penalties by 2. Spell failure is the same except for Cold spells, which ignore it completely. Note that it will give you a -1 penalty on initiative and Reflex saves unless you have some resistance to cold.
Weapons - Slashing weapons get a +1 bonus to damage. Counts as an enhancement bonus, so it won't stack with magic.

Bluewood (UE): A magically-treated wood that is as hard as metal but weighs half as much. This is an easy way to get your druid a breastplate, or to cut down on weight if you're worried about encumbrance. Note that since bluewood items are automatically masterwork, a bluewood shield counts as a masterwork shield AND a masterwork weapon (for shield bashing) meaning you save 150 gp if you enchant it for both. Also don't forget that, being a wood, this can be made with Minor Creation.

Bone/Stone (DMG): Weapons made of bone or stone get a -2 penalty to attack and damage rolls. Seeing as they cost they same as regular weapons, this isn't really something you would choose to do so much as something you might have to do. If all you have to work with is a dead mammoth, well, a bone greatsword would still be better than going unarmed. Besides, making a sword out of someone's spine is all about the cool factor.

Bronze (DMG): Not as bad as bone or stone weapons, but still a -1 to attack and damage. Again, no reason to bother unless you're stuck in the bronze age. That or your DM wants to make a custom monster with DR 50/bronze.

Bronzewood (ECS): As strong as metal but weighs 10% less. Inferior to Bluewood.
Armor - Bronzewood armor doesn't penalize your hide checks in the woods, which is the only advantage this has over bluewood.

Byeshk (ECS)
: Lustrous purple metal that weighs 50% more than normal.
Weapons - A bludgeoning weapon made of byeshk deals +1 enhancement damage and also overcomes the damage reduction of Daelkyr. Pretty lousy in general, but I guess it could be okay if you're playing in Eberron (why would you, though?)

Calomel (MoE): Weapons - A translucent white metal that overcomes the damage reduction of creatures with the fire subtype. Anything this helps overcome can be beaten with a simple +1 weapon, and I don't want to imagine the DM who is sending adult red dragons at PCs who can't yet afford a +1 weapon.

Camouflage Dye (RoF): Armor - adds a +4 to hide checks in one forest of your choice (yes, one specific forest.) Can only be added to padded, leather, hide, or studded leather armor.

Chameleoweave (MoE): Clothing made of chameleoweave adds a +1 circumstance bonus to disguise checks. It's listed under "clothing," meaning armor probably can't qualify, but there's no mechanical penalty for wearing a cloak over your armor. Besides, things like padded armor should qualify.

Chitin (RotD): Bug parts are as tough as metal but less restricting.
Armor - The maximum dexterity bonus of chitin armor (or shields) is increased by 1. However, it can only be made into breastplates, half-plate, full plate and shields. Since it's not metal, druids can wear it without problem. A little pricey for what it does, but the dex bonus can be worth it. I wouldn't worry about it unless you're suiting up to woo cute Thri-kreen girls.

Cold Iron (DMG): Weapons - Has no appreciable mechanical benefits other than the fact that quite a few creatures out there - fey, demons and devils, mostly - have DR/cold iron. Enough so that it's worth having around. Cold iron is expensive, but DR/cold iron is more common than silver and possibly even adamantine.

Colored Metal (RotD): Dye your metal belongings in all the colours of the wind! This is literally just Ye Olde Bling. You can pimp your armor and other possessions for an indeterminate cost (the text says "typically 10% to 25% more" but gives zero guidelines on how to pick from that range.) Want an archetypical black knight? A very literal Purple Dragon Knight? Warring factions in designer colours like out of some RTS? All are within your grasp. I'm still looking for spinners that you can add to your mount's barding.

Copper, Alchemical (MoF): Armor - Magically-treated copper armor provides cold resistance 2. I'm not sure why wearing a full copper suit will keep you safe in the arctic, but there you go.

Crystal, Deep (EPH)
: Crystal that's naturally psionically-aligned.
Weapons - A wielder can spend 2 power points as a free action to add 2d6 damage to the next hit they score with their weapon. Might be worth it for psionic characters, though I can't imagine anyone other than a Psychic Warrior bothering with it. The fact that it's a free action helps keep it from being junk.

Crystal, Mundane (EPH): Identical stats to metal, just looks differently. If you want to look like a second-string Siegfried Schtauffen, this is the material for you. Do note that crystal armor "counts as metal" and cannot be worn by druids.

Cyrite (PGtE): A dark, lined metal that is faintly imbued with magic. As a result, its benefits are suppressed in an antimagic field.
Armor - Grants a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like abilities. The fact that this doesn't work in an AMF is kind of redundant seeing as the bonus to saving throws only applies to spells that would be unable to function in said AMF.
Weapons - Count as magical for overcoming damage reduction. I don't think I need to explain why this is short-sighted and, ultimately, once again redundant.
I don't like this material at all.

Darkleaf, Elven (A&EG): Armor - Reduces arcane spell failure by 5%, increases maximum Dexterity bonus by +1, reduces armor check penalties by -2, and counts as one category lighter. It's made of darkwood and leaves, so this is basically druidic mithral. Reducing weight categories is nice for anyone, though.

Darksteel (MoF): Sadly, not quite as strong as Magic: The Gathering would have you believe.
Armor - Grants acid resistance 2.
Weapons - Inflicts +1 point of electricity damage with each hit - this stacks with everything, even the shock and shocking burst enchantments. This is much nicer than what the armor grants you: every bit of extra damage helps. +1 electricity damage is like what you'd get from a dragonfang weapon, except dragons won't kill you on sight.

Darkwood (DMG): A darkwood item weighs half as much as normal.
Armor - Shields made of darkwood have the armor check penalty lessened by 2.

Densewood (ECS): Weighs twice as much as wood but has slightly higher hardness and break DC. That's the only benefit it provides, meaning it has no combat application.

Dlarun (MoF): Same as Darksteel but with different energy types.
Armor - Grants fire resistance 2. Might be worth considering just because fire is the most common energy type.
Weapons - +1 point of cold damage with every hit. Again, extra damage rocks.

Dolweave (MoE): A spoopy fabric that adds a +1 circumstance bonus to intimidate checks. Unarmored characters looking to make intimidate checks - charisma-based casters, for instance - don't have much reason not to use the stuff. But again, it would be reasonable to let it work for things like padded and leather armor.

Dragonbone Bow (Dra): A composite bow carved from a single dragon's bone is pretty metal.
Weapons - An extra 100 gp for +20 feet of range. That's a pretty good deal.

Dragonfang Weapon (Dra): Also pretty metal! (Not literal metal.)
Weapons - A dragonfang weapon inflicts +1 damage of whatever type the dragon it came from's breath weapon was. However, it does NOT stack with damage of the same type. Considering it's 300 gp, that's still a good deal for an extra point of damage.

Dragonhide (DMG): Twice as expensive as steel, but isn't steel, so druids can use it. The armor is also immune to the breath weapon of the type of dragon it's made of, but note that it doesn't pass said immunity on to its wearer. If you're consumed in a gout of flame, you'll be nothing but ashes, but your armor will be clean as a whistle.

Duskwood (MoF): Wood that's as strong as steel but weighs half as much (sound familiar?)
Armor - As far as armor is concerned, it can only be made into a breastplate, in which case it increases the maximum Dex bonus by +1, improves the armor check penalty by 2, reduces arcane spell failure by 5%, and counts as light armor.
Overall, bluewood will be a better choice in almost every scenario.

Elukian Clay (A&EG): A very hard clay with a natural affinity for water. Items made from it don't count against your weight when calculating check penalties for Swim checks. This might be of some use in an underwater/seafaring adventure, but otherwise don't bother.
Armor - Armor and shields have their armor check penalty increased by 1.
Weapons - Can only be made into piercing or bludgeoning weapons.

Entropium (A&EG): Iron alloyed with... "chaos-stuff." No joke, that's right out of the entry on it. Entropium armor is heavier than normal but is capable of shifting slightly, making it more flexible.
Armor - The weight category counts as one step heavier, making this one of the rare materials that has no real penalty if added to heavy armor. Armor check penalties for Strength-based skills increases by 2, but decreases by 2 for Dexterity-related skills. Arcane spell failure is reduced by 10% to a minimum of 5%, meaning thistledown could patch up that last bit. Maximum dexterity bonus is increased by +2. An odd myriad of statistics, but overall it's okay.

Ferroplasm (Psi): All right, this stuff is pretty cool. If a ferroplasm item is unattended, held by a non-psionic creature or brought into an area where psionics don't function, it melts and loses all abilities. If a psionic creature picks it up, it instantly reforms and regains its  function. (How such a character picks up a sword that's been reduced to a puddle is unclear.) In its proper form, the item also sheds violet light in a 10-foot radius, though the wielder can mentally suppress it. Ferroplasm items have a natural enhancement bonus that depends on how much of the material it uses.
Armor - Light armor has a +1 enhancement bonus, medium has a +2 bonus, and heavy armor has a +3 bonus.
Weapons - Weapons that deal 1d6 or less damage per attack have a +1 bonus, and weapons that deal more than 1d6 damage have a +2 bonus.
This is all so nice since it's a way to add an enhancement bonus to your armor or weapon WITHOUT it affecting the number of weapon special abilities than can be added. Since your sword naturally has that initial +1 bonus, it doesn't count against the maximum +10 bonus of weapon special abilites or the 200 000 gp limit you can spend enchanting it. Basically this means you can fit one more WSA in there. Probably the best choice there is for psionic characters (shame that no one else can use it, though.)

Fever Iron (MoF): Magic-infused metal that "never fully cools."
Armor - Grants fire resistance 2.
Weapons - Each hit inflits +1 point of fire damage, and it stacks with other fire damage if desired. As usual, extra damage is always good.

Flametouched Iron (ECS): Armor - Grants a +1 resistance bonus to saves against spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities of evil outsiders.
Weapons - Treated as good-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Note that flametouched iron can also be made into a holy symbol, which lets you count as one level higher for turning undead or censuring fiends. Frankly, this is probably its best use.

Frystalline (BoED): A mineral that grows on the second layer of Elysium.
Weapons - Treated as good-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Flametouched iron does the exact same thing, and it costs 1000 gp less.

Gehennan Morghuth-Iron (A&EG): A volcanic mineral from Gehenna that forges poorly but is naturally toxic.
Weapons - Receive a -1 attack and damage penalty, but any slashing or piercing weapons deliver a poison with each successful attack - DC 12, initial damage 1 point Dexterity, secondary damage 1d4 points of Dexterity. Don't forget that like all poison, unless you have Poison Use or an Assassination weapon, you'll accidentally poison yourself on a natural 1. Eternal poison is pretty cool, and while the DC is low, you get it on every attack and everyone rolls a 1 on their saves eventually. Also, since it's inherent to the metal, you can also add an injury poison on top of the blade. +1 Assassination Virulent Toxic Spell-storing Gehennan Morghuth-Iron Rapier storing shivering touch and coated in Colossal Centipede poison, anyone?

Glassteel (CoV): A glass that's stronger than iron but weighs half as much (this seems to be a very common concept among special materials.)
Armor - Counts as one category lighter, arcane spell failure reduced by 10%, maximum Dexterity bonus increased by +2, armor check penalties lessened by 3. Yes, it is identical to mithral. Note that the description distinctly mentions that glassteel is completely transparent, without so much as a coloured tint. Evidently your armor will be see-through. Maybe try not to dump Charisma so hard.
Weapons - No bonus other than halving its weight.

Gold, Alchemical (MoF): Remember alchemical silver? Some brainchild at Wizards apparently thought this material was noteworthy because it was literally MADE OF MONEY, and furthermore thought we could step things up. Why get a subtle-looking magic sword that cost a lot of gold when you can let passersby see literally how much gold it takes to make your weapon?
Armor - Alchemical gold provides both acid and fire resistance 2. In return, however, it weighs twice as much, counts as one category heavier, spell failure is increased by 10%, maximum Dexterity bonus is decreased by 2, and armor check penalties are increased by 3.
Weapons - Weapons made from alchemical gold or platinum count as "heavy" weapons. See the entry on heavy weapons at the bottom.

Hizagkuur (MoF): In addition to having gotten its name from a deadline-conscious R&D member smashing his face into the keyboard, Hizagkuur is a flaky mud that can be forged into a silvery metal.
Armor - Grants cold resistance 2.
Weapons - Inflict +1 point of electricity damage and +1 point of fire damage with each hit, and it indeed stacks with everything else. As always, extra damage is good, but +2 damage (of two types, even) is definitely a step up over the various +1 damage materials. Much more impressive than the effect from the armor.

Jade (OA)
: Stylish, but like most things from Kamigawa block Oriental Adventures, much too setting-specific to be worth serious consideration.
Weapons - Ignores damage reduction and regeneration on oni, and gives you a +4 sacred bonus on Fortitude saves against Shadowland Taint (it's likely you haven't seen those two words together before reading this sentence.) Most interestingly, counts as a ghost touch weapon. A set +7000 gp is expensive, but if you're adding several special abilities on top of this, you end up saving money rather than having just got the ghost touch enchantment.

Kaorti Resin (Online): A hard but flexible resin made from the natural secretions of outer planes creatures known as the kaorti.
Weapons - Any slashing or piercing weapon made from kaorti resin has its critical multiplier changed to x4. Unlike most materials, though, kaorti resin makes the weapon it is made into count as an exotic weapon.

Kheferu (SS): A reddish ore than can be mined from meteorite craters (no, not meteorites, just their craters.)
Weapons - Overcome any damage reduction of creatures with the earth subtype. Kheferu weapons are cheap (until you try to enchant them, anyway) but it's still too specific to likely be worth it. Maybe an "Earth Subtypes Must Die" campaign, who knows.
Most notably, Kheferu weapons grow salt crystals if left untended. Find the cheapest metal weapon for its size, make entire scores of them out of kheferu, then stockpile them as salt growers. Salt is a trade good, so you could end up sitting on a very slow but reliable gold mine.

Leafweave (RotW): Yessir, armor made of leaves. Don't worry, they're 'alchemically treated', which is apparently a catchall for "will it blend forge?"
Armor - Arcane spell failure is reduced by 5%, maximum Dexterity bonus increased by +1 and armor check penalties reduced by -2. Note that metal armor cannot be made of leafweave - only padded, leather, or hide. Reducing ASF always should raise eyebrows, since if you can add on a few other modifiers, you might end up with armor a wizard can wear.

Livewood (ECS): If you thought the last one was odd, you may want to sit down. Livewood is a wood that doesn't die when the tree it belongs to is felled... or is fashioned into an object. Generally it's the same as wood, but it can be affected by most spells that affect living plants. Most interesting is tree stride, since a druid can stride from a livewood object to a livewood tree (or other object.) Reliable teleportation can require jumping through hoops for a druid, but always having a 'tree' with you in the form of a quarterstaff could help. You could also use animate plants to animate your weapons to attack for you, but this seems iffy.
Most interesting, though, is the fact that a dryad that's bound to a livewood tree still lives (and is dependent on the 'tree') if it's felled. The text mentions dryads that are bound to, and live inside, livewood buildings, furniture and ships. If you ever wanted to play as a dryad, you could fashion your tree into an object and carry it around to enjoy global adventuring. Or, for the rest of us, you could have a ticked-off dryad living in your quarterstaff, I suppose....

Living Metal (MoF): Iron ore inadvertently imbued with "life energy" from druids. Before you get too excited, it's not intelligent or anything like that. Rather, it can repair itself and reshape itself (a little) to better fit you.
Armor - After wearing a piece or armor made of living metal for ten days, its maximum Dexterity bonus increases by 1, armor check penalty reduces by 1, and arcane spell failure improves by 5%. It also heals 1 point of damage to itself every minute, so long as it has at least 1 hit point left. Honestly, though, I don't think I've ever seen someone's armor take damage in D&D. Still, it's pretty inexpensive.

Mithral (DMG): You'll probably know of this one, Tolkein or no.
Armor - Makes armor count as one category lighter, reduces spell failure by 10%, increases maximum Dexterity by 2, and reduces armor check penalties by 3. Like most things core, this is one of your best options. A mithral buckler has no armor check penalty or arcane spell failure, and it doesn't even use up a hand, so it gives arcane casters a great place to dump armor special abilities. It can also be combined with other spell failure reducers to get 0% spell failure armor. Melee characters that don't want to be rolled down dungeon corridors in their own personal iron barrel can often benefit from a mithral breastplate, too. Weapons get no benefit from being mithral other than weighing less, though.

Obdurium (SBG): Adamantium +1. 30 hardness and 60 hit points per inch make it "really, REALLY the hardest metal FOR REAL." I guess it's nice that it exists, but it's better saved for making walls and strongholds.

Obsidian (OA): Dime store jade - not a great place to be - with an egregious drawback on top.
Weapons - Ignores damage reduction and regeneration on oni, but by using the weapon, you'll eventually contract a curse that makes you kill all of your friends and loved ones. That's, uh, quite the secret tech. But hey, it's cheap!

Pandemonic Silver (CW): Silver from the plane of pandemonium.
Weapons - Identical to alchemical silver except that it screams every time you whip it out as long as you're in at least a light breeze. Everyone within 30 feet who hears it (not including you, thankfully) must succeed on a will save or cower for 1d4 rounds. The will save is based on the wind speed, ranging from DC 10 on a light breeze to an impressive 28 at tornado-speed winds. How you're going to be swordfighting in a tornado is for you to figure out, but it does make for a pretty cool image. This stuff is pricey, but considering how powerful making your opponents cower is - especially nonmagically and as a free action - I think it's worth trying. It only works in wind, but there are ways to make your own. Gust of wind gets you a DC 19, and there's also a Least Dragonfire Adept Invocation (scalding Dust) that mimics it. An air elemental or djinni can be summoned to make a whirlwind for you, too. Since the Silver only activates when the weapon's drawn, using the Quick Draw feat or Eager weapon enhancement are naturals. However, I recommend the Gnome Quickrazor, which can be drawn and stored both as free actions. Each time you attack with it it triggers the Silver, and everyone rolls a 1 on their save eventually.

Pearlsteel (SW): A pearlescent steel that is 25% lighter than normal and has lessened penalties for fighting underwater.
Weapons - Slashing and bludgeoning weapons deal -2 damage rather than half damage, and slashing weapons have a -1 penalty on attacks rather than -2. Note the doofy typo in the Stormwrack entry which gives you two conflicting explanation on how much damage a Pearlsteel weapon does.
I've never seen an underwater adventure, but if you get in one, use a piercing weapon or an Aquatic weapon. Pearlsteel isn't worth it.

Platinum, Alchemical (MoF): Practically the same story as gold, except for the resistances you get from armor. In fact, the game has set the precedent that platinum is worth 10 times what gold is by weight, but having an entire suit made out of either one costs the same. Try not to think about it too much.
Armor - Alchemical platinum provides both cold and sonic resistance 2. In return, however, it weighs twice as much, counts as one category heavier, spell failure is increased by 10%, maximum Dexterity bonus is decreased by 2, and armor check penalties are increased by 3.
Weapons - Weapons made from alchemical gold or platinum count as "heavy" weapons. See the entry on heavy weapons at the bottom.

Purple Mournlode (MoE): A purplish ore that has inherent anti-undead properties.
Armor - Grants a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws against the spells, spell-like and supernatural abilities of undead.
Weapons - Overcomes the damage reduction of undead who are vulnerable to either cold iron or alchemical silver. Considering how inexpensive the material is, it can be worth using in an undead-heavy campaign. It can also be made into a holy symbol to deal damage equal to your turning level to any undead you turn - probably a waste, though, seeing as the fight should be over concerning anything you manage to turn.

Razorfeather Ammunition (MM5): Something of an unusal entry, but arrows or bolts can be made from the scavenged feathers of a Steelwing.
Weapons - Ammunition made from razorfeathers is automatically considered Masterwork, Adamantine and Keen. Yes, a weapon enhancement on a mundane weapon. This has got to be the best nonmagical ammunition there is. They can be crafted with a DC 30 craft check (or conceivably bought for a price the book doesn't make clear.)

Riedran Crysteel (ECS): A crystalline substance that can be alloyed with iron to make a material that is more powerful for psionic characters.
Weapons - So long as you have at least one power point, the weapon gets a +1 enhancement bonus on damage rolls. Considering getting so much as a +1 weapon will overlap with that, this is useless unless you plan on never enchanting your weapon... which is only 500 gp more expensive to do. Plus, the crysteel is susceptible to the shatter spell.

Rimefire Ice (FB): A form of ice that glows blue like a torch and has similar properties to wood - it can be cut and worked in the same fashion, and even... burns like wood. Yes, you can light this ice on fire and it won't melt. However, it does sublimate in warm climates. Anyone who touches it takes 1 point of cold damage each round.
Weapons - Wood or mostly wood weapons can be made out of Rimefire Ice. They still glow and deal the +1 cold damage per hit. Since it will melt anywhere outside of a root cellar, though, you might want a blue ice sheathe to store it.

Riverine (SW): Basically a mould of force energy filled with water, described as "water under extremely high pressure." Since it's enclosed in force, it's invulnerable to damage and just about anything short of disintegrate and similar dispelling effects.
Armor - Armor or shields made of riverine have half of the AC bonus they provide converted to a deflection bonus. If you wanted, you could use two shields, one made of riverine, to get the full shield bonus as well as a half deflection bonus.
Weapons - Since it's a force effect, and the description distinctly states that riverine walls block ethereal travel, are all riverine weapons mundane ghost touch weapons? The description never touches on it.

Sentira (SoS): This material reeks of trying hard to be different. It's a substance made of powdered crystal and the power of thought and emotion (I'm not kidding) but it's no lighter, tougher or even more expensive than regular armor.
Armor - Identical to mithral except for being able to hold special armor enhancements from the same book. The only use of Sentira is that it can be made into "Emotional Armor" (still not kidding) which is the only type of armor that can store the three emotional enhancements - Calming, Dreadful and Vengeful. None of them are better than middling, and there are much better ways to spend your money.

Serren (BoED): Wood harvested from trees on Arborea that house nature spirits.
Weapons - Bows, arrows and crossbow bolts can be made from serren wood to have the ghost touch special quality. 4000 gp for nonmagical ghost touch is good, but I couldn't tell you why the wood can't be made into any other wooden weapon, such as crossbows or quarterstaffs.

Solanian True Steel (BoED): Metal mined from Celestia.
Weapons - Is marginally tougher than regular steel and has a +1 bonus on critical confirmation rolls. This really isn't going to matter enough that you'll even notice it.

Soarwood (ECS): A magically buoyant wood that is as tough as usual but only weighs 75% as much. It could cut down on encumbrance if you're carrying lots of wooden items, but this one should mostly be reserved for boats and airships. The speed of any boat or ship made of soarwood is doubled.

Starmetal (CA): The fantasy classic, this is the obligatory 'metal mined from meteorites.'
Armor - Identical to adamantine
Weapons - Identical to adamantine, but starmetal weapons also deal 1d6 more damage to extraplanar creatures that are on the Material Plane. That could be useful, but it's a little restrictive. Considering it costs more, you might want to stick to adamantine. Where the campaign takes place and what you're up against will dictate its usefulness.

Stygian Ice (FB): Unholy ice from Stygia, the fifth layer of Hell. Touching it deals 1d6 points of cold damage per round, and the damage forces a DC 12 will save to avoid taking 2 points of Wisdom damage. Continued contact after being reduced to 0 Wisdom instead deals 2 points of Constitution damage, and being reduced to 0 Constitution turns you into a wraith. Overall, a lot more threatening than the usual "+1 damage per hit."
Stygian Ice melts above freezing temperatures, taking 1 point of damage each hour. As it melts, it gives off a noxious vapor that nauseates everyone within 5 feet who fails a DC 12 Fortitude save. Seeing as it takes hours to melt completely, you can leave behind stygian ice items to have them form a long-lasting deadly fog bank.
Weapons - Since Stygian Ice isn't really any tougher than regular ice, each time they deal damage, you must make a DC 15 reflex save or the weapon deals the same amount of damage to itself. While it does do the bonus cold damage and wisdom damage on each hit, it also will inflict this on its wielder each round - try to get at least cold resistance 6 before using one. The promise of tons of extra damage (and ability damage!) is extremely tempting, but it's hard to justify spending an extra 6000 gp on something that can break so easily. You can keep it in a box of blue ice and use it to make arrowheads for ammunition, if you want to play it safe.

Susalian Chainweave (CW): Elven chainmail that provides extra protection against bludgeoning attacks.
Armor - Armor made of Susalian Chainweave provides damage reduction 3/piercing. It results in DR 3/- when combined with Heavy impact armor, but this stuff is outrageously expensive.

Targath (ECS): A soft metal that seems to have all-natural health benefits. Carrying even a small amount gives you a +2 resistance bonus on Fortitude saves against disease. Note that this stuff is very cheap - in particular, a single piece of Targath ammunition will cost 3 gp more than normal. Pretty cheap for a slotless +2 against diseases, no?
Weapons - Targath is soft enough that it doesn't perform as well as steel, getting -1 to attack and damage rolls. However, these weapons can overcome the damage reduction of "The deathless of Aerenal" (Eberron specific.) I dunno about this, Scoobs.

Thinaun (CW): A dark steel alloy that can store the souls of the immediately dead. Not as powerful as The Elder Scrolls series would have you believe, but not without its uses.
Weapons - A Thinaun weapon that touches a creature as it's dying will trap its soul. Generally this will mean anyone killed by the weapon, but its own wielder will be soul-trapped if he dies with it in hand. This prevents raise dead, resurrection and the like since the soul hasn't passed on. If the caster of such a spell is actually holding the weapon, though, they require half as many material components as usual since you have the soul directly "on hand." A trapped soul remains trapped until the weapon is broken or it traps a new soul, displacing the previous one.
The enhancement is expensive, and by its "one-at-a-time" nature hard to know how to make use of, but you can trap a recurring villain in a dagger and then just leave it in a chest.

Thistledown Suit (RotW): A lightweight silken fabric that can be incorporated into other armors.  
Armor - Anything that has an underlying quilten layer - chain shirts, and any medium or heavy metal armor - can incorporate a thistledown suit. Increases armor check penalties by 1 but reduces arcane spell failure by 5%. If you're reducing spell failure, you're only going to do it to try and reach 0%, so this is good for helping add that last bit to another reducer. Wearing a thistledown suit on its own counts as half-weight padded armor that provides a +2 circumstance bonus to hide checks in an area of darkness.

Touchstone Blade (PH): Not so much a material, per se, as a location-specific metal. Touchstone blades are forged from metal from the site of a planar touchstone. Technically, this should mean any type of metal can be touchstone.
Weapons - Touchstone blades count as the 'valuable portable object' required by the Planar Touchstone feat.

Urdrukar (AEG)
: Metal from the underdark that is naturally resistant to divination magic, also known as "mindsteel." Every five pounds of it that you carry increases the DC for scry attempts against you by +2. Considering the pricetag, just stick with nondetection.
Armor - All urdrukar armor and shields have their arcane spell failure doubled.

Wildwood (RotW): A wood that is highly flexible and also possessing of an innate self-repair ability.
Armor - Wildwood armors have their armor bonus reduced by 1, maximum Dexterity bonus increased by 1, armor check penalty reduced by 1, and arcane spell failure reduced by 5%. Any armor check penalty can be ignored completely on Hide checks in areas of undergrowth. Since it's indeed wood, druids can wear it without issue.
Most interestingly, the armor will heal one point of damage every day if its exposed to sunlight, or five points if it's immersed in water and exposed to sunlight. Armor that fixes itself is pretty neat, but the main point of interest is probably the reduced spell failure.

Ysgardian Heartwire (BoED)
: A highly flexible metal from the mines of Ysgard.
Armor - Heartwire mail does not a suit of armor make, but sections of it can be added to reinforce vulnerable areas on chain shirts, chainmail or heavy armor. Any armor reinforced with Ysgardian heartwire gives you a +2 AC bonus against confirmation rolls for critical hits scored against you. It doesn't weigh anything or have any drawback other than the price, so it's not bad, but it applies to a fairly infrequent occurrence.

Heavy Weapons (MoF): A heavy weapon hits harder, but is made unwieldy by its weight. Only weapons that are typically metal can become heavy, since they have to be made out of something like gold or platinum. Using a heavy weapon will result in a -4 penalty on attack rolls unless you hold it in one more hand than usual (light weapons essentially become one-handed, one-handed weapons become two-handed) or take an exotic weapon proficiency feat for it. You can't use weapon finesse with a heavy weapon. In return, however, they inflict damage as if they were one size category larger.

Weapon and Armor Templates

Small templates that can be added to your item, these generally require the item to be forged by a specific type of creature or in a specific locale.

Dwarvencraft (RoS): The only template not in the DMGII, dwarvencraft is essentially Masterwork +1. Only stone or metal items can be made dwarvencraft. Such an item has its hardness increased by 2, its hit points increased by 10, and a +2 bonus on all saving throws. These bonuses stack if the weapon is enchanted. Not the most desirable benefits on weapons or armor, but it's an option.

Feycraft: A feycraft item can only be crafted by fey (for reals) or creatures "in the service of fey."
Armor - Only light armor, medium armor and shields can be made feycraft. Mithral heavy armor qualifies, naturally. Feycraft armor and shields have their hardness reduced by 1, hit points reduced by 5, weight reduced by 10% and, of actual interest, arcane spell failure reduced by 5%. You also get a +1 bonus to Bluff checks while wearing it.
Weapons - Only light or one-handed melee weapons or ranged weapons can be made feycraft. A feycraft weapon deals damage as if it was one size category smaller. If it's one-handed, you can treat it as light for Weapon Finesse, and if its light, you can use your Dexterity modifier instead of Strength on attack rolls - basically, it gives you Weapon Finesse for free. Since a size category difference will typically mean 1 less damage on average, if you have access to bonus damage like sneak attack, -1 damage and 1500 gp is worth a free feat.

Fireshaped: A fireshaped item can only be crafted by a creature with the fire subtype.
Armor - Only metal armor can be made fireshaped - no hide, leather or wood, presumably because they'd burn. Fireshaped armor gives its wearer a +2 bonus on saves against fire or heat effects.
Weapons - Only weapons with a metal cutting edge can be made fireshaped, so yes, spears and axes qualify. A fireshaped weapon deals 1 extra point of damage to creatures with the cold subtype - not fire damage, oddly enough, but untyped.

Githcraft: Can only be crafted by (any guesses?) Githyanki.
Armor - Any type of armor or shield can be made githcraft. The arcane spell failure of such an item is reduced by 5%. Additionally, it grants its bearer a +1 bonus on Concentration checks. If you're a gish and you can get around the roleplay-heavy requirements, always spring for this one.
Weapons - Can be added to any bladed weapon. A githcraft weapon deals 1 extra point of damage to psionic creatures.

Gloryborn: Just what we need... more benefits to stack on charging. A gloryborn item must be made by a native of Ysgard. Evil creatures using one take a -1 on attack rolls, since it's just too righteous.
Armor - A character wearing gloryborn armor gets a +1 AC bonus until their next turn when charging, essentially reducing the usual penalty to -1. Note that the description for gloryborn armor distinctly notes that it may appear to be just a series of leather straps, belts and boobie-plates, but attacks inexplicably gravitate to the very few protected areas. 150 gp is mere pittance for carte blanche on impractical fantasy armor.
Weapons - A gloryborn weapon deals 1 extra point of damage on a charge. Probably more, once you stack on all of those multipliers. Once again, a gloryborn weapon is allowed to (has to?) look garish and unwieldy, so get some nice anime weapons in there to match your mithral codpiece.

Hellforged: A hellforged item must be made by a native of the Nine Hells. Good creatures using one take a -1 on attack rolls, since it's just too icky.
 Armor - Hellforged armor and shields have their hardness increased by 1, hit points increased by 5, maximum dexterity bonus reduced by 1, armor check penalty improved by 1 and arcane spell failure increased by 5%. However, hellforged armor grants its wearer a +1 AC bonus when he or she is adjacent to an ally. Do note that for reasons unknown, this doesn't apply to shields - armor only.
Weapons - A hellforged weapon has its hardness increased by 1 and hit points increased by 5. Additionally, they deal 1 extra point of damage to anyone you're flanking - good in parties that like to all get in the thick of it.

Pitspawned: A pitspawned item must be made by a native of the Abyss. Good creatures using one take a -1 on attack rolls, since it's just too yucko.
 Armor - Anyone striking the bearer of pitspawned armor or a pitspawned shield with a melee attack takes 1 point of damage. Note that it won't stack if both your armor and shield are pitspawned, since 2 damage would apparently break the game into tiny little pieces.
Weapons - A pitspawned weapon gets +2 bonus on confirming critical hits. Much cheaper than Abyssal bloodiron (and they'd stack if you really wanted) but there are minor alignment restrictions in place.

Soulforged: A soulforged item must be made by a native of Celestia. Evil creatures using one take a -1 on attack rolls, since it's just too holy roller.
Armor - Soulforged armor and shields have their hardness increased by 1 and hit points increased by 5. Also, they give their bearer a +2 bonus to resist being bull rushed or tripped.
Weapons - Soulforged weapons have their hardness increased by 1 and hit points increased by 5. They deal 2 extra points of damage to foes that are charging (but only while it's happening, so you'll only get the bonus on attacks of opportunity or weapons set against a charge.)

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