View Full Version : [3.5] Alloying

2013-01-29, 02:14 AM
So, this is a short question, but my google-fu has failed me. Does anyone have a decent set of homebrewed alloying rules?

2013-01-29, 04:23 AM
Not that i have a memory of, but it wouldnt be hard to get some made up.

-must be the same general kind of material (wood, stone, metal, glass, etc)
-takes on special qualities of both materials
-hp and hardness are the best of the two plus another say 25%
-price and time to create is the two materials added together plus another say 50% of that
-always counted as masterwork

I think im missing something...

2013-01-29, 05:26 AM
Well, what you've described seems...massively overpowered, to put it mildly.

2013-01-29, 08:30 AM
This feels like something that'd be really idiosyncratic to the materials that someone wants to alloy. What I do in my games is that you can combine materials and you sometimes end up with a new material with its own properties that are distinct but related to the things you combined - the success or failure of this is roughly based on a minimum Craft rank and a luck roll, but the actual specific properties of the resultant material are more or less spontaneously generated and aren't in any way systematic.

There aren't that many quantitative things associated with most D&D materials, so it makes it hard to have some sort of systematic combination. You've basically got Hardness and HP. Everything else is 'unique special properties' that don't lend themselves to a general rule very well.

On the other hand, I could see a system where you replace 'enchanted items' with 'items made of magical materials'. A flaming sword isn't ensorcelled to be on fire, its just made out of a special material that does that. In that case, alloying would be comparable to stacking multiple enchantments on the same item. You might need a Mithril or better base (+1) to accept magical additives like Fire Opals (Flaming property), and so on...

2013-01-29, 08:54 AM
I had started work on an alloy system a while back, never got all that far because of time and lack of inspiration for the various metals. I also had rules for refining metals, embedding magic gems, and a runic system to create an alternate magic weapon system that could be accomplished even by non-mages given enough time and resources. However, those are not even close to my Alloy rules, and that's already underdone.

Alloying is the process of mixing metals and minerals to create a new material for use in metalworkings of all kinds. The complex art of alloying is mainly used to create materials with useful properties from a variety of other materials, the most common of which is steel, an alloy with a base of iron and a support mineral of coal to increase its durability and hardness. This is rarely used with exotic metals and minerals because of the chance of failure and ruining the materials but when it is used and succeeds the alloy is often incredibly potent.

In order to alloy metals you must have ranks in the Craft (Alloy) or Craft (Alchemy) skill. The follwing rules are for creating your own alloys. You can create alloys using the Craft (Alchemy) skill, but you suffer a -4 penalty on the check when using it this way.

Base - The primary metal in an alloy, there can only be one base in a given alloy. A base retains all abilities it'd have normally unlike secondaries, tetriaries, and traces which have their abilities weakened.

Secondary - A second metal that imparts strong properties to the alloy, there can only be one secondary in a given alloy.

Tetriary - Similar to a secondary metal, a tetriary imparts some of its properties to an alloy, there can only be one tetriary in a given alloy.

Support Mineral - Like coal for steel, a support mineral strengthens or enhances the alloy in some way. An alloy can have a maximum number of support minerals equal to the creator's ranks in Craft (Alloy) divided by 5, to a maximum of 4. Crystals used in crystal blends fall into this category.

Trace - A small amount of a metal or mineral that adds only minor properties to an alloy. An alloy can have a number of trace materials equal to the creator's ranks in Craft (Alloy) devided by 4, to a maximum of 5.

Refined Materials - Materials that are of a higher quality and offer greater benefits to an alloy. Alloys themselves cannot be refined so the materials must be refined instead.

Synthesized Alloy - A term used for alloys that have been alchemically treated to eliminate some of the weaknesses from any metal used in it other than the base.

Crystal Blend - A term used for alloys containing crystalline minerals like quartz or deep crystal. They are harder to create but can be used as a focus for magic of all kinds. A crystal blend is vulnerable to shatter effects but recieve a +4 bonus on saves agains them because of the blend of metal and crystal.

2013-01-29, 10:15 AM
I'm especially interested in this topic...

Now, let's take a look at how materials are statted out in D&D.

Besides Hardness, Weight, and HP per Inch, they also have some other unique features.

They can also be split, kinda evenly, into Wood, Metal, Stone, and Other. Other containing stuff like Riverine.

I'd say that alloying uses the Hardness of one of the metals, and the HP per Inch of the other, with certain metals/other materials additionally altering the rest of the material. Then average the weights.

So, consider the following process:

1. You want to alloy Glass and Adamantine for whatever reason.
2. You decide to use the HP per Inch of Glass, and the Hardness of Adamantine, meaning that the result is hard, but fragile.
3. It retains the ability to ignore hardness below 20.

4. Congrats, you get what I'm going to call Obsidian!

Alloying would also alter melting points and the like, though those don't really have mechanical basis...

2013-01-29, 05:11 PM
Glass and metal can't be combined...

Instead of getting into a big mess, it would be better to assume that masterwork items already use good alloys. Steel and adamantine are already alloys. You could make other small improvements with rare materials, but not enough to make a significant mechanical difference. Rather than hokey custom alloys you might introduce some of the better existing modern alloys such as:

Aluminum alloy: light and strong, as strong as some steels, but doesn't hold a good edge. Might be an alternative for mithril in armor but not weapons. Probably better in plate armor than in chain. Aluminum alloy requires aluminum, copper and zinc. Aluminum and zinc require a good constant source of electricity.
Stainless steel: doesn't rust but weaker and less sharp than carbon steel. Might be an alternative in metal objects besides weapons and armor.
Inconel: super high temp rust proof rocket metal. I don't see much use without some kind of magitek. Stainless steel and inconel require nickel. You basically alloy nickel into steel. Stainless is the only useful material I can think of that actually fits what the OP is doing. Chrome is often used in stainless steel too. Inconel is the reverse of stainless steel: it's mostly nickel with some chrome and only a little iron alloyed in. The main difficulty in getting nickel is that it is much less common than iron so it's more expensive. Other than that, it simply wasn't noticed for a long time, or was seen as a nuisance when it was found because the miner was trying to get copper.
Depleted uranium: a little higher projectile damage, good for sling bullets and arrow shafts. Projectiles would also weigh twice as much or more. Depleted uranium requires the isolation and refinement of natural uranium. It's rare but it could be collected like other rare metals. Refinement could be done (al)chemically with a sealed chamber and some toxic gasses. Or unrefned mildly radioactive uranium could be used with interesting negative effects on those around it.

You could also go with magic to make impossible combinations. Like a material that is as transparent as glass yet as strong as steel.

2013-01-29, 06:00 PM
Glass and metal can't be combined...

Or at least you'd assume that; by RAW, crystal is a metal, and non-ferrous metals can rust (not corrode, rust.)

So if a really good smith, perhaps with the aid of magic, could ignore everything we know about material sciences because screw it, he can melt the glass down and mix it with the metal, can't he?

(I'm aware there is more to alloying than that. I'm not caring at the moment.)

And half the fun of having an "alloy" system is letting you make "hokey" custom alloys.

2013-01-29, 07:25 PM
Or at least you'd assume that; by RAW, crystal is a metal, and non-ferrous metals can rust (not corrode, rust.)

So if a really good smith, perhaps with the aid of magic, could ignore everything we know about material sciences because screw it, he can melt the glass down and mix it with the metal, can't he?

(I'm aware there is more to alloying than that. I'm not caring at the moment.)

And half the fun of having an "alloy" system is letting you make "hokey" custom alloys.

*The dwarf, glancing at the forge*
"We gonna need a bigger fire..."
*Throws hammer at forge and turns around, stomping off to fetch a drawing chalk*

Lets say we mix star metal with mithril. light and tough, radiates an inner light, but

"a bit fragile..."
*DC too low*
"I can do better..."

"Well, it was too fragile, but i thought of something new... I grew crystal within the porous metal, its stronger than all now... but how am i going to put an edge on this...?"

"We'll after using a sphere of annihilation, my buddy the wizard provided, we put an edge on it. and look at that edge, looks like marble when shined up... "

*off to test it.*

"cut through my father's fullplate in one slice... im glad he's not alive to see it, he'd kill me."

2013-01-29, 09:59 PM
Chrome is often used in stainless steel too.

Chrome is what makes it stainless, the nickel is added for a variety of advantages but the chrome makes is 'stainless'. At least if you add enough.

Alloying is complicated. Say you like carbon in your steel. Ok, let's put some more in. Hooray, hardness and yield strength and such goes up. But you also lose ductility. And pretty soon you can't weld it well. And so on.

Ok, what about aluminum? Well, as soon as you add anything you start losing corrosion resistance. But its mechanicals are unimpressive when pure, so throw down some lithium or a number of other elements.

Add to this that most elements are not found in elemental form in the wild, and it becomes clear that putting real metallurgy in the game is too much work.

Now, fantasy metallurgy, where you quench your weapon in the blood of orcs so the sword thirsts for orc blood, that can work. But you'll want to make the system bolt on to the existing magic and special materials without being too strong or too weak. And that's tricky.

2013-01-30, 06:47 PM
I'd say the best way to do it is imitate real life (in which the properties of an alloy cannot be easily determined from those of the components) and have no general rules, just specific DM-determined materials that happen to be alloys. It's the better way in terms of both realism (as I said) and balance (because you know that if you allow a general principle someone will break the game with it), what's not to like?

2013-01-30, 08:24 PM
I feel that while Alloying guidelines would be awesome, that basically we have the problem that no one would ever agree on the exact nature of the rules

IMO, at the very least you should have Truesteel (Mithral-Adamantine Alloy), which has the advantages of both, and a hardness of +15 over steel.

2013-01-31, 01:18 AM
Making hokey combinations and explaining it with magic could work. It might also help the pricing because you could make some abilities +1 equivalents to avoid abuse. While others would have a flat cost.