Something Pathfinder (or most fantasy RPGs, including D&D) doesn’t touch on is the frequency with which Medieval weapons broke. My research indicates weapons, especially swords, broke frequently, primarily due to the poor quality steel most blacksmiths had to work with during the Medieval period. But even weapons made of high quality steel could still break with ‘robust’ use.
It bothers me that, barring unusual circumstances, RPG characters can often use the exact same weapon purchased at creation all through their adventuring careers, when history suggests it was actually fairly rare for a weapon to be used so long, let alone be passed on to one’s heirs.
To reflect this, I am considering using the following rules next time I run a game:
- Standard weapons break on a natural attack roll of 1 or 2.
- Masterwork weapons break on a natural attack roll of 1.
- Magic weapons have a percentage chance of breaking on a natural attack roll of 1:
- +1 weapons have a 5% chance of breaking
- +2 weapons have a 4% chance of breaking
- +3 weapons have a 3% chance of breaking
- And so on
The purpose of these rules is to further complicate the logistics side of the game, to encourage players to carry multiple weapons (for backup), hopefully discourage the tendency of Pathfinder characters to hyper-specialize in a single weapon, thus injecting a touch more verisimilitude in the game.
If these rules seem unduly harsh to you, you may consider having normal weapons break on a natural 1, masterwork weapons having a 50% chance of breaking on a natural 1, and magic weapons break only under extraordinary circumstances.