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Cordovan's Weapon Descriptions Guide

Posted On: January 27th, 2011

Posted By: Cordovan

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About Me:

Thanks for visiting the page for Turbine Community Specialist Cordovan! I'm here to blog about my life and times in DDO. I'm a long-time DDO player and former podcaster who is now lucky to be working for Turbine, Inc. I love my work, and love the DDO community. Thanks for stopping by! 
NOTE 8/3/12: Due to a bug in my.ddo, I cannot currently access my my.ddo Inbox. Please PM me on the forums with any concerns. Thanks!


The goal of this post is to help you understand weapon descriptions in-game, and know how to recognize a great weapon!

New players, or those unfamiliar with the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set, can be understandably confused when first looking at the description of an item; how do you know whether weapon X is better than weapon Y, and what do all those numbers and stuff mean?  I aim to make it easier to understand with a quick rundown today of what you’re looking at:


I’ve taken a basic decent weapon as an example above. Let’s start looking!

1. Icon: This is the icon of the weapon, and shows you what the weapon looks like in your inventory or hot bar.

2. Proficiency: This tells you what kind of weapon proficiency you will need to be able to wield the weapon without incurring a -4 non-proficiency penalty to your attack roll. Simple, Martial, or Exotic are the types.  Simple weapons can be wielded by most (but not all) classes without a penalty.  Martial proficiency is usually given to you based on your class, although theoretically a person could use up one of their feat choices on martial weapon proficiency (getting martial weapon proficiency is usually better done by multiclassing.)  Exotic weapon proficiency requires the selection of a feat to use (although a few rare exotic weapons grant proficiency in the weapon type as well.)

3. Minimum Level: This tells you what level your character needs to be in order to equip the item! Unlike many other weapon restrictions that can be overcome with a high enough Use Magic Device skill, the minimum level of a weapon cannot be overcome with UMD.

4. Base Damage Rating: This gives you a general idea of the effectiveness of a weapon’s “base” damage. It’s important to note thatthis number does not include damage done by additional properties like Holy, Pure Good, Acid, Flaming, etc. Since damage from weapon properties plays such a large role in DDO, the Base Damage Rating of a weapon will play a lesser role in determining whether weapon X is better than weapon Y in many cases.

5. Damage: This is one of the most important things to look at when trying to decide what weapon to use.  This section tells you how much base damage will be done by the weapon, in addition to the type of damage the weapon does. The bit in the parenthesis (3-10) was added a while back by Turbine to help players less familiar with the concept of “D&D dice”, which is the 1d8+2 bit.  I find that looking at “D&D dice” is more informative, in that it takes into account the concept of a “weighted” dice role.

Think of what happens when you roll two six-sided dice: Two numbers are rolled, which can be added together.  Due to probability, the likelihood of the numbers adding up to something like 6, 7, or 8 is higher than the likelihood of the dice adding up to 2!  Think about it - to get a 6, you could roll a 1 and 5, 2 and 4, 3 and 3.  To get a 2, you’d have to roll 1 and 1 - less likely because there are fewer ways to achieve that number!  So, when looking at DDO weapon damage, a weapon that does 1d12 damage tends to do less base damage overall than a weapon which does 2d6, because that 2d6 weapon is more likely to roll “average” damage numbers, while the 1d12 damage weapon has the same chance of rolling a 1 as it does a 12!  The “non-D&D dice” number doesn’t take this into account, but can be used as a quick way to get a general idea of how much base damage a weapon will do.

The other critical bit of information in the Damage description is the type of damage done; in this case the weapon will do 3 to 10 points of slash damage, 2 points of which will be magic-typed damage (it’s a +2 longsword, which gives a +2 enchantment bonus to your attack roll and damage.)  This information is important when looking at Damage Reduction in particular, although the damage type is also important because certain feats give you bonuses when using a specific weapon type (for example, Improved Critical: Slashing would improve your chance of getting a critical hit when wielding a longsword.) Damage Reduction is a bit outside of the scope of what I’m explaining today, so I’ll tell you more about damage reduction in a future post.  Just know that if you are trying to find a weapon to use against a creature, it helps a lot to know what kind of damage type is least effective against the creature.

6. Critical Roll: This is also one of the most important concepts to understand when looking at a weapon.  A “critical hit” does more damage against a monster, often doubling, or even tripling, the amount of damage done to a monster when hit!  The bit in the parenthesis (10%/6-20) is a simplification of the next bit of information, and states that the weapon has a 10% chance to score a critical hit against an enemy, and if the critical hit is confirmed, the weapon will do 6-20 points of base damage.  I prefer to look at the critical hit range, described as 19-20 / x2.

How this works is, if you roll a 19 or 20 on your attack roll, you have the chance to score a critical hit against an enemy.  Whether you actually do score the critical hit is determined by an additional roll of the dice!  If the additional roll is a basic hit against an enemy, then you have scored a critical hit, which in this case means many of the individual damage types done to the enemy will be doubled!

One thing to keep in mind about critical hits is that it doesn’t add up all of the various damage types done to an enemy and then double it; it doubles each applicable bit of damage independently!  This matters because some types of damage are doubled on a critical hit, and other types are not, although getting into that will probably be the subject of a separate post as well…

Here’s the most important things to know about Critical Roll:

  • The wider the “threat range”, the better the chance the weapon will score critical hits and do a ton more damage against a monster (i.e., a threat range of 18-20 is better than a threat range of 19-20, because it’s a 15% chance to roll a critical hit instead of a 10% chance.)
  • Some weapons have better critical hit multipliers than others!  A weapon that does x3 damage is better than a weapon that does x2, provided both weapons have the same “threat range”.

7. Attack Mod: This tells you which stat (Strength, Dexterity, etc.) is used to give you an attack bonus or penalty.  Keep in mind that some feats allow you to use a different stat (for example, Weapon Finesse lets you use your Dexterity modifier to determine your attack roll, provided it’s higher than your Strength modifier.)

8. Damage Mod: Similar to Attack Mod, the damage modifier tells you which stat is used to give you a bonus or penalty to damage.

9. Weapon Bonus: Pretty simple, really. This tells you what bonus your weapon will add to attack and damage, and what kind of bonus it is.

10. Prefix: Most magical weapons in DDO will have two “property modifiers”; a prefix and a suffix.  Icy Burst is the prefix, Greater Elemental Bane is the suffix.  The prefix description tells you what the property does, in this case Icy Burst does additional cold damage on a hit (and even more damage on a critical hit!)

11. Suffix: See above, this describes the suffix property of the item, in this case Greater Elemental Bane has a better to-hit bonus and damage bonus against elemental creatures (fire mephits, water elementals, etc.)

12. Durability and Hardness: The higher the better is about all you need to know.  Durability determines how much damage (usually through use) a weapon can sustain before it needs to be repaired, and hardness determines how hard a weapon is to break.  Eventually, an item can get so worn down that it needs to be replaced, although bound weapons (and weapons you bind through the Stone of Change) do not take permanent damage.

13.  Flavor Text Description: This tells you some of the lore of the item, and describes how it looks.

14. Base Value: This tells you how expensive an item is, and gives you an idea about how much you’ll get when selling the item.  The higher the better, of course!  Keep in mind that you will not usually get anywhere near the full amount of the item when you sell it to a vendor or broker; your Haggle skill will get you more gold per item sold, among other factors.

15. Item Name: Ummm….this tells you….the name of the item?

16. Total Modifier Value: In DDO, this number most often comes into play when you are trying to charge up a depleted energy cell in order to craft a green steel item. The higher the better, in general. This number is determined by the + of the item, the properties on the item, the item’s minimum level, and other factors.  Don’t worry too much about this number, in fact, you can largely ignore it until it comes time to make a green steel item.

17. Weapon type: Long sword, bastard sword, scimitar, mace, this tells you what it is!  The description also tells you whether a weapon is one-handed, or two-handed.

18. Equips To: This tells you whether a weapon can be wielded in your main hand, off-hand (left hand, in DDO), or either.

19. Weight: How much does the item weigh? You can also ignore this, unless you find your character struggling with being encumbered (meaning you’re being weighed down and suffer penalties because of it.)

That’s it!  Please feel free to provide additional comments and suggestions below, and thanks for reading!


Additional Resources

Follow these links for additional information about some of the concepts described in this article:

Base Damage Rating

Critical Hits

Damage Reduction

Stone of Change

Threat Range

Total Modifier Value


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