3.5 Silvered Weapons

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I am DMing a group that tries to creatively think of solutions. Some of these solutions are good and some of them simply try to bypass or argue against rules. Regardless, here is the current challenge.

They need silver weapons for a vampire spawn and will need them later for other challenges. They are balking at buying silver weapons, especially arrows. They want to make their own using the silver coins they have collected. They approached the weaponsmith, who is friendly toward them, and asked him to melt down their silver coins and dip the arrow heads into the silver.

As a DM, I could see no reason why this idea would not work. I am not a metallurgist but I know you can get silver and gold plated objects in the real world so why not arrowheads? I am not sure why you would need alchemical silver to make such weapons. I could make the decision that alchemical silver more thoroughly adheres so that their self-made weapons may chip and cease doing damage. However, that's not going to really work for an arrow as it is a one time use item. I could rule that the arrows chip or flake on impact and may not do as much damage but I suspect that will not go over real well with the players (realizing I do make the final decisions for the rules, I still try to be open in considering their arguments, opinions and desires in the game and I can see myself as a player trying this very approach to silvered weapons). 

So, is there a real good reason why their approach would not work? I let them create the arrows but they have not yet used them. The encounter should occur this weekend.

If it does work, how much silver do you think would be required for a thorough coating? I ruled, on the fly, it cost 10 sp per arrow. In hindsight, I think that was way too much but my initial reading of the book rules for alchemical arrows was that they cost 7gp each. In re-reading it, I think it is supposed to be 3 gp for 10 silvered arrows. Can someone confirm this price?

I do plan to modify the damage. I figure since alchemical silver is -1 to damage, that homemade silver arrows might be -2 to damage.

Thanks!
Silvered weapons in D&D aren't made of pure silver (since that would make a lousy weapon) they just have silver added to the metal. The cost should be identicle to plate the arrows as it would be to make them silvered by blending the metals in. The only real benifit of doing it by plating is to save time if they are in a hurry, saving a day's work.

So, yes they could coat a weapon with silver plate, however it would cost just as much and likely wouldn't have the proper edge for long, silver plating one a sword would wear off and need replacing after awhile, a silvered sword (with the silver blended into the metal) would remain a silvered blade. Arrows are generally one-shot disposable ammo, so it isn't a big deal, but Swords on the other hand have to consider durability, so plating would be short term imo.

Silver is also a lousy material to use for weapons, so plating wouldn't give them a very good blade at all, which is why it is blended with another metal rather then simply plating it.  A pure silver edge is going to be way less effective then blending the silver into the steel, so you should probably double the penelties of a normal silvered weapon.

They could also buy Silver Sheen, an alchemical compound that they can pour over their weapons to make them a temperary silvered blade. This would allow them to use their normal weapons as silvered. It seems costlier but in future levels it may be cheaper then buying magical silvered swords.
I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. I'd rule it costs ~3sp/arrow, counting labor. There's also a weapon enhancement in the MIC for melee weapons that allows it to bypass any material-based DR after the first attack. I believe it's called Morphic.
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Although the cost is higher some DMs will allow weapons crafted from Mithral to count as silver weapons when it comes to overcoming DR.  This lets the full time weapon avoid the damage penalty normal for a silvered weapon and actually provides a "real" reason to use Mithral in a weapon in addition to durability at a lighter weight (although that lighter weight could actually affect how a weapon performs).  That of course is purely a house rule.

Now for your actual question when it comes to "plating" arrow to make them silver it should cost just as much, if not more, per arrow then it would just to get alchemical silvered arrows.  These are normally seen as "one shot" items in the most litteral sense although I may allow the recovery of some of the material so they can be "remade" at a lower cost.

For the bigger items what you are really looking at is something like silversheen which I see now was already mentioned.  Now comparing that to the cost of alchemical weapons (250 gp vs. at most +180 gp on the weapon) I really don't see why they want to coat their weapons in silver.  A sad truth is that it should cost more (use more silver) to actually get a good "coat" of silver on an item and have it remain useful then it wouldl be to work enough of it into the base material for the alchemical silver effect.
For the cost of Silversheen, you need to consider that in higher levels they may be using Magical weapons with costs of 32,000+ gp, and buying a second, silvered one means either a really craptastic mundane weapon or else a really expensive secondary weapon that is rarely used. In that sense Silversheen is cost effective.

Considering the penelty, having a permanently Silvered Weapon as your primary weapon is not advantageous .
For the cost of Silversheen, you need to consider that in higher levels they may be using Magical weapons with costs of 32,000+ gp, and buying a second, silvered one means either a really craptastic mundane weapon or else a really expensive secondary weapon that is rarely used. In that sense Silversheen is cost effective.

Considering the penelty, having a permanently Silvered Weapon as your primary weapon is not advantageous .

I can give you all of that.  Of course if you're high enough level that silversheen is "worth it" then you should be high enough level that the idea you can simply "plate" your weapon shouldn't need to be considered.

Now just because you put all of your eggs into one basket that doesn't mean you shouldn't carry much "cheaper" weapons as some kind of backup that will also provide you with additional uses.  If my primary weapon is some highly magical adamantine sword I may still carry a silver dagger and cold iron morning star around as backup weapons.  If I REALLY need the special materials properties to cut through DR I believe that whatever weapon I have that does it can be better then one that may be more useful overall but fails in this circumstance.  Now if you need to "magic up" one of your backup weapons isn't that what greater magic weapon is for?
My players actually have a few vials of silversheen as party treasure.

I think part of the player rationale was simply to burn through some silver. Another reason was to simply be creative with their preparations. They also hoard gold and platinum so they do not want to spend any of it if they can avoid it. Thus, the melting of silver vs. buying alchemical weaponry or silversheen.

Since the general consensus is that dipping the arrows in silver would suffice as a one-time use silver weapon, how much should it cost in terms of silver?

Silversheen costs 250 gp to coat 20 arrows = 12 gp 5 sp per arrow; that's 125 sp per arrow; thats 2.5 pounds of silver per arrow!

Alchemical arrows cost an extra 2 gp. At first I thought that was per arrow so 20 alchemical arrows would cost 41 gp. I am now leaning toward it meaning that 20 alchemical silver arrows cost 3 gp, although that seems really cheap. Does anyone know which view is correct?

I ultimately ruled that each arrow required 10 sp (1 gp) to coat it in silver for a cost of 21 gp for 20 arrows (essentially half-price of my original view of alchemical silver arrows). That's 3.2 ounces of silver material per arrow.

Does that seem reasonable? I guess it really depends on whether alchemical silver arrows are +2 gp per arrow or +2 gp per 20 arrows.  ..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />
Thanks!
If you didn't figure it out we're telling you that coating your arrows with silver will cost more then just having them made of alchemical silver.  I know most of the time magical ammo is priced at 1/50th the cost of a weapon of that type.  To be more specific a one-handed weapon which is why adamantine arrows cost +60 gp each and a weapon cost +3000 gp; carried to alchemical silver the one-handed weapon's 90gp cost divides into 1.8 gp which the rules then round up to 2 gp for simplicity.  Now maybe Silversheen should be encount to coat 50 pieces of ammo instead of 20 but I can see 20 because that is the standard container size and because one could stay it is being applied quickly and thus inefficiently; even if you said silversheen could coat 50 arrows that would still be 5 gp per arrow which is quite a bit more expensive then normal alchemical silver arrows.

When you were figuring your price you appear to have forgotten the cost of actually performing the operation as well.  An alchemical silver arrow may cost +2 gp over the base arrow but that extra cost will not be exclusively because of the silver in them.  Even if you coat them with 1 gp worth of silver you are going to have additional costs to do that which really should raze the final cost to something that approximates +2 gp per arrow.

I'm not finding the DC to craft alchemical silver arrows but I don't believe it is much harder then creating normal arrows so essentially if the PCs provide the silver for the process the cost will still be just like they purchased the items normally.
Aye, the Players will pay the normal cost, less the cost of materials they provide (arrows and Silver) keep in mind that the Arrows being now coated will have to be rebalanced and sharpened accordingly, and not just dipped. A Sharp point will need to be carved or else they may have a dull blob at the tip, silver tends to form pockets when cooling, so the arrow heads will need to be worked after cooling, a "dip and go" is a rather simplistic view. There is also the blacksmiths "shop parts" as it were, such as the fuel for the forge and his time.