Special Materials and Ammunition Costs, An Analysis


Advice

The Exchange

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A Bit of Background Information:

So I've made myself a nice little 12 level ranged rogue named Si'las. He likes to be prepared for different types of situations, and thus wants to have all the arrows he needs for differing situations. Basic Arrows, Cold Iron Arrows, Silver Arrows, and Adamantine Arrows.

Anyway, after doing some shopping and cost benefit analysis, he's discovered that many different people are getting ripped off, and big.

The Analysis:

Regular Arrows
Si'las looked at base prices 50 arrows, since if you buy 'Special Material' versions of these, they only come in groupings of 50. So, here is the base price.

Units: 50
Item: Arrows
Total Cost: 2.5 gp
Unit Cost: 0.05 gp per arrow

Cold Iron Arrows
So Si'las now decides to look at the prices of these arrows if they were made from Cold Iron. But, there are 2 ways to go about doing this. One is just to outright make Cold Iron arrows, the other is to coat them in a Cold Iron Weapon Blanch (from the APG, you put the blanch on then stick in a fire for 1 round, and the next usage of that arrow will be treated as if it is made from that particular substance).

Cold Iron Arrows Calculations:

Units: 50
Item: Cold Iron Arrows (Things made from Cold Iron cost double the base amount of the item)
Total Cost: 5 gp
Unit Cost: 0.1 gp per arrow
Unit - Base Unit Cost: 0.05 gp

Units: 50
Item: Cold Iron Arrows, Weapon Blanch (20 gp to coat 10 pieces of ammunition, 100 gp total to coat 50 pieces)
Total Cost: 102.5 gp
Unit Cost: 2.05 gp per arrow
Unit - Base Unit Cost: 2 gp

So looking at this, the manufacturer makes a pretty penny if you decide to use Cold Iron Weapon Blanch to coat your arrows. 2 gp made per arrow, as opposed to just 0.05 gp for just straight up making arrows out of Cold Iron. Clearly, making the arrows directly instead of coating is the way to go.

Silver Arrows
Now he looks at Silver Arrows. There are 3 ways he can get a hold of these: buying straight up Silver Arrows, coating them in a Silver Weapon Blanch, or coating them in Silversheen. So what are their respective costs?

Silver Arrow Calculations:

Units: 50
Item: Silver Arrows (2 gp extra for each ammo made from Silver)
Total Cost: 102.5 gp
Unit Cost: 2.05 gp per arrow
Unit - Base Unit Cost: 2 gp

Units: 50
Item: Silver Arrows, Weapon Blanch (5 gp to coat 10 pieces of ammo, 50 gp in blanch needed)
Total Cost: 27.5 gp
Unit Cost: 0.55 gp per arrow
Unit - Base Unit Cost: 0.5 gp

Units: 50
Item: Silver Arrows, Silversheen (250 gp to coat 20 pieces of ammo, 625 gp of Silversheen needed)
Total Cost: 627.5 gp
Unit Cost: 12.55 gp per arrow
Unit - Base Unit Cost: 12.5 gp

So according to this price comparison, the best bang for your buck is to buy Silver Weapon Blanch and coat your arrows yourself, since it has the lowest unit costs (an additional 0.5 gp to the original unit price). Also, what's the point of buying Silver Arrows outright (+2 gp to the original unit price)? They aren't masterwork so you probably won't be recovering them anyway (and you don't want to know how much masterworking 50 Silver Arrows costs...). So really, how do you even know your Silver Arrows are legit? Who's to say your local supplier isn't just blanching arrows with a silver coating? You won't retrieve the arrows most likely (arrow heads break off when removing sometimes), so who cares? And it definitely isn't even worth it to consider using Silversheen on them because you're paying a ridiculous cost per arrow for using that stuff (12.5 gp in addition to the original unit price).

Adamantine Arrows
So as it stands, it's best to buy Cold Iron Arrows, but then buy Regular Arrows and coat them in a Silver Weapon Blanch. But what about Adamantine? I mean, these are the heavy hitters and you probably will recover pure Adamantine Arrows at the end of combat because they are automatically of Masterwork quality. So let's see how the costs stack up.

Adamantine Arrows Calculations:

Units: 50
Item: Adamantine Arrows (60 gp extra for each ammo made from Adamantine)
Total Cost: 3002.5 gp
Unit Cost: 60.05 gp per arrow
Unit - Base Unit Cost: 60 gp

Units: 50
Item: Adamantine Arrows Arrows, Weapon Blanch (100 gp to coat 10 pieces of ammo, 500 gp in blanch needed)
Total Cost: 502.5 gp
Unit Cost: 10.05 gp per arrow
Unit - Base Unit Cost: 10 gp

Wow, these prices fall right in line with Silver Arrows. You're paying +60 gp extra for each Admantine Arrows, as opposed to +10 gp extra for Regular Arrows coated in the blanch. Granted, you can't recover the Regular Arrows, but you can buy almost 300 of them coated in the blanch for the same price as 50 actual Adamantine Arrows. The savings are just absolutely mind blowing!

Conclusion

The point of all this is just to highlight the rules for pricing Special Material ammunition needs some work. For one, it is very ambiguous in the APG as to how long the blanch stays on the coated ammo. It says it stays on their until it is used, but does that mean you can blanch it and have the ammo sitting there with the coating for months on end?

More importantly, I think it's absolutely amazing the savings you get for using the Silver & Adamantine blanches, and completely ridiculous how beneficial it is to buy Cold Iron Arrows over blanching regular ones. And Silversheening is just not worth it in the slightest. It's only use is for melee weapons and should never be considered for ammo.

Dark Archive

Nice work here. It really goes to highlight the ridiculous nature of stuff ported right from 3.5 without changes from Paizo. The Blanches are at a more appropriate price for the benefits offered. Although the Cold Iron costs are weird. Somebody dropped the ball on that math...

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