In D&D 4e, there are superior "masterwork" versions of armour types, like "feyleather" for leather armour or "wyrmscale" for scale armour. They have a higher armour bonus, but a minimum enhancement bonus, and a price of "special".

How exactly do masterwork armours work? Does any leather armour of +4 or greater qualify to be feyleather for a free +1 armour bonus? Is all +6 plate armour essentially Godplate?


2 Answers 2


Armor should always be the best masterwork version its +X bonus allows. Some later books add additional kinds of masterwork armor, in which case any of the kinds with the a minimum +X bonus equal to the item's +X bonus should be OK, but armor should never be of a lower quality than it could be. If you're allowing players to upgrade the enchantments on a piece of armor, the armor should automatically improve to match the appropriate masterwork quality.

The masterwork armors are essentially a math fix: WotC realized player AC lagged behind monster attack bonuses at higher levels, so they put in masterwork armor to make up the difference. Consider the math for a heavy armor character without masterwork. Monsters gain +29 attack (1 per level) going from level 1 to level 30. Players get +15 (half level), +6 (enhancement), maybe +1 more from the original paragon tier feat bonuses to AC for a gain of +22 over 29 levels, a difference of 7. That means if you were getting hit on an 11 on the die at level 1, you're getting hit by a 4 on the die at level 30.


For a short answer to your question, op: I don't believe anything is automatically masterwork (of dark iron/dwarven), etc once you hit +4, or +6. There's nothing in the books that say when you have constructed a +6 enchant suit, that the suit is automatically godplate for a further bonus due to being masterwork.

I've been developing a campaign for 4E lately and come across this same issue. there are +1 to +3 magic enhancement available for armor. The only way these kinds of enhancements could be used is if they did not come on "masterwork" armor.

There is nothing in the Rules as Written or the Spirit of the Rules which says that once you hit +4 enchantments, you MUST use them with masterwork gear, which involves special resources, such as wyrmscale, etc.

The AC difference of a regular chainmail with Curseforged compared to Forgemail with Curseforged is 10 vs 13.

Curseforged also has +1, +2, and +3 values which require regular chain. There is nothing in the rules that say you absolutely cannot put a +6 enchant on a regular piece of chain. In fact, you could make the argument that you could do any number of tricks to balance out the game to your liking. Suppose you don't like the way cloth and leather users scale past plate users. Maybe your campaign has exceedingly rare events of getting masterwork cloth armor. I assume that's a rarer skill at any rate, since it's less likely to be as practiced as slaving at the altar of hammering and tongs.

While lots of the game design can't be changed without become house-ruled, you can feast or famine the party with drops all you like, to make sure it plays out the way you want it to. In fact, I think having a bunch of amazing twinky magic gear is what turns people off from 4E. You could sell regular non-masterwork chain with a +4 enchant for half price. The price is, in fact, set up in the book, but the price in the books is, I think, one of the things you can most easily manipulate without breaking into "house ruled" scenarios. It's not like changing the rules on pushing, or rolls for intimidation working 100% of the time, or some other business like that.

As a fan of trying to push the limits of the game while staying within a game's particular rules, there's a myriad of ways to control the game so that nothing is too easy or too hard. If your adventurers only have +4 regular chainmail, then mobbing with minions is still viable, and a way to spice up the game. Once you give the adventurers masterwork +4, the "mob of minions" might be replaced from regular minions to true enemies with hp.

There is no problem in 4E or any of the other games that can't be fixed by a DM. For me, if the party members are struggling with encounters, either I want that by design, or there's a small issue I can fix by throwing down free regular ol' chain/plate with a +4 bonus from a fight, and once they get back to town, they could upgrade to a masterwork version by paying with gold for a shopkeeper to make it for them.

There's a bit of an assumption that everything should scale perfectly, that everything needs to "work out ideally", but I think that is exactly what makes people feel like D&D 4E is more like WoW than anything else. It is through struggles and imperfections that D&D starts to feel alive and has a lasting impact. If it runs like a swiss watch that the players of characters are just riding a rollercoaster game on paper, then where's the fun?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You appear to have posted an answer to this question instead of the question you posted the answer to. I recommend deleting this answer and adding it to the correct question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Dec 1, 2015 at 4:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ From OP: Is all +6 plate armour essentially Godplate? From answerer 1: If you're allowing players to upgrade the enchantments on a piece of armor, the armor should automatically improve to match the appropriate masterwork quality. The answer is no. There is no RaW or SoR that says this should be the case. The PHB does not say anywhere that "sub-par" armor with basic chain/plate with a +6 enchant shouldn't be made, nor does it say that a +6 enchant automatically makes something godplate. +6 dark iron plate can exist alongside +6 dark iron godplate. One is obviously superior, however. \$\endgroup\$
    – Johnson
    Dec 1, 2015 at 5:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ As such, this question is more or less the same one you pointed to, and the answer I gave to this question would be the same for those others which are similar to it. The question asker is asking whether getting a +4 enchant on a random leather suit qualifies it to become feyleather. The answer is no, since random leather from a non-special cow is not feyleather. \$\endgroup\$
    – Johnson
    Dec 1, 2015 at 5:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1: "There is no problem in 4E or any of the other games that can't be fixed by a DM." I suggest you read our question on the Oberoni Fallacy. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Dec 1, 2015 at 6:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ You shouldn't -1 something when you haven't taken the time to understand it. It's akin to some e-thug drive-by downvote. "There is no problem that can't be fixed" Implies that if there is a problem, a GM/DM can make proper adjustments to loot drops, number of monsters on the field, adding other elements, or so forth, to achieve the desired result of the encounter. None of that Rule Zero's anything, none of that is contradictory. If there's a rulebook which has an impossible scenario, such as a 100 AC dragon at level one, that IS a problem and has to be fixed by the GM/DM pulling Rule Zero. \$\endgroup\$
    – Johnson
    Dec 1, 2015 at 7:37

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