Materials for Pathfinder Weapons: worth it?

When crafting and buying Pathfinder Weapons, you may or may not know that you have have several choices available for construction. Even if you just stick to the core rulebook, you can make items out of Adamantine, Cold Iron, Dragonscale, Dark wood, Alchemical Silver and Mithral. However, with the exception of silvering your items, none of these materials come cheap. Are they worth it? Let’s take a look at the materials offered in the Core Rulebook:


Adamantine is the most expensive of the available materials. Clocking in at up to 15,000gp for heavy armor, you had better seriously want this. What does it do? From D20PFSRD:

Armor made from adamantine grants its wearer damage reduction of 1/— if it’s light armor, 2/— if it’s medium armor, and 3/— if it’s heavy armor.

This is quite nice! Additionally, weapons and armor made from Adamantine are automatically Masterwork quality, so the weapons get a +1 attack bonus and the armor gets a -1 AC penalty. Weapons made from this material bypass hardness when attacking objects or sundering weapons, so it’s quite nice for disarming your enemies or chopping wood.

Cold Iron

Cold Iron is much less expensive than Adamantine; weapons made from cold iron just cost twice as much as their normal counterparts, but they are not automatically Masterwork. They are, however, the only way you can kill certain demon and fey creatures. You might not have a choice when it comes to cold iron; you pay a hefty 2000gp premium for each enhancement you add to it as well.

Dark Wood

Dark Wood is relatively inexpensive; just 10gp/lb of the Masterwork version of the item. However, the low price justifies the low benefit: the wooden weapon you make weighs one half of its regular counterpart. This is basically useless for pathfinder weapons, but is nice for wooden shields: it lowers the AC penalty by 2.


You can’t make weapons out of Dragonhide! However, this material allows classes that can’t wear plate wear some heavy armor types that are normally metal only.


Mithral is the second most expensive material in this list. However, its use for weapons is quite limited. While you can make weapons out of mithral, its main purpose is to make high quality armors that are much lighter than normal, saving users on their dexterity & armor class penalties. I don’t recommend making weapons out of this.

Alchemical Silver

The silvering process is less a material and more an add-on; you add alchemical silver to metal weapons. It’s also quite inexpensive, clocking in at 180gp for the biggest weapons. While you do take a -1 damage penalty for using silvered weapons, you also bypass damage reduction in Lycanthropes, Vampires and Nightshades! Much like cold iron, this is mostly a situational weapon. Your daily beater doesn’t need to be silvered, but it’s nice to have one in case you find yourself toe to toe with Alcide.

Pathfinder Weapons: minimize your costs

In summary, most of the materials in the Core Rulebook aren’t great foundations for excellent, day-to-day melee Pathfinder Weapons. However, Cold Iron and Alchemical Silver are both inexpensive and excellent – even required – in some situations.

The photo, “Blacksmith” is copyright (c) 2011  by JJLosier and made available under a Attribution-commercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

  • Frank Lazar

    Mithral weapons do have one minor advantage for those who don’t mind paying the cost… they function fully as alchemical silver weapons without the -1 hit to damage.

  • Are Riksaasen

    Masterwork armor only lessens the armor check penalty by one. It does not do anything for AC.

  • Gregory Bezanson

    The added cost of magical cold iron weapons is not per ability, it is only on the first ability. Applying +1 to a cold iron sword would cost 2,000 more than the same enhancement on a steel sword, and +1 flaming will cost 2,000 gold more than if it were applied to a steel sword, but not 4,000 more.

  • Rory Wilkins

    Since you guys said everything I was going to I will point out that Obsidian is perfect for arrows and bolts when just starting out. They weight and cost less and since a roll of 1 is an automatic miss in combat anyway it doesn’t matter that the super-cheap arrows that you brought twice as many of fall apart.