Weapons are items that deal damage to enemies in the Suikoden series. Each character has their own weapon that cannot be removed. Weapons have a strength statistic that is represented by a number next to the weapon's name. Total attack power is calculated based on this number, combined with character strength.
Weapons must be sharpened to increase attack power. Sharpening is offered by blacksmiths as a service. Each time a weapon is sharpened it increases a level and has a fixed amount of attack power specific to that level added to its base attack power. Also, as weapons are built-up, the name by which each weapon is represented in a characters Stat chart will change as specific levels. This name change is primarily aesthetic, but in some games the name change has been accompanied by an unusually large increase in a weapon's strength at the level corresponding to that of the name change.
Each Blacksmith has a limit in regards to weapon levels (with the exception of the blacksmith that resides at the player's castle). The maximum level that they are capable of sharpening a weapon to can be increased by acquiring new hammers for the blacksmith. In general, there are four hammers that can be acquired: Iron, Copper, Silver, and Gold. In the original Suikoden game, the player only acquires a number of blacksmiths along the way, each being able to sharpen weapons to a higher level than the last.
In the entirety of the main series, the maximum level for all weapons has been 16 with one exception. In the original Suikoden game, Mace, the blacksmith that had the ability to sharpen weapons to level 16, could not sharpen his own weapon which started at level 15. This has been the only playable character in the suikoden series thus far known of that could not have his weapon sharpened to level 16. It is also worth noting that the hammer system was adopted immediately after this game and has remained the system for improving castle blacksmiths since.
Each weapon has a specific range: Short, Medium, and Long. These ranges are represented next to the name of weapon on the stat page of its character by either the letter S, M, or L respectively. Short range characters cannot attack from the back row and can only attack the front row of the enemy team. Medium range weapons can attack from both the front and back rows and can only attack the front row of the enemy team. Long range weapons can attack from both the front and back rows and can attack any row of the enemy team. This same system applies to the weapons of enemy characters. The range of an enemy weapon is never made explicitly known to the player, but a player can usually infer from enemy appearance or attack patterns which range the enemy possesses.
In Suikoden V, the option to change your formation was added. Each formation would provide a special formation skill which could heal your party, boost stats, or intentially draw attacks to certain members. In these cases, the range of the characters attacks would significantly affect his/her hit ratio, but short-range characters are now allowed to attack.