We are in the process of preparing new character sprite animations for Epic RPG series. We have the choice of putting the weapons with the characters or seperate weapons and characters so different weapons can be interchanged on to characters! But this of course will require your game engine to support adding on layers of sprite animations on top of another. It is more flexable because you can have different character use different weapons.
Let us know in the comment section of this post, what would be better for your game, by having character animations weapons or character that can interchange different weapons.
We area also having them to be done at much higher resolutions as many have requested support for retina display.