It appears weapon restrictions exist to promote one or both of two concepts: class flavor and game balance. Of these two, the first seems fallacious given examples to the contrary in myth, history, and fiction. But game balance (a subject of some concern for an RPG that facilitates a gamist creative agenda), cannot be lightly dismissed. Who would want to play a fighter, for example, when one could play a magic-user wielding a two-handed sword...a useful back-up weapon when one's short supply of spells is exhausted.
Actually, as stated previously, there's no reason for a fighter to even choose a two-handed sword over, say, a mace or dagger in B/X, BECMI, or OD&D. Why not? Because all weapons, regardless of type, do the same base 1D6 damage according to the standard rules. Why would anyone spend 10 gold pieces on a two-handed sword when a 3 gold piece spear provides the same damage output, is lighter to carry, and may be thrown?
However, there is another tactic that can be used to maintain game balance, allowing fighting characters to be more formidable in melee, while still allowing spell-users the weapon choice of their preference: variable weapon damage by class.
I first saw this suggestion way back in Dragon #66 in John Sapienza's article, "Should They Have An Edge? Yes." As pointed out by Mr. Sapienza, fighter weapons generally do around 1D8 damage, while clerics are restricted to weapons that do about 1D6 damage, and magic-users' dagger limit them to 1D4 damage. Building off these observations, I present the following optional damage table for use with B/X, BECMI, and Labyrinth Lord:
* a small weapon is any small, light weapon...a dagger, a cosh, a roll of coins. A character using a small weapon always loses Initiative to an enemy with a larger weapon in the 1st round of combat, but may make one extra attack roll with the weapon every round.
** a 2-handed weapon always strikes first in the 1st round of melee against an opponent with a 1-handed or smaller weapon; on all subsequent rounds the wielder of the 2-handed weapon will strike LAST. The 2-handed weapon category includes the lance, although a lance may be used one-handed when mounted, thus allowing the use of a shield.
[please forgive the poor formatting; my HTML ability ain't so hot]
Every weapon can be deadly in the hands of a skilled combatant, but not every combatant is equally proficient. Fighters have the training to turn any weapon to its deadliest capacity...be it a spear, hammer, axe, or sword. Elven warriors likewise have the skill and long years of practice to do the same. Dwarves, while hardy, lack some of the reach of their taller fellow-warriors and thus do less damage...while some might object to having their use of the one-handed sword being reduced, it will encourage dwarf warriors to use the two-handed axe and maul, as befits their common literary depictions. Thieves on the other hand gain no particular benefit from using a pike over a short sword or dagger, and may well choose the knife for the benefit of its speed.
Normal Men and monsters that use weapons should use the line of the table deemed appropriate by the DM. Militia and able-bodied men should generally use the Cleric tables, while the feeble or elderly should probably use those for Magic-Users. Weapon wielding humanoids are generally warriors, and may use the Cleric tables, or Fighter if particularly martial (like D&D hobgoblins). Small humanoids like goblins and kobolds should probably use demi-human tables (like the Dwarf and Halfling, respectively) to represent their lesser reach and leverage in melee.
Elves do more damage than Dwarves? Outrageous! :)ReplyDelete
There's a little something I like to call "reach" and "leverage."ReplyDelete
However, aside from that (and that Tolkien elves and Norse alfar are far and away superior to dwarves in combat...and this is the basis for D&D's races), you'll note that dwarves do not have the ability to wield 1D10 damage weapons in B/X (pole arms, two-handed swords). Even in B/X as written, elves have more damage potential than dwarves.
Thanks for commenting Norm...for a sec I thought no one was bothering to read my long-winded posts!
Bah! you're using logic or something. I'm talking about Dwarves man! Axe wielding, beer swilling, short, hairy Dwarves!ReplyDelete
But it's your blog so you go ahead and keep believing in a fantastically twisted reality were Dwarves don't kick prancing elven hiney.
for what its worth, d8 and d6+1 are statistically the same, with an average roll of 4.5ReplyDelete
same with d4+1 vs. d6 (3.5) and d8+1 vs d10 (5.5)
Statistics aren't everything ;) You can whack a 6 hp creature the first round with a d6 (maybe before they can attack back, or call for aide or twiggle the thingamagiy that summons the omfg! No such luck with d4+1.