Ugh. I hate it when I contradict myself. Like when I say there shouldn't be a barbarian class in D&D when I'd previously posted a B/X version (and forgotten about it). Or when I write that characters are presumed to be using their weapons (even two-handed weapons) to the best of their ability, and then do something stupid like write all two-handed weapons were developed to penetrate armor so should receive an extra +1 to hit.
Sure, I'm allowed to change my mind (just like anyone)...BUT, when I reconsider my second stab at the same topic and realize that I was pretty much "right the first time"...well, I feel dumb issuing "retractions."
Ah, well...no help for it. I certainly continue to stand by my post on shields (and why they're modeled just fine in B/X); you won't find me suddenly changing my tune and saying "the shield rules in B/X are broken." No they ain't...not in my book, anyway. And I'm not going to worry about upkeep, repair, and broken weapons/equipment anymore than I'm going to worry about when characters need to answer the call of nature; they're professional adventurers, dammit, they're caring for their gear!
Having said that, I realize I've been skirting, sidestepping, and just plain ignoring the most glaring problem with my whole "all weapons do D6 damage" thang. And that's this:
"JB...if all weapons do D6 damage in B/X then what the hell's the point of purchasing different weapons at all? For a 1st level character, why aren't we just buying the cheapest weapon available (like clubs or daggers; the latter of which can be thrown). For that matter, didn't our primitive ancestors invent different weapons for different reasons?"
Of course they did...and why the hell aren't we honoring that?
OR (to put it another way), Moldvay/Cook/Marsh gave us a list of different weapons. They didn't just say:
"Hand Weapon - 10gp"
No, they provided us with a list of different weapons, even as did Holmes, even as did Gygax and Arneson...each weapon with its own individual weight and cost, despite the rules' basic premise that all weapons do D6 damage.
So fine...I will give you all reasons for buying/wielding different weapons.
Here are the caveats:
1. Combat must remain quick and simple
2. Damage remains D6 (or D8 for heavy weapons); my thoughts on that hasn't changed.
3. This shit has to be easy, so that I can remember it without consulting any damn tables (no weapon vs. AC minutia).
All right; everyone got the ground rules? Here's how I'd run it in my game:
OH, WAIT...before we begin, there's one item that needs to be added to the equipment list. The two-handed FLAIL, while mentioned in the Cook/Marsh Expert set, was left out of B/X despite being present in both OD&D and Holmes. No idea why. Here's our stats for including it (and I would use the exact same for a war maul as well):
Flail (two-handed), Cost: 8gp, Encumbrance: 100cns
Great...NOW we can begin:
All weapons listed as one-handed weapons do D6 damage on a successful attack roll.
Always strike last, regardless of initiative roll and do D8 damage to corporeal (physical) opponents; against spirits, elementals, or other creatures lacking a physical body, they only do D6 damage.
A character with a strength of 13+ may use a two-handed weapon with one hand. It still strikes last, but does only D6 damage.
A character with 13+ dexterity or a fighter of 3rd level (swordsman) or higher may use a one-handed weapon (only) in his or her off-hand. If the character fights defensively, the off-hand weapon provides a +1 bonus to AC just as a shield; if the character fights offensively he may roll D6 damage TWICE on a successful attack roll and pick the higher of the two dice. A character may only fight offensively or defensively in a round, not both.
The following special bonuses apply to specific weapon types. These special bonuses ONLY APPLY AGAINST OPPONENTS OF EQUAL OR LESSER HIT DICE/LEVEL; NONE OF THESE AFFECT MONSTERS OF HIT DICE 15+. For example, NONE of these weapons do anything special against an ogre unless the character is at least 4th level because an ogre has 4+1 hit dice (the +1 bonus is dropped for determining the hit dice of a monster). IN ADDITION, unless otherwise noted, none of these special bonuses work against the undead or incorporeal creatures (like spirits, elementals, or slimes) or ANY monster that requires a magical weapon to hit. Other restrictions may apply (and will be listed):
AXE WEAPONS (hand axe, battle axe)
+1 attack bonus against opponents with an AC of 7 or better. This bonus applies to skeletons and zombies.
SWORD WEAPONS (short, normal, two-handed, and daggers)
On a maximum damage roll (6, or 8 for two-handed swords), the weapon has slashed open a bleeding wound. The target will take an additional 1 hit point of damage every round until he spends a round binding his wound OR is magically healed. Has no effect on plants, constructs, or creatures that regenerate.
BLUNT WEAPONS (club, mace, hammer, flail/maul, staff)
On a maximum damage roll (6, or 8 for two-handed weapons), the weapon has a chance of rendering an opponent unconscious. The target rolls a save versus death ray, failure indicates he has been knocked senseless for D4 turns. This bonus has no effect on plants or constructs, or creatures with more than one head; clubs and staves have no effect on opponents with an AC of 5 (chainmail) or better.
POLE WEAPONS (spears, pole arms)
Wielder automatically gains initiative against any opponent not also armed with a pole weapon. As long as the opponent fails to hit with an attack, the wielder retains control of initiative every round; once an opponent scores a hit, initiative becomes normal (with spear-wielders rolling and pole-arm wielders always striking last). This ability will function against corporeal undead (like skeletons, zombies, and ghouls).
LARGE SHIELDS (*optional rule*)
A large shield is larger and heavier than the standard shield sold to adventurers and can protect more of the body at a cost to maneuverability. Only a character with a strength of 13+ can effectively use such an item in melee (at a +1 AC bonus); all others receive NO BONUS in melee. Against missile attacks the shield provides a +2 bonus to AC, and when used in formation with other large shield bearers it can provide an additional cover bonus (see page B26) of +1 to AC, or possibly more with other cover (thick woods, battlements, etc.). A large shield costs 15gp and has encumbrance of 200cns.
[hmm...does that count as changing my mind on shields?]
To My Players: I will be putting these rules into play effective immediately.