Monday, August 17, 2009

Variable Weapon Damage (Redux)

This is a quick much because I want to go to bed as because I want to get this posted before I forget.

I've been thinking a bit about my variable weapon damage charts and I want to revise them, for a couple reasons. One reason (very small) is I think some folks were a trifle put-off by my favoring the Elf class a bit over the Dwarf class. Now let me say, for the record, that I don't give much of a flying "F" whether or not anyone is put off by what I post. I mean, you can't please all the people all the time, etc., right? I have reasons for why I write what I write and rarely (if ever) is that reason to simply annoy folks. The exception, of course, being those folks that thing 4th edition D&D is actually D&D.

Anyway I had reasons for favoring the Elf over the Dwarf...for example, the fact that B/X favors the Elf over the Dwarf (elves can use two-handed swords, pole arms, and long bows...dwarves cannot). I'm sorry some people think the dwarf should be this fantastic warrior in comparison to elves just because a) they aren't good at other things (i.e. magic) like elves, and b) D20 says dwarves "preferred class" is which I ask, who gives a shit? A 10th level elf and a 12th level dwarf in B/X have EXACTLY THE SAME chance to hit individual ACs. The dwarf is NOT a better fighter in B/X...he (or she) simply has more hit points. the fact that I put off some people is a very small reason for revision (because if I CAN please more people, more of the time, then maybe more people the words of Urge Overkill..."come around to my way of thinking").

The second and MUCH LARGER reason for wanting to revise my variable weapon tables is TO SIMPLIFY them. B/X is nothing if not simple, straight-forward, and fairly logical (even though it, at times, requires a DM's arbitration). And I'm afraid the earlier tables were more complex than they needed to be. AND if I want to include these types of charts in my B/X Companion, well, I want them to be as simple as possible. You that maybe folks will use them?

So without further ado...the revised weapon charts:

Class...Small Weapon....One-Handed Weapon...Two-Handed Weapon
Cleric, Halfling...1D4...1D6...1D8
Dwarf, Elf, Fighter...1D6...1D8...1D10

Class...Short Bow/Sling...Long Bow/Crossbow
Cleric, Halfling...1D6...1D8
Dwarf, Elf, Fighter, Thief...1D6...1D8

Pretty much forget all that other noise.  Bows (short or long) fire twice per round. Crossbows and slings fire once. As a DM, I would want to limit cleric's missile types except for follower's of gods associated with bows (like Apollo or Artemis)...their zealotry makes clerics want to get 'up close and personal.'

Dwarves now (still) have a reason to use two-handed battle axes, as they appear in gives them an extra couple potential points of damage (1D10) in melee. They still cannot use two-handed swords so one-third of all magical swords are off-limits (a fairly heft penalty for being short). It is up to the DM to decide if a normal sword for a halfling is used "two-handed" or not.

Thieves are still opportunists, able to use any weapon...they just do the same damage regardless of the weapon type; thieves combat training consists of "win at any cost...or get the hell out." To me this indicative of a ninja/opportunist type combatant.

Anything else? Oh, yeah...light weapons still attack twice in one round but always lose initiative to larger weapons. Two-handed weapons still attack last in every round AFTER the first (I don't want to automatically award them initiative in the first round anymore, though). That all seems pretty easy, right?

Dual wielded weapons still function as suggested in this earlier post.

Oh...and I've pretty much decided NOT to include heavy crossbows (though this may change) since...well, since who cares? If I include them they will fire every other round, but do 1D10 damage regardless of user (perhaps 1D8 for magic-users)...oh, and they should probably not be useable by dwarves and halflings (and forbidden to most clerics).

And that's it...these new variable rules will be going in  the Encounter chapter of my B/X Companion unless precluded by space constrictions. Just plugging away folks.... 

(*whew!* Glad I got all THAT down and off my chest.  Now to bed, doubtless to dream visions of Mass Combat...hopefully, I'll wake up tomorrow with more good ideas!)


***POST SCRIPT: Should probably mention I've had a couple o gin martinis tonight, just in case I seem particularly belligerent and/or unintelligible...***


  1. For clarification's sake, when you said this: "...light weapons still attack twice in one round but always lose initiative to larger weapons.", are you talking about reach? i.e. that a longsword has "reach" over a dagger, and therefore gets initiative?

    If you're going to differentiate between weapon weights and speeds though, I'd almost go the opposite direction. Light weapons are faster, and if you're already w/in melee range (10') then they'd have a tendency to go first.

    Saying all that...I'm not sure that I would even introduce that aspect into your tables at all. Here's the issue as I see it: IF you introduce weapon weights that affect both number of attacks as well as speed of attacks then you're going to probably have to also introduce different types of damage for those as well. e.g. Light do d4 and Heavy do d6...or something like that.

    What's to say that a halbardier can't attack a dagger wielder first due to "reach"? Sure it's a two-handed weapon...but if a light weapon always loses init to a larger weapon, and a halbardier (two-handed weapons) always goes last, then who wins? You've set up some conflicts.

    I might do this: Keep your weapon damage tables...And introduce that a reach weapon (two-handed?) always goes first during the initial contact round. (Example: Orc w/ sword attacks halbardier...Halbardier wins first round due to reach...but orc wins all subsequent rounds thereafter.) IF you want some kind of differentiation between light weapons and all the rest then I'd do one of two things:
    1. Allow them two attacks / rnd
    2. They always win initiative (except v. a reach weapon in the initial contact...)

    That's just my $.02. Hope it's of a "constructive" nature. I like everything you've done here BTW, excellent blog.

  2. You'll have to forgive the inconsistency in my prose. There is no such thing as a "light weapon" only a "small weapon."

    A small weapon is quick enough to use that a person can make two attack rolls with it in one round; however, because it is “small” an opponent with a larger weapon (a one-handed or two-handed weapon in other words) has the opportunity to do damage FIRST, hence the loss of initiative (having initiative allows a person to allocate damage prior to his opponent).

    Small weapons were defined in my earlier post as “any small, light weapon…a dagger, cosh, or roll of coins.” These items have such a short reach that a wielder must pretty much grapple his or her opponent to do effective melee damage, hence the need to maneuver inside a hafted or bladed weapon’s reach.

    With larger weapons any significant reach advantage is offset by the “cumbersome” factor of the weapon, and thus initiative is normal (until AFTER the first round when a two-handed weapon will strike last against a one-handed weapon, as per the normal B/X rules).

    Does this make more sense?