Monday, January 11, 2010

Variable Weapon Damage and other comments

A post by Fighting Fantasist got me thinking about this.

Variable Weapon Damage is more realistic and more importantly players understand it better as it reflect everyday experience. D&D combat may be abstract but it still grounded in reality. A target needs to be hit, that it will take damage after being hit.

If Hit Points measure the life expectancy of a character "under fire" then it will be reduced faster with hits by a two handed sword than a dagger. Whatever speed advantage smaller weapons have is far outweighed by the mechanical advantage and mass of larger weapons. For this reason many accepted variable weapon damage as a natural extensions of D&D.

Simpler and abstract combat systems appeal to many. And should be accepted as such rather than trying to hang a fig leaf on them. I seen too many over the years wind up complex combat rules because of referee's fig leaf. Because somebody said "You know Y is true because of X." From my view the d6 damage system of White Box only D&D doesn't need to justified. The elements of White Box D&D combine to produce a fun game with a specific feel that many enjoy to this day.

There are many who proposed a additional rules that work with the d6 system without sacrificing it. One of my favorites is where you roll 2d6 damage and take the highest to represent two handed swords and polearms. Likewise with dagger and other small weapons you could have a rule where you take 2d6 and take the lowest.

7 comments:

1d30 said...

One of the big problems of reading so many finely crafted blogs is not knowing where an idea first came from. So I have no idea where I heard about it, but this is what I use:

Two Weapons: Roll to hit twice and take the better attack roll. Damage is as the more effective weapon.

Two-Handed Weapon: Roll damage twice and take the better roll.

Weapon and Shield: You get the +1 AC all the time. If you want to sacrifice your shield to absorb one attack, you can do that. Magical shields are destroyed on a 4/6 of the time (unmodifiable) instead of automatically.

Unarmed: Roll damage twice and take the lower.

akkots said...

The Two-handed weapons system is the same for WHFRP 2nd, and IMHO is a very good way to "simulate" the fact that 2h weapons usually are more effective.
I never heard the two weapons system but hey, is very interesting! (for OD&D and WHFRP as well)

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I hear similar comments regarding variable hit points. For example, fighters should have more hit points than magic users because fighters are trained to withstand more combat punishment than wizards.

That argument, and the one for variable weapon damage, was convincing to me in the past. I am starting to have second thoughts about both.

Both assume that hit points equal physical damage. If you don't start with that assumption, then the rest doesn't necessarily follow. If you assume hit points are mostly luck, fate, sixth sense, and so on, why shouldn't the wily thief have the same hit points as the buff fighter?

In the end though, I don't suppose it really matters. People should play it the way they like.

Matthew Slepin said...

One of my favorites is where you roll 2d6 damage and take the highest to represent two handed swords and polearms. Likewise with dagger and other small weapons you could have a rule where you take 2d6 and take the lowest.


That's how I'm doing in in my Under the Dying Sun game and I'm liking it, not least because it gives you a Weapon Class as a counter-part to Armour Class.


Both assume that hit points equal physical damage. If you don't start with that assumption, then the rest doesn't necessarily follow. If you assume hit points are mostly luck, fate, sixth sense, and so on, why shouldn't the wily thief have the same hit points as the buff fighter?


Oh, how I have agonized over that as well. I was all set up to actually give the Thief analog better Hit Points based on that reasoning. And then I backed out. The best rationale I could come up with is that the point of the Fighting Man is to press into combat and giving them the best HP allows them to do that.

squidman said...

Here's my take on the problem.

http://elvesatemyhomework.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-dunno-about-you-but-my-great-axe.html

Norman Harman said...

Skill outweighs weapon choice. Trained knife fighter is gonna whoop soccer mom with her long sword every day of the week.

Weapon damage varies by class. fighters doing more than non-fighters. Weapons themselves provide non-damage abilities, such as dismounting, setting vs charge, piercing plate, wrapping around shields, disarming, reach, etc.

Rob Conley said...

where the idea of a 1d6 damage breaks down is where two fighters of equal skill meet and one has a dagger and the other a two handed sword.

Again I feel it better to say I like the abstract combat of the 3 books then try to wrap it up in a fig leaf.