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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Variable Weapon Damage by Class - Have You Used It?

I remember an article in Dragon Magazine back in the mid 80s. It was about weapon damage by class. All classes could use all weapons, but not all classes could  use them effectively.

If the magic-user picks up a long sword, he'd still be limited to d4 damage. Actually, he was limited to d4 damage in all but staff (d6.)

Clerics and thieves were limited to d6 damage and fighters could hit d8 or d10 depending on the weapon.

It solved the problem of the character that wants to wield a long sword like Gandalf without putting long sword damage potential in the wizard's hands.

I never used the variant rule, but it appeals to me these days and I may just introduce it in a future campaign.

Have you ever used class based weapon damage or something similar in your campaigns?

20 comments:

  1. I always felt the to hit tables made the magic users chance to hit so low; and the general lack of damage bonus (how many strong MU aee there) balanced things well enough.

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  2. I've used it in a few B/X D&D games using the version I posted here ( https://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/old-school-dd-weapons-are-cosmetic/ ).

    It worked well for those games and it really added some style and flair to a few characters (similar to how the flat "every weapon deals d6 damage" rule works out in play, where characters will wield bolas, long knives. morning stars with spiked snail shells on the end, etc).

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  3. I distrusted it but now it is the only thing I run!

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  4. It's not a bad idea with a system like D&D where things are abstract, but then one has to come up with unique ways that damage is differentiated. Why vary ones weapons if they do the same damage. This is kind of the same concept with 5E's cantrip rules and variations between characters. The bruisers have high damage weapons, scumbags do lesser damage with light weapons but have Dex damage benefits and magic users have cantrips. At their most basic builds, the characters are the same. It's their class abilities that make them unique.

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  5. It's not a bad idea with a system like D&D where things are abstract, but then one has to come up with unique ways that damage is differentiated. Why vary ones weapons if they do the same damage. This is kind of the same concept with 5E's cantrip rules and variations between characters. The bruisers have high damage weapons, scumbags do lesser damage with light weapons but have Dex damage benefits and magic users have cantrips. At their most basic builds, the characters are the same. It's their class abilities that make them unique.

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    1. One: that's not what "unique means."

      Two: it's the roleplaying that makes your character unique (correct usage).

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  6. Needless complication to fix a problem inherent in a class-based system with oddball limitations without much justification (see: clerics limited to blunt weapons). The whole thing is so arbitrary and poorly thought out that it's best not to start tugging at loose threads or you'll unravel the whole thing.

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  7. No, and I don't see much reason why I ought to either. A battle axe it's going to do more damage than a dagger, no matter who is wielding it. Being able to hit with it is another matter entirely.

    See, being proficient in a weapon means you have trained with the weapon. You know how to use it, how it feels in your hand, how to move out so that it goes into the other guy, and that your hand/arm remembers these things in the heat of battle. To say that a wizard is equally proficient with all weapons, but so weak that they all do 1d4 damage regardless is insensible to my mind. Is Gandalf limited to only 1d4 damage with glamdring? Heck no he isn't.

    Anyway, I prefer to limit the number of weapons that casters are proficient with rather than the damage they do.

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  8. Used it for many years, along with a weapon trait system (ala WHFRP 2e) to differentiate them a bit. Probably my favorite way to play.

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  9. I agree with Shelby, Proficiency is a better way to do it. It makes more sense, too. Either you know how to use an Axe properly (to get its full damage) or you don't. What's the point in saying a feeble wizard can use the axe, but only do d4 with it? All you're really doing at that point is reflavoring the dagger for the wizard, which is totally fine and I more than support as a concept. These kind of things seem arbitrary until you think about them a little more (like reflavoring the other way, now a fighter can do as much damage with a dagger as he can with a two handed sword, nothanks) and then they start to make more sense, regardless of whether they're arbitrary or not. The vast majority of rules in any of these types of games are arbitrary by nature.

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  10. Yep, use it exclusively. I stole this from Wizardawn: http://wizardawn.and-mag.com/files/bx_wep_arm.pdf

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  11. Gandalf wasn't a magic-user anyway; he was an angel, loosely speaking. Naturally the rules that apply to mortals don't apply to him.

    Anyway, I haven't used this rule and I won't; I prefer damage by weapon type. It doesn't bother me at all to say, "Your MU can't use a two-handed sword at all, it's a game, get over it".

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  12. Never fiddled with this option in the groups I have gamed with. We have always tried to stick to the rules as close as possible, unless something seemed better. This variant doesn't seem any better, just different. It might work in some games, not in others. We have never used it, and never noticed anything wrong with the standard rules. Your Mileage May Vary..

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  13. The ability to learn proficiency in a particular type of weapon is an important one, in my view. Feats just seem too artificial and arbitrary.

    I'm biased of course, but I rather like what I did with Crimson Dragon Slayer. If one uses a weapon enough in battle, even if he sucks with it currently, he eventually improves. Not because of a level or class feature (though characters start out with class-based weapon proficiencies). No, the poor bastard stuck with it until he learned a thing or two... even if using that two-handed sword or whatever ended up getting him killed along the way. It feels old school even though it isn't.

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  14. I tried hit-die based weapon damage for a campaign once. I didn't like it.

    Instead of players picking unique weapons for their characters, in order to given them flare and style, they use the magical weapons they've found with the highest plusses.

    Thanks to the way treasure tables work, pretty soon everyone is swinging around magical swords. But not before the guy who started with an axe switched to a +1 spear for a while, then a +2 bow, then moved on to swords like everyone else... that sort of thing.

    I've got to give it the old Mike Myers, thick Scottish brogue, "IT'S CRAP!!!"

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    1. Players pick weapons based on how much damage they do regardless of what system you use. The restrictions on weapons based on class didn't ever make sense. Weapon damage is just a die roll, whether the magic-user is using a staff or a sword. I think opening up all weapons to all classes (restricted by wielder's size and proficiency) creates more variation with the characters. Not all clerics are going to use a mace, not all magic-users are going to use a staff.

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    2. >I think opening up all weapons to all classes (restricted by wielder's size and proficiency) creates more variation with the characters.

      I do that anyway. Only I don't use proficiency.

      But different weapons are still going to cause different damage, and players pick what's best according to the situation.

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    3. Sorry, I don't mean proficiency as 2nd ed. AD&D proficiency. With Wizardawn's charts, the proficiency is implied with the amount of damage a class can do with a weapon. In his charts, fighters do the most possible damage with a weapon of any size. Clerics and Thieves may use the same weapons as fighters, but they can never do as much possible damage as a fighter. Magic-users do the least amount of damage with any of the weapons. So if the magic-user you've imagined has a bastard sword, she can. But she'll never do as much damage with as a fighter could because fighters specialize and are proficient with all sorts of weapons.

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  15. Yup. I varied it a little by having light, regular, and great weapons -- light weapons generally did d4 (but d6 for a fighter) and great weapons did one die type higher (so d10 for a fighter, this was B/X based). Light weapons were usually throwable, great weapons either had reach or +1 to hit, and flails bypass shields. Very similar to the 3rd option on linked wizardawn pdf.

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