Monday, December 3, 2012

Weapon Speed - Do I Need it in AD&D 1e?

As I prepare myself to run a (mostly) AD&D 1e campaign, have any of you actually used the rules quotes below for "weapon speed"?

Weapon Speed Factor: This number is indicative of the wieldiness of any
particular weapon, how long it takes to ready the weapon against an
opponent, or how long it takes to recover and move it in its attack mode. A
pike, for example, is a 13, as it must be lowered, grasped, and then
held/thrust firmly. Such a weapon is not usable in dungeon settings, or
anywhere else without masses of other pikes to support it. In the latter
case, an opponent surviving the first attack from the bearer of the pike will
likely be able to strike several times before recovery of the pike for a
second thrust. This is further detailed below. A two-handed sword, with a
10 speed factor, likewise requires lengthy readying time and recovery
period after its attack due to its size and weight. 
When weapon speed factor is the determinont of which opponent strikes
first in a melee round, there is a chance that one opponent will be entitled
to multiple attacks Compare the scare of the lower-factored weapon with
that of the higher. If the difference is at least twice the factor of the lower,or 5 or more factors in any case, the opponent with the lower factoredweapon is entitled to 2 attacks before the opponent with the higherweapon factor is entitled to any attack whatsoever. If the difference is 10or greater, the opponent with the lower-factored weapon is entitled to 2attacks before the opponent is allowed to attack, and 1 further attack at thesame time the opponent with the higher-speed-factored weopon finally isallowed to attack. Note that such speed factor considerations are not applicable
when either closing or chorging to melee, but after on initial
round of combat, or in cases where closing/charging was not necessary,
the speed factor considerations are applicable.
I seem to recall ignoring these little tidbits in the past, and I see no good reason to worry about them now, but I'm sure there is a Grognard or two available to argue otherwise ;)


  1. Weapon Speed Factor and Weapon vs. Armor Type modifiers provide the players' characters with options. Want to play a dextrous fighter who consistently strikes first? The short sword's WSF makes that possible. Plan on fighting opponents in armor pretty often? WvAT makes polearms worth taking.

    Personally, I like getting in the first strike, and I like bonuses to hit things, so I can't think of any reason not to use them.

    1. Well, of course, it slows down every single combat but besides that no reason at all. Most DMs dropped them after a while or kept it and used the same couple weapons for all enemies all the time.

  2. Are you throwing me softballs to help promote "Adventures Dark and Deep", Erik? ;-)

    In the combat system I use in ADD, weapon speed is used as a modifier to the initiative roll. You roll a d10, add your weapon speed or spell casting time in segments, adjust for dexterity, and actions take place in order from 1 to whatever. The GM just calls out "1... 2... 3..." and when someone says "I go!"-- they go.

    It really works out elegantly at the table, and gives some real differentiation to choices of weapons. Doesn't slow things down at all, once you write down your weapon speed on your character sheet. It becomes second nature after one or two combats. And it actually does make sense!

    But to answer the actual question, no, neither I nor anyone I knew used weapon speed in 1E as written. One reason I came up with the initiative system in Adventures Dark and Deep.

    1. Mordenkainen, you stole my old initiative house rule 100%. Wait, I keep confusing the Greyhawk Grognard with a Greyhawk character...

    2. Joseph - that is exactly how I run it. I got it from 2E (I think it is the "optional" or Advanced initiative rule from the PHB), but wherever I got it from, it is how I have run it for years, in either 1E or 2E. It gives Fighters options, and it gives different weapons flavor.

  3. I agree with both Black Vulmea and Joseph Bloch. The problem with AD&D is that the Weapon Speed rules contradict other aspects of the initiative and round system in the game. I wrote a system, different than Joseph's, that rationalizes the several systems and makes them more intuitive. If you are interested, it's one of the edits in this post.

  4. There is always ADDICT to divine the mysteries of the AD&D combat system.

    Although I never used it, seems straightforward to me after reading ADDICT. If you tie then weapon speed determines who goes first and the difference between weapon speed is great enough then person with the lower weapon speed gets multiple attacks.


    1. Eh, it all gets more complicated when weapon speed vs. casting times is included. It ends up being about three different initiative systems that all interact (not counting the weapon length initiative system for charge rounds), and not in any way that can remotely be called convenient. Plus, the multiple attacks only on tied initiative is deeply counter-intuitive.

      ADDICT looks interesting, though.

  5. I remember back in the day we basically used WSF the way Joseph describes it above. Until we dropped it after maybe three or four combats and went back to using AD&D classes/races/spells with BECMI rules otherwise.

  6. We didn't use them and had a lot of fun. We tried once and it didn't make much sense (and then you need a speed factor for monsters). So we went back to not doing it.

    But we also had fun with UA classes and weapon specialization, so obviously our experience doesn't count. ;)

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  8. I like the concept but don't see why it needs to be so finely grained. Just call weapons short, average and long, or some such, and then come up with a few simple or common sense features of this. For example, for long weapons vs. short weapons the long weapon always goes first. If it hits. the short weapon gets no reply, but if it misses, the short weapon gets two attacks. (Alternatively, the second half of this might apply only if the long weapon wins initiative.) Long weapons do better against large creatures. Short weapons do better against small creatures (at least after the first round). And so on and so forth.

  9. If it makes your game more enjoyable, then yeah...ditch the weapons speeds. You usually have to get rid of the casting times as well if you do this. I also don't use weapons lengths or damage vs AC stuff either. I play more for the story and not try to have a fantasy combat simulator.

  10. We never used them in 1st edition AD&D but the system in 2nd Edition is pretty easy to live with and we used it throughout our run with that game. It's similar to what's described above - initiative is a d10 and all weapons and spells (of less than a full round casting time) and actions like drinking a potion or using a wand all have a set modifier to that. It's worth a look if you have a 2E PHB handy.

  11. We dinked around with it some, but it was just so cumbersome, and how it is intended to interact with monsters' attacks--just seems like a not-really thought out subsystem.

    So, you using the pummeling rules from the DMG? Those rules are also nuts, but at least we laughed ourselves under the table with them at times.

  12. A lot of people mention the possible problem of monster natural attacks. To me, the answer is an easy ruling: speed factor 1 (same as "Fist or Open Hand"), and no modifiers for weapon vs. armor type (which is actually mentioned somewhere, as I recall). Weapon length (for charge rounds) is usually just the same as for "Fist or Open Hand", but some cases may require a special ruling, such as a Giant Scorpion's sting.

    Also, for pummeling and grappling, I strongly recommend System I from Appendix Q in Unearthed Arcana. Or possibly System II, but like the original system in the DMG it seems like a lot more effort than it is worth.


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