Friday, November 01, 2019

All weapons do d6

In the earliest versions of D&D individual weapon types were barely distinguished from one another, mechanically speaking. All weapons did d6 damage, from daggers and clubs to two-handed swords and lances, at least until Mike Mornard pestered Gary about it. Weapon speed and armor type adjustments came later as well. My beloved Basic/Expert version included variable weapon damage (i.e. daggers d4, swords d8, polearms d10, etc.) as an optional rule, but it is an option that I've always used, as has everyone I've every player with. (S. John Ross doesn't use it, as I recall. But he is exceptional in many ways.)

Anyway, I want to consider here what it would look like if I went back to all weapons do d6. Why would you choose the weapon you choose, assuming no specific mechanical advantages or disadvantages attach to them? Below are two possible answers, which I think are completely compatible with each other.

[Note that I am ignoring the rule that two-handed weapons strike last in initiative, as that rule is directly attached to the variable weapon damage option (see page B27).]

Answer 1: Aesthetics

From a certain point of view, this is the first, best reason to do anything in an RPG. You're exploring an imaginative space, you might as well populate it with things that come together in an aesthetically interesting way. Taking away specific weapons rules means I no longer feel guilty about choosing a suboptimal weapon (I sometimes worry about not pulling my weight when I'm a player). If I want to, say, bonk the bad guys with a rude wooden club, the d6 rule doesn't actively discourage that behavior.

Answer 2: Narrative-style Advantages

If you are making effective use of your head-brain, there are lots of ways that a specific weapon impinges the gameworld that don't necessarily need mechanics attached. Need a small back-up weapon that can be stored securely but also drawn in a flash? A dagger or shortsword makes a lot more sense than, say, a warhammer. Want to hold off the touch attacks of some creepy ass monster? A spear or a polearm will get the job done a lot better than a club. Need to hack down a door that no one can open? I hope someone is carrying a battle-axe. If all weapons do d6, I suspect it would encourage more people to start thinking about their weapon choices in this way.

Final Note

Sometimes when you float All Weapons Do d6 rule on the internet, some joker will come back with something like "Well then, I should just spend 1gp to buy 12 iron spikes and hand them out to all my friends. No need to spend the money on anything better, since everything does d6." My response to that is twofold: A) All Weapons Do D6 is not the same concept as All Objects Do D6. Prepare to encounter mechanical penalties for wielding a non-weapon in combat. and B) There's a fine line between clever and stupid and you are are nowhere near that line.



27 comments:

  1. I like the idea of this very much if the players are open to the DM interpreting which weapon is better or worse in a given situation. I could see a simple Advantage disadvantage type mechanic here we're weapons mostly roll a D6, but when circumstances are in your favor you roll two D6 and keep the better one and when circumstances are against you you take the lesser of two D6.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good way to handle it. Daggers do d6 damage, but if you using one against a guy with a spear, you are definitely at a disadvantage.

      I do question making the advantage/disadvantage something based on the damage roll rather than the to-hit roll. The issue with basing it on damage is that character class/level is removed from the picture. If you base it on the to-hit roll, a 10th-level Thief has a better chance of overcoming the disadvantage of using a dagger to attack a guy with a spear than a 1st-level Thief.

      Delete
  2. Shouldn't the players consider the non-damage value of weapons anyway? If not, the GM should probably consider making it matter more.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I prefer universal d6 damage for exactly the reasons you mention with one caveat: it seriously cuts down on the use of anything other than d6 and d20. If that aesthetic is important, you'll miss it; however, I've found that the amount of creativity it inspires from players is well worth it (I've had entire sessions be dominated by choices made because of a character's beloved spiked club, for example).

    @Peter D When you remove the variable of how much damage a weapon does, it is amazing how much other features of a weapon come to the fore and how much creativity can be spawned from that shift.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Are you tired of being human, having talented brain turning to a vampire in a good posture in ten minutes, Do you want to have power and influence over others, To be charming and desirable, To have wealth, health, without delaying in a good human posture and becoming an immortal? If yes, these your chance. It's a world of vampire where life get easier,We have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich, You will assured long life and prosperity, You shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness, Stronger and also very fast, You will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk, This is an opportunity to have the human vampire virus to perform in a good posture. If you are interested contact us on Vampirelord7878@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Of all the weapons, swords might be the most boring. No good for chopping, construction, levering, throwing or breaking rocks. I'd take a pickaxe any day.
    Come to think of it, eventually everybody would realize they could just have a weapon with a blunt face, chopping edge and pointy bit to solve most any problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Using this system, the main advantage of a sword is that you can wear it around town in its scabbard, presenting yourself as a gentleman rather than an armed madman looking for violence. Of course, the pickaxe is also something you can carry around without an assumption of violence, but you don't look as classy.

      Delete
    2. And here's where you encounter a bit of an issues - there's a reason why weapons are weapons and tools are tools and why trying to use one as the other is not the best idea. Pickaxe is designed to crush through rocks - its hefty and bulky to provided enough oomph while at the same time to not be damaged itself as easily. Horseman's pick is much smaller and lighter to make sure you can swing one in time and not have your arm numb after a minute of combat. Tool axes have wedge shaped blades to split wood easily, battle axes have thin blades to shed as much weight as possible and because you don't really need that heftiness it to incapacitate a human being. try using a lumberjack in combat and it's slow and awkward. Try using a battle axe to smash open an oaken chest and it will ship or break in a few swings.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, fair enough, Unknown. But my games are cartoony enough I can fudge the tool/weapon distinction a tad.

      Delete
  6. In my B/X games, all weapons do d6... when you can use them. If you are not trained to use a sword in combat, you won't do d6 - you will do 0 except on a critical hit. Anybody can use a dagger, but if you keep getting hit by someone's mace you will never get to strike back. And unless you surprise them, your opponents will always get initiative if they have polearms and you have a short sword - but once they are locked in melee with one or more foes with short weapons they will need to drop the long ones or be reduced to parrying.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I haven’t noticed any drawback to my game where all weapons do d6 damage. Only two-handed weapons needed a change as in my game shields can be sacrificed to annul one hit making them more valuable. Thus, pole-arms allow you to attack from the second rank, and two-handed swords allow you to do “whirlwind” attacks, in other words you make one roll and everybody who is in melee with you gets attacked by the same roll.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for coming around to my point of view finally :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Here's the thing, though. As the game started using the Man-to-Man tables, the differences in the weapon qualities other than damage were already baked into the system. A dagger struck Leather/Chain/Plate on 7/8/12, while a sword hit the same on 8/8/10 (this is on a roll of 2d6, roll that number or higher). A pole arm or halberd hit on 6/7/9, while a flail hit on 7/6/6. So originally, there were great differences in the weapons by type.

    Speed Factor was also originally part of the Man to Man rules in Chainmail, with the weapons ordered from 1 to 12 for determination of who hits first (on the first round, usually the one with the higher number, i.e., pike or spear but on subsequent rounds of melee usually the one with the lower number, such as dagger or mace).

    This was then stripped out in the "Alternative" Combat System which went on to become the core combat system; and as mentioned, Weapon versus AC and Speed Factor came into play again later. Both new systems derived from the originals, the WvsA modified to account for d20 rather than 2d6, the Weapon Speeds simply staying the same, +/-1 from their order in Chainmail combat (though Gary gave some love to various pole arms, as was his way).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, so my point was, if one used the original MtM system, weapon choice was very, very important, but of course, most of us, not having access to Chainmail, used the Alternative system, in which weapon choice (with the exception of ranged weapons) was not at all important unless using the alternate damage system.

      Today, it all comes down to personal preferences. If you like verisimilitude in your combat, use WvsA and Weapon Speed (and add in the Perrin Conventions if you are really, really into simulationism). If you prefer to handwave all that for a simple melee scrum, go with the basic roll to hit and use d6 for all damage (remember to also do it for the monsters, too, otherwise they have an advantage with multiple attacks). Or something in between, as fits you and your players.

      Rule 0.5: Whatever is most fun is right.

      Delete
  10. This kind of makes the spear the queen of weapons: 1H or 2H, reach, can be set against a charge, can be thrown, piercing or blunt as needed (when you see skeletons, remind your DM that a spear or any polearm is a quarterstaff with a pointy end!) In general and from what I can tell, this is great for historical accuracy. But people sure like swords and axes; also, compact weapons make it easier to game with miniatures, if you don't do theater of the mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The drawback of the spear comes in the dungeon or cavern setting. Sometimes it would be impossible to get the spear through tight twisty crevices (1 in 6 natural small tunnels or crawl spaces?). I simply treat it like a pole arm in that regard to encumbrance/ tight spaces & have it do dmg like a 1H weapon in all cases. That seems to bring it back in line with the other weapons as "handy and versatile but not the uber weapon".

      Delete
  11. Battle-axes are designed to cut enemies, not wood. A player who tried to chop down a door with an ordinary war-axe or long axe would be in for rather a rude awakening.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I wonder if anyone has ever experimented with damage advantage and damage disadvantage by rolling two d6 and taking either the high or low as a way of distinguishing situational disparities? It could be applied by the DM on the fly when for instance, a dagger wielder rushes an opponent with a spear, giving disadvantage during the initial attack to the dagger wielder then advantage later when in close, the opposite being given to the spear wielder.

    It might make a fine house rule! ;>p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've done this. 2h weapons rolled two damage dice and took the highest. Higher avg damage was their advantage (which fits with the big weapons do big damage).

      btw I say damage dice because normal weapons did d6, magic weapons instead of +1/2/3 used d8 d10 d12 dice

      Delete
  13. WELCOME TO THE ILLUMINATI GRAND LODGE, WORLD WIDE!!!

    This is an open invitation for you to become part of the world's biggest conglomerate and reach the peak of your career. As we begin this year's recruitment program and our annual feast of harvest is almost at hand. Are you a businessman/woman, politician, singer, student, writer, pastor, footballer etc. and you want to be rich, powerful and be famous in life? If yes, you can achieve your dreams by becoming a member of the Illuminati brotherhood and receive a monthly salary of $500,000 USD. We are ready to change your life, we can make your Dreams come true, the great illuminati district offers you a life time opportunity of making your heart desires come true..

    Once you're a member of the ILLUMINATI you'll become:

    *Rich

    *Powerful

    *Famous

    With this, all your dreams and heart desire can be fully accomplish, So you're advised to make up your mind and join the Great Illuminati Brotherhood and become rich and famous in life population and also be protected from all evils against you and your family.
    If you've made up your mind and ready to be part of the family, then contact us via WhatsApp: +1 315 203 9948 or our official Email: {officialilluminati999@gmail.com}

    You can also visit our Websites for more info: https://illuminatiofficial666world.webs.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. weapons speed and weapon vs armor adjustments both pre-existed their appearances in D&D as they were in Chainmail. The man-to-man attack chart did the same (or better) than weapn vs armor mdifiers.

    ReplyDelete
  15. an idea I have been toying with revolved around giving weapons a "move set" chart related to their damage die, with low damage rolls turning into light impact maneuvers (hooking and pulling away a weapon with an axe instead of locking blades with a sword, for example) while high damage rolls turn into axes hacking off limbs, swords drawing long, bleeding cuts, spears running guys through, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My house-ruled OSRness has all one-handed weapons doing d6 and two-handed weapons doing 2d4. And initiative is based on weapon choice. So it does result in a wider choice; spears are very popular since they double as six-foot poles. https://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/2008/06/playing-with-initiative.html

    ReplyDelete
  17. One of the "other" games from near that era: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay - WFRP - used a standard of a D6 for one-handed weapons. Essentially all the swords, maces, hammers, axes, and spears etc. which were single handed weapons just did a D6 + STR for damage. Smaller weapons (knives, daggers) did a D6-2... Specialist weapons like a two-handed sword or axe did D6+2. Kept things simple-ish and nobody needed to fumble about figuring out what die to roll when they hit.

    ReplyDelete

  18. JOIN THE GREAT ILLUMINATI BROTHER HOOD TODAY AND LIVE A BETTER AND HAPPY LIFE. WELCOME TO THE GREAT TEMPLE OF RICHES,FAME AND POWERS. Are you a business,Man or woman, politician, musician,pastor,lawy er,actor,actress,ban ker, and you. want to be rich, powerful and be famous in life. You can achieve your dreams by being a member of the Great ILLUMINATI brother hood. With this all your dreams and heart desire can be fully accomplish, if you really want to be a member of the great ILLUMINATI brother hood, Note: newly recruited members are entitled with $500,000 US Dollars , A Golden Ring, that will protect and guild you from enemies, and a free visa to the United State Of JOIN ILLUMINATI YOUR FINANCIALDIFFICULTIES ARE BROUGHT TO AN END. Please will do not share human blood. Kindly email us on : illuminatibrotherhood180@gmail.com OR whatapp us on ;+1(585)643-5360 .

    ReplyDelete

  19. JOIN THE GREAT ILLUMINATI BROTHER HOOD TODAY AND LIVE A BETTER AND HAPPY LIFE. WELCOME TO THE GREAT TEMPLE OF RICHES,FAME AND POWERS. Are you a business,Man or woman, politician, musician,pastor,lawy er,actor,actress,ban ker, and you. want to be rich, powerful and be famous in life. You can achieve your dreams by being a member of the Great ILLUMINATI brother hood. With this all your dreams and heart desire can be fully accomplish, if you really want to be a member of the great ILLUMINATI brother hood, Note: newly recruited members are entitled with $500,000 US Dollars , A Golden Ring, that will protect and guild you from enemies, and a free visa to the United State Of JOIN ILLUMINATI YOUR FINANCIALDIFFICULTIES ARE BROUGHT TO AN END. Please will do not share human blood. Kindly email us on : illuminatibrotherhood180@gmail.com OR whatapp us on ;+1(585)643-5360 .

    ReplyDelete
  20. I play with fairly large, extended group of OD&D players. Most of us have used for years d6-1 for small/poor weapons (dagger, club), d6 1h weapons and d6+1 for 2h weapons. Works well enough. I'm not sure were it came from.

    ReplyDelete