Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Consolation Prize-based weapon mechanics

A great source of player disappointment occurs when, upon finally hitting that jerk with a tough AC, they then roll minimal damage.

So many people are opposed to non-variable weapon damage (i.e. 'everything does d6 damage') because there is no other mechanical distinction made between swords and daggers.

It would be nice if the Fighterly types could do cool things with weapons that are beyond the ability of other users of implements of death.

New rule: Every time a Fighter type rolls a '1' for damage, consult the list below.

Axe, Hand - roll Str or less to chop any wood-hafted weapon

Axe, Long - roll another d6 of damage

Bow - fire another arrow immediately

Club - foe must save or be stunned, losing next action

Crossbow - roll Dex or less to do trick shot

Fussart - weapon breaks

Glaive - foe with shorter weapon -4 to-hit on next attack

Knife - start grapple with foe, free stab each round grapple continues

Mace - smash foe's helmet or shield, if no helm or shield then stun as per club

Quarterstaff - parry next attack but if long axe, knightly sword or big monster then staff breaks

Spear/Lance - foe with shorter weapon -4 to-hit on next attack

Sword - choice of reroll damage or parry next attack

Shortsword/Dagger - choice of parry next attack against medium or small weapon or start grapple as per knife

Winged Spear (a.k.a. boar spear) - foe with shorter weapon -4 to-hit on next attack, parries spear/glaive/quarterstaff

Definitely not worth forgoing the shield.Note that the above list is restricted only to those weapons that I give a crap about right now. Since I'm working on a pseudo-historical setting I have the luxury of ignoring many weapons.

The Fussart is basically a glaive with a handle too short to be useful as a polearm. I'm not sure it existed in England c.1140 (or even at all) but it's in the Maciejowski Bible  a century later.  More to the point, it's clearly too dumb not to use. I want a weapon even less useful than the club and the fussart neatly fills that role.


  1. Great idea for handling non-variable weapon damage in an inventive and exciting manner. I'll have to admit that I have been nonplused by non-variable damage (I came in in the AD&D era circa 82 or so), so it was all variable weapon damage and always seemed to make more sense to me. However, with a system such as this, I'd be willing to reconsider.

  2. I am not a fan of variable damage myself. I like games where the combat roll encompasses both a to hit and damage roll. You see this in White Wolf's Storyteller, or in Silhouette (Heavy Gear) where a weapon has a rating that is multiplied by the number of successes achieved on an attack to determine damage.

  3. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Good stuff Jeff :)

  4. Your observation is dead on, especially in campaigns that don't have critical hits. I can't count how many times I've seen one of my players roll a natural "20", followed by a "1". Guaranteed to make even the most emotionally-centered of players look like they want to chuck your dice across the room.

    Plus I'm always on the lookout for simple, fun ways to spice up the oft neglected fighter. So I may try and playtest these at our next session.

  5. Beefing up weapons in RPG combat is always a good idea. The fussart certainly looks less then ideal.

  6. > player disappointment

    OBSERVATION: Just like the possibility of perm death is sweetens victorious survival. Disappointmakes makes that max damage, or just enough damage to finally kill foe fun!

    But, this is still groovy. I did Similar thing but on opposite side with exploding damage(roll max, get to reroll die adding results), but you may instead of rolling more damage you can do a "trick" like disarm, trip, pushback etc.

  7. i like it but i would feel duty bound to apply it to monsters too...

  8. A glave with a short handle is basically a thatching tool used to shape the edges of the thatch. I saw one in use this year (we still have some thatched rooves in the UK) and I imagine that it's as old as thatching. Thatching was in fact just starting its long, slow wane by AD1200 when London outlawed it and other large towns followed suit due to fire hazards. So I'd be surprised if it wasn't an option in 1140.

  9. Anonymous2:06 PM

    That Medieval picture there, that looks like a flag... No wait, it has strings or cords wrapped around it & there is an obvious knot in it at one place. That's not a flag, that is a bag, or... is it trousers?

    I call "Pants!"

    Honestly, I love this "1" damage = something special happens. Brilliant! ;)

  10. Very clever. I don't currently use a system with variable damage (I run my weird fantasy game with a slimmed down version of the World of Darkness system) but if I ever have call to, this is a great idea. Bravo.