Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Simple Str Alternative

My current campaign uses Holmes Basic as the starting point for its rules.  This creates an odd situation with weapon damage and strength:

1 - All weapons do d6 damage.
2 - Str does not modify melee damage.
3 - Except an 18 Str gives +2d4 damage in melee (as per the description for Gauntlets of Ogre Power, which grant the +2d4 and also specifies the wearer gains an 18 Str).

Here's the new rule I'm considering for next session.

Str 12 or less - all melee weapons do d6 damage
Str 13-15 - all melee weapons do d8 damage
Str 16-17 - all melee weapons do d10 damage
Str 18 - all melee weapons do d12 damage

I'm planning on revisiting all the stats for my campaign.  Right now I plan on keeping the total number of stats at the canonical six, but I might rename Wisdom and/or Charisma.  I previously touched upon the idea of renaming stats in this post, which got a lot of great comments worth re-reading.  They'll all stay on a 3-18 scale, though I have been kicking around adding percentiles like in HackMaster and 1st edition Cavaliers.  I had the same idea as HackMaster (i.e. all stats get percentiles, slight increases at each new level) back when the original Unearthed Arcana came out, as I'm sure lotsa DMs did.  But I never quite got around to implementing it.


  1. Sounds really interesting - I must check it out, but rather in slightly altered version (<13: d6; 13-17: d8; 18: d10).

  2. Interesting idea. I'm still hung up on the variable weapon damage thing and I'm not sure that I think someone with an 18 STR should be able to do 12 points of damage with a dagger, but it is an elegant way to handle this.

    (FWIW, I also have issues with a +3 damage for high STR on a 1d4 dagger using the traditional method.)

    Would you allow all weapons by all classes with this?

    RE: Stats

    In our homebrew we dropped down to 5 ability scores by combining INT and WIS into one. We felt this was a good move, particularly as the actual "smartness" of a PC is so heavily dependent upon the "smartness" of the player and less influenced by a number on a character sheet than, say, the character's ability to lift something.

    We called the combined mental attribute "wisdom" because it sounds cool and oldschooly.

  3. "Would you allow all weapons by all classes with this?"

    I pretty much do that already.

  4. "as per the description for Gauntlets of Ogre Power, which grant the +2d4 and also specifies the wearer gains an 18 Str"

    Unless you interpret that to read:
    Grants +2d4 damage and ALSO grants 18 Str (and all the benefits of an 18 Str.)

    As opposed to how I think you're interpreting it:
    Grants 18 Str which subsequently gives +2d4 damage

  5. Kevin, that's a viable reading but a boring one, since by Holmes an 18 Str otherwise does nothing for a Fighter with a high Str or any other class with any Str. I'll take my nonsensical version over the boring alternative.

  6. No arguments there. Just offering an alternative.

    I see this type of argument a lot like the Monopoly "Advance to the nearest Railroad" argument of what "nearest" means.

    If it works for your group (and I'll admit mine would interpret 18 Str grants +2d4 damage as well) then go with it.

    But the rule is vague at best... and therefore leads to a wealth of (mis)interpretations.

  7. Neat idea! I'd also suggest allowing some classes (not magic-users, thieves, or halflings, probably) to wield two-handed weapons which do the next step up in damage.

    And this builds a strong corollary between damage and strength in humanoid monsters. Wimpy little goblins only do d6, but orcs do d8 and ogres do d12.

    Hmmm... does that mean giants do d20? I'd be tempted to make it 2d8 instead.

  8. I think it's a great idea! I'd gladly see your reinventions other stats.

  9. sounds reasonable; however,

    improvised or lite weapons (clubs, daggers and cleavers) do one category less damage;
    i.e., d6 -- > d4, d8 --> d6


    heavy or two handed weapons ( morningstar, ranseur and claymore) do one category more damage ;
    i.e., d10 --> d12, d12 --> 2d6

  10. If you want to change the names of the abilities, my suggestion would be to leave the name of each score up to the player.

    One player's Brutishness of 15 will likely feel different than another's Ferocity of 15, versus a third's Physique of 15.

    Similarly, a Persuasiveness of 8 is different than a Charm of 8, or a Sex Appeal of 8.

    It's all about what the player wants to say about his character, what perception he wants others to take away.

  11. Nice variant. But I will point out that Holmes never actually says that gauntlets of ogre power give you an 18 Strength. It only lists 18 Strength in specific reference to the ability to "grasp and crush things with great ease, just as if he were an ogre (18 Strength)". The damage is listed separately; as is the ability to carry 1,000 gold pieces in his hands without suffering from being overloaded or encumbered.

    Other points of reference:

    Ray of Enfeeblement states that you do 25% less damage per 4 points of Strength lost.

    Trolls have the same strength as ogres, but explicitly don't do the same damage as ogres despite that.

    Potion of Giant Strength gives you "stone giant prowess", including doing 3-18 points of damage when scoring a hit and having the same hit probability as a stone giant.

    (This is on contrast to the gauntlets of ogre power which explicitly don't add to hit probability.)

    Ring of Weakness reduces the wearer to one-half strength which is "reflected in defense, attack, and carrying ability".

  12. Interesting variant, but I think that you should not have dagger doing the same damage as broad sword.

  13. "Ray of Enfeeblement states that you do 25% less damage per 4 points of Strength lost"

    Even if, after a loss of 4 points, the character's strength is still greater than another character who isn't doing less damage? If a fighter with 16 STR gets zapped & falls to 12 STR, she does 25% less damage while the cleric whose STR was 11 to begin with keeps doing full damage? That's a little odd.

    Verification word: fauga. A pastiche Cthulhu-mythos god so unpopular even we've never heard of it.

  14. Anonymous8:21 AM

    I'm doing something similar with my Space Adventures version of S&W:

    * Base damage dice by class (d8 for fighters, d6 for most others, and d4 for non-combat types)

    * 13+ STR increases damage die type next step up (d8 becomes d10)

    * 8 or less STR decreases damage die (d4 becomes d3)

    * Some weapons do extra damage dice (sword 1 die, rifle 2 dice, energy blade 3 dice, etc)

    * the advantage of a larger weapon (2-handed sword) is greater reach, while the advantage of a smaller weapon (dagger) is being able to use it in close quarters where you couldn't use a large weapon

  15. On weapon damage it depends on what you're trying to model:

    If you're trying for a simulation game, where everything should make "common sense" (which usually isn't common or sensible), then by all means, have a broadsword not do the same as a dagger.

    If you're trying for a heroic or pulp type game, where badasses such as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings films, or Bors in the flick King Arthur, then by all means. Who is wielding the dagger makes all the difference in the world. House of Flying Daggers, anyone? Where those knives were lethal? Not to mention countless comic books and reams and reams of heroic fiction.

    Again, YMMV, but in my book it depends on what you're modeling. To restrict daggers to poopy damage because of some imagined "realism" is fairly silly. A dagger may not take a limb off, but it can sure stick in a vital organ easier than an axe or a sword.

  16. The rule we've been using for OD&D (which I'm pretty sure I picked up from Grognardia) is that smaller weapons do 2d6 and you take the lower roll; normal weapons do 1d6; and larger weapons do 2d6 take the higher.

    This would work in concert with Strength setting the base die type. So particularly strong characters would roll d12, but when using a dagger it's still 2d12 take the lower die.

  17. Neat! An alternative possibility might be:

    ≤12: no bonus
    13-15: +1d4
    16-17: +1d6
    18: +2d4

    That way, the Gauntlets remain in line with the rules — and you get to roll more dice!