Monday, August 6, 2012

Misc IV

Choose Your Weapon
I'd be surprised if some game doesn't already do this, but how about letting fighters choose which weapons they have the most skill in by assigning higher damage dice to those weapons.  They choose which of 4 die types particular weapons will do for them.  So, your fighter might choose staff, bow, sword, battle-axe to have d4, d6 d8, d10.  Or not.  They might choose a dagger to have d10, which is different, but maybe they want to be a badass knife fighter.  If nothing else, allowing a certain number of die types could also function as a very simple proficiency system: "You only get one d8 weapon, but you'll be able to assign another at 4th level."

Critical Weapon Feats
I've been thinking for a while about how to distinguish weapons if they all do the same damage.  Yes, more than the obvious utility of a sword being able to cut a rope a blunt being able to hammer in a spike.  What I'm thinking about trying is giving them all special abilities that kick in when you score a critical.  Staves and maces: can knock an opponent completely out, battle axes: can sever limbs, flails: can disarm an opponent, swords: can parry while still getting in a hit.

XP as a Currency
Again, probably not new, but I was thinking if anyone ever utilizes some of my toxins/fireworks in ways that allows players to craft them when they have necessary ingredients, you could allow players to spend their XP in a jam to do so without the necessary materials.  It could undermine resource management a bit, but it would allow the tools to come into play when they are most needed (an fun).  If for, example, a time arises where having a triggered notification would be handy but they are too far from town to acquire what they need to make the Mine Light and Dwarven Braids.  You charge them 50-100XP and say "Hey it turns out scrounging around in all your packs you have enough to make one charge.

XP Bonus for Mapping
I know drawing a map out for players with dry erase markers as we play makes it a lot easier for them to visualize where they are and what's going on-- it also slows down play and gives me another task when I have too many already.  I also think that being the mapper can be kind of chore-like and pull you out of the game unless you are a certain type of player that really likes it.  I'm thinking of mapping for brand new players and giving intermediate players the option of mapping for them or having them start learning to map for a bonus ~100 XP per party member.


  1. I really love the first item about weapon damage. I'm going to integrate that into my game, tied to my own damage house rules. I actually solved this problem of damage in my game by using Str to determine damage die (it runs from 1d2 at Str 3 to 1d12 at Str 18) and the weapon simply grants a bonus according to what it is (+1 to +5, depending on what it is), and no bonus to damage from high Str. This makes the weapons less samey and certain weapons have reach, etc., that makes them different. I used the assumption that a weapon simply increases the natural death-dealing ability of the human body.

  2. The Critical Weapon Feats are something I myself often fantasize about - it wouldn't be overpowered but still make a difference between an axe and a sword. However, I always choose not to do so, because I find it more comfortable when refereeing if less combat specific rules are explicitly put down, so that I can interpret the rolls according to the situation. Yeah, I like playing with few rules, but those I always abide.

    Also, in my current campaign (actually we are having a break) I award the mapper with +5% XP bonus. He draws very accurate and beautifully looking maps on which one can follow the chronicles of our delvers. It's amazing how detailed a dungeon map can be.

  3. I really like the idea of weapon-specific powers or feats. I have a couple drafts of ideas in the works, but nothing complete yet. Jeff posted a list of things like this, but sort of the inverse of your idea: rather than as bonuses for critical hits, the extra abilities are consolation prizes for low damage rolls, which is a really interesting non-intuitive way to go about it. Let's see if I can find that post... here it is:

    I'm not a fan of weapons specialization mechanics, even if they are realistic, because they tend to lead to less interesting and creative play in my experience, because they incentivize using the same weapon all the time.

  4. One and Two are basically covered by the weapon mastery rules from the Rules Cyclopedia. Five different levels per weapon with increasing damage and special abilities. The abilities changed per weapon, disarm, parry, extra damage, impale, able to throw it, trip, etc. I never found that we used the same weapon all the time, there was too much variety!


  5. Thanks for the comments.

    @Fumblefail: Cool. I hadn't thought of stepping the dice for STR. I've seen weapon damage by class ( was that you Brendan?). I suppose you could combine all three. Start with d4, fighters bump a die, strong fighters get another bump, they choose which weapon to pick as a favorite and the rest do less. Though that's starting to get complicated for newer players.

    @Ynas Midgard: Absolutely agree. I guess I wish players knew better what could happen with different weapons though. And also I want to avoid the mediocrity of improv Roger wrote about recently, so I'm not doing the same critical descriptions each time. Making the weapon critical possibilities more distinct would probably help me as a DM.

    @Brendan: Cool. I saw that post of his and found it interesting, but you're right counter-intuitive. I get that it sucks to succeed at a difficult task (hitting vs high AC) only to do little, but there needs to be room for doing little damage in the system, no? And in my game "1" are always bad news.

    @John: I never played the Cyclopedia, but I own it these days. I went and looked and it's true, masters make the weapons do special things. Wowza, though, I think that two page spread might be the most complicated rpg chart I've ever seen. If anything, I guess I'm trying to achieve similar goals (make weapons feel distinct, give players choice over which weapons they want to use) with the fewest mechanical overhead possible. I'm constantly thinking about players who are newer to the game.

    1. Damage by hit die:

      Not my idea originally though (the references are in the post).

  6. Critical Weapon Feats could definitely cure longsword-itis, in addition to making fighters more interesting to play. They could be divided between weapon subtypes as well as different weapons (for realism and to avoid wasting cool feats), and some weapons might even offer a choice of feats. You could add a feat to an individual weapon because it's got an extra hook or spike on it, though the wielder would have to train on it.

    The chain-based flail (what AD&D called a Horseman's Flail) could disarm as you say but might also bind up a weapon arm, requiring a round and/or save to free it. An axe could damage a shield and reduce its effectiveness until it's repaired. A mace, two-handed flail, or quarterstaff could stun for a certain number of rounds, drastically decreasing capacity, or could knock out.

  7. Thanks, yeah, that's kinda what I'm aiming for with the idea.