Friday, April 3, 2015

Of Two Handed Fighting and Weapon Sizes

I'm here doing FINAL edits of the Saga of the Splintered Realm core rules, and I ran across those pesky two-handed fighting rules again... and in cross-referencing them realized just how overly bloated and unnecessarily complex they are. Here are the problems (before I share my solution... I have to build up to it, you know):

1. Various melee weapons can be used alternately 2-handed, EXCEPT for the great sword, which always requires 2 hands. When you opt to use a 1-handed weapon 2-handed, you get a +2 bonus to damage. Great. Except for the fact that a longsword (1d8 damage) is inherently better than a greatsword (1d10 damage) when used 2-handed... and you can only use the greatsword 2-handed. No reason to ever get one of those...

2. The rules become even MORE complex for dwarves and stoutlings... they HAVE to use certain large weapons 2-handed, and can't get the 2-handed bonus with these weapons... opening up a category of even more weapons that suffer the same 'penalty' as the greatsword above. No intelligent dwarf (and I'm talking INT 3+ here, so the bar is pretty low) who wants to fight 2-handed would ever use a battle axe, because a hand axe 2-handed deals 1d6+2, while the battle axe deals a measly (by comparison) 1d8.

You can now perform an imaginary drum roll for my solution. Ready?

ALL melee weapons are 1-handed weapons by their nature! Can I swing a staff and hit someone while wielding it one-handed? Sure. Can I wield a greatsword one-handed? If I'm a fantasy world fighter, you bet I can.

BUT, if I elect to wield a weapon 2-handed (which only 'fighter types' like fighters, dwarves, elves and stoutlings can do), I get to shift up to the next die... so that greatsword deals 1d10 one-handed, but deals 1d12 if I go to town. Since there's no weapon category that deals 1d12, I don't have to worry about an awkward die shift up... and now a stoutling with a shortsword who's swinging that bad boy 2-handed still gets to deal a respectable 1d8 base damage, the same as he'd deal with a longsword 1-handed (which he cannot use, since he's just a 'lil guy). It's an intuitive fix that is EASY to remember and requires no cross-checking.

And by the way, I HAD to downgrade stoutlings after thinking about how they are just about the size of my six-year-old daughter, albeit with about 20 more pounds of body mass. She's half my height, and a longsword would be unwieldy for her, no matter how strong she was.

Basically, a magic user, cleric or thief can wield any of his weapons with one or two hands, but mechanically doesn't get an advantage to damage. He's not sufficiently trained to get a significant boost from the additional leverage. Gandalf can swing away with his staff either with one or two hands, but unless he's purchased a talent that upgrades his combat abilities (which he has done - he's flippin Galdalf after all), he's dealing that base 1d4 damage (poor guy).

This is also a nice little fix to keep fighters as the best fighters. They are the only ones who can get greatswords (or other obnoxiously large weapons) that deal 1d12 two-handed, so they are the kings of battle. This is also nice because they can opt to fight with a shield and great sword (if they are on the defensive) or drop that shield and let 'er rip (if the monster is chewing on someone else at the moment). It provides a little bit of tactical differentiation in combat without any mechanical bloat.

Okay. Back to editing... on page 67 of 144...