Monday, February 1, 2010

Revisiting Weapons vs AC - Weapons Aspect

In a previous post I talked about the three type of weapon damage; point, blunt, and edge. In that post I focused more on the armor. But what about the weapons?

At first glance it somewhat obvious the primary damage mode of a weapon, a battle axe has an edge, a spear a point, and a mace is blunt.

But other weapons can be used in different modes. For example a sword can either thrust with the point, or slash with the edge. I admit for the abstract D&D style combat that fact is not much of a consideration as it would be in a blow by blow system like GURPS.

However there has been weapons fighting styles that emphasize one aspect over the other. Roman Legion used short swords (gladius) in a stabbing style while medieval knight hacked at each other. Halberd manuals show that the different grips and stances needed to use the different aspects of the halberd.

Again the following is probably of interest to campaigns emphasizing person-centric adventuring as opposed to fighting monsters all the time.

For weapons with multiple aspects the player announces before rolling to hit which aspect he using.

Axe, Throwing 1d6 Edge
Axe, Battle 1d8 Edge
Hammer, War 1d4+1 Blunt
Mace, small 1d4+1 Blunt
Mace 1d6 +1 Blunt

Dagger, large 1d4 Point
Dagger,small 1d3 Point

Glaive, 1d8+1 Edge
Poleaxe 1d8 Point
Halberd Edge 1d10, Point 1d8

Javelin 1d6 Point
Spear 1H, 1d6 Point
Lance, 2d4+1 Point

Staff 1d6 Blunt

Broadsword 1d8 Edge, 1d6+1 Point
Bastard Sword 1d8 Edge, 1d6+1 Point (+1 damage if used 2H)
Shortsword 1d6 Edge, 1d4+1 Point

Great Axe 1d10+1 Edge
Warhammer 2H 1d8+1 Blunt
Maul 1d6+1 Blunt
Greatsword 1d10 Edge, 1d6+1 Point


Aaron E. Steele said...

This is one of the few features of Harn that I liked. It too had B/E/P aspects, and armor had B/E/P defences.

This works great when you are fighting other humans or humanoids that are wearing armor.

The challenge is in assigning equivalent armor factors to monsters. Does a troll get a high defence against blunt, for example, since he is so rubbery? Does a skeleton have a high defence against point?

Anonymous said...

The reason D&D dropped the type versus armour rules (besides being really clunky) is the fact that it wasn't accurate. It was a myth.

Some weapons are better at certain things. Blunt are heavy and smack you around, piercing weapons have good penetration and edged are somewhere in the middle.

Armour just simply gets better (as expressed by its improved AC.)

All armour has padding behind it. Leather is padded, chain is padded and plate is padded. Leather is worse at resisting penetration, Chain is a bit better and Plate is better than Chain.

It is as simple as that.

Better penetration weapons were made to beat plate such as a crossbow using bodkins, but the bodkin is proportionally better at penetrating all the armour types.

Also, D&D's AC mechanic doesn't model the separation of things such as buffetting and penetration because it is too abstract.

If you want to model weapons being designed to perform different jobs you need to give the weapons special effects based on their special qualities and ignore armour types.

Armour simply gets better (and more cumbersome/hot/reduced visibility/suffocating.)

Norman J. Harman Jr. said...


Ah, but this is a game and not a historical simulation. Some (all of mine) of the desire to vary weapons vs AC is to provide interesting choices options for combat.

But, I also like idea of weapons having "special effects" such as ball & chain negating shield benefit.

Tom Fitzgerald said...

I would refute what anongemini says about armour being simply better.
Looking at test cutting done at site like has demonstrated convincingly (to me at least) that different armours do resist different kinds of force, well, differently.

I was unsurprised to see that mail is almost completely uncuttable -basically sword-proof, but you can put a pollaxe queue through it. I was very surprised to see that a jack (cloth armour) bounced arrows off it over and over -bodkins!

I would, however, be disinclined to add too many layers of complexity. I've come to believe that increased armour class (rather than damage reduction) in D&D is quite realistic. Armour was sufficiently effective at preventing injury that hitting the unarmoured bits and the chinks in the armour was how combat tended to progress