Weapons Guidelines, Part 1

I remember posting a bit about this to rec.games.frp.dnd, but don’t remember if I included the bits about weapon reach.  This article is a first cut of recapturing that post, with some additional  information.  The rules are generally complete, but some of the weapon modeling needs some adjustment.

The model is not a perfect match to the existing weapons charts. Spears, for example, are unusually good by these guidelines (going from simple to martial use increases base damage, critical multiplier, and makes them throwable (unless they start off considered throwable, which already puts them better than other weapons), and I’m inclined to consider them ‘bastard’ weapons in that with proper proficiency they can be used one-handed instead of two-handed).

On the other hand, some weapons simply are better than others. Maybe I should just let it go and let them deviate from the model.

This article is concerned only with common melee weapons. Missile weapons will be discussed another time, as will some of the more unusual melee weapons (such as whips, shields, and spiked armor, all of which might be better treated as something other than weapons).

Weapon Proficiency

Weapons are no longer divided into ‘simple’, ‘martial’, and ‘exotic’ categories. In my own experience fencing and discussion with experienced martial artists, items of similar shape, nature, and size can be used more or less the same way, if in a limited manner, with the real differences coming about when specifically trained and skilled with the nuances of the various weapons. That is, swords weighing three pounds tend to be more or less interchangeable as long as they are not fundamentally different (such as having only a point and no edge, though I would consider that just an odd metal spear) – a rapier (yes, they have edges), sabre, and longsword can be used to limited effect more or less the same way. In the hands of someone actually and specifically trained they may be different, but at a basic level they are more or less equivalent.

What this amounts to is that weapons will still be categorized by size, but their characteristics are governed more by how they are used than what they are. The core weapon proficiency feats are replaced with the feats below. These feats have been backported from Echelon talents to suit D&D 3.x, and replace the Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization feats.

Basic Weapon Use

Benefit: You can use weapons with no proficiency penalty, in a simple manner as described below.

Note: This replaces the Simple Weapon Proficiency feat.

Martial Weapon Use

Benefit: Choose a weapon group such as swords, axes, or spears. You are trained in the nuances of each and can use them to their normal effect as described for each weapon.

Note: This replaces the Martial Weapon Proficiency feat.

Expert Combat Style

Prerequisite: BAB +1, Martial Weapon Use.

Benefit: Choose a combat style using weapons with which you are martially proficient. When fighting with this style you can apply the style’s benefits (such as increased damage, critical threat range, extended reach options, and so on) to attacks made with the style’s weapons with which you are martially proficient.

Note: You can take this feat more than once, choosing a different combat style each time.

Heroic Combat Style

Prerequisite: BAB +4, Expert Combat Style, Martial Weapon Use

Benefit: Choose a combat style you have focus with. You gain the second tier of benefits associated with the chosen combat style.

Note: You can take this feat more than once, choosing a different combat style each time.

Master Combat Style

Prerequisite: BAB +8, Heroic Combat Style, Martial Weapon Use

Benefit: Choose a combat style you have specialization with. You gain the third tier of benefits associated with the chosen combat style.

Note: You can take this feat more than once, choosing a different combat style each time.

Champion Combat Style

Prerequisite: BAB +12, Master Combat Style, Martial Weapon Use

Benefit: Choose a combat style you have specialization with. You gain the fourth tier of benefits associated with the chosen combat style.

Note: You can take this feat more than once, choosing a different combat style each time.

Legendary Combat Style

Prerequisite: BAB +16, Champion Combat Style, Martial Weapon Use

Benefit: Choose a combat style you have specialization with. You gain the fifth tier of benefits associated with the chosen combat style.

Note: You can take this feat more than once, choosing a different combat style each time.

Simple Weapon Use

Melee weapon use and effects are largely based on weapon size and weight and modified by user training (as represented by the feats above). Even with higher levels of proficiency, a character may choose to use a weapon as with lesser proficiency (such as using a short sword as a one-handed weapon rather than a light weapon) without penalty.

For medium creatures without natural reach, light weapons are usable only in the same square. They may be used defensively (as with Two-Weapon Defense) or after having closed with the opponent. Many may be thrown. Some blunt Light weapons do only nonlethal damage with basic weapon use.

Two-handed weapons often have reach. I’m treating this as a breakeven ability because it generally means it cannot be used against opponents in adjacent squares, nor opponents in the same square.

Double weapons count as two improvements.

Light Weapons

Base Damage d4
Str Modifier to Damage x1/2, may not gain damage from using two-handed
Attack Modified by Dexterity
Reach Adjustment -5′

One-handed Weapons

Base Damage d6
Str Modifier to Damage x1
Attack Modified by Strength
Reach Adjustment +0′

Two-handed Weapons

Base Damage D8
Str Modifier to Damage x1.5
Attack Modified by Strength
Reach Adjustment +0′

Martial Weapon Use

Martial weapon use gives you improvements to the effects of a weapon. These usually bring the weapon into line with the statistics presented in the RSRD. The specific effects vary by weapon, and will be shown in the table below. In most cases you get two improvements, I am inclined to give two-handed weapons three improvements.

Combat Style

Combat Styles often apply to only a single weapon type, or a group of related weapons. For the sake of simplicity, the same effects are generally applied to all weapons associated with the combat style.

Weapon Tables

Some of the weapons don’t quite align with the guidelines described above. They could stand a little adjustment, either up or down as indicated in the ‘Modifier’ column. Those weapons marked ‘Low’ could use an improvement, those marked ‘High’ might be better served by putting off one of their improvements (such as reducing the heavy pick to x3 critical multiplier until a suitable combat style is taken), possibly by raising their basic use characteristics (such as giving a heavy pick a x3 critical multiplier with simple use), or applying a penalty or restriction of some sort.

Light Weapons

Weapon

Simple Use

Martial Use

Modifier

Damage

Critical

Damage

Critical

Notes

Axe, throwing 1d4 20/x2 1d6 20/x2 Throwable 10′ RI
Dagger 1d4 20/x2 1d4 19-20/x2 Throwable 10′ RI
Dagger, punching 1d4 20/x2 1d4 20/x3 Low
Flail, light 1d4 20/x2 1d6 20/x2 Disarming, aka ‘Nunchaku’
Hammer, light 1d4 20/x2 1d4 20/x2 Throwable 20′ RI
Handaxe 1d4 20/x2 1d6 20/x3
Kukri 1d4 20/x2 1d4 18-20/x2
Mace, light 1d4 20/x2 1d6 20/x2 Low
Pick, light 1d4 20/x2 1d4 20/x4 High
Sai 1d4 20/x2 1d4 20/x2 Throwable 10′ RI, Disarming +4 High
Sap 1d4 20/x2 1d6 20/x2 Nonlethal
Siangham 1d4 20/x2 1d6 20/x2 Low
Sickle 1d4 20/x2 1d6 20/x2 Tripping, aka ‘Kama’

One-handed Weapons

Weapon

Simple Use

Martial Use

Modifier

Damage

Critical

Damage

Critical

Notes

Battleaxe 1d6 20/x2 1d8 20/x3
Club 1d6 20/x2 1d6 20/x2 Throwable 10′ RI Low
Flail 1d6 20/x2 1d8 20/x2 Disarming, tripping High
Longsword 1d6 20/x2 1d8 19-20/x2
Mace, heavy 1d6 20/x2 1d8 20/x2 Low
Morningstar 1d6 20/x2 1d8 20/x2 Low
Pick, heavy 1d6 20/x2 1d6 20/x4 High
Rapier 1d6 20/x2 1d6 18-20/x2 Finesse, Flimsy
Scimitar 1d6 20/x2 1d6 18-20/x2
Shortspear 1d6 20/x2 1d6 20/x2 Throwable 20′ RI
Sword, Short 1d6 20/x2 1d6 19-20/x2 Semi-light
Trident 1d6 20/x2 1d8 20/x3 Ready, Throwable 10′ RI Very High
Warhammer 1d6 20/x2 1d8 20/x3

Two-handed Weapons

Weapon

Simple Use

Martial Use

Modifier

Damage

Critical

Damage

Critical

Notes

Axe, orc double 1d8 20/x2 1d8/1d8 20/x3 Double weapon
Chain, spiked 1d8 20/x2 1d8/1d8 20/x2 Reach, Close, Double weapon, Tripping, Finesse Very High
Falchion 1d8 20/x2 1d8 18-20/x2 Low
Flail, Dire 1d8 20/x2 1d8/1d8 20/x2 Double weapon, Disarming, Tripping High
Flail, heavy 1d8 20/x2 1d10 19-20/x2 Disarming, tripping High
Glaive 1d8 20/x2 1d10 20/x3 Reach
Greataxe 1d8 20/x2 1d12 20/x3
Greatclub 1d8 20/x2 1d10 20/x2 Very Low
Greatsword 1d8 20/x2 1d12 19-20/x2
Guisarme 1d8 20/x2 1d8 20/x3 Reach, tripping Low
Halberd 1d8 20/x2 1d10 20/x3 Ready, Tripping High
Hammer, gnome hooked 1d8 20/x2 1d8/1d6 x3/x4 Double weapon, Tripping High
Lance 1d8 20/x2 1d8 20/x3 Reach, Charging, Bastard
Longspear 1d8 20/x2 1d10 20/x3 Reach, Ready
Quarterstaff 1d6 20/x2 1d6/1d6 20/x2 Close, Double weapon, Tripping, Low Base Damage
Ranseur 1d8 20/x2 1d8 20/x3 Reach, Disarming Low
Scythe 1d8 20/x2 1d8 20/x4 Tripping High
Spear 1d8 20/x2 1d8 20/x3 Ready, Throwable 10′ RI, bastard High
Sword, bastard 1d8 20/x2 1d10 19-20/x2 Bastard
Sword, two-bladed 1d8 20/x2 1d8/1d8 19-20/x2 Double weapon
Urgrosh, dwarven 1d8 20/x2 1d8/1d6 20/x3 Double weapon, Ready High
Waraxe, dwarven 1d8 20/x2 1d10 20/x3 Bastard

Weapon Qualities

The tables above note a number of weapon qualities. These weapon qualities are described below.

Quality Description
Bastard Two-handed weapon usable one-handed with proper training.
Close May be used against targets closer than normal. Most reach weapons may not be used against adjacent targets. Some non-light weapons may be used against immediate (same square) opponents without penalty.
Disarming +2 bonus to disarm checks.
Disarming +4 +4 bonus to disarm checks. Counts as two improvements.
Double weapon Both ends may be used. Counts as two qualities
Finesse May use Dexterity instead of Strength for attack bonus.
Flimsy May not use two hands for additional damage. This counts as a negative improvement.
Low Base Damage The weapon does lower than normal base damage. This counts as a negative improvement.
Nonlethal Weapon does nonlethal damage. Breakeven ability since such weapons are usually chosen for this quality, despite being weaker.
Reach Can attack opponents 10′ away, rather than just adjacent opponents. Usually cannot attack adjacent opponents.
Ready Can ready an attack against a charging opponent. If successful, does double damage.
Semi-light (Needs a better name) One-handed weapon usable as a light weapon if desired, with normal limitation (reduced Str modifier to damage, etc.).
Throwable May be thrown, not just used in melee. Costs one slot per 10′ of range increment.
Throwable only May be thrown, not just used in melee. Costs one slot per 10′ of range increment, less one for not being usable in melee.
Tripping +2 bonus to trip checks.

2 Comments to "Weapons Guidelines, Part 1"

  1. hadsil's Gravatar hadsil
    August 13, 2010 - 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Given in Echelon you have more feat slots than 3E because “everything” is a feat and these rules, hypothetically if I were to play in a game with this I like it. It would take a little time to be acclimated, but the concept isn’t rubbing me the wrong way. :)

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