I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

My MANUAL OF ARMS for 5e is out!

Since you've been asking... my MANUAL OF ARMS for 5e is out!

Well, at least the first part. This one is all about WEAPONS.

Check the amazing cover (once more, courtesy of Rick Troula):

If you've been following this blog for a while, you already know most of the stuff here. This is the organized, good-looking version of my thoughts on 5e weapons.

But anyway:

Manual of Arms is a series of booklets that enhance, change and reinterpret existing equipment and mechanics for non-magical combat. Each booklets deal with a single subject. If there is enough interest, they’ll be collected in a single tome in the future.

What is this book about?
This book is a collection of ideas to make weapons more diverse, streamlined, balanced, varied, and fun.
Old versions of the game had many weapon options that were not used in the current one. Fortunately, they are easy to use, with a few adjustments to match the current rules. Many ideas in this book are updated and adapted from other iterations or other games.
In addition, I changed some weapons, added a few, created a few new rules and made notes on how to choose and create your own weapons.

Which game system?
This book contains ideas that are useful for many games. However, the main focus is the world’s most famous role-playing game, in its latest version.

What did you change?
I’ve made a few changes in chapter I to make weapons more streamlined and interesting. I explain these changes in chapter II. In these two chapters, I used asterisks to indicate what was changed. One asterisk (*) means I changed the traits of a weapon that already existed. Two asterisks (**) mean that the weapon or property are not in the original rules.

Must I use the entire book at once?
Not really. The chapters are modular. You can choose which ones to use, or even choose what paragraphs or single weapons to add to your game.

Chapter I contains a list of weapons and their properties. If you want to use this book only to find new weapons, without any tinkering, or you don’t care for designer’s notes and analysis of the game mechanics, this is the chapter you’re going to use.
Chapter II is a brief weapon-by-weapon analysis and description. It describes existing weapons and explains why I have made some of the changes I made in chapter I.
Chapter III is a melee weapon builder, made so that you can create your own weapons or change existing ones.
Chapter IV is a list of loose ideas to alter weapons further, or add even more weapons to your game. Unlike chapter I, however, chapter IV discusses significant changes to the game mechanics.

Buy it here!


  1. Hmm if it was more money i would buy it

  2. A very interesting, and well-wrought work. It's interesting to look at the weapon list that I produced side by side with yours and compare and contrast some of the changes added to old weapons, as well as the differences between weapons that we both added.

    As of the point I am typing this out, I have not finished reading the later chapters, but it I am most certainly appreciating what I am seeing so far.

    1. Oh, and as an aside, giving the Staff Sling a better range than 30/120 is a great call, and I don't know quite how I managed to think /just/ improving the damage would make sense.

    2. I /do/ disagree with your use of the Falchion specifically for the one-handed equivalent of the Longsword, insofar as Falchions could in fact be one OR two-handed, but I appreciate that this was definitely a niche that needed filling, regardless of the word choice.

    3. That is an interesting point. IIRC at least some falchions were one-handed... There are many options to fill this niche, none perfect IMO (seax, basket-hilted sword, "broadsword", machete), so I went with falchion.

    4. Oh, it is definitely true that there were one-handed falchions, and all of the other options listed above definitely have their own problems. This is why I generally prefer "arming sword" for that niche, as the term is generally associated specifically with one-handed swords (especially in the usage of said swords in accompaniment with shields), and it seems fitting when we also have the longsword as the Versatile, larger version that would be between it and the Greatsword.

    5. Mind you, I don't mean to criticize your choice harshly. Certainly, it works well enough, and one usually _does_ think of the one-handed version of the Falchion when one thinks of such swords, generally. It also does well to emphasize the cutting aspect of the weapon niche.

    6. Oh, don't worry, I appreciate the feedback! "Arming sword" is certainly a good alternative that I hadn't considered; you're right in saying that it emphasizes the "one handed" aspect, but not so much the "slashing" aspect.

  3. I do appreciate your attempt to differentiate Glaive and Halberd mechanically to a greater extent than my solution of just giving the Halberd piercing as well (though adding multiple damage type options still feels right to me).

    Incorporating hooking into potential combat styles (as opposed to fighting styles) with certain weapons is definitely a choice that adds a feeling of verisimilitude to their design, and the glaive's added damage against large opponents is both a nice throwback [obviously referencing AD&D's s/m and l damage differences for weapons] and something that feels like it is realistic, as well (after all, halberds' spikes might get in the way of a clean cut if the opponent is not human-sized; whereas a pure blade on a stick seems good for such hewing action).

    1. I'd just like to say, by the way, that I love your weapon designing system laid out in here.

      I am thinking of making/implementing a sword that was Two-Handed, 1d10, and had Finesse? These properties seem to balance each other out pretty well, and would allow [non-monk] dexterity-based characters to potentially choose to use a two-handed weapon that is not ranged for the first time in 5e.

      While it would not have the advantage of Reach or the 1d12/2d6 of other martial weapons in a similar category, and you wouldn't be able to choose to do 1d8 with one-handing [which would not be fair, because it would step on the territory of the longsword and company], it would seem very flavorful and nice to actually have a dex-y martial weapon that would also be the first Martial Weapon with Two-handed but not Heavy.

      (I would probably make this weapon piercing and call it an Estoc, for reasons of my appreciation for historically-based weapons in D&D.)

    2. Thanks for all your kind words and feedback. It is very useful to see how these ideas were received.

      You're right about the throwback to AD&D. :)

      I do agree lots of weapons should have multiple types of damage. This adds another layer of detail to weapons.

      d10, two-hand and finesse seems balanced to me. I've considered making some weapons finesse WHILE used in two-hands. It makes sense, IMO, since holding a weapon with 2H requires less Strength. And also flavorful for some weapons. For example, I can see a Dexterous warrior using a spear in two hands, while a hoplite with spear and shield requires Strength. Balance-wise, it wouldn't be a problem; if you're using a weapon because it has finesse, the fact that you can use it one-handed WITHOUT finesse is no great boon...

      So, having a longsword or Estoc, for example, gain finesse while held in two-hands would be ok, IMO. In practice, it would rarely if ever be used in one hand for dexterous PCs.

      However, I didn't implement this idea because I think it would sound too complex.

    3. Indeed, it is an interesting idea, adding Finesse capacity with certain Special conditions. To be fair, I was meaning to suggest the Estoc in particular be two-handed *only,* but this miscommunication/misunderstanding has certainly borne pleasant fruit.

      While I agree that it might be a bit too much complexity, the Longsword gaining Finesse in two hands *does* make for a nice bit of realism, and would give it more reason to be picked over the Greatsword or Rapier/Saber in certain circumstances.

    4. Heck, if the Estoc were included as a two-handed finesse weapon, allowing Finesse for two-handed longsword use might also make Longsword an interesting alternative to it that is not functionally identical for those who would only be using it two-handed, but only more useful and/or flavorful for those wanting their Finesse weapon to be piercing.

    5. Yes, that would add a lot of (much needed) nuance to 5e weapons!