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

Friday, April 19, 2024

Special weapon maneuvers

Another quick idea on how to differentiate weapons. in old-school D&D - somewhat simpler than AD&D, but potentially more varied than B/X:

Give each weapon a Speed Factor (SF) or a Defeat Armor (DA) rating, maybe both.

This is entirely optional for players; it is only relevant when they decide to use a special maneuver.

Here are some maneuvers.

Quick attack.
Make two attacks instead of one, each with a penalty equal to SF. If attacking with a different weapon in each hand, you can add +2 to your main hand. This replaces the usual two-weapon fighting rules from AD&D.

Armor bash.
Make an attack with a +4 bonus against an opponent wearing armor (chain or better), but the damage gets reduced (this can be expressed in a percentage; not sure yet).

Other maneuvers can be added as needed: forceful attack (-4 to-hit, +4 damage), defensive attack (-4 to-hit, +4 AC against one single opponent), ignore shield (+1 to attack but -2 damage unless using a flail, etc.) etc.

Maybe all numbers default to 4, leaving other stats optional.

For example, you could have:

Mace, 1d6, SF 6, DA 80%, Parry 2.
Long-sword, 1d8, SF 6, DA 30%, Parry 5.
Battle-axe, 1d8, SF 7, DA 50%, Parry 4.

And either use each stat as appropriate, or ignore all stats and use +4/-4 to all maneuvers.

So the mace is good against armor, but only when you choose to use it this way (+4 to-hit, 80% damage).

Alternatively, just remove all weapon details (except damage) and leave this to the (optional) maneuvers section. 

These would give fighters more options both when picking weapons and during combat, but also allow you to ignore weapon stats whenever desired.


  1. This might be simultaneously simplifying and complicating your idea, but I'm wondering if you could come up with a single number for each weapon that could be the basis for all the modifiers for the quick/2-weapon attack and the bash/defeat armor attack.

    Maybe start by adding the value of the weapon die (4, 6, 8, or 10) and the weapon weight in pounds (a tenth of the coin weight, which would range from 1 to 15).

    So, a dagger (d4, weight 1) would get a rating of 5, while polearms and two-handed swords (d10, weight 15) would get ratings of 25.

    Then manipulate that rating to get the bonuses or penalties. To keep it simple, maybe one fifth of that rating could be the penalty for a quick attack (so ranging from -1 for a dagger to -5 for the two-handers) and also the bonus for a bash (+1 for a dagger to +5 for the two-handers).

    If those values are too extreme, and if you want, say, the dagger not to give any bash bonus and the polearm no quick-attack bonus, you could subtract 1 from the initial rating at the start:

    Weapon rating = die value + pound-weight - 1

    So a dagger is -0 penalty for a quick attack but +0 for a bash, while the polearm is -4 for quick attack but +4 for bash.

    You'd probably want to tweak the rating for individual weapons to account for things like bashes by blunt weapons (because short swords and mace have identical weight and damage, but maybe a mace should bash better). But if you could keep it to a single number for each weapon, it would be easier to incorporate it into a game.

    But it might be trickier to work that rating system into your other maneuvers, like forceful attack and defensive attack.

    1. This is a good idea.

      SF would work well here; heavier weapons are slower but better against heavy armor.

      And just using weight (in pounds) would alleviate the need for SF, which is great, with a few exceptions (a mace is lighter than a long spear but should be better against plate, the short sword x mace you mention, etc.)

      I've played with these ideas before, I'm going back and forth on how much weapon detail I'd need.