Saturday, January 23, 2016

Uniform Weapon Damage

I've used uniform weapon damage (really uniform attack damage, since monsters don't always fight with tools) for my past two B/X game sessions, and I like it a lot. I was worried at first that players would balk at their "normal" swords and two-handed swords being reduced to the damage range of a short sword or bow, but all of us greatly enjoy the simplicity. No fiddling to consult one's sheet for the strength of one's chosen method of attack; just find a cube and toss it. This also works nicely with the spells provided in B/X, since magic missile now does slightly more potential damage than most weapons.

But now... we've started moving to AD&D2. One key mechanic of both versions of AD&D is the two categories of weapon damage: one for small- or medium-sized creatures (or smaller), and one for large-sized creatures (or larger). For most weapons, this is a step down in die size - it's harder to take down an ogre with daggers than it is to defeat an orc, no matter how few hit points the former has. But for some of the larger weapons, the damage die actually increases. This presumably reflects that more force can be put into a warhammer blow when the target is easier to hit.

I like this mechanic. But how would I have it alongside uniform weapon damage? To retain the type of speed I get in B/X, I can't have both. I'm thinking I'll stick with uniform for now (unless the players unanimously want variable), and try out the differing damage types when they face a Large opponent.

A broadsword, or a magic missile?
Ultimately, it doesn't matter!
(Pic from the Japanese Rules Cyclopedia)

EDIT 2016-01-27: Well, I feel like an idiot. I've gotten so dependent on Firefox spell-check that I misspelled "broadsword" in the above caption. Fixed now.


  1. Personally, I think "uniform damage" works fine with various size creatures. Consider that the weapon is on a "human scale" with the potential to deliver *up to* a killing blow against the average (D6 HP) non-combatant. Now consider the 4HD ogre: here's a large-sized creature capable of absorbing several "man-killing" blows (four or five) before expiring. Just because you bring a bigger sword (zwiehanders do...what? 3D6 to large creatures?) doesn't suddenly turn your fighter into Paul Bunyan.

    Here's an idea to add a little variety to your uniform damage: cap STR bonuses based on the weapon being used. If it's a single-handed weapon, the damage bonus cannot allow the result to exceed the maximum damage rolled; if it's a two-handed weapon, allow the excess (though perhaps only versus large monsters where a strong blow can penetrate the deeper mass of the creature). For example:

    STR 16 using a normal sword rolls a 5: damage = 6 (maximum).
    STR 16 using a battle axe rolls a 5: damage = 7 (at least versus large critters).

    Hope that makes sense.

    1. It certainly does make sense, and it's a pretty elegant idea to boot. I'll have to take note of this; thanks, JB!