Friday, November 20, 2009

Choose Your Weapon

I was looking at my copy of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia the other day, and trying to think of a way to expand the selection of weapons available to the various classes. I understand that D&D, at least in that incarnation, is to a considerable extent a game of playing archetypes. At the same time, as a guy who understands the urge to do something that just looks cool, I came up with a simple houserule:

Any class can use any weapon, but if it's not on their list of allowed weapons, it inflicts either the damage listed for the weapon, or their class hit die in damage, whichever is lower.

This allows you make that sword-swinging wizard you always wanted to play - Gandalf used a sword, right? - without stepping on the fighter's toes. Your magic-user can use that sword (or battleaxe, or glaive-guisarme, or whatever) as much as he wants; it just inflicts 1d4 damage instead of the damage listed.

It's a pretty sloppy solution, and one I'm not entirely happy with, but if you're dead-set on making a sword-swinging magician, it allows you to do so. I think I prefer this "damage cap" to dealing with the attack penalty ascribed to using weapons not normally allowed to your class. Still, if I was really going to start gutting the Rules Cyclopedia, I'd probably do a full-scale overhaul of the way classes use weapons, based on the weapon mastery system.


  1. The simplicity of this solution is really appealing.

  2. I like this a lot.

    At the very least, it gets around the problem I've always had with weapon restrictions--even if you don't per se want to make a sword-slinging mage, what about those times that a mage might have need of picking up a sword, just for simple self-defense? (The fighter's gone down, the last kobold is charging at you...) What happens then?

    "Ugh, how am I supposed to use this thing? Do I hold it by the blade or what?"

    Whereas with this house rule, the mage can pick the sword up and swing it in the manner that he's seen his fighter buddy do--he's just not going to do very well at it. But maybe just enough to bring down that charging kobold...

  3. Effectively this means you might as well never use anything but the weapons on your list if you are playing using the Rules Cyclopedia - because that d4 damage sword can't stand up to the damage you can deal with a dagger using weapon mastery.

  4. Right, which is why I said it's sloppy and that I'm not entirely happy with it, and also why I said if I was really going to tinker with the RC, I'd rather rework things with weapon mastery as a starting point.

    So yes, my idea doesn't play nice with weapon mastery, but if you're not using weapon mastery (as many don't) I guess it's not too bad.

  5. I actually think its brilliant, especially for the fact that its so blessedly simple and would aid in keeping a fast paced game alive as per sirlarkins example.

  6. Thanks. Sorry to get so defensive about it...

  7. I was considering letting any character use any weapon next time I run Cyclpedic. Even if they can do 1d8 damage with a sword, I don't see the magic-users getting on the front line with fighters any time soon... they can't wear armor and they have far fewer hit points, and they also have a much lower chance to to hit with a sword at most levels. I also intend to be a stickler about having hands free to cast a spell, so wizards are unlikely to drag around polearms and whatnot.

  8. Another option to consider is having the weapon do the next die down in damage (i.e. a d8 sword in the hands of a wizard does d6)

  9. In my game, I have weapons categorized as:
    Light: 1d6
    Medium: 1d8
    Heavy: 2d6

    Fighters gain a +1 to damage for every level they possess, and and any class can use any weapons

    (my game is a bastardized mix of various house rules built off of a base of B/X notes, so YMMV)