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March 11, 2007 / jadettman

Thoughts on Weapons and Range

I’ve been noodling around with another iteration of Codename: Monster lately, this time after thinking about the complexity of D&D and re-reading some of my earlier posts.

This time, I’ve been thinking about weapons, damage, and range.

A lot of time seems to be spent during character creation deciding which weapons a character will use. Not because of style, or anything so ephemeral as taste, but purely from the mechanical standpoint that different weapons inflict different amounts of damage and have different drawbacks.

Now, I can see some argument for different weapons doing different amounts of damage from a verisimilitude standpoint. That is one of the reasons that different weapons exist (leaving aside cultural and regional issues in weapon design).

However, is it really necessary, or important, in a fantasy game what weapons the heroes use?

Personally, I don’t think it is. I’m generally of the opinion that a character’s skill with a weapon is nearly as important, if not more so, than the weapon itself.

So, for the newest iteration of Monster, I’ve been thinking of doing away with different damages entirely. Instead, I’m considering using the following system for damage:

Whenever a hero makes an attack roll, the margin of success of the roll is the damage of the attack.

Example: Marko the Might swings his great axe at Sneaky Pete. Marko has an attack skill of +5, rolls a 12 for a final attack of 17. Pete has a defense of 14 (base 10 plus his DEX modifier of +4). Marko successfully hits Pete with a margin of 3 (if we want to keep the usual D&D caveat, the margin would be added to Marko’s STR modifier [+3] to get a total damage of +6). Sneaky Pete takes some damage and we move on.

This works for me. It makes a hero’s skill more meaningful while speeding up combat by removing the damage roll. It might disadvantage players who can’t do basic math, but that is probably the case with current system too.

Now: Range. Weapon ranges are a bit of complexity that I also feel that an RPG doesn’t need. Yes, they are artifacts of the system being built from a wargame. Yes, they are important if you use miniatures. No, I don’t care. 🙂

For Monster, I think I’m going to go with six simple range increments: Touch, Close, Short, Medium, Long, and Special.

Touch: This is melee/hand-to-hand combat range. Ranged weapons are largely useless at this range.

Close: This is extended melee range for things like polearms. Ranged weapons can be used but they won’t be as effective.

Short: This is the range for thrown weapons and the nearest effective range for Ranged weapons.

Medium: The effective range for ranged weapons. Too far for thrown or melee weapons.

Long: The longest useful range for Ranged weapons, though the weapon’s effectiveness will be reduced.

Special: Useful for magic or uncommon weapons that may exceed the normal ranges.

These ranges are fuzzy and that’s why I like them. There doesn’t have to be any of this 5-foot step nonsense, or worry about exactly how close you are to your opponent. The GM tells you that you that the enemy is at long range, or short range, and you know what to do. Simple.

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3 Comments

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  1. dani / Mar 12 2007 12:49 pm

    i’ve always thought that the margin by which one hits or misses should count for something… so far, i’ve used it for descriptive purposes, but damage is much better!

  2. Dan / Mar 17 2007 5:51 pm

    Well, I can see one problem in using this margin of attack being used to determine the damage done… There is an enormous variance in the damage done, of course, just because a d20 is the roll used for the attack roll.
    However, I think the basic idea is certainly one that should and could be adopted.

    Now there is some merit to the idea that a greatsword does more damage and is a better weapon for many circumstances than a dagger. However, knights did also always carry daggers for use when things got up close and personal, because you can’t use a longsword in those situations, let alone a great sword. But of course none of that is modeled in any RPG, nor am I certain that it really needs to be. Is that really something that M&M is going to concern itself with? I doubt it.

    But I guess there I feel that it’s worth having ‘classes’ of weapons, at the very least. So that a dagger and a greatsword aren’t considered completely equivalent.

  3. J.A. Dettman / Mar 17 2007 7:08 pm

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a little more and I have a couple answers.

    First, I’m very probably going to be using 2d10 for the majority of rolls. The distribution isn’t as flat without futzing with the DCs too much which I think is reasonable.

    Second, I agree with your concern about various weapons doing more base damage. The solution I’ve been thinking of is even in line with your comments. I’m going to give weapons different classes and then give them a basic damage bonus based on their class. So, a dagger would probably have a +0, while a sword might have a +1.

    Third, even though you didn’t ask, I’m going to go with a variable DR system for armor like in Iron Heroes to mitigate the huge amounts of variable damage.

    Oh, and I’m not using M&M as a base for the game. I’m fiddling with a pure d20 iteration at the moment.

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