Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Melee Weapons vs. Armour Class, Take..Oh, Who the Hell Knows?

Maybe I'll just make this a continuing feature and create a new Weapon vs. AC Chart every week forever.  I could rename the blog, "A Weapon Chart a Week".

Oh, you know I'm joking.  Actually, the version below is the best one I've done in my grossly-informed opinion.  The key really was to simplify Armour Class by getting rid of the weird, Jan Brady, "Studded" category.  With that gone, the thing almost rewrote itself.

What do I like about this version?  Notably, I was able to get rid of the weird way in which heavier armour was sometimes less useful than lighter armour (a varietal of Bulletproof Nudity, I suppose).  In this iteration, heavier armour always improves your defenses, but to differing degrees depending upon the weapon.  That's what I wanted all along, but couldn't seem to get before.

Additionally, I feel that this version makes weapon selection a bit more interesting.  The Sword is the best weapon for whacking naked people, followed by the Axe, with the Spear and the Mace tying for 3rd place.  Moving to Leather Armour, the line-up is much the same, except that the bludgeoning weapons drop in effectiveness and Spears and Axes tie for 2nd place.  With Chain, the Spear takes pride of place, with Maces and Axes in 2nd, and the Sword dropping to 3rd.  Concluding with Plate, the Mace is now superior, with the Axe in 2nd, and Swords and Spears in 3rd.  

This has a neat dynamic to it in my mind: no weapon is clearly the best (unlike the fabled longsword in AD&D).  The Spear is generally a less optimal option, but has the advantages of being cheap, throw-able, able to set vs. charge, and being very effectively as a lance.  One might expect the rationale fighting-man to carry a spear in hand, with a sword, axe, or mace in his belt.  He could cast the spear at an approaching enemy (unless clad in hauberks), and then use a more effective weapon.  And, what do you know, this turns out to be exactly what lots of folks actually did.

The Flail is the other tricky one: it is essentially a slightly poorer bludgeon, but with the advantage of going around Shields and Parrying weapons.  Now, that's not totally realistic, but it keeps the tactical element: a Flail ends up being equivalent to a Mace when used against a parrying opponent, and slightly better when used against a shield-bearer.  I'm still debating whether to swipe the wonderful rule from Pendragon wherein a fumble with a Flail means you hit yourself (I love that rule).

Finally, the Fist/Foot and Club/Stick/Rock categories are clearly worse-case scenarios, with the chart giving some advantage to using even a bone as a weapon rather than the bare fist (shades of Samson).  As I mentioned previously: this isn't a wuxia game.  One little thing I just thought of is that if one's weapon breaks (all non-metal weapons break when you roll snake-eyes), you can keep attacking with the broken haft as a club.  I have a cool image in my head of a Dying Sun bad-ass laying waste about him with only the handle of his axe in hand.

One further note: several of the wonderful commentators to my post on simplifying armour class, mentioned that they had abstracted the classes down to Light, Medium, and Heavy.  That is essentially what I have done here, with Leather=Light, Medium=Chain, and Heavy=Plate.  I gave some thought to changing my nomenclature as well, but have decided against it.  I'm playing a somewhat obscure game with names in Dying Sun; mechanically, I have reduced armour and weapons to abstract classes, but I have kept specific names.  Thus, I have the Weapon Class Sword instead of Bladed; Mace/Hammer rather than Bludgeon, and so on and I intend to do the same with Armour Classes.  Why?  I find those generic names very uninspiring.   I also can't help but think that newer gamers would find them confusing.  I may be wrong about that, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So, I end this post on a very hopeful note, sure to be greeted with huzzahs by all the faithful, imaginary readers: I think that this might really be the final Weapons vs. AC post on the blog.  Oh, I'll probably fiddle with specific numbers here and there (I am wondering the modifiers are a bit too low across the board), but I don't expect any major, substantive changes.

As long as you don't count Missile Weapons which I haven't even begun to tackle yet.  :)


  1. I could get behind everything in this post. One measure of "success" for rules is they're good when their mechanics lead to imagine things such as

    "I have a cool image in my head of a Dying Sun bad-ass laying waste about him with only the handle of his axe in hand."


  2. Cheers. I'm really looking forward to test-driving this: I shoudl be running a table-top play-test/demo in a couple of weeks.

  3. By all means, swipe the hit yourself rule for flails. Lord knows I've smacked myself enough time with nunchaku.