Weapon Mechanics

He-Man Action Figure tries to choose a swordA lot of emphasis in Pathfinder is placed upon magical weapons and their properties. Since acquiring such weapons is one of the primary goals of adventurers, this is good and proper. But put magic aside for a moment. Magic can do anything, and it doesn’t really matter (save, perhaps, thematically) what type of weapon serves as a vessel for which magical effect. When we take the magic away, what are the fundamental differences between weapons? Why would a level 1 adventurer choose a spear over a trident, or a scimitar over a falchion?

As it stands, mundane weapons all have a few simple attributes:

  • Price, which may or may not matter. Personally I’ve been much happier since I started enforcing starting gold more strictly. But for many years I allowed players to select any mundane equipment they wanted, and I do see the appeal of that method.
  • Damage, separated into Small and Medium, to reflect the various sizes of player races.
  • Critical range, and multiplier.
  • Range, for projectile weapons, or weapons which can be thrown.
  • Weight, which nobody I’ve ever met, not even the grognardiest of grognards really seem to care about. Encumbrance is important. The difference between 11lb and 12lb isn’t.
  • Damage type, which can be bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage. Sometimes a combination of two is used.
  • Hands Needed, which can be Two, One, or ‘light.’ (One handed weapons can be used with two hands optionally, while light weapons cannot.)
  • Complexity Category, which Pathfinder uses to help determine proficiency. The categories are Simple, Martial, and Exotic.
  • Some weapons have special properties, such as being ‘reach’ or ‘brace’ weapons. Other weapons are easier to use with certain combat maneuvers, such as tripping or disarming.

It’s not exactly a comprehensive representation of the differences between various weapons, but aside from overly precise weapon weight, it works well. After all, Pathfinder is a game, and everything needs to be simplified to help the game run smoothly. Excessive realism has a way of making a game tedious. None the less, I wonder if mundane weapons could be made more varied and interesting.

Below is a list I’ve compiled of weapon mechanics. Some are ready to be implemented, while others would need their mechanics refined. Individually, I think each could be included in a game without making in overly complex. Collectively, however, they would probably be too much. I’d like to hear more ideas in the comments if you have any. I’m particularly curious to know if other games have mechanics I didn’t think of.

Various Medieval Weapons 1 - Artist UnknownTwo-Handed Damage: In Pathfinder, a weapon wielded in your off hand gains half of your strength modifier to its damage, one in your main hand gains your full strength modifier, and one in both hands gains 150% of your strength modifier as damage. Calculating the strength bonus with decimal places is both unnecessarily complicated, and insufficient to influence the player’s decision. Make it simple: Offhand weapons get no strength bonus, main hand weapons get full strength bonus, and two handed weapons get double strength bonus.

Throwability: Pathfinder’s throwing weapon status is binary. Either a weapon is meant for throwing, or it is not. It could be fun if there were three options. A dagger or javelin can be thrown with no penalties. A rapier or a scythe would take a full -6 penalty on any thrown attack roll. Some weapons, like a spear, battleaxe, or longsword would take only a -3 penalty to throwing them. They’re not designed to be thrown, but they’re similar enough to weapons which are that it’s a feasible tactic. Weapons like whips and flails should be un-throwable.

Finesse and Cleave Weapons: Credit for this idea must be given to D&D 5th Edition, and to Jack. He shared the idea in the comments for my post on the Wide Swing Dilemma, and it is largely his creation. He’s got a nifty blog where I’ve got a whole tag all to myself.

In Pathfinder, Finesse is a feat which allows characters to use their dexterity instead of their strength to modify an attack roll when using light weapons. Cleave is a feat which allows a player to attack multiple enemies in a single turn. The idea here is to remove both feats, and instead make them an intrinsic property of certain weapons. A rapier or dagger, for example, would always have its attack rolls modified by dexterity rather than strength. Likewise, a two handed waraxe would always enable a character to take a swing at 2 or 3 enemies at a time, so long as all of them could be hit with a single arcing swing.

Speed: Each weapon would have a speed number associated with it. That number would be the amount of iterative attacks it was possible to make with that weapon on a given turn. A two handed war hammer, for example, might have a speed of 2 or 3 at most. While a dagger might have a speed of 10. Note that these iterative attacks are not entitlements, they are maximums. A character would need to work hard and level up before they were able to make multiple attacks during a single round, but a two handed war hammer would never be able to make more than 3 attacks, no matter how high level the character became.

Various Medieval Weapons 2 - Artist UnknownSpace To Use: A two handed axe is not the best weapon to have in a 3ft wide cavern. You can make some use of it, but it would be at an extreme penalty. I suggest three types of weapons. First, those which require only personal space. These would work anywhere that a character could fit comfortably, and would include weapons like a dagger, blowgun, or rapier. Weapons with a 10ft space to use would require an area at least 10ft wide to use comfortably, and in smaller spaces they would take a -4 penalty to attack rolls. This would include any weapon like a longsword or axe, which requires a wide swing. Finally there would be 15ft or larger weapons. These would mostly be weapons with reach, such as a whip, spiked chain, or trident. They would take a -4 penalty in spaces less than 15ft wide. In some spaces they might be impossible to use. A whip, for example, is completely useless if you don’t have room to swing it. And a 7ft long trident isn’t much use when you’re attacked from behind in a corridor 5ft square.

Both Speed and Space to Use are included in AD&D 1st edition. I am not very familiar with the relevant rules, however, so the above are concocted from my own suppositions on how such rules might work in a game.

Strength/Dexterity To Use: Composite bows already do something similar to this. Each composite bow has a strength rating, and a character must be at least that strong in order to be proficient in the weapon. This would apply the same concept to other weapons. Using a rapier or whip proficiently, for example, would require a dexterity of no less than 14. While a two handed warhammer would require a similar amount of strength. A character without a sufficient ability score could still used the weapon, but they would never be able to become proficient in it.

Training Time: This would replace Pathfinder’s weapon proficiency system. Each weapon would have a pair of training numbers indicating how long it takes to become proficient in the weapon. A dagger, for example, would be 2/4. If a character wishes to become proficient with a dagger, they simply need to take it with them into battle. The character is considered non proficient with the weapon, and all attack rolls are made with a -4 penalty. Anytime the character gains at least 2 experience* from a battle where they successfully dealt damage using the dagger, they put a tally mark next to the weapon. Once they have a number of tally marks equaling the first number (in this case, 2) their attack penalty is reduced to -2. Once they have a number of tally marks equal to the second number, they are considered proficient with the weapon and no longer take any penalties associated with using it.

Each class starts out already being proficient with a number of weapons. For fighters, all training times are reduced by half (rounding up).

*This is in reference to the Simple XP System I use.

Weapon Vs. Armor Type: This is another 1st edition rule which I know very little about. I like the concept, and would be interested in seeing it in play, however I have no real original ideas on how to implement it (yet). Instead, I would direct you to a post over at Delta’s D&D Hotspot which proposes pretty much what I think I would come up with. (I seem to have a tendency to reduce everything to 3 groups).

Hold at Range: A few weapons, like a spear or a trident, naturally lend themselves to keeping someone at range. At the end of each turn while using such a weapon, the player may indicate that they would like to keep a foe they just attacked at bay. When the character does this, they gain a -2 Dexterity penalty to AC against all other enemies. If their designated enemy attempts to move closer, then the character gets an automatic attack of opportunity against their foe. If the attack succeeds, then the foe’s movement is halted and they cannot move any more on that turn.

Parry Bonus to AC: I’m not 100% convinced that this is a good idea. To some degree, the parry is already included in a character’s AC as part of their dexterity. However, some weapons lend themselves better to defense than others do. Neither a very short weapon, like a dagger, nor a very long weapon, like a scythe, would be well suited to aiding in defense. This, I think, has the potential to be the mid-sized weapon’s biggest advantage vs. smaller faster weapons, and larger harder-hitting weapons.

Weapon Damage and Repair: This is hardly a new idea, which never seems to survive long because tracking weapon damage is too much hassle. I’m not sure how that problem could be resolved, but I would very much enjoy seeing this element in a game if it were possible. It would be particularly interesting when combined with my new crafting system. (Which, I swear, I’m going to post eventually).

Alternate Attack Surfaces: The party encounters a band of skeletons. This is unfortunate, because they’ve all come equipped with spears and tridents. Since they only have piercing weapons it will be difficult to kill the skeletons, who have DR 5/Bludgeoning. Then the bard has a wacky idea: what if they turn their weapons around and hit the skeletons with the shaft instead of the points? Many weapons seem as though they would be simple to use in other ways, to achieve a different type of damage. It’s pretty difficult to use a weapon when you’re striking with the flat of the blade or the pommel, so I could understand if many weapons did not have alternate damage types. But what could be simpler than using a spear as a quarterstaff, or a scythe as a piecing weapon?

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26 thoughts on “Weapon Mechanics”

  1. This post is timely, as I have been thinking about some of these things also recently. I have a post about multiple attacks by weapon type done and another about holding enemies at bay that I am working on.

    I think the two-handed damage option above is a bit much; isn’t the extra damage caused by a two-handed weapon already embodied in the damage die? Doubling the strength bonus seems like double-dipping, and in practical terms I think it might incent players overly to use two-handed weapons. Consider a 18 strength character using a 2-handed sword. That’s a +8 damage bonus, even before any other bonuses. Things like specialization also grand damage bonuses in Pathfinder, no?

    One thing I’ve been playing around with is making per-weapon abilities only available to fighters. It would be a nice perk, and would mean that a player was opting into that sort of complexity by choosing to play a fighter (much like a wizard player is opting into the complexity of selecting and managing spells). That would make the fighter into the “weapons class” which has always seemed like the right thing to me.

    By the way, great Masters of the Universe picture.

    1. My idea bout bumping two handed up and bumping off handed down seems to be pretty controversial. This post ended up on Reddit, and they didn’t seem to like that idea either. Though, for different reasons I think.

      You make a good point: it is a lot of damage. But consider also the fact that a two handed weapon will be very slow compared to smaller weapons (reducing the number of possible attacks per round.) Consider also that it would require more space to use, again reducing its effectiveness.

      The most important factor there, though, is the Shields Shall be Splintered rule. (I believe you’ve mentioned it before yourself, so I won’t bother explaining). That significantly increases the utility of a shield, and overshadows the additional damage dice offered by two handed weapons.

      As I said on Reddit, though: It’s honestly just a thought. I find the adding of 1/2 of a modifier to be annoying, and this seemed like a good fix. But maybe it is unbalancing. i’m not sure.

      Regarding Weapon Specialization: yes, it increases damage with a weapon by either 1 or 2, I forget which. It actually already is a fighter only feat, which I find annoying and don’t enforce in my games. The feat already has some heft prerequisites (Weapon focus feat and a minimum BAB if I recall). So if a character of another class wants to take it, I don’t see why not.

      I do like the idea of the fighter as the “weapon class,” though. Pathfinder gives them a number of really well suited class abilities to build on that idea, enabling them to become more proficient with both weapons and armor than other classes can.

      I look forward to your posts on weapons! This post was a really engaging thought experiment, and got me more excited about tabletop RPG theory than I have been in awhile.

      1. Do you have a link to the Reddit conversation? I don’t follow Reddit, and I couldn’t find it with Google.

        I am actually not a fan of the splintering shields rule. For one thing, it functions sort of like a fate point, which I don’t like; characters are not really threatened until they have burned through their shields. I think Courtney wrote a good post about that over at Hack & Slash. Yeah, here we go:


        Also, it eats into verisimilitude for me, and pushes PCs to carry multiple shields (which seems odd). I realize that this is subjective, but all I can picture is whack (block), whack (block), whack (explode into splinters). :-)

        1. I don’t actually follow reddit either, but I do monitor my traffic like a hawk:


          It seems I’m not very popular. =P

          I am really just a huge fan of the Shields Shall Be Splintered rule. As someone else said, it’s the rule which made shields seem real to me. Before I’d always kinda viewed them as a ‘stat stick.’ An item which increased your AC, but could otherwise be ignored.

          I never really made the connection to hero/fate/action points. To use your terminology, I always hated those because they represent mechanics-first deisgn. Whereas Shields Shall Be Splintered represents meaning first design.

          I’ll be sure to read Courtney’s post once I’m more free to do so.

  2. I have started tinkering with a “Shields shall be Splintered” variant that feels a bit more “realistic”. A mere +1 AC has always seemed so…uninspiring. So, instead, shields do not provide any bonus to AC at all (bonus points for no longer needing a shieldless AC score). Once per turn, someone wielding a shield can block a single hit, reducing its damage by d6 (d8 would be more appropriate for Pathfinder). If the max value is rolled, and the attack causes more than this value, the shield is damaged (wooden shields are outright destroyed). Damaged shields have their absorb die reduced by one die type and are destroyed by a second damage result.

    Improvised shields (pick up a chair) block d3.

    Magical shields apply their bonus to the die roll, and can only be damaged/destroyed by magical weapons which have a plus greater or equal to their own.

    Also thinking that shield size would effect the number of attacks that could be blocked each turn (1 for small, 2 for medium, 3 for large).

    Love your idea about weapon proficiencies using base STR/DEX values instead of limitations by class.

  3. I agree on the shields shall be splintered being a bit like Fate Points that players can buy with gold. Honestly I find if used sparingly the fate points or hero points as they are called by pathfinder can really add to the game. I actually use one of two systems that my players choose which to use. I have a ‘Karma’ to where my players have 2 pools of points + or – based on there actions and whenever an event that effects the story happens those pools determine what happens to the player. or they can choose the hero points system -n which they only gain a hero point if they commit a heroic act and if the commit a villainous act they lose a point. They can only have 1 point/level and can only be used for a very limited number of actions.

    Either way back on topic: while these rules are interesting they seem… odd to me… I mean I can see them being used but overall they would really throw the game off. Heck the campaign that got me started again in P&P RPGs was a D&D 3.5 campaign where our DM (who was dming for the first time and tried rewriting most rules) didn’t allow us to use our strength bonus to attacks because he made a bet with me and I proved him wrong so he claimed I lost because I couldn’t show him proof that it was allowed to be used on natural attacks. While he wouldn’t let us use the Str still used it on creatures and was intentionally trying to kill us to fuel his ‘I’m the DM so I am God’ ego. OK sorry for rambling it is just as the 3.5/Pathfinder rules are everything fits nicely. You start changing str bonuses for weapons you have to change them for monsters as well or else you unbalance the game…

    Does that make sense?

    and sorry if I sound a bit like a jerk… it is just I have seen things get thrown out of balance and a gm/dm/whatever ruin the game with a single mistake… and some of these rules would require way to drastic of system changes that miggroup not seem apparent but are very apparent. And making certain character concepts worthless…

    1. It makes total sense, one small innocent tweak can have unforseen consequences. I think that is some of the reason people like to post their house rules, to get other people to poke holes in them that the author didn’t see.

      That is a rough story about your DM, though I think we all have played in games like that of some sort over time, especially when younger. My favorite was a friend who was DMing a one off and had his own character come in to save the day, and of course take the treasure…

      1. Sorry I’m bad at wording and explaining opinions and tend to get long winded on seemingly unrelated tangents. What I was getting at is a lot of GMs end up biting off more than they can chew or don’t understand how doing an action in real life works (something that can also be said for some game designers). Take weapon finesse most people don’t get the theory behind it other than letting high DEX characters be a bit better in melee. Feats represent the training and practice to perform things that aren’t exactly easy. While anyone can pick up a rapier and fight with it but only a trained fencer can strike with the acute accuracy required to effectively use the blade. And on the parrying weapons you say it excludes dagger well need i point out one of the greatest parrying weapons is the partner to the rapier: The parrying dagger. Also read some polearm descriptions about the actual weapons it might help with the parrying quality especially how vlad the impaler used his halberds and how other nations took that concept.

        In eccense the concepts while creative lack any real input from real practices used with the theories behind them.

        And i really hope that makes sense. In the end most of these rules would require an entire book similar to Unearthed Arcana to discuss all the changes required for these rules. Heck put these changes into effect and change them throughout the system and you could have Pathfinder 2nd Edition. But they actually feel more like something for D&D 4E. don’t know if this was intentional or not. And sorry about comparing them to 4e but I get a similar feeling with these rules as I got when I read the versatile weapon rule in 4e.

        They make sense in relation to most modern expectations but nothing is as you expect it. If you don’t mind LS, I can put my spin on them and post them some where.

        Oh and before I forget. Where are you getting decimals? You always round down. It is fairly easy to do. In fact how I always do it is decrease the number to the nearest even number then divide by 2. While it sounds complicated it is really easy. Plus a general rule of thumb I have learned is always have at least one calculator on hand.

        1. You seem to be under the impression that I’m trying to create house rules for people to use in their games. That is not my intent.

          I am using Pathfinder as a platform to theorize. It’s just the structure which is most convenient for me as I ponder various mechanical possibilities.

          Other posts on this blog relate more directly to Pathfinder, and how it can be played. But this post is about theory.

          1. I understand that they are just theory. Now I am going off of a scientific theorization methods which you may not be. but a theory is meant to be changed and evolved into a viable item. as it stands so far only the Alternate surfaces and hold at range would be easy to implement. With the alternate surfaces being either a feat or some form of special action like Fighting defensively that imposes a negative modifier and alters the damage type. Also on the space required one i can tell you that a trident is surprisingly easier to use in tighter spaces as are a lot of stabbing weapon.

            What im getting at is theories are meant to help design final product. If the theory would require reworking much of the system then it most likely wouldnt be very usable in practice. This is something i learned from trying to build my own gaming systems.

            Look at your parry bonus to ac you say it has the potential to be the mid-sized weapons biggest advantage against other weapons despite the fact that in reality any weapon can be usession to parry. In fact most shorter weapons and Polearms actually are better for it than say a longsword. Though this style of combat is represented already in the found of fighting defensively or even going total defense. The theory behind it is already there in the R.A.W.

            The space to weild is counter intuitive as a spear is more effective down a constricted hallway than anywhere else as the enemy has a harder time dodging it effectively.

            What I’m saying is these are good ideas, but as the old saying “there III s nothing new understand under the sun.

            An old RPG had it to where you could choose to take a negative to hit in exchange for a parry bonus on your defense rolls for a turn. This actually evolved into it’s modern day fight on the defensive action.

            Look closer at the rules and you see most theories have been tested in the past 80 years that pen-&-paper games have existed en masse. Once you discover what has been done you can find the few that haven’t been done. At least not in said system.

        2. Let me step in here for a moment…

          “Feats represent the training and practice to perform things that aren’t exactly easy.”

          While that may be true in general, I don’t feel it’s true in this case. After all, Classes in Pathfinder/D&D3.5 all have a list of Weapon Proficiencies, which means they’re trained with those weapons. So someone with Weapon Proficiency – Rapier is already proficient with the rapier (that feels like it should be obvious). Why would a fencer ever use his strength rather than his finesse? And even if you’re untrained in using the rapier, it’s effectiveness is going to be based more on your DEX than your STR (and the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing is included in the -4 penalty to hit for using a non-proficient weapon).

          1. Proficiency represents low-level training in most unique weapons such as the rapier. While feats represent higher level training. Also most early rapiers were used in the old line and column fighting similar to the roman gladius. fencing is more one-on-one which is higher level training originally it was a short thin blade made specifically to reduce costs and material to makeit. it also had the benefit of being easy to use to parry and was hard to anticipate. It was reated by germanic gauls for use by women and children should they have to defend a doorway or gate.

            1. “Proficiency represents low-level training in most unique weapons such as the rapier. While feats represent higher level training.”

              And that’s a valid assumption that I disagree with.

              1. “The rapier as we know it to day is a highly specialized weapon. While anyone trained in sword fighting and sword play can use it. Only someone trained in using a weapon with pin-point accuracy can use this weapon to its full effect.”
                -Medieval Quartermaster’s Manual of Arms And Armour.

                The French and Spanish adapted a Roman gladiatorial fighting style for use in duels and skirmish combat with a longer form of the rapier which is now known as an Epee. While that might be reasonable for an elf or rogue not so much for a fighter who gets their training from the military whochre in essence is still fighting with rank-and-file formations in with they would only be taught the basic hold here stab like this. If they were even taught to use a rapier at all.
                You have to remember that the rapier was originally 1-1/2 feet long and only around an inch wide. It was a sidearm to a spear, halberd, glaive, or another polearm.

                1. “not so much for a fighter who gets their training from the military whochre in essence is still fighting with rank-and-file formations in with they would only be taught the basic hold here stab like this.”

                  Again, a valid assumption that I disagree with.

                  I’m not arguing against your mastery of real-world martial arts and history, I’m merely questioning it’s applicability to my game. I think you’ve got a well-formed argument, I’m merely dismissing it because I don’t feel it adds anything meaningful to my game world. Everything you’ve said I can roll into my sense of “proficiency means you’re trained to use it” and “the effectiveness of a rapier is based more on Dex than Str, regardless of proficiency.”

                  1. Now I am not like most other people and I give people certain bonus feats and XP based on their in game down time training. They can only take specific feats. I have been known to give these bonuses to level one characters for a well designed background. In fact I am working on a post about out of combat experience and bonuses and balancing them in the game. In essence a fighter who is a veteran soldier I might give skill focus profession(soldier) if they describe a fight or training in detail. While I have given W. Finesse to an elf rogue who described his fencing and stealth training.

                    1. I think that’s your fundamental question, are the adventures wandering or retired (of deserting) soldiers? Or are they trained for adventuring? (Or dueling, or assassination….)

  4. Kept meaning to read this one, because anything that makes combat more than just “I swing my sword again” is a good idea in my book (though, maybe not a practical one…). Some thoughts:

    Two-Handed Damage: I don’t have strong feelings on this; at least in D&D/PF the assumption is “round down”), so half-scores are +0, +1, +1, +2, +2, etc. If I had any complaints, they would be that (1) Double-strength doesn’t have any meaning for most ‘regular’ people, and (2) How does this work with negative modifiers? Does a -2 become a -3 or a -1?

    Throwability: It’s been a while since I checked, but I’m pretty sure Pathfinder also includes range increments; a lower increment means it becomes less accurate with distance, so things that have better “throwability” have better increments. I’d like to see it used to better effect, maybe, but I don’t think it needs to be more complex than that.

    Finesse and Cleave Weapons: This is kind of a great idea, and that Jack fellow must be a fairly clever chap.

    Speed: I’ve struggled with this one for quite a bit; it really comes down to “how abstract is combat.” I mean, a round is 6 seconds long, do you mean to tell me you only swing your dagger once in 6 seconds? I suppose that could be true — I’m not an expert knife fighter, so I can’t really say — but it feels wrong. What seems more likely is that an attack roll sums up an entire maneuver, possibly a series of swings depending on your weapon, and the outcome of those “attacks.” Or maybe it is just one-roll-one-swing, I don’t know.

    Space To Use: I like this idea, but I think it needs to be considered pretty carefully. As noted elsewhere, stabby/piercing weapons probably don’t need much space at all to use effectively as long as your pointing it the right way. And if we start considering how your weapon is pointing now we start to get into questions about Facing rules, and is that really where we want to take this?

    Strength/Dexterity To Use: I generally like this idea on it’s face, but I think it needs to be considered carefully. See my recent post on Ability Score Assumptions to see what I mean — a 14 is essentially “genius level” ability, and that’s kind of a steep requirement to levy for swinging a piece of metal. Although, the idea of having DEX or INT requirements interests me…

    Training Time: Not a bad idea, but not one I’m really a fan of. I am kind of interested in limiting the proficiencies available to characters, though; I can understand a Fighter being proficient in pretty much every weapon, but I think I’d like to see Rangers, Rogues, Paladins and the like choose a small handful instead of just getting everything. Bonus for making Fighters once again the real weapons experts.

    Weapon Vs. Armor Type: I haven’t read Delta’s post, but I’ve been interested in this for a while. Either reduce Armor’s bonus against certain damage types (ie, maybe chain is -1 vs Bludgeoning, or +1 vs Piercing), or change Armor from an AC bonus to Damage Reduction, and reduce or bypass the reduction with certain damage types (less a fan of that idea, I think). Different armors were made to counter different weapons, after all.

    Hold at Range: Meh. I figure this is already assumed with the Reach quality (that they’ll stay back or get hit, not that you can make free AoOs). I guess it makes more of a difference if a foe can get in behind your guard, to where you can’t effectively hit them with your spear, etc.

    Parry Bonus to AC: I’m also not too keen on this idea, but that may just be because I don’t care to think about it. My knee-jerk reaction is that there’d be too much rock-paper-scissors to keep track of, or do you think a dagger will effectively parry a Morningstar?

    Weapon Damage and Repair: I like the idea of weapon and armor damage, I don’t like the idea of tracking it or determining when it applies. Pathfinder has the Sunder maneuver, and I figure that’s good enough.

    Alternate Attack Surfaces: I thought this was another thing already included in the Pathfinder (if not 3.X) ruleset. Something like “take a -2 to hit to change damage types”? So you could stab for piercing, or hit with the flat of the blade for bludgeoning or something. I think it might be neat (if impractical) to have certain weapons do less damage if you’re using them “wrong”, and I think some weapons simply can’t change types (how do you deal slashing or piercing with a quarterstaff?).

  5. This is a pretty interesting discussion. However, many of these mechanics are already modeled in Pathfinder. You can use weapons in improvised ways for a -4 penalty. You can use different surfaces (Alternate Attack Surfaces). By default, every weapon can be used as an improvised thrown weapon with a range increment of 10. Reach weapons are excellent for combat maneuvers and attacks of opportunity to hold someone at range.

    I’m currently developing a weapon system for my homebrew game that basically allows GMs (or players) to construct their own weapons by combining different properties together. Each weapon is rated based on the number of properties, which determines factors such as price and difficulty of learning and crafting it.

    I’ve taken to your Training Time and Finesse/Cleave Weapons ideas. I wasn’t really sure how to give PCs proficiency as my system is classless, and I did not want them to waste feats on it. So, players can use their Melee/Ranged skill to train in a weapon, and hiring an instructor reduces the time. I’ve given weapons the finesse and cleave properties in addition to another one: impaling, which works like cleave except you can hit secondary targets behind the first, even if that goes beyond your weapon’s normal range.

    Overall, I agree that mundane can be much more interesting, especially considering a game like Pathfinder encourages you to pick one type of weapon and stick with it for your career.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts!

      I don’t play pathfinder much any more, but making mundane weapons more interesting is still something I’d like to do.

      1. Aye, I know you don’t play Pathfinder anymore, but I still enjoy reading and discussing ideas that it inspires. Any discussion about its mechanics can benefit any game. I’m also taking them into consideration for my own game.

        Shield mechanics could also use some sprucing up.

  6. I just wanted to comment on the proposed weapon speed system.

    I know that there is potential for reality bending attacks-per-round with the light and one handed weapons built into the system with two-weapon fighting, and I get why you would want to kind of limit players to the smaller weapons if they’re going to be pulling those iterative attack feats, but I feel that in trying to compensate for those rare characters you’re over-nerfing the heavier weapons. Two-handed weapons already have the penalty of occupying both hands and reducing a characters defense in favor of attack, they really don’t need to also limit the number of attacks your average warrior can get from their bab alone.

    In reality, two handed weapons like greatswords are only marginally slower than their “one-handed” counterparts like longswords when wielded by someone using them properly. The difference is certainly not 3/10 excepting the jerky sawing motions of treating a small blade like a prison shiv. Your example, the Lucerne hammer, wasn’t designed to be exceptionally heavy or unwieldy when compared to other polearms, and when being used at an appropriate distance you could make stabs with any of these weapons just as quickly as someone holding a sword.

    So, long story short I really encourage you and everyone else not to try and apply a weapon speed system to pathfinder. It may have it’s place in another role playing game, but I’ve never seen it function in anything similar to d20 without unbalancing the weapons, usually in the favor of the light ones.

    P.S. Speed aside, I see some good ideas up there that I think I’m gonna try.

  7. Personally, I’ve always been irritated that, even if no one else than at least Fighters, since they’ve had such specialized training, can’t make use of techniques like half-swording, or the murder-stroke. (That’s much better than trying to strike with the flat of your blade!)

    I definitely like the idea of being restricted on how you fight because of not having enough room, though there are techniques used to overcome this. Again, half-swording comes to mind.

    On the whole, I do know a line has to be drawn *somewhere* on the matter or realism though. Even though I know realistically there is a diffrence between an axe or a kopesh’s percussion cut and a scimitar or katana’s draw cut, I acknowledge that too much realism simply wouldn’t work. This is a very interesting series of ideas though.

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