10
Sep
09

Weapons

In the last post I mentioned that I wanted to discuss weapons. Moving into a game that has a focus on unarmed combat has significant problems integrating with the D&D model. Some of the problems that need addressing are:

  • Different classes and roles have access to weapons with varying damage dice. This ranges from 1d4 to 2d6 in the Player’s Handbook.
  • Magical weapons are a fundamental part of the D&D game. Treasure acquisition and equipment upgrades are part of player motivation and enjoyment.
  • Weapons have varying proficiency bonuses (+2 or +3 in most cases) and also provide valuable weapon properties like high critical strike damage and reach.
  • Changing weapons requires a minor action – is this of any significance?
  • Weapons cost money to acquire, and can be disarmed.

All of these issues need to be discussed and a resolution provided. More after the break.

Before addressing the problems above, I want to describe how the Monk class works in D&D. This is an excerpt from Dragon magazine where the Monk was presented as a playtest class.

The Monk is a melee-based  Striker, who wears no armour and focuses on mobility. They have very few defensive powers, and have psionic based utility powers. Their encounter powers include ‘full discipline’ powers that include an attack and a movement effect, and their daily powers include ‘stances’ which provide an ongoing benefit while the stance is active.

Here are three Monk class features which are of particular interest:

Unarmed Combatant
You can make unarmed attacks with much greater
effectiveness than most combatants. When you make
an unarmed attack, you can use the monk unarmed
strike, which is a weapon in the unarmed weapon
group. This weapon has the off-hand weapon property,
a reach of 1, and a +3 proficiency bonus, and the
weapon damage die is 1d8. You must have a hand
free to use your monk unarmed strike, even if you’re
kicking, kneeing, elbowing, or head-butting a target.
The Enchant Magic Item ritual (Player’s Handbook,
page 304) can be used to turn your monk unarmed
strike into a magic weapon. For example, through
that ritual, you could have a +1 flaming monk unarmed
strike.
Unarmored Defense
While you are wearing cloth armor or no armor and
aren’t using a shield, you gain a +2 bonus to AC.
Monk Weapons
Some of your powers might require you to attack
with a monk weapon. The following weapons count
as monk weapons: unarmed attacks, clubs, daggers,
quarterstaffs, and spears.

Unarmed Combatant

You can make unarmed attacks with much greater effectiveness than most combatants. When you make an unarmed attack, you can use the monk unarmed strike, which is a weapon in the unarmed weapon group. This weapon has the off-hand weapon property, a reach of 1, and a +3 proficiency bonus, and the weapon damage die is 1d8. You must have a hand free to use your monk unarmed strike, even if you’re kicking, kneeing, elbowing, or head-butting a target. The Enchant Magic Item ritual (Player’s Handbook, page 304) can be used to turn your monk unarmed strike into a magic weapon. For example, through that ritual, you could have a +1 flaming monk unarmed strike.

Unarmored Defense

While you are wearing cloth armor or no armor and aren’t using a shield, you gain a +2 bonus to AC.

Monk Weapons

Some of your powers might require you to attack with a monk weapon. The following weapons count as monk weapons: unarmed attacks, clubs, daggers, quarterstaffs, and spears.

As you can see, the weapon problem is addressed by creating one that Monks can use when unarmed. It has specific capabilities based on the role (good damage and accuracy) and allows enchantment. The issue of being disarmed is ignored, although holding items in both hands or being totally restrained will prevent its use.

The only reason the Monk Weapons class feature exists is to define a weapon group that powers will work with and enhance. It is really an ability that exists purely for rules purposes.

Unarmored Defense is interesting – it puts Monks into the same AC range as a Rogue. This makes sense as they fill the same melee striker role.

Weapons

These class features are pretty good, and I will use variations on them for Dragon In Ninth Heaven. What I would like to do is create several different unarmed ‘weapons’ that are limited in availability based on class. It would be possible to make some available through kung fu styles, but I’m not sure on that one yet. Here are some sample weapons, and the access restrictions for them.

Proficiency Damage Roles Special
+3 1d8 Striker, Defender, Leader
+2 1d10 Striker
+2 1d8 Striker, Defender high crit
+2 1d6 Controller
+2 1d6 Controller Ranged 10/20
+2 1d6 Leader, Controller Reach

Each character would only have access to one ‘weapon’ to begin with, and an option to choose one more. The more mystical classes and kung fu styles will allow ranged attacks (as a basic ranged attack and the standard limitations that implies) and possibly a reach attack. Of course, every class will have a unique cool sounding name to go with the ‘weapon’.

Enchantments

Weapon enchantments are important in D&D, and they should stay that way in Dragon In Ninth Heaven. The Monk uses the Enchant Magic Item ritual to enchant themselves with standard weapon enchants. Dragon In Ninth Heaven characters will do the same thing, but I feel it should be presented differently.

This is a perfect opportunity to put the ‘secret technique’ into the game in a way that won’t break the system. Imagine characters visiting an old master to learn the new technique which will slay the demon holding the town to ransom. He teaches them the hidden technique which will allow them to wound the monster (which is the Demonbane weapon enchant in this case). The same thing can apply to secret kung fu manuals, isolated training or sudden insights.

The only limitation to this is that like other weapons, a character may only have an one enchant on a weapon, although if they have multiple unarmed weapons then they may have a different enchant. Examples of this in the source comic occur with one character having one fist on fire and the other radiating frost.

From a rules perspective this is probably the same as a Ritual, but putting the power in context makes all the difference.

Proficiency, cost and disarms

I don’t feel that any of these issues are of great significance. Proficiency bonuses are included in the weapon descriptions above, and the other two are trivial in nature. The playtest Monk class does not address them directly, but does provide a limitation on the use of the weapon, which seems reasonable.

Real weapons, not unarmed strikes

Real weapons will still be useful to characters because of the different damage values that can be obtained (1d10, 2d4, 2d6) and the other capabilities (thrown, reach, high crit, versatile). These will be limited by proficiencies as usual.

Building the system this way will allow the use of unarmed strikes in most cases, and some characters will choose to use a weapon for added damage or versatility. Characters who remain unarmed will not be at a significant disadvantage, which is the aim of the article.

That concludes the post on weapons, but it has given me an idea…

Armour

Defenders will need armour, or abilities that provide the same effect. I can envision ‘iron shirt’ kung fu styles that provide enchantable armour. A stance change could effectively change a suit of armour, or maybe it requires meditation to alter the way the character uses chi to defend themselves and then they are ‘wearing’ that armour until the next time they meditate. This might be something only available to defenders, but I think I like the idea. I might elaborate another time.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Weapons”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: