Thursday, August 11, 2022

Weapon Variance in OSE and other Retroclones

One of my big pickles with OSE and D&D as a whole is the consistent optimization of weapon choices. In 5e, it’s obvious that a great sword is better than a great axe, because of the higher average damage and minimum damage of two dice instead of one. Let alone what happens when you begin taking feats and class abilities that let you re-roll those dice. In OSE, a two-handed sword is a d10 where a battle axe is just a d8, despite both being two handed weapons, and the axe having the slow category (if you use weapon speeds).   As a fighter, I can choose a sword (d8) and a shield (+1 ac) and truck along faster in combat with better defense than a battle axe user. 

But battle axes and great axes are fucking cool. Kull uses an axe, and lots of sword and sorcery imagery has our mighty-thewed warrior using a hulking labrys, or a weighty headsman’s axe. 

Warhammers and maces share with the same problem, in my humble opinion. They’re both blunt d6, but nothing separates the two. Players will universally choose the longbow’s longer range over the short bow, despite it being the weapon of choice for mobile archers on horseback (not that historial accuracy or such should be attempted by the game). 

My big problem here is that I want both tactical variance and also diegetic difference between those options for weapons in my own homebrew. The problem here is that, I also don’t want to say x weapon does y effect cause that implies that only x weapon can do y, especially when really I want to use and encourage Mighty Deeds like in DCC. 

An easy cop-out is to return to the “all weapons do d6 damage” but I feel like the barbarian from and with the eponymous Golden Axe should hit harder than a halfling with a cheese knife. 

I think the solution to the problem is likely in the critical hits like in 3rd edition. Having some kind of extra effect that might be diegetic or non-diegetic I think is smart, and adds some tactical variance. I think also limiting it to say, once a combat or an opponent might be a good idea. 

I don’t really know where to go from here, but it gives me an excuse to rewrite and use different weapons in OSE. 

Swords - Vein Opener, once per room on a critical hit, instead of max damage and roll again, roll the creatures total hit dice and subtract that much damage.

Axes - Flesh Splitter, once per room on a critical hit, roll your damage die and add it to twice your max damage

Maces - Skull Cracker, once per room on a critical hit do your weapon’s damage die to an opponent’s intelligence in addition to critical damage.

Hammers - Bone Breaker, once per room on a critical hit, do your weapon’s damage die against an opponent’s constitution in addition to critical damage

Spears - Impaler, once per room on critical hit, in addition to damage, that creature or a part of that creature is pinned to the ground or wall, preventing it from moving or using that part of it’s body.

Knives - Shiv, Thieves my always hide 1 knife per level on their person, and can with sufficient Roleplay always get access to a small knife if they are ever without one.

I don’t think this is a perfect solution, as I think you should be able to stab through a gnoll’s foot into the ground and pin them their with your sword, and smash a gladiator’s teeth out with a shield, but it does give some better tacticool options for choosing one weapon versus the other. 

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