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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mixed-Mode Weapons

One of the problems with breaking weapons down by attack type is that some weapons are going to have two more modes of attack. For example, a broadsword has both an edge and a point. It can hack, slash, or stab. How does that affect damage, especially in a system where you don't break down 1-minute rounds to the action-by-action level?

The way I see it, there are two extremes: either define a primary attack mode with other modes as options, or use the best rules out of all available modes. There's a range of possible rulings between those extremes, as you can see in these possible rulings for the broadsword example:

  • Pure Primary + Option:  A broadsword is a hacking weapon (1d6 damage + bleeding if not wearing hard armor.) Player can opt to slash, to avoid accidentally severing body parts. Player can opt to stab (best of 2d6,) but risks getting the sword stuck.
  • Upgrade Option: 1d6 damage + bleeding, but if the damage rolled is low, the player can opt to declare a stab attack after the fact and roll the extra d6.
  • Downgrade Option: Best of 2d6 + bleeding, but player can opt to declare a hack attack after the fact to avoid a stuck sword.
  • Best of Merged Modes: Best of 2d6 + bleeding, no chance of stuck sword.

I think I prefer the first approach, especially since it fits with weapons with special attacks, like the flail with its option to disarm. What does everyone else think?


  1. as a player, getting an extra option out of an old standby weapon is all to the good - let the sword hack as default, but allow the player to declare they're stabbing if they want to, for more potential damage OR a higher crit chance, + concomitant chance of a bad outcome (weapon stuck, flail entangled). So I like (1).

    What other multi-mode weapons are there? Halberd? Would you extend this to shortswords?

    1. A lot of weapons actually turn out to be mixed-mode, which is why I felt it necessary to explore the idea. Short swords? Depending on the design, it may be primarily hacking with a stab option, or hacking only, or primarily stabbing with a hack option. And players could design their own weapons by thinking of features that could be combined for a specific primary mode/optional mode combo. I'm not familiar with all the pole arms, but I know they primarily differ based on exactly these kinds of combos, plus additional special attack modes, like including a hook to pull riders off mounts.