... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weapons Do 1d6 Damage

In OD&D, every weapon did 1d6 damage, at least until people started house-ruling it away (I think in Supplement I, but certainly in AD&D and post-Holmes.) Over on another blog, Coopdevil has come out squarely in favor of every weapon does the same damage. He even defends it against objections about two-handed weapons.

Even though I've dabbled in converting The Fantasy Trip's approach to weapons to D&D, I'm very strongly pro-d6 only. I see it as inextricably tied to the "hit points are luck" viewpoint. If hit points represent a character's ability to outlast an opponent, and if they increase as the character gains levels, then it makes no sense for a sword to do more damage to hit points than a dagger. Of course, if you're using 1d6 for all weapon damage, then you should really be using the d6 as the base hit die as well... but that may be a topic for another post.

I have been fiddling around with ways to make different weapons feel different while still keeping the "every weapon does the same damage" rule. Perhaps this topic explosion on the blogosphere signals a good time to start talking about it.


  1. While there are ways to make weapons feel different, I have yet to understand why it is necessary for them to do the same damage.

    For starters, what problem is it, exactly, that we are trying to solve? So far as I'm concerned the d6 only was a serious design flaw, a result of not sitting down and thinking things through, which is why OD&D is a wonderful springboard to build one's own excellent game, but not a complete or truly playable game in and of itself.

    Not sure where the "hit points are luck" viewpoint comes from. Yes, that is part of it, but it also includes physical ability (after all, Constitution influences hit points and it is a combination of health and endurance - see Men & Magic p. 10), Divine Intervention, and skill (per AD&D DMG).

    And even if this were literally correct, why does that preclude variable weapon damage? The long sword thrust that does 8 damage (per AD&D) runs through the "normal man" (whatever that means) but is merely a deep scratch to a 9th level Lord. It took that 9th level fighting man's physique, skill, the blessing of his god, and, yes, luck, to turn a mortal wound into a scratch. This is hardly incompatible with hits as luck.

    And as I've posted elsewhere, why on God's Green Earth is it just peachy keen fine for a Fireball to do 5d6+ damage, but suggest a sword do a d8 and everyone gets the vapours... after all, if your logic is "a dagger in the heart is equally as deadly as a sword in the heart" then how is getting scorched by a fireball justified as being "more" lethal (let alone 5x or more as lethal)?

    The crickets are deafening...

    If you are to insist, against all reason, on d6 only for damage, then why not just get rid of variable hit dice and damage altogether? It adds nothing to the game under that circumstance. Just have one hit = one kill and that's that. If you're, say, 4th level then you need 4 hits to take you down. What could be simpler?

    Either that or stop bothering with D&D altogether and simply play Dungeon!... (actually, kidding aside, I'm developing a set of rules that are based on Chainmail Fantasy Supplement and Dungeon. Part of the reason I'm against d6 only damage is because of the grave inconsistency I outlined above with magic users, so these rules would de-scope the M-U spells down to the same level of weapons)

  2. Seems like you're very angry about me wanting to stick to d6-only weapons...

    Anyways, as to why I would want to do it: Because it's simple to remember and thus easy to improvise from. To create a new weapon or modify an existing one, I just need to imagine how it's used and how it's described. It also means I can improvise non-physical combat from the same framework. How much damage does an insult do? (ANSWER: 1d6.)

    Maybe I'll make a separate post to cover your questions in more detail.

  3. Well, I'm not *angry* - it's your game,play it anyway you want!

    Not sure you really seem to understand my point, however. I'm ust saying that all the convolutions to try to justify the approach seem rather contrived, and ignore very real problems with both versilimitude and actual game balance.

    I do not disagree that it is simple, though I do not understand the latter bit about improvising. If everything is a d6, what is there to improvise???

  4. What's to improvise? Plenty. You should see the other "d6-only" posts: the basics, length and range, intrinsic qualities, materials, special abilities.

    And I'm not even done yet!