First though, an important aside: I've talked a lot about threats, errors, critical successes, and critical failures. These concepts are integral to what I'm trying to do with my d20 system. One thing I haven't talked about is one of the slicker ideas from D&D 5e, that of advantage and disadvantage, and how they interact with these concepts. Advantage and disadvantage were developed to simplify d20 games' tendency toward way too many circumstantial modifiers, where you might have to juggle bonuses for things like flanking and magical blessings and penalties for curses and unfavorable terrain, all in a single check. Since few people like doing these sorts of sums every time there were favorable or unfavorable circumstances to account for, the 5e designers determined instead that whenever such circumstances obtain, you roll twice and take the higher (for favorable circumstances; i.e. advantage) or lower (disadvantage) result. You only ever roll twice, no matter how many things might give you advantage or disadvantage in a given situation (though advantage and disadvantage cancel each other out). This still provides situational interest without overdoing it on modifiers, and it's something I'd like to continue using.
So how might advantage and disadvantage interact with threats and errors? Mostly, nothing will change; if you have advantage on a roll, and one of your rolls is an error, you can ignore it because it's the lowest result; if it's a threat, you apply it because it's highest (and roll the exploding die once, not twice!). It's really no different than before. However, if you reroll for advantage or disadvantage and one result is a threat and the other is an error, the threat and error cancel each other out. You still take the higher or lower roll result as appropriate, but the result does not explode. The reason for this is that advantage or disadvantage increases the likelihood of getting a threat or error rather significantly, so this mitigates it somewhat.
Some of these weapon rules rely on advantage and disadvantage, so I had to clarify. Now onto the main course.
Weapon SizeWeapons have the same Size descriptors as characters and monsters. If we use 5e's sizes, then it would be Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, and Gargantuan. These sizes do no refer to the weapons directly, but to the size of the character using them. That is, a Medium sword is not the size of a Medium character, but a size that a Medium character can wield comfortably in one hand. A Small sword is like a longsword to a halfling, but like a dagger to an elf.
The ways that the relative Sizes of weapons and their wielders and targerts are pretty simple, but in the interest of simulation are just a bit quirky. I hope they make sense! They are:
- If an attacker's weapon is larger than its target, the attacker gets advantage on the damage roll. If it is smaller, it gets disadvantage. Bigger weapons deal more damage, and bigger characters are more durable.
- If an attacker is smaller than its target, the attacker gets advantage on the attack roll. If it is larger, it gets disadvantage (unless it can't move). Larger creatures are easier targets than smaller creatures. The smaller creature is usually wielding a smaller weapon, so often the attack roll will have advantage and the damage roll disadvantage or vice versa, which I hope balances out. A smaller character with a larger weapon tips outside this balance a little bit, but has other disadvantages, as described in the next point.
- If an attacker is the same size as his weapon, he has a base speed of 6. If the weapon is one size larger, it has a base speed of 8 and must be wielded two-handed. If it is one size smaller, it has a base speed of 4. Usually creatures cannot wield weapons more than one size smaller or larger than themselves.
- A weapon's size determines its reach; that is, a Large weapon usually has a Large reach. When a character wielding a melee weapon enters combat with another character wielding a melee weapon, the character with the largest reach attacks first
Weapon TypeThere are all kinds of weapons with all kinds of subtle differences between them that the broad categorization I'm going to do will certainly gloss over. I'm hoping that doing so keeps weapons simple while still maintaining some interesting variety. Weapon types are:
- Swords: The default medieval fantasy weapon in most folks' imagination. This includes everything from daggers and throwing knives to large claymores and zweihänders, depending on the size. Attack rolls (including parry checks) with swords have a threat range of 2. Swords deal slashing damage.
- Hafted Weapons: These include axes, picks, and hammers. Damage rolls with hafted weapons have a threat range of 2. Axes deal slashing damage, picks deal piercing damage, and hammers deal bashing damage.
- Polearms: These include spears, glaives, halberds, and even quarterstaffs. Polearms count as one size category larger for the purposes of determining reach. Spears deal piercing damage, quarterstaffs deal bashing damage, and things like halberds deal slashing damage.
- Dueling blades: These include fine, delicate fencing blades like rapiers and épées. Dueling blades count as one size category smaller for the purposes of determining speed. Most dueling blades deal piercing damage, though some may deal slashing damage instead.
- Clubs: These include simple bludgeons and more sophisticated weapons like maces. Clubs can be used untrained without penalty. Most clubs deal bashing damage, though things like spiked clubs or morningstars deal piercing damage.
- Bows: The classic bow and arrow. Bows can make ranged attacks (range increments TBD!). Arrows fired from bows almost always deal piercing damage.
- Crossbows: Like the bow, the crossbow can make ranged attacks. Crossbows can be used untrained without penalty; however, they count as one size category larger for the purposes of determining speed. Bolts fired from crossbows almost always deal piercing damage.
- Shields: Yes, shields are considered weapons here! Shields have an error range of 4 on normal attack rolls, but a threat range of 4 when making parry rolls. Shields also provide some armor protection (rules TBD!). When dual-wielding with a shield, the attacker still applies its Strength bonus to damage checks to his other weapon (unless the other weapon is also a shield) (see Two-weapon fighting below). Most shields deal bashing damage, though spiked shields deal piercing damage.
Two -Weapon FightingI still haven't quite decided how I want to do two-weapon fighting, but it ought to be something like this: If a character is wielding two weapons (including a weapon and shield), each weapon's size is treated as one size larger for the purposes of determining speed. Also, such characters normally do not add their Strength bonus to damage rolls, though there may be character options to change this. Otherwise characters can use either weapon at any time, so long as they follow the rules for weapon speed and initiative.
I believe I've gone over nearly everything needed for a viable combat system, but it's all a bit jumbled and disaggregated across the blog. Maybe next time I should do a combat example.