Next Weapons: The Basics

This is the first of three articles describing an optional rules module for people who want more ways to distinguish weapons that do not depend on class features. I first presented these ideas in kadim's forum thread here, and I would like to thank kadim, Gee-man, bawylie, Quidhala, powerroleplayer, Reinhart, AbdulAlhazred, Sesdun, Seerow, MacEochaid, Garthanos, Mithrus, Maxperson, Caeric, and all the others who offered me criticism and advice! 

This article comes in three parts: 
1. The "basic" rules for those who want a quick and simple weapon rules
2. The "weapon module" that offers a bit more complexity and differentiation.
3. The "weapon design" guidelines that allow you to design your own weapons.

WEAPON BASICS
These are the rules that are to be used if you want something simple. In these rules, the only thing that distinguishes weapons is the damage die, damage type, and how many hands you need to use the weapon.

Weapon Traits
As seen on the chart to the right (click for a larger view), all weapons have six or seven traits: family, length, damage, damage type, cost, weight and, for ranged and thrown weapons, range. These are defined as follows:

Family. Weapon families represent groupings of similar weapons.  This trait is only useful in the weapon module, except that only weapons in the thrown family can be thrown, and special rules apply to shields and unarmed, as described below.

Length. Weapon length represents the wieldiness of the weapon.  The weapon lengths are: closeshortlong, greatreach, and thrown.  Small creatures require two hands to wield items designated long or great, and cannot use reach weapons.  
 
Damage: Weapons inflict the damage on the table and range from d4 to d12, generally based on their length.  Melee and thrown weapons add the attacker's Strength modifier to attack and damage.  Bows and crossbows add the attacker's Dexterity modifier to attack and damage. You may receive other bonuses from your class, race, background, magic items, or specilaties.

Damage Type
: Each weapon inflicts a damage type (bludgeoning (B), piercing (P), or slashing (S)), as described on the table, and generally based on the weapon's family.

Cost
: The table reflects the typical retail price of a weapon in gold pieces. While you can buy gauntlets separately, they are usually included in any heavy armor.

Weight
: The table describes the weight of the weapon in pounds for encumberance purposes, if you choose to use encumberance rules.  The weight of a gauntlet is generally included in the weight of heavy armor, but is one pound each if worn without heavy armor.

Range
: Every ranged weapon has a maximum range beyond which you may not target enemies. Targeting enemies beyond half that distance incurs a -2 penalty on the attack roll.  Thrown weapons also each have a "launcher" that doubles the range of the thrown weapon and grants a +1 bonus to attacks and damage.  Stones use slings and all other thrown weapons use an atlatl designed for that family of weapon.  

Weapon Rules
The following additional rules also apply to weapons:

Improvised Weapons
: You can use anything as a weapon, such as a chair leg, mug, or wagon wheel. The DM will decide how much damage the weapon inflicts based on the weapon's length. Use of improvised weapons incur a -2 penalty to hit. Improvised thrown weapons have a maximum range of 20' (with an additional -2 penalty to attack targets more than 10' away). Improvised shields grant a shield bonus one less than its non-improvised counterpart, but never less than a +1 shield bonus.

Monsters
. A monster's melee attacks, unless made with a specific weapon, are considered to be made with close unarmed weapons whenever such a determination is needed. The monster's entry will explain what damage die and damage type the attack possesses, as well as any other effects of the attack.  Generally, claws inflict slashing damage, teeth, antlers, and horns inflict piercing damage, and fists inflict bludgeoning damage.

Nonproficiency Penalty
. A weapon in which you are not proficient is considered an improvised weapon. A thrown weapon is considered an improvised weapon when used in melee, and a melee weapon is considered an improvised weapon when thrown.

Reach
: Melee weapons other than reach weapons can only attack adjacent foes. Reach weapons can attack foes from five feet away, but incur a -4 penalty to damage (minimum 1) when used against adjacent creatures.

Shields
: Shields that you wield grant you a shield bonus to AC as follows: buckler (+1), thrown shield (+1), small shield (+2), large shield (+3), great shield (+4), and tower shield (+5). Although damage is listed on the table for each shield, this only applies if you have the ability to "shield bash". When you wield a shield larger than a small shield, you incur a penalty to any d20 rolls modified by Dexterity equal to the number of hands required to wield it (either -1 or -2). Also remember that great shields and tower shields require both hands to weild.  In this respect, they operate more like mobile cover than a shield.

Unarmed: Your fist cannot be disarmed, but a successful attack with a fist on any creature with a touch attack (such as most oozes) will also be treated as if the creature had successfuly touched you. You cannot wield a close weapon in a hand with a cestus and you cannot wield a close or short weapon in a hand with a gauntlet.
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