5e: Make weapon choices matter more

Hi ho,


One of the supposed features of 4th edition I was very excited about, was the idea that weapon choice would be meaningful.  While what weapon you wielded certainly did have some impact on the game, I personally wasn’t pleased with the direction it took.


Just like folks do not enjoy seeing bad feat choices, I do not like seeing weapons that are never taken.  Each weapon should have something it brings to the table that makes some one seriously pause and think, “Which do I really want to go with?”  Because of the way the economy moves, price isn’t really a motivator at the moment.


For the martial types, I think this feature should be evident out of the gate.  It should not require a feat, or a specific power choice to make the weapon more effective.  In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing the “attack power” something that is stitched onto the weapon itself.


The very basic idea is that all weapons would have standard effectiveness no matter who is holding them. (+ to hit, dx damage, etc) The description would have a side bar, Martial: Weapon attack – Hit: target is knocked prone, do attribute damage.  Make rattling a feature of maces, Martial – target grants combat advantage to all melee combatants till end of next turn.


The sidebar could even be class specific, giving rogues, rangers, and fighters options with weapons that other classes wouldn’t have.


Maybe the benefit is something as simple as “+2 to prone attempts/disarm attempts/immobilize attempts, etc;” whatever works within the new mechanics.


Not very fleshed out idea at the moment, but I think you get the idea.

Absolutely. There are too many weapon types that aren't attractive - most players just pick the highest damage one unless they are really into heavy RP.

Things like high-crit, brutal etc... are interesting but don't make enough difference. 
I would agree with this.  Maces/hammers that rattled the target, daggers giving bleed effects (real dagger combat is all about poking holes and waiting for the target to bleed out, its very rare that you get an actual death blow with one), etc.
+1

Not only is this a good idea, but it should be one of the easier changes to implement. There's a lot of bang for the buck in this suggestion!
 
What about making power choices much broader, not limited to classes, and instead giving power selection based on the weapon you're currently wielding?  That way players not only have a choice of weapon, they also get to choose more variety based on the weapon they're using.  Or maybe each weapon gives access to two "at-will" powers described in the weapon entry, with some overlap.  Then magic weapons, instead of giving static bonuses to hit, might give access to an upgraded version of the base powers.
Yeah one of those unfullfiled promises of 4Ed

I really liked the weapon groups and things like brutal  and, maces doing damage on a miss or swords that can do at will in opportunnity etc. But some weapon groups where forgoten, I still just see swords, axes and maces on my characters, no flails picks (even when i wanted to see this flail swinging figther) etc. other weapons need more love no matter if the "powers" of them are repeated.
There are just too many weapons in general. I think you can pretty well express the entire range of melee weapons in maybe at most a dozen entries. I think a lot of the weapon properties were really fairly meaningless, like high crit and brutal in particular should just never have existed. If it does more damage, just give it a bigger die size.  OTOH I'd cut the range of die sizes back again too. d6, d8 and d10 is really more than enough. Once you do that then mostly the details of what your weapon is exactly are fluff.

I'd just attach different attack stats directly the weapons. That gives you some good basic variety. You want to use a longbow? You probably want to be strong. Crossbow, more critical to have a steady hand. Dagger, mostly relying on quickness and accuracy. Battleaxe, definitely a weapon for your brawnier types. This solves a lot of other system awkwardnesses related to the fixation of attack stat to power and power to class. There can always be some powers that select a specific different stat if it makes sense, and damage bonuses can always be set by the power for instance.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
With the general damage allocation system of D&D, making weapon choices matter might be difficult. It will need to offset the speed of combat that is a D&D hallmark (as compared to something from Space Opera of Fantasy Hero) with something that makes distiction. 

In the distant past, the weapon adjustments from first edtion helped make weapons matter.  Mace had a +1 hit against Plate&Chain, while Long Swords were -2. When you add in the half-damage skeletons took from non-blunt and the half-damage zombies took from non-slashing. There were some reasons to take different weapons.       

The Everquset RPG game also had a unqiue spin on weapons, the higher the base dice, the greater the range between irritative attacks. Daggers may do little base damage, but you'd get more hits with them. 
 
weapon choices matter in 4e. give your defender nothing but a wrist razor and tell me it doesnt matter

I really like the idea of a weapon having one or two inherent at-will powers (if powers are the route 5e is going), perhaps one being general and useable by everyone and the other being class/training specific/proficiency specific. I also like the idea of magic weapons perhaps granting a special at-will or encounter ability as well.

I really don't like the idea of a weapon being bogged down with a handful of minor mechanical benefits or drawbacks (+1 vs. chain mail, -1 vs. plate, etc.). It harkens back to the crazy min/max mechanics of BESM and Mutants & Masterminds. I only see it cluttering up game play with referencing monster charts to see if the Gnoll is wearing hide or a chain shirt for its +4 bonus to AC.

I disagree that Brutal or High Crit are unnecessary benefits that can be applied to weapons to make them more diverse. They are broader then the aforementioned situational benefits and drawbacks, and they rely on the player keeping track of the mechanics, rather than requiring the player and the GM to examine every attack and consult one another on the outcome.

Diverse and unique does not necessarily mean complicated and nitpicky.

I blogged about this a few months ago.
on the weapons note

should there be so many weapons that are very simular.
longsword,basterdsword,scimitar each with its own stats.
all one handed heavy blades i think dident check.

or should it be like:
heavy blade damage 1d8.
 
a heavy blade has 1 of the folowing properties.
greater accuracy +3 proficiency bonus instead of +2
greater damage die d10 instead of d8
high crit
brutal 1
off hand can be wielden in the characters off hand.

and leave it upto the player and DM what a brutal 1, singel handed heavy blade would look like in this campain.

exotic weapon proficiency would let you select 2 properties from the list above.

 
I like this idea.  Some thoughts:

1) Similar to what 2E did, certain weapons should have a one-handed and two-handed stat.  One-handed use aims for precision and defense (with certain feats or powers to complement it), two-handed use aims for power hitting.  Certain classes may be able to use both styles (e.g. fighter, paladin) while others may have to go one-handed (ranger, thief) or two-handed (barbarian) exclusively.  Give one-handed use a better crit range and two-handed use better crit damage.

2) Drop "simple," "martial" and "exotic."  If a fighter can swing a sword, he can swing any sword - same with an axe.  Also, a mace isn't a less powerful or useful weapon because it's a "simple" weapon.  A weapon is a weapon.  If certain classes can make said weapon do more, awesome.  There have been attempts at this (daggermaster and tempest come to mind from 3E).  Also, certain fighter powers in 4E have given different benefits for the weapon used, which could continue if there are class "powers." 

3) If complexity can be scaled, only in the most complex games would certain weapons give bonuses to trip and disarm, and then only in the hands of certain classes like fighters and rogue.  Same with reach - only certain classes can effectively use weapons to get maximum range from them (maybe in this add the wizard; he can use his staff as a reach weapon to keep monsters away from him so he can cast spells).


           
   
I would not like to see this +/- thing against each type of armor. Because it would create too much situational numbers!

In 2e, the speed was not bad! 

In one round, I could hit you twice with my dagger while you swing your Two-Handed sword at me once! But I would pray you don't hit me! This should be represented in 5e!

If combat were too long, rolls should be easy to quicken the pace and end the fight!!! ( Giving more time to actually roleplay the fact that my dagger are quick and lethal! )
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on the weapons note

should there be so many weapons that are very simular.
longsword,basterdsword,scimitar each with its own stats.
all one handed heavy blades i think dident check.

or should it be like:
heavy blade damage 1d8.
 
a heavy blade has 1 of the folowing properties.
greater accuracy +3 proficiency bonus instead of +2
greater damage die d10 instead of d8
high crit
brutal 1
off hand can be wielden in the characters off hand.

and leave it upto the player and DM what a brutal 1, singel handed heavy blade would look like in this campain.

exotic weapon proficiency would let you select 2 properties from the list above.

 



Hmm, this has me thinking. Why not a point-based system for designing weapons? Damage dice have a base price, and then you spend the rest on bonuses. Reach, high crit, brutal, and the rest would have point costs based on expectation value of damage. Two-handedness might give you an extra couple points if it's consistently a drawback. Use the system to make the standard longswords, maces, and the like for the PHB. Then if someone wants to use a trident or a meteor hammer, they can make it with a reasonable expectation of balance.
Rhymes with Bruce
4e was the first version where I had players usingdifferent weapons for different types of fights. Prior to that they just used the 'best' weapon all the time.  I liked the 4e style, but it suffered from the same problem that every previous edition had (and 5e will too). In order to sell new product, they need to release new 'and better' options. So each new book will have weapons that are more effective than what was in the PHB and the game will suffer from power creep.

I don't know the solution to this! Except for making a list of solid weapon options in the PHB and then making new weapons just add character, not more powerful. But that doesn't sell books. This is one of the things I am dreading about a modular system, the fact that every module update will just limit the players choices more as the game balance changes. 
My thoughts on what works and what doesn't in D&D and how D&D Next may benefit are detailed on my blog, Vorpal Thoughts.
I blogged about this a few months ago.



I should really read your blog more often, as I've yet to recall not agreeing with, or at least liking an opinion of yours.  (including your avatar, who happens to be my favorite humanoid from the good ole days of AD&D)

Pelletse - speed would be fairly easy to add to the game, I'd imagine.  No reason some of the smaller weapons can't add a +1 or so to initiative.

I like Wrecan's shield = damage reduction idea.  I'd also go a crazy step further and say it would be neat to see polearms have a disruptive quaility, (a minus to incoming adjacent melee attacks).  Going off the initial idea of the thread, maybe that would be an everyman power, as I believe the polearm was basicaly the easy to use weapon for anyone. (peasant pikemen). 

Also, this idea isn't to say that class advancement, or feats/grandmaster training shouldn't apply to weapons.  I still like the idea of a character improving not just in his + to hit, but also in what tricks he can make his weapon do with specialized effort.
Slake, Rattle and Roll.

Bladed Weapons = -1 Dexterity-based rolls/-5 movement until next round
Bludgeoning Weapons = -1 Constitution-based rolls/-1 attack rolls until next round
Chained/Hooked Weapons = -1 Strength-based rolls/+1 to combat manuevers like trip/disarm

BONUS:
Ranged and Projectile Weapons = +1 Splash-based damage to 1 adjacent foe (as the projectile splinters, etc.)
I'd just attach different attack stats directly the weapons. That gives you some good basic variety. You want to use a longbow? You probably want to be strong. Crossbow, more critical to have a steady hand. Dagger, mostly relying on quickness and accuracy. Battleaxe, definitely a weapon for your brawnier types. This solves a lot of other system awkwardnesses related to the fixation of attack stat to power and power to class. There can always be some powers that select a specific different stat if it makes sense, and damage bonuses can always be set by the power for instance.



If you want a really good example of this play Demon Souls, where if you wanted to use say a katana your dexterity mattered alot more than your strength. While 4th mentioned this it never really appeared that much aside from powers and feats.

So long as this doesn't turn into 2E's eighty-something polearm variants...
What about making power choices much broader, not limited to classes, and instead giving power selection based on the weapon you're currently wielding?  That way players not only have a choice of weapon, they also get to choose more variety based on the weapon they're using.  Or maybe each weapon gives access to two "at-will" powers described in the weapon entry, with some overlap.  Then magic weapons, instead of giving static bonuses to hit, might give access to an upgraded version of the base powers.



Awesome idea.  This would be great!

There are just too many weapons in general. I think you can pretty well express the entire range of melee weapons in maybe at most a dozen entries. I think a lot of the weapon properties were really fairly meaningless, like high crit and brutal in particular should just never have existed. If it does more damage, just give it a bigger die size.  OTOH I'd cut the range of die sizes back again too. d6, d8 and d10 is really more than enough. Once you do that then mostly the details of what your weapon is exactly are fluff.



I agree that there are too many weapons that just aren't useful.  I think it would be a good idea to just use weapon groups, personally.  The other weapons that are all basically the same but no one ever picks can just be listed as options without needing special stats for each.  Really, you'd only have something like the following for choices that need powers/abilites then:


  • Light blades (daggers, short swords, etc...)

  • Heavy blades (longsword, greatsword, etc... Differentiate two-handed use with powers?)

  • Battle Axes (lump battle axe and greataxe together with different powers for using two-handed? This could work for the large blades too if you wanted to combine them with medium blades.)

  • Hand axes (as it's name implies, though you may want to classify something like a cleaver here too)

  • Hammers (Might as well lump the hammers and maces together.  For big hammers see above with greataxe/greatsword idea)

  • Polearms (they're all basically the same statistically right now for all intents and purposes

  • Bows (lump 'em all together... Honestly, unless you weren't proficient with a short bow you probably used a long bow anyways)

  • Crossbows (even the hand crossbow... no reason for exotic weapons in such a system truthfully)

  • Thrown weapons (only for specialty weapon powers; daggers would likely have this group in addition to light blades so some extra weapon power options for thrown weapon rogues would be nice)

  • Slings (I picture some richochet shot powers would be cool with a sling)


Various weapons could potentially fall into multiple categories, but that might be needlessly complex.  Instead, I'd just rather assume they fall in one category but have the option of choosing "Thrown Weapon" powers or perhaps even "Two Handed Weapon" powers as additional categories if the weapon applies to that particular usage.  Of course, there are some specialty weapons not listed above (whips, spiked chains, etc...) that might either need their own categories at the cost of being too specific or would have to be lumped into a catch-all "specialty weapons" type of category.  It occurs to me that the ones I actually mention could just be "Chained Weapons" or something similar though.

In terms of having bonuses to various rolls based on weapon type, I'd personally rather not have extra modifiers to remember.  I'd rather go the route of having more options to use the weapon in interesing ways via powers as quoted above.  I did like that accuracy factored into the weapon stats in 4e though, but this would only continue to apply if we assume less acurrate weapons have a slightly higher damage by one die type so that doesn't lend itself to reducing the number of damage dice possible. 

I think feats are worth pointing out here too... instead of weapon focus (or in addition to it?) providing just a bonus for using a type of weapon, perhaps it can serve as a way to learn extra weapon powers.  That way the weapon feats make you better with a weapon, and you get a cool power to show off in additioin to that.  I really think feats should provide abilities rather than just modifiers.
The 4e weapon system isn't too bad... what really bogs it down is the spaming to 'identical' (or almost identical) weapons...


I would kind of like to see some sort of 'speed' statistic, though I'm not certain how that should be handled...


The three super-catagories works, it just needs a bit more differentiation in the groups...     
I would kind of like to see some sort of 'speed' statistic, though I'm not certain how that should be handled...

2e had this as an initiative penalty.

'Making weapon chioce matter' has been tried a lot in D&D.  1e had a huge table of weapons, with fiddly stats.  Some weapons were better for attack Large creatures, others vs smaller.  Some were better at hitting vs heavy armor, or light armor, or shields.  They had different lengths, space required, and ranges. Some could do extra damage in oddball circumstances, or disarm or unhorse an enemy.   But all those fiddly rules were generally ignored, and most magic weapons found were longswords, so out of the lowest levels, you just used the damn magic longswords you found - often a golf bag full of 'em.

Later 1e and 2e had weapon specialization, which locked you into a single weapon from level one.  Most magic weapons were still longswords, but TWF made double-specializing with a couple of hand axes deadlier than most magic weapons. 

3e also tried to make each weapon a little different, but those differences also tended to be overshadowed by specialization.  4e didn't do a lot better, with some powers calling for certain weapons, and focus & 'expertise' locking PCs into a weapon group.  Both priced and placed magic weapons such that a PC was likely to have only one really competative magic weapon at any given point in his career - again, forcing the PC to choose a single weapon.

So 'weapon choice mattering' has generally boiled down to 'you only get to choose one weapon,' which leads to players choosing genericly obvious best or generally-best-all-around weapons, which ends up a choice that, really, doesn't matter much.



Making weapons tactically different enough, and specializtion mild enough in power, that it'd make sense to carry and use several different weapons would be great.  Making having the best possible magic weapon less vital would also help make weapon choices more meaningful, rather than having them dictated by the need to depend upon one weapon all the time.


Making weapon proficiency give you martial power swaps'd be pretty cool, too.  It'd be a nice alternative to specialization.  It doesn't cost anything - you end up with the same number and effectiveness of powers as everyone else, but it lets you add choice and distinctiveness to your character based on the weapon(s) he chooses to use.   A feat or feature might even let some martial characters swap such powers as quickly as they swap weapons, giving weapon choice some meaningful versatility round-to-round.

 

 

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I really like the idea of modular weapons and point buy for modifiers.

Then you could spend a feat to buy another modifier and build your elite longsword with Brutal 1 a savage sword with jags and barbs or reduce it from 1d8 to 1d6 and get Brutal without a feat and have a razor sharp sword that when it hits always hurts or sack versatile increase it to 1d10 and have a Broadsword or sack versatile and keep 1d8 and add grab for a hooked sword.

I do think this would mean that they'd be hard pressed to make new weapons in the long run.

I think they should get rid of leveled weapons, armor and neck slots, being forced to upgrade that stuff is busy work and makes it seem like magic swords occur in an adventurers life 10 to 15 times. Magic items should be a bit rarer, have some cool effects and not be absolutely necessary for the pluses to defence and accuracy.
There are already multiple fighter powers with "Special: If you use [Weapon], you [whatever]." Plus, feats.

Certainly, I agree with PhB 1 weapons being kinda lukewarm/all the same, but with AV, there's some more diversity. 

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Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

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There are already multiple fighter powers with "Special: If you use [Weapon], you [whatever]." Plus, feats.

Certainly, I agree with PhB 1 weapons being kinda lukewarm/all the same, but with AV, there's some more diversity. 



I'm well aware of this, but I personally don't feel it was that well done.  It was less, "because I fight with this weapon, i can do this..." and more "because I fight with this weapon, I have to take this power, and these feats if I want to do special things with it...though I may be better off in the long run with this other power and these other feats".
wow im sorry it made you feel that way. i always felt the mechanics supported my weapon choices in those instances. heck even the 'shield required' fighter powers had great flavor and a nice mechanical way of backing it up, in my estimation
It would be good to have a very short list of general powers (or attacks) you can do with any weapon as a basic foundation, and then a tree for each weapon group.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

Here's a crazy idea o' mine.

Those of you familiar with 4th edition D&D know the feats Spiked Chain Training, Whip Training, ect.? For those that don't, here's the basics: these were multiclass feats (instead of taking levels in another class, you took specific feats that gave you very limited class stuff; you're also limited to only one multiclass), and usually had noteworthy prerequisites. The benefit was proficiency in the weapon specified, and curious additions. For example, Spiked Chain Training had you treat the spiked chain as a light blade (like daggers), and rogues could use it for sneak attack. The whip imposed a penalty to attack rolls on whoever it hit. These feats changed the way the weapons worked from the norm.

So here's my thinking: no weapon charts. If there are weapon charts, they just look like equipment charts. No stats, aside from cost and weight. Why? Because proficiency would be completely tied to feats or feat-like items. A fighter might get Highland Greatsword Proficiency while a Barbarian knows Wildborn Greatsword Training. The former would be more accurate but less damage, having a property that is strategic. The latter would be more damaging but less accurate, and its property or properties would emphasize doing even more damage (such as rerolling all 1s on damage).

This would make weapon choice quite interesting because it means that weapons could potentially do anything, so long as there was a feat for it. How's that idea?
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
I disagree. I think weapon choice should be less important. When "to hit" is the king of bonuses, all I see are people using swords. I'd rather have special effects be character powers, not a feature of weapons.
I think weapon choice should matter less.  In 4e your weapon of choice does matter.  Because you feat the heck out of it.  Then the DM has little choice but to check your Wish List for the next weapon you want and keep your Enhancement bonus on scale with the campaign.  Once your feat invested, and your already feat invested with feat taxation, your stuck on that track. 

"No DM, my character build depends on the Alfsair spear and I don't see a +4 one in this treasure."

The 4e Proficiency bonus alone means many weapons hurt your character.  But there should be some balance to damage.  2nd had speed, but that was tied into more convoluted rules for combat. 

I think if there were less difference, it would come down to flavor.  Take whatever feat you want to get whatever effect you would like, but it shouldn't become a limitation on your character.
If you want less, you could always go with the gamma world model of 1 handed, two handed fast (dex or int) 1 handed two handed strong (con or str) and then just describe what your weapon looks like.

I don't think that oversimplification would play out as well in DnD though.