Many playtesters argue that martial classes are doing too much damage early on. Indeed, the latest packet confirms that: "Certain player characters deal more damage than desired."
In addition, the higher one's level becomes the less and less weapon choice seems to matter. In a 20th-level fighter's hands, a dagger does nearly as much damage as a greatsword. Two-handed weapons are simply not viable when the alternative (to pick up a shield) is much better.
What's the goal of this module?
To reduce damage from martial classes early on and ensure that stronger weapons continue to be viable choices at high levels. Also, I want the changes to be as simple as possible, without changing the core game too much. I am hoping something very much like this will appear in the next packet.
How to implement:
Remove "martial damage dice" (MDD) and replace with "weapon damage dice," represented by [W].
If your class level grants +Xd6 martial damage dice, instead treat that as granting X weapon damage dice. All classes roll 1[W] at first level and have the same progression chart as the original MDD (except Clerics and Wizards, see below). If maneuvers reduce you to 0 dice, you still deal damage equal to your attribute modifier plus other bonuses.
Additional changes required:
Fighters: Parry ability uses only weapon damage dice to reduce damage. Do not add skill die.
Clerics: 1[W] at 1st level, 2[W] at 7th level, 3[W] at 13th, 4[W] at 19th. Martial damage bonus +5 at level 18, as before.
Wizards: 1[W] at 1st level. No martial damage bonus.
Let's see some examples:
Before, if a 1st-level fighter rolled 1d8 + STR + 1d6 for damage, he now only rolls 1d8 + STR. If the same fighter used a 1-die maneuver, he would lose one [W], and his damage would be equal to his STR mod (plus magic bonuses and such).
If a 7th level barbarian previously rolled 1d12 + STR + 3d6, he now rolls 3d12 + STR.
A katana-wielding, 11th-level fighter spending two dice on a maneuver rolls 4d10 + STR for damage.
Results: Assuming a fighter with 16 Strength wielding a longsword using [W], as compared to MDD:
- Reduces 1st level damage by 31.8% (or -60.0% when using a 1-die maneuver).
- Reduces 3rd level damage by 17.2%. (-31.8% with 1-die maneuver, -60% with 2-die).
- Reduces 7th level damage by 1.9%. (-6.5% with 1-die maneuver, -12.8% with 2-die, -21.9% with 3-die)
- Increases 20th level damage by 3.1%, while reducing damage by 3.9% when using a 3-die maneuver. In other words, there is not much of a change.
Comparing the above fighter's average longsword damage to a dagger and greatsword:
- Under MDD, at level 1, a dagger used to deal 81.8% damage of a longsword while a greataxe dealt 118.2% of a longsword's damage. That was a respectable difference, but it only shrinks as you gain levels. At level 20, the disparities shrank to 95.9% and 104.1%, respectively.
- Now, from levels 1-20 a dagger deals roughly 67-76% damage of a longsword while a greataxe deals 124-133%. There is no shrinking disparity but instead a relatively constant ratio.
Please forgive the roughness! I doubt this makes any sense but to me, but I am pretty sure it holds up. I looked at the average damage of a longsword-wielding fighter (with +3 STR) at levels 1, 3, 7, and 20. I compared average damage under the old MDD and the new WDD and also looked at dagger (d4) vs. longsword (d8) vs. greataxe (d12). Each of those steps adds +2 to the previous average. I did not assume magic bonuses. Martial damage bonus progression has not been altered. Certainly a spreadsheet could provide a more thorough analysis.
LEVEL 1 = avg dmg, -1 die, -2, -3
1d8 + STR (3) + 1d6
4.5 + 3 + 3.5 = 11, 7.5
dagger (1d4) avg deals 81.8% of above avg, 11
greataxe (1d12) avg deals 118.2% of above avg, 11
1d8 + STR (3)
4.5 + 3 = 7.5, 3
dagger 73.3% of above avg, 7.5
greataxe 126.6% of above avg, 7.5
1d8 + STR (3) + 2d6
4.5 + 3 + 7 = 14.5, 11, 7.5
2d8 + STR (3)
9 + 3 = 12, 7.5, 3
1d8 + STR (3) + 4d6 + 5
4.5 + 3 + 14 + 5 = 26.5, 23, 19.5, 16
4d8 + STR (3) + 5
18 + 3 + 5 = 26, 21.5, 17, 12.5
1d8 + STR (3) + 6d6 + 20
4.5 + 3 + 21 + 20 = 48.5, 45, 41.5, 38
6d8 + STR (3) + 20
27 + 3 + 20 = 50, 45.5, 41, 36.5
- Bigger weapons => significantly better fighter parries (even without skill die). After losing damage to maneuvers, I don't see this as a bad result.
- Some maneuvers greatly benefit from a d8/d10/d12 die roll. Anything that adds the die roll to something other than damage might be suspect. There aren't too many, and most belong to the monk, whose unarmed strike will be locked at a d6 anyway.
- Some maneuvers may be "worse" because more damage is sacrificed to execute the maneuver. However, at low level many enemies have very low HP. Splitting a 1d8 + DEX (3) attack into a two-target Rapid Shot would still kill two kobolds, dealing 3 damage to both of them.
- The feat Weapon Focus (reroll 1s) is worse, while Weapon Mastery is better (reroll 1-2 dice of choice). Easy to fix these feats, if necessary.
- Should sneak attack and combat surge be based on weapon damage dice? Fear the doubled 6d12 greatsword!
No system is perfect, but I hope this makes low-level combat more balanced while encouraging the flavor of high-damage weapons. Now wizards and two-handed barbarians can have fun too!