Walls, Doors, and Weapons

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
I don't mind the kick in the door philosophy of play, but lately, I've been running into a little problem.

It's what I like to call the "Hack through the wall" style of play. Under no circumstances should 4e allow people to power attack with their weapons, no matter how mightily forged, through three inch thick walls of stone.

It lessens drama, removes the need for the trapfinding rogue, and takes the genre to a different and unnecessary level.

Make no mistake. In a superheroic genre, where Spider-Man and the guy with an S on his chest hold sway, I think crashing through the wall IS a part of the genre and it should be encouraged whenever possible. I publish for Hero System. More power to that logic in that type of superhero setting.

But this is a fantasy game with a different set of dramatic rules. It's stupid and not a lot of fun for a DM, and as a DM, you should have fun running your game. Even Conan never hacked through the stone wall of a castle with an axe.
Isn’t there a section in one of the books about using the “appropriate” weapon (I think the example given is trying to use a hammer to cut a rope.) What if the player is using a hammer or pick-axe on the wall?
Arrr, there be a simple solution to that, matey! Bein' a Dwarven Archpirate, I don't mind diggin' and all, but there 'as t' be a stop t' that nonsense...

Just make the walls thicker than 3 bleedin' inches and take heed of the large amount o' HP the wall gets in addition t' Hardness 8 to 10. According to the PHB, a hewn stone wall with wall 3 feet widehas a Hardness of 8 and 580 HP, more than most Dragons yer average heroes keep runnin' into...

Sit back and relax, as long as they don't have adamantine weapons, they 'll take hours hacking away at the wall t' get a sizeable hole. Also, piercing weapons only deal half damage. All in all, even with adamantine weapons this should take a while. A 20th level barbarian with some doublehanded weapons power attack and strength max'd to 30 would be able to deal 50 damage (for strength +10 and PA alone) to a wall per attack (up to 200 per round), but that's an extreme example. But then, Power attack isn't the tool fer breaking objects - that 'd be Improved Sunder.

Even better, throw some monsters at them, attracted by the noise, have some cave-ins blocking their path. If yer PCs think on keeping that 's smart, then drop a couple o' rocks on their thick heads. After all, it says in the DMG, that no walls should be less than 3 feet thick as they support all the wight above 'em.

Other than that, I see more a problem with siege engines not doing enough damage against objects.

Better to fight windmills than become a miller!

I agree, clobbering walls should be very noisy.

The players may choose to avoid the door but the monsters can still use them (or if an ooze, flow around them).

If the players are bashing on walls then the monsters should think to themselves under the basic flee or fight consideration.

If they think that something powerful enough to go bashing through the wall then they may pack up and move to get more help. This could end up with the players breaking through a few walls to come to a room that has 'accumulated' the monsters of several smaller encounters all together making a very exciting breach encounter for the players.

If the monsters feel they are tough enough to fight what is on the other side of the wall then they are at least going to go into ambush positions and be ready to hit the heroes with their best shots on round 1 of the combat. Note the monsters should be considered to have held action which means they are going to get a huge bonus on their iniative in that first round.
Meh… this one hasn’t been a problem at my table but I can see the OP’s point.

My recommendation: If this really is a recurring problem, halt the game and ask the players in all seriousness, “does this feel dumb to you?” If the majority answers "yes" (maybe even count sheepish looks at the floor as “yes”) then subtract one action point from each player. Perhaps the PC’s just ‘feel less heroic’ and that can be the rationale.
There's also a little thing called DMs discretion and if the players are trying to do something silly like that it would go as follows.

Me: "Okay, you want to hack through the wall with your sword? Roll for damage."

Them: "Okay, 23 points"

Me: "Excellent, but whereas swords are not designed for hacking through solid stone walls, the sword takes 23 points of damage too. Care to continue?"
It is a little ridiculous how easy walls are to cut through. Your average 20th-level fighter can do 250 damage per round to any wall. He cuts through a 10-ft.-by-10-ft. section of 5-ft. thick of stone in four rounds. About 24 seconds. And that's with just 26 strength, which is only barely superhuman.

Giant tunnel boring machines are supposedly lucky to get through 130 feet in a day.
As have been said, the trick is to make the weapon take damage.
As have been said, the trick is to make the weapon take damage.

Around level 7, my Monk picked up a small adamantine weapon for the specific purpose of wall/door removal.

My characters do what makes sense. The trick is to have it not make sense in game terms not to apply arbitrary rules. "My sword is taking damage from hitting the stone wall, but not from hitting the iron golem?"
It is a little ridiculous how easy walls are to cut through. Your average 20th-level fighter can do 250 damage per round to any wall. He cuts through a 10-ft.-by-10-ft. section of 5-ft. thick of stone in four rounds. About 24 seconds. And that's with just 26 strength, which is only barely superhuman.

Giant tunnel boring machines are supposedly lucky to get through 130 feet in a day.

Uh, by 20th level, you're basically playing a guy who rivals the power of many demigods.

I don't think being able to pummel your way through a bunch of solid stone with your sword is particularly unreal at that level. Hell, I'd be more dissapointed if it wasn't an option. Honestly, I'd expect to be able to do that with my BARE HANDS at that level.
Around level 7, my Monk picked up a small adamantine weapon for the specific purpose of wall/door removal.

My characters do what makes sense. The trick is to have it not make sense in game terms not to apply arbitrary rules. "My sword is taking damage from hitting the stone wall, but not from hitting the iron golem?"

You know, monks are used to break stuff with their hands.


Yeah, is disturbing how indestructible are weapons in D&D regardless what you do with it.
Uh, by 20th level, you're basically playing a guy who rivals the power of many demigods.

Not really. Especially not if you use the epic level rules for demigods.

If the fighter had enough strength for it to make sense, I might not have a problem with the practice.

Anyways, a level-10 fighter with an adamantine greatsword can still hack through three feet of stone in under a minute.
Well, that's a problem with adamantine, a special material that ignores hardness. To adamantine weapons, you aren't cutting through stone, but through butter. I can cut through three feet of butter in under a minute. Though it would be messy.
Another consideration that might limit this is the concept of "load bearing walls". Some walls not only exist to partition rooms, but to hold up part of the ceiling. Hack through the wrong part of the wall, and the character's get to deal with a cave-in or collapsing that part of the building.
The adamantine doesn't make that much difference. With just a +1 greatsword, the 10th-level fighter can get through three feet of stone in about a minute.