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Design Decisions: Weapon Damage

I thought it might interesting to put my thoughts about different design decisions I’ve made with Fantasy Adventure Stories (FAST). I welcome any insights or questions in the comments. Please, attempt to make them constructive. I don’t expect that everyone will agree with my decisions and that’s fine by me. Hearing dissenting views is a worthwhile activity.

One of the major places that FAST departs from most of the OSR clones I’ve read is how it determines weapon damage. Most of the games have a weapon table that lists all the weapons in the system and it gives damage for each weapon. Some of this is a nod towards accurate world simulation. After all it seems that a great sword should do more damage than a dagger. It’s 6 feet long while the dagger is 6 inches long. Bigger is better in most instances, right?

My reading of these games is a little different. While I can see the whole realism angle I think the primary reasoning behind all the different weapon damages is to limit the typical damage available to each class in martial combat. Hence the Cleric cannot use edged weapons. Not because it makes much sense for a warrior priest to be unable to do so but because that class needs to be more limited in its damage output when compared to a Fighter. Mages are even more restricted for the same reason.

In FAST I decided to forgo the aforementioned weapons tables and simply link weapon damage to the character’s class and level. Fighters do 1d8 at 1st level and can eventually do 1d12. Clerics and Thieves start at 1d6 and eventually go up. Mages come in a 1d6 and stay there throughout their careers.

So, a Fighter with a dagger still does more damage than another class with a longsword. Why? Because that’s the Fighter’s shtick. The Fighter does lots of damage in combat with weapons. That’s cool by me.

It also means that a Fighter with a dagger is just as effective as a Fighter with a greatsword. I’m good with this too. I can think of lots of literary instances where a warrior was expert with a quarterstaff or dagger and considered just as dangerous with those as another warrior with a sword. Decoupling damage from weapon type means that in FAST a player can have a Fighter that uses daggers or clubs or quarterstaves without it being a sub-optimal choice. The specific weapon is window dressing. It is the fact that the character is a Fighter that makes it dangerous.

Now I don’t have to come up with weapon lists available for each class. Any class can become skilled with any weapon without worrying about stepping on the toes (niche) of another class.

So, if anyone was wondering why I made damage work the way I did, now you know.

Published inDesign DecisionsFantasy Adventure StoriesRole-playing

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