Tuesday, August 14, 2007

d20 System: Weapon Speed Variant

Just a quick house rule that popped into my head today, a way to reflect the fact that you can swing a knife faster than a greatsword without throwing off the system balance.

You know how every 5th point of base attack bonus grants you an additional attack at an additional -5 penalty?. For example, when you go from a BAB progression of +10/+5 to +11/+6/+1. So in this variant, for the purpose of determining extra attacks of this type, light melee weapons give you +5 to your effective base attack bonus while large melee weapons give a -5 penalty. Nonproficiency penalties also count in this situation. Also, if after doing the math your effective BAB is 0 or less, you need to make a full attack or full-round charge action to attack in melee.

So: a level 1 fighter with a greatsword must make a full attack or full-round charge action to attack in melee. That same fighter gets two attacks with a short sword, as the +5 bonus raises his hypothetical BAB to +6/+1 and thus gives him an effective progression of +1/-4 instead of just +1. At level 11 that same fighter's effective progression is +11/+6 with a greatsword and +11/+6/+1/-4 with a short sword. If he instead attempts to use a large exotic weapon he's not proficient in (such as a guisarme) the additional -4 penalty reduces his hypothetical BAB to +2 and thus reduces his effective progression to a straight +11. Am I making any sense? This is supposed to tread the line between having a neglible effect on the game and screwing up weapon balance, and I think it succeeds.


Bigode said...

First, the small weapons' extra attack. Essentially, what you lose by using a smaller weapon's a pittance in damage (basically; I know there's other details), while the extra attack, at high levels, adds lots of damage in, so small weapons > large weapons, which I guess isn't exactly desirable. With one exception: since dual-wielding sucks and is exactly the thing the best weapons don't do, using this might help make non-rogue dual-wielding balanced. But how things turn out for the guy with one dagger vs. one greatsword ...

The further nerf to large weaponry: maybe it'd help balance two-handed weapons vs. 2 weapons, but in that case you might not need the boost above. But there are 2 fairly large problems IMO: a) balancing two-handed weapons down hits problems with how warriors in general already are lacking and how non-optimized warriors already can hit problems with high-hp monsters; and b) not being able to move and attack (even with it being only at low levels - though one could say "those are the levels most people actually play at") sucks - one of the big things about Tome of Battle was there being decent things for high-level characters to do after moving, you shouldn't want that to be reversed at low levels.

Dagda said...

The goal of this house rule's to make weapon choice more interesting by making more of the options actually viable- it's fine for the dagger is supposed to be weaker than the greatsword, but I don't want a longsword to automatically be a dumb choice.

Balancing the warrior against other classes is beyond its scope. And I think that requiring a full attack to use a greatsword at low levels is perfectly fine- you're giving up mobility for a damage increase, it's a balanced tradeoff where you used to have one option directly beating out the other. And this coming up at low levels actually diminishes the problem in my eyes- remember how weak 3.X's casters are at that point?

Bigode said...

Now the greatsword's a dumb choice. And wizards at best are a bit underpowered - sorcerers go to town with heavy crossbows (almost as good as anything else), longspears (better than most everything else), and at least 4 color sprays/day if need be. That's actually rather awesome. Clerics are so slightly worse at fighting that 2 cure light wounds rank as a huge boon, and druids rock your face from 1 to 20 (and 1 might be the only level where they actually are horrendously overpowered compared to the other full spellcasters, not to mention the classes contained in merely one of its class features).

Anyway, I get that warrior-spellcaster balance isn't the goal here, but I'd say anything done for any reason that weakens warriors' unacceptable, and that there's still no-brainer choices. A.k.a. light weapons if you have large miscellaneous damage bonuses (which, at high levels' true even for non-rogues, as long as the character cares about weapon use at all), and not using a two-handed weapon in any case other than heavy opportunity attack specialization.