Episode 95: Weapons: The Sword Part 2

He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword (or cancer).
In the second part of our look at the sword, we discuss how swords in games are more than just a type of die.


4 thoughts on “Episode 95: Weapons: The Sword Part 2

  1. Interesting discussion, but it raised a few questions on the current melee situation in D&D.
    Been a while since I played (last game was 1st Ed.), but do the more recent incarnations not take into account things like weapon Speed factor, space requirement and AC adjustment?
    I can remember back in the day that some parties would commonly take short swords because it meant they could pack more fighters abreast in a 10′ dungeon corridor, with lower speed factor meaning the chance that they could get two hits to an enemies one.
    Also, you would see folk choosing things like a footmans pick (aka the canopener) rather than a long sword when going against armored foes, because it had much higher chance to hit.

    I get the impression from your discussion that these factors are not included in the current D&D.
    If so, that’s a shame.

  2. Weapons have proficiency bonus, damage, range, price, weight, group, and properties. Some powers and feats are linked to the weapon group (type) and key words are found under properties (e.g., off-hand, versatile). The system is simpler than earlier editions. The emphasis in 4e is more on powers than weapons, even for fighters.

  3. Ah, now I see. Remove elements like speed/weapon length/different armor effectiveness, and you are left with damage as the only major distinguishing factor. It’s a no brainer that players just choose the one with the bigger hit dice.
    It seems like the 1st Ed AD& rules actually covered all the issues you discussed elegantly and quite simply.
    I can remember groups choosing short swords in attacking an Ogre heavy den so they could form a kind of 5-wide Roman shield wall. Another group actually used pikes and formed a kind of phalanx which was very effective in the tight corridors.
    It seems to me that the changes have removed interesting tactical options without markedly simplifying the mechanics.

    • You’re absolutely right, Grant. With nothing really mattering except damage die and price, players usually equip their characters with the most damaging weapon they can afford. There are some exceptions. Feats or abilities that allow characters to use their Dexterity modifier in melee combat when using certain types of weapons does create some choices. Reach is another factor, though you can’t really prevent an enemy from just walking past your spear tip to get into close range with you in a turn based system. I understand why weapons were simplified in later editions of the rules (less bookkeeping during combat), though it’s a shame doing so made the type of weapon you carry almost irrelevant.

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