Monday, October 13, 2008

Fantasy: Rethinking "Simplifying Weapons"

Seemed like such a good idea when I thought of it, but while speaking with a friend about RPGs last night (and "SotS" in particular), I hit upon a reason not to simply reduce weapons to category/aspect: Armor.

Right now, Medium armor is strong against slashing and Heavy is strong against slashing and bashing. And I like it that way. It offers a broad but elegant representation of different armor types. But if I take away aspects like "Slashing" and "Bashing" from weapons, it won't be as readily apparent which weapons slash/bash and which don't. In other words, I'd be relying even more on pre-existing player knowledge of various weapons to make the system work as intended, and I'm not entirely comfortable with that.

Yes, in the description of the weapon I can just say which ones slash and bash, but it isn't as mechanically transparent as giving assigning "Slashing" and "Bashing" aspects. The last thing I want to do here is muddy the waters.

Instead of saying that, for example, mail armor is strong against slashing weapons, I could list every weapon by name against which the armor is strong, but that feels lame in the extreme.

If I want to leave that weapon/armor interaction intact, I think my only real option is to go back to the previous method of separated name and aspects.

Don't get me wrong: To me, it feels perfectly natural to say "I tag your weapon's 'Scimitar' aspect to give my Armor roll a +2." In fact, that sort of thing even goes some way toward answering the question of why anyone with a high Melee would defend using Armor. You can't tag "Scimitar" to help with your Melee defense, but, since slashing weapons perform poorly against Medium armor, now it's an aspect that's actually useful to you. I just don't think it's necessarily fair to assume that all players will know how various weapons are used.

Maybe codified keywords within their descriptions, like "Scimitars have curved blades primarily designed for slashing attacks." I dunno.

I have some other rambling ideas to try to address this (like giving every weapon two aspects: one a primary aspect that grants a +2 bonus, and a secondary that grants a +1 bonus), but nothing coherent, so I'll stop typing before I embarrass myself too much.


Unknown said...

I agree whole-heartedly with this post. (I think I did a few posts ago, actually) :)

Anyhoo, congrats on the nuptials!

Mike Olson said...


That's true, you did raise concerns about this before, but honestly, it wasn't until I thought of its interaction with armor that I had a problem with it myself.