PDA

View Full Version : Weapon Proficiencies



Tailz Silver Paws
June 13th, 2006, 01:59
There seems to be two camps within the role-playing community when it comes to how to handle Weapon Proficiencies.

The first camp follows a simplified system – and this is the current system used in d20. With a wide range of weapons grouped into board categories, having just one proficiency makes a character proficient in a number of different weapons.

Simple Weapon Proficiency
Exotic Weapon Proficiency
Martial Weapon Proficiency

The core proficiency gives the character the understanding of how to use the group of weapons, but then taking feats such as Weapon Focus means the character has specialised or learned a better understanding of how one particular type of weapon works.

The other camp views the current system as being over simplified and prefer to use a system that groups weapons together by type and fighting style. Eg:

Bows
Crossbows
Pole Arms
Swords
Daggers/knifes
Pistol
Rifle
Etc…

Weapon Focus and the other feats such as it then function to show a characters greater level of understanding and training in how to fight with or the style of fighting of one type of weapon from the group.

Although the second method gives a character a narrow field of weapons to use, it better reflects the weapons themselves. Eg: In the simplified system by having the Simple Weapons Proficiency a character understands the fighting styles of the Dagger, Mace, Sickle, Club, Morning star, Spear, Quarterstaff, Crossbow, and sling. All of which have different styles of use to be effective as lethal weapons.

So where do you stand? Simple or Specialised?

LordTomar
June 13th, 2006, 03:02
My group uses the simple weapon profs... but if i had a choice I would like to use more specialized, though i would specialize it a little more then you suggested... like instead of swords, I would split that into slashing and thrusting swords... maybe even split it between 1 hand and 2 hand also.

But this is me just making things more complicated then they need to be.

richvalle
June 13th, 2006, 03:10
With Load Tomar. We use simple now (and that is how I voted) but I'll use specialized with the next campaign.

rv

kalmarjan
June 13th, 2006, 03:23
I see where you are going here. Just keep in mind that this was the way of 2nd edition. There is no problem with this if you do not mind that at high levels you will be limited in some options with feats if you want to take more than one "group."

Some of the monsters at the higher CR ratings take into account the feat trees that the characters are "supposed" to have.

While this would not really affect the fighter, who will have 19-20 feats by 20th level, the other classes will be severely hampered.

Just my .02 CP

Sandeman

Tailz Silver Paws
June 13th, 2006, 04:55
The current system is just too simple for me.

I’ve had a “work in progress” for quite a while, milling over how to do the weapon Proficiency. I think the current system is far too simplified, but I don’t want to get too complex. Here is my current rough draft for my World War II rules:

Weapon Proficiency (group)
The character is adept at the use of various silimalar forms of weapons. This feat may be selected multiple times with each selection being for a new group of weapons.
Weapon Groups: All weapons are broken down into weapon groups, these groups represent weapons with a similar function or style of use. Eg: the Foil group encompases swords that use a thrusting style of attack, while the Blade group encompases swords that use a slashing style of attack.

Simple - This group includes: knives, daggers (includes thrown daggers), and club style weapons such as a baseball bat, mace, or hammer.
Cannon - This group includes: anti-tank guns, field artillery.
MG - This group includes all light to heavy machine guns such as the BREN Gun or MG42. Cross over group: Rifle.
Pistol - This group includes all forms of pistols and hand guns. Cross over group: Rifle, SMG.
Projector - This group includes all forms of weapons that project a small bomb such as the PIAT or grenade launchers.
Rifle - This group includes all forms of rifles. cross over group: MG, SMG, Pistol.
Rocket - This group includes all hand held weapons that launch a rocket.
SMG - This group includes all assault class firearms such as sub-machine guns. cross over group: Rifle, Pistol.
Sword - This group includes all forms of swords.
Staff - This group includes all staff based weapons, includeing the spear.
Chain - This group includes all forms of weapon that use a chian, includeing numchucks.
Bow - This group includes all forms of weapon based of the bow, includeing the cross-bow.
Axe - This group includes all forms of axes both hand weilded and thrown.
Thrown - This group includes all specialised thrown weapons such as throwing spikes and shirikin.
Mortar - This group includes both light and heavy military mortars.
Missile - This group includes all heavy Second World War rocket weapons.

Benefit: The character makes attack rolls with weapons from the group normally.
Normal: A character without this feat takes the –4 nonproficient penalty when making attacks with weapons from a group he or she is not proficient in. Attacks from a cross over group are at -2 instead of -4 because of the similar style of use.
Special: Weapons that require technical training rather than skill of use do not require a Weapon Proficiency, instead these weapons use certain skills such as the Artillery skill. Without the relevant skill the weapon can not be used.

Craw
June 13th, 2006, 16:22
The current "simple" system is as highly specialized as any of the other systems mentioned. How many fighters don't take weapon focus and weapon spec. in a single weapon? Frankly, given the generic nature of weapons in 3.5e (of which I am a fan as a DM) higher penalties for non-proficiency don't make a lot of sense. "Simple weapons" are really low-damage weapons. "Martial weapons" are higher damage weapons. "Exotic weapons" either give a slight damage bonus, or special attack options. In the current mechanism, is there really that much difference between a longsword and a battle axe? And I realise that may specifically be why some want a more detailed proficiency system. If so, they should address the differences in weapons in conjunction with the proficiency system. Weapon speed, reach, armor type, etc. are all candidates for increased complexity. Of course, the increased complexity is exactly what the current system is set up to avoid. As an already harried DM, I avoid increased complexity like the plague. But others may not have such a problem.

Tailz Silver Paws
June 14th, 2006, 00:40
The current "simple" system is as highly specialized as any of the other systems mentioned. How many fighters don't take weapon focus and weapon spec. in a single weapon? Frankly, given the generic nature of weapons in 3.5e (of which I am a fan as a DM) higher penalties for non-proficiency don't make a lot of sense. "Simple weapons" are really low-damage weapons. "Martial weapons" are higher damage weapons. "Exotic weapons" either give a slight damage bonus, or special attack options. In the current mechanism, is there really that much difference between a longsword and a battle axe? And I realise that may specifically be why some want a more detailed proficiency system. If so, they should address the differences in weapons in conjunction with the proficiency system. Weapon speed, reach, armor type, etc. are all candidates for increased complexity. Of course, the increased complexity is exactly what the current system is set up to avoid. As an already harried DM, I avoid increased complexity like the plague. But others may not have such a problem.
I can understand the desire for simplicity from a stand point of not wanting to get bogged down in rules, but I find the current system of handling weapons proficiencies a little too simple.

I agree that to add in the nuisances of each weapon would just bog down the system, but from experience with my own martial arts training I know that various weapons, although similar, have very different fighting styles.

For example would you say that the fighting styles of the Dagger and the Mace are the same? Both are listed as simple weapons, but a user of either can easily tell you that a dagger is used for short stabbing jabs to puncture flesh, while a Mace is used with a swinging motion to use the weight in the head of the mace to smash an opponent.

The same can be said of modern weapons – take the rifle and the sub-machine gun. At first glance and to the novice user they both are just point and shoot weapons. But the rifle is a weapon effective at range with aimed shots from the shoulder; the sub-machine gun is a short-range weapon effective with bursts from the hip.

For me the current system is too simple, but at the same time I would not like to make it too complex.

Can there not be balance?

kalmarjan
June 14th, 2006, 02:20
For example would you say that the fighting styles of the Dagger and the Mace are the same? Both are listed as simple weapons, but a user of either can easily tell you that a dagger is used for short stabbing jabs to puncture flesh, while a Mace is used with a swinging motion to use the weight in the head of the mace to smash an opponent.

The same can be said of modern weapons – take the rifle and the sub-machine gun. At first glance and to the novice user they both are just point and shoot weapons. But the rifle is a weapon effective at range with aimed shots from the shoulder; the sub-machine gun is a short-range weapon effective with bursts from the hip.

I see exactly what you are saying. 2E tried to rectify this, and failed. 3E took it one step further, and introduced Weapon Focus/Weapon Specialization trees.

They fighting styles are indeed different, but as a fighter, you would be trained in all of the melee weapons, just enough not to cut yourself with the sharp end. (Basic training as you would.)

Later, if you decided that you would like to "focus" on the dagger style, then you get the bonus of +1 to attack, representing the effort that you have placed into learning that weapon. Then you could "specialize" with it and learn to deal out some greater damage. You could even improve both your specialization and focus with "Greater Focus" etc.

While I do not disagree with your WIP, one cautionary note: In 2E, if you ever tried to use a weapon that you were not proficient in, you were screwed. TSR tried to alliviate this with the "complete" series, adding in proficiencies in weapon groups.

Another thing that people do not really talk about. For us old timers that remember how AD&D was to play, and how AD&D 2E was to play, the rules were pretty complex, and open to a lot of interpretation. I remember when WOTC bought out TSR, I said to my best friend, "How long until you see D&D look exactly like magic?"

Now, with the simplified systems, and the styles of writing, that is exactly what D&D is today. MTG. Simple rules, "simple" combat, and the game has multiple revisions, errata, (even banned effects... polymorph anyone?) Today it is all about how you build your character up to the 20th level. It resembles a MTG deck. (We have Feat Trees, Spell Chains, "Stacking" - That one was invented by WOTC.)

And I beleive the game is better because of it.

Think about it for a minute; when you read a feat, do you not feel like you are reading an enchantment card? Or an Effect? Notice that the style of writing is "you" instead of "your character".

With 2E, the rules were bloated and complex. 3E succeeded (Even with a revision, mind you!) because the rules were streamlined. Now you don't need to worry that you took the Dagger Group and all you have on hand is a Longsword, so you now get -4 to attack.

Those are my thoughts, not yours, :)

Jason Sandeman

Tailz Silver Paws
June 14th, 2006, 03:41
I agree with kalmarjan, and I undershand where D&D has come from and where it went with WOTC - and I think the new direction has been healthy for th game.

The aproach I have taken has been to split of the broad groupings from the three core groups into weapons of similar fighting styles. To me thats not too complex and still retains some flexability.

Instead of these being: Simple, Exotic, and Martial Weapon Proficiency. There are just more groups.

The only point I get complexitiy is with cross over groupings. eg: If you have trained with a pistol, you can use all pistols without any mods. But pick up a rifle and you get only -2 instead of -4. Simply because a rifle is kinda used like a pistol, but slightly different. But pick up a sword, and its -4 as a sword and pistol are totaly different.

Everything else works the same.

Ged
June 14th, 2006, 09:53
I think that ICE's HARP has a rather good system for handling "weapon proficiencies", although there still remains some complexity that could be streamlined.

Weapons are classified into several classes (such as 1-handed edged, 1-handed concussion, and thrown),
which are subdivided into weapon groups (e.g. for 1-handed there are 4 groups including long blades and axes)
and further a default weapon is selected from the group. In summary, on might have skill for long sword, without the need to worry about groups and classes.

However, having the long sword weapon skill gives a bonus for using all 1-handed edged weapons and better bonus to all other long blades. The default weapon of a group can be changed by training for a week (for instance, from long sword to falchion).

Using the conversion mechanisms between Rolemaster and D&D 2nd edition :p (or just common sense;)), the rule could be quite easily adapted to d20.

(ICE offers the HARP lite (98 pages pdf of core rules) freely on their web site (http://www.harphq.com/).)

John_Geeshu
June 14th, 2006, 15:24
For d20 the simple weapon proficiency approach is best, considering the complexity of d20 combat rules. Personally, I prefer the specialized weapon proficiency approach for systems that have less of a focus on battles and more of a focus on combat itself. In my own rpg I use a very specialized weapon proficiency system where characters train not in groups of weapons but in individual weapons themselves, gaining a limited proficiency with related weapons. In my opinion, only pure warriors sould know how to wield a diverse range of weaponry. Non warrior-classes should not have access to very many weapons at all. Maybe just a knife, sword, or staff (staves being one of the easiest weapons to master).

Craw
June 14th, 2006, 17:13
Another issue with weapon proficiency is that the current d20 system attempts a balance throughout all phases of the game. I.E. choosing feats for your character is an agonizing decision because they are so well balanced. Playing a rogue? Do you take Weapon Focus or Improved Initiative? Or Point Blank Shot? Or Skill Focus in Hide? Also, feats are balanced against skills which are balanced against spells which are balanced against class features. When you dilute the effectiveness of a weapon proficiency feat, you change the balance in favor of other feats, classes and skills. Wizards are affected very little by changes to weapon proficiency as they don't rely on them. Fighters are extremely impacted. Do you grant additional feats to martial classes? Do you say one feat lets you pick X number of weapons?

Not to say that more realistic weapon proficiency systems aren't workable, but keep in mind that the changes are not made in a vacuum.

As for the real world difference between training with an axe versus a longsword, or a dagger versus a mace, no doubt the difference is even more pronounced than in any of the proposed systems. The differences between individual weapons of the same type probably warrant special treatment. Baseball players can be hugely affected by a single ounce of weight in a bat, after all. Of course, the systems are an abstraction and the real debate is over the level of abstraction that feels right for a particular group.

Tailz Silver Paws
June 15th, 2006, 01:52
I think that ICE's HARP has a rather good system for handling "weapon proficiencies", although there still remains some complexity that could be streamlined.

Weapons are classified into several classes (such as 1-handed edged, 1-handed concussion, and thrown),
which are subdivided into weapon groups (e.g. for 1-handed there are 4 groups including long blades and axes)
and further a default weapon is selected from the group. In summary, on might have skill for long sword, without the need to worry about groups and classes.

However, having the long sword weapon skill gives a bonus for using all 1-handed edged weapons and better bonus to all other long blades. The default weapon of a group can be changed by training for a week (for instance, from long sword to falchion).

Using the conversion mechanisms between Rolemaster and D&D 2nd edition :p (or just common sense;)), the rule could be quite easily adapted to d20.

(ICE offers the HARP lite (98 pages pdf of core rules) freely on their web site (http://www.harphq.com/).)
That system sounds a little too complicated even for me, and I like detail.

Dalagad
September 13th, 2006, 07:16
The most awe inspiring systems, in my opinion, involve a skill-chart style listing of weapons (sub-charted by category) with increasing penelties the further you get from a weapon you master. These systems are like ICE's HARP that Tailz Silver Pawz mentioned.

SYSTEM A A linear chart
For example (of a simple system like this, but not HARP): Say you are a super-master-uberslasher with a Rapier and have a +12 attack with it. Attacks with one handed slashing weapons would be in the +8-9 range. Attacks with one handed piercing weapons would be in the +8-9 range because of the pierce association.
Two handed slashing weapons are an entirely different style and would put me in the +2-3 range. I probably have a minus for two handed bashing weapons.

From the weapon of your choice on the master weapon chart (rapier in this example), count the weapons between it and the chair leg you just picked up and get your midifier by taking a minus from your attack for every weapon you move up or down the chart. Every actual category you cross (one handed piercing to one handed slashing) you get a much worse attack modifier (and maybe a damage modifier if Dam is being done seperately).

-------------------------------------------------
SYSTEM B A dynamic, 3 deminsional chart
Simple enough, but that's just the begining; because the weakness of systems like this is when the game designers make a linear list. Meaning you only go up or down the chart. Weapons are dynamic and you use many of them in simular ways for different reasons. To avoid oversimplification, your list has to be a series of small groups with the top and bottom slot of a particular group being a suggestion on what group you can link to. A dynamic system like this is rewarding in it's actual use at the gaming table but makes character concept and generation a nightmare.

Example: Let's have this system A)use STRENGTH for swinging a weapon with all your might and DEXTERITY for trying to hit critical areas, B)organize the lists according to motion of attack (with axes you make one handed overhead or horizontal swings, and with flails the same moves plus entangling sweeps) and C) organize the list with the smaller weapons at the bottom.

ONE HANDED Chopping these are STRENGTH weapons which you swing with all your might

From here go to Two handed list at Battleaxe (bottom of Two handed slashers chart) or go to short sword (bottom of one handed military slashers)
Axe
Hand axe
Cleaver
From here go to Club (bottom of one handed smashing chart) or optionally knife (bottom of one handed piercing chart)

ONE HANDED SMASHING these also happen to be STRENGTH weapons you swing with all your might.

From here go to club (bottom of two handed bashing)
Flail
Rod
Mace
From here go to cleaver (on one handed slashers chart) Or optionally to fist (bottom of unarmed chart)

Now's the cool part. You can pick up shortsword and use all that FLAIL knowlege you've been mastering. Just take a minus 1 for every weapon slot you move up or down a chart, and a minus 2 for every chart you cross. It's like the Kevin Beacon game.

Basically, you loose allot of playablility with systems like this, which is ironic because they are so rewarding to the individuals who master them.

When I say loose playability, I don't mean just slowing down the action at the gaming table. I mean loosing players as well. Many players want as much bang as they can get with ease of play. When you get a system like this all dialed in, don't be surprised to look up and find yourself alone at the gaming table.

I.C.E makes some very rewarding games with along this concept, but if they had playability we'd all be playing Rolemaster right now instead of D20.

Dalagad
September 13th, 2006, 07:22
Axe
Hand axe
Cleaver
From here go to Club (bottom of one handed smashing chart) or optionally knife (bottom of one handed piercing chart)
This should read:
Axe
Hand axe
Cleaver
From here go to Mace (bottom of one handed smashing chart) or optionally knife (bottom of one handed piercing chart)
See, I already messed it up. That kinda complexity is askin fer trouble.

Illrigger
September 13th, 2006, 18:22
Not really dealing with proficiencies, but I liked what they did in the Everquest RPG with weapon speeds. Essentially larger, slower weapons would reduce your BAB progression, and lighter, faster ones would increase it. In effect, at 20th level a fighter with a dagger would get 6 attacks per round, while one with a greastword would get 3. Magical effects like Speed would decrease the weapon's speed by one class, so a speed dagger could give 7 attacks, and a greatsword 4. It only added one stat to each weapon, and one chart to the book, but added a lot of balance to the weapons, and gave fighter types a reason to do something other than just pick the biggest weapon on the chart.

Tailz Silver Paws
September 15th, 2006, 00:27
After discussions with the gamers I game with, I have re-written my weapon proficiencies to be a cross between the D20 Modern ones and the D&D ones. That way people who know D&D or D20 will be able to follow the flow.

But I still like a more detailed system myself, but since I am putting together a World War II set for use with D20, I best stick with what D20 system players are used too.