Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Variable Weapon Damage for Holmes - What If?

The Blue Book states that the attacker "then makes another dice roll, with one 6-sided die, to see how many points of damage were done by the hit (The more complex system used for advanced play allows for varying damage by different weapons and by various sorts of monsters)" (pg 18). While the aside is at odds with the Monster List, which does include variable damage for monsters, the rules do not provide for variable damage for weapons. But what if Holmes had chosen to include variable weapon damage for characters? Here is a hypothetical table:


This table is derived from a similar table on page 15 of Greyhawk, which was the only published "complex system for advanced play" allowing for variable weapon damage available at the time Holmes edited the Blue Book.

The Holmes equipment list is nearly identical to that from OD&D, so all of the Holmes weapons are found in the Greyhawk table, and are reproduced here. I included weapons referenced in the Holmes rules but not found in the equipment list: sling stone, javelin, club, war hammer and quarter staff. Of these, the war hammer and sling stone are found in the Greyhawk table. For javelin, club and quarter staff I used values from AD&D. The exception is javelin, which I changed to 1-4 (in line with Moldvay) to balance its far greater range versus the spear.

The notation on two-handed weapons comes from Holmes, page 20, which refers to the "heavy two-handed sword, battle axe, halberd, flail, morning star, and most pole arm". All of these are also indicated in the Greyhawk table as needing 4' or more of space on each side of the wielder.

I've also added the costs for each weapon for comparison purposes.

One complaint regarding variable weapon damage is that the magic-user suffers, being reduced to doing only 1-4 points of damage. This can be offset by allowing the magic-user to use the quarter staff.

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