One Little Tweak

"Paxil deprived" by kevindooley on Flickr

"Paxil deprived" by kevindooley on Flickr

I ran a game of Searchers of the Unknown, a simplified and free original D&D rule set, at RyvenCon a while ago. ‘Twas fun, and the system worked well, but we agreed that it could use one little tweak.

This way, madness lies. It’s so tempting to house-rule a system because it’s “not perfect.” Soon, a rules-light system grows into a rules-moderate system.

Well, this is a minor issue, but a significant one. There are four kinds of weapons in Searchers:

  • Ranged weapons, worth 1d6 damage
  • Small melee weapons, like daggers, worth 1d4 damage
  • Medium melee weapons, like swords, worth 1d8 damage
  • Large melee weapons, like polearms and two-handed swords, worth 1d10 damage.

(The actual terms are a little different, but these are more clear for my purposes.)

Those are all of the stats for weapons. Thus, there’s no mechanical reason to wield a dagger instead of a polearm.

There’s a good reason for this: space. Searchers of the Unknown is supposed to fit on one page. Complicated weapon rules would take up space and, well, complicate the system.

However, Ryven came up with an ingenious rock-paper-scissors solution: what if medium weapons give you +1 on your attack roll against enemies carrying small weapons, large weapons give you +1 against enemies carrying medium weapons, and small weapons give you a +1 against enemies carrying large weapons (simulating the ability to duck around the large weapon)?

It’s an elegant solution, and though it does introduce a slightly more complicated attack roll, I think it’s worth the tweak to balance out the game.

Hope this helps!

3 responses to “One Little Tweak”

  1. Brendan

    An alternative solution I came up with was something called a “reflex attack roll”. After making a successful attack roll with any weapon except the heaviest, you roll against a Reflex Attack Number. If you roll equal to or under your RAN, you automatically get to roll for damage again. Since that’s another successful attack, you get to keep rolling for damage until you fail your Reflex Attack roll.
    In theory, somebody with a D4 could make dozens of reflex attack in a row on the same turn, but on average a d4 will do the same amount of amount of damage as any other weapon.
    Reflex Attack number (on a d12, 12 is a re-roll):1d4: 61d6: 41d8: 21d10: 0 (D10 weapon doesn’t get any reflex attacks)
    If “roll d12, reroll on a 12″ is too complicated, or you don’t have a d12, you can substitute a D6 and use these target numbers instead. Unlike the D12 reflex attack roll, a roll of 6 on a D6 doesn’t cause a reroll.
    1d4: 31d6: 21d8: 11d10: 0 (D10 weapon doesn’t get any reflex attacks)
    Using these numbers are slightly less balanced: On a d12 reflex attack a D4 weapon will do, on average, one tenth of a point of damage less than a D10 weapon. On a d6 reflex attack a D4 weapon will do, on average, half a point of damage less than a D10 weapon.

    1. Brendan

      Ugh, it messed up my formatting.  For d12 reflex attack numbers: 1d4 is 6, 1d6 is 4, 1d8 is 2, and 1d10 is zero.  For d6 reflex attack numbers: 1d4 is 3, 1d6 is 2, 1d8 is 1, and 1d10 is zero.

    2. Brendan

      God, I’m an idiot.  Somebody just pointed out that OD&D just had all weapons do the same amount of damage.  This is what I was trying to create mechanically, I just didn’t think to do it like that.

      New ruling: all weapons do 1d6 damage.  Peace out.

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