This, along with the missile weapons, are a part of the game I agonized over way too much. In particular, I fiddled with their damage and properties until each each was distinct from all the others.
The items on the list are basically a merging of the OD&D and B/X weapons lists. I wanted something that would be broadly compatible with the original editions. So I stuck to the original prices or took averages where editions diverged.
I also did not want to offer situational bonuses for specific weapons against particular types or armor, like for example OED does. I think that is adding a level of complexity that does not fit the simple and fast-playing game we want to be playing.
- I rationalized the damage as follow: 1d4 for small weapons; 1d6 as a baseline; 1d8 for two-handed weapons with reach or versatile weapons wielded in two hands; 1d10 for two-handed weapons with no reach. (I took some inspiration from Skerples for this.)
- If it wasn’t obvious, “reach” means a weapon can be used to fight from the second rank. “Versatile” means the weapons can be wielded in one or two hands. “Oversized” means the weapon takes up two slots.
- Pikes, lances, pole-arms and halberds are a bit of a mess in the original editions. I decided to make pikes and lances functionally the same weapon, with certain benefits gained when fighting from horseback. Halberds I used to model large axes that do not quite have reach. Pole-arms I used for the plethora of slashing/stabbing/hooking implements that do have reach.
- The keen-eyed observer will see that spears are incredibly useful, as they should be. Note, however, that the 1d8 damage die is only rolled when using the weapon with two hands without reach.
- The flail is the two-handed variant that might have actually seen some use in the late medieval and early modern eras. I designed it to basically be the cleric’s alternative for the fighter’s zweihander.
- The bows are balanced against each other by trading rate of fire for damage. (My rules don’t have multiple shots for regular bows like some of the classic games do. My combat round lasts 10 seconds. I follow Delta’s reasoning for this.)
- The eponymous arquebus is the only deviation from “official” classic D&D weapons. I added it to the list because I wanted to add some early modern flavor to my game and guns are a big part of the battlefield in that era. However, I again went for simplicity, so it is basically a souped-up heavy crossbow that has an even worse rate of fire, and a heavier ammo kit. My main reference for this was the firearms appendix of Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
- Those “Ud” notes are usage dice (taken from The Black Hack) which are rolled after each combat. In my game, no-one enjoys counting individual missiles, except when they are remarkable in some way (magic arrows, silver arrows, etc.)
- Edit (August 15, 2021): I should add missile weapons all have the same range. All missile attacks are at -1 for every 10 feet beyond the first 30 feet. Thrown weapons can’t go beyond 60 feet. (This, like so much else, was taken from Delta.)
- Armor really is incredibly straightforward. The only deviation from the classic rulesets is the pricing, for which I followed Delta’s intervention to make chain and plate more expensive.
I’m sure there are more teeny tiny details that might catch your eye or you might think are odd. Suffice to say that I don’t think I left any aspect of each single item unconsidered.
That’s all for melee weapons, missile weapons and armor. The next post about Hackbut will most likely be about every OSR blogger’s favorite topic: encumbrance.