2-handed weapons: damage delimma

dave2008

Legend
I have often wandered about why we don't add strength modifiers twice to damage with 2-handed weapons. I mean, if I get a +4 when swinging a longsword one-handed, why not +8 when I use it 2-handed. I realize the dice jumps a bit, but from my own experience with swords it doesn't seem enough to me. I also realize this increase the damage, and I am OK with that (within reason). I have two ideas:
  1. When wielding a weapon two-handed, you can make an attack with disadvantage on the attack roll, and on a hit you apply your strength modifier twice on the damage roll, or...
  2. Reduce the weapon damage and always apply 2x modifier damage. So a long sword is always 1d8, but when you use it 2-handed you double your strength modifier damage; a greatsword would be 1d10 + 2x STR mod; etc.
Any thoughts?

EDIT: So I am leaning to option #2. If so, I would revise weapons so that:
dagger = 1d4
shortsword = 1d6
longsword = 1d8
greatsword = 1d10
 
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Stacking that with GWM might be a little strong, but you might not be using feats. Generally I like the idea. Incentivising GW use outside of feat use is a cool idea. It also makes the versatile property a lot more interesting.
 

Slit518

Explorer
I assume because most of the strength of an attack comes from your body and not the arm itself. For for example you're swinging your hips a bit to get that extra oomph, whether you use 1 arm or 2 arms.

The d12 will represent the larger damage because of the sheer size and weight of the weapon, compared to the d8 from the 1 handed counterpart.

One thing you learn from being a martial artist (and I assume a sword fighter), you don't just thrown a punch with your arm, you put your whole body into it (unless of course it is a jab).
 

dave2008

Legend
Stacking that with GWM might be a little strong, but you might not be using feats. Generally I like the idea. Incentivising GW use outside of feat use is a cool idea. It also makes the versatile property a lot more interesting.
I don't have much experience with GWM, my players are scared of the -5 to hit and don't use that feat. That being said, wouldn't it mitigate the effects somewhat? The +10 extra damage is not as much a gain if your already getting +10. ie. the relative increase from +5 to +15 damage, 3x damage with GWM and RAW, is more than the increase from +10 to +20, 2x damage with this rule. And of course your either dealing with reduced accuracy (disadvantage and -5 is rough) or less damage (1d10 vs 2d6).
 
If you want to get into biomechanics then the numbers in the OP are a pretty good rough guide. There's a reason baseball players, for example, use both hands on the bat. You can engage more large muscle groups and more of your core strength, and exercise better control. The damage difference between those the d8 and d12 probably doesn't cover the spread, and most of the the two handed weapons are a d10 anyway.
 

dave2008

Legend
I assume because most of the strength of an attack comes from your body and not the arm itself. For for example you're swinging your hips a bit to get that extra oomph, whether you use 1 arm or 2 arms.

The d12 will represent the larger damage because of the sheer size and weight of the weapon, compared to the d8 from the 1 handed counterpart.

One thing you learn from being a martial artist (and I assume a sword fighter), you don't just thrown a punch with your arm, you put your whole body into it (unless of course it is a jab).
It is obviously an abstraction, but it is born out IME. Yes, you get a lot of force from using your whole body, but in certain moves your are much more effective at using your body with 2 hands. Have you ever chopped wood. It is a lot easier and I can get more force with a 2-handed axe vs a hand axe. I use my body much more effectively with 2-hands is a big reason why.
 

dave2008

Legend
If you want to get into biomechanics then the numbers in the OP are a pretty good rough guide. There's a reason baseball players, for example, use both hands on the bat. You can engage more large muscle groups and more of your core strength, and exercise better control. The damage difference between those the d8 and d12 probably doesn't cover the spread, and most of the the two handed weapons are a d10 anyway.
I like that example, thank you! I don't think MLB would have had a home-run issue this year if they switched to only allowing one-hanbed bat swings!
 

dave2008

Legend
Should two-handed weapons be 2d8 instead of 1d12 (or 2d6)?
You could, but I prefer adding str bonuses to represent increased effectiveness. I like the die to represent the heft of the weapon and the str bonus represents the players contribution. With that approach I don't think raising the damage dice makes sense. If anything I would lower them as noted in the OP.
 

Slit518

Explorer
You could, but I prefer adding str bonuses to represent increased effectiveness. I like the die to represent the heft of the weapon and the str bonus represents the players contribution. With that approach I don't think raising the damage dice makes sense. If anything I would lower them as noted in the OP.
I see your point.
 
Should two-handed weapons be 2d8 instead of 1d12 (or 2d6)?
That's a 50%-ish damage increase from 6.5 to 9, or 10.5 and 13 with 18 strength, so it'd help. I'd agree with the point upstream that the damage increase should probably be more directly tied to character strength. If you wanted to go way off piste you could vary the damage die for some weapons by STR tier, so a strong character gets better dice, but that's a lot more crunch than just changing the static mod. Simpler is probably better.
 
While it may no simulate reality well, the setup currently gives an overall balance to the three main melee fighting styles (sword and shield, two weapon, two handed). Once you start fiddling with that, you start to move player choices towards one of those options. In a game without feats, these three are used in roughly equal numbers (IME), but with feats two handed is way more common due to GWM and PAM. Adding additional modifiers to two handed weapons is going to push almost every non-finesse melee build into using it.
 

Nebulous

Hero
While it may no simulate reality well, the setup currently gives an overall balance to the three main melee fighting styles (sword and shield, two weapon, two handed). Once you start fiddling with that, you start to move player choices towards one of those options. In a game without feats, these three are used in roughly equal numbers (IME), but with feats two handed is way more common due to GWM and PAM. Adding additional modifiers to two handed weapons is going to push almost every non-finesse melee build into using it.
That's also a good point; what would the ripple effect be overall.
 

dave2008

Legend
While it may no simulate reality well, the setup currently gives an overall balance to the three main melee fighting styles (sword and shield, two weapon, two handed). Once you start fiddling with that, you start to move player choices towards one of those options. In a game without feats, these three are used in roughly equal numbers (IME), but with feats two handed is way more common due to GWM and PAM. Adding additional modifiers to two handed weapons is going to push almost every non-finesse melee build into using it.
I am generally not overly concerned with balance. That being said, if it was an issue I would rather bolster sword and board.
 
Playing w/out feats I'd do this and not worry about balance. With feats the issue is more that Shield master is subpar compared to GWM and PAM. Personally, I might just allow sword and board access to the -5/+10 and be done with it. If an arrow can do it there's no reason a sword can't. Just rename the feat Melee Master or something and allow it on any non-finesse, non-light weapons.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
I have often wandered about why we don't add strength modifiers twice to damage with 2-handed weapons. I mean, if I get a +4 when swinging a longsword one-handed, why not +8 when I use it 2-handed. I realize the dice jumps a bit, but from my own experience with swords it doesn't seem enough to me.
I believe that in 3.0 you did get double strength modifier. So, wander about why you're not playing that game, too.

I'd say double damage is fair, if you double the consequences of not using a shield. AC goes down by (at least) 2 points when using a two-handed weapon.
 

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