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D&D 3E/3.5 3E versus 3.5E: Weapon Size

Which weapon sizing system do you prefer?

  • 3E-style: Fixed-size weapons. A sword-and-boarding ogre wields a greatsword.

    Votes: 23 41.1%
  • 3.5E-style: Scaling weapons. A sword-and-boarding ogre uses a Large longsword.

    Votes: 33 58.9%

  • Total voters
    56

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Which system did you, or do you, prefer? And why?

Originally, I greatly preferred the 3Ed version, and then I got a RW illustration of why the 3.5Ed rules were better.

I have a skean dhu- a double-edged Scottish boot knife- that is identical in length to a museum replica scale model of a Toledo basket hilted longsword.

But despite the similar length- which would make them the same weapon in 3Ed- all of their other dimensions were radically different.

The skean dhu's blade is about 1" wide at the base. Its hilt takes up half of its length, and is nearly 3" around.

The replica longsword has a blade that is perhaps 1/4" at its widest, and the hilt that takes up less than 1/8th of its length could be grasped between my thumb and forefinger.

A pixie fighting with the replica would look like a fencer. A pixie using my skean dhu would look like he was trying to fight with a scale appropriate caber.
 

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Dausuul

Legend
*Blink Blink*

Do you play your games in the Twilight Zone?

They get +1 to AC and +1 to hit. It's not an enormous benefit, but it's noticeable. Plus mondo bonuses to stealth skills, and I think a few other things. The smaller weapon damage die is a counterbalance to all that. (Of course, small-sized casters don't have to worry about weapon dice; this is why gnomes make the best wizards in any campaign that doesn't allow grey elves.)
 
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KahnyaGnorc

First Post
I prefer 3.0 weapon sizes, but both should have their place.

In a world dominated by medium-sized creatures (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, and the like), most weapons would be medium-sized ones. Ogres would be wielding greatswords as 1-handed weapons.

However, those of other sizes that have their own weapon-forging tradition, like the more intelligent giants or a halfling civilization (as opposed to halflings living amongst the larger races), would have weapons sized to them.

The world of Arcana Unearthed, for example, would be heavily populated by large-sized weapons, due to giant rule. (and medium-sized characters would likely be proficient in wielding large-sized longswords as greatswords)

In a world with both types, I'd likely drop the penalties for using larger or smaller weapons, unless they were really big or small (humans with huge weapons or small-sized daggers).
 

Jackinthegreen

First Post
I can't comment much about 3.0 since I haven't played it, but I believe that wielding a larger version of the same exact weapon shouldn't impose a -2 penalty. A Large longsword should be wieldable by a Medium creature in 2 hands no problem. It's pretty much the same as using a greatsword, it's just that there might be some slight differences in the way it's constructed that give it different threat ranges is all.

Hm, on second thought changing the size and having it give a -2 penalty might actually be realistic, in some cases. Even if a character is proficient with a longsword, he's going to have some issues with one larger than he's used to. Gah, I don't know what I think now. X_X
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
*Blink Blink*

Do you play your games in the Twilight Zone?
The +1 attack and AC are huge and the Hide bonus is significant for some characters. The only drawbacks small characters have are vulnerability to combat maneuvers, low carry weight, and slower speed, none of which come up very often. Small characters are generally the best spellcasters, best rogues, and can be halfway decent fighters despite the absurdity of the image of a gnome clubbing an orc. By all rights, a character that's two or three feet tall should have a lot more than -2 strength relative to a human!

To my understanding, the halfling is generally considered the third most powerful core race behind dwarf and human, much better than the elf or the half-races. The strongheart halfling (an FR race with a bonus feat instead of +1 to save) is generally considered more powerful than the human and is a favorite on charop boards. Some other noncore small races (whisper gnomes, dragonwraught kobolds, etc.) are quite overpowered. Players might avoid halflings and gnomes because they don't like being mocked, but as far as how the rules represent them they're pretty darn good. Am I missing something?
 

Vegepygmy

First Post
The only drawbacks small characters have are vulnerability to combat maneuvers, low carry weight, and slower speed, none of which come up very often.
All I can say is that you play a very different style of D&D than I do. (And you missed smaller damage dice for weapons.)
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
And they tend to across the board get -2 str. And -4 to resist pretty much every combat maneuver is pretty big. Way more of a hit than hide +4 is a boon. Smaller characters are also more likely to be subject to nasty special effects and attacks, like windstorms, the Snatch feat, or getting eaten.
 

delericho

Legend
It's not even clear it's realistic. Is there actually such a thing as a Small rapier, or a Large greatsword?

It's likely that there are some few examples of each in existence, but they would be extreme cases, and probably not intended for 'real world' use as weapons. (For example, a child's "training rapier", or whatever.)

It's also perhaps worth noting that what D&D calls a "longsword" isn't one weapon; it's a broad category of weapons. Indeed, there's no clear way to determine exactly where a shortsword becomes a longsword, where a longsword becomes a bastard sword, or where a bastard sword becomes a greatsword.

Indeed, given variations in height, reach, centre of gravity, and so on, it's likely your Fighter wouldn't just grab any old sword from the shelf - he'd spend some time trying out swords to find the one that is right for him. To you, or I, or the common guardsman, the variations probably don't matter too much, but the PCs are the best of the best, so it's a rather different question. (There's an argument for ruling that a masterwork weapon is only masterwork when used by the person for whom it was made.)

Given all of that, and given how much else is abstracted by the rules, I'm inclined to file size differences (at least of one step) as largely being "not worth worrying about".
 

Empirate

First Post
I can't comment much about 3.0 since I haven't played it, but I believe that wielding a larger version of the same exact weapon shouldn't impose a -2 penalty. A Large longsword should be wieldable by a Medium creature in 2 hands no problem. It's pretty much the same as using a greatsword, it's just that there might be some slight differences in the way it's constructed that give it different threat ranges is all.

Hm, on second thought changing the size and having it give a -2 penalty might actually be realistic, in some cases. Even if a character is proficient with a longsword, he's going to have some issues with one larger than he's used to. Gah, I don't know what I think now. X_X


Granted, there are examples of weapons that will work at different sizes. A Battleaxe might be usable as a Greataxe for a Goblin, or a Gratclub as a Club by an Ogre.

Longswords and Greatswords, however, are radically different in the way they're wielded. A large part of a Greatsword's blade has a dull edge, and is supposed to be gripped in combat. Also, Greatswords have much longer hilts, even relatively speaking. If you ever look into a medieval fencing instructions book to see how Greatswords were actually employed in combat, you'll see that they work very, very differently from Longswords.

In fact, I'm not even sure they should be doing more damage than a straightforward Longsword in D&D - they're a bit unwieldy, but much more flexible in what you can do with them. If I were to model them, I'd probably give them the option to do bludgeoning damage, and a big bonus to certain combat maneuvers, downsize them to 1d8 or 2d4 damage, and maybe even require an Exotic Weapon Proficiency.
 

delericho

Legend
Longswords and Greatswords, however, are radically different in the way they're wielded. A large part of a Greatsword's blade has a dull edge, and is supposed to be gripped in combat. Also, Greatswords have much longer hilts, even relatively speaking. If you ever look into a medieval fencing instructions book to see how Greatswords were actually employed in combat, you'll see that they work very, very differently from Longswords.

Bear in mind that the greatsword includes not just your "medieval fencing" version, but also the Japanese no-dachi, the Scottish claymore, and basically any other sword too long to be a bastard sword. What you've said above in not universally applicable to all of these.
 

Jackinthegreen

First Post
Granted, there are examples of weapons that will work at different sizes. A Battleaxe might be usable as a Greataxe for a Goblin, or a Gratclub as a Club by an Ogre.

Longswords and Greatswords, however, are radically different in the way they're wielded. A large part of a Greatsword's blade has a dull edge, and is supposed to be gripped in combat. Also, Greatswords have much longer hilts, even relatively speaking. If you ever look into a medieval fencing instructions book to see how Greatswords were actually employed in combat, you'll see that they work very, very differently from Longswords.

In fact, I'm not even sure they should be doing more damage than a straightforward Longsword in D&D - they're a bit unwieldy, but much more flexible in what you can do with them. If I were to model them, I'd probably give them the option to do bludgeoning damage, and a big bonus to certain combat maneuvers, downsize them to 1d8 or 2d4 damage, and maybe even require an Exotic Weapon Proficiency.

I wouldn't say a greatsword requires exotic proficiency to wield, but it definitely has bonuses to certain things. Fullblades definitely require training though. Most often it's a crushing weapon and was brutally effective against armor because of that. I'm dubious of gripping the blade itself, regardless of how sharp it is. The grip should accommodate the hands quite well and the ones I've used had at least foot long grips. The fullblades could go two feet or so. Come to think of it, I think William Wallace used a fullblade since it was described as being an unusually massive weapon.

I don't agree on reducing its damage, since that'd put it lower than a bastard sword when it clearly isn't. The bludgeoning part I fully agree with, probably even putting it into doing bludgeoning and slashing damage.
 
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Empirate

First Post
Bear in mind that the greatsword includes not just your "medieval fencing" version, but also the Japanese no-dachi, the Scottish claymore, and basically any other sword too long to be a bastard sword. What you've said above in not universally applicable to all of these.

Good point, hadn't thought of that.
 

Perimones

First Post
Weapon equivalency

Just started a new campaign where there are 3 small and 3 medium PCs. It's the dungeon crawl module called hall of the minotaur from Goodman games. So the PCs are a bunch of farmers with 1 level in a NPC class, with not much equipment, and not very proficient with weapons.

The 3.5 rules are a big pain. Every time they manage to kill some creatures and they take their weapons I have to say to half of them "well if you use this weapon you'll get a penalty because you're the wrong size" I just thought that's retarded. And I couldn't remember where that size-equivalent chart was (p.27 of the DMG). Like somebody said before, in d&d a longsword is not a weapon, it's a category of weapon. I'm walking in the forest and I find a very big sword with a blade 6-foot long, I take it and I use it as a greatsword slashing people with it. But in reality, it's a colossal half-fiend's dagger, and he spends his holidays happily piercing and stabbing people with it and he even throws it once in a while just for the heck of it. To me that's the level of realism I want so my suspension of disbelief works. I know, I know the grip, the balance, etc. But when something doesn't work for the DM or the players.... that's when I step in and do my job as the DM and fix it.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I like 3E. As others have stated the weapons types are broad range of weapons. And I think about using RW examples when a harpy swoops down and eats the nieghbor's dog... Strike that I think my ex mother in law could do so with out wings.
So I use RW examples when a dragon lands on the high school burns it down and complains to the city council about improperly labeled maidens which are pass their freshness date.
 

I'm walking in the forest and I find a very big sword with a blade 6-foot long, I take it and I use it as a greatsword slashing people with it. But in reality, it's a colossal half-fiend's dagger, and he spends his holidays happily piercing and stabbing people with it and he even throws it once in a while just for the heck of it. To me that's the level of realism I want so my suspension of disbelief works. I know, I know the grip, the balance, etc. But when something doesn't work for the DM or the players.... that's when I step in and do my job as the DM and fix it.

I can't find the original, which was way better than the version below that I quickly hacked together, but I always considered it definitive proof as to why the 3.0 weapon size rules don't work.

If anyone has the original (which was based on Conan holding his sword above his head, parallel to the ground), can you point me to it? :D

Why_3E_Weapon_Sizes_Dont_Work.jpg
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I can't find the original, which was way better than the version below that I quickly hacked together, but I always considered it definitive proof as to why the 3.0 weapon size rules don't work.

If anyone has the original (which was based on Conan holding his sword above his head, parallel to the ground), can you point me to it? :D

Why_3E_Weapon_Sizes_Dont_Work.jpg

While I cannot claim any link to that picture, that is EXACLY the kind of thing I was talking about with my scale replica greatsword letter opener and my RW knife of identical lengths. Thanks for the visual!
 

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