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D&D 5E Philosophy of Greataxe vs. Greatsword

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Now, if only we had a 3d4 Two-Handed, Heavy Weapon and we'd have a complete set of "the most you can roll is 12 for the base weapon's damage"-type weapons. Maybe a Great-Trident or something like that? The closest thing we currently have to this is the Double-Bladed Scimitar, which is 2d4, but lets you make a bonus action attack that's just 1d4.
Is there any weapon in D&D history that rolls 3d4? I guess you could find something like the "shock truncheon" over in Starfinder...


...But that game goes a bit nuts with leveling up your gear.
 

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Iry

Hero
But you’re also increasing your chances of lower-than-average damage, and that means you run the risk of under-performing when you really need to put a baddy down.
Serious question. How often do people suffer a serious consequence because they did .5 less damage per attack? I mean things like "He only has 3 HP left and just killed Jane!"
 
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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Serious question. How often do people suffer a serious consequence because they did .5 less damage per round? I mean things like "He only has 3 HP left and just killed Jane!"
But it's most often not .5 less damage per round. That's only if you only have one attack a round. Once you have Extra Attack, or some way to attack as a bonus action, or if you can reroll low numbers on the dice (Savage Attacker, Great Weapon Fighting, etc), that ups the disparity of the average damages of Greatswords and Greataxes even more. If you have 2 attacks each turn, that's 1 extra average damage. If you have Great Weapon Fighting, you're rerolling dice twice as often.

It often isn't a big deal, but if the enemy would be left with between 1-5 hit points after your turn attacking with a Greataxe, they could possibly be done for if attacking with a Greatsword.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
But it's most often not .5 less damage per round. That's only if you only have one attack a round. Once you have Extra Attack, or some way to attack as a bonus action, or if you can reroll low numbers on the dice (Savage Attacker, Great Weapon Fighting, etc), that ups the disparity of the average damages of Greatswords and Greataxes even more. If you have 2 attacks each turn, that's 1 extra average damage. If you have Great Weapon Fighting, you're rerolling dice twice as often.

It often isn't a big deal, but if the enemy would be left with between 1-5 hit points after your turn attacking with a Greataxe, they could possibly be done for if attacking with a Greatsword.
Well, I will agree that 1 is greater than .5. :unsure:

Is it significant enough that anyone will ever notice? Eh. If you care about this stuff, fine. Most people do not.
 



Iry

Hero
It often isn't a big deal, but if the enemy would be left with between 1-5 hit points after your turn attacking with a Greataxe, they could possibly be done for if attacking with a Greatsword.
How often, in your games, has the slightly reduced damage resulted in something bad happening?
 


AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
How often, in your games, has the slightly reduced damage resulted in something bad happening?
One time a Vampire got away from a fight with 2 HP remaining, taking the corpse of a downed PC with them that they turned into a Vampire Spawn. Another time an enemy with 5 HP left dropped the party cleric when there were still quite a few enemies left and it almost resulted in a TPK.

They're not super common, but they do happen, and an average damage increase of .5 does have the potential to avoid some of those types of situations.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This is why I like how games like 13th Age does it. A fighter with a two handed heavy/martial weapon does damage die X. It doesn't matter if it's a sword, an axe, a maul, or some exotic weapon. Your character won't be penalized for picking whatever weapon matches their fiction because some other weapon has better stats.

(And I mentioned fighter because not all classes do the same with the same weapons - a proficiency system that deals with both attack and damage. But the die is important as you roll more weapon dice, up to 10 at maximum level, instead of D&D's multiple attack sequence. So differences in weapons would really show.)
 

This is why I like how games like 13th Age does it. A fighter with a two handed heavy/martial weapon does damage die X. It doesn't matter if it's a sword, an axe, a maul, or some exotic weapon. Your character won't be penalized for picking whatever weapon matches their fiction because some other weapon has better stats.

(And I mentioned fighter because not all classes do the same with the same weapons - a proficiency system that deals with both attack and damage. But the die is important as you roll more weapon dice, up to 10 at maximum level, instead of D&D's multiple attack sequence. So differences in weapons would really show.)

Dungeon World is similar, and I love it.

Honestly I don’t see the value in distinguishing between specific weapons, just weapon categories.
 

Horwath

Hero
This is why I like how games like 13th Age does it. A fighter with a two handed heavy/martial weapon does damage die X. It doesn't matter if it's a sword, an axe, a maul, or some exotic weapon. Your character won't be penalized for picking whatever weapon matches their fiction because some other weapon has better stats.

(And I mentioned fighter because not all classes do the same with the same weapons - a proficiency system that deals with both attack and damage. But the die is important as you roll more weapon dice, up to 10 at maximum level, instead of D&D's multiple attack sequence. So differences in weapons would really show.)
other way would be just have one weapon category. At current martial level, maybe little more damage for melee STR based weapons.

Then your investment in STR/DEX, having fighting styles, extra attack(s), feats and attack riders will determine your "martial power".

I have no issue with wizards having greatsword proficiency. If they want to "melee it" with no armor and d6 HD and 8-12 STR...go right ahead.
 

Stormonu

Legend
How often, in your games, has the slightly reduced damage resulted in something bad happening?
I can't count the times in games where we've had an NPC survive by 1 hit point. It's never resulted in a TPK, but that extra round has many a time resulted in more damage to the PCs.

Still, quibbling over .5 damage is silly, and even making a big deal of choosing between d10 to d12, a measly 1 point of damage, is absurd.

But I'm still mad a club only does d4 in 5E. #MakeClubsD6
 


They needed a d12 two-handed weapon, also it was d12 in 3rd edition and 4th edition.

as for flavor, you can always say;
I have a big sword/axe/hammer/spear, it's martial, two-handed, heavy, costs 50GP and it deals 2d6 of slashing or piercing or bludgeoning damage.
While this is true, 5e stripped out (most of) 4e's weapon properties, which has resulted in a number of these weird weapon situations.

See, the 4e greataxe had two benefits over the greatsword: 1d12 damage as opposed to 1d10, and the High Crit property (you get extra damage dice when you crit), and was of course in the Axe group. The greatsword in turn was more accurate (an extra +1 to hit), and was in the Heavy Blade group, which tended to be more widely-useful as far as magic weapons go.

It's honestly one of the bigger disappointments I have with 5e, because there was no reason they couldn't have kept several more of 4e's weapon properties--they did keep some of them after all, so it's not like it would've taken more than an extra page or two in the PHB to cover them. With those properties, we'd never have had issues like "what on earth is the trident for when it's literally just a heavier, more-expensive spear??" And you could easily have made the maul a slight step down from the greatsword, while giving a reason for people to care about the greataxe despite its (slightly) lower average damage.

It's not even like these things were particularly associated with 4e, so the only justification I can think of is a weird "keeping a long list of weapons isn't too complicated, but actually having that list be different things is" principle, or just frank "can't do that, too 4e" for no reason.
 

Horwath

Hero
While this is true, 5e stripped out (most of) 4e's weapon properties, which has resulted in a number of these weird weapon situations.

See, the 4e greataxe had two benefits over the greatsword: 1d12 damage as opposed to 1d10, and the High Crit property (you get extra damage dice when you crit), and was of course in the Axe group. The greatsword in turn was more accurate (an extra +1 to hit), and was in the Heavy Blade group, which tended to be more widely-useful as far as magic weapons go.

It's honestly one of the bigger disappointments I have with 5e, because there was no reason they couldn't have kept several more of 4e's weapon properties--they did keep some of them after all, so it's not like it would've taken more than an extra page or two in the PHB to cover them. With those properties, we'd never have had issues like "what on earth is the trident for when it's literally just a heavier, more-expensive spear??" And you could easily have made the maul a slight step down from the greatsword, while giving a reason for people to care about the greataxe despite its (slightly) lower average damage.

It's not even like these things were particularly associated with 4e, so the only justification I can think of is a weird "keeping a long list of weapons isn't too complicated, but actually having that list be different things is" principle, or just frank "can't do that, too 4e" for no reason.
well, because of bounded accuracy, they have to keep all weapons all same in that regard, so no +1 attack for swords or similar.

But, having finesse rated same as versatile is poor decision, thrown is very bad property, it should be atleast 40/120ft range, and there is a ton of inconsistency in the weapon table.
 

well, because of bounded accuracy, they have to keep all weapons all same in that regard, so no +1 attack for swords or similar.

But, having finesse rated same as versatile is poor decision, thrown is very bad property, it should be atleast 40/120ft range, and there is a ton of inconsistency in the weapon table.
I mean they didn't have to keep them all the same--though if +1 hit bonus is too much it's a bit strange that Archery fighting style gives a +2, for example. But "Bounded Accuracy" has always been a misnomer--it's neither all that bounded, nor specifically about accuracy. It's more like "HP-as-Defense," where AC values scale more slowly and HP and damage values are the central focus of progression. (Or the frankly enormous number of ways to add some random or fixed-duration bonus, like spells, Bardic Inspiration, certain Paladin CD effects, the Diviner's Portent, Monk ki powers, a Battlemaster maneuver...sure, none of them are quite as reliable as "constant +1" but honestly the sheer number of them tells me a few weapons being a touch more accurate really would not break things as you imply, and almost all of them will usually provide a lot more than just +1.)
 
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Mordhau

Adventurer
I mean they didn't have to keep them all the same--though if +1 hit bonus is too much it's a bit strange that Archery fighting style gives a +2, for example. But "Bounded Accuracy" has always been a misnomer--it's neither all that bounded, nor specifically about accuracy. It's more like "HP-as-Defense," where AC values scale more slowly and HP and damage values are the central focus of progression. (Or the frankly enormous number of ways to add some random or fixed-duration bonus, like spells, Bardic Inspiration, certain Paladin CD effects, the Diviner's Portent, Monk ki powers, a Battlemaster maneuver...sure, none of them are quite as reliable as "constant +1" but honestly the sheer number of them tells me a few weapons being a touch more accurate really would not break things as you imply, and almost all of them will usually provide a lot more than just +1.)
With multi-attacks and accuracy already being quite high, a +1 to hit is generally worth less in 5e than it was in 4e.

(Unless you're a rogue. Maximising acccuracy is something a rogue should always be trying to do the maximum extent possible).
 

Staffan

Legend
I mean they didn't have to keep them all the same--though if +1 hit bonus is too much it's a bit strange that Archery fighting style gives a +2, for example
I'm pretty sure that the +2 to hit for archery is meant to counteract the target often having +2 to AC for lesser cover (because there are allies in the way). But that's a modifier that (a) is easy to forget, (b) can be maneuvered around, particularly since movement is free, and (c) is negated by the Sharpshooter feat.
 

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