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D&D 5E Philosophy of Greataxe vs. Greatsword

ECMO3

Hero
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.)
I agree it would not break bounded accuracy, but I also think it adds needless complexity to the game, more stuff you have to keep track of.

I like the way most of the weapons are set up in 5E, but if we have to change it, going to a system where all weapons are exactly the same and your type of weapon is for flavor would be better than adding more complexity IMO.

The concept of hit points and weapon damage is pretty far out to start with. Most people are going to die if they get stabbed by a dagger and someone swinging a huge axe at you is not apreciably more likely to kill you in one shot, so I don't really see a problem with changing that.
 

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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).
Sure, though you could just leave daggers and other Rogue weapons out from that particular benefit. Since it specifically requires "a finesse or ranged weapon," it's simple enough to just say that that particular tag should not be used at the same time as the finesse tag, and is melee-only. Then you could have a 2d6 "precise" greatsword and a 1d12 "high crit" greataxe. You could even the maul bring back the "brutal N" tag, meaning every damage die rolled for that weapon must do more than N damage (aka "if you roll N or less, reroll it until it's more than N"). So you could have a 2d6 brutal 1 maul (average 6, 12 on a crit) compared to the more accurate but more variable greatsword (average 7 damage, 14 on a crit) and the more devastating but even more variable greataxe (average 6.5 damage, 19.5 on a crit).

This would have the side benefit (for those who see it as such) that axes and mauls would be more favorable to Barbarians and folks not using Great Weapon style, while those who do use it would favor the more expensive greatsword. Their ways of fighting would thus naturally lead to them using the associated weapons.

I agree it would not break bounded accuracy, but I also think it adds needless complexity to the game, more stuff you have to keep track of.
It seems to me that the overall average opinion is that 5e erred on the side of caution when it came to complexity. That's why we have things like Level Up. There's a sizable market for "5e, but with a bit more crunch." (Honestly, there's a sizable market for "5e, but with a pretty fair amount more crunch," but I'm fairly well convinced WotC at the least doesn't think that market is worth the opportunity cost of chasing it.)

Also, you make it sound like these things are huge overhead. They aren't. They literally match existing rules in various ways. Officially list them as optional rules if that's what you need, but come on man, if the existing Fighting Styles aren't "needless complexity" then these weapon properties can't be either. It's literally: "increase your +hit by one," "roll 3x your weapon dice on a crit, not 2x," and "reroll all damage dice that are too low, until they aren't." I mean, for goodness' sake, the Champion--that is, the simplest subclass of the simplest class--gets two Fighting Styles, and I've literally never seen anyone complain about that being burdensome overhead or needless complexity, despite many of them being more complicated!

I get, very much, that there's a contingent of 5e fans for whom this edition is at the ragged edge of tolerable complexity, and it sounds like you're at least sympathetic to their position. But those fans were never going to be the primary focus of 5e's future development. WotC wants to sell books, and make every book so that it offers DM-facing material and player-facing material so that everyone has a reason to buy. They were never going to take a policy of "never increase the complexity, but maybe decrease it now and then."
 

ECMO3

Hero
It seems to me that the overall average opinion is that 5e erred on the side of caution when it came to complexity. That's why we have things like Level Up. There's a sizable market for "5e, but with a bit more crunch." (Honestly, there's a sizable market for "5e, but with a pretty fair amount more crunch," but I'm fairly well convinced WotC at the least doesn't think that market is worth the opportunity cost of chasing it.)
I do not think that is true. We have things like levelup and they do cater to people that want more complexity, but I do not think that represents the average fan/player, they serve a distinct minority that want more complexity IMO. I think the average opinion on 5E is it is about right, but I also think the numbers that would like to see it streamlined further exceed the numbers that would like more complex rules.

I have played or DMed on dozens of tables and I have heard casual players complain about complexity in 5e, but I have never heard players complain at the table that the rules are not complex enough. That opinion I have only seen on message boards.

Likewise the majority of players play with combinations that are distinctly NOT optimized, using weapons or choosing subclasses that are subpar statistically even at the current level of complexity. These players would not gain anything from more complex rules and would only be further behind those people (like me) that tend to optimize their charcter using the nuances and comlexities.

Also, you make it sound like these things are huge overhead. They aren't. They literally match existing rules in various ways. Officially list them as optional rules if that's what you need, but come on man, if the existing Fighting Styles aren't "needless complexity" then these weapon properties can't be either. It's literally: "increase your +hit by one," "roll 3x your weapon dice on a crit, not 2x," and "reroll all damage dice that are too low, until they aren't." I mean, for goodness' sake, the Champion--that is, the simplest subclass of the simplest class--gets two Fighting Styles, and I've literally never seen anyone complain about that being burdensome overhead or needless complexity, despite many of them being more complicated!
I agree it is not a lot of overhead but they are needless and not tied to anything in the real world. I recognize that some need/want more of that for powergaming or whatever but it is complexity for complexities sake.

The only argument for a +1 attack on a greatsword is "I want to have a weapon with a +1 attack", same with a better crit on an axe - It does increase diversity and complication into the game and for people who want more numbers it is fine, but it would make just as much sense physically if they put the better crit on clubs and the +1 attack on quarterstaffs.
 
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Both the weapon and armour tables are terrible messes. Historical inaccuracy aside, they contain multiple useless trap choices. I had to rewrite the tables due the tech level of the my setting anyway, so I did my best to remove the trap choices while I was at it.
 



WotC almost gave us a weapon system that complied with an item budget. I wish they had just made all weapons comply, and then added a sidebar explicitly saying "If you want to invent a new weapon, go for it. Just use this system."

Die progression: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12

Base damage for 1H simple weapons: 1d6

Qualities that increase damage one die: Martial, Two-Handed, Heavy
Qualities that decrease damage one die: Finesse, Light, Reach, Versatile (+1 step if used 2H)

(Note: I'm not quite sure how to fit "thrown" into this. It's advantageous, so it should cost something. Maybe distinguish between "can be thrown" and "must be thrown"?)

Note that some weapons don't fit this model. For example:
  • Longsword, Warhammer, and Battle Axe would have to have the Heavy tag added, or damage reduced, in order to be Versatile.
  • Rapier is 1d6
  • Whip is under budget. So you could make it Light, or Simple, or increase it's damage

Also, I haven't fully through through how ranged weapons fit into this. Because ranged attacks...especially bow/crossbow attacks with their increased range...are so powerful in 5e, I would automatically start one die lower. So maybe short bows end up doing 1d4 and long bows do 1d6. I know, heresy. So maybe have to invent some new tags.
 

So what do you now use for levy forces, peasants, and so on?

Those "trap" choices are not traps (much like hide armour) - they are there for militias that can't afford swords and axes. Not everyone is a PC, you know.
Leather armour* and some simple weapon.

(*Which has rules of studded leather as that's the only light armour stat line that makes sense to exist.)
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
So what do you now use for levy forces, peasants, and so on?

Those "trap" choices are not traps (much like hide armour) - they are there for militias that can't afford swords and axes. Not everyone is a PC, you know.
Also depends on the setting you're trying to emulate, you may want to run a stone age campaign.

About the only truly head scratcher is the trident, and IIRC that was more of an editing issue because tridents were supposed to have some special effect that got removed.
 

Qualities that increase damage one die: Martial, Two-Handed, Heavy
Qualities that decrease damage one die: Finesse, Light, Reach, Versatile (+1 step if used 2H)

(Note: I'm not quite sure how to fit "thrown" into this. It's advantageous, so it should cost something. Maybe distinguish between "can be thrown" and "must be thrown"?)

Note that some weapons don't fit this model. For example:
  • Longsword, Warhammer, and Battle Axe would have to have the Heavy tag added, or damage reduced, in order to be Versatile.
  • Rapier is 1d6

Observationally, there's a distinct lack of PCs flocking to the 'overpowered' longsword/battleaxe/warhammer options in my experience, so i suspect 'versatile' is being considerably overvalued in this formulation.

Admittedly, some of this may be due to the fact that single-handed str-based weapons don't have the effectiveness multiplier type feats like Great Weapon Master and the various Sentinel/Polearm shenanigans, and neither do they have the advantage of rapiers in allowing you to dump Str and knowing that your high Dex will double up in giving you good AC and offensive abilities. Though the suggested damage cut to rapiers would improve that situation slightly.
 

Mordhau

Adventurer
WotC almost gave us a weapon system that complied with an item budget. I wish they had just made all weapons comply, and then added a sidebar explicitly saying "If you want to invent a new weapon, go for it. Just use this system."

Die progression: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12

Base damage for 1H simple weapons: 1d6

Qualities that increase damage one die: Martial, Two-Handed, Heavy
Qualities that decrease damage one die: Finesse, Light, Reach, Versatile (+1 step if used 2H)

(Note: I'm not quite sure how to fit "thrown" into this. It's advantageous, so it should cost something. Maybe distinguish between "can be thrown" and "must be thrown"?)

Note that some weapons don't fit this model. For example:
  • Longsword, Warhammer, and Battle Axe would have to have the Heavy tag added, or damage reduced, in order to be Versatile.
  • Rapier is 1d6
  • Whip is under budget. So you could make it Light, or Simple, or increase it's damage

Also, I haven't fully through through how ranged weapons fit into this. Because ranged attacks...especially bow/crossbow attacks with their increased range...are so powerful in 5e, I would automatically start one die lower. So maybe short bows end up doing 1d4 and long bows do 1d6. I know, heresy. So maybe have to invent some new tags.
Versatile is a pretty useless category. It shouldn't decrease weapon damage.

I don't think thrown needs to reduce damage. It's fairly limited (weapons with low damage dice, and generally low range). If you want it to reduce damage do it only for weapons that have significant range like the javelin (if the short range is less than you can generally move it shouldn't reduce damage).
 

Yeah I agree about the versatile thing. And thrown.

The thing is, if they’re “free” then if somebody is making up a new weapon there’s no disincentive to add Versatile and Thrown. Because, why not? And that quickly becomes silly.

Maybe there need to be a few more low-power tags, and you get to pick one.
 

Mordhau

Adventurer
Yeah I agree about the versatile thing. And thrown.

The thing is, if they’re “free” then if somebody is making up a new weapon there’s no disincentive to add Versatile and Thrown. Because, why not? And that quickly becomes silly.

Maybe there need to be a few more low-power tags, and you get to pick one.
Thrown weapons cannot be greater than D6 damage.
If a thrown weapon is also finesse than the damage must be reduced by one additional die (beyond that already reduced for finesse).
Only D8 weapons Strength based weapons can be versatile (and basically I think they all are?).
 


Bupp

Adventurer
I haven't gone through with it, but I've been pondering just doing class hit die based damage. Barbarians use d12 for damage, no matter what weapon they use, while fighters do d10 with spears, swords, and even knives. Even if you wizard picks up a sword, he only does d6 damage.

You use whatever weapon fits your image for your character.
 

I haven't gone through with it, but I've been pondering just doing class hit die based damage. Barbarians use d12 for damage, no matter what weapon they use, while fighters do d10 with spears, swords, and even knives. Even if you wizard picks up a sword, he only does d6 damage.

You use whatever weapon fits your image for your character.
I like this idea. I don't think class-dipping really will be an issue, but I think it means the death of twohanded weapons without some adjustment.
 

Bupp

Adventurer
I got the idea from 13th Age, but have misremembered it. It is damage by class.
Here's the fighter table. Fighter – 13th Age SRD

Melee Weapons
Weapon CategoryOne-HandedTwo-Handed
Small1d4 dagger1d6 club
Light or Simple1d6 shortsword, hand axe1d8 spear
Heavy or Martial1d8 longsword, warhammer1d10 greatsword, greataxe
Ranged Weapons
ThrownCrossbowBow
Small1d4 dagger1d4 hand crossbow
Light or Simple1d6 javelin, axe1d6 light crossbow1d6 shortbow
Heavy or Martial1d8 heavy crossbow1d8 longbow

Compared to the rogue, who is nasty with a melee dagger. Rogue – 13th Age SRD

MeleeWeapons
One-HandedTwo-Handed
Small1d8 dagger1d6 club
Light or Simple1d8 shortsword, wicked knife1d8 spear
Heavy or Martial1d8 (-2 atk) longsword, scimitar1d10 (-2 atk) greatsword

Ranged Weapon
ThrownCrossbowBow
Small1d4 dagger1d4 hand crossbow
Light or Simple1d6 javelin, axe1d6 light crossbow1d6 shortbow
Heavy or Martial1d8 (–1 atk) heavy crossbow1d8 (-2 atk) longbow
 

Mordhau

Adventurer
I got the idea from 13th Age, but have misremembered it. It is damage by class.
Here's the fighter table. Fighter – 13th Age SRD

Melee Weapons
Weapon CategoryOne-HandedTwo-Handed
Small1d4 dagger1d6 club
Light or Simple1d6 shortsword, hand axe1d8 spear
Heavy or Martial1d8 longsword, warhammer1d10 greatsword, greataxe
Ranged Weapons
ThrownCrossbowBow
Small1d4 dagger1d4 hand crossbow
Light or Simple1d6 javelin, axe1d6 light crossbow1d6 shortbow
Heavy or Martial1d8 heavy crossbow1d8 longbow

Compared to the rogue, who is nasty with a melee dagger. Rogue – 13th Age SRD

MeleeWeapons
One-HandedTwo-Handed
Small1d8 dagger1d6 club
Light or Simple1d8 shortsword, wicked knife1d8 spear
Heavy or Martial1d8 (-2 atk) longsword, scimitar1d10 (-2 atk) greatsword

Ranged Weapon
ThrownCrossbowBow
Small1d4 dagger1d4 hand crossbow
Light or Simple1d6 javelin, axe1d6 light crossbow1d6 shortbow
Heavy or Martial1d8 (–1 atk) heavy crossbow1d8 (-2 atk) longbow
One thing to note, those weapons listed are just examples. If a Fighter wants to use a maul, or a two handed flail or a great-axe they all also do 1d10.

The fighters 1d4 with a dagger, is mostly there to tell you that a Fighter takes a penalty for using a small easily concealable and throwable weapon while the Rogue doesn't.

One thing, of course, is that 13th Age basically piggybacks off the fact that it's assumed audiences grok basic D20 concepts, eg - what it a martial vs a simple weapon, so they don't really need to list them - Just apply common sense.
 

Hmm... the reason it works for 13th Age is the fact that all classes deal one weapon die per level. So a rogue level 5 with a dagger = 5d8. 2nd level fighter with twohanded 2d10 (vs. 2d8 one handed).
I really like this. But it is hard to port to 5e. And thus, twohanded loses out again, even if brought to d12.
(But I love the rogue d8 dagger damage!)
 

Mordhau

Adventurer
Hmm... the reason it works for 13th Age is the fact that all classes deal one weapon die per level. So a rogue level 5 with a dagger = 5d8. 2nd level fighter with twohanded 2d10 (vs. 2d8 one handed).
I really like this. But it is hard to port to 5e. And thus, twohanded loses out again, even if brought to d12.
(But I love the rogue d8 dagger damage!)
That's just a matter of getting the numbers right.

If Great Weapon Style was 2D12 take highest then the average result would be very slightly (by a negligible amount) better than it is now with 2d12. If you feel that's too low then you an always bump up the damage to say 2d8.

It's worth noting in 13th Age that shields only grant +1 AC, so two handed weapons don't lose out so much. (It's that - not the scaling dice, which makes the 13th Age numbers work - because while the gap in raw numbers between weapon types grows by level the percentage of monster hps you reduce on a hit doesn't really change).

(In fact, in a lot of ways the 5e Fighting styles would work better if shields were +1 and Defence style required a shield).
 

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