D&D 5E Weapon and Armor Types

Some time ago I was in a discussion where some folks were saying weapon choices are not very interesting.

And we all know that the god stat of dex has led to a lot more rapiers than would otherwise be the case.

So here is my question: what would armor vs. weapon damage type bring to the game?

In days of old (late 80s friends…when I rocked a huge spiral perm and concert shirts—-now it’s just concert shirts) we ignored the weapon vs armor table in the DMG. I have NEVER used it.

Currently we have slashing, bludgeoning piercing damage. How complication would several armor types bring? By looking at a simple matrix you could determine a simple modified to hit and or damage.

This would be enough I think to make some consider a weapon they don’t normally take and by extension, make strength a little more of a pick vis a vis dexterity.

In short, I think it would add to diversity in character types and weapon choices and perhaps armor choices too. Verisimilitude would potentially be enhanced without a ton of added complexity.

Thoughts?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I just started running Ad&D for the first time in 30 years. One of the great things is the Weapon V Armour types table. It would definitely help make 5th ed weapons more interesting ( and stop Dex being the superstat).

I adore the Footmans Flail
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
We were just discussing these tangentially in another thread.

Last year Dan "Delta" Collins did an analysis of the original Greyhawk and 1E charts vs. the Chainmail rules they were derived from, and concluded that they embody a fundamental math error. Because they basically just convert the Chainmail target numbers/adjustments almost directly over into D&D's combat system, but fail to account for the fact that basically any hit was a kill/casualty in Chainmail, so the exact same adjustments don't make sense when imported into a system where hit and damage are separate. Infamously, the mace goes from one of the best options for getting through heavy armor, to mediocre at best, in part because its damage is inferior to swords once Variable Weapon Damage is introduced.

 
Last edited:

Stormonu

Legend
I used the 1E tables for a while, and the 2E simplified versions for a short time. If the information is on the sheet, it's easy for the players. I stopped using it because as DM running so many different monster types it slowed things down looking the information up (even on a screen).

If you can keep it really simple - maybe along the lines Bludgeon, Slashing, Piercing vs. None, Light, Medium and Heavy Armors, it would probably work. The more complex, the more load it puts on the DM to adjudicate and track.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
One of the challenges with weapon vs. armor in D&D has also always been, how important in it? What percentage of opponents is it really relevant against? If you run a game with a ton of human and humanoid antagonists, armor will come up all the time. If you run a game with a ton of monstrous and bestial antagonists, weapon vs. armor is going to be much less relevant.

That being said, I've always had a soft spot for the concept, and kind of liked the 2E optional rule for just Slashing/Piercing/Bludgeoning vs armor types. Delta tried writing a variant on this way back in 2009. @DND_Reborn in the other thread pointed out that this chart/proposed rule has a bit of an issue in that it seems to be designed more to balance the armor types than to simulate that heavier armors are in fact better.

There's some really good discussion in the comments here, though, with Matthew (now showing in the comments as "Unknown", but it was definitely Matthew, who I believe was or is a Dragonsfoot moderator, and is a highly studied medievalist) pointing out how the Slashing/Bludgeoning/Piercing categories are really a game artifact and don't really match up to actual weapon characteristics, preferring instead to talk about chop, cut and thrust. Under this schema, crushing weapons functionally "chop".

I particularly like this comment:
Weapon types. The are basically three types of attack: chop, cut and thrust. A chop is exactly as it sounds, as is a thrust. A cut is when you draw a weapon across the target, rather than directly impacting it. The "cut" is partly why swords are often treated as very effective against unarmoured targets.

All weapons are compromises between these three modes of attack, with swords generally being the most versatile (which is to say relatively "good" at all of them). Axes, picks, maces, flails, and hammers are impact weapons that put emphasis on the "chop", but are broadly designed on different principles (edge, point, flat), and many specific examples combine principles (a flanged mace, a spiked hammer, a narrow edged axe, etcetera).

Similarly, many spears are designed to "cut" as well as "thrust" with broad heads, though this is often more evident on polearms (many of which go further and become a combination of cut, chop, and thrust).

Dividing up weapons into categories most often results in concentration on one mode of attack (Gygax particularly does this, denoting "principle modes of attack" for pole arms), which is what leads to something like the 2e "slashing, bludgeoning, piercing" table, and your own efforts. Treating a pick as though it has the same properties as a spear, or a sword as though it is an axe.

Of course, if you start over thinking these things you end up with RoleMaster and there are compromises that have to be made for an abstraction like D&D that demands relatively simple combat resolution.

The easiest thing to do, in my opinion, is to designate some weapons "armour piercing" or somesuch thing and give them a +1 to hit against mail and plate, but reduced damage compared to other weapons (I do not recall if you are using d6s or variable damage).

If you were using D6s for example:

Normal weapons (sword, axe) = +0/+1
Armour piercing weapons = +1*/0
Two handed weapons = +1/+1

So a sword would have +0 to hit and do 1d6+1 damage.

A mace would have +1 to hit* and do 1d6 damage.
A two handed axe would have +1 to hit and do 1d6+2 damage
A two handed pick would have +2 to hit** and do 1d6 damage.

* +0 against lightly or unarmoured opponents.
** +1 against lightly or unarmoured opponents.

Of course you could go into much greater detail or do something completely different, just some thoughts.

I tend to agree with Delta, though, that +1 modifiers to hit are a little too small and fiddly to bother with, though, so I'd upgrade those to +2.
As a note re: the suggested damage modifiers, bear in mind that those are in context of OD&D, with minimal modifiers. So a +1 to damage is pretty substantial there. If I were trying to use this in a more modern version I might just upgrade those to +2 as well, for symmetry and to help make them relevant.

 

While I agree with the design goals expressed here, I worry that there is a pretty easy workaround for PCs - carrying multiple weapon types. Every Str-based character is going to walk around with a battleaxe, warhammer, and (ironically) rapier (which can also use Str). Every Dex-based character now has a scimitar and sling to back up their obligatory rapier. Everyone becomes a "Swiss Army" character who can pull out whatever tool is most advantageous for the particular situation.
 


While I agree with the design goals expressed here, I worry that there is a pretty easy workaround for PCs - carrying multiple weapon types. Every Str-based character is going to walk around with a battleaxe, warhammer, and (ironically) rapier (which can also use Str). Every Dex-based character now has a scimitar and sling to back up their obligatory rapier. Everyone becomes a "Swiss Army" character who can pull out whatever tool is most advantageous for the particular situation.
I don’t think that is a work around! I do this already. I like to have a sword and usually a hammer or mace.

Note though that I take strength based characters much of the time while the rest of the world likes dex.

I think it could still work it’s magic in making some weapons more common and strength more important.

Then again, I could see str and dex modifiers being averaged to come up wi th an attack value but that would probably be unnecessary if someone did armor mods.

The real trick would be creatures. How many lost their type of hide or armor?
 


Maybe just have certain armours provide resistance against a specific damage type. Chainmail provides resistance to slashing or whatever is appropriate. That is the simplest way I can think.

Another, more complicated way, would be to have certain armour types provide DR 5 or whatever against certain types. As far as keeping track, it's easy for a player since they rarely change armour types and they usually know what kind of damage they are taking.

It's more complicated for a DM. But, with that said, they have to track resistances and vulnerabilities so this is no different. Just jot it down in the stat block if they happen to be wearing armour.

I think you'd definitely want to avoid armour types that give DR 5 vs bludgeoning and DR 3 vs slashing. What I mean is, a specific armour type giving varying protection to different types of damage.
 

I used the 1E chart for a short period of time, but it didn't come up often enough to really matter. It was on the DM screen if I felt like using it, but it wasn't usually worth bothering with. The damage type one in 2E was easier to utilize, but eventually we phased it out too. I feel it's a decent way to customize the armors, but it definitely has a point of diminishing returns.

The ideal way to differentiate the armors would be a PITA, but have each armor provide different ACs for damage types (including elemental). This would setup a lot of different types of attacks and help the idea that there's not just one ideal armor for each category.

As much as I'm not a fan of 3E, their differentiation of weapons was fairly well done. Having multiple properties would help to differentiate them in 5E. I've already looked into adding some to help balance the existing ones. For example, if the Greataxe rolled an extra damage die on a critical (3d12 total) it would be very closely balanced to the Greatsword and Maul, which are currently superior.

While I agree with the design goals expressed here, I worry that there is a pretty easy workaround for PCs - carrying multiple weapon types. Every Str-based character is going to walk around with a battleaxe, warhammer, and (ironically) rapier (which can also use Str). Every Dex-based character now has a scimitar and sling to back up their obligatory rapier. Everyone becomes a "Swiss Army" character who can pull out whatever tool is most advantageous for the particular situation.
To be honest, most warriors would carry multiple weapons for different approaches. A sword might be the primary weapon, but sometimes you need to pull a mace or a dagger for close combat. Of course, in D&D characters are going to take the max damage weapons (as you point out), but if you had enough variety of use, then damage might not always be the primary focus.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I really liked how 3E weapons were done - with the exception of Spiked Chain. I really want to go back to the varying crit ranges at least.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
To be honest, most warriors would carry multiple weapons for different approaches. A sword might be the primary weapon, but sometimes you need to pull a mace or a dagger for close combat. Of course, in D&D characters are going to take the max damage weapons (as you point out), but if you had enough variety of use, then damage might not always be the primary focus.
If you’re talking about medieval warfare, a sword was more likely to be a sidearm than a primary weapon.
 

Oofta

Legend
Back in the late 20th century, we used the charts for a little bit but fairly quickly dropped them. One of our issues was simply how to judge natural armors and armors that didn't fit the normal pattern. Facing a bullete? Are they considered wearing plate armor? What adjustment, if any, do you apply to a manticore's spike attacks?

It just wasn't worth the overhead for us.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Currently we have slashing, bludgeoning piercing damage
Instead of focusing on weapons vs. armor, I would focus on trying to make other weapons more interesting.

Why choose a flail over a warhammer, for instance? They are both d8 bludgeoning, weight 2 lbs., but the warhammer has the versatile feature so is a "better" weapon overall.

Now, let's add a feature to the flail: If you attack a target which is using a shield, you gain a +1 to your attack roll.

This makes sense for a flail special feature because flails were used to wrap around shields and hit the shield-bearer behind it. Also, you might want an option for the flail chain or chord to wrap around an opponent's weapon, giving you an edge on disarming maybe?

The whip could be used to allow you to grapple from up to 15 feet (it's reach IIRC?). You can make an attack and if you hit, the target makes a save (DC 8 + your total attack bonus) to avoid being tripped (prone), entangled (grappled), or pushed back 5 feet (shove). Nets could work similarly.

FWIW, we have these changes in our MOD and the group actually has people taking weapons for the options they give them instead of just damage. We also have ALL martial weapons using two damage types, not just one, again increasing their versatility. Martial weapons also have advantage on damage rolls, which greatly increases your chance for critical damage (i.e. exploding damage dice).

1656109573623.png

You'll also notice we added a new damage type, "cleave".

Light weapons give the attacker a +1 on attack rolls since they do less damage in general.

Versatile weapons (when used with two hands) give you either a +1 to attack rolls (using your hands for better control) or increased damage (using your hands for better leverage).

Longbows can add STR mod to damage if you buy a custom heavier draw bow.
Crossbows (not shown) give a +1 to attack rolls against targets within normal range.
Pikes can be used to set to receive a charge
And so on...

Finally, all melee weapons use STR for damage (even finesse weapons, which are light weapons for us since we removed the finesse and two-handed properties, folding them into light and heavy).

Anyway, there is a bunch more, but that should give you an idea of how to make other weapons more attractive.
 

GreyLord

Legend
On a related, but different note,

With the Rapier, it is basically the Longsword (arming sword?) of 5e. The Longsword is basically the Bastard Sword (Medieval Longsword?) of 5e. They do very similar things as those weapons from older editions in many ways.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
On a related, but different note,

With the Rapier, it is basically the Longsword (arming sword?) of 5e. The Longsword is basically the Bastard Sword (Medieval Longsword?) of 5e. They do very similar things as those weapons from older editions in many ways.
We added "broadsword" to serve as the arming sword since the era's we play don't (generally) include rapiers.

But otherwise, the 5E longsword is the old bastard / hand-and-a-half sword, which was really called the long sword historically LOL!
 

My problem with the current weapon and armor system is that it never rises above "fine". There isn't really any choice built into the armor tables, and no real reason for players to explore other weapons or armors. It's also got nonsense going on with it like the quarterstaff == cane issue, spears just being poorly represented, whole piles of weapons with identical stats, another whole pile of weapons that are strictly worse than other weapons, etc.

Nevermind the fact that it still doesn't attempt to teach players that studded leather is more appropriately understood as brigandine, or that basically all armor has a cloth gambeson. I don't demand the game be historically precise, but I do wish they would start attempting to undo some of the worst tropes.

I think D&D should pick a lane.
  1. Go with 13th Age's system where your class determines how effective your armor is and what damage your weapons deal.
  2. Attempt to actually be more simulationist or historic.
This halfway stuff is just frustrating on both ends of the spectrum. It feels like the only people who aren't annoyed or upset seem to be the people who don't actually care anyways.

That said, I'm really not at all about adding more fiddley bits. I'm someone who would strongly prefer 13th Age's system.
 

To quote myself on the subject...

Well, that's why I liked the weapon keywords and properties from 4e. Those created an actually interesting space. They could even have been expanded. Frex:

Accurate (+1 to hit)
Finesse (can use Dex for hit/damage)
Defensive (+1 shield bonus to AC while wielding at least one Defensive weapon)
Brutal N (reroll damage dice that show N or less)
High Crit (roll extra dice when landing crits)
Unstoppable (increase crit range by 1)
Savage (roll damage twice, take the higher value)
Blunt (replace normal damage dice with average value, rounded down)
Thrown (can be used for ranged attacks without improvisation)

Etc. I'm sure I could come up with more if I weren't exhausted. The idea being, the properties don't have to be complicated, and each weapon could have (say) at most 2 properties, maybe 3 for fancy exotic weapons.

Of course I also liked the idea that you could have feats that hooked into "I use axes" stuff, but I doubt 5e is interested in that level of mechanical engagement.

I think there's even more we could do here. @DND_Reborn for example has a solid idea WRT bonuses when fighting an enemy with a shield; we could perhaps call this Shieldbreaker (+1 to hit and damage against targets that have a Shield bonus to AC.) "Entangling" or "Grappling" could also be a property, building off their suggestion about whips but having it apply to any weapon that gets all physical around the opponent. Adding those two to my list above gives us at least 11 different weapon properties that we can try to mix and match, not counting things like damage dice, handedness (one-hand, off-hand, two-hand, versatile, etc.), and special-purpose weapons (such as nets).

Feats, being particularly chunky and significant in 5e, also afford an excellent opportunity to reward specialization with a particular weapon type without being cripplingly overspecialized with a single weapon. I would expect the weapon groups to be similar to 4e's: Heavy Blades, Light Blades, Axes, Hammers (counting maces/clubs), Polearms, Spears, etc. All the basic stuff, with each <Group> Specialist feat having various juicy but distinct (and hopefully thematic!) benefits for someone willing to spend the feat in order to specialize.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Adding those two to my list above gives us at least 11 different weapon properties that we can try to mix and match, not counting things like damage dice, handedness (one-hand, off-hand, two-hand, versatile, etc.), and special-purpose weapons (such as nets).
Other features we added are on critical damage, and optional for the attacker to use. They require a save by the target with a DC equal to 8 + your attack modifier:

Dazed (for bludgeoning): WIS save or stunned until start of target's next turn.
Hindered (for slashing): CON save or target has half speed until the end of its next turn.
Skewered (for piercing): DEX save or weapon is stuck in target. On your turn you can automatically deal weapon damage (no attack roll required) unless the target uses its action to remove the weapon.
Wounded (for cleaving): CON save or take unmodified weapon damage at the stat of the target's next turn.

We are still tweaking these a bit, but in general that's the idea.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top