Friday, January 8, 2010

Hand-eye co-ordination and damage creep.

So I was thinking on a minor topic, and this is a minor post. One thing that always bugged me was damage creep in melee combat. Don't get me wrong, I like that strength is important for how useful Thog the barbarian is with his club, but at some points it became TOO important, in that it far overshadowed the club itself.

To this end I'd already set that a strength bonus cannot exceed the maximum damage of the die (ie, even with +5 strength on a hulking Goliath, its still only +3 on a flick knife). I also made specialization give a re-roll of the damage die rather than any static bonus. This makes the die roll itself more important. But the creep was still a bit too high for my tastes.

I've recently tweaked it again so that the strength bonus cannot exceed the die roll. So if you have +3 strength but roll a 1, you only get +1 damage.

I also noticed that missile weapons were kind of boned in this regard. A crossbow has it's set die, there is no way to gain more damage. I was informed later that D&D 3.0 and later uses dex to give bonus bow damage, that seemed like making dex a "Superstat" since it already gave a "to hit" bonus.

Instead I went with Awareness (you could sub in perception or wisdom or even intelligence, depending on system). This means to be a good archer you need both high agility (or dex etc) and awareness (or perception etc). Ie, you need good hand-eye co-ordination, you need to be good at both.

Why is this good?

It prevents bonus creep from reaching absurd levels while still making stat choices meaningful. It also prevents a single "superstat".

Why is this bad?

Sometimes you want a superstat, a game where fighters are strong, thieves are agile and mages are smart (And the other stats are dump) is just fine if that is the kind of play style you like.


  1. I definately see your point on this one and making the damage bonus not exceed the weapon die is interesting, but I guess I like having the fighters being able to do the damage at high strengths. That's their job, to kill and break things. Each class has their superstat so to speak. For low levels this superstat for the fighters is a huge advantage, but as the they rise in level it loses more of its potency. Interesting post. It made me think of alternative damage rules.

  2. I do like high strength warriors being able to unleash high levels of skullbusting, but I don't like to force warriors to be musclebound if they want to be useful.

    Now true, a high strength warrior with a two handed weapon (allowing the use of double the strength bonus) should be dangerous. With a two handed sword and 20 strength it boils down to do you want 11-20 damage or 2-20 damage. By making it 2-20 it creates enough variance that its not "slam dunk" (nullifying the point in say a swashbuckler), but still makes high strength an attractive option.

    This is in itself bad at times as it can lead players to think that any low stat is a broken character since all stats are important.

    Sometimes too many choices can cause "analysis paralysis"

  3. I've done the sort of opposite. You can't do more damage than your str score. I round down to nearest die. So a str8 with a two-hand (normally d12) only gets to roll d8. A str7 with same weapon is limited to d6.