Variable d6 weapon damage

Delilah by Barry Moser
Delilah by Barry Moser

I’m not a huge fan of the highly differentiated weapon damage in DnD. All weapons are deadly in the right situations, so the 2d6 of a longsword and the d4 of a dagger don’t make that much sense to me. On the other hand, OD&D, with its flat d6 for all weapons, doesn’t sit right either.

I’m working on a 2d6 system that’s a bit more robust than my previous Maze Rats, but still simple and fast to play. One of its conceits is that I’d like to use 2d6 for everything, including damage, and this ended up evolving into a very satisfying system that both differentiates weapons and prevents the swingyness of rolling a single damage die.

There are two types of weapons, heavy and light. Heavy weapons use two hands (so this includes bows) and light weapons use one. The advantage to using a light weapon is you can also hold a shield (dual wielding weapons strikes me as a bit silly). Shields can be splintered to negate all damage from 1 attack, as per Trollsmyth’s excellent idea.

When you hit with a heavy weapon, roll 2d6 and use the greater die. When you hit with a light weapon, use the lesser one. When you make a critical hit, add them together. Simple.

This results in much lower damage output than DnD, especially since armor absorbs damage (max 2), but that just means that HP totals are lower, which reduces bookkeeping. All weapons have the same max damage, but larger weapons are tilted towards the higher end, which fits with my ethos of “All weapons can be deadly.” Looking forward to how it work in play this Tuesday.

3 Comments

  • Mike

    August 31, 2016 at 1:46 AM Reply

    I like the 2d6 idea but I think criticals sound a tad too deadly? I’ve used the idea in my ODD for a while (not sure where I picked it up from but it’s been around). I think the silliest thing about dual wielding is the term “dual wielding”. I call it two-fisted fighting (or something like that). I might allow such a fighter to increase his armour class by +1 on doubles?

  • Ben G.

    September 20, 2016 at 2:44 AM Reply

    Nice–I really like the layout of Sellsword. Do you still run it with your class?

  • Shannonl Lewis

    January 20, 2019 at 12:40 AM Reply

    I like this a lot I really do I’d like to see a 3d6 for everything system tho. As it harkens back to the original game more tightly, which I really value. In that case you could use the high die for Heavy, and the middle die for Light which smooths it out a bit more, imho. The “other” die you could put to some use too should you want. Great ideas, really compelling.

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