Fiddling with weapon damage

While I appreciate the delicate balance of damage die types for melee weapons (1d4 for daggers; 1d6 for all other one-handed weapons; 1d8 for one-handed weapons wielded two-handed; 1d10 for "proper" two-handed weapons) — if I used a more 3.x-like spread (1d6 for Small weapons like short swords and hand axes; 1d8 for one-handed Medium weapons like arming swords, maces and warhammers, and 1d10 if two-handed; 1d12 for big ol' two-handed swords and great axes), would I be breaking anything? Would it be advisable to bump up Hit Dice as well?

I think you're going to break more than you'll fix by increasing HD as well. Why change the damage dice in the first place? Is it just for the feel of different one-handed weapons? Keep in mind that doing so is both going to make the game more lethal, and upset the relative balance between classes.

Unapologetic sacred cow-herding on my part. I'm dragging sone lapsed (TSR-era) D&D players back to the fold via ACKS and thought having a sword deal 1d8 damage for old times' sake would be a thing.

Being a right bastard I'm OK with a deadlier low-level game, but how would that upset class balance?


IMO, it sounds like you are changing the numbers (i.e. inflating them in this case) for the sake of drawing in a few people. I don't think it's worth it unless that is the only way of course, but it seems strange that would be a sticking point. To be fair, the ACKS damage range isn't any different than TSR era BECM. Sure, there is no classic 1d8 longsword, but it is more than compensated for with damage bonus increases given to fighting classes (fighter, barbarian, explorer, etc).

If you really must go this route to attract converts, then I'd simply just adjust the damage of weapons up a die like you proposed... but I wouldn't change HD as well.

The two erudite individuals above me illuminated my point far more eloquently than I ever could have.

EDIT: For what it's worth, I had the same reaction as your players after I read, but before I started playing, ACKS. I'd also just come off a re-introduction, if you will, to old-school via some BECMI sessions I'd run; I pined for the hefty 1d8 cut of a sword. But, like a lot of other things I expected to end up changing before playing ACKS, the game itself changed my mind. It simply worked in play. It's balanced against spells, oil, monsters, hp, HD, other classes (Bladedancer, Assassin, etc.), bows...and the whole thing just works when actually played.

Even though I completely empathise with your players, I would still try and convince them to give it a shot. From their side it's a fairly trivial change (a Fighter ends up .5 points of damage different per hit at 1st Level, on average), but on the game side it cascades into many, many other things.

If you wanted to do something like this, and are worried about balance, let me propose the following... replace "figher damage bonus" with "fighter increased die type".  With this tweak, in the hands of a fighter the longsword would do 1d8 instead of 1d6+1.  Same average damage, so no balance issue. Eventually, the issue of a d14 or a d16 might come up, but maybe it just applies to the "first" +1.

Spell damage is weakened relative to mundane/fightery damage with this change. It does reduce the relative importance of the fighter damage bonus (as a percentage increase of expected damage) as well. Bladedancers (or other classes who get two-handed weapons but not fighter damage bonus) may come out ahead on these changes relative to fighters, who come out ahead of mages.

Also worth noting is that increasing damage in the hands of NPCs hurts low-AC PCs more than high-AC PCs in terms of expected damage taken per round, all other things being equal (which hopefully they aren’t, but archers are right bastards - which does raise the question, are you planning to raise ranged weapon damage too?). I also suspect that because the increase in expected damage from upgrading from a one-handed weapon to a two-handed weapon is smaller proportionally (d6->d8 is 29%, d8->d10 is 22%, d10->d12 is 18%), fighting with a weapon in two hands will be disincentivized relative to ACKS’ defaults, but I think I need to do more math before I strongly believe that conclusion (since expected damage per round is a rate, and the really important thing is expected duration of combat, which EDPR is not necessarily a good predictor of because damage is very variable and quantized).

This is exactly what I was going to propose. In fact, this is actually how the fighter damage bonus concept was first conceived.

When I set the damage of all one-handed weapons to 1d6, it meant that I had "nerfed" the fighter relative to the cleric, as previously the fighter had enjoyed 1d8 damage-dealing to the cleric's 1d6 damage-dealing. I solved the problem by giving the fighter a +1 bonus to damage. That in turn led to the idea that the fighter could see that benefit increase over time.

You might adopt a rule that says fighters increase the damage dice of their weapon by one step per +1, to a maximum of 1d12, with additional increases as +1 per point.

So a fighter with a damage bonus of +3 using a sword would normally do 1d6+3; now he does 1d12. If his damage bonus were +5, he would do 1d12+2.


Thanks, gents. I'm not really committed to the idea and truly wanted to explore potential consequences. Your insight is much appreciated.

Now there's a sharp (heh) idea! I like it. Changing die type feels more "personable" than a flat bonus.

[quote="Alex"] If his damage bonus were +5, he would do 1d12+2. [/quote]

Or you could buy a D14. They're pretty widely available, particularly now that Impact ran a Kickstarter (which I backed) to fill in all the weirdo DCC dice.

I suppose the other way to do it would be to create steps above d12, looking at averages:

D4 = 2.5 average

D6 = 3.5 average

D8 = 4.5 average

D10 = 5.5 average

D12 = 6.5 average


The problem with taking the next step up is that two dice will always average out to a whole number (2d4 = 5, 2d6 = 7, 2d8 = 9, 1d6+1d8 = 8, etc), and I don't like Zocchi dice. But if we go to three dice and keep the minimum score to 1:

1d4+2d6-2 = 7.5 average

3d6-2 = 8.5 average

1d8+2d6-2 = 9.5 average

2d8+1d6-2 = 10.5 average

3d8-2 = 11.5 average

Replacing d8s sequentially with d10s will get you to 12.5, 13.5, and 14.5, while d12s can be stepped to for 15.5, 16.5, and 17.5.

This option would mean the fighter with a sword and a +5 damage bonus would do 3d6-2; still the same average damage as 1d12+2, but with a lower min and higher max (1-16 damage instead of 3-14 damage), so the fighter will be "spikier" with 3d6-2, although it will also be bell curve shaped with a peak at 8.5 instead of being a flat distribution.

What've you got against Colonel Zocchi?!

But seriously, the new dice are nothing to do with him, and look pretty ordinary. At a distance it's easy to mistake the D14 for a D12. Impact molded theirs to match the colours and resin used by Chessex, so a set looks coherent..

It's mostly just a case of "dammit, I have too many dice already." I'm already packing 6 different types between d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20 (and yeah, I could get rid of the smaller dice by using d8/2, d12/2, and d20/2). When you throw in six more types (d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d30), dice bag is only so big (although the d3 and d5 are really only needed for people who can't do math, and a d30 can be replace by a d6+d10 roll, while the d16 can be replaced by a d8+dany, so really only the d7 and d14 can't be duplicated elsewhere). And that's not including the d100 (which I'm afraid will damage most surfaces I play on, and can be replaced by a d10+d10 roll).

And now, as I read over what I wrote, somebody who was obsessed enough with simplifying their dice bag could get by with just d8, d12, and d20:

d3 = d12/4

d4 = d8/2 or d12/3

d5 = d20/4

d6 = d12/2

d7 = d8, reroll 8

d8 = d8

d10 = d20/2

d12 = d12

d14 = d8 (reroll 8) + hi-lo die

d16 = d8 + hi-lo die

d20 = d20

d30 = d12/4 (for tens digit) +d20/2 (for ones digit)

d100 = d20/2 (for tens digit) + d20/2 (for ones digit)

Other new dice could be easily added - a d40 would be a d8/2 for tens and d20/2 for ones, while a d50 would be d20/4 for tens, etc. I'm sure somebody else has already thought of all of these, but it's another reason for me to not buy Dice Of Unusual Shape.

But...but...who doesn't want more dice?

Still, I get your point.

Only in the ACKS forums can someone casually suggest 1d4+2d6-2 as a substitute for the core rules mechanic of 1d6+4, and we all accept that this is totally reasonable.


That's OK, this evening my mind jumped to "hey, that would be a good mechanic for larger/smaller creatures, too." Instead of the giant damage thing I had House Ruled before, give them one step per hit die, so an ogre is +4 steps, hill giant +8 steps, etc, up to a storm giant's +15 steps. This will require three steps above 3d12-2 (1d10 for a two-handed weapon is 12 steps from 3d12-2).

The 18.5 average damage step is 1d8+1d10+1d20-2

The 19.5 average damage step is 2d10+1d20-2

The 20.5 average damage step is 1d10+1d12+1d20-2 <--this is a storm giant with a two-handed weapon.



Of course, this would also work for magic weapons. That dagger +1 doesn't do 1d4+1 damage, it does 1d6. The two-handed sword +3? That does 3d6-2 instead of 1d10+3. The cursed sword -1 only deals 1d4/1d6 instead of 1d6/1d8.

In this case, we should add three more steps to account for a Storm Giant with Two-Handed Sword +3. (I'm evil, aren't I? Thank goodness ACKS only measures alignment along Law and Chaos).

The next step is the fairly obvious 2d12+1d20-2

We're getting really swingy next, with 1d6+2d20-2

And the final step is 1d8+2d20-2, for the Storm Giant you don't want to mess with. The next two steps above would use d10 and d12 if anyone's using +5 weapons. Above that, it goes to Buckets O' Dice - the next step above 1d12+2d20-2 is 1d4+2d6+2d20-4 for 26.5 average damage.


We're your monster, Macris. ;)

Or rather, they are. I'm not much of a tinkerer if that wasn't evident already.

At the risk of going off into a wild tangent, I thought this morning about using die-stepping as a unified mechanic for weapon damage, combining damage bonuses from level, magical weapons, larger or smaller creatures, and non-standard weapon materials.

Base damage is per ACKS core.

Damage bonuses increase one step per +1

Magical weapons increase or decrease one step per +1/-1

Creatures significantly larger than humans get +1 per hit die. This includes ogres, giants, and minotaurs. Significantly smaller creatures get -1 if just small (halflings) and -2 if truly tiny (pixies and sprites). Thus, a halfling sword (1d4/1d6 in their hands) is just a dagger to a human. The small size penalty is treated as one point higher for slings and shortbows, since they're already fairly small weapons (so a halfling is at 0 steps and a pixie at -1 step with those two weapons).

Weapons of superior or inferior quality get a bonus. Wood is -2, stone and bone -1, and metals better than normal get +1 (if playing iron age, this would be high-quality steel; if steel is in use, then mythical metals such as adamantine or mithril). This applies only to weapons normally made of metal, so don't apply it to a club or staff.

All of the steps stack, so a halfling stone dagger +1 would start at 1d4, be reduced to 1d3 for halfling size, down to 1d2 for stone, and back to 1d3 for +1. Conversely, a halfling adamantine dagger +1 would be 1d4, down to 1d3 for halfing, up to 1d4 for material, then 1d6 for +1. And yes, a halfling wood dagger just does 1 damage. They're sort of pathetic that way.

You had me at "haflings are pathetic"!