Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hit Dice, variable weapon damage, and the long sword

I'm playing in a new campaign starting this Sunday, and we've decided to use the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion. For those of you not familiar with it, the LLAEC adds classes, spells and some other concepts from AD&D to Labyrinth Lord.  I really like this because I started with D&D B/X and then moved to AD&D, but even when we moved to AD&D we kept using a lot of the mechanics from Basic, such as the turn sequence and combat sequence, rewarding XP etc.

The LLAEC has an option to use the hit dice for character classes as they exist in AD&D .  By default they use the hit dice as described in LL and B/X. I was wondering which option we were going to use.  At first I was thinking that default option was probably best, but then I remembered why that was a bad idea. Variable weapon damage.

Even though the default rule in B/X is that all weapons do d6 damage, I always, always, always used the variable weapon damage table. I remember first getting the game and having to go sifting to the back of the book to see how much damage a particular weapon did. And I remember being so happy that the Expert rules included that chart at the beginning of the book.   But there's a problem with variable weapon damage, and it's name is the long sword. For some reason, the long sword is the one 1 handed weapon that does d8 damage. Which means that's what everyone wants to use.  It also makes clerics and halflings (which cant use it) less effective in melee, as they can no longer deal as much damage in melee as fighters.

It's a problem that I didn't think a out 30 years ago, because frankly we didn't question those sorts of rules, and it wasn't as much of an issue in AD&D because characters had larger Hit Dice. But as I think of it now, I think that if the variable weapon damage rule is used as is, the Advanced Hit Dice should also be used.  Either that or long swords do a d6.

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