So, I’m going to stew on the ramifications of changing the core attack mechanic away from a hit-damage combo to a one-roll mechanic.
In the meantime, I’m going to talk a little bit about what attacking with different weapons should feel like. You could get real specific with different weapons. Longswords outreach short swords, spears can attack from a rank back, flails can bypass shields, etc. You could even go to different attack patterns/maneuvers with each weapon, and allow any class to progress through the ranks of each weapon.
I do want fighting with different weapons to feel different. I know some people dislike different weapon rules, and that they can get in the way of the game a little bit. If every different weapon has different rules, you end up with a whole slew of different rules to memorize that can slow down combat, and you risk making some weapon choices clearly inferior or superior to others, which as I’ve talked about at length before actually tends to reduce the field of options rather than increase them.
I see four options here:
1. No weapon rules, or very simple ones. Maybe something like Light, Medium, and Heavy weapons.
2. A single basic rules for classes of weapons: Swords, Spears, Maces, Axes, etc.
3. A set of rules for each weapon, with different attacks available as you increase in skill with the weapon. This might be rated on a 5 scale, where you might have 0/5 through 5/5 skill training with a particular weapon.
4. Classes that have class powers based off using a specific weapon, which otherwise might not have any real differences.
A lot of modern RPGs (computer-based) have skill trees that take a method of fighting and allow the player to select from different branches of skill with the weapons. This is very similar to either option 3 or option 4, and is a nice way to differentiate the weapons and/or classes. It also adds a lot of complication to a game that may or may not really add to the enjoyment of sitting at the table and playing it. Traditional D&D tends to use option 2, with occasionally a little sprinkling of option 4 with prestige classes. Old school D&D and some of the OSR games tend to use option similar to option 1.
A very complicated system can be rewarding and allow for some different experiences. A simple system takes some of that complexity out of the rules, keeping up the pace of the game and getting out of the way of the exploration and developing story. Do you think a complex weapon system is worth the return? Which option do you prefer?
Image from Aikurisu on DeviantArt.