I ran my the first, actual AD&D game for a group of people yesterday for Father’s Day – a modified Scourge of the Howling Horde introductory adventure for 3E. What was fun is that I roped a buddy of mine that was visiting for the weekend (as well as his companion for the trip) in to play – and’s been ragging on D&D players and the system in general for about 15 years or so after dropping it to play a heavily House-Ruled Harnmaster game based.
So it was a real experience and a trip down memory lane for both of us.
But KT noticed a rule about Parrying that I had never pinged before that I can recall – p.11 it notes that Dexterity, “…applies to the character’s parrying (italics mine) and/or dodging ability in missile or melee combat…” KT asked if this meant that the high Dex of her thief gave her a bonus to parry (ala p.104, “Parrying disallows any return attack that round, but the strength “to hit” bonus is then subtracted the opponent’s “to hit” dice roll(s)…”
What a marvelous idea! I had already ruled that it wasn’t just Strength bonus that applied, it was whatever bonuses the characters had (so an Elf with a long swords gets a +1 bonus when parrying, a +3 sword parries better than a normal sword, etc) but this is a great way to make Parrying an attractive option to more characters – and mean that there is an increasingly effective “defensive game” available to players that want that option.
And… SS, the Harnmaster, decided to play a Northern Barbarian, and gravitated to twin battle-axes – but also decided to take waraxe as a proficiency as well. This is my version of the huge, double-bitted, massive weapon of destruction – it’s essentially a two-handed version of battle axe and does double damage. But he brought up an excellent point that never really occurred to me as an issue.
What was the benefit to using a waraxe if he could wield dual battle axes? His weapon damage was the same, if not better when accounted for strength bonuses, etc. So after thinking about it, here is my quick and dirty, and most importantly evocative, rules for using these big weapons…
Cleaving: Waraxes, Warhammers, Warclubs, Warflails, Warmaces, Bastard Swords (Used Two Handed), and Two-Handed Swords have three special bonuses – they get double bonuses to damage from strength and specialization, and if they strike with a critical hit or exceed the “to hit” number by 4+, they get a another attack at -2 To Hit (cumulative) at an opponent adjacent and within reach of the original one – this can be repeated once for each opponent within reach if the rolls are good enough. Finally, they all get an additional +1 to Hit due thier superior armor penetrating abilities.*
This lets those high Strength fighters wade into battle with a waraxe and have a chance to cleave their enemies in twain, and let loose a river of blood in their wake! It’s also going to make those trolls with warclubs even scarier!
*After reading B/X Blackrazor’s post on “d6 Dopplehanders” I added the +1 to Hit part of this. It makes great sense and it continues with the mix between “evocative” and “simulationist” in a readily understandable and useable manner. To make this more “realistic” it would be +1 only against armoured opponents, but that would be a fiddly bit to keep track of and would bog down combat at times when decisions needed to be made about “was this monster/person/whatever armoured enough, or was it Dex, or magical force fields, etc” – and we want combat that moves quickly, not combat that bogs down any more than AD&D already does.
It’s probably worth noting that waraxes, warhammers, etc. all simply double the damage dice of the one handed variety – e.g. a waraxe doe 2d8 damage to both S&M, and L+ creatures. The damage for the Bastard and Two-Handed Swords remains the same, since they already did decent damage against both S&M and L+ creatures.
While I don’t have any desire to use Speed factors or AC Modifiers, I’m thinking about granting Hammer and Axe weapons an additional +1 to Hit based on their generally superior armor penetration abilities as compared to swords and even maces. It also gives players an incentive to pick and use weapons that they would normally not usually bother with (in my experience).
10/12/2011- I’ve added one simple penalty for Waraxes, Warmaces, Warhammers, Warclubs, Warflails and Warmaces. It is that these weapons all Strike in Post-Rounds, rather than rolling for Initiative.