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"Realistic" things that no-one actually wants to deal with in fantasy games

WistfulD

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Funny you should say that - my table found that D&D3.x strongly encouraged get one weapon and sticking with it. You got the weapon that allowed/was best for whatever feat chain you intended to abuse and you stuck with it. Having to buy Weapon Focus (and Specialisation, etc., if a Fighter) on a per-weapon basis further locked you in. The only characters that ever swapped weapons around were the caster types, who would simply use (more often just carry for ages and never use) whatever weapon they had proficiency in that was most magical or looked coolest.
Certainly if you made a trip-fighter or the like, you would stick with (sigh) the spiked chain. Otherwise, probably greatsword. However, I remember on the WotC boards when 3.0 switched to 3.5, a lot of hullabaloo over how Damage Reduction meant now instead of always wanting the +3 sword instead of the +1 flaming one (since the former could effect creatures that the later could not), you would want a +1 cold iron bludgeoning weapon, a +1 silver bludgeoning weapon, a +1 adamantine bludgeoning weapon, a +1 cold iron piercing weapon... (and so on).

I also never heard of people taking weapon focus or specialization unless it was a PRC requirement (at least until we stopped worrying about the rules and just played for flavor).

I saw a serious suggestion that the trident in 5e D&D is broken and needs to be fixed. Why? Because it costs more than a spear, weighs more than a spear, requires a narrower weapon proficiency than a spear, does the same damage as a spear, and doesn't give any fancy mechanical perks over a spear. So in a nut shell it's a heavier, clumsier, more expensive spear and that makes it broken. Sigh. Sub-optimal stuff seems to be a realism people don't want to deal with. Not everything is better, or even equally good.
I think the issue is that it is the martial-upgrade to the spear (let's ignore that a spear is totally a soldier's weapon and that a trident is a fishing implement used in gladiatorial fights specifically because it caused bloody-but-less-lethal wounds) that has not mechanical benefits for being martial (excepting I suppose that those without martial proficiency have a harder time throwing it back at you). 5e actually has quite a few sub-optimal choices-- great club, maul (a greatsword, but heavier and cheaper), mace (quarterstaff is equal, but can also be two-handed for more damage), etc.
 

FoolishOwl

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Validated User
I'm not sure how it didn't look like it fitted, given the tables had different damages vs large vs medium and small creatures, carefully noted weapon weights and lengths, and distinguished between shortswords, broadswords, longswords, and bastard swords, just to list the swords that could be used in one hand (and had separate damage entries for one-handed and two-handed bastard sword use). I think the main problem was that the table was over the page from the weapon damage table, and so it was easy to ignore it.

Also, in my experience everyone ignored the table, but didn't rebalance weapon damage, etc., to adjust for its loss. Then half of them would complain about how the longsword was simply better than all other one-handed weapons and how crappy heavy crossbows were.
I took a glance at my old 1E AD&D Players Handbook. The damage tables, distinguishing damage between monster size classes, was on page 37. I'm talking about the table on page 38, that includes weapon speed factor and AC to-hit adjustments.

There are a bunch of problems with it, but the most fundamental is the way it's using "armor class". Most often, we understood armor class as what we now call a derived stat; in fact, I think it may have been the original example. You chose armor, then applied a dexterity bonus, then a shield bonus; then there might be some other magical or other modifiers. We understood that there were questions of facing, that you might drop the shield, that different sorts of armor had different physical properties that sometimes were relevant. But my high school DM and I both knew a little programming in BASIC, and we understood armor class as a simple integer variable: a number you got after some calculating. This was considerably reinforced when we were introduced to the concept of THAC0 -- often mocked these days as complicated, but in the late 80s, it was a huge simplification that made combat calculations a lot easier.

We didn't think of armor class as also having another meaning, where it's a hash key, where you look up the armor class in the original table and find that a particular armor class means a specific type of armor. (Did BASIC on the Commodore 64 even have dictionary arrays?) Arguably, that usage is implied in the term "armor class", but, "class" was overused in D&D, if less overused than "level", so the word didn't really clarify things. This is pretty confusing when you consider you're applying a bunch of modifiers to the armor class, so what you have on your character sheet in big print is generally the derived stat, and *not* the number you'd be looking up on that one table on page 38, as far as I can recall, the only place where armor class is used that way. There were a lot of shifts even just in the 1E years in how stat blocks for NPCs and monsters were presented in published modules, but most often, you'd get the armor class, as the derived stat; the specific type of armor they were supposed to be wearing was sometimes mentioned in the description.

So, getting to how that table might make fighters "interesting": okay, so if you've got some idea what sorts of armor your opponents are wearing, you might be able to go over that table and choose the best weapon for the task. Which requires that a) you've got some idea what sorts of armor your opponents are wearing, and b) that you've got a selection of weapons. Plausibly, you know you're going up a group of orcs who've been raiding the village, and you can ask the local militia what kind of armor they're wearing, and then you go to your baggage train and pick out the weapon. Or ask the blacksmith to make you something.

In theory, it would make fighters more interesting to play, if gathering information about possible opponents and preparing for combat was as important to them as preparing spells was for a magic-user. But, that doesn't fit so well when you're on a dungeon crawl, and you've only got a few weapons with you at best, and you don't really find out what kind of opposition you're facing until you find it. Even the DMs I knew who were least concerned with encumbrance rules pretty much drew the line at carrying more than two or three different weapons at once.

And all that goes out the window when you started finding magical weapons -- in the treasure tables and most published modules, you'd mostly see only the most popular types of weapons enchanted, mostly swords, with the occasional mace or axe. That +1 long sword is going to be as effective or better than an unenchanted footman's flail in most circumstances. And not long after the PCs start getting magic weapons, they tend to start facing opponents that are immune to unenchanted weapons.

In practice, I don't recall finding fighters "boring" in 1E AD&D. At least, they weren't boring in the early levels; especially at first level, it often seemed like the fighter was the only one in the party who could actually do anything in combat, and this persisted until magic-users started to have enough spells to cast something each combat. Eventually, magic-users caught up and surpassed fighters.

In short, the table of to-hit adjustments on page 38 in the 1E AD&D Players Handbook was at odds with the general usage of "armor class", was only relevant in certain circumstances, when facing humanoids wearing explicitly identified types of armor, and only made fighters more tactically "interesting" in an even narrower set of circumstances, when they had knowledge in advance of what armor their opponents would be using and a selection of weapons to choose from. And enchanted weapons overshadowed that.
 

Dalillama

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you're already hopelessly unrealistic, but having them also have change-out weapons for multiple situations would be redonkulous (
Why? That's what an IRL knight would do. 9f course, and IRL knight would travel with a couple packhorses, a squire, and a probably a couple servants at a bare minimum, so.
Sigh. Sub-optimal stuff seems to be a realism people don't want to deal with. Not everything is better, or even equally good.
And that real life armies and warriors have other considerations, like: can I afford a sword instead of this axe? Am I legally allowed to walk about with a halberd, or are people of my class forbidden and I have carry a bill? Do I in fact own a purpose built weapon at all, or am I snatching up whatever is to hand cos the village is under attack? Etc.
 

Arbane the Terrible

11th-level Minion
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In fairness, the whole "muggles need to be more limited by 'realism' than wizards characters with explicit fancy powers" sentiment kind of does sound relevant to this thread. Even if it's debatable whether or not that's really something literally 'no one' wants to deal with in their games. :)
"As always, magic is limited by your imagination - if you can imagine it happening, it does. And martial powers are limited by your imagination - if you can imagine a reason why it can't happen, it doesn't." - LightWarden
 

DavetheLost

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[QUOTE="Dalillama, post: 22453722, member: 33605"
And that real life armies and warriors have other considerations, like: Am I legally allowed to walk about with a halberd, or are people of my class forbidden and I have carry a bill? Etc.[/QUOTE]

An Elizabethan decree on just this:

And whereas a usage is crept in, contrary to former orders, of wearing of long swords and rapiers, sharpened in such sort as may appear to the usage of them can not tend to defense, which ought to be the very meaning of weapons in times of peace, but to murder and evident death, when the same shall be occupied: her Majesty's pleasure is that no man shall, after ten days next following this proclamation, wear any sword, rapier, or any weapon in their stead passing the length of one yard and half a quarter of blade at the uttermost, neither any dagger above the length of twelve inches in blade, neither any buckler with a sharp point or with any point above two inches in length, upon pain of forfeiting the sword or dagger passing the said length, and the buckler made otherwise than is prescribed, to whomsoever will seize upon it, and the imprisonment of his body that shall be found to wear any of them, and to make fine at her Majesty's will and pleasure. And if any cutler or other artificer shall, after the day of the publication hereof, sell, or have within his shop or house to be sold, or shall make or cause to be made any rapier, sword, dagger, or buckler contrary to this order, to forfeit the same, his body to be imprisoned, and to make fine at the Queen's Highness's pleasure, and to remain in prison till the said fine be fully satisfied; and being taken with the fault the second time, never to be permitted after to use that occupation; which in the Court is to be executed by the officers aforesaid, in the city and within the liberties, by the mayor and Court of aldermen, and such as by them shall be appointed in that sort, as well sergeants as others beforesaid; in Westminster, the suburbs, and other privileged places, by the officers, of the same; in towns corporate by the mayor and other head officers, and in all other places by the justices of peace.
There were similar laws concerning clothing, colours, fabric, trim, decoration, style.
 

WistfulD

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Why? That's what an IRL knight would do. 9f course, and IRL knight would travel with a couple packhorses, a squire, and a probably a couple servants at a bare minimum, so.
I think that answered itself. And if your gaming group still has PCs travelling around with a retinue of non-combatant servants and pack animals, then there is not a contradiction*. We found that, even in the editions where it is explicitly expected, the actual game rules never really supported it (one wilderness wandering monster could easily kill off all the non-hd-gaining entities in an adventuring party, to say nothing of anything with a breath weapon).
*Although the game would have to be changed around either a greater treasure frequency, or even more expectation not to have a magic weapon, otherwise those sub-classes that can turn their weapons magical will have an even greater advantage.
 

Delgarde

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Why? That's what an IRL knight would do. 9f course, and IRL knight would travel with a couple packhorses, a squire, and a probably a couple servants at a bare minimum, so.
Yeah, a real knight wouldn't be walking around carrying a spear for reach and for piercing damage, a warhammer for bludgeoning, longsword for slashing, and a few throwing axes and a crossbow for ranged options... and in the heaviest armor he could find. That was "starting equipment" for the last fighter I built...
 

komradebob

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I think that answered itself. And if your gaming group still has PCs travelling around with a retinue of non-combatant servants and pack animals, then there is not a contradiction*. We found that, even in the editions where it is explicitly expected, the actual game rules never really supported it (one wilderness wandering monster could easily kill off all the non-hd-gaining entities in an adventuring party, to say nothing of anything with a breath weapon).
*Although the game would have to be changed around either a greater treasure frequency, or even more expectation not to have a magic weapon, otherwise those sub-classes that can turn their weapons magical will have an even greater advantage.
It's as if Adventuring for a living was dangerous or something! :D

So basically, that chart might have seen more use if it had been labelled "Armor Type" rather than Armor Class is what I'm getting from this. Okay, I can buy that.
 

Dagor

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It's as if Adventuring for a living was dangerous or something! :D
Bah, humbug. :D

(Although, yeah, that's definitely one of the "realism vs. fun" axes -- how much one wants to play up the 'mere' day-to-day hazards of the adventuring life and in particularly how much or conversely how little the players themselves are expected to micromanage every aspect of their characters' survival tactics will vary, possibly even with the same group from one session to the next once in a while.)
 

Lukas Sjöström

Society of Unity scholar
Validated User
I think that answered itself. And if your gaming group still has PCs travelling around with a retinue of non-combatant servants and pack animals, then there is not a contradiction*. We found that, even in the editions where it is explicitly expected, the actual game rules never really supported it (one wilderness wandering monster could easily kill off all the non-hd-gaining entities in an adventuring party, to say nothing of anything with a breath weapon).
*Although the game would have to be changed around either a greater treasure frequency, or even more expectation not to have a magic weapon, otherwise those sub-classes that can turn their weapons magical will have an even greater advantage.
However, it's less of an issue in other game systems -- in a BRP-based game, for example, both experienced adventurers and their recently recruited servants are likely to have ht points in the same range.
 
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