Damage Scaling

Monday, 25. October 2010

BX has an interesting post on the use of a simple d6 damage mechanic for D&D gaming.  The argument is essentially that all weapons are lethal and equally capable of gutting someone should they connect.  I agree to a point, but there is definitely an advantage to be had for reach and then armor adds just another entire level of complexity.  Lets face it, most of the time damage in games is pretty abstract because it would be very disappointing for someone to get gutted in the first hit particularly after spending all that time making a character.

So lets look at using something similar or perhaps a “slight” change in the damage die for weapons if you prefer just based on the mass of damage done.  In this case, we’ll just keep with a simple d6 however for sake of simplicity.  From there, we’ve got another couple layers that heap on complexity and perhaps affect the damage we can do with a given weapon.  Technique (combat experience, skill etc) has a lot to do with it, so that should be a major factor.  Strength plays a smaller part and speed is equally important.  (I know there are a lot of other factors we can incorporate, but this has to be playable!)

For D&D it might be something like this

Skill – Every 4 levels results in a +1. Classes that are specialized in fighting gain an additional +1 to this scale.
Strength - Each point of bonus represents +1 on the scale.  Likewise with penalties.
Speed – Dexterity is factored in a similar fashion.

All of those attributes end up getting summed on each side of the equation and a comparison is made between the 2.  If there is no or simply a small difference, the damage for each weapon remains the same.  As the difference increases, whomever has the advantage increases their damage in increments.  For D&D, a d2 would be appropriate.  For games similar to heavy gear, a damage increase of 1 per step would be appropriate.

Difference Added damage
0-3              None
3-6              d2 (d6 would be d8 now, etc)
6-12            d4
12+             d6

What does all this do put together?  It provides a relative effectiveness of each combatant with a weapon.  The more able combatant is going to be able to better leverage his  weapons strengths and the damage increase shows this.  In the case of the less skilled person; a lethal weapon is still lethal.  Damage in their case remains the same to reflect this. It also represents the multiple hits or other techniques that might be applied with a weapon that’s seemingly “less” lethal to greatly increase its effectiveness.

If you wanted to get away from hit points, you could use a scale of combat advantage the combatants progress along until one wins, with the win resulting in a wound for the other.  Combat progresses until a clear winner is there.


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4 Responses to “Damage Scaling”

  1. a shadow on the water Says:

    What about weapon quality as an additional factor?

  2. Grey Says:

    It depends how much detail you want to get into. Really poor quality weapons typically do less and anything enchanted gets its usual bonus to hit and damage anyways. I’d think anything less than that might be too subtle to factor in.

  3. Don Says:

    As for armor adding a level of complexity…. remember D&D v1 with the To Hit modifiers against certain armor classes for each weapon? It was a huge table that no one I know of used. It was meant to consider the relative effectiveness a certain weapon had against certain armors, such as chainmaille’s relative uselessness against blunt weapons or piercing weapons.

    Personally I find excessive modifiers to be a combat killer, as players become conditioned to find every last little modifier they can find hoping their swing connects. Unfortunately, 4E has become a modifiers intense game.

  4. Grey Says:

    I remember that table was a complete pain too. I seem to remember using it at one time or another, if anything I recall it basically just destroyed the heavier armors if one was using a piercing or blunt weapon. Which is not entirely unrealistic but rather dissapointing considering the cost and effort that went into getting those heavier pieces!
    That idea actually works well – you would simply have to have 3 armor classes instead of one.

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