One of the features of ADnD that has always left me unsatisfied is variable damage by weapon. I have commented on this in the past, and since I just posted about weapon quality, I thought this would be an opportune time to post my recent thoughts on weapon selection.
I like to see players selecting weapons based on role-playing, not roll-playing: selecting a weapon based on their character template, rather than how much damage the weapon inflicts. ADnD makes that difficult, as there are weapons in ADnD that are clearly better from a min-maxing perspective. Why use a battleaxe (1d8/1d8) with a speed of 7 (slower) when you can use a longsword (1d8/1d12) with a speed of 5 (faster)?
As usual, Avalon Hill's Magic Realm (and to a lesser extent, Metagaming's Melee) comes to the rescue. In Magic Realm, all weapons are classified by their weight, and characters that are strong enough, can wield those heavier weapons, therefore inflicting more damage. All weapons in that weight category do the same damage. Melee uses a similar approach.
Marrying the Magic Realm and Melee weapon damage systems with Dungeons and Dragons provides me with the following solution.
Weapon Selection Table
Strength : Damage : Examples and Comments
Str 3 - 4 : Negligible (d3) : Blackjack, Knife, Dart, Stone
Str 5 – 7 : Light (d4) : Club, Dagger, Javelin, Hatchet, Sling bullet, Staff
Str 8 – 10 : Medium (d6) : Mace, Shortsword, Spear, Axe, Hammer, Arrow, Bolt, Pick
Str 11- 13 : Heavy (d8) : Flail, Longsword, Polearm, Battleaxe, Scimitar, Warhammer, Pickaxe
Str 14 – 16 : Tremendous (d10) : Maul, Greatsword, Lance, Greataxe, Morningstar, Mattock
Str 17 – 18 : Overswing (d12) : Can Overswing Tremendous Weapons For d12 Damage
Weapons that characters can use in combat, without experiencing fatigue, is based on their Strength. In addition, characters can overswing weapons in a lower weight category, raising the weapon's damage to the next higher damage category. That allows those characters to do extra damage with a weapon in a lower class.
For example, a Strength 12 Character can use a Longsword (d8). That Character can also overswing a Shortsword to bring it up to d8, from d6; or, can overswing a Dagger to bring it up to a d6, from a d4; or, can overswing a Knife to a d4, from d3.
Players are not restricted to weapons in, or below, their Strength category. For example, a Character with a Strength of 8 can still pick up and wield a Greatsword. However, since I use the longer, one-minute combat rounds, that Character suffers fatigue from swinging, parrying and blocking with the Greatsword, equal to the number of levels above the character's normal ability. Since the Greatsword is two levels above that character's normal ability, she suffers two fatigue (deducted from her hit points) every round she continues to wield the Greatsword in combat.