Saturday, September 26, 2009

Magic Weapons: Scalable Weapons

Over at The Game table, there is an interesting post on designing scalable weapons. Those are weapons that increase in power, as the player adds "skill points" to mastering that weapon.

I have been thinking about how that sort of mechanic might be applied to an OD&D game, since in OD&D fighting-men do not have skill points to assign to their weapons.

One possibility is to increase a particular weapon's power, based on the number of levels that the character is in possession of that sword.

For example, the character finds Blackrazor at first level. It is a +1 sword. As long as he continues to possess and use that sword, it increases in power, or extra damage, at certain intervals. The Game Table post suggested the following power scale:

1 skill point = +1
3 skill points = +2
6 skill points = +3
10 skill points = +4
15 skill points = +5
21 skill points = +6

Rather than tying this to skill points, you might instead tie this to the number of levels. The required number of skill points would, instead, be the current level of the fighting-man. So, if the character found Blackrazor, at first level, when the fighting-man reached 3rd level, the Blackrazor would a +2 sword. At 6th level, it would be a +3 sword. At 10th, +4, and so on.

I'm not sure this completely solves the problem, but I think it is a solution worth looking at.


The Rusty Battle Axe said...

This seems like a very simple and sensible way to adapt the concept.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I'm not entirely satisfied with this. For example, a 6th level MY gets fireball, which, at that level, does 6d6 damage to everyone in its radius. That's an average of 21 damage. A 6th level fighting-man, with a +3 sword, does an average of 8 damage, to one opponent, in the same round.

I know its apples and oranges. Still, I would like to see Fighting-man have some sort of additional ability, beyond one attack per level against 1HD monsters.

David said...

Maybe the magic item can have an option to gain an additional +1 to attack and damage or it can select a MU spell of the appropriate level (+2 Blackrazor ready to be scaled up to either a +3 or to gain a 1/day special ability of 3rd level or 2/day 2nd level or 3/day 1st level ability drawn from the cleric or MU spell lists. Now I wouldn't make all items scalable or give them the full range, or even access to all spells, but for some... And I'm thinking a new increase every 3 levels. Could eventually make for some really epic items!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I'm thinking about scaling the magic swords that the do one extra die of damage for every "plus", so a +1 sword does 1d8 + 1d8 damage.

A +2 sword does a total of 3d8 damage, and so on.

Thus, say, a +3 sword, +6 vs red dragons, would do 7d8 damage if facing a red dragon.

Just thinking out loud here.

Badmike said...

I once had a magic item that revealed more of it's powers to it's wielder the more powerful the PC got....I never really developed or followed up on it, though. I'll have to think about it now after reading your post!

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

MUs and Fighters have different power curves as they progress, which I personally like. MUs start out very weak and vulnerable in comparison to other classes (and even the barmaid at the local tavern) but my fifth level or so they surpass the other classes in many ways. As long as their abilities are not enhanced by magic items and such, MUs still have poor AC and low HP as glaring vulnerabilities. Two sixth level fighters make for a strong little adventuring party. Two sixth level MUs make for a dangerous but vulnerable party. IMHO, a high level wizard should be something to feared more than a high level fighter.

My analogy for this is the air war over western Europe in WW2. Heavy bombers did the damage, but could not penetrate defenses without fighter escort (I'm ignoring night bombing as well as the debate over the actual effectiveness of so-called strategic bombing in WW2).

A Paladin In Citadel said...

MUs and Fighters have different power curves as they progress, which I personally like.

Me too. The power drop-off for Fighters is pronounced, once you hit 10th Level or so.

I would love to find a way to shorten the battles by amping up the melee damage that fighters do at higher levels.