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House Rules for Breaking Weapons

posted Jan 07, 2013 16:50:52 by RangerDan
“Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered” - Theoden King, Battle of Pelennor Fields.

These are some house rules I dreamt up once upon a time for increasing the instances of weapons or shields getting damaged in combat.
Because of the way Special Effects work, I find that weapons are rarely damaged or broken unless a combatant is actively trying to capture someone.
I’ve never actually used them (I generally try to keep my games rules-lite), but they appeal to me for various reasons so I’m putting them up here for anyone who is interested or has comments.

The Clash of Sword on Shield
This is a fairly low impact house rule to create some ‘random’ weapon wear and tear.
• If the dice roll for an attack is the same number as the dice roll for a parry (ie both the attack and parry roll are a 63), the weapons connect in a particularly violent way (regardless of success or failure of the attack or parry).
• Both combatants immediately roll damage against the opposite weapon, modified by hardness as usual.
• The ‘normal’ effects of the attack/parry (if any) are then worked out. A weapon that breaks because of the ‘clash’ completes this action/effect and then falls apart.

As this occurs infrequently it should not significantly derail normal combat. The idea is to give players that use strong but fragile weapons (rapier, shortspear) something to worry about. It can also contribute to a ‘cost of living’ outcome for players (repairing weapons), or just encourage players to become familiar with more weapons than their favourite.

In the current rules it is equally difficult for a fighter to damage his enemy as it is to damage the enemy’s shield being actively used to parry with. This makes a strategy of ‘smash the shield until it breaks’ not very viable. This rule intends to change that.
• An attacker can declare before rolling he wants to try to damage one of the defender’s weapons or shield. By doing so he is committing himself to use ‘Damage Weapon’ as the first Special Effect available (if any), and any damage dealt must be dealt against that weapon only.
• If the defender uses the targeted weapon to parry, the parry will only be successful if he wins at an opposed roll against the attacker's roll. This greatly increases the chance of damaging the targeted weapon if it is used to parry.
• If the defender uses a non-targeted weapon to parry, no such hindrance applies and the parry is worked out normally. If damage occurs without a Special Effect (ie a successful parry with a smaller weapon), any damage must be dealt against the targeted weapon.

This rule is admittedly a little fiddly and complicated, but I saw it as a way of giving players an option to ‘attack the weapon’ that has a little more teeth. In my opinion it favours:
• Big bruisers with low Evade scores that are outreached by opponents (polearms).
• Big bruisers with large weapons who want to ‘crack’ a skilled defensive fighter with a shield.

Have fun!

[Last edited Jan 07, 2013 16:55:22]
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3 replies
bluefenix42 said Jan 07, 2013 18:17:17
I like these rules. Simple and effective. I'm currently GM'ing a party that is 3/4 one-hand-weapon + shield users, with a single quarterstaff-wielding mage. Your "break the shield" rule should be fun to try out against them, as well as a way to maybe convince players to try out the big two-handed weapons themselves sometime.
Skoll said Jan 08, 2013 13:53:07
I have also been pondering the idea of introducing a house rule for breaking weapons. I actually had already decided on the following rule but so far have forgotten to take it into use :-)

So my idea was, that whenever
* attack roll is successful and
* defense roll is successful and
* damage is more that the Armor Points of the defending weapon
=> the defending weapon takes one point of damage.

But I like your idea of using opposed rolls in this. So I'm thinking about modifying the rule in the following way. Whenever
* attack roll is successful and
* defense roll is successful and
* damage is more that the Armor Points of the defending weapon
check for the result of the attack and defense rolls as if they were opposed rolls, and modify the size of the attacking weapon (only for the purpose of resolving weapon damage): If attacker won, increase the size of the attacking weapon by one step, if the defender won, decrease the size of the attacking weapon by one step.
=> the defending weapon takes damage equal to the size difference of the weapons.

So for example if Attacker has weapon size L and Defender has weapons size M. If Attacker wins the opposed roll, Defending weapon takes 2 points of damage. If Defender wins, no damage.

Everything else in the combat is resolved normally, including the combat maneuvers and possible damage to the character.
JohnWhite said Jan 26, 2013 17:30:16
Whatever works best for the GM's campaign.

In the distant past I have found that rules which increase chances of weapon breakage lead to players starting to heft around substitute weapons.
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