HD&D: The Rogue

What, more playtest-ready material for HD&D? Could it be that we’re in danger of sticking to the playtest deadline of 5 October? We still have Spells, Clerics, Wizards and an updated post on Races to get through in the next few weeks, but it’s looking promising, isn’t it?

The Thief, the Thug and the Backstabber

So, the Rogue… I openly confess, that I probably haven’t given quite as much thought to the Rogue as I have to many of these other classes. I suspect there could be some advantages in not overthinking things too much. As it stands, the rogue is a class that seems to write itself. A bit of sneak attacking, some hiding, some sneaking and Bob’s a close relative.

There was very little of the fourth edition rogue that I felt I could bring into HD&D. The class abilities from PHB 1, Martial Power and Martial Power 2 didn’t seem particularly distinctive outside the context of 4e. The rogue’s powers were equally flavourless. Most of them concern themselves with attacking, dealing significant amounts of damage and then shifting away without provoking opportunity attacks. All of that’s really summed up by a couple of talents in the hybrid game.

I am a little concerned that the HD&D is more of a damage dealer than he was in third edition. A clever selection of feats and talents could allow the rogue to add his sneak attack damage multiple times in a round. This maintains the ‘striker’ role bequeathed by 4e. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that as (to me) that’s not really what a rogue is all about.

Still you have a look and tell me what you think:

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HD&D: The Fighter

Well, this has been a long time in coming. It’s about a year late, actually. But let’s not dwell on the past! Today is the day that the HD&D fighter is finally revealed. Click on the PDF icon below to reveal thirty talents (and thirty-six feats) of martial mendacity!

The Fighter!

The Fighter Builds

The way the fighter is designed, a number of talents lend themselves to different types of fighter build. More than any other class, how you construct your fighter has a major impact on how the character functions within the group dynamic. Building an Archer is very different to building a two-weapon specialist, for example. Here are the talents broken down by ‘fighter build’.

Archer: Close Combat Shot, Manyshot, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot

Dual Weapon Fighter: Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Two Weapon Defence, Two Weapon Fighting

Swashbuckler: Acrobatic Élan, Parry, Sudden Riposte

Sword and Shield Fighter: Disorientating Smash, Rebounding Strike, Shield Bash, Shield Optimisation, Shield Proficiency, Shield Sling

Two-Handed Weapon Specialist: Cleave, Overwhelming Assault, Power Attack

Non- or Multi-Build Talents: All-seeing Ears, Armour Optimisation, Armour Proficiency (Heavy), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Blind-fighting, Combat Superiority, Desperate Attack, Double Attack, Triple Attack, Whirlwind Attack.

At present there are no special talents for mounted combat or thrown weapon specialists. They’ll come in due time at course. I thought I’d point out that I know that this is a hole, before anyone else did.

Fighters and Other Martial Classes

The fighter shares many of its feats and talents with other classes such as the Paladin, the Barbarian, the Warlord, the Ranger and the Rogue. Does this make the Fighter a non-class? Only the Fighter has access to all the different fighting styles and weapons of the game, and only the fighter has the freedom to become a virtuoso in more than one fighting style, or in more than one weapon. I think that sets them above other martial classes in the fighting department. You may not agree, of course.

Over to you…

Have a read, make some comments. And get ready for the HD&D Rogue… coming sooner than you could possibly imagine.

HD&D: Weapons and Armour

The road to the HD&D fighter continues! Todaywe have a look at the rules for Weapons and Armour in the hybrid game. In this post you will find full statistics and details of 18 suits of armour, as well as statistics for 182 weapons.

Originally, I envisaged this as two separate posts but on reflection, the rules are so interconnected that it’s hard to deal with one without the other. Historically, weapons and armour were developed in tandem. An arms race existed between armourers and weaponsmiths: one trying to create the ultimate in personal protection, the other trying to devise new and innovative ways to bypass that protection.

In the past, D&D has never been very good at illustrating the advantages and disadvantages of different weapons in the rules. In the real world, you don’t want to use a longsword against a foe in plate armour. Regardless of how strong you are, you’re not going to make much of an impression. However, if you discard your longsword and pick up a two-handed craghammer, then you’re in business.

One of my goals in creating the hybrid game was to create a system where the type of weapon you wield matters. Weapons should be treated as the fighter’s equivalent of spells: and he should have one for every occassion. However, in pursuing my goal, I have have had to introduce rules for piercing, bludgeoning and slashing weapons and how those weapons interact with different types of armour. With the inevitable feats, talents and exceptions that followed there is a danger that these rules have become too complex.

I hope this isn’t the case. I have done my best to even out any inconsistancies, and create rules I hope are intuitive and easy to play through at the table. Fighters (and those that rely on weapons) are more complex than they were in third edition, but are certainly no more complex than wizards. If you think the mechanics surrounding a weapon are complicated, then pause and think of the spells a wizard of the same level has to juggle. Shall we begin?

Armour

Firstly, let’s remind you all of the rules for armour in the hybrid game. In HD&D, wearing armour grants your character an Armour Class. Unlike all other versions of the game, your armour class in HD&D doesn’t make you harder to hit; it makes you harder to damage. Armour works like Damage Reduction in third edition, or Resistance in fourth edition. The Armour Class is expressed as a numerical value, and every time you are hit by an attack, you subtract that value from the total amount of damage you receive.

There are complications, of course. Armour is only really effective against solid kinetic attacks like a punch, a sword stroke or a heavy anvil being dropped on your head. Armour Class doesn’t help you against energy attacks like fireball. A critical hit automatically bypasses your Armour Class and goes straight for the squishy flesh within. And then there’s the small matter of all armours giving different degrees of protection against certain types of weapons.

In HD&D, all armours fall into one of six categories: Cloth, Leather, Hide, Chain, Scale and Plate. All weapons fall into one of three categories: Piercing, Slashing and Bludgeoning. Different types of weapons are more effective against different types of armour. Bludgeoning weapons, for example, are more effective at attacking opponents in plate armour than slashing weapons.

Don’t panic. If you think armour having different AC values depending on which type of weapon hits you is too complicated, then so do I. No modifications are made to an armour’s AC value regardless of the attacking weapon. All modifications are made to the damage roll. The onus for working out bonuses and penalties is placed squarely on the shoulders of the attacker, not the defender. If he wants to attack you, then he does the maths. But the maths aren’t too complicated, and I’ll get to them a little further down the post.

Rules for Natural Armour

As the rules currently stand, your character’s natural armour class stacks with the any worm armour. This seems perfectly logical, although I am still a little wary about how this will impact the game at certain levels. It won’t affect a playtest with first level characters at all, but once we get up into the higher levels we may seen some problems. A creature with five points of natural armour wearing field plate could be all but unassailable.

Rules for Shields

Shields do make you harder to hit. All shields confer a deflection bonus to your character’s reflex defence. It’s not very often that HD&D is generous enough to give character’s bonuses to their defences beyond that gained from their ability score, race and level… so characters with shields are noticably harder to hit than other characters. The defensive bonus imparted by shields is similar to that granted by cover – although bonuses for cover and a shield do stack. Shields can also be used as weapons, of course, so you’ll find statistics for them on both sides of the weapon and armour divide.

Armour and Shield Descriptions

Click on the PDF below to open a dpcument on the armour and shields that are available in the hybrid game. This is not a complete list. Weird and wonderful armours such as elven chain, coral and darkwood certainly exist, but I’m endeavouring to keep things simple for the time being.

The PDF includes the explanatory notes for the various categories as denoted on the table, as well as full descriptions of all the suits of armour in a format that will be familiar to you. Integrating this material onto the blog is a formatting nightmare. It will all be in nice simple HTML when the new website launches, I promise you.

Weapons

Okay, here’s where things get a little bit more complicate: although not as complicated as I initially intended. The rules for weapons are not finished. There is a whole layer of extra rules that I haven’t got to as yet. The rules as stand are will be fine for the upcoming playtest, but should HD&D graduate into the system of choice for an ongoing campaign I will need to spend more time fleshing out the 182 weapons you are about to encounter.

I’ll start by showing you the rules that I have, framing them with some explanatory notes, explaining how the various types of weapons interact with certain types of armour; and then I’ll quickly mention all the other rules that are yet to be added to the system. So, let’s start with the master list of all weapons. Again, this would be a formatting nightmare for the blog, so click on the PDF below for the table.

Damage

All weapon inflict hit point damage expressed in terms of a die. I don’t have to explain that do I? Where two values are shown separated by an oblique (e.g. 1d8/1d8) I’m giving you the base damage for either end of a double weapon (q.v.).

Range

If the weapon can be thrown or shot then this is the weapon’s range increment expressed in feat. A thrown weapon can be thrown a maximum of five range increments. Projectile weapons (such as bows) can be shot a maximum of ten range increments. Each range increment after the first imposes a cumulative -2 on the attack roll.

Type

This tells you how the weapon deals damage: is Bludgeoning, Piercing or Slashing. Some weapons fall into more than one category becasue they can be used in different ways. There’s more on how different weapon types interact with armour below.

Weapon Groups

To summarise, all weapons fall into the following groups. Some weapons appear in more than one. Each weapon group is a skill in the same way that Knowledge (History) and Perception is a skill. Here are all the weapons divivded by their weapon groups:

Axes: Adze, Bardiche, Bill, Battleaxe, Double Orc-Axe, Dwaven Urgosh, Dwarven Waraxe, Greataxe, Halberd, Hatchet, Hand Axe, Mace-Axe, Sword-Axe, Throwing Axe

Blades (Light): Butterfly Sword, Dirk, Drusus, Elven Curve Blade, Gaff/hook, Gladius, Ninja-to, Rapier, Sabre, Sapara, Short Sword, Sickle, Throwing Axe, Tulwar

Blades (Heavy): Bastard Sword, Bill-Guisarme, Broadsword, Claymore, Cutless, Double Scimitar, Estoc, Falchion, Fauchard, Fauchard-Fork, Fullblade, Glaive, Glaive-Guisarme, Great Scimitar, Greatsword, Gyrspike, Hook Fauchard, Katana, Knopesh, Longsword, Machete, Nagimaki, Naginata, No-dachi, Scimitar, Scythe, Sword-axe, Two-bladed Sword, Voulge

Breath: Blowgun, Fukimi-bari (mouth darts), Peashooter

Bows: Elven Double-bow, Composite Longbow, Composite Shortbow, Longbow, Shortbow

Crossbows: Great Crossbow, Hand Crossbow, Heavy Crossbow, Heavy Repeating Crossbow, Light Crossbow, Light Repeating Crossbow

Daggers: Claw Bracer, Dagger, Dirk, Jambiya, Katar (punching dagger), Kukri, Main-Gauche, Panther Claw, Parrying Dagger, Sai, Sickle, Star Knife, Stiletto, Stump Knife, Tiger Claws, Triple Dagger, War Fan

Hammers: Bec de Corbin, Craghammer, Gnome Hooked Hammer, Light Hammer, Lucern Hammer, Maul, Mordenkrad, Warhammer

Lances: Heavy Lance, Jousting Lance, Light Lance, Medium Lance

Maces & Clubs: Belaying Pin, Club, Crowbar, Double Mace, Great Club, Heavy Mace, Light Mace, Mace-axe, Morningstar, Naginata, Tonfa

Picks: Bec de Corbin, Gnome Battle Pick, Gnome Hooked Hammer, Heavy Pick, Kama, Light Pick, Lucern Hammer, War Pick

Polearms: Awl Pike, Bardiche, Bec de Corbin, Bill, Bill-guisarme, Duom, Fauchard, Fauchard-fork, Glaive, Glaive-guisarme, Guisarme, Guisarme-voulge, Halberd, Hook fauchard, Longspear, Lucern Hammer, Mancatcher, Military Fork, Nagimaki, Naginata, Partisan, Pike, Ranseur, Spetum, Voulge

Shields: Buckler, Heavy Shield, Light Shield

Slings: Catapult, Gnomes Calculus, Sling, Staff Sling

Spears: Awl Pike, Bill-guisarme, Brandistock, Chijikiri, Duom, Dwarven Urgosh, Fauchard-fork, Fork, Glaive-guisarme, Guisarme, Guisarme-voulge, Halberd, Harpoon, Javelin, Longspear, Manti, Military Fork, Partisan, Pike, Ranseur, Spinning Javelin, Sand Kauw, Shortspear, Siangham, Spear, Spetum, Trantnyr, Trident

Staffs: Bo Stick, Brandistock, Jitte, Naginata, Quarterstaff, Staff Sling

Thrown (Light): Boomerang, Chakram, Dagger, Dart, Halfing Skiprock, Light Hammer, Shortspear, Shuriken, Starknife, Throwing Axe, Throwing Iron

Thrown (Heavy): Harpoon, Javelin, Orc Shotput, Spear, Spinning Javelin, Trantyr, Trident, Warhammer

Uarmed Strike: Blaked Gauntlet, Claw Bracer, Gauntlet, Panther Claw, Sap, Spiked Armour, Spiked Gauntlet, Stump Knife, Tiger Claws, Ward Cestus

Whips, Ropes & Chains: Bolas, Chain-and-dagger, Dire Flail, Chijikiri, Flail, Gyrspike, Heavy Flail, Kau Sin Ke, Kawanaga, Lasso, Mancatcher, Net, Nuchaku, Scourge, Spinning Javelin, Three-section Staff, Triple-headed Flail, Two-ball Bolas, Spiked Chain, Whip, Whip-dagger.

Hands

This is the number of hands you need to use to wield the weapon. Most weapons that require two hands to use all have the Two-Hand quality; but this is not always the case. For example, a bow needs two hands to use, but is not a Two-Hand weapon in the same sense as a Waraxe.

Qualities

These are the special qualities and tricks of certain weapons that make them stand out from the crowd. The current weapon qualities in HD&D are as follows:

Brutal: Brutal weapons inflict additional damage if you score a critical hit. Normally when you make a critical hit you score maximum damage. This still applies to Brutal weapons, but you also roll the weapon’s damage dice again. For example, a character with Strength 18 hitting with a great axe inflicts1d12+4 damage on his opponent. On a critical hit one would expect the warrior to inflict 16 damage. But a greataxe is a Brutal weapon, so a critical actually inflicts 1d12+16.

Double: A Double weapon is a mêlée weapon that usually consists of a shaft with a weapon head at either end. Double weapons can be wielded with either one or two hands. If wielded with two hands, the character can decide which of the two heads to use for any given attack. Double weapons are not Two-Hand weapons. You do not apply 1½ times your Strength bonus when fighting with one in two hands.

A character can also fight with both ends of a Double weapon as if fighting with two-weapons (q.v.). The character takes penalties as if fighting with a One-Hand and an Off-Hand weapon. One end of the Double weapon must be designated as the off-hand.

Reach: These are mêlée weapons that position the head of the weapon on one end of a long shaft that be anything from 8 ft. to 20 ft. in length. Reach weapons allow you to attack and threaten foes outside your normal reach. Unless otherwise stated, Reach weapons double your natural threat range. However, you are unable to attack a foe within five feet if you are using a Reach weapon. There are exceptions, so check your weapon description to be sure.

Off-Hand: An Off-Hand weapon is a small and well-balanced mêlée weapon. It can be used in one hand as if it were a One-Hand weapon. If you are fighting with two weapons, and wield an Off-Hand weapon in your second hand, you take a reduced penalty to your attack roll. If attacking with an Off-Hand weapon in your second hand, you only apply half your Strength bonus (rounded down) to the damage result.

One-Hand: A One-Hand weapon is a mêlée weapon designed to be wielded in one hand. Most mêlée weapons fall into this category. Holding a weapon in one hand allows a character a free hand to carry shield, or wield or another weapon. One-Hand weapons are too heavy to use in your second hand when two-weapon fighting. If you try, then you take an additional penalty to your attack roll.

Two-Hand: A two-hand weapon is a large and unwieldly weapon that must be wielded into two hands. Wielders of Two-Hand weapons have less protection and attack less often than other warriors, but they tend to inflict more damage when they hit their target . If you successfully attack with a Two-Hand weapon you add 1½ times your Strength bonus (rounded down) to the damage result.

Versatile: These weapons are One-Hand mêlée weapons that can also be used in two hands. For example, Versatile swords have an elongated grip to allow a warrior to swap between one and two hands. As long as you’re not holding anything in your second hand, swapping between grips is a free action that you can perform on your turn. When wielded with one hand the Versatile weapon has all the properties of a One-Hand weapon; when wielded with two hands the Versatile weapon has all the properties of a Two-Hand weapon.

Size

This is the size of the weapon. Remember HD&D uses the same size scale for weapons (and other items) as it does for creatures. Normally, a character can wield a weapon the same Size as himself in two hands, and weapons up to two categories smaller than himself in one hand. There are exceptions to this rule.

Weight

The weight of the weapons in lbs.

Price

The common price of such an item. Availability will differ depending on campaign setting, of course.

Weapons vs. Armour

So, you draw your dagger and stab repeatedly at the dwarf in plate armour. What happens? The effective of a weapon against different types of armour depends on two things. Firstly, it depends on the amount of damage the weapon inflicts. A knight in full plate armour may not fear a peasent wielding a club. If an ogre picks up that club and hits him with it, chances are that some of the damage will penetrate even such high quality armour. Secondly, it depends upon the individual qualitues of the weapon in question. What was it designed for?

Weapons are divided into three different types: Bludgeoning, Piercing and Slashing. Armour is divivded into six different types: Cloth, Leather, Hide, Chain, Scale and Plate. When a certain type of weapon interacts with a certain type of armour it accrues either a bonus or a penalty to the damage roll. See the following table for details:

 

Bludgeoning

Piercing

Slashing

Cloth

0

0

0

Leather

0

0

0

Hide

0

0

0

Chain

0

0

-2

Scale

-1

-1

0

Plate

+2

0

-2

For example, Wilberforce the Well-Prepared finds himself in combat against a knight in Plate Mail armour. Plate Mail grants the wearer AC 7 and is (unsurprisngly) a ‘Plate’ armour. Wilberforce has a strength of 18 and is currently armed with a longsword, so he inflicts 1d8+4 with each attack (that’s a net 1d8-3 when you take into account the AC of the armour). But it isn’t a net 1d8-3 because a longsword is a slashing weapon! It actually takes a -2 penalty to damage against plate armour. Wilberforce would actually be rolling a net 1d8-5. Not very good odds. Fortunately Wilberforce has a warhammer handy, and he quickly swaps weapons. Now a warhammer does a base 1d8 damage just like a longsword, so under normal circumstances it wouldn’t matter which weapon he was using. However, warhammera are Bludgeoning weapons, and Bludgeoning weapons inflict an extra +2 damage against plate armours. The upshot is that, in this situation, Wilberforce would inflict a net 1d8-5 damage with a longsword, but 1d8-1 damage with a warhammer. The warhammer it is!

These rules are relatively simplistic at the moment. They are the baseline. There are plenty of weapons to which these rules wouldn’t apply. Take chain mail for example. Usually chain mail is a perfectly sound defence against Piercing weapons… until you are attacked by a piercing weapon that is smaller than the links in your chain. These weapons (called “bodkins”) are exemplified by thin knives like the stiletto. A Stiletto is a Piercing weapon, but one that gains +3 damage against all Chain armours instead of the normal +0 damage that most Piercing weapons enjoy. There are other Piercing weapons designed to open plate armour like a tin-opener; the list goes on….

These are the type of extra rules that I want to apply to weapons. When I get around to writing the full weapon descriptions, a fighter will have great freedom over what weapon to choose to do which job. A specialised knife-fighter might find he does more damage against opponents in chain mail while wielding a stiletto, than he would if he pulled out his two-handed claymore. This is the sort of thing I want HD&D to be capable of.

Rules for the Future

1) Heavier customisation of Damage vs. Armour: As stated above, not all weapons will confirm to the simplistic table above. Many will, but for some weapons their advantage is that they do not conform to such things. The pile arrow is designer to penetrate armour is one such example. By doing this we increase the versatility of the Fighter, and take a step nearer making weapons the fighter’s equivalent of spells.

2) Special Weapon Qualities: Weapons that trip, daze and entangle; weapons that are designed to knock riders from horses; weapons that can be planted in the ground to resist a charge. Many weapons do more than just inflict damage. These rules (many of which already exist in third edition and Pathfinder) will return to the game as I chug through all the weapon descriptions. For the moment, however, if such weapons are utilised by players in the upcoming playtest then I’ll have to wing it.

3) Feats and Talents: Two new talents will be introduced into HD&D for each of the Weapon Groups. These Mastery and Supremacy talents will increase a Fighter’s skill in the chosen weapon group to a great degree. Each weapon will also have a talent associated with it, that more specifically upgrades the properties of the weapon. For example, a Fighter who relies on the longsword might take the talents Heavy Blade Mastery, Heavy Blade Supremacy and Longsword Virtuoso. Feats would then exist to shore up or augment the talents. No feats or talents like this are in the game at present, as they would all be beyond the reach of a 1st or 2nd level character. However, if work on HD&D continues beyond the playtest, then I will certainly bring them into the game.

Next…

Rules for the Fighter are already written and ready to go. However, I’ll give you a little while to digest this post. I’ll upload the Fighter to the blog on Monday.