Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Idiots Fighting Things

No. Just No.
There comes a point in every DM's career where the players look at you and ask "But why can't we hack through the wall?"

This article is about a system to let players do their best in that regard.

Weapon Durability

Now, I'm not advocating for a system where a sword slowly becomes less useful from normal combat. In fact, based on the way "Hit Points" are gained in 5e, it wouldn't even make sense.

You see, "Hit Points" aren't indicative of how much blood you can lose before you keel over. It's about the stamina you use before you take a serious wound in a fight. That's why a level 20 fighter can have 200 HP and still be human - they're just really good at using their stamina to avoid taking hits.

So I'm going to put this rule right here at the front:

Unfortunately, stamina does not equal strength
Normal Use Rule: if a character has proficiency with a weapon, it does not take damage when the character uses an attack action. If the character has proficiency in the shield or armor they are using, their equipment does not take damage when they are targeted by an attack.

This reflects the character's ability to use their weapon and armor properly - they don't purposefully jab a sword into armor plating or steel shields, they use momentum and skill to avoid hurting their defenses. It's much like how a skilled chef avoids cutting bone while carving meat, in order to keep their knifes sharp.

So, this system is for unusual situations. Fortunately, we can take a list from the DMG (pg. 246-247) and expand it. I never liked the idea that a stationary object had "AC", so I'm altering the system to allow for common sense.

Types of Hardness
  • Cloth/paper/rope (Fragile)
  • Crystal/glass/ice (Fragile if thin, Resilient if thick)
  • Wood/bone (Resilient)
  • Stone (Resilient)
  • Iron/steel (Resilient)
  • Mithral (Resilient+)
  • Adamantine (Resilient+)
At least one of these swords is responsible for the death of a small child in an orange hoodie
Calculating HP for Objects

Fragile: one hit die worth of HP (based on size)
  • Tiny:1d4
  • Small: 1d6
  • Medium: 1d8
  • Large: 1d10

Resilient: add an additional hit die for each size above minuscule (die based on size)
  • Tiny: 2d4
  • Small: 3d6
  • Medium: 4d8
  • Large: 5d10

Resilient+: as above, but include Damage Threshold (DMG pg. 119). Basically, unless an attack deals at least as much damage as the Threshold, it doesn't deal any damage to the object.
  • Mithral: DT 5
  • Adamantine: DT 10
These all seem to be pretty norma... Starknife?
So let's take a few examples from the PHB:
  • A Dart is a tiny item that is fragile, giving it 2 (1d4) HP
  • A wooden Club is a tiny item that is resilient, giving it 5 (2d4) HP
  • A Flail is a small item that is resilient, giving it 10 (3d6) HP
  • A Mithral Greatsword is a medium item that is resilient+, giving it 18 (4d8) HP and a Damage Threshold of 5
Most weapons are considered tiny or small. A weapon with the "heavy" property is considered medium for determining its hit points.

So, what happens when these weapons hit a stone wall? An adamantine door? A pane of glass?

Dealing Damage
The only acceptable answer is "a lot"
If a weapon is more resilient than the thing it hits, it takes no damage, and deals damage to the item normally. So a wooden staff can shatter thin glass. A Mithral Dagger can cut through a steel lock. However, note that this wouldn't apply to a steel axe cutting through wood - they are both resilient.

If the weapon is equally resilient to the thing it is attacking, it takes no damage but suffers aesthetic scrapes and dents. It deals half damage to the object, and may need to be sharpened or repaired afterwards. Here is where we can see a steel axe cutting through wood, or a pickaxe carving into stone. It's going to take some time, but it can be done.

If the weapon is less resilient than the thing it is attacking, it deals no damage to the object, and takes damage equal to the amount it would have dealt. Note that this is counted BEFORE damage thresholds. So the Flail from above wouldn't put a nick in an Adamantine door, and if it deals at least 10 damage, it's going to break against it.

Remember that if the players really do want to hack through a stone wall, it should count as a medium resilient object for every 5 feet they tunnel through. So they'll have to deal 20 damage every 5 feet if they are using a iron pickaxe. And eventually, the pickaxe is going to need to be sharpened.

Other Weapon Ideas

Your players, after you tell them how cool adamantine is
This could be its own article, but I'm putting it here because it's really not much content.

Weapon qualities:
  • Fine: on a crit, any extra dice rolled deal max damage
  • Shoddy: the weapon breaks when a 1 is rolled on damage die
  • Reinforced: counts as one category harder when dealing damage to targets

This means a wooden club isn't as good as a banded wooden club, since the banded club can actually deal damage to steel objects.

Costs (adjustments from PHB prices)
  • Reinforced Iron/Steel: +5 GP
  • Reinforced Mithral: +100 GP
  • Reinforced Adamantine: +500 GP (confirmed in XGE)
  • Fine: weapon price x10
  • Shoddy: weapon price /2
Also your players. Particularly fighters. They really can't pass up a decent blade.
Thanks for reading!

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