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About Those Small Weapons
One thing I had a little trouble with on those class generating tables was the small weapon restriction for dwarves and halflings. The chart doesn't really categorize small vs. large, but instead shows weapons in somewhat arbitrary groups (axes vs. swords for example). This made it hard to figure out what the impact of the small weapon restriction had on XP charts.

In fact, this sent me diving through a few different sources to try and figure out exactly what weapons dwarves and halflings were not allowed to have. Fortunately, the original BX books are pretty explicit. For both classes, they are specifically forbidden two handed swords and long bows. I find it a bit odd that pole-arms are not included on the list, and I'm personally tempted to include those as well.

Labyrinth Lord's expanded equipment list makes it more confusing I'm afraid, especially as the wording on the restriction in the text is even more loosely defined. Dwarves are still specifically restricted from two-handed swords and long bows, but the section for halflings reads:

Like dwarves, halflings may not use large and two-handed weapons, but may use any other weapon and armor.

Now, the comparison to dwarves implies that it's the same list of weapons, but the subsequent text does seem to try and genericise the limitation to any two-handed or large weapon. Are we to assume halflings are more limited in weapon choice, or that the section for dwarves needs expansion to also include any two-handed or large weapon? Just which weapons are considered large anyway?

At least in BX the equipment list is pretty brief, so it's easy to identify the three potentially limited weapons: two-handed sword, pole-arm, and long bow. In BX there isn't even a 'long sword', it's just a 'sword', so no worries there that it's too big.

LL introduces more troubling weapons, and not just the rename of sword to long sword. There's the morning star, heavy pick, heavy flail, and trident, all two-handed weapons. Crossbows are grouped into light and heavy, should we make exception for the heavy crossbow just as we do the long bow? The battle axe is specifically listed as being two-handed as well, but not allowing a dwarf to use a battle axe just seems wrong. And what of the bastard sword, which can be used either one or two handed?

If we go back to BX and assume use of the optional damage by weapon chart (remember default in BX is that all weapons do d6 damage, which to some degree makes this whole thing kind of moot under that system), and we assume that pole-arm should be included in the list of proscribed weapons, we can see that dwarves and halflings lose access to melee weapons that do d10 damage, and ranged weapons that do d8 damage. That at least seems like a real mechanical limitation.

Allowing dwarves and halflings to use a mace (d6) but not a morning-star (d6) reduces the rule to purely aesthetic. If instead we say that the limitation applies to any melee weapon that does more than d8 damage, and any ranged weapon that does more than d6, we not only have a rule that has actual mechanical impact in LL, but also a pretty manageable list of proscribed weapons: two-handed sword, pole-arm, bastard sword, long bow, and heavy crossbow.
December 11th, 2009 - 08:40 am | Comments (5) | PERMALINK

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