Making Weapons Interesting Pt. 3

As per the first and second post on this, I’m trying to get some decent weapon properties to differnetiate the weapons used in Disposable Heroes (my personal D&D variant).

If possible, I’d like to solve many different things with one fix. Something like having damage dice also be weapon durability and initiative would be good (though not necessarily exactly that combo!).

Anyways, I did some math (or lots, maybe). Basically, I calculated what the average damage of different damage modifiers were, against no to full armor (damage reduction), to make sure that regular weapons in the same category were decently equal.

If you wonder why I’m so harsh with this equal damage thing, it is because I want to remove the notion of an overall “best” or “most damaging” weapon, and make it all situational.

General Goals

  • Simple changes (damage dice) lead to complex effects (which weapon is best in which situation).
  • Every weapon class (of “martial” quality) deals approximately the same average damage over each armor level.
  • Every weapon has its own situation.

Weapon-specific Goals

(Damage advantages refer to the bonus from charge, backstabs, and so on.)

  • Slashing weapons are reliably devastating against unarmored targets, and reliably worthless agaist armor. They don’t benefit that much from damage advantages.
  • Piercing weapons can sometimes deal massive damage, and are especially effective when they have an damage advantage.
  • Chopping weapons are decently even in its damage against different armors.
  • Impact weapons are all but the only viable choice against plate armor, but not as impressive in different areas of usage.

As I’m thinking that damage advantages come about in the form of additional dice of damage, piercing weapons should have the highest single-die damage.


I did some math… Quite a bit, actually. I have made four different multi-page Excel workbooks with calculations and tables.

It’s not quite as simple as you might think to calculate average damage over several levels of damage reduction for one simple reason: the damage doesn’t ever go negative. So if you have 1d6 damage against 0, 1, 2, and 3 damage reduction, it does not deal respectively 3.5, 2.5, 1.5, and 0.5 damage, but actually 3.5, 2.5, 1.7, and 1.0 points of damage. Therefore, lots of excel tables and probabilities and stuff.

Here’s a prettied up table of some of the things I tried calculating. And below is a comparision on how well the damage modifiers fare in different circumstances.Table of damages and stuff

Slashing (two smaller damage dice, counting armor as twice as high) is undeniably the best against weaker armors. And not as good otherwise. Piercing damage (exploding on the maximum damage roll) obviously is the best when gaining another die of damage. Chopping (dealing +1 damage) is overall okay, and crushing damage (ignoring half the target’s armor, noted “IMP do”=”impat, rounded down”) is good normally (against all that armor). So, I guess, mission accomplished?

Some Weapons

Here are a couple of weapons.

  • Armor values range from 0 (unarmored) to 4 (full plate armor)
  • Slashing counts enemy armor as double
  • Piercing explodes on maximum damage dealt
  • Crushing ignores half (rounded up) of enemy armor
  • Other properties are assumed to have a decently neutral value.


Hands Damage Properties
Battle-axe 1 1d8+1 chopping


1 1d6 piercing Small
Glaive 2 1d8+1d6 slashing

Reach, versatile (1d8+1 chopping)


2 1d10+1d6 slashing Versatile (1d8 piercing), large
Halberd 2 1d8 piercing

Reach, hooked, versatile (1d8+1 chopping)


2 1d8+1d6 slashing Versatile (1d8 piercing)
Pike 2 1d10 piercing



2 1d10 crushing Versatile (1d10+1 chopping)
Rapier 1 1d8 piercing

Versatile (1d6+1d4 slashing)


1 2d6 slashing Versatile (1d6 piercing)
Spear 1 1d8 piercing


Warhammer 1 1d8 crushing

That’s that. For now…


4 thoughts on “Making Weapons Interesting Pt. 3

  1. You might consider the advantage/disadvantage mechanic from 5e. A group of weapons could have advantage (piercing, perhaps?): the attacker always rolls two sets of dice and takes the higher result. Another group (not sure which one) could have disadvantage but they get a higher die value (like a d10 instead of a d8).


    1. Interestingly enough, an alternative for piercing damage (the one actually noted “pierce” in the image) had it rolling two dice, keeping the higher, or both if you rolled doubles. However it was a little too superior in damage output, and also behaved more like slashing damage.

      I think that inherently (dis)advantaged weapon damage doesn’t fit too well with the damage system I’m using, as it gets a little messy with the added dice and stuff (it happened in my last campaign using the system). Thanks for the suggestion, though!


        1. The damage varaints? It certainly wasn’t complained about, and it didn’t seem to slow down play noticeably. It did cause my players to swap out weapons (or at least stop slashing and starting thrusting with their swords) against heavy armor. I believe there would have been more of that if the fighters hadn’t (through my poor game balance) gotten a little too much bonus damage…


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