Friday, 5 June 2009

Make War, Not Love

When I'm not the DM in a game of D&D (which isn't often), I usually play fighters. I like not having to think about magic, psionics and what-have-you, and just get on with killing things with extreme prejudice. (The fact that this playstyle is no longer supported by D&D - all the classes are now all about resource management - is one of 4e's big turn-offs.)

One thing I've noticed over the years is that people who play fighters tend to choose the same weapons - longsword, battle axe, maybe the occasional spear or two-handed sword. (I believe one of those idiotic min/maxing stalwarts from the 3.X days was a fighter with a chain.) This has always been boring to me and I've always tried to equip my fighters with signature weapons that not many other people use. These have included, over the years, the khopesh, the glaive, the morning star and the quarter-staff.

Of course, if you really want to go to town, there are weapons like the misericorde, macuahuitl, or bich'hwa that would do the trick. Sure, they might not do a lot of damage in D&D terms, but they really make a fighter stand out from the crowd...


  1. My current D&D character is a gnoll with a glaive. A polearm just seemed like the natural choice for a seven foot hyena man.

  2. Macuahuitl are used quite frequently in my long running campaign, as Meso-america features quite heavily into it. Both historically and in game it is a devastating weapons far exceeding a steel longsword..provided your target isn't wearing any armour. Obsidian is still used for scalpels today.

    Mechanically its a medium slashing blade (serrated and made of obsidian) with a dual use as a medium bludgeon. A longsword would be a medium slashing blade (made of steel) with a dual use as a medium piercing blade. d8 + 2 versus no armour and a d8-3 versus metal armour in D&D terms for the Macuahuitl.

    Plus, how cool is it to keep your enemies alive so the priest in the party can rip their heart out and throw them down a Pyramid. Orcs live in Dungeons to HIDE from marauding humans.

  3. I think I love you. :)

    I have a love of obscure weapons that is often scary. I own more weapon reference books then my local city library. One of my hobbies is sketching. The sole subject of my sketching: weapons.

    Have a gander:

    I also like a PC with an unusual weapon choice. I like large blunt weapons however, such as a maul or tetsubo. I've always wanted to run a quaterstaff fighter but never thought the staff was a perfect fit for a class designed around heavy armour and shield use.

  4. Right there with you on the GM/Fighter thing.

    But, I'm lame. I had this great 3rd level 2nd Ed Fighter with Double Spec. in both forms (foregoing four NWP) 1H/2H. That character loved Bugbears! :D

  5. Interesting. I also GM most of the time but tend to make fighters when I do play.

    I'm not very... uh... creative with weapon choice, though, I have to admit. I basically always fall back on longsword and shield. I just like the image. It says "fighter" to me. If I feel like mixing it up, I'll go with spear and shield, with a longsword at my side. This tendency is pretty much independent of game system for me.

  6. I prefer playing magicians (almost always useless) or thieves because it gives me something to do other than mashing stuff.

    These weapon choices bother me because they always seem to lack any effect on the game, except in really complex rules people stop using after one session. I have been toying for a while with a set of rules for making pole-arms actually worth using in battle. Something about using their length to always gain initiative, or opportunity attacks or something; and then using daggers to advantage in the opposite scenario (in close against a fighter with a big weapon). Haven't put much detail into it yet though.

  7. That’s funny. I keep seeing folks decry 4th for no longer being about resource management, like Classic D&D, and here you’re saying the opposite. Huh.

    My sword & board (occasionally spear & board) Fighter is my favorite 4th ed character. He lays down some smack, but he’s particularly great at taking a licking and keeping on ticking. He’s often able to get through fights without needing a Cleric’s attention at all, because he’s just that tough.

    I have to confess that I’ve always been a multiclass guy. I’m usually obsessed with having options in combat. My first BECMI character was an Elf, in 1st and 2nd ed I usually played multiclass fighter/casters, or occasionally custom classes which could do both. In 3rd ed this tendency was if anything even more pronounced, as 3.x was built for incredibly flexible multiclassing. Though I did play a lot more Clerics and Paladins.

    It wasn’t until the Book of 9 Swords that I really got into playing straight warrior characters, because the combat maneuvers gave you more options. And in 4th ed they’ve cut down the (sometimes excessive) power and variety of that book into a pretty darn fun set of abilities for Fighters. I guess it’s another expression of how personal preferences in play can be very subjective.

  8. Be honest, I'd just call those two daggers and a longsword (maybe a scimitar for the better crits).

    I don't honestly think 4e is more or less about resource management than any previous edition, it's just distributed in a very different way.

  9. A misericorde would make an interesting preferred weapon for an order of clerics. If they can't heal you up they'll put you out of yer misery.

  10. "Noisms, what is best in life?"

    "To slay your enemies, see their XP awards piled up before you, and to hear the lamentations of gamers who cannot pronounce your weapon's name!"


  11. @Tetsubo: That's some good stuff mate :+follow:

    @Mothman: :)

    @Noisms: One of the other cheesy (ie: 'it lets the fighter do something more than just plink hps') weapon combos in 3E was the polearm(glaive)+spiked armour.

    The glaivecupine did have some Chaos Warrior kewl in the aesthetics dept, but the twinkish one-trick-pony mechanics involved broke my suspension of disbelief.

  12. Fear the Spear!

  13. I agree with you in terms of resource management. For new players, it makes the game the hardest of all D&D games to get a grip on. On the other hand, there's no stumbling point in the 'weird' classes once you've got game mastery of one character class.

    In terms of weapons though, I hate to say I'm one of those 'greatsword' type players. Probably seen too much Elric with the great battle blade or Guts with his Dragonslayer in Berserk.

  14. kelvingreen: It certainly does. Actually in my favourite picture of a gnoll (the Diterlizzi one in the 2nd edition MM) he has a polearm, so it fits in my mind too.

    Pobody's: Haha, I love it.

    Tetsubo: Very nice. The quarterstaff is one of my favourite fighter specialisations - I think I watched too much Robin Hood: Prince of Theives growing up.

    Timeshadows: Power gamer! ;)

    Superhero Necromancer: Perhaps because GMs invest so much time in their games ordinarily, they just like to veg out with a fighter when they play?

    faustusnotes: The problem with that is, most polearms really aren't all that good in a small melee like you get in an rpg. They're military weapons and only work well if there's a thousand other blokes armed with them too.

    shimrod: What I mean by resource management is that you have to keep track of all these different powers, decide when to use them, etc. I'm lazy and find that too finickity. At least with older versions of D&D the fighter was a viable option for people like me.

    Rach: See above! ;)

    BigFella: I'm definitely using that, now that you've said it.

    Mothman's: You know I've still never seen that film?

    Chris: Another reason not to like 3e!

    E.G.Palmer: Nice entry - read it the other day. I was going to comment, but must have forgotten.

    JoeGKushner: And for lazy people like me, it's a big stumbling block. We're in the minority though, I suppose.

  15. Don't diss the spiked chain! It's great for streat thug warriors!

    Also, I think the OP didn't mean resource management, but rather, "ability management"

  16. Yeah, pretty much. Abilities and resources are kind of the same thing though, once you get into the realms of daily and encounter powers.

  17. Aye, that I can understand. It's not all bad, though. 4th runs like a dream for a DM, swifter than anything but Rules Compendium if your players aren't too indecisive.
    'Course, you can do what I do and give everyone 20 seconds to decide.