Swords and Sorcery…. or is that Maces and Magic, Axes and Alchemy etc..?

On an RPG design egroup, we’re discussing some genre-related theory
stuff, and I felt like porting part of the discussion over here mostly
just out of curiosity as to what y’all think.I didn’t initially raise
the question and have a number of thoughts on it (as most gamers do),
and so here it is.

Assuming a Conan-type fantasy genre (you know, one with mighty, half-naked barbarians like the ones below),

how much differentiation do you feel different types of weapons need
from one another in the rules system? I’m providing a list of
categories with somewhat modified explanations from the ones that he

  1. All weapons equivalent – differences between weapons are
    just flavor text. Character capability (or some other non-equipment
    factor) is all that really matters.
  2. Weapons mostly
    equivalent – weapons might calculate damage or the like differently
    (say, d10+1 versus d12), but the variation is slight enough that almost
    all that really matters is personal preference. Again, equipment
    deemphasized in favor of other factors.
  3. Some
    differences – weapons are not all made the same, and have individual
    advantages and disadvatnages (say, raw damage potential, speed, utility
    for tricky maneuvers, defensive qualities etc) but are still not vastly
    divergent. Sub-classes of weapons are not particularly important (say,
    different types of one-handed sword).
  4. Substantial
    systemic differences and detail – Here’s where things get more
    complicated. Varied effects versus different armor types, different
    possible maneuvers, wide variation in damage based on weapon type and
    so on. Here, curved swords might be better at certain tasks (slashes,
    for a possible example) than straight-bladed swords (which might
    compensate with superior thrusts or whatever), maces smash helms
    readily while spears keep foes at a distance and so on and so on.

Now, he was mostly talking about damage traits, but I think that this
involves combat maneuvers, defensive qualities and a whole lot more, so
I’ve expanded the scope.

This is obviously opinion-based, so I’m not expecting there to be one right answer.

Note: Yes, I know the “real” Conan had better things to
do than run around fighting monsters wearing nothing but a helm, boots
and a loincloth, but you know what I’m getting at anyhow and the pics
were provided for amusement so let’s skip that particular inevitable


5 Responses to “Swords and Sorcery…. or is that Maces and Magic, Axes and Alchemy etc..?”

  1. silentclarity Says:

    Unanswerable question. The accuracy of modeling weapon damage has little to nothing to do with the genre being played.

  2. creativedv8tion Says:

    Not so. More specifications for weapon advantages, damages, etc. fits better in a sword and sorcery fantasy game better than say, a superhero game (even a superheroic game in as fantasy setting).

  3. silentclarity Says:

    I’m going to take this to the roleplayers community. šŸ˜€


  4. uhlrik Says:

    Better place for it, I guess. I’ve already taken it there, though. šŸ˜€

  5. uhlrik Says:

    Absolutely agreed. In some genres, “accuracy” of weapon damage modeling actually somewhat matters, whereas in some it’s mostly irrelevant.

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