4 August 2021: Streamlining Weapon Statistics

The games that I design reflect my personal philosophies and preferences. I write games that I want to play, and support the style of play that I enjoy. As both a gamemaster and a player, I find systems that are logical, consistent, and reasonably simple are the ones that leave room for my own creativity. Which is why, among other things, I am streamlining weapon statistics.

I know that there are people who love volume upon volume of fiddly bits. Whopping tomes of spells, feats, and weapons. There was a time when I was that guy. I spent far too much of my youth pouring through car and gun magazines to create conversions to the James Bond 007 RPG. I’m pretty sure that the attention to detail really didn’t make all that much difference to gameplay.

Streamlining Weapon Statistics

Firearms are the best example of what I’m talking about, because that’s what I’m currently working on for the DoubleZero Directors Cut. It extends to melee weapons as well. There’s really no need to have statistics on each individual weapon. Damage is abstract, and range is, well, a range. One pistol firing .45 ACP ammunition is going to be effectively the same as another. Few game systems are that granular, and the ones that are generally aren’t fun to play. Saying that a .45 ACP pistol does X damage and has Y range is good enough.

For other weapons, size and damage type are good enough. A normal-sized sword does X damage. A small-size sword does a little less, a large-size sword a little more. The same for knives, pole arms, blunt weapons, and so on. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can have fewer, broader categories.

Subtlety and nuance come from results and descriptions. If a character is using a weapon that’s supposed to be crap — a rifle with a reputation for inaccuracy, or a sword that’s dinged up and bent — that feeds into the narrative. If a character deal a lot of damage, it’s in spite of that. It shows how awesome the character it. Should they fail to do decent damage, or miss entirely, then the weapon can be blamed. At no point do you need to make weapons innately do different damage than the baseline for their type.