Wednesday, December 21, 2016

More house rules for DCC - swords and crossbows

One of my very few nit-picky issues with DCC is how they categorize swords. They go with the old set of categories established back in the TSR days (I'm told 5e improves on this, which is IMO a good thing).  In those days, there were five swords types (that I can remember): short, broad, long, bastard and two-handed.  DCC does away with broad and bastard.

It was never entirely clear what the difference was between long and broad swords, and some rules (IIRC) permitted bastard swords to be used one- or two-handed, giving slightly different characteristics for each usage.  I could be wrong about that part, or it might just be edition dependent.  But the thing that irks me the most about this is that these names seem completely arbitrary, and create confusion when people talk about actual swords.

See, longswords are held in two hands

On top of that, most FRPG rules I've learned have left me a bit cold where crossbows are concerned.  In this department, DCC is quite the offender.  There is quite a bit of variation in crossbow damage, range and reload speed, and DCC only has one crossbow.  On top of that, somehow it has a range in excess of a longbow!

You aren't loading and firing this in one round!

I made a couple of table rulings on these matters, but they didn't quite sit right with me later, and they weren't properly explained.  So after giving it some thought, I revised my ideas a little and wrote them up for my players in an email.  That's what I'm going to talk about here.

One of the table rulings I made was that crossbows took a round to load, and though they require two hands, they should roll 1d20 for initiative once loaded.  Sounds reasonable, right?

Well, that left something to be desired.  My players rightly complained that the crossbow was now pretty weak, doing the same damage as a bow but half as often.  On top of that, I noticed the whole range thing.  Was I going to nerf the range when the crossbow was already starting to seem like a dog?

On top of that, I understood the reason for the 1d16 initiative roll with crossbows: that's how DCC is accounting for the loading.  That, and the damage suggest that the DCC crossbow is pretty light, but then the range seems even more ridiculous.  What to do?

The first thing was to create two classes of crossbows: light and heavy.  A character with a crossbow proficiency may use either one.

The light crossbow performs almost like the DCC crossbow, but at a much shorter range (40/80/120).  If you're loading and firing in the same round, you use the 1d16 initiative and give up movement.  If the crossbow is already loaded in a round you fire it, however, you get 1d24 for initiative!

Light crossbow (link courtesy of Xavier)

The heavy crossbow is a different beast.  This one has the range profile that the longbow used to have (70/140/210...the longbow now gets 80/160/240), but now does 1d10 damage!  The downside is what you'd expect: it takes an action to reload, and you can't move in that round.  In fact, if you take damage earlier in the round, your load is aborted.  It loads with 1d16 initiative, and fires with 1d24.  This one is meant to take things out with the first shot.

Heavy crossbow (link again courtesy of Xavier)

As with swords, I am using the DCC categories, but I made it clear how real-world sword categories map to them.  What is typically called a "longsword" is, in reality, the same things as the bastard sword of D&D.  I'm lumping those in with larger blades for two-handed swords.  This includes things like katanas - basically, any sword that is typically wielded with two hands.

That's an arming sword

What DCC calls a "longsword" I am equating with any one-handed sword that is primarily used for thrusting.  This includes everything from Viking swords and arming swords to rapiers (quite long, and heavier than most people think).

The gladius is definitely a short sword

Finally, I am assigning all one-handed slashing blades to the "short sword" category of DCC.  There may be an argument for resurrecting the "broadsword" category for certain longer or heavier one-handed cut-centric swords, like the sabre, falchion and Scottish claymore.  This being DCC, I could be persuaded to give such weapons a 1d7 damage roll.

Maybe a broadsword?

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