View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Homebrewing Weapons guide - building any weapon concept

2017-01-13, 02:36 PM
Hi there - looking to crowd-source some ideas!

(NB: for everything onwards, I'm ignoring weight and Cost)

I've been building a heavily flavoured homebrew world for my game and I've encouraged quite a lot of reflavouring of weapons because the world design is sort of Postapocalytip Magepunk, and so people have aa way of really making their weapons part of the character without having to choose between, say, a rapier and a shortsword. Anyway, after reading a couple of threads about weapon choice and how people are dealing with it, I sort of had an idea about building simple rules so anyone can build any weapon they want (appearance wise) but keep all the weapon rules balanced.

I pulled apart the weapons table in the PHB and managed to get a simple system that works almost perfectly to recreate every weapon (Exceptions being the much maligned Trident, the Light Hammer being identical to the handaxe, and the fact that Versatile isn't applied broadly enough)

So by following these rules, you can almost exactly recreate all the weapons in the PHB
1) Start with a weapon concept.
2) pick damage type.
3) Starting at 0, add/subtract the following values.
4) Choose if it is going to be light (-0.5), versatile (0), or heavy (+1).
5) Add any of the following Positive Attributes: Light, Finesse, reach, ranged or thrown. For each one, subtract 0.5
6) Add any of the following Negative attributes: Loading, Two-Handed. Martial.
7) Double it and add 6
8) This is your new weapon dice size

So I'm happy with this as it is: Weapon concept and common sense dictate what can go together (e.g. not light & 2-handed) For the odd numbers as they come up,, round a martial weapon up, and a simple weapon down to a minimum of a d4.

An example: Player wants a LASER SCYTHE! This is Simple, Heavy, 2-handed, finesse, and has reach. That Equals (0, +1, +1, -0.5, -0.5) +1. It's a simple weapon so I round down to 6. Or a 1d6. Couldn't be simpler, right?

So here's where I need help. Everything works EXCEPT the Heavy property - It's a negative factor, like 2-handed, but it's not Negative ENOUGH. As the weapon concept is going to go hand in hand with the character concept, this negates the choice between Versatile and Heavy. You know you're not going to be playing a small race? It's always heavy. No drawbacks, no nothing.

So without inventing wild new mechanics - what can you suggest that will make choosing a Heavy weapon a meaningful dilemma?

I'm really looking forward to your ideas


2017-01-13, 03:52 PM
The heavy property is simply a construct that was put in place to simplify and solve the base weapon damage disparity between size classes in earlier editions. Rather than lowering the die class by one step for all small characters, they simply made the top tier damage die weapons out of reach for smaller characters effectively preserving the base weapon damage disparity between small and medium characters. Also apparently they used it to limit reach weapons as well.

Switch the positions of heavy and two handed. Two handed is the class of weapon (like light, single handed, or versatile) heavy is just an addition to d12 and 2d6 dice weapons and those with reach to keep small characters from using them. It should put everything back in line although you might have to redo some of the math. Or just do away with heavy all together if it doesn't fit how you want the system to work.

2017-01-13, 07:06 PM
Yeah, I thought about rolling heavy in with 2 handed but a couple of things made me pause. Firstly, I am a bit of a data nerd, so I like neat and tidy rules. This feels like a bit of a fudge that doesn't match with a system with loads of options to 'build' anything. Second, if your halfling has, somehow, 18 STR, why can't they weild an oversized mace that's heavy, when a STR 8 fighter can? And Thirdly, I'd like to leave that as a last resort. For instance I thought maybe you could restrict heavy as incompatible with TWF, or maybe deny it access to the duelist feat. Both of these, while being half fixes, I personally feel give more options than simply erasing it.

So yes, I do think that's a definite solution, but maybe there's something in between that will improve on that?

2017-01-13, 09:13 PM
What I'm saying is to change the heavy option in step 4 to two handed, and change two handed in step 6 to heavy. Heavy is to signify that something is large and unwieldy, they are specifically 4 1/2+ foot weapons that 3 foot people can't really use that well, and are universally 2 handed weapons, even for medium sized characters.

2017-01-13, 09:42 PM
Oh thematically and logically I agree entirely.....thing is it doesn't solve the original problem that once you've decided you aren't going to play a small race, and and planning on choosing a light weapkn for whatever reason, you're always going to pick a heavy weapon......

I need some kind of drawback that, should you choose, say, a warhammer and aren't a halfing would make you choose not to have the Heavy property......

2017-01-13, 10:27 PM
To be honest, it's like that in the current system as well, why take the non heavy great club when you can take the heavy great sword? Most people will always go for the strongest weapon, why take the 1d10 when you can take 2d6? You can't solve that problem while keeping it in, the heavy property is about limiting options, not increasing them, its sole function is to restrict several races from taking the top teir weapons.

2017-01-15, 03:42 AM
The heavy function also does one more important thing: It's in the most important part of the Heavy Weapons Master Feat, which, in my opinion, makes it a net neutral or even slightly positive attribute.

I'd definitely make sure you tieheavy to two-handed, and I like the idea that it's a separate choice that you add on at the end.

A weapon that is 2 handed, not versatile, and not finesse, gains the heavy property, at the player's choice. The Heavy property adds +1.

Why the player's choice?
In a world with laser swords and other devastating weapons that hardly weigh anything, a gnome could conceivably wield a very large weapon, but it wouldn't be heavy.

Why not finesse?
No current weapon in the game is heavy and finesse, and it doesn't make sense.

Also, make sure that all ranged weapons end up with the Ammunition property.

You also might want to give a list of potential damage types, and their bonuses and penalties. From a pure power standpoint, you are almost always going to want force, while I'd expect some pretty significant payoffs for using fire, since everything and its dog are immune/resistant to it.

2017-01-15, 10:37 AM
Well yes. My point is to make that choice meaningful, so other than the martial restriction what can adding heavy to a weapon do that makes choosing a non heavy 2 hander beneficial within the current rule system, but more effective than just restricting race choice.

At the moment, the negatives are:
2 handed: cant use a shield
Martial: class restiction / feat required
Loading: fires once per turn
Heavy: cant be used by small races

So here's some ideas of the type of thing you could do....some are significantly more restrictive than others.

Heavy weapons cannot be dual weilded with a light weapon.
Heavy weapons cannot make more than one attack per turn (like loading for crossbows). GWM negates.
Heavy weapons cannot be drawn as part of an attack action.

That sort of thing.....there must be something meaningful we can come up with?

2017-01-15, 10:53 AM
@potato priest.

Oh damn! Reading fail. Thought GWM was 2 handed. Not heavy! Oh yes then that makes a whole world of difference....and does make a heavy 1 handed weapon quite a desirable thing which currently doesn't exist.

Then yes, there would need to be something in the heavy spot to bring the calculation down or literally everyone and his dog is going to be tagging heavy onto their weapon designs.....and to do this without having to add loads of rules. I could just roll 2 handed together with heavy and make it a +2, but it does feel like a fudge when I'm trying to build a catch all process for ANY weapon concept (obviously this will imply certain restrictions unless you can come up with an incredible weapon concept that would allow a heavy, finessable weapon).

Hmmm.....any ides?

2017-01-15, 12:43 PM
I don't think there needs to me anything specific to bring heavy down, but that the weapon still needs to be 2-handed, not finesse, and not versatile. If you do that, then yes, a lot of people will still use heavy weapons, but a lot of people won't because they can't use them on a dex character, can't use them with a shield, or can't duel wield them. It would be basically like normal heavy weapons. They are a popular choice, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The reasons that heavy weapons should be limited:

Almost by definition, a heavy weapon can't be finesse. You need a lot of muscle to wield one of those things.

Also, heavy implies that the weapon has a LOT of weight to it. to swing any heavy weapon, you're going to need the added leverage of using 2 hands.

Remember, that heavy and big are not the same thing in a magepunk world. You can still have a 6 foot long lightsaber, but because it's made of photons, it's not heavy. That means that people can still make big finesse weapons, even 2 handed finesse weapons, but they won't be heavy. While that does restrict weapon design somewhat, I think that it's for the best.

2017-01-15, 02:33 PM
@potato priest

While all of that is logical and I basically agree in lieu of not having any other option, what it does mean is that you'll never have a 2 handed weapon that isn't either finesse or heavy, and youll never have a 1 handed heavy weapon (meaning great weapon master is really 2 handed strength weapon master).

Now, I'm not saying that isn't unworkable, or even desirable, but I feel like there should be a middle ground in there somewhere, otherwise you might as well remove the heavy property from the game altogether and just say small races can't use 2 handed weapons unless they are finesse.

Again, I'm not saying your solution isn't the most workable solution, but I'm just after ideas here. So far, I've had none other than make all 2 handed weapons heavy, which they pretty much are anyway. Just humour me anx think of how it *could* work without reinvinting all the rules....

2017-01-15, 09:41 PM
You could assign a +2.5 for two handed, a +0 for heavy, and a +0.5 for martial,and then always round down, since as we discussed, the drawbacks and advantages of the heavy feature are very situational. That way, a martial 2 handed weapon gets back to greataxe specs, whether or not it is heavy. This system tends to help out those who want to wield 2-handed non-heavies, by only barrng them from the GWM feat, with no other decrease in damage. I would still advise against finesse heavies, and against single-handed heavies, because a single-handed or finesse heavy weapon would be horrible balance-wise.

Under this system:
Heavy, Two Handed, Martial weapon
Damage dice: (2.5+.5+0)*2 +6 =12, so 1d12 or 2d6
And you'll be able to use Great Weapon Master

Two-Handed, Martial,
Damage Dice: (2.5+.5)*2+6=12, so 1d12 or 2d6

Finesse, Martial, Two-Handed
Damage Dice: (2.5+.5-.5)*2+6=11, which will round down to 1d10

I think that this does a relatively good job of recreating most weapons, with some exceptions.

Problems that my system makes: The greatclub ends up with more damage than it would have in the phb: (2.5)*2+6=11, round down to 1d10 damage. I don't really think that's gamebreaking, but it does fail to recreate original weapon damage, and for that I am sorry.

Further problems in the original system that I didn't fix: Handaxes, light, thrown simple weapons with no negative qualities, would end up being a d4. (-.5+-.5)*2+6=1d4.

Shortswords, Light Finesse martial weapons, were also recreated as 1d4 under the original system.

2017-01-17, 02:42 PM
Interesting isn't it how just having someone put down a single thought can completely turn around your thinking....Cheers for that! Once you effectively took Heavy off the board (Cost 0), it got me thinking about what could you apply to anything (Cost 0), and not break the game. Turns out you can drop the other part of most all heavy weapons - 2 handed - If you can give a reason why wielding a heavy weapon in one hand works differently to wielding it in two.

And I think you can.

Heavy: Due to the weight of the weapon, swinging it effectively requires planning and skill. While using a heavy weapon one handed, you cannot make Opportunity Attacks.

What his does is mean that any heavy 2 handed weapon, functions exactly as it did before, and now choosing a heavy 1-handed essentially makes you offence only - you are too slow to shut down enemies. While that may be great for you to have GWM on a 1d10 Heavy Warhammer, your squishy wizard isn't going to be particularly thankful about that. "Did you have fun doing extra damage? Great! Bully for you!.....I'm dead!"

Running the numbers and at level 5 for a fighter, with GWM, you do about 10% more damage per turn (2 attacks) against AC16, and 20-25% against AC 13. At AC 17, the numbers equal out (This includes the +2 from Dueling). That means that for every OA you make equates to the lost damage of 3-6 full turns (On average). Now, this obviously I don't know how this would play out on the table - how effective is a fighter who can't lock down enemies at stopping his squishy friends getting turned to jam. I don't know. In a 5 turn fight against enemies with AC 15, the difference in damage is 1-2 OAs....Yeah the fighter now has 2 more AC, but he's going to be targeted far less because, well, he's kinda ignorable. Especially for fast monsters.

.....I'd be interested in the thoughts of how this balances out on the table. I've not had enough combat variety to instinctively know how and where this would change things.

As an aside, this actually does something else I didn't think it would. I was thinking about the variety of swords you could make (1H Heavy = Bastard sword, 2H Finesse = Falchion, 2H Heavy = Greatsword)....and when I was trying to work out what a non-heavy 2 handed sword looked like, I realised it's EXACTLY the same as a Longsword weilded in 2 hands. Versatile makes anything 2 handed, and Heavy now acts as an incentive to always wield something versatile - you lose OAs if you don't. So, hey!, make every weapon versatile. Or in fact drop both out of the property list and just have the rule that wielding something 2 handed increases the damage dice by 1! Fighters still have to choose between fighting styles to get the bonus they want (GWF or duellist) so aren't going to change between the two much. GWM is still optional, so against high AC enemies the trade off is back to 2-handing your greatsword, or taking the AC bonus of a shield and losing OAs. I mean, it works, it really does!

Or at least it does provided 1 important thing. Does the drawback of not having OAs with heavy weapons balance the benefit of getting GWM + an additional Dice size?

P.s. With reference to Finesse Heavy - as this is a concept driven system, I'd definitely say you are going to have a hell of a time trying to come up with a weapon that you can describe as finesse-able AND heavy. And if you can - Bravo!, but it's likely going to be so specific to that character and setting that anywhere else it'll be out of place and the GM can veto.