Wednesday 15 December 2021

Weapon Breakage In Darksun

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 Really still unsure how to reintegrate this blog back into the Things That Get Done.

I've got a few different ideas for how to change what I do with it so it becomes relevant for me again.
Possible when I start running d&d again (aiming for January in the new year) I'll use it as way of codifying dm prep?

Anyway I have a back log of post drafts, so the current version of this blog might just me hastily doing the bare minimum with a draft post? I can't get over how trying to do anything more will take hours.

 So was talking about Dark Sun and its weapon breakage system got mentioned.

Basically it had a weapon breakage system that was terrible and I'm not sure if anyone used it.

The idea was to encourage players to be improvising or scavenging more. Or make them really feel like they were using bone and wood? Trouble is a lot of campaigns have the dm feel obligated to provide decent magical weapons, and in Dark Sun that often means steel weapons , and then bam the whole weapon breakage system goes out the door.

So what are some ways to push the campaign in that direction of players breaking and improvising weapons?


Player facing rule:

Any damage roll with a weapon of "breakable material" can have the dice flipped to its opposite side, in exchange for breaking the weapon. So 1 on a d6 can be turned into a 6, a 3 on a 12 into a 10.

(could also let players sacrifice a piece of armour to flip a die rolled on them? Light armour is one piece provides +2 ac, medium armour +4 ac is two piece, heavy armour is +6 ac and is three pieces. Losing a piece of armour moves it down a category.  

Let monster parts or other scavenged bits be repurposed as armour  , like hollowing out a kank head gives a helmet (1 piece) etc. )


Sort of dm facing but then is also player facing?

so replace most magical items being found in creature lairs instead with various creature parts functioning as limited use weapons and armour with special properties

So you kill an agony beetle, its antenna can used for a whip that does 1d10 psychic damage, but drops a die size for each successful hit or fumble.

Encourage players to experiment and creative with what they find by letting it giving various temporary or 1 off effects.

Anyway that's the idea, I normally expand upon my rule ideas too much and add too much gradients or whatever, and these posts take up too much time. So trying to stay more efficient = more posts?


  1. Guts as a hat, that seems about right. I feel like an important part of the steel-n-bronze thing, is that you are basically waving around a Serious Weapon of War, in a world that is already on the brink. If you are seen using it and word gets around, you'll get scavengers lurking around, waiting for you to weaken so they can ambush you at the worst possible moment.

    Steel is the equivalent of... blood magic rituals? Maybe?? Something else that shows how Dangerous and Rich you are.

  2. I really like the scavenged armor parts of this, the armor can be a final luck point sort of thing, switching a 19 into a 2, the foe's mandibles cronching down on your improvised pauldron instead of your shoulder.

  3. I like the dice flip idea. Elegant and simple.

    1. my first and second draft was if you missed by 5 or less, you could make that a hit but it damaged the weapon. Missing by 6-10 meant you could break your weapon to get a hit, more than that you could break your weapon to get an advantage if attacked again (but only if it was the first available action you had, so likely with a barehanded attack or a improvised weapon). Damaged weapons did one size small die and if damaged again would break.
      So way more granular than needed , too much explaining to a player, having to track what you missed by on the dice, and a harder sell with the implied fiction of what was happening

  4. 4e Dark Sun had two optional rules if the DM wanted to have weapon breakage
    Fumbling Breakage: When you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll using a nonmetal weapon, the item breaks.
    Reckless Breakage: When you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll, your weapon has a chance to break. You can accept the result, automatically missing the attack as usual, but keeping your weapon intact. Alternatively, you can reroll. Regardless of the reroll result, a nonmetal weapon breaks once the attack is complete. A metal weapon, however, breaks only if you roll a natural 5 or lower on the reroll. This rule gives you a say in whether a weapon breaks. You can play it safe and accept the errant attack, or you can attempt to avoid a miss by risking your weapon.

  5. I like the idea of putting it into the player's hands, they make the choice to break the weapon. I think for best results, there needs to be something that really pushes players to do that.

    I'm just thinking about "Too good to use" syndrome where you end the game a hundred potions because you were always saving them for later. I feel like that would hit this system a lot. Players might feel like "Well I better not break my weapon now, I'll save it for later" and then they never do it.

    So I think in combination your ideas sound good... weapons get worse and worse over time, and you can sacrifice them for big damage. If you don't sacrifice it, the weapon is going to become useless. I wonder how it would feel in play though. Maybe it would feel bad to have your weapon get worse and worse, or maybe it would add a sense of desperation.

    1. That "too good to use" syndrome is basically a video game problem, or at least if you have that problem in a table top , reduce the amount of magic items available and/or have the players actually challenged by their environment.
      As in video games you horde the stuff because you are seeing if you can just make it without using the thing. Most of the time you can, and you will reach the end of the game as its finite , and its made to let most players see most of the content.
      Tabletop, you can put places that are too dangerous and too difficulty for the players to go there. If they never wind up expending their resources , they will never get to do somethings / go certain places in the game.
      Beside a potion is generally a distinctive and hard to replace effect, a weapon does nothing but do damage. I doubt anyone is going to that precious about a 1d8 long sword. And in combat players are going to have situations where they need/want a monster to just die already, and if they can make that happen just by destroying what they were already using , I think its far more tempting than using a potion of gaseous form to sneak some where.
      Plus if a player tries to carry around every weapon they find, they are going to not be able to work.
      I mean you could try bolting on a system that means there's yet another granularly resource to keep track of, but are you (or the players) really already keeping track of ammo, food , water, hours slept, exact weight carried?

  6. Actually I had a thought, maybe it would be better for the weapon degradation to happen over time, instead of on a successful hit?

    Like, at the end of each day / play session / time period, each weapon / item goes down 1 dice. Weapons you keep safe don't degrade.

    I feel like that would encourage people to use their stuff, and it's less book-keeping. If weapons degrade each time you hit, that might be a bit more of an encouragement to not use your cool stuff.

  7. The idea of weapon break is smart. I see but one problem: If there is a PC with, lets say 3 wepaons, why not break 2 of them just to get max damage and save just the third one. So, the weapon break rule could be exploitet in gahtehring a bunch of weapons to deal regularly high damage.

    1. That's not exploiting the rule, that's exactly the kind of behaviour the rule was made to try and encourage. There's already rules that limit how many weapons a character can carry, how long it takes to unsheathe/change weapons, so its not like a character is going to have dozens of swords to pull this off every round.
      So for a character to scrounge up a extra spear and an axe that they expend on the first 2 rounds of combat before resorting to their favourite weapon, that's exactly what I would want to happen. Even makes daggers have some appeal as you can have say 6 of them strapped to you to expend one after the other. This being dark sun , you might not be anywhere near somewhere to buy more daggers, meaning each dagger could be a horn or tooth from a different monster carcass.