Racial weapon skills

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KaiserKris
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Racial weapon skills

Post by KaiserKris »

I'm thinking of the elves and their longswords and bows specifically, but it could be any other. The PHB gives them a +1 bonus, which I assume would simply mitigate the inevitable -4 bonus that nonproficient classes would get while trying to use a weapon they're untrained for?

Myself, I've always just said that an elf could just pick one of those weapons and be proficient in it, or get a +1 bonus if they were already naturally proficient. Fairly big boost for a level 1 wizard? Yeah, probably, but with your d4 hit dice and probably subpar combat stats, you'd be foolish to be fighting with a sword anyway. Now, a longbow is a bit of a different story. I kinda like it because it keeps those squishy magic-casters useful in their first few levels of existence after they've cast spells.

Your thoughts?

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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Captain_K »

You get the + when you can use the weapon, if you try using it (as a not allowed per class weapon), you're plus helps negate, I think its that simple.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Arduin »

KaiserKris wrote: The PHB gives them a +1 bonus, which I assume would simply mitigate the inevitable -4 bonus that nonproficient classes would get while trying to use a weapon they're untrained for?
It negates the -4 penalty and gives them a +1 (equivalent of a 1st level fighter). They get to pick one of the weapons to get a +1 one in. Not sure what your question is.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Rigon »

They gain a +1 with those weapons regardless of class. However, there is a -4 penalty to use weapons that you are not proficient with. So, if you are proficient with a long/short sword or a long/short bow, then you get a +1 to hit. If you are not proficient and use a long/short sword or long/short bow, you have a -3 to hit (-4 +1 = -3).

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Re: Racial weapon skills

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Rigon wrote: So, if you are proficient with a long/short sword or a long/short bow, then you get a +1 to hit. If you are not proficient and use a long/short sword or long/short bow, you have a -3 to hit (-4 +1 = -3).

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Not according to the PHB description.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by KaiserKris »

Arduin wrote:
KaiserKris wrote: The PHB gives them a +1 bonus, which I assume would simply mitigate the inevitable -4 bonus that nonproficient classes would get while trying to use a weapon they're untrained for?
It negates the -4 penalty and gives them a +1 (equivalent of a 1st level fighter). They get to pick one of the weapons to get a +1 one in. Not sure what your question is.
I wasn't asking a question, but making a statement about what I personally did and asking what other people did/thought. Though I'll have to read the PHB again. I had a different understanding about the BTB rules, but it's been awhile since I looked at it.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

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KaiserKris wrote:
I wasn't asking a question, but making a statement about what I personally did and asking what other people did/thought. Though I'll have to read the PHB again. I had a different understanding about the BTB rules, but it's been awhile since I looked at it.
At first I thought about the -3 to hit. Then after rereading the PHB description and looking at M&T data it was clearer that it is a +1 to hit with the one weapon the PC chooses (starting play).
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Rigon »

Arduin wrote:
Rigon wrote: So, if you are proficient with a long/short sword or a long/short bow, then you get a +1 to hit. If you are not proficient and use a long/short sword or long/short bow, you have a -3 to hit (-4 +1 = -3).

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Not according to the PHB description.
Which description are you looking at? I looked through the combat section in the PHB and didn't see anything about racial abilities off setting penalties.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Fiffergrund »

Arduin wrote:
KaiserKris wrote:
I wasn't asking a question, but making a statement about what I personally did and asking what other people did/thought. Though I'll have to read the PHB again. I had a different understanding about the BTB rules, but it's been awhile since I looked at it.
At first I thought about the -3 to hit. Then after rereading the PHB description and looking at M&T data it was clearer that it is a +1 to hit with the one weapon the PC chooses (starting play).
This implementation would give a 1st level elf wizard the same BTH with a sword as a 1st level human fighter.

YMMV, but I wouldn't go this way.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Arduin »

Fiffergrund wrote:
This implementation would give a 1st level elf wizard the same BTH with a sword as a 1st level human fighter.

YMMV, but I wouldn't go this way.
The mental contortions required to take this: "Elves are taught the ways of combat at a young age,
and their long lives allow them to become skilled in weapons favored by their society." and turn it into a -3 to hit is a bit too much for me.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Fiffergrund »

Arduin wrote:
Fiffergrund wrote:
This implementation would give a 1st level elf wizard the same BTH with a sword as a 1st level human fighter.

YMMV, but I wouldn't go this way.
The mental contortions required to take this: "Elves are taught the ways of combat at a young age,
and their long lives allow them to become skilled in weapons favored by their society." and turn it into a -3 to hit is a bit too much for me.
Compared to a human wizard, an elf wizard *is* skilled with a sword. 5% more skilled, to be exact. The elf wizard is still less skilled than a human fighter, relatively speaking, because of all the time spent being a wizard.

The text isn't wrong even with the -3 interpretation. The difference is simply one of perceived degree.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

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Fiffergrund wrote:
The text isn't wrong even with the -3 interpretation. The difference is simply one of perceived degree.
EXCEPT. The text states that the PC starts with a +1 to hit. A -3 to hit isn't even consider "proficient"... But, another PHB clarification for the 6th printing for sure as it could be either way. I don't know the intentions of the writer on this one.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

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Arduin wrote:
Fiffergrund wrote:
The text isn't wrong even with the -3 interpretation. The difference is simply one of perceived degree.
EXCEPT. The text states that the PC starts with a +1 to hit. A -3 to hit isn't even consider "proficient"... But, another PHB clarification for the 6th printing for sure as it could be either way. I don't know the intentions of the writer on this one.
I don't recall who wrote the elf. Probably Davis. It wasn't me. :)

I look at the bonuses/penalties as cumulative. I can't find another example in C&C where the bonus given from an ability can't be offset by penalties from other choices.

The PC does get a +1 to hit. The PC also gets a -4 to hit. Independent modifiers that happen to add together.

If it said "+1 to hit, disregarding any proficiency penalties," then I'd be wholeheartedly with you.

Those modifiers come from player choices, too. All you'd have to do is choose to be a fighter, and boom - full benefit of both choices. I see no reason why an elf mage should be nearly equal to a elf fighter at first level in weapon skill, when a mage has spent most of his/her time in books.

For another example, if I have an 8 Wisdom (-1) and yet I make it Prime (+6), the Prime doesn't completely override the Wisdom penalty. It is cumulative, so it offsets it. If I choose to put a 12 there instead of the 8, I get the full +6 for the Prime. My choice, and I live with the cumulative nature of the bonuses.

I agree it could use some clarification.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

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Fiffergrund wrote: I see no reason why an elf mage should be nearly equal to a elf fighter at first level in weapon skill, when a mage has spent most of his/her time in books.
"Most of his time" is an entirely relevant statement. Look at the starting age of an elf and then the PHB reasoning for the SINGLE weapon proficiency. The 1st level Elf Wizard could have EASILY spent more time learning to use a Long Sword than the starting actual age of the 1st level human fighter.

Only the author can clarify. In the M&T, non classed elves have a +1 with one of those listed weapons. NOT a -3...
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Rigon »

Arduin wrote:
Fiffergrund wrote: I see no reason why an elf mage should be nearly equal to a elf fighter at first level in weapon skill, when a mage has spent most of his/her time in books.
"Most of his time" is an entirely relevant statement. Look at the starting age of an elf and then the PHB reasoning for the SINGLE weapon proficiency. The 1st level Elf Wizard could have EASILY spent more time learning to use a Long Sword than the starting actual age of the 1st level human fighter.

Only the author can clarify. In the M&T, non classed elves have a +1 with one of those listed weapons. NOT a -3...
In the M&T, non-classed elves are monsters and monsters follow different rules than PCs.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by Fiffergrund »

I can think of several narrative, societal reasons why a non-classed elf NPC would have the full +1 and not the -3.

The beauty of C&C is that you can handle it however you want.

Having lived through and contributed to 1st printing C&C, I will say this: Some rules were left vague on purpose specifically to counter the idea that the rules controlled the game instead of the CK.

This could be one of them.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

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Fiffergrund wrote: The beauty of C&C is that you can handle it however you want.

Having lived through and contributed to 1st printing C&C, I will say this: Some rules were left vague on purpose specifically to counter the idea that the rules controlled the game instead of the CK.

This could be one of them.
On a core Char creation ability it should NOT be vague. The ambiguity is probably not due to intent. It's been a rule since AD&D, in one form or another. They just need to fix it in the next "printing".
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by KaiserKris »

I don't give full proficiency and then a +1 bonus. I agree, that's a bit much.

What I do is give either proficiency or the +1 bonus if they belong to a class that's already proficient. It is a pretty big boost for a 1st level wizard, yeah, but they need it at 1st level anyway. They'll soon get outmatched in a huge way by fighters.

I've personally considered rules where combat abilities of wizards don't actually improve at all. When you come down to it, why should they? But that's a discussion for another time.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

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KaiserKris wrote: I've personally considered rules where combat abilities of wizards don't actually improve at all. When you come down to it, why should they? But that's a discussion for another time.
Yes, agree.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by koralas »

Arduin wrote:
Fiffergrund wrote:
The text isn't wrong even with the -3 interpretation. The difference is simply one of perceived degree.
EXCEPT. The text states that the PC starts with a +1 to hit. A -3 to hit isn't even consider "proficient"... But, another PHB clarification for the 6th printing for sure as it could be either way. I don't know the intentions of the writer on this one.
I find it quite simple to understand the +1 to hit. This is on top of any other adjustments, Str., attacking from behind, magic bonuses, and yes, non-proficiency penalties.

These are all bonuses or penalties to the to hit roll, not changing the BAB of the character. Thus a 1st level mage with a longsword has the following adjustments -
  • Elf +1
  • BAB +0
  • Non-Proficient Weapon -4
So the total to-hit adjustment is -3.

The important thing to remember is the the racial adjustment is specifically listed as
Elves begin play with a +1 bonus to hit.
It doesn't say anything about giving them a proficiency in the weapon, as well as a bonus.

However, if you like, then use the recommendation of Kaiser Kris and allow the Elven mage to be proficient in one of the racial weapons.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

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If you let any 1st level wizard have a +1 with a long sword that would be a +5 with a long sword to over come their "can't use a long sword -4". I used to multi-class wizards, elves specifically, with clerics of a bow and sword wielding gods just so I could use a bow and sword rather than dagger and Qstaff and those nasty penalties... I'm going to have to side with the +1 is nice and offsets things, but does not overcome the -4. But switch this to the bow, add in some dex and the bow becomes a back up for elven mages out of spells.. still would not want to run about wielding the sword unless I was the last man standing, I had all 13 of my hit points, I found a nice magic shield to pick up, and the last enemy was a wounded orc!
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by commanderFuron »

I think that no matter what way you go, a first level wizard is likely a dead wizard if they are resorting to using the sword. Even if they have the same tH as a fighter at first level, they don't have the same AC, str, or HP as most fighters.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

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commanderFuron wrote:I think that no matter what way you go, a first level wizard is likely a dead wizard if they are resorting to using the sword. Even if they have the same tH as a fighter at first level, they don't have the same AC, str, or HP as most fighters.
There IS that.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by muneshige »

Arduin wrote:
KaiserKris wrote: The PHB gives them a +1 bonus, which I assume would simply mitigate the inevitable -4 bonus that nonproficient classes would get while trying to use a weapon they're untrained for?
It negates the -4 penalty and gives them a +1 (equivalent of a 1st level fighter). They get to pick one of the weapons to get a +1 one in. Not sure what your question is.
You know-- on that whole basis, maybe a good argument could be made that elves shouldn't even start at level 1. I mean, any person with the body and pose of a youth but 100 years of experience before you even take them on their first adventure... they might well be level 3 or level 4 before you even start. I don't even think I can recall anyone ever playing an elf as though they were 100 anyway though, typically people play them pretty much as if they were a human of their own age and all.

I guess the counter argument could be made... for instance, I don't know if any of you are old enough that you have switched jobs a few times in your life. Going back to a job you haven't done for a few years or many years... well... you might start off as badly as though it was your first outing out. And you can relearn the skills quickly if you focus on them, but if you don't? If its just something you do on an occasion... well, you'll just never be as good as you were when you were doing it on a regular basis.

I got to assume there is some unwritten understanding in OSR that characters lose levels after years of not adventuring. It is the only way to make sense of the fact that there are people who are really old in settings who have trained in their skills regularly but are not very high level, but PCs within a very short span of their life can go from raw beginnings to the greatest people in their field ever.

If we go by the 'skills get rusty' concept, it is much easier to accept that your elf is very low level despite having years of experience.

The same thing applies to Dwarfs, Gnomes and Halflings as well... but the case of the Elf is the most extreme.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

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muneshige wrote: You know-- on that whole basis, maybe a good argument could be made that elves shouldn't even start at level 1. I mean, any person with the body and pose of a youth but 100 years of experience before you even take them on their first adventure... they might well be level 3 or level 4 before you even start.
The 100 years is to learn all the Elf racial advantages. They get toughened against certain magics, decades of training to make their senses "super human", etc. I allow players to start an Elf at age 20. They just lose every advantage except for the vision. They still only get 2 Primes though.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by muneshige »

I always assumed that was just biology.

A dog's nose and ears are keener than those of a human and they don't take years to master it.

A snow rabbit is just naturally better equipped to live in the snow than a naked human is. They don't require years to master such skills.

You don't need to teach a cat to climb and jump, a fish to swim, a bird to fly or a shark to track better than a human. Even if it were possible for an unequipped human to compete with such skills, the lifespans of these animals is shorter than the time it would take a human to master such skills.

Similarly, I am pretty sure the elf's improved eyesight and hearing as well as their resistance to magic are all supposed to be natural parts of their biology. Granted, I am not really certain why a fae is more resistant to magic rather than more vulnerable to it-- after all, magic is part of them much like demons and jinn which are more vulnerable to magic and can be magically bound into slavery in a way other beings cannot be... but, for whatever reason, I think the magical resistance is supposed to be because they are, to some degree, fae.

The bow and the sword thing are much harder to explain though. I guess one could get that the bow is sort of a manifestation of their improved eyesight and natural grace, but the sword thing... I've never gotten the connection AD&D and its successors made between elves and swords. I just don't see swords as a particularly, uniquely "elf" weapon.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

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muneshige wrote:I always assumed that was just biology.

A dog's nose and ears are keener than those of a human and they don't take years to master it.
That's why I said except for the low light, distance vision. Most else is learned. Moving silently, searching/noticing hidden, choosing one of the weapons and training with it, etc., etc., etc.
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Re: Racial weapon skills

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Do we dare bring up the "can cast magic in elven chain" history? Elves should rule the world, they chose not to.. think of them like cats with less fur and pointier ears. I always assumed that elves stay kids for decades.. so starting ages simply make them socially ready to go into life and a career at about 100 years of age.... think of how long they're in their nappies or on the tit!
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Re: Racial weapon skills

Post by muneshige »

Again, I think you are still underestimating how much is biological. I could certainly see moving more quietly or hiding better as being something with biological or cultural roots that need not be the results of decades of training.

After all, Halflings start off much younger than Elves and they are much better at hiding and moving silently. When I conceptualized a more PC-balanced Goblin, I gave them the same abilities as well as one that allowed them to survive out in the middle of the wild better than humans because well.. I figured if they didn't have those abilities, they wouldn't have survived for even the 10 years or so it takes them to become an adult.

Resistance to spells strikes me as necessarily biological... If it wasn't then everyone could learn the Elven spell resistance.

Again, the only abilities I see on the Elf that seem necessarily part of special training are the sword and bow... and I am not even sure about the bow because if they live primarily by game-hunting, they have legitimate reason to learn to use a bow from the time they are old enough to walk. But... as a race that is not heavily strict and militarized in regards to the upbringing of children nor is at constant war with others, it is odd for them to be universally trained in weapons.

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Re: Racial weapon skills

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muneshige wrote: Resistance to spells strikes me as necessarily biological... If it wasn't then everyone could learn the Elven spell resistance.
They can. Just start at age 2 and practice for 98 years straight. It's just a matter of ROI whether one considers it worthwhile to do AND if you have an elf that will teach you.
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