Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

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MattyHelms
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Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by MattyHelms »

I've always run the fighter's weapon specialization as one weapon type like "long sword." Then I noticed in the PHB combat example, Bjorn specializes with "flail," a grouping of weapons.

How narrowly do you define a fighter's weapon specialization?

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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Arduin »

MattyHelms wrote:I've always run the fighter's weapon specialization as one weapon type like "long sword." Then I noticed in the PHB combat example, Bjorn specializes with "flail," a grouping of weapons.

How narrowly do you define a fighter's weapon specialization?
Depends on the "group" of weapons. Flail type weapons are all used in a similar fashion. Swords are not. A two handed sword is totally different than a rapier for instance...
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Julian Grimm »

One way I could do this is break specialization into two tiers; focus and specialization. At first level your fighter gets to choose a focus with a certain group of weapons. This would yield the typical +1 to hit and damage with that group of weapons. Then at say third level the fighter gets to choose to specialize with one weapon of that group. I would give the bonus for that as a +2 to hit and damage and possible a +1 to AC since you know how to defend with that weapon.

A third, optional tier would be Mastery. This would be more focused than specialization and would provide benefits but some drawbacks. Mastery would not be available until 5th to 7th level and it is very narrow. You choose one weapon and are very proficient with that weapon gaining a +3 to hit and damage and a +2 to AC. However, your are only a master with that weapon. Say it is a +3 Longsword, you are only a master with that +3 longsword and no other. Additionally you are so focused with that weapon you can no longer work outside your focused group of weapons that you incur a -2 penalty with any weapon outside of your focus.

That's just off the top of my head but I think it is workable.
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Lord Dynel »

Player's Handbook, page 11 wrote:WEAPON SPECIALIZATION: At 1st level, the fighter can choose one weapon with which to specialize. All weapons are eligible, including ranged weapons such as the bow or sling. The weapon with which the fighter specializes is usually common to the fighter’s culture or society, but it need not be. The Castle Keeper and player should consult to determine which weapons are available for specialization, bearing in mind culture, location and availability.

The fighter can only choose one weapon with which to specialize. Once chosen, the weapon cannot be changed. For fighters between 1st and 6th level, this specialization imparts a +1 bonus to hit and a +1 bonus to damage when being used. At 7th level and above, the bonuses increase to a +2 to hit and +2 to damage.
I go by the book. The example is kind of strange, I'll admit, but when I'm in doubt I defer to the written rule over an example. The RAW states (more that once) that the fighter may only specialize in one weapon. That's what I stick with, personally. It's worked well for me. Matty, if you feel that the fighter is underwhelming then I wouldn't see anything wrong with some kind of expansion, like JG's suggestion.

It does make me wonder though, with that example, if the Trolls weren't working on some other way to do it, scrapped it, and inadvertently left that example in there? *shrug*
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Julian Grimm »

Thanks for the good words. I have been looking at different possibilities to give the fighter a bit more umph at higher levels but keeping them combat based.
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by KaiserKris »

I've always interpreted it as being one specific weapon, but I think it'd hardly be game-breaking to create weapon groups and say that the specialization applied to those, if one preferred, as long as the weapon groups weren't overly broad.

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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Julian Grimm »

Still working on the details but the groups I see are like this:

Small Swords: Short Sword, Rapier, Saber

Large Swords: Longsword, Broadsword, Bastard Sword, Scimitar

Two Handed Swords: Greatsword, Claymore, etc...

When you take a focus your bonus is affects all these weapons. Now, let's say I want to focus in large swords and then Specialize in scimitar I would have the +1 bonus only for other large swords but a +2 bonus on the Scimitar only. Now, let's say I have found a +2 scimitar that I named Sharkey. Later, if I want to I can master Sharkey and Sharkey only.

I would get the cool Mastery bonus and only the Mastery Bonus with just Sharkey, Any scimitar I use I would get the specialization bonus and any thing in the chosen weapon group would get a +1. A really evil CK can see how this can be used to keep a player in check.
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by alcyone »

I sort of like that a narrow specialty means you might not be able to afford your desired specialty weapon with your starting gold, but I am mean like that.
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by MattyHelms »

I'm a big believer in playing RAW which is where my question came from. The quote shown says to select one specific weapon, but the sample weapons listed include a grouping- bow.

I've always played it as one specific type of weapon, so a fighter specializes in one weapon listed on the equipment table. My ranged fighter who pulls off impressive trick shots might specialize in a short bow, where another, having trained in border skirmishes with goblonoids, would specialize with a long composite bow.

Thanks for all the input!

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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by gideon_thorne »

Arduin wrote: A two handed sword is totally different than a rapier for instance...
Just to interject a bit of practical know how. I've been taking sword instruction in a style called Fiore dei Liberi which starts with fencing and rapier weapons and movies into bastard and two handed swords. The only real functional differences in what we are learning is that the larger swords are used with two hands. The basic sword stances, blocks and thrusts are essentially the same though.

So, that being said, there's no reason why you couldn't have a fighter specialize in groups of weapons. 8-)
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Arduin »

gideon_thorne wrote: The only real functional differences in what we are learning is that the larger swords are used with two hands. The basic sword stances, blocks and thrusts are essentially the same though.
Incorrect. I was the regional champ with Saber. Even a saber is VASTLY different from a rapier in usage and technique...
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Aramis »

The two factors to consider are 1)gameplay and 2)realism. How does expanding the weapon specialisation play, and is it "realistic"?

My impression is the fighter was intended to be a "generalist" warrior class. Not a highly specialised duellist or kensai type. Thus specialisation is given for its numerical boost rather than a flavour addition.

The fighter pretty much only has two abilities that he uses regularly (until the fabled 10th level second attack): an extra +1 BtH and an extra bonus from specialisation. Being restrictive on specialisation leaves him only regularly getting the +1 plus a few combat dominances here and there, meanwhile the darn wizard is fireballing and lightning bolting to his heart's content.

Not to mention the almost guaranteed annoyance the fighter will feel when, inevitably, that juicy frostbrand the party finds at 6th level turns out to be a bloody broadsword! :twisted:

To me there is little risk of imbalance or lost realism from expanding specialisation. Even something much broader like the 3e list of light, melee, two handed, ranged, and exotic should work perfectly fine. I doubt there is sufficient difference between a broadsword and longsword, or a short and longbow, that a trained professional could not easily adapt his training to the new weapon.

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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Julian Grimm »

I see where you're coming from. One of my original takes on the fighter was a Weapon Specialization based on 2e. The fighter gets a new weapon every few levels and advances with those he already has specialized in. I have been working on different options or 'paths' for the fighter to take since the class tends to 'peter out' at higher levels.

What I want is to remove the paradigm shift at higher levels between the fighter and wizard. That is, keep the fighter as interesting at higher levels as he was at lower levels.
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by gideon_thorne »

Arduin wrote:
gideon_thorne wrote: The only real functional differences in what we are learning is that the larger swords are used with two hands. The basic sword stances, blocks and thrusts are essentially the same though.
Incorrect. I was the regional champ with Saber. Even a saber is VASTLY different from a rapier in usage and technique...
I've also trained in saber, both mounted and dismounted, for the last 3 decades, and its really not that different. The footwork we are using in my current sword class, covering everything from rapier, saber, long sword, bastard sword, to two handed sword is pretty much identical. The lighter swords are faster, but the movements are largely the same in the style my instructor is teaching.

Granted, there are quite a wide variety of sword styles in the world, but the underlying fundamentals, footwork and balance, are the same. 8-)
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by Arduin »

gideon_thorne wrote: I've also trained in saber, both mounted and dismounted, for the last 3 decades, and its really not that different.
Um, try slashing with a rapier vs. an armored opponent. You won't live to post about it... Combat is different than what you trained for...
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by gideon_thorne »

Arduin wrote:
gideon_thorne wrote: I've also trained in saber, both mounted and dismounted, for the last 3 decades, and its really not that different.
Combat is different than what you trained for...
Not really, since my current instructor is teaching us the practicals, and the underlying mechanics, of combat.

Deflecting a lance/spear coming at you in an un-choreographed cavalry battle, sometimes at full charge, is only part of what I was taught to do, growing up.

Various sword types may have some differences as I'd already noted, but blocks, balance, foot position, all pretty much the same. Especially in the sword style I noted above. It all boils down to keeping the other guy from cutting you with something sharp either by getting out of the way or deflecting the attack around you. Me, I prefer distance over deflection. :)

Sides, the best way for an un-armoured opponent to beat an armoured one is endurance. If you've got some chap lumbering after you in full armour, the lightly armed and un-armoured person just has to take advantage of their manoeuvrability, not to mention any obstacles in the environment. The heavily armoured opponent will just get worn out faster. 8-)
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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by MattyHelms »

Is the only way to settle this a duel? :lol:

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Re: Weapon Specialization - How Narrow?

Post by zombiehands »

I think the way it is defined is too narrow. I like the early editions of D&D where the fighter was a generalist. So I just allow weapon specialization to be +1 to hit and damage with weapons. That way I can just roll magical items randomly and not worry that the fighter never found a magic halberd (or whatever weapon he would have choose under the btb rules).
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