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Weapon Mastery and Similar Weapons

by Cab Davidson

I've always liked the classic D&D weapon mastery system. Its something that in many ways is well ahead of its time - non-class based add-on for characters that allows customisation and progression, that allows the character to choose to become specialised in a couple of weapons or to become more broadly competent in a range of combat styles. Nifty.

But I've never liked the fact that you can become a world reknowned master with one weapon, and still be no better than the next warrior when you pick up a near identical weapon. Surely a great master with a short sword should be able to apply a few of those tricks to a normal sword?

So I've been house ruling that if you pick up a similar weapon, you're at one lower level of weapon mastery. A master with a short sword is an expert with a normal sword, for example. Thats been ok for years, but I sort of feel that it could be better codified. And thats what follows. Ultimately I'll probably re-do the weapon mastery chart with an extra box under each weapon for weapon similarity class.

And, yes, some of the extra weapons added in my campaign are listed here. One day yes, I'll post the stats.

Weapon Mastery - Similarity Table.

Weapon use determines whether weapons are considered 'similar'. Weapons are divided into three classes - device, thrown and melee. Some fit into both thrown and melee, but use determines which comparison to use. For example, a dagger is somewhat like a cestus in melee combat, but not at all similar when thrown. When thrown it is very like a throwing hammer.

When using a different weapon that has the same class as that which a character has mastery, that is used at one lower weapon mastery level. Where a weapon has an adjacent letter it is used at two weapon mastery slots lower. So, for example, an expert with a dagger is treated as skilled when using a short sword in melee.

If a character wishes to train in the use of a similar weapon, their base mastery level is calculated from the closest equivalent they have. A grand master with a staff, for example, is considered to be an expert with a war hammer, and would gain weapon mastery training in war hammer as if an expert.

Lower mastery with weapons that are similar is in addition to off-hand penalties. For example a grand master with a short sword using a dagger in his off-hand is in total three levels lower - effectively skilled with the dagger in the off hand (dagger being class A and sword being class B means that the penalty of two levels adds to the one for off-hand use).

Part 1 – Missile Device Weapons  
Weapon Class
Sling A
Shortbow B
Pellet Bow B
Longbow B
Crossbow, Light C
Crossbow, Heavy C
Crossbow, Hand C
Blowgun D
Part 2 – Thrown Weapons  
Spear A
Trident A
Javelin A
Hand Axe B
Dagger B
Throwing Hammer B
Francesca C
Shuriken D
Chackram E
Bolas F
Part 3 – Melee Weapons  
Dagger A
Haladie A
Cestus A
Normal Sword B
Short Sword B
Bastard Sword 1h B
Rapier B
Bastard Sword 2h C
Two handed sword C
Battle Axe D
Hand Axe D
Mace E
War Hammer E
Morningstar E
Flail E
Club E
Throwing Hammer E
Staff F
Tetsubo F
Kumade F
Holy Water Sprinkler G
Spear I
Trident I
Javelin I
Lance J
Pike (family) J
Poleaxe (family) J
Halberd (family) J
Shield Weapons M
Whip P
Net P