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BECMI: Alternate Weapon Mastery Rules

by Håvard

Below is an alternate system for Weapon Mastery. The main goal of these rules is to retain some of the greatest advantages of the Weapon Mastery rules, but to greatly simplify them, especially with lazy DM's who don't want to consult the chart all the time. The basic principles of how masteries are gained is the same as in Mentzer's system, but the Weapon Mastery Chart is completely replaced by the small table below.

As I see it, BECMI's Weapon Mastery Rules, an optional system, serves three main purposes:

1) Creates new balance between weapons. Some weapons that seemed less usefull in the core rules become more useful against certain opponents.
2) Makes some weapons more efficient vs monsters and others vs weapon wielding opponents.
3) increased hit and damage bonus balances increased AC and HP of opponents at higher levels, speeding up combat.

This alternate system accomplishes 1) and 3), but not 2). This means a Rapier or Dagger would be as effective against a Dragon as a Battle Axe would be. If you want a bit more realism, you could always add the Weapon Type (M or H) back and perhaps treat secondary opponents as 1 mastery lower.

Mastery Rank Weapon Choices Attack DMG AC Despair First Possible Level*
UN 0 -1 Normal - N 0
BS 1 - Normal - N 0
SK 2 +2 +2 +2 Y 4th
EX 3 +3 +1d6 +3 Y 8th
M 4 +4 +2d6 +4 Y 12th
GM 5 +5 +3d6 +5 Y 16th

*=Lowest level where that Mastery Rank is available. Note that Training is costly and time consuming and trainers are not easy to come by. Gaining ranks after training is also not guaranteed. Trainers with Master and Grand Master Rank are typically of Companion or Master level. These characters will be dominion holders or epic heroes and may need more than money to be convinced to take time off their schedule to train a Player Character.

Characters begin at 1st level with basic training in a number of weapons by class, as by the book. Beyond 1st level, characters gain new Weapon Choices at 4th, 8th, 12th level etc. In order to gain a new mastery rank, the character needs to find a trainer, spend time and money (as per the RC) and spend a weapon choice. At the end of the training time, the character must roll against the training chance given in the RC. Failure means you have to begin training over again, but the Weapon Choice is not lost.

Characters are still limited by their class when it comes to which weapons they may receive training in. Unless the DM decides otherwise, Magic-Users may not learn to wield swords beyond Unskilled Mastery etc.

+1d6 means you add 1d6 to the standard damage of the weapon. An expert wielding a normal (long) sword deals 1d8+1d6+Str Bonus, while an Expert with the Dagger does 1d4+1d6+Str Bonus for instance.

This effect is described in the RC. Y means opponents may suffer from the Despair effect.

Special effects: Effects such as double damage, deflect etc are completely removed from this system.

Exceptions: Some unusual weapons such as Whip, Bola, Blowgun and Lasso do not work so well under this system. In the case of those weapons, I recommend using the effects listed in the standard rules.

Notes: One big difference between this system and Mentzer's system is that by removing Weapon Type (M or H), this means that the full bonuses of weapon mastery will enjoyed at all times. To balance against this, damage and hit bonuses have been somewhat reduced for some of the most powerful weapons.

This system has not been playtested.