I didn't play any games or D&D at all this past weekend. Not Friday, Saturday nor Sunday. It was such nice weather I ended up spending the weekend outside doing family stuff. I'm definitely ready for Springtime. My 14 year old's team moves back outdoors soon, and I agreed with his coach at practice on Sunday that the boys are getting cabin fever and itching for some fresh air themselves.
It struck me sometime this past weekend that I could introduce the use of my old 1E dice that have become useless with my adoption of pre-Greyhawk Dungeons & Dragons. Specifically the d8, d10 and d12, and use them in some fashion rather than simply for referee tables like custom Wandering Monsters.
Consider that all weapons in OD&D deal 1d6 damage. Magic Swords do not deal any extra damage except to specific targets as detailed in their item descriptions. This is a trade-off, as OD&D Magic Swords are still potentially the most potent melee weapons due to mental powers and communicative abilities. Other miscellaneous magic weapons normally add their magical plus to damage as well as rolls to hit.
Recently I have house ruled that all magic weapons function like swords, with the additonal rule that any magic weapon allows the user to roll two dice for damage, using the higher result. In practice this has proven to be a fun method, as throwing more dice normally is. But what of the d8, d10 and d12?
The average roll from a d6 is 3.5, as everyone knows. Considering that average and the unused polyhedrons in my collection, I realized that increasing the 3.5 average by one in three steps of 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5 essentially replicates +1, +2 and +3 to damage that magic non-sword weapons of those types would normally deal in the original rules.
I can go two ways with this. All magic weapons roll two dice, using the higher result. A minor bonus for +1 weapons. I could tinker with this and allow three and four dice for +2 and +3 weapons, respectively, if I wanted to increase the average damage of those more powerful weapons. The maximum damage is still 6, but results of 6 would be much more frequent.
The other method which introduces those neglected dice works out as follows:
Normal weapons average 3.5, use 1d6.
+1 weapons average 4.5, use 1d8.
+2 weapons average 5.5, use 1d10.
+3 weapons average 6.5, use 1d12.
The average damage does not change with the new dice, they simply increase the numeric range. So simple I wonder why I never thought of this until now. Players might hate rolling a result of "1" with a +3 weapon that deals 1d12, but would cheer each time a "12" popped up.
I'll have to play test this somehow, but unfortunately the only magic weapons in my current game are +1. I still love a d6 dominated game, with d20 relegated to attacks and saving throws, but the idea of reintroducing those other three is tempting, if only on this somewhat limited basis.
The burning question is, of course, what to do with that damned d4. Perhaps reserve it for Cursed -1 Weapons? It does average -1 damage, or 2.5. I'm probably the only one who never realized before how this average for the dice moves along a straight line in single increments. This would be a bit of homebrew, of course, as the only cursed weapon in OD&D is the Sword, Cursed -2. As we know for Swords in OD&D that modifier only applies to the attack roll.
Don't ask about +4 weapons. As of right now there simply aren't any. Which is a good thing as I don't own any d14s. The end result is I don't see myself moving away from a heavy d6 game. I do enjoy playing with numbers, though. I think the more dice method for magic weapons is how I'll continue and move forward, and give a thought about adding an extra die for +2 and +3 weapons. Those other four dice types will probably continue to beg me to play some 1E while they languish on the sidelines.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee