HomeGates & GlamoursBeefing Up the Fighter Option II

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Beefing Up the Fighter Option II — 2 Comments

  1. There's an article worth reading in Gygax Magazine #1 by Lenard Lakofka ("Leomund's Secure Shelter" on pages 16 and 17): in the "math" section he looks at a normalization of damage per round. He comes up with a system to answer the question "what's better, a +1 to hit or +1 to damage weapon?"

    The analysis is fun, but it drove home for me a major point: it isn't about how much damage you do on a successful hit, it's about the regular, predictable damage output that your character can produce. This put "to hit" and "damage" on a single, common playing field for comparison.

    The technique can be used to compare any "+" values: is it better to have +3 to hit or +5 to damage, for instance? I mention this because Fighters have a very important a ability…the best improving to hit rates. Using Mr. Lakofka's technique, you can see a linear increase in the damage output for a fighter even if the actual damage on a successful hit doesn't increase.

    Of course, doing a full analysis (which I haven't done…yet) might indicate that Fighter's should do more (or less) damage, have better (or worse) to hits or neither.

    Another elegant point in the same magazine was made in "D&D pastm present, now and Next" by Michael Tresca (pages 38 and 39): "The early editions of D&D explicitly created power curves unique to each class, with experience point requirements and power advancements that were their own rule systems." This rings true to me — it says if you pay the price early on, you get the rewards later as a Wizard, and it explains why we were perfectly happy in our blissful ignorance of "game balance" when we had a 9th level Wizard slumming with a 5th level fighter!

    So…do we really need to power up the fighter's damage…or is it just fine?

  2. @Sam Curry: Don't get me wrong I agree. Numbers-wise, Len is correct and this tradeoff (steady low damage for fighters vs concessional high damage for magic-users) in D&D has been known for many years. I suspect Len might have even at least mentioned this in his old column in The Dragon.

    However, as (1) I'm not big on "the Math rules" (as it seems to in modern D&D), (2) a sizable minority of players think the fighter needs to be able to do more damage as the fighter gains levels, and (3) allowing the fighter to do more damage as he levels does not really ruin the game, I've come up a couple of optional rules for increased fighter damage for those who feel that this is needed in their campaign. I don't use either of these Fighter Damage Options in my campaigns as I do not have a problem with the amount of damage fighters do. These two options will likely be included in Lords & Wizards as optional rules for those who don't share our views.