Friday, March 31, 2017

We Are The Sword

By the default ACKS treasure tables, 21% of all magical items randomly generated are magical swords. 4% of those are cursed.

So, .84% of all magical items  - almost 1% - are cursed swords. Who makes those?

I'm going to posit that nobody does.

Cursed swords happen because the wielder has done something to inherently curse the weapon - a deed (or deeds) so foul it seeps into the weapon.

However, that's a bit too interesting for this blog. Brief musical interlude:

Every once in a while someone brings up the overwhelming prevalence of magic swords above magical martial items of other types.

Roll d00Magic Type% Chance
(cursed swords)(0.8%)
88-92Misc. Weapon5%

In fact, magical swords are 21% of all magical items randomly generated, tied with Potions and Scrolls, which are consumable items.

Almost 1% of magic weapons (21% * 4%) are cursed swords - that's how prevalent swords are.

In Miscellaneous Weapons:

Roll d00Weapon% ChanceFull % Chance
88-100War Hammer13%0.65%

Full % Chance being you rolled your 5% for a misc. weapon, then rolled whatever for the actual piece.  There's no cursed miscellaneous weapons, for whatever reason - you're just as likely to find a cursed sword as you are magical ammunition.

In Armor, I've combined the Armor table and the Armor Type table to get started on something more useful for later in this post:

Armor SetSet ChanceFull % Chance
Hide + Shield1.15%0.09%
Leather + Shield5.75%0.46%
Ring, Chain7.00%0.56%
R,C + Shield8.05%0.64%
Banded, Plate7.00%0.56%
B,P + Shield8.05%0.64%
Hide (cursed)0.45%0.04%
Hide + Shield (c)0.10%0.01%
Leather (cursed)2.25%0.18%
Leather+Shield (c)0.50%0.04%
R,C (cursed)3.15%0.25%
R,C + S (cursed)0.70%0.06%
B,P (cursed)3.15%0.25%
B,P + S (c)0.70%0.06%
Shield (cursed)10%0.80%

So, warping this a bit, let's look at the chances our undefined magical martial item resolves to any given type, and then the percentage of classes that can use that item, by the expanded class demographics (NPC Parties table, pg 248):

Occurrence for all Martial Magic Items
Item Type% Chance% PCs can use it:
War Hammers1.91%87.95%

On the armors, I went with the given class being able to use the whole set - so, the leather and the shield counts the fighter, but not the thief.

Since our treasure tables don't break out what type of sword it is, we don't either - the "magic sword" found 61% of the time presumes it can be used by any class that has "* sword" listed in it's proficient weapons.

If you're interested, the class breakdown is as such:
Class% Chance

It hasn't been changed for the PC classes. However, out of the PC classes, only the 3 Dwarf classes, the Wonderworker, Priestess, Warlock, and Witch cannot use some type of sword. 

Let's look at another breakdown:

Occurrence for all Martial Magic Items
Item Type% Chance% D@W Units Trained% D@W Armed% Guns Units Trained% Guns Armed
War Hammers1.91%12.50%2.38%13.64%10.26%
Leather (Jack)1.71%100.00%45.24%100.00%46.15%
Chain (Half Plate)2.39%54.17%23.81%72.73%35.90%
Plate (Full Plate)2.39%37.50%23.81%22.73%20.51%

The percentage of D@W trained units, that, if that training followed them to an adventuring class directly, would be able to use the item, plus the number of unit types/subtypes actually armed with the item. I'm allowing polearms to be spears in this case.

By way of a little explanation, Alex mentioned on the boards that D@W unit training is "cumulative": i.e., Heavy Infantry know what Light Infantry know, and a unit like Cataphract Cavalry know pretty much everything but longbows and crossbows. And, you don't train conscripts to be Light Infantry D - you train them as Light Infantry, and it's a wide skill set.

I'm still fiddling with the Guns of War units, but I think this is what I like based on their qualifying conscripts vs. training time - for example, I'm betting Coutilliers, Reiters, and Harquebusiers are all cross-trained, since they're the same qualifying conscripts and the same training time, and their differences are the same as Light Infantry A->G in D@W - armaments only.

Lastly, swords versus other melee weapons appearing on the magic item chart by price:

Short Sword1d67
Hand Axe1d64
Battle Axe1d6/1d87
2H Sword1d1015
Great Axe1d1010
Grant the fact swords cost more because they're more complex to make; but; that makes them take longer to enchant - ignoring the spear, which also has a lot of conversation going on around it, the hammer takes half as long to enchant as the sword, and it is, in ACKS, mechanically the same.

Time is money, as they say - in this particular case, time is XP.

A sword +1 costs 5,000gp, and takes (1*10)/10 == 1 month to enchant
A hammer +1 costs 5,000gp, and takes (1*5)/10 == 2 weeks to enchant

A 5th-7th level mage could double her XP income from magical item creation doing hammers instead of swords - getting 5,000-(GpThreshold) twice in the month.

At any rate - 61.76% of magical martial items are some sort of sword, which is ~80% of all magical weapons, and they can be used by ~78% of player character classes, or ~87%+ of trained combatants.

It's cultural - the assumed game world mirrors our own here. Swords are such a large portion of the magical item list because we, generically, want them to be. Swords have held a certain status across a large swath of cultures around the world, and that's been carried into a game written initially to emulate medieval European warfare that got dragons stuck in.

It's such a bias that classes who can make magical weapons evidently make more swords than anything else despite the fact they get more out of making hammers.

It's such a bias that the only class as a group that has martial training and can't use swords (excepting the cleric, which is theoretically a religious choice) and has martial training is the Dwarven non-Vaultguard classes, because we are purposefully making them culturally distinct from humans. (note, above, the occurrence of Dwarven Craftpriests and magical hammers roughly coincide...)

We are the sword.

I don't see any classes' inability to use magical swords as an issue - they are largely unable to utilize weapons in general or have made a conscious or cultural decision not to.

I'd be more interested in what it would mean to simplify the proficiency system beyond the specification of individual weapons - focus more on what it takes to master the mechanics of fighting with a weapon type - or for an able combatant to not be reduced to a peasant's level if they pick up an unfamiliar, yet regular, weapon.

Zaharan Ruinguards, for example, are not proficient in daggers. From the class writeup: "The chthonic powers a ruinguard channels revel in the chaos and brutality of face-to-face combat, and frown upon weapons and attacks which draw blood from a distance." Is there anything more intimate than literally embracing your opponent as you slip a dagger into his heart?

The ruinguard strikes me as the sort of butcher who can kill you with anything, but greatly prefers weapons that slash and pierce - actively practices it, is better with it, in fact. Same with the bladedancer, really - if you catch a bladedancer unarmed, in a room full of hammers, should you have the advantage?

Certainly not. She'll atone for her transgression in your blood.

Less picturesquely, the cleric's lack of proficiency in blades is more specifically limiting if they could absolutely use them with some skill - but choose not to. Denial of opportunity via player choice versus denial via mechanics.

It's something I've been puttering with for a while.

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