View Full Version : Pick and scimitar swaping? a.k.a more needless pseudo-realism in D&D

2008-03-21, 02:29 PM
I was wondering about one thing.

Picks and Scimitar - they have same base damage, but severely differs in case of critical hit.

It's kind generally the trope in D&D that "lighter" and "swifter" (whatever that means) blades : rapiers, elven thinblades et cetera crits more frequently. Picks (and some other stuff like Goliath hammer, but it's rather specific) crits heavier.

But should it be that way, logicaly?

Let's consider scimitars and picks.

1. Pick was a weapon that was simply designed to concetrate force of blow in one small point. It generally was able to beat a hole in plate armor.

If so it certainly was penetrating the flesh completely with ease (although was it? It was after all designed to penetrate 2-3mm of very hard matter, not 30 -50cm of rather soft one), so it would be rather difficult to not hit something critically - even light strike can harm internal organs.

On the other side, even if it go all the way trough, what can happen? Even if strike is incredibly powerful, attacker cannot do anything more than pierce the target completely, leaving no very big hole (the very point of pick was to be rather thin). Where's the x4 damage?

2. Scimitar, on the other hand, is a sharp, curved blade. Generally such blades, when used in propitious conditions, cuts the flesh widely. On the other hand delivering such strike against moving opponent is not easy, and when opponent have armor (which pick penetrates) situation is hopeless. One must aim for the unprotected places (if exist) Where's the 18-20 range?

Yes, I know that if scimitar have x4 multiplier, axe should have even more, and this thread is potentially incredibly geeky.

But just for fun I wanted to ask you:

Wouldn't it be logical, to make
scimitar - 1k6 20/ x4
and pick - 1k6 18 -20/ x 2

Yes, I'm bored.

2008-03-21, 03:19 PM
Hrm. I disagree.

Criticals are meant to be hits where something important is struck. Maybe a bone is broken or an organ is damaged. So what if the pick goes through armor easily? Like you said it only punches a tiny hole in the target. A smaller cut is less likely to find its way into something important. But because of the force being concentrated on the tip, critical hits will be powerful. Can you imagine a pick driven into someone's head? That's x4 easily.

A scimitar on the other hand will cover plenty of fleshy area in each swing. There's a pretty high chance it'll find tendons and vessels along the way. Getting one of those cut isn't so bad as getting a lung punctured, so a scimitar crits smaller. (Though why the scimitar crits better than a long sword is beyond me. Does the curve somehow score more area cut? I know that kukris are nasty because they focus the blow like an axe, without losing out on the length of the cutting edge, but their curve is opposite that of a scimitar, right?)

I think your idea would make more sense in another system. Something like MERP or Rolemaster. In those systems your attack roll takes into account the type of weapon used and the type of armor struck. Leather, chainmail, and platemail where entirely different armors. In a system like that I'd say the pick has a good chance of scoring a weak crit against platemail.

2008-03-21, 03:44 PM
Well, let's compare using a relatively simple potential target - the neck.

A scimitar creates a wide gash - as such, a scimitar hitting the neck has a significant chance of opening a carotid artery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_carotid_artery), which outside of an RPG game is an extremely fatal event. Now let's compare the pick's blow - far less likely to strike one of those arteries, but if it does, it's likely to damage the trachea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trachea) at the same time, leading to even more lethality than already being lethal.

For a human in real life, the difference is moot - dead is dead. Similarly, for a poor D4 hit die commoner, pretty much any crit (short of a sap) will kill him.

But what if we're talking about slicing into a Dragon's neck?

If you get your scimitar through the scales of a dragon at his neck and slice open a vital artery, the dragon is unlikely to die - a massive body frame combined with blatantly supernatural physical durability makes what would outright kill a human into a minor inconvenience for the most majestic of fantasy creatures.

Now, let's say you're fighting that dragon with a pick instead. Like with the scimitar, you're not nearly as likely to punch open a draconic artery - but if you do, you've punched an awfully big hole into it, out of which pumps much more blood, and if you got lucky you damaged other things along the way. While that won't be likely to kill the Dragon either, it'll definitely do more damage.

Mark Hall
2008-03-22, 11:15 PM
Generally, pokey weapons get a high critical multiplier. If you hit nothing critical, they do normal damage, but if you hit something, they're really going to mess you up.

Slashy weapons get better threat ranges. If you open up big wounds, you're likely to hit something important, but not very badly.

Choppy weapons get crit multipliers.

Smashy weapons get the short end of the stick.

2008-03-23, 12:30 AM
But just for fun I wanted to ask you:

Wouldn't it be logical, to make
scimitar - 1k6 20/ x4
and pick - 1k6 18 -20/ x 2

This was a good post -- interesting, well-presented, and with some good points.

Ultimately, I disagree. Because your whole idea is based on the assumption that any "hit" in combat is a blow to the body, which actually wounds its target; and that a "crit" represents a better-than-usual blow that penetrates vital organs. If a "hit," however, represents a more abstract loss of more abstract hit points, and a "crit" represents an actual blow that wounds the target physically, then valadil's arguments make a lot of sense.

Since I don't like the lack of realism that happens when HP are treated less abstractly, I tend to favor valadil's view overall.

In a Vitality and Wound Points system or something, with some new homebrewed rules about how and why crits work, I could see implementing this "switch" of picks and scimitars.

In fact, I might implement it in my homebrew system ... except I already decided to use differences in critical properties of weapons to represent weapons' strengths and weaknesses vs. different types of armor. (So, in my system, criticals from both weapons are more or less equally painful, but scimitars and other slashing/curved weapons are more likely to crit vs. no armor, or very light armor, while picks and hammers and maces and the like are more likely to crit vs. heavy armor.)