18 November 2010

The top 10 Labyrinth Lord melee weapons

After running a couple of Basic/Expert D&D campaigns using the regular “all weapons do 1d6 damage” rule, I am considering—along with “switching” to Labyrinth Lord—switching back to variable damage by weapon. So, I want to take a closer look at the melee weapons in LL. This is going to be something of a min/maxing exercise, but I think it may be worthwhile. (Call it “min/maxing so that the players don’t have to”.) Here’s my list of the 10 best weapon choices:

  1. Bastard sword
  2. Pole arm
  3. Long sword
  4. Battle axe
  5. Heavy flail
  6. Hand axe
  7. Flail
  8. Light hammer
  9. Dagger
  10. Silver dagger

The bastard sword’s 2d4 when used two-handed compares well to the 1d10 of the pole arm. When used one-handed, it compares well against the long sword, doing the same damage and only being 2# heavier. The flexibility, however, comes with a price. It is the second most expensive weapon.

A pole arm is equal to the two-handed sword when it comes to damage and weight. At half the price, however, it is a bargain. I think envisioning this as a poleax or halberd is more suitable than, e.g., a pike.

There are 1d8 weapons that are cheaper than a long sword, but they all require two hands.

Although a two-handed weapon, the battle axe does the same damage as the one-handed long sword. It does have one advantage over a long sword, though. It is almost half the price.

The heavy flail is the only 1d8 weapon that a cleric can use.

Among the weapons that do 1d6 damage, the hand axe is the clear winner at only 1 gp and 3#. A quarterstaff is cheaper but requires two hands. A short sword is lighter but more than twice the price. Not to mention that the axe may be thrown as a missile weapon as well.

For the cleric who wants to use a shield, the flail packs the most bang for the buck. The mace is a second choice trading a lower weight for a higher price.

Among the 1d4 weapons, the light hammer rules the roost. It is cheap and light. Really, though, it looks to me like a tool being used as an improvised weapon. I think I’ll probably house rule it down to less damage, which would drop it from this list.

The dagger is the only weapon explicitly allowed to magic-users. It also has one advantage over the light hammer in that it can be thrown.

The silver dagger is the only silver weapon commonly available. While the most expensive weapon listed, it is invaluable when faced with a monster only affected by silver weapons.

An honorable mention goes to the lance, which will be explained further in a follow-up.

You may notice the absence of a couple of iconic weapons, such as the mace and quarterstaff. Likewise the spear, widely used historically, didn’t make the cut.

The next task will be to examine reasons why the other weapons might be chosen.


Jeff Rients said...

No analysis of what's more likely to come up on the magic item charts?

Robert Fisher said...

Well, this is from the viewpoint of buying a (mundane) weapon. Without AD&D’s weapon proficiencies or BECMI’s weapon mastery—which give you some “lock in” to a specific weapon—there’s really no reason to consider the likelihood of finding a magic version when choosing a mundane weapon.

It is an interesting point, though, that eventually PC weapon choices will probably be governed more by what magic weapons they find than this sort of price/damage/hands/weight analysis.