Weapon abilities

Hello everyone -

My group of veteran RPG gamers and I (as upcoming GM for 1st OL gameplay) were discussing weapon damage and weapon abilities.

Although it is a strange concept for us, we are (more or less okay) with the fact that OL weapons essentially can deal the same amount of damage as any other OL weapon, in the hands of people with the same attributes.

Where we had some more questions about the properties of some weapons seeming to overshadow those of others.

For example, the only difference in a dagger and a long sword is that a dagger has swift and a longsword can be wielded two-handed. But if twins are fighting each other, both having identical stats, but one with a dagger and the other wielding a long sword one-handed, the dagger wielder will defeat the other on average every time, because they have advantage 2 on initiative and therefore more likely to go first and defeat their twin by going first each round.

So the question becomes, why would anyone choose a one-handed longsword/falchion/katana over a dagger?

Similarly, a shortspear has superior qualities to a longsword, granting access to the immobile bane with high-damaging attacks, plus you can use it as a thrown weapon.

We understand the narrative aspect of the system in regard to weaponry, but it’s just hard to get around the notion that characters with similar stats can do seemingly better things with some weapons (dagger, shortspear) that seem slightly inferior to weapons that are generally considered more deadly (eg longsword).

Could someone shed some light?


I would say the chance of dice explosion determining the winner in an inherently unfair 1v1 is far more likely than swift doing so. The important detail is your players choose what makes their characters special at level 1, then build on that as time goes on. Focus not on what you don’t have and instead focus on what you do that is awesome.

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OL prefers to put much more focus on the player than their equipment (with the occasional exception for Extraordinary and Legendary items). We wanted to focus more on allowing the players to have their characters work without punishing them for trying something interesting (for example, at low levels a D&D monk basically has to use a weapon as well as their fists in order to be remotely equal with other characters).

You’re correct that there are some weapons that are worse than others, but that’s also the case in other systems. The real “problem” here is the simplified wealth level. In most other systems the more powerful weapons would be more expensive, but with only 10 levels to split everything between in OL some things got collapsed together. Within the same wealth level, the power difference should be negligible; the PCs attributes and feats have a much greater effect on combat strength than their weapons, so I wouldn’t worry about balance. If you want to differentiate further, then a trick I like to use is to have the “more expensive” weapons be rarer. For example, a shortsword could probably be picked up just about anywhere, a longsword might only come from a weapons trader, and a good quality shortspear can only be picked up from a military quartermaster.

Getting a real hit of nostalgia for the early days of the system here, but can you do me a favour and scroll up to the top left of the weapons table, where it says “Examples” in big, bold text? That means that if you still don’t think it quite fits with what you consider to be the strength of the weapon, well you can go ahead and change it! I tried to push for having that heading in double-underlined font-size 72 to make it even more obvious, but Brian said no :wink:

The dagger in particular has been a source of contention, everything about it makes narrative sense but also makes it mechanically quite strong; if you want to make it a little weaker you can just do that! Maybe make “throwing daggers” a separate item, drop the Swift property or add it to some other weapons, or give it weaker banes. It’s one of the easiest and most encouraged areas for homebrew, to the extent that we don’t even really consider it homebrew. Just shuffle some stats around, see what feels good to your group and come back here if you need any further advice. We’re always happy to offer a helping hand.


Thanks Sam, I appreciate your feedback. I want to minimize homebrew, but in this case I may do so.

My current thought is to remove the Forceful property from a dagger. It is really a weapon of “dexterity” rather than of brute force IMHO.

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That sounds perfectly reasonable and the weapon system is set up so that can easily make these changes, so maybe you’ll just need to adapt a couple weapons which you don’t like.

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That’s an obvious place to start, yeah. I think that was added when it got combined with the hatchet to share the same entry on the table.

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