While having a walk yesterday, I thought about the weapon rules of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Basically, the core rules only knows four types of melee weapons: Minor, Small, Medium and Great. Each of them has different damage, and that´s it. Well, that is not really true because the Player Core Book knows different named weapons as well (each of them coming with a special rule) but I like this approach very much. And I wanted to add a little to it.
What makes this more generic approach feel so right to me is my personal experience with more detailed, meant-to-be-realistic weapon catalogs of other systems (especially in Cyberpunk related games). If there is a myriad of weapons to be had, there are always a lot of weapons who are clearly superior, which in turn makes the player study the list and pick the best they can afford. While I don´t blame the players for it (everybody tries to make the best out of the available options), it turns the whole concept of having super-duber-detailed list of weapons ad absurdum: why generate so much variety if more than half of the options will be dismissed? Just having a shorter, more generic list of weapons and stats comes much more handy here, and if the players want a special weapon with a special (brand) name because they like to imagine their hero to wear such a weapon, they can simply say that THIS generic stat block reflect this weapon. I first encountered this approach in the “World of Darkness” (as it was still the RPG line of White Wolf) but LotFP takes this approach even a little further with its “basic four”.
But, lets be frank, we all like options. Options allow for choices, choices are a great thing and the munchkin-players are always sad if they cannot try to coax out a little extra out of the “load out” of their characters. While one should not necessarily cater to the munchkins every whim and will, one shall not have a player´s likes ignored totally as a GM. So, how to achieve this without ruinning the beautiful simplicity of the generic approach? Well, here are my house rules for this: if a player picks a Small, Medium or Great Weapon he or she will naturally define what this weapon really is. And the generic type of the weapon provides one of the following, situational boni*:
All small weapons grant the wearer an additional attack bonus equal to their AC-bonus against opponents with Dexterity of 10 or lower. This is meant to give the smaller weapons with their lesser damage die a niche.
All “sword” weapons grant the wearer an additional +1 attack bonus against (demi-)human foes of lower level. Swords are the deadliest in the hands of those who are skilled to use them… or just more skilled than the fool they are facing.
All heavy bladed cutting weapons, like axes, gain an additional +1 attack bonus against opponents with an AC of 14 or lower. Please take note that this is not referring to unmodified AC, as an agile opponent might dodge the swings of this type of weapon.
All blunt medium and great weapons grant the wearer an additional +1 attack bonus against opponents with an unmodified AC of 16 or higher. Maces and similar weapons where designed to either break heavy armor or to hit into joints of plated armor (with the “knobby”, “edgy” or “spikey” parts of them) or to add effect to the hit by sheer force to overcome the opponents guard. The restriction to medium and great weapons is meant to make sure that this bonus is only granted to weapons made by a skilled craftsman and not to mere clubs.
Pole arms and spears are not covered here as the Player Core Rules already have them covered with special rules.
*Disclaimer: these rules have not been tested yet. Feel free to provide feedback.