So, in the RPG engine behind Temple of the Abyssal Winds (http://prankster.com/totaw), there are 6 different types of weapons:
- Light Blades
- Heavy Blades
Part of building up your character, especially a combat-focused character, is choosing which weapons your character is proficient with. Thus, there should be distinctions between the different types of weapons, with benefits and penalties for different types.
Currently, there are a couple of ways in which this is implemented. First, different weapons have different weights, damages, and two handed versions. However, those distinctions are currently not very well done; heavy blades are generally the best, staves the worst, with a fairly clear progression. This system is lackluster.
There are a couple of meaningful distictions. Bows are the only ranged weapon, very different than the other weapons. Light blades do less damage than other weapons, but are more effective when dual-wielding (using two weapons at once). Those are both well done, making these weapon types unique and each serving their own purpose.
Lastly, at high levels, weapon powers become available, which do give a meaningful distinction. When using "Heavy Blade Precision", the attacker gets a bonus to-hit, whereas "Whirling Staff" gives a bonus to defense. These powers do give a different flavor to the different weapons, and makes for a good system. The big drawback is that these powers are only for high level characters, minimizing the impact.
So, what can be done about this?
One easy possibility is to make weapon powers, of weaker magnitude, available at lower levels. This would move down the level at which these powers distinguish between the weapon types. I am hesitant to move the powers to too low levels, though, as the player should be more experienced with the system before needing to muck around with enabling/disabling powers; there is some micro-management involved.
Another easy possibility is not to mess with the basic weapons themselves, but to tweak the properties of magic versions of the weapons. For instance, a magic staff might give a defensive bonus, a magic longsword would give a to-hit bonus, and a magic axe would give a damage bonus. This is just an OK fix, as the weapon differences wouldn't be obvious at character creation time, only later when the player has seen the magic weapons, at which time he has already made his skill choices about which weapons to specialize in.
D&D has a damage resistance scheme; for instance, skeletons are resistant to damage, but blunt weapons are not affected by this resistance. Adding some form of weapon resistance and/or vulnerability would be a good way of creating unique uses for staves and bludgeons. This might involve a fair amount of updates to monsters though, unless applied with a broad brush ("All undead are vulnerable to blunt weapons" for instance).
Another possible change would be to add a critical hit scheme. For instance, 10% of every hits is a critical hit, and does double damage. Then, perhaps axes would do triple damage on criticals, offsetting the lower damage they do in general.
One last idea is for the light weapons (light blades and staves) to allow agility to be used for the attack bonus instead of strength. This would make an agility-based swashbuckler a more viable character option, while giving the light weapons more usefulness, despite their lesser damage stats.
Anyways, those are just some of the ideas I'm thinking about implementing in the RPG system moving forward. First I need to finish up the remaining chapters of TotAW. Back to work!