Double Trouble

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Last week we spoke at length about weapons, in particular dealing with different size categories and how the rules didn’t quite cover every possible eventuality. This week we continue the theme as we cover another exception: double weapons.

By default, Pathfinder has six double weapons, from the humble quarterstaff to the exotic dwarven urgrosh. These weapons mostly function like regular weapons except that both ends can be used for battle, in particular allowing a dual wield style very similar to wielding two weapons. Not all double weapons are created equally however, and they can generally be grouped into two categories: the symmetrical and the asymmetrical.

Symmetrical double weapons are essentially two identical weapons in one. One end is the same as the other, and things such as damage, crit range and damage type work the same regardless of the side is being used. This also means that it is irrelevant which end is wielded as primary and which as secondary weapon. From a data-science point of view, this is ideal, as simply knowing the weapon is a double weapon is sufficient to calculate attacks. No additional fields necessary.

But the asymmetrical one, in particular the dwarven urgrosh and the gnome hooked hammer, are a bit more troublesome. Because they have different sides, it becomes necessary to differentiate between the two ends. Not only does that mean tracking damage, crit range and damage type separately, it also means that suddenly it becomes relevant which side is being used as the primary weapon.

Now, adding a few fields is not that complicated (even taking into account damage at different size categories), but it does mean changing a lot of UI elements — and the processing of user information — to deal with the more complicated case.

Pathfinder also uses some short hand which while clear for human readers is not nearly as obvious for computers. For example, the gnome hooked hammer has a critical range is ×3/×4, which seems like an easy split at the /. But it is rather different from the curved elven blade’s 18–20/×2, which should not be split like that. As a worst case example, imagine a newly created Sword-Axe, with a critical range of either 19-20/×2/×3 or ×3/19-20/×2 depending on which end is used first.

Rather than trying to automatically process all variations on such themes — and the possible errors users may run in to as a result — we’ve chosen to split up the critical field when you mark a weapon as a double weapon. This requires an extra step (instead of letting the system determine if a weapon is a double weapon automatically based on the damage or crit range), but it simplifies user input and prevents a lot of possible mistakes. Overall, we believe this should lead to a better experience.

Have you ever designed any custom weapons you’d like to use on RPGpad, or are there weapons from specific books you love to use? We’d love to hear about it on the community forum. This week’s changelog is left empty, but we’ll release these new updates as soon as they are ready!