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Wemics in Battle

Part One: Analysis of 2E D&D Combat Rules

In Dungeons and Dragons, certain Second Edition D&D rules for battle give Wemics advantages and disadvantages. Here are some thoughts on the most notable.


Most obviously, Wemics cannot wear humanoid-shaped armor. Any armor must be custom made. Leather armor, which is made by more civilized Wemic artisans, is not very hard to find. Since Wemics do not possess the art of metalworking, native artisans cannot make heavier armor. So any metal armor must be commissioned from a humanoid armorer, almost certainly at higher costs and taking extra time. [As an unofficial rule, I would suggest that Wemic armor should start at double the cost of equivalent barding.]

Note that according to official rules, Wemics are not granted any extra carrying capacity. A Wemic can carry only as much as a human with the same strength. But Wemic armor is heavier than human armor – this can be a serious disadvantage for low-strength Wemics who want heavy armor.

Of course, Wemic-shaped magic armor is almost always impossible to obtain.

But Wemics already have a natural armor class of 6. So, according to official rules, any armor that bestows an AC6 or less just adds a +1 bonus to AC. Any armor that gives an AC greater than AC 6 gives the armor’s usual AC. Therefore, all armors from leather through chain give a Wemic AC5. Only with armors like splint and plate is there an advantage of using metal armor over leather.

Large Size -- Disadvantages

The first consequence is that since Wemics are large, the large damage range from weapons applies to them. That means a two-handed sword does 3-18 base points, not 1-10. There's not much a Wemic can do about that except grin and bear it!

There are other disadvantages as well. More opponents can fit around a Wemic. Wemics make obvious targets. Wemics are heavy. Wemics don't fit into small spaces. Many of these disadvantages will be role played with the GM, who should not ignore them -- they are the price a player pays for being a Wemic.

Large Size -- Weapon Use

But there are several advantages to being big as well, such as weapon size. The official rules from the Player's Handbook say:

    All weapons are classed according to a size category--S, M, L, G, or H. Small (S) weapons are approximately two feet or less in size; medium (M) weapons are two to five feet long; large (L) weapons are generally six feet or greater in length. Giant (G) and huge (H) weapons are not found on the lists, since these are items normally used by ogres, giants, and even greater creatures. They are not items of equipment a PC can normally buy!

    A character can always wield a weapon equal to his own size or less. Normally this requires only one hand, except for some missile weapons (bows and crossbows in particular). A character can also use a weapon one size greater than himself although it must be gripped with two hands. Beyond this size limit, the weapon is not usable without special means (most often magical).

    Drelb the halfling (size S) can use a short sword with no difficulty (a size S weapon), or a long sword with two hands (a size M weapon), but a glaive (size L) is just too large for him to wield. Likewise, he can use a short bow but is unable to handle a long bow.

This means that a Wemic can use a "Two-Handed" Sword in one hand! Which suggests that most Wemics will use "Two-Handed" Swords in the primary hand and shields in the secondary hand. There is also the option, especially for Wemics with high Dexterity, to use another weapon in the secondary hand. The official rules say that a secondary weapon must be in a smaller size class than the primary weapon. Most humanoids, limited to using size M weapons on the primary hand, are forced to use size S weapons in the secondary hand. But Wemics can use size L weapons in the primary hand and size M weapons in the secondary hand. This leads to the potent option of a Wemic with a "Two-Handed" Sword in one hand and a Long Sword in the other!

It also means that if a Wemic finds a size H weapon (Huge), the Wemic can use it in two-handed. Huge Swords are often only obtainable from more civilized giants -- civilized here means technologically savvy, however, not polite or friendly! Such Huge Swords are seldom easily obtained.

A more common source of bigger weapons are those created by Wemics themselves. A GM may allow Wemics to make Large Clubs (usable in two hands by humanoids and in one hand by Wemics) and Huge Clubs (usable only by Wemics, and then only two-handed). A Large Spear is the same as a standard D&D spear, but a GM may allow Huge Spears that a Wemic can use in two hands.

Large Size -- Unarmed Combat

A Wemic's large size offers advantages in unarmed combat, most notably, in Overbearing attacks. An overbearing attack is an attemot to knock down an opponent and then to pin the opponent, without causing any damage. Here are the official rules from the Player's Handbook:

    To overbear an opponent, a normal attack roll is made. For every level of size difference (1 if a Large attacker takes on a Medium defender, for example), the attack roll is modified by 4 (+4 if the attacker is larger; -4 if the defender is larger).

    The defender also gains a benefit if it has more than two legs: a -2 penalty to the attacker's roll for every leg beyond two. There is no penalty to the defender if it has no legs. A lone orc attempting to pull down a horse and rider would have at least a -8 penalty applied to the attack roll (-4 for size and -4 for the horse's four legs).

    If the attack succeeds, the opponent is pulled down. A character can be pinned if further successful overbearing attacks are rolled each round. For pinning purposes, do not use the prone modifier to combat (from Table 51).

Against any human-size opponent, a Wemic has an immediate +4 to hit bonus due to size. Let's say a Wemic is leaping to attack a human (call it a charge attack) -- that adds another +2. Perhaps the Wemic knows the Tumbling non-weapon proficiency (NWP) -- that adds another +2. And let's say the Wemic uses a Hunting NWP to attack with surprise (+1) and from the rear (+2). Under the right circumstances, the bonuses really add up -- we're in the +11 to hit range here!.

That surprise is pretty important, however, and not just for the bonuses to hit. Remember the disadvantage of unarmed combat (from the PH again):

    Weapons in Defense: A character attempting to punch, wrestle, or overbear an armed opponent can do so only by placing himself at great risk. Making matters worse, an armed defender is automatically allowed to strike with his weapon before the unarmed attack is made, regardless of the initiative die roll. Furthermore, since his opponent must get very close, the defender gains a +4 bonus to his attack and damage rolls. If the attacker survives, he can then attempt his attack.

    Those involved in a wrestling bout are limited to weapons of small size after the first round of combat -- it's very difficult to use a sword against someone who is twisting your sword arm or clinging to your back, trying to break your neck. For this reason, nearly all characters will want to carry a dagger or knife.

If the Wemic is not attacking with surprise, then the victim gets a blow in first at +4 to hit and damage. And remember that a charging opponent already suffers AC penalties, and may take extra damage from a braced or set weapon.

But let's say the Wemic pounces and knocks down an opponent -- so what? The Wemic has two choices.

  • First, the Wemic may choose to use weapons and claws to attack a prone opponent, at a +4 to hit. The GM may rule that the victim must attack from a prone position or take a round to stand up.
  • Or the Wemic can continue to overbear, hoping to pin the opponent in a round or two. The continued overbear attack still allows to-hit bonuses based on size and Tumbling (a respectable +6 vs M size opponents), but there are no more charge or surprise bonuses. The advantage to continued overbear attacks is that (as described above) the victim can use only size S weapons -- and woe to the victim who does not have a knife or dagger handy!

And if a Wemic has the chance to overbear a size S creature -- well, that +8 to hit from size differential alone is mighty tempting! And if the Wemic has a friendly mage willing to cast Enlarge, then a Huge size Wemic is hard to resist when pouncing!

Of course, if a lone Wemic pins an opponent, not much can happen after that. The Wemic cannot tie up the victim or even attack him without first releasing the opponent. About all that the Wemic can do is have a conversation. But if the Wemic has friends, the friends can generally tie up or kill the pinned opponent.

Part Two: Cayzle's New Variant Wemic Combat Rules

I have a few ideas of my own on Wemics and how to tweak the combat rules for them. These are, of course, entirely optional, and designed to be added and modified by game masters as desired.

Game Balance

When you tally up all the Wemic combat advantages -- five extra hit points at first level, attack with claws and weapon(s), high natural AC, use of large weapons, exceptional overbear attacks -- it becomes clear that Wemics are potent fighting machines. Maybe too potent. So I suggest a few modifications to the official rules to balance things out.

  • Wemic Fighting Style -- In order to use both weapons and claws in the same round, a Wemic must spend a weapon proficiency slot on Wemic Fighting Style (this echoes the rule on Fighting Styles in the Player's Option: Combat and Tactics book). Without spending the weapon proficiency, the Wemic must select either weapon or claws for use in a single round. This Fighting Style must be taught by a Wemic teacher, usually before the character starts at first level. It is available to all Wemic classes.
  • Limited Initial Weapon Availability -- Wemic Fighters who are brought up by other Wemics are limited to learning traditional Wemic weapons: any club, sword, dagger, knife, javelin, spear, or light lance. Other weapons may be learned if the Wemic travels and finds a teacher elsewhere. On the other hand, Wemic Fighters kidnapped or enslaved as cubs and raised among humanoids can learn any weapon at all -- but they cannot learn Wemic Fighting Style until they find a Wemic teacher from whom to learn it.
  • Armor Class -- I suggest that the natural armor class of 6 for Wemics is a little too high. I suggest that the natural armor class for Wemics be AC 7. Plus, this makes chain mail a viable option.

Multiple Attacks

A Wemics who knows Wemic Fighting Style attacks with two claws each round in addition to one or two weapons. For a fighter with multiple attacks, the extra attacks apply only to the primary weapon used, not to claws. However, if a Wemic fighter with multiple attacks is battling with claws alone, the fighter may gain extra attacks with one claw.

Weapon Specialization

For pure Wemic fighters, I suggest a new racial option for weapon specialization.

Claw Specialization -- The Wemic devotes two weapon proficiency slots to using claws as weapons (for normal claw attacks, no slot is used). A Wemic claw specialist must also spend one slot on Wemic Fighting Style in order to attack with claws and weapons in the same round. No multiple attacks are gained except those normally resulting from achieving high levels. However, claw specialization offers three benefits:

  • The Wemic gains +1 to hit and +2 damage with claw attacks.
  • The Wemic can attack with claws while using two shields. This allows the benefits from both of the shields.
  • If the Wemic attacks a gargantuan size creature (25 feet long or more) and hits with both claws, the Wemic gains an extra two rake attacks with back claws -- each has the same chance to hit as the front claws, but they inflict a base of 1d6/1d6 damage (plus bonuses due to strength, specialization, etc.).

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