Help make sure this "Exotic Weaponry" is sane



Two of my new players love the idea of exotic weapons. I want to help them make what they want, without overshadowing or obsoleting other players. Just generally balance the table, you know.

(Please have answers more substantive than “DIY and have fun, don’t worry about balance.” Be as harsh or pleasant as you want otherwise.)

First player is a mage who took the warlock option with the blood skull, and the only one in our party who didn’t take the mixed armor gear. He wants something akin to Ocarina of Time 's Naryu’s Love spell. In short, a magic shield.

I’m thinking it must be equipped, but not necessarily held. Like a pendant. Once every day, it can summon a shield that can soak 1 Heart’s worth of damage. When it’s used up, it’s used up and needs to be recharged in the morning light. This felt easy, but I don’t know if it weighs the same as a static +2 to defense during an adventuring day. Does anyone know if the math averages out between being not hit x times in combat vs 10 HP of damage reduction?

Now, for my problematic one…

Second player is a T’Skrang (yeah, baby, I’m doing an Earthdawn-style campaign) that I’ve mapped to Gerblin stats. They opted for being a T’Skrang Hunter with the Arcane Cartridge. What they’d really like is a double-barreled flintlock pistol and to strap their Cartridge onto it.

At its base, I was thinking fires 1 or 2 shots, doing double dice (that is, d8+gun+d8+gun) and takes a full round to reload, no movement. That’s a Mechanic milestone ability , though, to do that (although I can’t seem to skim to where a normal reload is covered outside of “roll nat-1 and you’re out of ammo totally”), and it’s really similar to a Hunter milestone as well.

On top of that, I’m not a huge fan of them putting the Cartridge on this exotic pistol to begin with, given the rules I’m using as my base. My DM training tells me to check the impulse to say no and be careful in considering that before I quash a player’s fun/awesome idea. The rub is, I’ve got a Warrior who spent 3 slots on a great sword whose whole raison d’etre could be quashed because of the Hunter’s opening salvo, yanno?

I’m not looking for everyone being the exact same, but there has to be a fix (before even considering the Cartridge) to what the player wants without giving them something that could be just silly at the end of the day.

Can I have an assist, please?

#2 this is useful to know the percentage. However, do you even know how many fights you will have per day and how many monsters you will have per fights? If not, calculating that might be too hard.


You are ovethinking it.

Question 1: Dont do the math… just follow the rule of cool. It will work out fine. I have played with both and GM’s games where players use both, and it works out fine.

Question 2:… I would rule that the double dice rule does not stack. aka… you can’t double dice with more double dice. … or limit the Arcane Cartidge to a 3 count.

Game On!


Explain the three count?

Also, the dice wouldn’t be double-double, it’d only upgrade from (d8+gun+d8+gun) to (d10+energy+d10+energy) if the Hunter used the Cartridge on this exotic weapon. I think?


3 COUNT = 3 Uses … Can only be used 3 times before its exhausted.


Against the big, armored Mechavarine (Mechanical Wolverine-the beast, not the X Man!), that no bullet can pierce, but the armor plates can be pryed off with, oh, I don’t know…a big lever?


1 feels reasonable, and relatively unproblematic. That said, it is tricky balancing hp and ac. More hp will greatly increase the survivability early in the encounter. With 2x the hp of other pcs, you are effectively invincible in the starting rounds. The exchange rate is also whack. If you assume a damage output of 10 and ac 11/+0 to hit, you would have a 5 average per round. +2 ac would lower the round average to 4 (20% lower). If we instead compare ac 17 and ac 19, we get 2 v 1 or 50% difference. So at ac 11/+0 to-hit and 10 damage, 1 more heart increases survivability by two rounds compared to 2 ac which increases it by one. At ac 17 it increases by four rounds for a heart, compared to five for 2 ac.


I mean what is more important than having fun.
You said not to but you are overthinking it. Just do whatever seems cool and if it is too overpowered then talk to your players and retcon it.


  • have someone steal it in the middle of the night.
  • have an ogre or gel.cube destroy it.
  • if your party wipes, they wake up tied up and all their weapons and armour are gone.

All are great stories and potential story hooks and it solved your problem.


From the article:

The average, in math, is the middle of all of the results. If you take all the results of something and write them down, there’s a midpoint. Half the results are above that point and half the results are below that point. That’s the average.

Erm… that’s the median, not the average. I’m not able to take the author seriously after this.


He sometimes make mistakes. But, aside from that he’s generally pretty good. Mostly for GMing advice. :v:


I think both of these items are good. As others have said, theorising has limits and often isn’t worth over thinking too much. You will only really find out by playing with them. If it is a problem you can have narrative fixes or simply talk it out with your players.

1 HEART seems OK. Plus, giving armour instead just makes it an armour item now and not very unique/interesting.

I think the gun with 1 turn to reload is fine and it’s cool the players is looking for synergies and getting into it (yea, reload in ICRPG is ambiguous and there are lots of posts with different ways of doing it). The existing 1 = out of ammo means there will be sessions where your warrior feels pretty good not being reliant on technology. You could enhance this by making the gun super loud (which sometimes has consequences), as well as situations like players having to swim through water giving chance for ammo to be ruined.
Also maybe give the great sword the ability to HARD hit multiple CLOSE foes to give it an edge, or do more damage with Charge, or simply find a magic greatsword that does extra damage or whatever, or some other item/ability to bring the warrior up.

I think generally more damage all round isn’t a problem, when its often the amount of foes (actions) that is the real threat. With boss types, you can give them defensive abilities/stats to “balance” it out.


What you could do is before you give your players a permanent boost is give them the item with charges… so you get to test out how you like it in the game. :3
You could even give them glyphs of Permanency like in good ol’ 3.5 and let them slot those glyphs in the items that they want to keep when you allow them to find some!


On the mage shield…why not 10 temp hit points??? Ritual in sun at the moment the sun peeks over the horizon.
Fine most days but not forever.

Arcane charges…why gun+d8 as opposed to just d10 or d12. But even if is, is it 4 shots or one shot? Sooo 4d8 on one target? Or 1d8 per chosen target?

If it is one target not that big of an issue, not worth too much thought. It’s a mechanic of the game, first contact has a chance of taking out 3 hearts of HP from one target…3 hearts worth from 4 targets is different as it eliminates mobs or it misses. For a GM not wanting a couple of rolls to dictate a tpk, it gets interesting.

As to reloading…make it evil…1 heart per barrel…d12 effort if no movement, D6 if movement…have mile stones that make reloading faster. And still having to make the TN…no I am just being evil, make arcane shot d4~12 per barrel and 2 movements to reload…any actions in between require a restart.


Arcane charges…why gun+d8 as opposed to just d10 or d12. But even if is, is it 4 shots or one shot? Sooo 4d8 on one target? Or 1d8 per chosen target?

Oh yeah, how did I miss that xD
The arcane charge makes the ammunition energy instead of gun (from how I interpret it), so he’d do 1d10 + gun/energy bonus effort per shot (I’d let him use whatever is highest because it’s both a gun and energy). Really the strong part is that it can fire twice, but with him having to use a turn to reload, as well as the chance to be out of ammo, it’s probably ok? Otherwise make him use an Action or Move to reload EACH barrel.

Or Paxx’s suggestions are great. Start terrible, milestones to improve. Specially if this is what his class is based around.


I settled on making the gun incompatible with the Cartridge, under the pretense that this attachment functions like a railgun, to help propel the ammo forward. Two barrels would mean two Carts, and in the end, they opted to slap that on their crossbow.

The gun itself can, yes, do almost 2 Hearts of damage to one target just rolling (gun+d8) or (gun+2d8). That means they can either take two rounds of combat before reloading or they can empty the gun in one round of combat. It doesn’t screw with the action economy that bad, and it doesn’t overpower/outshine the other players ability to contribute that way, either.

No. That adds too much complexity for me trying to teach these people a new game. They wanted to learn D&D, and I was like, “Here’s a better, simpler option,” and I’m not inclined to create a new subsystem for one unique weapon.


Now that you bring it up, I’m not sure what the fundamental, mechanical difference would be between a shield with 1 Heart’s capacity for damage and 1 Heart temp HP would be?

If it’s temp HP, then they basically start every day as an Obsidiman (mapped to Warp Shell’s bioform Mech) with two Hearts, plus their own racial bumps. I know they’re not double dipping for a mechanical advantage, and they just want something cool (also because they only took the +1 defense/+pockets armor instead of the rest of the party that took +Con and +2 Armor Garb). I don’t want to overlap like that thematically?


Temp HP can’t be healed or fixed…it’s a pool of 10 HP for the entire day, first used up…the bonus HP, might be more flexible, possible MileStone… might be exactly the same in you mind though, text is sometimes difficult to speak on nuance and tone.

Also as a shield, shield, it has mechanics in the game, increases armor, can be shattered to avoid a hit type mechanics (or am I confusing games???)

Double barrel shooter.
My description was based on the original post to balance the concept of a slightly over powering first hit damage capability of a character Vs. Characters capabilities that we did not know about (nuance and tone) so I went over the top with extreme examples, not dictating what you should do, but giving examples that might trigger a way to fit something to work the way you are good with.

I often realize I should preface posts with “your table, your rules, your world”.

When I experiment with mechanics, I focus on mechanics and their flow, disruption and so on. 90% of the time I throw out the complex/disruptive.

In games I focus on fun and story. The mechanics come third or last…but for prep, I give them a lot of thought since they often set tone.

No easy healing = lots of avoiding dangerous combat.

Complex magic with limited options = slow turns and players overthinking their options.

Hit locations = lots of paperwork or reference tables.

Ablative armor= Paperwork

Giving my take on mechanics issues are thought experiment answers…not necessarily how I would do it.

If introducing RPGs…I’d go as generic as possible. Quick Start 1 level basic. With a fun flexible 3 room first session.

However, going EarthDawn…dystopian fantasy, fear of simple magic (due to the horrors), art is highly prized, dragons = death of nations, earning trust is hard for those outside your kaern, name giving was important, luck mechanics balance a lot. But that was my campaign world 25 years ago…no idea what it’s like now or at your table, and more complex than I would be willing to transfer without just making my own world.

Toooo many data dumps for modern gaming in my opinion.

Anyway, sounds like your campaign is off to a good start, good luck and report back on how it goes!


I’ll see if I can make my Roll20 forum publicly viewable. It’ll let you see how I’m cribbing small things from Earthdawn 1e. If not, I’ll make an Earthdawn superthread for my conversion efforts. A lot of it is really just an Earthdawn skeleton with whatever flesh we’re going to pull over it when creating our own campaign.

The good news is that everything (so far) during setup seems to be translating smoothly without mechanics. I don’t have a luck mechanic in place, and the only significant tweaks I made were mapping the races to several of the ICRPG bioforms (none of the Disciplines, yet, but that might be a long-term project, if I end up in a second campaign) and giving each player 3 Hero Coins to start, but they can’t be shared. My players dig on the dystopian fantasy, because when I pitched Earthdawn, they said, “Isn’t that like Fallout?” They got an honest, “Well, yes, but…” back in their direction, indicating it’s supposed to be more heroic and hopeful than FO’s bleaker themes, as they explore and reclaim the world once lost to them instead of just scrabbling for survival among radroaches and drug-fueled raiders.


The earthdawn skeleton, seems best.

Windings getting more off a hero coin, and perhaps starting with 6 while Obsidiman get a D6 effort and only 2 per session would be of value if stats work the same way…but they don’t so you probably don’t need it.

If a Windling is getting a full heart 10hp, and can up their armor and con, like ICRPG…luck is not a factor. And is not reduced to d4 damage…I so want to play a windling shield type now!!!

Different games, you are using the setting, not the mechanics.

Name giving is a prime portion of the setting in my opinion. Offering that up as milestones might be interesting.


I mapped Windlings to the Kitt from Warp Shell. They get +2 DEX, 1/2 Heart, and Flying (but not faster than anyone else can in a single Move).

I was thinking threads for magic items, similar to how they unlocked powers for magic items in 1e. Milestone, some kind of skill roll, new power to your weapon (since there aren’t Legend Points to spend).

Definitely thinking I need to start compiling that superthread in the next day or so now, so I don’t totally derail my own thread here.