Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Armor Weapons Tech Table

Recently, the post I wrote in 2011, Rethinking Intelligence, has make a terrific jump in page views. I have no idea why. Recently, however, I have been rethinking some of the ideas I had for applying Civ 4 technological development for monster intelligence (and I have no idea where that original post is), which has led to this.

The basic premise would be that monsters would have a "cultural intelligence" which would not necessarily correspond to that of the monsters individually. For example, humans would have a cultural intelligence of 18, even though individually their intelligence is average. This is because while most humans are not necessarily geniuses, they are able to take advantage of the inventiveness of genius ... and therefore, able to use technologies which individually they could never have invented.

The tendency in D&D is to assume every monster has the same cultural intelligence. Goblins and kobalds, described as low intelligence, are able to use bows or make armor every bit as well as most other cultural races ... while the 'very' intelligence of dwarves or the 'high' intelligence of elves does not expressly improve their armor class or weaponry past a +1 bonus to the latter - which isn't enjoyed by certain other creatures of similar intelligence.

This homogeneity grew from a lack of strategy; having invented intelligence, there was no follow through on how that intelligence practically affected the gaming world.  Intelligence was primarily invented as a limitation for magic spell use; later it was incorporated as a generic die check for the purpose of limiting character comprehension below that of player comprehension.  But the actual scope of varied monster intelligences in terms of how that affects monster cultures - for that, there are no details at all.

The first problem, then, would be to determine just what makes a cultural intelligence. Obviously, the intelligence notes in the various monster manuals are insufficient, since as I said it only takes a few geniuses to raise the cultural intelligence of the entire race. The problem is, I think, that a practical range of intelligence was never suggested. Clearly the range for humans is not 9 to 11; the range for goblins can therefore not be 5 to 7.

But need it be 3-18? Isn't it desireable that various races be given a wide-spread range on stats like intelligence and wisdom, whereas for other races the range is very narrow indeed. Why not designate some humanoids as barely out of the stone age? Why not limit gnolls, for example, at an intelligence of 12? We could posit hill giants at 8, stone giants at 10, frost giants at 11 and so on ... giving us a wide range of differing technological availability for each. Humans and demi-humans, obviously, would enjoy the intelligence limitations imposed in the Player's Handbook ... but all the other races are entirely up for whatever particular the DM of that world feels appropriate.

Suppose that we took the various elements of weapons and armor development as composed in the Civ IV tables and stretched them over the cultural intelligences we designate. Clubs for warriors, axes and spears for bronze age, swords for iron age, short bows for archery, long bows for medieval culture, crossbows from machines and polearms at the highest. Once again, yes, I'm ditching all gunpowder development for D&D. And I'm saying that an 18 cultural intelligence for a D&D world equals the equivalent of 16th, 17th century technology.

What we might arrive at is a table like the one below. Now, this isn't meant to be historically accurate, not by any stretch of the imagination. It is intended to determine specific technologies which can be applied to specific intelligences, loosely derived from hints or clues from the various books describing monsters:

Brittle weapons would be those that break easily; my clubs, for example, break on a 1 in 4 when a natural 1 is rolled on the 'to hit' d20. Durable weapons would break on a 1 in 6; tough weapons, on a 1 in 8 or better. The various weapons chosen for each intelligence level are meant to portray a general increase describing flexibility of use, convenience and damage done.

Proficiencies is a measure of the culture's education system, nothing more. It takes time to learn a particular weapon; a more efficient education system enables faster, more complete learning of more weapons in a similar amount of time. Thus, a goblin fighter may train as long as a human fighter, but the human fighter will learn more because the education system is BETTER.

Those multiple weapons are not designated to be alternate power weapons. Why would you train with a long sword if you already knew how to use a battle axe? Your second weapon would be something you could throw ... and then, as technology improved, something you might fire instead. Eventually, something you would throw AND something you would fire. Specialist weapons would be a bludgeoning weapon, or a pole arm specifically for battlefield encounters.

Yes, I'm saying that not all armors would be available to all cultures. The lower cultures would have to get by on leather; the very low cultures, with nothing at all. Of course, there's a chance upper cultures would want to advantage themselves of the increase speed and movement of not being in chain or plate ... the increase in intelligence, specifically, would allow them the option of either.

At last, magic. Humans and demi-humans would know how to make a +5 weapon. Goblins would not. Incidentally, "specials" includes things like the +3 frost brand or the +2 giant slayer. Those items would necessitate a more advanced culture.

Food for thought. Run with it as you will.