plundering Dragonlance: disarmed, save ends

This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series dragonlance

Tanis slipped, landing on his hands and knees at the bottom of the pot where he discovered that the stone draconian had decayed into dust, allowing him to retrieve his dagger.

4e doesn’t have a Disarm action, probably because no one managed to figure out how someone could be “disarmed (save ends)” or “disarmed until the end of their next turn”. Taking someone’s weapon either handicaps them for the whole fight (for most weapon users) or has no effect (for most monsters). This kind of swing is not for 4e.

Draconians could actually be a great addition to 4e, for those DMs who want to (temporarily) frustrate their sword-swingers. In Dragons of Autumn Twilight, draconians turn to stone when killed, trapping melee weapons… but after a few seconds (six? twelve? save ends?) they crumble to dust, freeing the weapon.

A handful of draconian minions might make for a fun 4e fight, if you don’t mind frustrating the melee characters while allowing the casters and ranged characters to get off scot-free.

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3 Responses to “plundering Dragonlance: disarmed, save ends”

  1. 1d30 says:

    I like to think disarm is a one-round penalty because on his next turn he draws a backup weapon.

    Same goes for weapon-destroyers like oozes and rust monsters, although that’s also a longer-term equipment loss.

    For both reasons, it’s smart to hold on to a backup magic weapon. Don’t sell that Dagger +1, keep it in case you get disarmed. Even at first level everyone should have a main weapon and a dagger (or in the case of Clerics, maybe a club?).

    If the game involves powerful magic weapons, and the expectation that a PC will only have one good weapon, disarm is a huge problem. I’ve played in games where you could combine enchantments onto one item, meaning Fighters generally spent all their resources getting The Sword. Even if they left enough to have a +1 sword as a backup, losing access to The Sword means an enormous drop in fighting ability.

    I’ll also bring up that according to many editions’ magic item tables, magic swords are very common – and intelligent magic swords can be 25% of those found in some editions. The Fighter would probably have a few intelligent swords with various properties by the time the Cleric gets his first magic mace or flail.

    Finally, you can always prevent disarm by buying a locking gauntlet or some kind of lanyard get-up. But the downside is you can’t just drop your weapon or change weapons immediately. And I think PCs probably come across more situations where they need to change weapons than when they get disarmed!

    Final-Finally, let’s say you specialized in sword and you have no ranged attacks. Missile-using monsters attack from hidey-holes above you. That sure is an unfair fight for the melee fighter, but it is just as surely a fight that needs to happen in D&D. The same goes for missile-using PCs trying to fire at monsters hiding behind cover. Just because something is unfair to some PCs doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be in the game. In fact that’s an excellent reason for it to be in the game! In moderation.

  2. Baf says:

    Seems to me that swachbuckling movies have plenty of “disarmed until the end of their next turn”. The hero’s sword goes flying but lands nearby, probably conveniently handle-upward, and the hero has to block his opponent’s blows with whatever objects come to hand until he can recover it.

    There’s also the phenomenon of the honorable opponent who can’t strike down an unarmed man and who therefore returns your sword to you so you can continue your fight. But that’s more of a subject for a character-generation Flaws system.

    As to the Draconians, it seems like blunt weapons would probably be immune to getting trapped, yes?

  3. 1d30 says:

    As I recall that’s how it worked in the Dragonlance Adventures rulebook. I mean, unless that mace totally caved in his skull.

    I remember wondering why you couldn’t just pull your sword out. I mean, the creature basically just turned itself into a sheath.

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