Dungeons & Delvers: Racial Weapon Proficiencies

In 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, elves gained a +1 bonus to hit with bows, crossbows, and the short- and (the erroneously-named) longsword.

In 3rd Edition elves were merely considered proficient with them, which meant that you didn't suffer a -4 penalty to hit when wielding them.

The problem though, was that if you weren't a class that could have used them anyway, such as a barbarian or fighter, due to the game's swiftly scaling math you'd quickly hit a point where that was no way you were going to, well, hit anything.

4th and 5th Edition wasn't as bad: you were still only considered proficient with them, but every character had identical, auto-scaling numbers to hit. So when it came to attack rolls, an elf wizard with a bow was about as well off as a fighter.

In Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book we just gave elves proficiency with bows, swords, and spears. This is because numbers are lower all around, and during playtesting we actually had wizards using bows and staffs to really good effect.

Buuut I'd still like to provide some added incentive to use them. As it stands sure, at 1st-level a bow does more damage than a Magic Missile, but around 5th-level you'll hit a point where the attack bonus and extra attacks will make it much less attractive, and by 10th-level barring some monster being really resistant or even impervious to your standard attacks you probably won't bother at all.

My current idea (which would be implemented in Red Book) is that at 1st-level elves and dwarves get a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls with their iconic weapons. This bonus would increase by +1 every 5 levels, but it would overlap with similar bonuses from a class. So a 1st-level elf fighter would still only have +1 to hit and damage rolls with a sword, but an elven rogue or bard would be a bit better off (especially at higher levels).

Fighters and other melee classes could still get a benefit out of this, however, as they can swap out their Damage Bonus class feature for another talent and just use the racial bonus to damage. Sure, it'd only apply to specific weapons and they'd lag behind a bit, sure, but they'd still be a bit better off than if they had no bonus at all!

So what do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Got a better idea?


We're considering Kickstarting Dungeons & Delvers: Red Book. Melissa has a poll running on G+: let us know what you think, but if you're on the fence or against it, please tell us why!

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

If you want more adventures, we just released Escape From the Flesh Catacombs: a bunch of 0-level characters need to escape from the catacomb-lair of a gorgon that was slain, causing everything she's petrified to revert to flesh and rise as undead.

Our latest Dungeon World class, The Ranger, is now available.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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