This is one that I’ve gotten requests for a few times in comments and direct messaging on Instagram. I thought it’d be a pretty quick build since I got the idea on what I need to do to create it while I was driving to pick DM Jack up from school today.
What is a buster weapon?
Supposedly, buster weapons–specifically the buster sword–got its origins from Final Fantasy VII. It’s the big ass broadsword that Cloud Strife used in the game. Its appeared in every Final Fantasy game since and become something of a staple in anime.
A buster weapon can be any larger-than-normal weapon. However, in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, the available weapons are either Medium or Small. And there’s no scaling up. Yet.
The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by
final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game.
Constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated in either comments or social media. If you can give me a valid reason with examples why something is off, 9/10 I’m likely to make changes to the content and credit you for doing so. Otherwise, feedback without anything to back it up gets ignored (or at most a smile emoji like this 🙂 ) Thanks!
Here are my notes for this build.
Before the Build
In order to create these weapons, they need to be able to be big. Big usually means more damage. The problem with more damage, of course, is that more damage breaks the game, especially in the first tier.
The weapons in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition are typically balanced by the fact that they are Heavy (meaning little dudes can’t use ’em effectively) or require two-hands.
Of course, we know larger weapons exist. The ogre greatclub deals 2d8 damage instead of the normal 1d8 damage for the weapon. Half-ogre battleaxes can deal 2d8 damage or 2d10 if wielded with two hands. The oni glaive deals 2d10 slashing damage when it is in its Large form. Another interesting entry is the fire giant’s greatsword. It deals 6d6 damage, four more dice than the regular greatsword. That tells me that the damage increases by a factor of two for each size category that it goes up.
Now, I don’t want to cheapen the rules. We want the buster sword to accomplish a few things here:
- The buster sword should be modeled after a greatsword. Go big or go home.
- It should be able to deal 4d6 damage in one swing. If it adds a +3 Strength modifier to the attack, that’s an average of 17 damage and a maximum of 27 with a lucky hit (or double that with a crit). If a great weapon fighting fighter wields it, that average damage goes up even more.
- It has to be in line with what a 1st-level character is capable of doing. For example, a Barbarian with 16 Strength swinging a greatsword deals 10 damage on average and a maximum of 15. However, if the barbarian takes the Great Weapon Master feat, it can reduce its attack roll by -5 to add +10 to its damage bonus. So now we’re getting closer. That would make the average damage 20 and the maximum 25. Now it’s suddenly better than the 4d6 greatsword on average. So I think we can probably find something in the middle there using math.
According to Mike Mearls, a character has, on average, a 60% chance of hitting a monster with an attack, or a 40% chance to miss. With advantage, that turns into an 84% chance to hit and 16% chance to miss. And with disadvantage, it’s only a 36% chance to hit or 64% chance to miss.
If we multiply those numbers by 20 (the d20), we can determine that the virtual bonus and penalty for each is as follows:
- Advantage gives a virtual 4.8 bonus on attack rolls.
- Disadvantage gives a virtual 4.8 penalty on attack rolls.
Now, what you’ll notice right away is that those numbers are pretty darn close to the -5 penalty that Great Weapon Fighter gives in exchange for +10 in damage. So I think that if we give the user of a buster weapon a permanent disadvantage on their attacks using the feat, that will help balance out the weapon.
Let’s compare the two weapons’ damage output. I’ve multiplied the average damage of the weapon by the hit probability.
- Greatsword (2d6 + 3) with no disadvantage deals an average of 6 damage per turn (10 x 0.60).
- Buster sword (4d6 + 3) with disadvantage deals an average of 6.12 damage per turn (17 x 0.36).
Boom, pretty close!
After the Build
Looking at the heavy weapon property, it pretty much knocks it out of the park in terms of what I need buster weapons to do. Basically, a buster weapon gives a constant disadvantage to the attack. That means I don’t need to offer a feat for a creature to gain proficiency in it. They can just learn it as a martial weapon. The weapon property will supply the disadvantage.
For weight and cost of the weapons, I multiplied everything by 4. I’m not totally sure that’s right (some physics major will surely correct me), but if it’s good enough for barding, it’s good enough for me.
So then I just used the feat to reverse the method of the Great Weapon Mastery feat: you give up damage output the weapon normally does in order to not have disadvantage when making an attack with the weapon. Plus, it gives you a bonus against shields.
Optional Weapon Rules
At your GM’s discretion, your campaign may use the following optional rules and weapons.
New Weapon Property: Buster Weapon
Small creatures cannot use buster weapons. And Medium creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls with buster weapons. A buster weapon’s size and bulk makes it too large for a Medium creature to use effectively.
|Martial Melee Weapons|
|Buster Axe||120 gp||2d12 slashing||28 lbs||Buster, two-handed|
|Buster Club||1 gp||2d8 bludgeoning||40 lbs||Buster, two-handed|
|Buster Hammer||60 gp||4d6 bludgeoning||40 lbs||Buster, two-handed|
|Buster Sword||200 gp||4d6 slashing||24 lbs||Buster, two-handed|
New Feat: Buster Weapon Master
Prerequisite: Strength 16 or higher
You have practiced extensively with extremely large weapons, gaining the following benefits:
- You gain a +1 bonus on attack rolls with a buster weapon against any Medium or smaller target using a shield. Your large weapon easily overcomes the defense provided by shields.
- Before you make a melee attack with a buster weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to make the attack without the normal disadvantage imposed for handling a buster weapon. If the attack hits, you take a -10 penalty to the damage roll (minimum of 1 + your Strength modifier).
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Next: Monk Way of the Animal
Art by Square Enix.