Monday, November 7, 2016

Magic Weapons and Monsters in DragonQuest

A pretty common trope of fantasy RPGs and literature is that some monsters can only be hit by magic weapons or weapons crafted with specific materials like silver for were-creatures.  In a recent thread in a Yahoo! DragonQuest group the discussion of how to transfer over DnD monsters that have specific requirements in order to be hit came up.  In DnD this is usually expressed as needing a +1 weapon or a +2 weapon or better.  So I've been thinking about how weapon enchantments are expressed in DragonQuest and what monsters require magic or magic weapons to be hurt.

DnD combat and damage are different than that of DragonQuest and it doesn't just map across in a one-to-one fashion.  Damage in DnD goes to this amorphous pile of hit points that incorporates not only the physical wounding to the character but also things like luck, skill at turning a serious wound into just a scratch, and other nebulous factors.  Damage isn't absorbed by armor in DnD; instead armor makes you harder to hit.  In DragonQuest armor does absorb damage and actually makes you slightly easier to hit as it reduces your Agility somewhat. In DragonQuest, a character's Fatigue is somewhat like hit points in that Fatigue damage is something that can be recovered quickly just by resting but we also have Endurance which is strictly physical damage to the character's body. Tougher monsters may have higher Natural Armor or more Endurance and Fatigue or both.  In DnD a monster that needs a magic weapon to be hurt doesn't necessarily have more hit points.  A sword may still kill it in a few hits if the sword has the appropriate level of enchantment.

But if you want to say it takes a certain level of enchantment to hit then what determines that level of the enchantment?  The amount of extra damage it grants or the rank the caster has with the spell?  For most spells that grant extra damage it is directly related to the Adepts rank with the spell but what about the Earth Magics spell, Diamond Weapon?  It doesn't grant any damage bonuses only bonuses to strike chance.  The weapon is, of course, enchanted but can it hurt monsters that require magic weapons?

The notion of weapons with a bonus to hit and/or damage has been a part of DnD since the beginning.  DragonQuest however doesn't have quite the same idea.  Without going outside of the rules, there are no +3 to hit/+3 to damage weapons in DragonQuest.  A weapon can have a spell bound to it, either temporarily or permanently, through an investment ritual and then a binding ritual can make it permanent.  These spells grant bonuses to hit based on rank (+1% per rank) and then grant extra damage based on rank (+1 damage for every 3 ranks rounded up).  Similar but much more granular.

What about a weapon enchanted by a Shaper to give the wielder an extra 4 ranks of Skill?  No spell rank to work with and no damage bonus. The rituals used to perform the enchantment have ranks but they are independent of the effect of the enchantment.  Granting an extra 4 ranks of weapon skill is better than granting a 16% bonus to strike chance.  Rank also increases initiative value and, if optional rule [18.5] is being used, can grant +1 damage.   It is definitely an enchanted/magical weapon but can it hit monsters that require magic weapons?   In this case the to hit and damage benefits are all from the wielder gaining extra skill and not because it is magically sharper.

Maybe look at this another way. What DragonQuest monsters require magic weapons to be hit and are there any enchantment level requirements to be found there.

Two specifically call out magical weapons: Giant Amoebas and Elementals.  The descriptions of those is clear and explicit. Only magical weapons or magical attacks.

Were-creatures "can only be harmed or killed by magic or by silvered weapons". The construction of the phrase is perhaps significant.  The use of by after or makes a difference.  It creates two separate categories of things that can kill Weres: 'magic' and 'silvered weapons'.  With just 'or' it would have been weapons that are either magic or silvered.  You could say that a weapon with the Weapon of Cold spell on it is doing magical cold damage but wouldn't that mean that only the bonus, i.e. magic, damage would then count against the target?

Undead vary quite a bit as to what they are vulnerable to. The introduction to the Undead section says, "They cannot be killed by normal means since they are not alive. Instead, they may be destroyed by magic and by silvered weapons, in most cases."  When you look at the various types of Undead in DQ you notice that the "in most cases" part isn't accurate.  Only the entries for Wights and Night-Gaunts mention "magic or silvered weapons".  Spectres may be killed by sunlight or by magic.  Vampires by staking, sunlight and silvered weapons (thru the heart).  Wraiths only by sunlight or magic.  Enchanted weapons are explicitly excluded for Wraiths.  The lesser undead - Ghouls, Skeletons & Zombies - by their descriptions have no requirements or restrictions on what can hurt them.  Ghosts cannot be harmed by physical means and since they don't have Endurance or Fatigue values I don't believe that they can be harmed by magic spells like Lightning or Hellfire.

The monster entries don't provide any clarity and perhaps just muddy things up more.  There definitely isn't any notion of tiered enchantment levels being required to damage the more challenging of them.

I left a lot of questions unanswered but I suspect that most DragonQuest GMs normally treat any weapon with some kind of weapon buff spell on it as magic and thus good enough for were-creatures or other monsters that require magic to hit.  That may have been the intent of the designers but maybe not.  I wouldn't say someone interpreting the situation with Weres as silvered weapons or magic damage only was wrong.

If I had to do a conversion of DnD a monster over to DragonQuest and keep the notion of requiring a certain level of magic to hit it then I would use the rank of the spell on the weapon with every 4 ranks as being equivalent an additional +1.   More likely is that I would give them a few points extra Natural Armor, require the weapon be enchanted (in some way) and bump up the Fatigue more.

How about you other DQ GMs?  Do you re-purpose DnD content such as monsters or even entire adventures?  Do you have a system for translating that content to DragonQuest?


  1. I tried converting a couple of D&D monsters a long time ago. I did not really have much of a system, I just compared average values or something. It failed miserably but I do not recall any specifics. I think this was before Thieves World.

    Being inclined towards laziness I liked the idea of being able to re-purpose things but it was overall easier for me to just start from scratch or just re-use the idea. I still created plenty of my own work, I am not completely lazy, I just am really good at doing nothing!

  2. I've got more monsters converted over to DQ. AD&D Demons, Slimes, Oozes, molds, ents, etc. Current draft at our DQ GMs group. I will be taking another pass over each monster's write up to make sure they are 3.5 SRD or D20PFSRD based.