UA:Weapon Group Feats

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Weapon Group Feats

In the d20 System, weapons are divided into three categories: simple, martial, and exotic. While this system works very well for establishing the complexity of each weapon and balancing the classes’ abilities against one another, grouping weapons by similar type offers an exciting variant to determine what weapons a character knows how to use.

At its simplest, the weapon group feat variant establishes a small list of feats called Weapon Group proficiency feats. Each feat allows a character to use a small number of similar weapons without penalty. Although most characters using this system are proficient with fewer weapons than the standard character classes from the d20 System, the weapons they know how to use will be grouped along a similar theme, providing a little more flavor to each character’s weapon choice at the expense of a small amount of versatility.

This variant includes references to some weapons featured in the Arms and Equipment Guide (marked AaEG) and Complete Warrior (marked CW). See those books for full information on weapons so marked.

Using Weapon Groups In Place Of Class Weapon Proficiencies

While the Weapon Group proficiency feats work well in conjunction with the standard classes’ starting armor and weapon proficiencies in the d20 System, you might want to substitute a number of these feats for each class’s starting weapon proficiencies. Doing this can lend more flavor to specific characters or organizations. It allows you (either as player or as DM) to design a sect of clerics whose members always choose the same weapon group proficiencies, or even establish racial preferences. All dwarf fighters, rangers, and paladins might be required, for example, to choose Weapon Group (picks and hammers) as one of their starting weapon group proficiencies.

For classes not listed here, assign starting weapon group proficiencies using the class’s granted weapon proficiencies and these classes as a guide.

Class Weapon Group Proficiencies at 1st Level
Barbarian Basic weapons, plus any other three
Bard Basic weapons, plus any other two
Cleric Basic weapons, plus any other two
Druid Basic weapons, plus either druid weapons or spears
Fighter1 Basic weapons, plus any other four
Monk Basic weapons, plus any other one
Paladin Basic weapons, plus any other three
Ranger Basic weapons, plus any other three
Rogue Basic weapons, plus any other two
Sorcerer Basic weapons, plus either spears or crossbows
Wizard Basic weapons or crossbows
  1. Add Weapon Group (any) to the fighter’s list of bonus feats.

Using Weapon Groups With Racial Favored Weapons

Some races gain free weapon proficiencies or are innately familiar with specific exotic weapons. Use the following rules to incorporate this concept with the Weapon Group proficiency variant.

Dwarf: Any dwarf who has Weapon Group (axes) is also proficient with the dwarven waraxe and the dwarven urgrosh.

Elf: All elves automatically have Weapon Group (bows) and either Weapon Group (heavy blades) or Weapon Group (light blades).

Gnome: Any gnome who has Weapon Group (picks and hammers) is also proficient with the gnome hooked hammer.

Weapon-Specific Feats

A DM who uses this variant can rule that any feat that requires a character to choose a specific weapon to apply the feat’s benefit to (such as Improved Critical, Weapon Focus, or Weapon Specialization) can instead be applied to a weapon group. The character must still meet the prerequisites for the feat.

Though this variant seems to grant a large benefit to the character, it really doesn’t significantly improve the character’s power level. Since a typical character only wields one weapon at a time (or two, with a different weapon in each hand), the character doesn’t really become any more powerful in a typical fight.

It does mean that a character is more likely to benefit when new magic weapons are found, since he’s more likely to be skilled in their use. That can actually be beneficial to a campaign, in that it allows the DM to include a wider range of interesting treasures that the characters actually use (rather than simply sell or trade).

Creating New Weapon Groups

As you design a campaign or character, you might want to create new weapon groups based on different themes. Possible themes include cultural, racial, or other campaign-world specific ideas. For example, you might create a new weapon group proficiency feat called Weapon Group (hill dwarves) that is available only to dwarves from a specific geographical area of the campaign. Because these dwarves are known for their use of two light weapons at once, this feat grants proficiency in the handaxe, short sword, light hammer, and club, making it easier for these dwarves to learn their race’s preferred fighting techniques.

When creating a new weapon group, you should limit each group to three or fewer simple weapons and one to three martial weapons. The Weapon Group proficiency feats described below provide examples of how much versatility each weapon group should provide a character.

Weapon Group Feats

Following are the Weapon Group proficiency feats available to characters. They are presented in the normal format for feats.

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