We might return to our campaign soon that paused for unrelated reasons.

I have not played version v3, so I can only compare the current version (v4) to v2.

Why would a combat character put their advances into anything but weapon skill?

In earlier times, we had weapon skill, attacks, strength and toughness to influence combat. Those stats largely still exist and do the same, but at least strength and toughness are mechanically dwarfed by weapon skill. Since being more successful on the opposed WS test will result in more damage (or more mitigation if defending), +10 WS will do the same as +10 S and +10 T combined and more.

For obvious min/max reasons, our fighter now has a ridiculously high WS and still their starting 30S/30T. Combats are faster (as the system design aimed to do), but also a lot more boring, since nothing short of a miracle dice roll can touch him.

I can feel no difference between a nimble elf and a tough nurgle beast, toughness of 2 or 5 does not really make a difference when damage is something like 1d6+12, mostly from superior WS.

I have tried a few houserules, because the players agreed that WS is too overpowered compared to the other stats. For example capping extra damage from WS at Strength-modifier. But none of those really worked too well. WS still rules.

So my questions are:

  1. Did we do something wrong? Did we miss a constraint other than advancing the same characteristic costing progressively more XP? Is there a rule stopping someone from pouring all their XP into WS?

  2. If not, do I miss something as a GM that would make the other characteristics stronger? There is only so many doors they need to force with strength and only so many diseases to avert with toughness. Even armor, why go for it when you could just opt to not get hit in the first place?

  3. If you have the same problem, how did you solve it?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Pardon my ignorance, but is advancement wholly linear? That is, does it cost as much to advance weapon skill as it costs to advance other things, no matter how high one's weapon skill? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just an extra sidenote to "Can't touch him": Trying to defend against enemies significantly bigger than the character is ridiculously hard with WS. If I remember correctly, every size category is -2 SL from the WS test. Which means that against an enormous foe its -4 SL, and there are bigger beasts than that. Dodge is a much better choice against big monsters. \$\endgroup\$
    – IanDrash
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 12:05

2 Answers 2


Mathematically, it's not a great choice

The higher your skill becomes, the more it costs to keep increasing that skill. You can, in theory, just keep sinking experience into weapon skill forever and ever, but there comes a point where you're only increasing your skill every 5 sessions, while you could have been improving 5 other skills in the meantime.

You claim WS is better than T and S, and that is certainly true, but is 1 WS better than 1T and 1S? Is 1 WS better than 5T and 5S?

By focusing all your points on a single property of your character, you're becoming extremely good at that one thing, and that one thing only. That's fine if that's what you want to be doing, but there's going to come a time when your Halfling gets peppered with arrows from a bunch of Goblins, or when a rogue hedge wizard throws a spell your way and the GM informs you that you can't use your weapon skill to dodge arrows and spells, and you'd have fared better if you hadn't sunk all your experience in an exponentially increasingly expensive skill.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you might be on to something with your example. We are playing a campaign from a sourcebook and it contains way less ranged combat or enemy magic than I would have put in on my own. For those at least, investing in T would be a valid choice again. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 6:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt If the campaign features mostly melee combat, that it'll indeed encourage you to stack WS as high as possible, because that's exactly what WS does best, melee combat. You're making a melee fighter that does melee fighting only, and that apparently works fine in this campaign. But a melee fighter who can't reach their enemy because of a moat they could have jumped if they had more athletics skill, or who keeps failing in all combat functionality that doesn't involve hitting things with melee weapons will benefit from being more rounded. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 7:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ To use your D&D fighter example, you're a fighter who somehow managed to get 50 dexterity and left everything else at 10 making you impossible to hit in melee combat and making you do a lot of damage with your rapier, but there comes a point where you're fighting a dragon whom you can't get close to because of fear effects, and who's con-affecting poison breath will pretty much one-shot you. Apparently this campaign just doesn't feature things that challenge anything other than WS. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 7:12

Theik's answer has the right of it - there should be a lot more "dice roll" challenges for a combat style character than just swinging a weapon. Other stats help with skill tests and also help significantly to mitigate incoming damage.

Athletics to jump and avoid traps, pits. BS to use range weapons, AG and Dodge to avoid monster attacks and falling barrels. Strength to carry a fair amount of gear and swim a river, Toughness to avoid exhaustion in a long fight. Heal skill to survive over multiple skirmishes, Intimidate to avoid a fight.

Two skills which should be regularly used are Cool and Endurance, to avoid running away like a wuss due to Fear, and to avoid corruption. Your combat character is useless if they can't actually fight an opponent,; and some humans can have Fear traits too. Task a Soldier to enter a camp and have to negotiate for help, the Warrior Priest needs to inspire militia to help fight or pray, etc.

When you look at the careers that are part of 4e's Warrior classes, they have very different core skills (noted by the italics). This is the core skill that the class will use for income and also should be a regular skill which is tested in play. Cavalryman = Ride, Guard = perception, Warrior Priest = leadership, and most others are a melee skill. Then look at the other skills which are in the class, and those skills should be in-play somehow - why else did you choose to play a warrior if you didn't think those skills would be tested?


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