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Jo'Mase's AD&D Weapon Mastery/Martial Arts Rules


Only warriors can master weapons. There are 3 levels of mastery: Specialist, Master and Grandmaster. Each type of warrior gets a certain number of mastery points which represent his maximum potential for mastery. The warrior does not need to use all of them, though he would be foolish not to take advantage of them. By spending a point on a weapon, he is allowed to increase the mastery level of that weapon by 1 step. The point simply allows the increase, 1 weapon slot still must be spent to actually get the increase each time. Single class fighters get 3 points total. The other single class warriors get 2. Double-classed fighters get 1. Though double-classed fighters can choose any weapon for proficiency without regard to his other class’s weapon restrictions, for purposes of using this 1 point, he must choose a weapon his other class could normally use, this restricts the double-class fighter a bit. Triple classed fighters get no mastery points, they are spread to thinly among their other classes.

Specialization can be taken at 1st level. Mastery can be taken at 5th. Grandmastery can be taken at 9th. Thus, the fighter who waits for grandmastery could spend 1point at 1st level to specialize, then at 5th level spend another point to master the weapon he specialized in at 1st, and finally at 9th level spend the 3rd point to grandmaster that weapon. Paladins and rangers can achieve mastery at most and double classed fighters can, at most, be specialized. Single class fighters are the only ones who can grandmaster if they choose to. However, that same fighter could spend all 3 points at 1st level(if he had enough weapon slots to spend) and specialize in 3 different weapons, but he then would be able to go no further in any of them, having spent all his points. Thus, many combinations are open at the player's option.

-Specialist: melee weapon specialists(including most hand thrown weapons) get +1 to hit and +2 damage. They use the specialist's # of attacks per level below. Missile weapon specialists(bows, crossbows, slings, darts and daggers) get a new range, point blank range, which is 30', 60' for crossbows, in which they get a +2 to hit. The following list gives # of attacks by level:

WEAPON:             Level 1-6:   Level 7-12:   Level 13+:

Melee                  3/2           2/1          5/2  

Dagger(thrown)         3/1           4/1          5/1

Dart                   4/1           5/1          6/1

Bow/Sling/Thrown*      2/1           3/1          4/1

Light Xbow             1/1           2/1          3/1

Heavy Xbow             1/2           1/1          3/2
*(used by crossbow specialists with normal ROF of 3/2.)

-Master: melee masters get +3 to hit and +3 damage(not cumulative with specialization bonuses of +1/+2.). The speed factor of the weapon drops by 3(if already 0 then reduce master's initiative rolls by 2). Finally, they get an extra 1/2 attack(3/2->2/1, 2/1->5/2, etc.). Missile masters get the speed factor reduction and extra 1/2 attack as above(bow: 2/1->5/2, 3/1->7/2, etc). Also, they get another new range category, extreme range category, which is 1/3 longer than long range with -10 to hit in this range category. They can also make a 1/2 move and still get full ROF(elven archers can full move with full ROF).

-Grandmaster: all weapons get an extra 1/2 attack. Their critical base number becomes 16-20 and their weapon's base damage die(dice) goes up 1 step(d6->d8, 2d4->2d6-1, etc.) with knockdown die also increasing 1 step. d12 dice go to 2d8-1 for the step increase, not d20. Finally, their critical severity goes up 1 step(d6->2d4, 2d4->2d6, 2d6->2d8, 2d8->stays 2d8 but enemies save vs. the critical at -1, and so on-see critical severity on the Main Page).


Weapon mastery is not a simple matter of learning a new skill and then applying it, rather it involves a dedicated honing of potential the would be master already possesses. The weapon master must already be quite skilled in combat and tactics, the extra training required for mastery is simply the "icing on the cake". The warrior is trained to become comfortable with this new method of fighting, and learns to apply his already gathered knowledge and experience in the most efficient way possible, thus, a weapon master is born. This pre-requisite of superior combat skill prevents non-warriors from pursuing mastery, it is just beyond them.

Specialization: most warriors start with this level of mastery, a result of full military training and experience these warriors have had. Since 1st level warriors are the elite of the army, these warriors are those with enough skill to acquire weapon mastery. If it is learned at a later time, it requires at least 2 weeks of formal training to acquire. This training, combined with the warriors own self practice and combat use, is enough to teach a warrior the art of specialization-the mastery of his weapon.

Mastery: the skill required to learn this level of mastery restricts it to single classed warriors only, as they are able to devote the required effort to learn it. Additionally, only single classed warriors of no less than 5th level may actually acquire it, those of lesser skill cannot master the intricacies required. Those who meet the requirements, must spend at least a month in formal training to gain the fundamentals of mastery. This training, combined with the warrior’s own self training and combat action, allows the warrior to fully master the art of combat with his weapon, learning to exploit his foe’s weaknesses while avoiding their strengths. Mastery is not just mastery of a weapon, but also, mastery of the enemy.

Grandmastery: the final level of weapon mastery requires such skill and singular devotion, that only a single classes fighter can ever hope to learn it. Paladins and rangers have other duties and skills that prevent them from giving the devotion to this art, and their skills in combat, although seemingly equal to the single classed fighter, are just not of the caliber required for this level of mastery. In fact, grandmastery is so demanding, that even single classed fighters must be of no less than 9th level to ever hope of acquiring it. If the fighter meets these requirements, he must spend a full month of intensive training(double cost) just to learn the path of the grandmaster. Once learned, the fighter must then follow this path himself until he finally attains the ultimate level in weapon mastery, grandmaster. This path is a gradual one. There are 5 sub-levels of grandmastery, and each gives it’s own combat bonuses. The combat bonus of each level is: extra attack, damage die step increase, knockdown die step increase, critical number reduction, and finally, critical severity increase. Each sub-level the fighter achieves gives him that level’s bonus. Each sub-level requires 10 devotion points to attain, and once 50 devotion points are gained, the fighter becomes a full grandmaster. What is required to obtain these devotion points is up to each DM, but it should be very difficult. Once obtained, this final level of mastery teaches the grandmaster not only to master his weapon(specialization) and his foe(mastery), but to finally master himself.


The PO:C&T book gives 4 styles of martial arts, each with its own special abilities. All unarmed combat forms are detailed in the PO:C&T book. To specialize in the arts or punching/wrestling in my campaign, mastery points must be used. If the character does not want to spend his mastery points into these areas, the best he can achieve is expertise. By spending an extra weapon slot but not using a mastery point, the PC becomes an expert, which allows the extra offhand attack of a specialist at no to hit penalty and gives +1 to hit and +2 damage on the primary attack only. Those who spend mastery points are the only ones who can become specialists, masters and grandmasters.

Specialization: applies to 1 style only, even if the warrior is prof. in more. Specialists, masters and grandmasters use the base damage indicated in the PO:C&T book for the attack and modify their attacks as if their attacks were a weapon, thus a specialist gets 3/2 with his primary attack at +1 to hit and +2 damage, in addition to his off hand attack(he gets no mastery bonuses for this one, however). In addition, specialists don't suffer unarmed combat penalties when attacking armed foes.

Masters: gain the same abilities with their primary attacks(not the off hand attack) as do weapon masters. In addition, they don't suffer the extra -4 to hit for an unarmed disarm or block. Also, masters threaten their front squares as if wielding a weapon, others using unarmed combat usually do not.

Grandmasters: in addition to gaining the same abilities with their primary attacks(not the off hand attack) as weapon grandmasters, they can also cause real damage with their attacks(but they don't have to) rather than the temporary damage such attacks usually do.

-Critical hits done by unarmed combat specialists, masters and grandmasters(who do not use their real damage option) do x2 damage, but the critical table is not used, instead the foe must save vs. death or be stunned. He remains stunned until he successfully saves, he gets a new try each round with a cumulative +1 bonus each round he fails. If any of his saves are critical failures(treat the martial artist as a mage of equal level and use spell critical failure chart in PO:S&M.) he falls unconscious for 3d10 rounds(hours if he fails a system shock roll). Grandmasters using their real damage option use the critical hit tables as normal, treat their attacks as blunt weapons.

-All martial arts users and wrestlers suffer penalties in armor as detailed in the Complete Fighter's Handbook. Martial arts masters must abide by the same training restrictions as weapon masters, see the MASTERY TRAINING section above.