There are four weapon types: archery, fencing, swords, and maces.
Archery weapons can shoot at a ranged distance, depending on type. You must be stopped in order to shoot an arrow, and you must be stopped the entire time the arrow is in flight, or the arrow will miss automatically. Additionally, your target must remain in-range and within line-of-sight the entire flight of the arrow or else the arrow will miss entirely. If you move once the arrow is shot (before it hits/misses), one arrow will be consumed and you will immediately shoot again the next time you stop. So, if someone shoots you with an arrow, you still have about one second to (a) move out of range, or (b) hide behind a wall of stone, the corner of a house, run into a different dungeon level, etc.
Fencing, swords, and maces, are all close quarters weapons, and can only hit someone who is on a tile directly adjacent to you. Fencing weapons are typically fast-swinging and light-hitting, swords weapons have a big range in speed and damage, and maces are typically slower than the other two weapon types. Fencing and sword weapons can be poisoned, while mace weapons drain an additional 3 to 5 stamina from an enemy per successful hit, and have a high chance to damage the armor of an enemy.
Each weapon has a few properties that determine how effective it is in combat. The most basic is it's Hit Points. A weapon is spawned/crafted with a given number of hitpoints. When you hit an enemy with your weapon, it has a chance to lose some of its current hit points. For example, a brand new axe may have 77 hit points, and after a few good hits on an enemy it might randomly drop down to 76 current hit points. Weapons can be repaired by blacksmiths. Upon any repair attempt, the weapon will lose 1 maximum HP. Upon a successful repair attempt, the weapon will have its current HPs restored to its (new) max HPs. For example, an axe with 57 HPs (max of 77) is repaired by a blacksmith. The repair fails. The axe now has 56 HPs out of 76 HPs. A second repair attempt succeeds. The weapon now has a max of 75 HPs, and its current HPs are restored to 75. If a weapon's current HPs reaches 0, it is destroyed. A weapon at 100% of its hitpoints will do 100% of the damage it was supposed to do. A weapon at 1% of its hitpoints will do 50% of its usual damage. There is thus a big incentive to keep weapons repaired.
The second property of a weapon is its speed. You can see the speed of each weapon in the table linked at the top of this post. To determine how quickly a weapon will be swung, use the following formula:
take current Stamina + 100
multiply this by weapon speed
take 15,000 and divide by that number
This gives you the number of "ticks", or .25 second increments, between each swing. Round down to the nearest whole tick. Note that swing speed is capped at 1.25 seconds; you cannot swing any weapon faster than once every 1.25 seconds.
Each time you swing a weapon, the timer begins counting again. When it arrives at the final tick between swings, it will check to see if you are stopped. If you are stopped, you will be able to swing the next time an enemy is in range. So if you are fighting while standing still, the final tick will indeed see you standing still and you will swing when you are supposed to. If you are running and pausing here and there, you will have to stop for a tick (.25 seconds) in order to ready your swing. Note that swing timers for swords, maces, and fencing weapons will not advance while moving, but the timer for archery will advance while moving. Archery however, as mentioned above, requires you to stop to shoot, and stay standing still until the arrow hits. Moving while the arrow is loosed but before it hits will ensure it automatically misses.
Finally, the third aspect of weapons is their damage hit dice. These of course determine the amount of damage a weapon will do on a given swing. On the table linked at the top of the post, you can see most of the weapons have a large range of possible damage. However, this can be deceiving. Since the game is rolling dice to determine the damage, the more dice being rolled will make the damage output more consistent. This is easily understood by looking at what happens when you roll 2d6 (two six-sided dice). Most people know that rolling 1-1 or 6-6 for totals of 2 or 12 are the rarest possibilities. The 12, for example, requires each die to land on a 6. There's a 1 in 6 chance of each of these happening, and 1/6 times 1/6 equals 1/36. So 1 in 36 times you roll 2d6, you will get 12. On the other hand, a rolling a 7... the exact middle... can happen with the following combinations: 1-6, 2-5, 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 6-1. Indeed, there are six ways to roll a 7, so it is six times as likely. In other words... the more dice you roll, the more likely the final result is going to be near the midle of the range.
Let's go back to the weapon table. As you can see, some weapons use just 1 die (war fork) and some use as many as 7 dice (war hammer). So the war fork is going to hit with a lot more variance than the war hammer. It rolls 1d29+3, and is just as likely to land on a total of 4 as it is a total of 18 (average) or 32. On the other hand, for a war hammer to roll its maximum, it is relying on a 1/5*1/5*1/5*1/5*1/5*1/5*1/5 chance, which is a 1 in 78,125 chance. Far more likely is that it will hit near its average (22 damage) almost every time.
Why does this matter? Because against armored players (and monsters that have a natural AR), armor will block a portion of the damage a weapon does.
Here's an example I wrote in another post:
Assume you have one weapon that does the exact same damage every time. Like, 20 damage per hit. Every time. And assume another weapon does between 15 and 25, with equal likelihood of each. And assume the target's armor will block 18 damage per hit.
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The first weapon will take 11 swings, and the results will look like this:
So the result is, in 11 swings, it does 2 damage every time for a total of 22 damage punching through.
Now the second weapon does 11 swings, and its result looks like this:
So over 11 swings, it hits on average equally as hard (average of 20 damage), but after the armor modifications, it ends up doing 1+2+3+4+5+6+7= 28 damage.
Since there is a cap on the down side of hits (if you hit for less than 0, you don't "heal" your target, you just do 0), higher variance actually works in favor of the weapons that have high-variance damage possibilities.
As this example shows, having a high-variance weapon is better than a low-variance weapon. And the benefit is increased as the armor levels get higher.
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Let's go for another example. Imagine you are standing next to another player who has some very good armor. Let's say his armor blocks an average of 36 damage per hit (with super-high-end armor, this can be possible). You yourself, however, are no slouch, and are swinging a +25 weapon of vanquishing. Let's say you are standing there for one full minute, swinging away, landing 50% of your swings for hits. What weapon would you imagine would do the most damage?
The answer is the halberd. Despite the fact that it is slow as heck, it is only two dice and thus has a pretty varied amount of damage it hits for, so while it will have some hits below 36 damage (which thus do 0 after the armor), it will also have some high-end hits that mostly punch through.
What's next on the list is where it gets surprising. In fact, the [i]double axe[/i] will have the next highest damage get though. It uses just one die for its damage roll, so the result is wildly varying damage. After the double-axe comes the bardiche, which makes sense, but after that is the war fork and the heavy crossbow. Yes, against a heavily-armored opponent, the war fork does more damage over time than a heavy crossbow!
*note the above was written with old damage values, so things have slightly changed. See data in my post below*
My example uses some high-end weapons and some very high-end armor. Against an unarmored foe, damage is never reduced and thus looking at average damage is just fine. But the more armor an opponent is wearing, the more important damage variance becomes.
There is more I can add later, this is just a rough draft to see what people think of it.