I still think 2-handed weapons are being done backwards. To simulate a "strike first" potential I would actually have an init bonus (d30 instead of d20). I run with individual initiative on the first round only, then switch to party vs. party (d6) so it works well together. If the 2-hander is surprised, his init bonus doesn't matter. Either way once the first round is done and the chaos of melee begins he loses it anyway. If that dagger wielding rogue wants to kill the 2-hander, he would be wise to sneak up on him for surprise to ensure he loses that "strike first" bonus.
Nice and a simple bonus that works for me both thematically and from a fun gameplay stance.
I still haven't decided if they should do d12 damage or not. I also wouldn't mind see the strength modifier x2 if it's negative though. Keeps the 2-handers in the hands of the strong (or at least average strength guys) which is what I want.
I will throw out three ideas for people to hash over... I am not married to any of them, but they are all workable and fun. They are in order from most complex to VERY simple. I LIKE to complex ones, because they are more realistic... but it may be too complex for what Joseph is looking for.
1. Give weapon stats:
Each weapon has a minimum strength score to use the weapon. If you have a strength score < the minimum for the weapon, you take -1 to hit per STR point less than the minimum for the weapon. When using two hands on a weapon, your STR score counts as two points higher.
Weapons with higher strength scores do a higher base damage than weapons with lower requirements.
Strength does not increase you chances to hit, but Dexterity does. The more agile you are helps determine if you can react fast enough have a higher chance to hit your enemy.
example: (just made up numbers)
Long Sword (Min STR 9) d8
Dagger (Min STR 6) d4
1-H Battle Axe (Min STR 10) d8
2-H Battle Axe (Min STR 15) d10 or 2d5 or 2d4+1 (when it hits, it does more damage) --- Please note that since you are using two hands, the real effective STR score required is only 13).
Why go through this?
First, it allows you to add one extra column to the weapon charts. The damage that is 1-handed and the damage that is 2-handed (if they weapon can be used both ways).
Second, this system allows for some simple extensions to other situations that come up. You find a giant sized Short Sword +3 of Black Death? It has a minimum strength score requirement of 18. Now you know if you can use it and how effective it will be for you. Conan (STR 18) would be able to use it one handed, where a less strong person would need to use it two handed.
You want to pick up a door and use it to bludgeon someone. The DM picks STR 16 as the required STR to use a door effectively and assigns d7 damage (due to the mass of the door). Everything flows the same way.
Idea #2: Limit effectiveness of Strength bonuses for items and provide bonus damage for using a weapon 2-handed
When using a melee or thrown weapon 1-handed, use your standard strength bonus
When using a melee or thrown weapon 2-handed, use your strength bonus +1 (to simulate extra power for 2-h weapons). Yes, this means that a battle axe does (d8) damage one handed and (d8+1) damage 2-handed. The +1 bonus could be +1 or +2 depending on how it works game wise.
The above works as written albeit with a small limitation. You cannot apply more strength bonus to a damage roll than what your actual weapon damage roll is. Good example... 18 STR fighter using a dagger 2-handed. They would normally get a +4 bonus on damage (assuming +1 bonus for 2-h), but it would be limited by the actual die roll of the d4. So if a 1 was rolled, only one point of strength could be applied.
If we go with a +2 bonus for using a weapon 2-h, the warrior above would never be able to apply all +5 points of damage to the roll because a dagger can only do a maximum of 4 points of damage.
This system has the simplicity of allowing any weapon to be used one or two handed. And two handed weapons to still exist.
Idea #3: Really simple way to handed 2-handed weapons
If you are using a weapons two handed, just roll two damage dice and pick the higher one. This simulates doing more damage on a hit and would probably make it worth ditching a shield. No need to give out extra damage for a weapon used two handed, you just get a far better chance to do more damage on a hit.