When 0E was released, the default damage for all weapons was 1d6: dagger, arrow, long sword, axe, whatever; it did not matter. By the time AD&D was released the idea that damage should be variable and based on weapon type was firmly entrenched. AD&D would add more detail to weapons including an amazing fascination by Gary with the myriad types of pole arms; pole arms alone account for 21 of 50 (42%!!) of all melee weapons on the chart; that number includes spear, trident and the like as well. that's still a pretty impressive number.
Length and space required was and is useful to help decide if the most effective weapon is even usable in the dungeon complex. Another interesting change was the division of damage into small.medium opponents and large opponents. This move changed the damage dynamic to the extent that some weapons were more or less effective against "larger than man-sized" creatures.
The biggest (and probably most controversial and ignored) addition was the modifiers vs. armor type.It makes sense if we view the evolution of AD&D from a stylized wargame to a focused personal skirmish system. In a wargame, a unit of pikemen is a unit of pikeman. On a personal scale those different types of pole arms should mean something other than a costume or style choice. At least, that's the way the thinking went.
|AD&D Players Handbook|
Personally, I have never understood the animosity towards this table. The biggest complaint is that it adds too much time to consult during combat. I invoke the magic words BALDERDASH and POPPYCOCK. The easiest way to handle this is use the section on the PC sheet that has the weapons and the row of ACs. Rather than putting a THACO total, for each weapon and AC add total bonuses to hit from STR, etc, and the modifier from the AC/weapons chart. then, during play, all the DM has to say is, "Roll a d20 modified by AC 3," and you're done. Not that hard, in my opinion.
Anyway, gentle readers, we're in the short stretch to the finish line now. Only 3 more to go! Join me tomorrow for X is for Xylophone!