View Full Version : Combat Pros- could use some help here

2009-08-02, 09:33 PM
I'm working on an rpg system, and I'm having trouble meeting one of my design goals. While it's a bit lower on the list than others, I want my weapon and skill descriptions to be in keeping with historical reality. While I've played RPGs for years, I don't have much experience actually using any of these weapons in combat.
Here's a short snip from my skills section on combat skills:

Axe - Axes have been used for millenia as tools of war. Their hooked heads and long hafts make them useful for disarming an opponent.
Special Qualities: A disarm attempt performed using the axe skill gains a +5 bonus.
Blade - Blades are the most diverse and numerous type of weapon in the world. The edge of a blade is used to slice and cut flesh, or to injure or impair an enemy.
Special Qualities: A called shot attempt performed using the blade skill gains a +5 bonus.
Bow - Bows use the stored potential energy of a strip of material to launch a projectile at an extremely high speed.
Special Qualities: A basic attack performed using the bow skill gains a +5 bonus.
Club - Clubs are very simple and straightforward implements and weapons. The handle acts as a lever, focusing an attacks force onto the blunt head of the weapon.
Special Qualities: A sunder attempt performed using the club skill gains a +5 bonus.
Exotic - Exotic weapons are unusual in design and function. Many allow an attacker to attack from unexpected angles and catch a defender unaware.
Special Qualities: A feint attempt performed using the exotic skill gains a +5 bonus.
Unarmed Hand to hand combat, martial arts, and unarmed combat fall into the unarmed category. Specialists in the unarmed skill are especially good at defending themselves because of their heightened understanding of the principles of combat.
Special Qualities: A defense check performed using the unarmed skill gains a +5 bonus.
Polearm A polearm is a close combat weapon in which the main striking part of the weapon is placed on the end of a long shaft, or the shaft itself, thereby extending the user's effective range. Polearms make particularly good tripping weapons due to their improved leverage.
Special Qualities: A trip attempt performed using the polearms skill gains a +5 bonus.

If you see any glaring problems with the way I've described weapon types, and their real counterparts, please say so.
Addendum: I know sundering objects has never been a real tactic in combat, but it's been a staple of fantasy combat long enough that I've included it. In this case, please disregard the unreality.

2009-08-02, 09:36 PM
PM Swordguy, he can help a ton with this sort of thing. (PS Swordguy if you don't want PMs, I'm sorry.) He's a frequent poster on threads about realistic fighting.

I'm not used to thinking of polearms as primarily tripping weapons, or axes as disarmers.

2009-08-02, 09:59 PM
It's late where I am. Thread bookmarked and I'll get back to it between chapters (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=120251) tomorrow.

OP: what would really help is context. Is a "+5 bonus" a percentile bonus to perform the action or is it more like a +5 bonus on a d20 roll? Do you have detailed armor rules? What are they? What are you really after asking about this - accurately representing the strengths and weaknesses of given weapons? If so, the main strengths and weaknesses will have to do with the interplay between arms and armor - yeah, a bearded axe is a neat disarming tool, but the main reason to use it was that it's gonna severely injure a guy in mail, while a sword blow will do less.

In short, what do you want from this thread?

2009-08-02, 10:14 PM
I won't post the whole of combat in detail, but I'll sum it up in a way I think it will be easy for you to understand.
The combat interactions themselves are determined by a set of opposed combat skill rolls, wherein one is the attacker and one is the defender. The (critical) success and (critical) failure of an attack is determined by the amount the skill attempt exceeds (or falls below) the defense check. Weapons deal damage within a range, which is increased by an attribute of a character.
Armor is piecemeal, and varies based on the material and composition. Defenders decrease the damage based on what armor they are wearing, and another attribute.

Your suggestion about armor/weapon interplay is interesting...
That particular armors are more resistant to particular forms of attack wasn't something I had considered... but I should be able to factor that in.

In short, what do you want from this thread?
Advice on how to present armors, weapons, and their uses in combat in a way that is both simple and accurate, but also expansive enough to cover most of the basic situations that would arise in low-tech combat.
Yeah, I guess it isn't an easy question...

2009-08-03, 10:26 AM
Okay then. What I think will be best for me to do is provide a fairly-detailed list of Real-world weapons, a short descriptor, and the general strengths and weakness of the weapon. You can translate that to your particular "game-speak" on your own, but this at least gives you a starting point.

As an example:
Curved Swords: Curved swords are almost universally single-handed weapons that rely on a reasonably sharp edge and the slicing action of that edge being dragged across a surface to deal damage. Examples of such would include the sabre, scimitar, shamshir, tulwar and the katana (or tachi, which is a katana in different mountings).

Being a sword used in climates or environments where heavy metal armor was the exception, rather than the rule, this weapon is designed to be used against unarmored or lightly-armored opponents (cloth or leather), relying on its edge and slicing ability rather than its ability to physically breach armor. Thrusting is slightly more difficult with these weapons, but not impossible at all, and the thrust loses a little bit of power due to the shape of the sword, but not enough to matter if one is striking an unarmored area. Against metal armor (mail to a degree, depending on the thickness and weave of the mail, and especially lamellar or plate armor), these swords are rendered near-useless. They can breach the armor through sheer impact (often damaging their fine edges), but the slicing motion that makes them so effective against an unarmored man will simply glide off the surface of most metal armors. They do have the advantage of generally being very fast-to-wield weapons, and being more effective against soft leather or padded cloth armors than some other, more impact-based weapons such as straight-bladed swords.

That work?

The categories I'm considering are:
-Curved Swords
-Small straight Swords (gladius, cinqueada)
-Single-handed Straight Swords (Arming sword, Viking Sword)
-Large Straight Swords (longsword, bastard sword)
-Two-handed Swords (Zweihander, Claymore)
-Single-handed Axes (Viking axe, Francisca, Crescent Axe)
-Two-handed Axes (Labrys, Danish Bearded Axe)

Polearms are an ugly problem due to their astounding variety. My solution would be to stat out the various sorts of things a polearm can do (spear point, axe head, hammer head, bill hook, multiple tines) and what game effect each of these gives you. Then just take historical polearms and give each polearm the appropriate quality. A Halberd, for example has an Axe Head, a Spear Head, and either and Hammer Head or a Bill Hook. The player may only use one quality at a time.

As a secondary note, I'd only allow sundering against shields (or specific armor pieces, perhaps, specifically shoulder pauldrons). The issue with trying to break a weapon via impact is that the person holding the weapon will practically always be forced to let go if their weapon is struck with enough force to break it - simple leverage works that way. What's more, the weapon will be forcibly removed from their hand before enough force to actually break it will be applied, which means the sunder attempt wouldn't succeed in breaking the weapon anyway.

2009-08-03, 04:47 PM
Thanks for the suggestions! I'll probably have to apply special qualities just on specific weapons- or perhaps include defined weapon designations which could be applied to any specific weapon from a category (like double, great, light, throwing..).
I think I'll keep sundering in totality though. While it doesn't make sense to sunder a weapon, many pcs would have extraordinary strength- so, shattering a weapon could be possible. Just really pointless.:smallbiggrin:
Once again, thanks for the suggestions, they have helped open my eyes to the way things could work.