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Manimati

Fun with RuneQuest and statistics

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Idea to boost crushing damage weapons

The above thread led me to fire my trusty excel to check whether crushing weapons specials were really in need of an upgrade.

So, I calculated the average damage for several weapons with different damage bonuses:

Weapon                               dagger   sh-sword    L-mace Br-Sword Btl-axe Hy mace  2HL spr

                                                              sh-spear

Dmg dice                               1D4+2   1D6+1         1D6+2  1D8+1      1D8+2  1D8+2         1D10+1

Avg dmg                                4.5          4.5               5.5        5.5            6.5        6.5                6.5

Avg special (0 bonus)          9             9                  5.5        11             13         6.5                13

Avg special (1D4 bonus)     11.5       11.5             12         13.5          15.5      13                15.5

Avg special (1D6 bonus)     12.5       12.5             15         14.5          16.5      16                16.5

Avg special (2D6 bonus)     16           16               24.5      18              20         25.5             20

Analyzing the above table shows that specials with crushing weapons absolutely suck for no damage bonus.

For 1D4 damage bonus, the light mace is slightly better than short sword or short spear. On the other hand, for heavier weapons, battle axe rules with 15.5 on average compared with 13.5 for broadsword and 13 for heavy mace.

In the 1D6 damage bonus class, light mace is much better that short spear and short sword (15 vs 12.5 on average). For heavier weapons, battle axe is still better with 16.5 vs 16 for heavy mace and 14.5 for the broadsword.

The table reveals that, based on average damage from special hits, the battle axe is really an uber-weapon, but that broadsword and heavy mace are pretty comparable. For lighter weapons, the light mace is consistently better than others, for non-zero damage bonus. So, if crushing weapons are in need of an upgrade, it must be rather subtle.

A second look at the table shows that good armor (6 AP over all body) protects well from the average non-special damage. On the other hand, except for 0-damage-bonus crushing weapons, specials do enough damage on average to reduce an armored body location to zero HP.  Also, a heavy shield can absorb the average special hit, as does a medium shield with good armor.

The last column of the table shows the average damage for the 2-handed long spear. It has the same average damage as the battle axe. Of course, it is a two-handed weapon, but if you are a yelmalion that doesn’t prevent you from using a shield. This is one of the strength of the Yelmalio cult : it can give an uber weapon to many people (74% of 3D6 have strength greater or equal to 9) while keeping the benefit of a shield, while a high strength is needed to wield a battle axe one-handed (only 26% of 3D6 have strength greater or equal to 13), the others must use a lesser weapon or forfeit the protection of a shield. 

This explains why Jeff Richards claims that Yelmalio cultists don’t need strong combat-oriented rune magic in order to rule the battlefield. They can field masses of templars with uber-weapons and the protection of a shield, while other cults must choose between high damage and shield protection for the bulk of the fighters. On top of that, Yelmalio insists on Honor which helps maintain the phalanx formation, helping even more the military efficiency of templars.

Now, if we focus on missile weapons, for projectile weapons (for which damage bonus don’t apply), crushing weapons suck. Slings are really terrible. On average, they don’t do enough damage do penetrate plate armor, and they can’t count on special hits to do so: they must count on critical hits! The only thing going for slings is that it is a S/MR weapon, which means that they can potentially fire up to three times par round (prepared, with high dexterity or with the help of the coordination or/and mobility spirit magic spells). Now, we can play the “Eolian roulette” (named after the thunder delta slingers) thought experiment, and one is standing for one round in front a squad of 5 slingers, which can each fire 3 times a round at 80% chance to hit (thus 4% chance of a critical). That’s a total of 15 shots per round!  Asking worfram alpha for the answer: link to wolfram alpha  yields 0.45=45% chance of at least one critical hit. Not bad! I, personally, would not take that chance.

Of course, for archers, which can count on impale, the chances are even better (or worse depending on your point of view). On top of 45% chance of one or more criticals, there is a 92% chance of at least one impale. As we saw before, on average, one impale means that one body location is reduced to zero HP, even with good armor. The most probable number of impales is 2 and there are even non-negligible chances for 3, 4 and 5 impales. See for yourself: another link to wolfram alphaThis is no longer “Eolian roulette” but a death wish! That shows the power of massed archers: the cream of the French nobility was literally mowed by the Welsh archers at the battle of Azincourt (or Agincourt). 

How can one be protected from massed archers? A shield (the larger the better) and armor help, but there is one spirit magic spell that ruins an archer’s day: lightwall. From the wrong side, lightwall prevents aiming (-75% to hit as in full darkness), it even prevents targeting of spells, thus no Demoralize, no Befuddle, no Sever Spirit, no Thunderbolt, no Sun Spear! It is a MP intensive spell, but one casting can protect several people. This spirit magic spell is so good it deserves to be a rune spell, and it’s a special spell for Yelmalio!

Another spirit spell that can reduce the time spent in the line of fire is Mobility. Conversely, for archers, Slow can buy extra rounds of fire.

Well, doing statistics can give an almost God-Learner-like insight into the mechanics of RuneQuest. I hope that this didn’t ruin the magic of the game for you. I was surprised to see that, indeed, the Yelmalio cult has some mechanical advantage over other cults on the battlefield.

Edited by Manimati
added 2D6 line to table
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I love stats and excel spreadsheets :D  Keep it up!  For example I'd like to see more 2H weapons included here...

(and by the way, as I'm checking the tables, is it an error that the 1H Battle Axe and 2H Battle Axe have virtually the same stats? shouldn't the 2H one have more damage and HP?)

Now some comments:

3 hours ago, Manimati said:

Analyzing the above table shows that specials with crushing weapons absolutely suck for no damage bonus.

Yeah that's not new, but it's nice to see it there. It's especially sad because, AFAICT, a "Special Success" represents the fact that you struck a lucky blow: you hit a weak spot on the opponent's armour, caught the opponent's limb in an awkward position, etc... I guess when you're average, all your hits hurt the same 🤨

3 hours ago, Manimati said:

So, if crushing weapons are in need of an upgrade, it must be rather subtle.

I think people might have been too focused on the case of some average STR/SIZ'ed character before... but it's interesting to see here that any house rule would have to be careful not to modify damage too much at higher STR/SIZ scores.

I'm wondering how the table keeps scaling past DB 1D6 ? My guess is that the crushing special damage keeps going up while the slashing/impaling damage is left behind. That would nicely explain the usual worldbuilding trope of small and medium creatures using slashy/pointy weapons, and big creatures using smashy weapons.

3 hours ago, Manimati said:

This explains why Jeff Richards claims that Yelmalio cultists don’t need strong combat-oriented rune magic in order to rule the battlefield.

IIRC, the people complaining about the Yelmalio cult were doing so on the basis of a single Yelmalio player character (i.e. one that's far from his/her phalanx... which means being alone and out of their element, and therefore weaker). Unless I'm mistaken, I think you got it wrong anyway because the Yelmalio cult teaches using a Pike with Shield, not a 2H Spear. Pike is 2D6+1 damage, so you'll see these hoplites are even more badass.

Edited by lordabdul

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Great post. 

I"m glad someone took the time to actually do the math and read the data.   The Battle axe is well represented in RQ, imo.  It hits a hair harder than a sword, but is a worse defensive choice.  Works great with a shield, while a broadsword is basically a second medium shield.   It is also 2 ENC, which matters to many beginning characters.

1H Longspear is also a Yelmalian cult weapon, and is likely what they are using while out adventuring or in small groups (not on military campaign).  I would argue that the Yelmalian adventurer really needs this skill over Pike, so is even more handicapped until such a time as he can master both. 

 

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Thanks for the work your put into this post, Manimati! It's awesome. I love seeing someone actually test whether received wisdom is right or not. And you're right that any fix would have to be subtle. I'm more convinced that giving crushing weapon (including slings 😁) the chance to stun an opponent, or knock them out, after any damage to the head (even just 1 pt getting through armor) is the right way to go. Maybe also provide a chance at winding an opponent (adding 5 to their SR that round?) after a chest or abdomen strike or forcing them to drop a weapon or halve parry w/ a shield after an arm strike (assuming any damage gets through armor)?

Any chance that optional combat rules and/or fixes will be a part of the future gamemaster's guide?

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11 hours ago, Manimati said:

Slings are really terrible.

I raised this way back and Jason felt that giving slings Damage bonus seemed odd, and that 1d8 damage makes up for it. Given that few people wear plate and just how ridiculously cheap slings are, I feel that they work well as a primitive weapon. 

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How about handheld bludgeoning weapon's damage bonus ignoring hard armours or even all armour? This would mimic the concussion damage even when armour is not surpassed and keep it simple.

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27 minutes ago, Psullie said:
12 hours ago, Manimati said:

Slings are really terrible.

I raised this way back and Jason felt that giving slings Damage bonus seemed odd, and that 1d8 damage makes up for it. Given that few people wear plate and just how ridiculously cheap slings are, I feel that they work well as a primitive weapon. 

This has been a weird little RQ artifact that has niggled me for a while. In real life a sling is an absolutely devastating weapon that can rival the destructive force of a firearm if used properly. I don't know how to translate that into Glorantha without breaking all of the things so I just let adventurers do at least half their Damage Bonus with a sling. It helps make up for its lack of penetrating power. Then it also makes crush make sense with sling stones. 

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8 hours ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

This has been a weird little RQ artifact that has niggled me for a while. In real life a sling is an absolutely devastating weapon that can rival the destructive force of a firearm if used properly. I don't know how to translate that into Glorantha without breaking all of the things so I just let adventurers do at least half their Damage Bonus with a sling. It helps make up for its lack of penetrating power. Then it also makes crush make sense with sling stones. 

Maybe give slings a half damage bonus? Isn't that how thrown weapons are handled? (can't remember and don't have rule book on hand at the moment.)

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1 hour ago, Beoferret said:

Maybe give slings a half damage bonus? Isn't that how thrown weapons are handled? (can't remember and don't have rule book on hand at the moment.)

This has been our solution. Dark Trolls are devastating with a sling, which feels just right. Also, our GM once had a giant slinging boulders for fun. Because Glorantha is amazing. 

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12 minutes ago, HreshtIronBorne said:
1 hour ago, Beoferret said:

Maybe give slings a half damage bonus? Isn't that how thrown weapons are handled? (can't remember and don't have rule book on hand at the moment.)

This has been our solution. Dark Trolls are devastating with a sling, which feels just right

Wow, I never thought to change the rules to go that way.   My Gloranthas see Trolls as a major combative challenge, largely because:

1) Swarms of trollkin, undead, and shades are used to soften up the PC's

2) Magic is used in copious amounts in place of missile weapons (by Dark Trolls).  Fear, demoralize, and above all -- lots of Darkness.  My trolls are MUCH more magically powerful than default humans, as befits an Elder Race.  I tend to design them like PC's -- full load of spirit magic, some stored power (generally spirits), and in RQ:G, I am thinking 5-6 points of Rune Magic.  This is a for a normal troll, mind you.

3) The combination of 16 point shields, 1d6 damage bonus and 5-6 point armor, and also lots of spirit magic (protection, generally) makes club and clobber Dark trolls really hard to put down. Great Trolls are there to swing for the fences with two handers, doing outrageous damage should they connect.   Similarly Berserk Rune Lords of Zorak Zoran few wish to tangle with.

4) Exceptional stealth skills, so Trolls frequently have the drop on the PC's, preventing time to "pre-buff" on the PC's part, yet giving the trolls plenty of time to spell up when the initial waves start crashing in on the night guard.

 

So it literally never came up that trolls should or should not be better in a missile exchange.  It seemed  like they were busy the whole time doing magic and melee things, and the nuisance trollkin in the bushes were slinging mainly for a lucky critical -- which certainly happens.   Missile combat just wasn't how I had envisioned trolls being effective, and it was really their magic and stealth that put them over the top in the player's minds.  The extra large and strong aspect they could handle -- they were used to that.  Getting bushwhacked and blinded, swarmed with shades and spearkin, they never enjoyed at all.

 

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22 hours ago, Manimati said:

Analyzing the above table shows that specials with crushing weapons absolutely suck for no damage bonus.

correct but is it an issue ?

Are you weak ? don't use a weapon made for strong people

Continue with a +2d6 bonus dammage and then you will conclude the opposite for strongest people

As you describe, use a 2spear if you want great dammage when you are weak

use a mace if you are strong and want great dammage (yes you can choose a weapon for another reason that just the stat)

 

 

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2 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

Are you weak ? don't use a weapon made for strong people

I think this is no solid argument, because a light mace requires only STR 7 to use, so it was not made for strong people. Also, sticks, stones and fists were not made for strong people, but they are crushing weapons anyway.

Edited by Runeblogger
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On 7/31/2020 at 12:29 PM, lordabdul said:

(and by the way, as I'm checking the tables, is it an error that the 1H Battle Axe and 2H Battle Axe have virtually the same stats? shouldn't the 2H one have more damage and HP?)

Page 210 of the rules states that the weapon is the same, it can just be wielded with one or two hands. Since it is "really intended for two-handed use", the extra strength required for one-handed use explains the lack of damage difference.

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I would like to come back to the interpretation of the “Eolian roulette” with archers. The maths tell us that there is a 92% probability to be hit with at least one impale (more likely two). Looking at the same figures the other way means that there is 8% chance not to be hit by at least one impale. The odds are not great but not completely unreasonable, and this is the stuff of legends, songs and stories by the campfire (as well as reputation gain). It only means that for every hero sung in the legends, there are much more dead hero wanabes, which are mourned by friends and families.  I would summarize it this way:

There are two kinds of heroes, the lucky ones and the dead ones.

Actually, in Glorantha, there is a third category: those whose ass is covered by a Chalana Arroy healer. The importance of having a good healer in a party cannot be understated!

You can now add a checkmark, next to your illumination skill.

Edited by Manimati
typo

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11 hours ago, Runeblogger said:

I think this is no solid argument, because a light mace requires only STR 7 to use, so it was not made for strong people. Also, sticks, stones and fists were not made for strong people, but they are crushing weapons anyway.

This requirement describes that you can use a weapon at your own potential, not that your potential is powerful

 

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15 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

Are you weak ? don't use a weapon made for strong people

That is also why the Strength spirit magic spell is such an incredibly good investment for crushing weapons.

I am adding a line for 2D6 dmg bonus to the initial post to make that point.

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I think your table explain very well why people choose weapon type (cultural weapons table)

for about the same base dammage (d8+1/+2) humans will choose axe, spear and sword mainly because these weapons are more effective for their warriors (d4/d6 bonus dammage)

when troll will choose maces as more effective weapon for their warriors (d6/2d6 bonus dammage) and trollkin whill choose spear (0/d4 bd)

 

Of course, gods, runes, social status explain a part of that, but at the end of the day, you want your warriors to be the best, and you have myth for anything you need ( AA for spear, ZZ for fire, etc..)

 

When I started reading RQG I didn't note the special bonus was not the same depending the attack type, I just enjoyed that now there is not only impale for special dammage (my previous rules were 30 years ago...)

Then I discovered here the difference and my first feeling was "WTF more complexity for nothing"

but after a time I feel it very well designed

 

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On 7/30/2020 at 11:16 PM, Manimati said:

there is one spirit magic spell that ruins an archer’s day: lightwall. 

Besides Lighwall, Mist Cloud (From Orlanth adventurous) also messes with aiming/targeting of missiles, but contrarily to lightwall, it is symmetric: you can't see from either side (just like Darkwall).

Increase Wind  (also from Orlanth) can seriously disrupt missile fire, also at the cost of lowering your own capability of shooting missiles.

Summon Air Elemental (from Orlanth, Storm Bull, Odayla), can also blow away missiles, in the same way as Increase Wind does. 

As you can see, all these spells provide solid options against missile fire, however, in my opinion,  none of them is as good as ligthwall since they all also reduce the caster's capacity to fire missiles.

Edited by Manimati
typo

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