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weapon skill question/complaint (attn: HEMA practitioners!)


Beoferret

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One of my biggest issues with the RQG combat system RAW is the idea that your weapon skill is linked to one specific type of weapon (e.g. broadsword) and that you're only half as good with any other weapon in the same category (1-H sword, for instance). This has always struck me as excessive. While I understand familiarity with one specific weapon doesn't mean you're 100% as capable with a very similar one, the current RAW just seem wrong. I'm thinking of simply saying that a character may specialize in say kopis skill, but that they're only at a -10% (maybe -20%) penalty to use any other one-handed sword and at half skill when attempting to use a two-handed sword without specific training. This strikes me as more closely resembling what I'd expect in reality, while also freeing up some skill points to go into non-combat skills (during character generation, at least).

What do you all think? I'd especially love to hear opinions from folks who've actually trained with weapons, especially (but not exclusively) any of the HEMA disciplines. Am I just bothered by nothing here or am I actually on to something?

 

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Using the Kopis as your example was probably the worst comparison you could choose.

The Kopis is

  1. Single edged, on inside of curve
  2. Curved (drop point, fat belly)

In contrast, most of the other swords are

  1. Double-edged
  2. Straight (or at worst, leaf shaped)

Nearest kin to the Kopis is a falcata or Gurkha Kukri, maybe a machete -- pretty much a chopping weapon. Scimitars are longer, and curved in the other direction, optimized for slashing cuts. In contrast, the khopesh has the cutting edge on the outside of the curve, and does not have a "fat belly"

The short sword, while double-edged for "hacking", is also optimized for close combat thrusting. Broadswords, OTOH, aren't really thrusting weapons due to the length/mass, for the most part being chop/hack (difficult to even do a proper "slash" without breaking at the wrist -- the scimitar curve keeps the cutting edge in contact without breaking at the wrist). A scimitar skill might be transferable to a khopesh, though the balance is likely much different.

Let's not mention the rapier -- which is mainly a thrusting weapon with just enough edge to allow for some "hacking", but not enough mass to do much real damage from the side. Rapier hilts also tend to be designed with a "handedness" -- you just can't swap hands with a rapier; the hilt/guard won't fit around the off hand.

You can't "back-hand" a Kopis (ie: swing past a target, and reverse direction without rotating the wrist to bring the edge back into the reverse stroke).

 

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1 hour ago, Beoferret said:

What do you all think? I'd especially love to hear opinions from folks who've actually trained with weapons, especially (but not exclusively) any of the HEMA disciplines. Am I just bothered by nothing here or am I actually on to something?

I'm fine with RAW but understand your point.

I'm no expert but it seems Mythras is written more along the lines you suggest:

image.png.eb2bc40f3d30e56d5587f3aa9eeca56d.png

image.png.82ddfe12fcb820e8080f56c7aa955d6a.png

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It'd really depend on how fine-grained you want to go. There are moves I find similar across halberd, longsword (Lichtenauer, Meyer style weapons), and walking stick. Yet if I go only slightly finer-grained there are huge differences between longsword and greatsword (Spadone, Montante, etc).

I've not trained with a kopis but the shape indicates a chopping weapon [weight forward etc as Baron Wulfraed says above] with a thrust ability which style would be much less effective used with the double edged southern swords with the weight more toward the hilt. Many of the muscle memory effects would play tricks on the wielder until they got used to the new weapon (AKA training). I'd think the kopis more different from the broadsword than the broadsword is from the longsword.

There are some people who can just pick up a new weapon and use it. Humakt can have them for all of mine.

If you want to adjust rules in line with RW experience you will probably wind up chasing your tail down smaller and smaller rabbit holes. The rules nod in passing to SCA experience and charge on with the game. The RW varies enormously between user (I frex have shoulder trouble and so can't use some of the higher guards as well), encumberance, style and balance of weapon etc. A long term user of one style of weapon may find their muscle development actually hinders the use of another style. Overdeveloped traps from work are part of my shoulder mobility issues. 

Suffice it to say I'll stick with the RAW because the kopis system would be a very different beast to the broadsword system. My take would be that a kopis user sufficiently experienced  to switch into another style intellectually easily would have embodied issues to penalise them.

AND what does your sword god think?

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I largely agree with @Beoferret, and also with the @Baron Wulfraed that the example used is probably the worst one to pick. 

Let's instead look at most other weapons... 1H mace... 2H spear... Going from one specific weapon to another within those categories shouldn't merit a 50% drop.

Even shields... Although I'd probably do 50% if going from large to small, or the other way around. But from Medium, I think the penalty should be smaller.

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5 hours ago, Baron Wulfraed said:

Rapier hilts also tend to be designed with a "handedness" -- you just can't swap hands with a rapier; the hilt/guard won't fit around the off hand.

That sounds like a description of modern (well, Renaissance) rapiers rather than Bronze Age ones.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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4 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Dumb question: why does this matter?  Do you have lots of characters who carry kopis, broadsword, and shortsword?  If so, why?

I can see carrying two broadswords in case one breaks, and backup daggers, but mixing up types of 1H swords seems strange.

One situation where it frequently comes up in BRP is this:

GM: You find this truly excellent magical weapon.
PC: Meh, it's not the exact type of weapon I've trained with, so it's useless to me. How can I trade or sell it?

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You can always house-rule it to have a skill representing a more extensive category. 1-H thrusting swords, 1-H slashing swords or just 1-H Swords. And if a character has to pick up a new type of weapon within the same category (old one is broken, a looted sword looks cooler), they'll just have to take a period of adjustment with a negative modifier (-10 to -40 based on the similarity of the weapons) to use the new sword with their full skill chance (e.g. each day/week with the new weapon, your penalty decreases by 10).

Requiring a period of adjustment might provide a nice dramatic moment in a fight if one weapon breaks and the character must quickly snatch another one from a conveniently-placed wall mounting to continue the fight.

Edited by Susimetsa
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14 hours ago, Baron Wulfraed said:

Let's not mention the rapier -- which is mainly a thrusting weapon with just enough edge to allow for some "hacking", but not enough mass to do much real damage from the side. Rapier hilts also tend to be designed with a "handedness" -- you just can't swap hands with a rapier; the hilt/guard won't fit around the off hand.

True for some rapiers, mainly from the later period. Almost all 16th century rapiers I've seen can be used in either hand. It is only with some types of swept hilts (beginning to appear at/after the turn of the century) that they begin to be decidedly right-handed - but even in 1630's, so-called Pappenheimer rapiers had shell guards that were completely mirrored (could be wielded equally well with either hand). And, of course, the Spanish style cup-hilts and their Italian variants were also usable with either hand even in the period of transitional rapiers (the lighter rapiers appearing mainly in the early 17th century) that co-existed with the heavier types for several decades.

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39 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

RQG occasionally leans that way as well, look at the weapon skills on the basic character sheet.

image.png.9d351281d33dcb3dd1ffa6edec6a934d.png

Some of those are individual weapons like broadsword, others are categories like 1H Axe.

In fact, not. For RQG, each weapon in the same group is a different skill, but you can use the higher at half your best. The character sheet has been done that way to save space (this was clarified by Jeff, iirc). In RQ3, each of the weapon in the same group share the same skill.

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3 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

One situation where it frequently comes up in BRP is this:

GM: You find this truly excellent magical weapon.
PC: Meh, it's not the exact type of weapon I've trained with, so it's useless to me. How can I trade or sell it?

I used to have a conditional bonus to magical items, they enhanced the skill of the user but only advanced at half the usual rate (until the enhancement was paid for.

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7 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

One situation where it frequently comes up in BRP is this:

GM: You find this truly excellent magical weapon.
PC: Meh, it's not the exact type of weapon I've trained with, so it's useless to me. How can I trade or sell it?

I'd argue that that's a bad GM.  Unless you like endless fiddly rules and calculations, just change / fudge the weapon.  MGF.

"You find this magic kopis, er, ahem, I mean, you find this magic broadwsord..."

One of the published RQG scenarios has a piece of iron armor that only fits a SIZ 18 character.  In most groups, that is nobody.  Realistic, but, Terrible, Horrible idea.

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I normally play that your skill is with 1H Sword, 2H Axe and so on. It doesn't matter to me whether you use a broadsword, Bastard/Long Sword or Shortsword, the techniques are close enough.

But, my experience with using weapons is playing Robin Hood with my brothers using sticks, which is good enough for what I need in RQ.

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1 hour ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I'd argue that that's a bad GM.  Unless you like endless fiddly rules and calculations, just change / fudge the weapon.  MGF.

I'd say it's about style and expectations. D&D 4E has this "make a wishlist that the DM will deliver in magical loot", but I don't think that works as well in a simulationist game game. Plus it can be fun when the players find an oddball magical weapon and try to find a way to get something from it, even if it's just gifting it away to someone appreciative. And you're just not going to get a broadsword from that Lunar - it's far more likely to be a curved blade.

Some armor types can be resized (to smaller, at least).

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3 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I'd argue that that's a bad GM.  Unless you like endless fiddly rules and calculations, just change / fudge the weapon.  MGF.

"You find this magic kopis, er, ahem, I mean, you find this magic broadwsord..."

One of the published RQG scenarios has a piece of iron armor that only fits a SIZ 18 character.  In most groups, that is nobody.  Realistic, but, Terrible, Horrible idea.

And, to be honest, it's not even necessarily that realistic. A lot of body armor from antiquity is constructed in such a way that it would be able to fit a relatively wide range of people- redo the straps on the cuirass, lengthen the pteryges, adjust pauldrons and armpit protection- but of course the big question here is whether it's more fun to find something you can use or something you need to find a use for, which is unanswerable even as I lean towards a mix that favors the former. 

 

Minor addendum: Lunars should be carrying straight-bladed swords about as often as Orlanth worshipers carry spears, bows, or axes. (Or a curved blade if they fight as cavalry, for that matter.) Cultural/sacred weapons are important in Glorantha, but they're also clearly subordinate to some considerations of practicality. 

Edited by Eff
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Thanks for the input everyone!

To answer Rodney's question ("Why does this matter?), I've been bothered by this since it a) seems like too much of a penalty for using a number of closely-related weapons, and b) since it means you have to sink more skill points into closely-related weapon skills, during character creation, in order to use them with any degree of effectiveness (or so it's seemed to me), points that could be used for other skills. Does it come up much in play? For me, no - but I've only run a couple of games sadly, so my sample size is depressingly small. 

Baron Wulfraed and Rob's points about the physical particularities of each weapon and how it's used/trained (how a particular style is embodied, as Rob put it) seem pretty important to keep in mind and a good reason to stick with RAW.  It's still very tempting to switch to skill in category (e.g., 1-H sword, 2-H axe, etc.) for gaming ease. Gotta think this over a bit more. Thanks again all. 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, soltakss said:

I normally play that your skill is with 1H Sword, 2H Axe and so on. It doesn't matter to me whether you use a broadsword, Bastard/Long Sword or Shortsword, the techniques are close enough.

Interesting that your examples are used fairly similarly.

But what about kopesh or rapier? Somewhat less similar...

Even a difference between 1 or 2 edges would make a difference.

(And yes, I'm more simulationist)

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9 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

One of the published RQG scenarios has a piece of iron armor that only fits a SIZ 18 character.  In most groups, that is nobody.  Realistic, but, Terrible, Horrible idea.

Oh, I don't know... Just giving the players exactly what they want seems a little boring for RQ. Siz 18 iron armour might get you a nice Siz 12 chestpiece, plus some leftover for other uses (including gifting).

Also, think of the fun and adventures to be had in finding a good iron-smith! 😄

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6 hours ago, Beoferret said:

To answer Rodney's question ("Why does this matter?), I've been bothered by this since it a) seems like too much of a penalty for using a number of closely-related weapons, and b) since it means you have to sink more skill points into closely-related weapon skills, during character creation

Why the need to use closely related weapons at character creation?  In general,

1. Pick a one handed weapon. 

2. Pick a missile weapon. 

3. Maybe pick a two handed weapon or lance or dagger. 

Done.

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