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Weapon length vs Weapon Size


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In BGB, I am finding some unclarities regarding Weapon length and Range vis. Close combat. Under "Close Combat" on p. 218, "short" melee weapons are defined as having SIZ 0 or 1. However, on the weapon tables all the melee weapons with SIZ 1, like battle axe, light mace and short sword are designed as having "Medium" range. So do these count as short or medium weapons?

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4 hours ago, Barak Shathur said:

In BGB, I am finding some unclarities regarding Weapon length and Range vis. Close combat. Under "Close Combat" on p. 218, "short" melee weapons are defined as having SIZ 0 or 1. However, on the weapon tables all the melee weapons with SIZ 1, like battle axe, light mace and short sword are designed as having "Medium" range. So do these count as short or medium weapons?

I'd suggest that the mapping isn't perfect, and the phrasing even less so!

It's not the case that "all short melee weapons have size 0 or 1, and all size 0 or 1 melee weapons are short" -- the one does not imply the other.

Short melee weapons can be size 0 or 1 (not 2 or larger), but some elongate-shape weapons of Size 1 have medium reach.

= = =

Of course, it's also possible that this is just an errata... the BGB was compiled from multiple sources, each with slightly-different tweaks & tunings to the BRP rules.  It's entirely-possible that conflicting sources found their way into the BGB!

= = =

In the end, these sorts of details don't really matter to the flow of the game -- pick the ruling that "feels best" for your use, or even note that this should vary to suit the needs of the specific genre of play at hand.

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5 hours ago, Barak Shathur said:

In BGB, I am finding some unclarities regarding Weapon length and Range vis. Close combat. Under "Close Combat" on p. 218, "short" melee weapons are defined as having SIZ 0 or 1. However, on the weapon tables all the melee weapons with SIZ 1, like battle axe, light mace and short sword are designed as having "Medium" range. So do these count as short or medium weapons?

I don't have the book, but I would look at similarities... Battle axe and light mace are weapons with a moderate amount of mass at the working end and not much of a thrusting point (is there a light SPIKED mace?) -- and possibly can be "choked up" on the handle (watch out for too much handle below the hand hitting one's forearm on some swings). "Short" range weapons might be those that can be redirected easily. Longer range may be less maneuverable -- consider a halberd with about as much mass as the battle axe but located at the end of a five foot pole. Start that swinging and it may not want to change direction until you've hit something with it.

As for "short sword" -- if it isn't some sort of multi-use tool (forester... slaughter small game, cut brush) it may be something like a gladius... Used from behind a shield wall with overhand chops, or possibly some thrusts between adjoining shields. For the latter, the hilt does not extend beyond the shield so... short range. Overhand, may depend upon how close the shields are being held to the body; still fairly short range as you are hitting with the side of the blade, not the point.

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Yes, to all of the above. What I'm trying to do is figure out how it is meant to be played, RAW-ly. Under "Close Combat" it says,

"When wielding a short melee weapon (SIZ 0 or 1), your
character is at a slight tactical disadvantage when fighting
an opponent armed with a longer melee weapon
(SIZ 2+)."

This makes it sound like all weapons of SIZ 0 or 1 (dagger, light mace, battle axe etc)  have this disadvantage against all weapons SIZ 2+ (spear, great axe, great sword etc). This indicates that weapons greater than SIZ 1 (broadsword, longsword, etc) don't have this issue. It also says the "long-weapon-user" can keep the "short weapon-user" at bay, if desired. A person kept at bay needs to succeed with a Dodge attempt in order to close and be able to attack.

Under "Closing", it then says,

In melee combat, once an attacker closes with a target
using a longer weapon (such as a spear-user attacking a
sword-user), he or she will always get first strike (or
action), regardless of DEX rank. After the initial attack by
the long weapon-user, the short weapon-user can act on
his or her normal DEX rank. To close with a long weapon-user,
a character must be closing on the target during the
next combat round or next available action, and may be
required to make a successful Dodge roll if being kept at
bay (see “Close Combat”, above).

So this seems to contradict the use of weapon size when it comes do determine which weapons are "long", "short" or "medium".

Finally, under "Weapon Length", p. 235, it says,

On the weapon tables, all hand-to-hand weapons
include an entry for the SIZ of the weapon (based on its
length). Weapons vary widely in length for good reason:
the longer the weapon, the more likely the wielder of it
is to be able to get in the first blow in a fight, or to be
able to hold off an opponent armed with a shorter
weapon and prevent him from making his own attack.
On the other hand, the longer the weapon, the clumsier
it is to wield effectively. See also the spot rules on
“Closing” (page 219).

Here, the text again refers to SIZ being based on length, but one the melee weapon tables, "Rng" is given as "Short", "Medium" or "Long", and does not map uniformly with SIZ/Enc. Many SIZ 1 and 2 weapons are Medium. So this indicates "Rng" determines weapon length, not SIZ. I guess my question is, is there a meaningful difference between melee weapons of different SIZ, or is it all "Rng"? 

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I just added weapon length, known as REACH,  to my old Runequest campaign (using V2 and V3 rules) based on weapon type.

Short Reach = 1m

Medium Reach = 2m

Long Reach = 3m 

Extreme Reach = 4M

This Reach assumes the distance from your own 1-meter hex that you can reach an opponent WITHOUT using a MOVE action/distance (where any movement is assumed to be part of the attack).  Once combat gets into 1/2 the listed REACH of a weapon.  That user suffers a penalty (I use DIFFICULTY SHIFTS) to attack.  IF REACH is double the opponent's REACH, then your opponent suffers a penalty. 

 

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I wouldn't necessarily place a battlefield weapon like a Pike in this grouping. No one would be using it outside a Phalanx. Its even too long for a standard Shield Wall. Too unwieldy.

A dagger on the other hand could be interpreted in one of two ways. Something along the lines of a shortsword if its long enough (and thus should be in the 1M reach category), or as a simple HtH weapon if shorter. In this case, an HtH weapon simply turns what would normally be unarmed combat more deadly, and doesn't really extend the range of the combat.

SDLeary

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So the reason I'm digging into this issue that it could potentially make some of the distinctions between weapons more meaningful. On its face, it looks like several of the weapons on the "Historic Melee Weapons" table are kind of useless compared to certain others. For example, the Battle Axe is largely superior to the Broadsword: higher damage (1d8+2 vs 1d8+1) and lower weight (SIZ 1 vs SIZ 1.5). The Broadsword has more HP (20 vs the axe's 15) but they are in both cases so high it doesn't make much of a difference, especially given that weapons usually don't lose HP when parrying. So there's no technical reason to chose a Broadsword over a Battle Axe, AFAICS. Yet historically, "broadswords' were very popular compared to 'battle axes". This must have been for reasons other than "they looked better" or something. My sense is that swords are so much easier to use technically, but in BRP these two weapons have an equal base chance, so that doesn't apply here. Another pair of comparable weapons is Light Mace vs Warhammer. They are identical, except that the hammer has SIZ 2 vs the mace's SIZ 1, and it also has higher STR and DEX requirements. So why would one ever choose a warhammer over a light mace in BRP?

Now if the paragraph above that differentiates between weapons of SIZ 0-1 and weapons of SIZ 2+ applies, a lot of the weapon differences start to make sense. Now the Broadsword will always get first strike against a Battle Axe, and also won't have as much trouble against SIZ 2+ weapons. Same goes with warhammer vs light mace (although a "long warhammer" is a pretty odd interpretation of the historical war hammer, which was more like a pick and should do Impale as in RQ3, IMO).

But then the "Range" column comes in and seemingly messes up this whole fine grained and well thought out system balance. SIZ 1 weapons, like Battle Axe, are designated as "Medium" along with SIZ 2 weapons, like Great Axe. Are the rules for SIZ vs those for weapon length two different things that sometimes overlap? I guess this would work but it's very confusing. Is there a game designer who could weigh in and clarify?

 

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For melee weapons, the category should not really be Range. It should be Length, Reach, or some such (short, medium, long reach). Traditionally, the longer weapon gets the first strike, regardless of the DEX or SR of the person with the shorter weapon; theory being that you have to get past the business end of the longer weapon. In order to get past the business end of the longer weapon, you must declare that you are Closing, succeed in a defensive roll (getting past the business end), and then you can strike.

If you want to use a weapon length system in BRP, I would suggest that you lift from Mythras, which has thought this through much better, or at least presents it in a much more coherent way. It should slot into BRP just fine.

SDLeary

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2 hours ago, SDLeary said:

For melee weapons, the category should not really be Range. It should be Length, Reach, or some such (short, medium, long reach). Traditionally, the longer weapon gets the first strike, regardless of the DEX or SR of the person with the shorter weapon; theory being that you have to get past the business end of the longer weapon. In order to get past the business end of the longer weapon, you must declare that you are Closing, succeed in a defensive roll (getting past the business end), and then you can strike.

If you want to use a weapon length system in BRP, I would suggest that you lift from Mythras, which has thought this through much better, or at least presents it in a much more coherent way. It should slot into BRP just fine.

SDLeary

I agree. The name shouldn’t be “Range” for melee weapons, and I don’t think that word is used anywhere in the rules paragraphs. I don’t know exactly what you mean by ‘traditionally’, but I haven’t seen many (any?) attempts to figure in weapon length when it comes to strike order outside of BRP games.

What I’m after here is trying to understand how the game is supposed to be played according to how the rules are written, and try to get away from the slippery slope of house rules that I usually wind up on. I am trying to to find out if the system is actually more subtle than it seems, and if the designers did more than just put some numbers down that “seem right”.

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12 hours ago, Barak Shathur said:

So the reason I'm digging into this issue that it could potentially make some of the distinctions between weapons more meaningful. On its face, it looks like several of the weapons on the "Historic Melee Weapons" table are kind of useless compared to certain others. For example, the Battle Axe is largely superior to the Broadsword: (snip)

In RQ3, Broadswords popularity can be explained by the impale rule. I don't know how the Special effect for slashing weapons compares to Impale in other editions of RQ. If you ignore that rule but leave other technical aspects unchanged, you change the balance between weapons.

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2 minutes ago, Mugen said:

In RQ3, Broadswords popularity can be explained by the impale rule. I don't know how the Special effect for slashing weapons compares to Impale in other editions of RQ. If you ignore that rule but leave other technical aspects unchanged, you change the balance between weapons.

I agree, which is one of the reasons why RQ3 is my favorite iteration in terms of the weapon tables. In BRP however, broadswords only have slash special effect, and thus have no upside compared to e.g battle axe. But impaling weapons do less base damage, so if I give broadswords impale, those weapons become kind of useless. But first strike capacity would somewhat mitigate the broadsword’s weakness. 

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Mythras (RuneQuest 6) does weapon Reach very well because it both provides an advantage for the long reach weapon Vs the short reach weapon when the long weapon fighter is at their preferred Reach, *and* the same mechanism provides a disadvantage for the long reach weapon if the short weapon fighter can close to their preferred Reach, the long weapon fighter is in trouble - they can't use the long weapon to parry at all, and any attack they make is severely gimped.

This makes a spear + shield combination quite potent, because the spear allows attacking at a long reach, and will force short weapon opponents to close in, which if they do, the spear & shield fighter defends perfectly well because they can parry with their shield, and in fact they can attack with their shield at full effectiveness.

The terminology used for weapons is weapon Size, and weapon Reach. Each has different effects.

The only downside is being careful to track "at what Reach is XYZ character and NPC engaged at?" because it can change with every combat action.

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21 minutes ago, Barak Shathur said:

The more I hear about Mythras the more I like it. I’m still resisting but it’s getting difficult! 😄

But aren’t you familiar with it already? There’s a lengthy thread over in the Mythras section concerning the damage of spears, axes and swords that you started. So that suggests you have Mythras in some form. 🙂

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The Design Mechanism: Publishers of Mythras

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, lawrence.whitaker said:

But aren’t you familiar with it already? There’s a lengthy thread over in the Mythras section concerning the damage of spears, axes and swords that you started. So that suggests you have Mythras in some form. 🙂

Have it but haven’t played it, or studied it in depth. 
 

Had fun jousting with you guys though 😉

Edited by Barak Shathur
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Ok, after readings through a number of times, this is the best interpretation I can put on it. 

1. Weapons of SIZ 0-1 have disadvantages against weapons of SIZ 2+. In regular melee combat, the SIZ 2+ weapons strike first. They can also choose to keep the small-weapon-user weapons at bay by rolling a successful attack roll, instead of doing damage. In that case, the small-weapon-user needs to roll a successful Dodge in order to close and attack. The combatants are then in "close combat". Now, the large-weapon-user can only either attack, parry or dodge, instead of two of those. Also, parrying becomes Difficult for the large-weapon-user. None of this applies to weapons of SIZ 1.5 in this context.

2. Some weapons are further categorised as "Long", irrespective of SIZ. The rules above apply to them vs both "short" and "medium" weapons.

3. I honestly don't know what differentiates "short" and "medium" weapons, unless these categories supersede SIZ values (which thus are entirely irrelevant for this issue), in contradiction to the paragraph "Close Combat" I quoted earlier.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm still drawing blanks reading through this. Grapple and Brawl are range: touch and length: close. That means that I have to close the distance and touch the opponent. However, a dagger that is also a one handed attack is only range: short with no listed length, which I would assume is close because you have to "get in close" to use it.

Lamenting, I wish that the Length was called out in these stats in the book as the character sheet seems to call for it.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, FilBot3 said:

I'm still drawing blanks reading through this. Grapple and Brawl are range: touch and length: close. That means that I have to close the distance and touch the opponent. However, a dagger that is also a one handed attack is only range: short with no listed length, which I would assume is close because you have to "get in close" to use it.

Lamenting, I wish that the Length was called out in these stats in the book as the character sheet seems to call for it.

I'm glad it's not just me who's confused about this. And those entries on the character sheet add even more confusion. "Touch" is not described as a range in the rules, AFAICS. And the weapon tables don't have a statistic for "length".

Re-reading the sections on Close Combat, Closing and Weapon Length, the best I can make of it is that "Length" is called "Range" or "Rng" on the Melee weapon tables. The rules under Weapon Length apply to this aspect. Short range is in this context merely descriptive, without any practical impact, since it's Long weapons vs everything else.

The SIZ entry on the melee weapon tables would then apply to the rules under Close Combat and Closing. So again, weapons of SIZ 1 or less have a special relationship to weapons of SIZ 2+, similar but not identical to the relationship for Long vs and other weapons. Weapons of SIZ 1.5 (mainly swords) deal with all weapons (except those with Range: long) the same.

What would seem more reasonable to me would be if Medium weapons have the same relationship to Short weapons as Long weapons have to everything else, regarding initiative, keeping at bay and closing. But the rules explicitly deny this. Also, the SIZ as Length breaks down in some instances, since a Hammer (SIZ 1.5), for instance, would then be longer than a Rapier (SIZ 1) and a Warhammer (SIZ 2) longer than a Broadsword (SIZ 1.5).

I wish a developer would step in and clear this up. Maybe it's time for a new Errata?

 

 

Edited by Barak Shathur
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Ok, so I think I can piece it together, despite the extremely convoluted formulations. On p. 189, under Actions, we have,

“Within a particular DEX rank, attacks usually go in order of weapon type. Attackers armed with missile weapons (bows, guns, etc.) are considered to act before those in hand-to-hand (melee) combat. After these go characters armed with long weapons (spears, lances, etc.), then those with medium-length weapons (swords, axes, etc.) and finally those with short weapons (daggers, etc.) or who are unarmed. “

Then under Weapon Length on p. 235, we have,

“A character armed with a long weapon attacks first against an opponent using a medium or a short weapon, despite his or her DEX rank. The long weapon-user attacks at his or her DEX rank if that is higher, or just before his or her opponent in the opponent’s DEX rank (if equal to or of lesser DEX than the opponent).”

So users of Long weapons skip the line if their opponents happen to have higher DEX.

Finally, the text under Close Combat and Closing should really read Long weapons vs “shorter” or “short or medium” weapons, rather than just “short weapons”, since the latter can be confused with the category Short weapons.

The references to SIZ should be ignored.

Am I right?

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4 hours ago, Barak Shathur said:

The references to SIZ should be ignored.

Yeah, the issue with the Big Gold Book was that its basically a collating of all of the different rules that came out of the different Chaosium RPGs. Some of which are contradictory or don't correlate well to each other. In this case, you go with whichever rule you prefer or makes the most sense for you.

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You like Fading Suns? Well, I made a thing that's kinda like it!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/29/2022 at 10:11 AM, Barak Shathur said:

Ok, so I think I can piece it together, despite the extremely convoluted formulations. On p. 189, under Actions, we have,

“Within a particular DEX rank, attacks usually go in order of weapon type. Attackers armed with missile weapons (bows, guns, etc.) are considered to act before those in hand-to-hand (melee) combat. After these go characters armed with long weapons (spears, lances, etc.), then those with medium-length weapons (swords, axes, etc.) and finally those with short weapons (daggers, etc.) or who are unarmed. “

Then under Weapon Length on p. 235, we have,

“A character armed with a long weapon attacks first against an opponent using a medium or a short weapon, despite his or her DEX rank. The long weapon-user attacks at his or her DEX rank if that is higher, or just before his or her opponent in the opponent’s DEX rank (if equal to or of lesser DEX than the opponent).”

So users of Long weapons skip the line if their opponents happen to have higher DEX.

Finally, the text under Close Combat and Closing should really read Long weapons vs “shorter” or “short or medium” weapons, rather than just “short weapons”, since the latter can be confused with the category Short weapons.

The references to SIZ should be ignored.

Am I right?

What I got from this is that if you're on the same DEX rank for Initiative, and you have a long weapon, you technically go first. Then the subsequent shorter weapons go. In my mind, I would be using that Length rating as denoting when a person "closes the gap" and engages an enemy, the Long length weapon would be able to act first, then Medium or Short length weapons, until fully engaged and distance is closed to 0.

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13 hours ago, FilBot3 said:

What I got from this is that if you're on the same DEX rank for Initiative, and you have a long weapon, you technically go first. Then the subsequent shorter weapons go. In my mind, I would be using that Length rating as denoting when a person "closes the gap" and engages an enemy, the Long length weapon would be able to act first, then Medium or Short length weapons, until fully engaged and distance is closed to 0.

Again, see what I wrote later in the post you quote:

On 8/29/2022 at 5:11 PM, Barak Shathur said:

Then under Weapon Length on p. 235, we have,

“A character armed with a long weapon attacks first against an opponent using a medium or a short weapon, despite his or her DEX rank. The long weapon-user attacks at his or her DEX rank if that is higher, or just before his or her opponent in the opponent’s DEX rank (if equal to or of lesser DEX than the opponent).”

So it's made clear (one of the few things that are with regards to this issue) that Long weapons go before all other weapons, regardless of DEX rank. The rules say that if the opponent has higher DEX, the Long weapon user goes first on that DEX rank. It would maybe have been simpler to just let all Long weapons go before all short and medium weapons, in their own round segment so to speak, instead of figuring it out within each combat group. But whatever.

I'm going to try to summarise it as I understand it, or as I find it playable:

1. Long weapons go before all other melee weapons, regardless of DEX rank.

2. Long weapons can choose to keep short and medium weapons at bay instead of attacking. The short or medium weapons then have to succeed with a Dodge roll if they want to attack.

3. A short or medium weapon user can enter close combat with a long weapon user by succeeding with a Dodge roll. Then, the long weapon user loses one action and can only attack OR parry OR dodge, instead of two of those. Also, parrying may be Difficult for the long weapon. To disengage, the long weapon user needs to use dodge, brawl, or use knockback. Then we're back to situation #1. Another option is to switch to a short weapon.

 

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