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dulcamara

shield use and two weapon fighting - am I missing something?

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Again, as a disclaimer I'm a newcomer to BRP about to run my first campaign, so apologies if I'm just missing a key point in both of these areas...

But far as I can tell, the only benefit to using a shield as opposed to any other parrying "weapon" is the durability in HP (re: fumbled parries leading to broken weapon) and protection from missile fire. I guess you could throw in the knockback attacks. Otherwise a player's main weapon will be just as effective defensively, and probably moreso as they can concentrate their skill points there. What's the deal with that? I mean, for a combat system that's relatively realistic ("relatively" being the operative word here) this doesn't make sense. Attacking and parrying with a longsword alone, or attacking with a longsword and parrying with a shield - IRL that is a huge difference.

Along those same lines - although I'll probably discourage any dual-wielding in my campaign - fighting with two weapons seems to be based on the same exact mechanics as striking twice with one. There's no real advantage.

Is this just lazy mechanics? Or is there a subtlety that I didn't get the first few reads through? If the former, are there variants (I'm especially thinking of shield use here) that make a little more sense?

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I'm also a very new BRP GM/player (only ran the first session last weekend), so some of these questions bug me too… especially after reading a bunch of threads on these and other issues…

As of yet the problem has not come up, but I can see it will next session, when the shield-and-sword fighter joins the crew… My idea, at first, was as simple as giving the shield one or two extra "free" parries with no penalties, and/or lowering the penalty to 20% or 15% thus giving it an advantage either way… I could have picked the idea up from some of those threads, and I haven't really thought of the ramifications it might have.

Edited by Jegergryte
addendum

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Ah, thanks for linking to that thread frogspawner. Sorry to beat a dead horse. Just seems strange that Chaosium would opt to publish such a clunky rule that would seemingly come up in nearly every fantasy or medieval historical setting.

I did skim through the discussion and there didn't seem to be any consensus on the best fix. I've thought along the lines of your approach Jegergryte, but then wonder about a fix swinging the pendulum the other way and overpowering shields. Since I haven't run a BRP combat with actual players yet I'm not sure how the mechanics play out in a game session, i.e. what parts of the combat process could potentially bog down and whatnot.

I'm considering starting out with a different fix mentioned - on a critical hit & successful shield parry, damage up to the shield's current HP is absorbed, while damage in excess of the shield's HP is merely docked from the its permanent HP (dented or cracked, etc). Makes it quite a bit more durable and better protection against critical hits. Dunno if this is better or worse than giving 'free' parries or % bonuses.

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I've just posted a martial art style that might empower shields a bit, without "breaking the rules" in another thread… but that would also entail using the Dragon Lines martial art system to some degree or another…

I'm leaning towards one extra "free" parry, and lowering the parry penalty beyond the two first parries to 20%, perhaps also including your last point dulcamara. While it does empower the shields substantially, I think, at least larger shields, should have some bonus akin to that… while not perhaps too realistic, I will at least test it before I change my mind.

Edited by Jegergryte

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The Elric! rules make shields a bit more attractive. In combat when there is a hit, regardless of whether it was parried, the attacker is supposed to roll damage. If the damage exceeds the parrying weapon's hit points by even 1 point than the parrying weapon is broken.

A shield is much sturdier and if it is used as the parrying device then, instead of breaking, it's total hit points are reduced by the amount of damage exceeding it's total hit points. Say a shield has 20 points of armor and the attacker does 22 points of damage. The shield now operates at 18 points of armor.

If this rule is instituted, shields become much more important to the survival of a character, especially if the defending weapon has been worn down a bit by parrying one or two criticals. Lets say two guys with broadswords are in a tussle. A broadsword does 1d8+1+db and has 20 HP. Say one of them has fended off a critical twice, that drops it's hit points down to 12. If the other bloke has a db of 1d4 and gets lucky with their damage roll. On any successful attack that's parried by the damaged broadsword, regardless of the parry success level, the attacker rolls damage. If the roll is lucky 13, the damaged broadsword is broken.

I've seen weapons break by the rules before and it certainly leaves the character at a great disadvantage. It's still an uphill battle to convince players that they might want to invest in a shield. I've even bumped up shield base chances with the shield that they're using; Half 15%, Small 25%, Full 35% and Large 45% and it's not enough to entice players to take a shield....

It's a shame, because with the full weapon breaking rules, a shield is incredibly useful.

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For a dead horse, this steed seems to wake up alive and kicking, at least twice in the past twelve months.

So it must be an issue.

I'm not always the best on the logic associated with my own house rules (hence why I steal others), but this is how my troupe is doing it at present:

*Successful Weapon Parry = Hopefull absorbs the damage. Any damage in excess to Weapon HP is halved (rounding down). Half damage goes to the weapon, whilst half goes to the character.

*Success Shield Parry = Any damage in excess to Shield AP does 1 pt of damage to the shield (unless the attacker's roll was a higher category, such as a Special or Critical. If Special, then any excess damage higher than the Shield AP is subtracted from the Shield HP).

*Unsuccessful Shield Parry = For use with Hit Locations only. Any damage done to an adjacent limb (as determined by shield size, and which arm is holding the shield) is halved. Half damage goes to the character, wheras the other half goes to the shield. Any excess damage outside the Shield AP is subtracted off the Shield HP, like Weapon Parry. I think I may have read this idea in the BRP ROME book by Pete Nash, I'll have to check.

*Additional Parries = Small Shields have one additional parry action per melee round at -15%. Medium Shields have two additional parry actions at -15%, and Large shields can make three additional parry actions per melee round at -15%. This seems to work well for us so far, but no one has a large shield yet so I don't know if it's too overpowering or not. It's a good offset to having the ENC associated with a shield however.

I tend to like gritty combat sessions, so in my rules when a Dodge is successful it only 'pulls the blow' so to speak, and the character takes half damage unless their Dodge roll was of a better category (ie: Special, Critical), or if their Dodge roll was both successful and lower than the assailant's Attack number rolled.

I haven't worked out two-weapon combos yet, and I don't have my BRP BGB to check at present. So just off the top of my head I figure that perhaps both attacks can occur within the same Strike Round (if using them), with the second attack at -15%. Perhaps if the second attack is forfeit then the character may have a free additional weapon parry later in the melee round? I have to sort this one out soon, as one of my players has been making noise about it as well.

Edited by Mankcam

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I find a lot of the sword/shield problems go away if you have seperate sword atack/ parry and shield attack/parry skills.

You're right! Yes, that's where the problem originates - with the decision to 'simplify' into one combined weapon skill for both attack and parry. O what a tangled web...

But I for one am happy with that simplification, and others who know real weapons combat say it's unrealistic to have separate attack/parry skills - it's all one.

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One thing that also makes shields great is you can still block at full skill level when fighting at close range. Parrying (with a non-small weapon) is at half chance. (If your opponent is close enough to stab you with a dagger or knife then the fight is at close range.)

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...others who know real weapons combat say it's unrealistic to have separate attack/parry skills - it's all one.

I'm no expert but I have done a bit of Kendo and Fencing. Both of those styles teach you how to attack and parry with the weapon.

If you learnt the skills short sword and tower shield, you could attack and parry with either but the emphasis is going to be attacking with the sword and parrying with the shield. However if you dropped you sword (fumble!) you could still attack and parry with the shield or go all out defense if your shield attack is particularly low (which it probably will be because its your defense weapon not the attacking one).

Simplification be damned! It just don't make no sense :?

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My favourite fix to the 'why pay points for two weapon skills?' question is to assume that Sword training includes Sword and Shield.

(I forget who first suggested this on this board on my search skills have proved insufficient to find and acknowledge)

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Please correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it so that a swordsman (using only a single weapon) that parries with his sword, after having made an attack, gets a -30 modifier? And if he had used a shield or a parrying weapon he wouldn't have peen penalized. Also I thought that the difference between how shields and weapons HP work was the norm and not an optional rule. But I might be mixing things up...

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No. The only penalty for parries/dodges is on successive defenses; whether you've used it to attack before doesn't matter. And honestly, if you instituted such a rule, it'd excessively penalize people using two handed weapons IMO.

The real problem is there: there are three basic modes of melee combat, single weapon, dual weapon, and weapon and shield. Making these all useful is difficult, all the more muddied up because not all of them are equally useful in all situations.

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