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Throwing a halberd


krzysztof

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Hello,

I have recently met a problem which might be my misunderstanding, but seems to be a severe bug in a system. Namely, throwing a weapon, that is not designed for throwing, e.g. halberd.

The book says:

"Your character can usually add 1/2 of his or her damage bonus to an improvised thrown weapon’s base damage. Well-balanced objects designed for throwing (including footballs, grenades, darts, etc.) can be thrown normally one meter for every point your character’s STR exceeds the SIZ of the object. Unbalanced objects can be thrown one meter for every 3 points of STR over the object’s SIZ."

The question is: what is " improvised thrown weapon’s base damage" ? One of my players wanted to throw a double handed sword and use normal damage from that weapon+1/2 of his db.

Now imagine the following: Standard Human ( STR 12 , SIZ 10 - thus no Damage Bonus ), is facing an enemy. The character has no skills in any weapon, but has halberd in his hand. Thus, he has base chance to hit of 15%. However, if he tries to throw a halberd at the enemy the chance becomes 25% (base Throw). Therefore, it is clear that throwing is more likely to inflict the same 3D6 damage.

To me, this is pure nonsense. Perhaps I do not understand something - please help!

Thanks!

Krzysztof

Edited by krzysztof
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It is pure nonsense. As GM you could rule that either the Halberd couldn't be thrown because it is a two handed weapon.

Or you could  rule that since it isn't designed to be thrown. that it's damage would be that of an improvised weapon or club, rather than that of a halberd. Realistically, the reason  why a Halberd gets such a high damage is because it is swung, which makes it a form of lever. A thrown halberd wouldn't get this and at best would probably be like a thrown spear. A naginata is somewhat better balanced for throwing, and has a blade that is more likely to penetrate if thrown, and yet it does less damage than a halberd. 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for help. 

To me, the solution is known from other systems - improvised thrown weapon should inflict damage based on its weight, not the damage it inflicts in hand-to-hand combat.

I asked, because I hoped, that perhaps there is some erratum explaining this issue and I will not have to enforce house-rules in the middle of campaign (when some of my players already set-up flail/halberd/dh-sword - throwing characters and feel offended by GM suddenly forbidding this).

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8 hours ago, krzysztof said:

Now imagine the following: Standard Human ( STR 12 , SIZ 10 - thus no Damage Bonus ), is facing an enemy. The character has no skills in any weapon, but has halberd in his hand. Thus, he has base chance to hit of 15%. However, if he tries to throw a halberd at the enemy the chance becomes 25% (base Throw). Therefore, it is clear that throwing is more likely to inflict the same 3D6 damage.

To me, this is pure nonsense. Perhaps I do not understand something - please help!

In the same way that a thrown javelin doesn't use the Throw skill, a thrown halberd would be at a reduced  rate. I'd apply a penalty, maybe 20% or more, to the attempt. It's a desperation tactic at best.

I seem to recall somewhere that a basic default damage for something thrown was 1D6 (or 1D8) but cannot remember which set of rules, so it might be nonsense.

There is something in RQ3 regarding using improvised weapons, such as a table or chair, that might be more applicable.

You haven't stated which set of rules you are looking at, so it is hard to give an exact answer. I assume BRP, but am not sure.

 

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

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A normal human cannot throw a halberd. It's too unwieldy and unbalanced. Only the "small" versions of weapons (daggers but not swords, hatchets but not battleaxes, javelins but not pikes) are realistically throwable as weapons. The chances of a warrior throwing a halberd effectively are so low that I would go for 25% of doing 1d6 damage plus half DB, not more. The rule about Throw is definitely out of place here.

The point is that... I can envision games of BRP or RuneQuest where an adventurer could realistically have or magically assume the STR and SIZ necessary to throw a halberd as if it was just an unwieldy version of a javelin. A character of at least SIZ 20 and two dice of damage modifier would probably be able to use a halberd as a throwing spear, with his full Javelin Attacks skill. And before you ask... yes, I have refereed such a character. And I let him throw bigger things. MUCH bigger :)

 

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Thank you guys for your comments!

To be precise: I play BRP+Classic Fantasy and do not have any other books from Chaosium. That is why I was asking... and hoping that the problem was solved somewhere else.

soltakss - if you could find the details on 1d6/1d8 of improvised weapon, it would be great

Generally, I regret a bit giving the example of halberd :)

Yes, halberd can be approximated by a javelin. How about double-handed sword then? Dagger? :)

What I wanted to say, is that the rule is stupid in general and almost never applicable. Why would damage bonus of thrown hand-to-hand weapon be almost the same as its damage bonus in combat?

Even more, imagine person with negative DB - hobbit or tiny human. Such person gains not only on chance to hit but also on a number of wounds inflicted! Ha!

Don't get me wrong, I am not a newbie GM that gets excited by the system, knows it by heart and treats it as a Bible. The Story is on the first place. Unfortunately, some of my players love power-playing... I do not really want to steal fun from them, but this was too much.

Edited by krzysztof
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Sometimes rules do allow strange situations to take place. The problem with design is that we often try to cover every contingency. In doing so it make for overly complex and loophole ridden rules. Gaming is not improv, as GMs we do not have to say yes (unless you are specifically playing an Improv RPG, which is a different story). In any case I try and apply some logic to it. "Were there armies of two handed sword throwing Vikings or Mercians or Hittites? No? Then no, you cannot build your character around the concept. Have a Swedish fish and start over."

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The thing is, that the BRP rules for throwing are wrong and they could be corrected without making anything overly complex. For instance, damage could depend on size of thrown object.

The historical examples of Vikings etc. are not very convincing to some of my players. What they say is that: this is (heroic) gaming system! Are you also going to judge which spell or ritual is realistic and which is not? Come on!

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It seems your players are trying to wrestle control out of the GM with the excuse of "this is not supposed to be realistic". You need to enforce your GM authority, along and beyond the rules.

Creating a 2H sword throwing character is something the GM should simply not allow, particularly in BRP. It is not something that was done consistently in battle, nor does it happen in Conan stories or such. Sean Connery kills a man with a thumb in a famous movie scene: does this mean that the game is broken if it does not provide rules that allow thumbs to deal 1d20 damage?

In short, the question is not "should the rules be fixed", but "should I as the GM allow a character to use Throw 2H Sword as his base tactics"? If the answer is "yes", then you have chosen the wrong ruleset. Try Fate or HeroQuest for that, not something aimed at emulating reality like BRP, because in the real world and in most fictions you do not throw 2H swords.

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Rosen,

"emulating reality" is what I want to improve. I wanted to point out, that BRP is not emulating reality, at least in case of thrown weapons. The improvement does not necessarily have to mean complexity. Thus I await comments from those who have good idea how to solve the problem.

For the moment I will solve it with simple 1d6+db for most attacks.

The balance between GM authority and feeling of fair play deserves broader discussion. And might be very personal thing, I am afraid :)

 

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I think the problem is using the Throw skill for throwing a halberd.

Throw is fine for throwing rocks or throwing a bag over a ravine, but not for throwing weapons, that's why we have the Javelin/Thrown Dagger/Thrown Axe skill.

I agree with Risen (Paolo) that you do not need a Thrown Halberd skill for a one-off attempt at throwing a halberd. However, if someone wants to throw a halberd then they should have  a base chance. 

Have a look in the rules for Improvised Weapons, I don't have a page number as I am at work.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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2 hours ago, krzysztof said:

I wanted to point out, that BRP is not emulating reality, at least in case of thrown weapons.

I'd have to agree, in the case of thrown weapons. It doesn't help that the BRP BGB states within the description of Throw, "This skill allows your character ... to throw a weapon otherwise not balanced for throwing (such as throwing a greatsword or shield". I can see how @krzysztof's power-gaming (ridiculous) players latched on to this sentence and tried abusing the hell out of the rule.

No rules set is infallible, and those rules sets that try to cover every loophole become bloated doorstops, IMO. Fix the problem yourself, hopefully quickly in play and add the change to a house rule document. If you get grief from the players, have an immediate, and frank discussion with them about the BRP rules, and your responsibilities as a GM to make spot-rulings. If they detest spot-rulings then maybe it's better to use another game system that meets their "heroic" requirements. As already suggested, maybe something super-abstract, like FATE or go the doorstop option, where everything is spelled out exhaustively.

I think that you've received a number of good responses already. Pick one that works best for you, or use your 1D6+ DB preference. Maybe get the opinions of all your players - power-gaming and otherwise.

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I'd have to agree, in the case of thrown weapons. It doesn't help that the BRP BGB states within the description of Throw, "This skill allows your character ... to throw a weapon otherwise not balanced for throwing (such as throwing a greatsword or shield". I can see how @krzysztof's power-gaming (ridiculous) players latched on to this sentence and tried abusing the hell out of the rule.

This is exactly what happened. One of my players may feel, that I am not playing fair. Actually, his character was throwing DH sword, so very close to the description from the book. This is not a typical case of GM's authority solving the doubtful interpretation of the rules. This is the case of GM completely breaking what is written in the handbook and doing it when characters are already advanced with their skills (throw) developed. Obviously, one can say, that GM is doing it in the name of reality, but nevertheless...

We play RPGs to have fun. People don't have fun when they feel cheated. The question is whether GM can cheat at all? 

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Sure, a GM can cheat. But I tend to think that occurs when a GM fudges dice rolls, engages in 'illusionism', or alters the opposition, in-play, in order to further outfox the players. IMO, it doesn't occur when GMs make spot-rulings that alter core book rules.

As to fairness, well I guess it depends. You say that the characters have already advanced their Throw skill to better throw around their halberds. Have they been halberd-tossing over multiple sessions with your acceptance, and gaining experience checks? Or did they generate their characters recently, dump a ton of free skill points into Throw, and start using this silly tactic? If the former... well, you might have let things get out of hand, and I can understand their criticism. If the latter, then I don't see any unfairness in setting things straight.

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Another thing to consider, if a player put points into Throw with the expectation of tossing around heavy weapons, I'd allow a player to redistribute the points in Throw if I wasn't going to allow it. I have had a number of occasions where a player bought a skill or ability, thinking they could do something I wouldn't allow. Letting them remove that skill and buy something they can use makes things go down a lot easier. 

Of course, it's the kind of thing that usually comes up in a first session, so it doesn't break reality. The character hasn't been clearly established, so a little skill juggling doesn't matter. In fact, I usually go with the house rule that after the first session of a new RPG, players can fiddle around their points now that they have seen the game in action. However, if you make the call late in a campaign, it can be more complicated. 

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3 hours ago, krzysztof said:

This is exactly what happened. One of my players may feel, that I am not playing fair.

For not letting him develop the "Throw" skill to make ranged attacks with a halberd? The rules are not clear on that point because they assume the whole group would not attempt something so unrealistic and clearly rule-exploiting as this.

3 hours ago, krzysztof said:

I wanted to point out, that BRP is not emulating reality, at least in case of thrown weapons.

For throwing halberds? What reality is there to emulate about thrown halberds? Warriors did not throw halberds in real history.

I experienced this twenty-five (actually, a bit more..) years ago, with the (in)famous RQ3 pike. The Final Weapon. Except that you cannot really use it in any situation that is not "the battlefield", and when the player invests his experience in it you need explain that he cannot use a pike in a dungeon. Simon had similar experiences, and explained them. Baulderstone certainly had, and he explained it from another point of view ("have them recover the skill spent" - a very wise piece of GM advice). You have a well known problem here, and we all pointed out a well known solution: use commone sense, persuasion, and only in case everything else fails do not be afraid to use your GM authority.

In my book, anything the GM rules which is explained before the session is fair. Cheating is only when you make an unfair ruling on the spot, in-game. The rest is houseruling.
 

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15 hours ago, krzysztof said:

This is exactly what happened. One of my players may feel, that I am not playing fair. Actually, his character was throwing DH sword, so very close to the description from the book.

You could have opponents throwing great swords, halberds or great axes at your player's PC, why not a mob specialized in this kind of tactics, he may then reconsider his position after the combat.

Skill rating is supposed to be valid for normal conditions -that's in the rules. In the case of such big weapons, normal condition means enough place to rotate -like for hammer throwing-, losing a couple of seconds (+SR), possibly hacking your friends into pieces in the process and falling down or at least needing a few second to recover your balance (DEX roll ?). Otherwise you'll ave no chance to throw the great sword beyond your own foot.

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For not letting him develop the "Throw" skill to make ranged attacks with a halberd? The rules are not clear on that point because they assume the whole group would not attempt something so unrealistic and clearly rule-exploiting as this.

No, not halberd, but greatsword (sorry for mess with halberd example)Unfortunately, as pointed out by K Peterson, rules clearly allow throwing greatsword with practically the same damage as greatsword in hand-to-hand combat, but bigger base chance of success.

I was not aware of how this stupid rule can be exploited, so I had to do:

Quote

ruling on the spot, in-game

The whole problem is probably not worth too long discussion. Obviously GM has to enter conflicts with rules, sometimes.

What is interesting, is how to balance power-gaming that is perfectly in line with rules, but not with GMs idea of how the game should look like. You are not always able to do all house ruling before the characters are set-up or not even after first session. But if you modify too much, then it is maybe better to switch the system.

Another thing is that some players may have a lot of fun from power-gaming, but others in the same team don't and you have to balance.

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14 hours ago, RosenMcStern said:

I experienced this twenty-five (actually, a bit more..) years ago, with the (in)famous RQ3 pike. The Final Weapon. Except that you cannot really use it in any situation that is not "the battlefield", and when the player invests his experience in it you need explain that he cannot use a pike in a dungeon. Simon had similar experiences, and explained them. Baulderstone certainly had, and he explained it from another point of view ("have them recover the skill spent" - a very wise piece of GM advice). You have a well known problem here, and we all pointed out a well known solution: use commone sense, persuasion, and only in case everything else fails do not be afraid to use your GM authority.

I played a Pike-wielding Yelmalian centaur who used it to devastating effect underwater, supported by several pig-bladder floats and a Breathe Air/Water spell. Set Pike against a shark attack was particularly effective.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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2 hours ago, krzysztof said:

No, not halberd, but greatsword (sorry for mess with halberd example)Unfortunately, as pointed out by K Peterson, rules clearly allow throwing greatsword with practically the same damage as greatsword in hand-to-hand combat, but bigger base chance of success.

Not quite.

The System Notes on BGB 83 say that you can add half your damage bonus to an improvised thrown weapon's base damage.  Nowhere does is say that a greatsword has the same base damage as an improvised thrown weapon as it has when used normally.  On the contrary, when you throw a greatsword, you're not using it as "a greatsword with range", you're using it as a SIZ 3.5 improvised thrown weapon.  The fact that the object you're throwing happens to be a greatsword is largely beside the point.

So set the base damage as you feel is appropriate for any thrown SIZ 3.5 object (which will surely be less than the 2d8 of a greatsword; maybe 1d8, given that a thrown short spear does 1d6+1?), with the possibility to Impale on a Special, since it's pointed.

Also don't forget that, per the same System Notes, anyone under SIZ 14 has to roll on the resistance table to be able to throw it in the first place.

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6 hours ago, Zit said:

You could have opponents throwing great swords, halberds or great axes at your player's PC, why not a mob specialized in this kind of tactics, he may then reconsider his position after the combat.

While funny as hell, that's a smidge of a passive-aggressive approach to handling the situation. "What? Don't you know that many of the mercenary guilds throughout the South Lands teach 2H-Polearm throwing?? Anyone with the strength and the coinage can be trained how to do it.:) I can already imagine the howls of cheating! and unfairness! from the player(s).

As tempting as it might be to whack a power-gamer with a clue-by-four, talking with them sensibly will probably lead to better results.

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I don't think that there is need to be (or be perceived to be) heavy-handed

And I think that the advice has been pretty spot on

 

What it boils down to (IMMOO) is that the player has read a sentence in the rules that he (I assume he) likes. But missed (or ignored) one which is equally valid that he (?) doesn't

Yup, the rules say that you can through a <greatsword> with throw skill. I think that this refers to throwing your beloved Zwei-hander over the pit to your chum as the mutant squirrels advance inexorably towards you, prior to you jumping so that you don't have to leave it behind when you jump. But it doesn't say explicitly that that's what it's for. (Except that in some versions of brp it does state that: p48 of Elric! for example points out that each Thrown Weapon has it's own skill)

They (the same rules you like) also say that improvised throwing weapons only do <1d6+1/2db> damage

So you CAN throw your greatsword (oh and then face the rest of the opposition empty-handed!) but it's not going to do much more than picking up a rock.

 

FWIW

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It sounds as if sweet reason and the lighthearted approach have been tried, and haven't worked...

In which case, I think you have to go back to the Greatsword-throwing character's player and... just assert GM authority (being reasonable in demeanor, but firm in position), also offering a few options.

GM AUTHORITY:

Swords are made for MELEE, not THROWING; even a "throwing knife" is a different item than a melee dagger (though they are much closer and are reasonable for interchange (but the specialized items ARE different!); similarly, a throwing-axe is essentially a "hatchet" style weapon... but NOT a battle-axe or "great-axe" type weapon.  Larger thrown-weapons with blades are essentially variations on the spear; that should be considered an absolute cap on damage-capacity, as it is the specialized heavy-weight thrown weapon, the culmination of the type (where a "dart" is akin to "shortsword" and "javelin" is akin to a "longsword").

It is obviously ridiculous to assert that it works BETTER (25% vs 15% base chance) to throw ANY sword, than it does to wield it "properly".  Congratulations, you have found a prima facie reading of the rules that is broken and wrong.  Therefore, this is disallowed, absolutely, within the RQ rules (but see below!).  I think (without having my books at hand to check) that nDervish has the correct interpretation (& rules-citation):  "Nowhere does is say that a greatsword has the same base damage as an improvised thrown weapon as it has when used normally.  On the contrary, when you throw a greatsword, you're not using it as "a greatsword with range", you're using it as a SIZ 3.5 improvised thrown weapon.  The fact that the object you're throwing happens to be a greatsword is largely beside the point."

The arguments that "this is a heroic game" and "magic is unrealistic so you should allow unrealistic weapons-usage too" are both straw-man arguments

- "heroic game?"  Yes, it's heroic fantasy; but not a pastiche grab-bag of every fantasy-heroic trope from every genre.  RQ-style heroic fantasy holds to a reasonably-realistic standard of physical combat, in which sword-throwing is a desperate, hail-mary, last-ditch, emergency measure; routine sword-throwing belongs with a different subset of heroic-fantasy tropes.  

- magic explicitly violates physical rules and game-world "physics."  The game-world physical rules explicitly do NOT violate physical rules (tautologically -- "ruleset A does not violate ruleset A".  Any reading of the "physics" of the game-world that produce these very counter-intuitive results (such as, "it's more-effective to throw a 2-H sword than it is to wield it as a melee weapon") is explicitly an incorrect reading of the rules.

THAT SAID, we can look at some other options...

Yes, you may certainly rearrange your Skills-selection if you wish to put those %-points into some other, more reasonable skill.

Alternatively, maybe we want to play something more high-powered, instead; something like Exalted, or an Anime-style system... something where these tropes DO fit; or a Tons-of-Rules-with-all-situations-covered game (GURPS, Pathfinder, I'm looking at you guys!)

One possible avenue, a "middle way" to keep the rules and throw swords:  explicitly looking toward "supers" level BRP play, wherein greatsword-throwing is just another special attack, mundanely-overpowered but appropriate for a less-realistic / more over-the-top gameworld.  Characters may need powerup/rebuild work...

 

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