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Sword-canes


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I'm looking at including sword-canes in something I'm writing (no surprises yet). I'm pretty sure about the damage numbers (I was thinking it would be like a rapier with a somewhat shorter reach) but I want to do some specific adaptations based on these assumptions:

1. The handle of the cane is what you use to hold the sword in combat. For someone used to a regular sword, it can be an awkward enough distinction that you have to practice to get it right before you dare take the weapon into an actual fight. So, should Sword-Cane be its own weapon skill or variant on the Rapier or Smallsword skills?

2. One major difference that might have to be adjusted for is that a sword-cane has no hilt or pommels. Compared to a regular blade, the hand is relatively unprotected. It is nearly impossible to hold onto the weapon if the hand is actually cut.

Am I doing this right or wrong? How do other people in Victorian-style campaigns use sword-canes? In what I'm working on, it's a weapon many gentlemen carry because it is discreet but reliable and always on hand with the press of a small button (to unlock the sheath from the handle and draw the sword).

Edited by Michael Hopcroft
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Checking the Big Gold Book, a rapier does 1D6+1 +DB compared to the sword cane at 1D6 + DB.  You could modify the parry chance of the sword cane (say -10%) due to lacking the hilt or pommel or just cap the parry at 90% to reflect a less effective parry?  I would make Sword Cane its own weapon skill, given the little but important differences it has with a more standard sword type.  Or maybe require a character to practice for a couple days if they have the Rapier skill to get used to using a Sword Cane? 

 

 

 

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The grip will be similar, and later rapier grips vary widely anyway so there shouldn't be too muc problem with that.

You don't actually parry with the hilt unless it's an emergency, instead you parry with the last third of the blade which is known as the 'strong' ('forte') so the difference is really minimal. It's just something the fencer would keep in mind when fighting with it.

In summary I'd just use it as a normal fencing sword ('small sword')

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I agree with Chalkline here. While the hilt helps it isn't required to use the weapon effectively (otherwise it would have had a hilt). Just treat it as a rapier, possibly with slightly lower damage ( 1D6 vs 1D6+1).The whole point of the sword-can was to give fencers a weapon that they could carry with them that used their existing fencing skills. If it used a different skill, then fencers would have no reason to carry the the sword cane. No need to reinvent the wheel. 

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Re the hilt.  It is probably not worth modeling, but he lack of hand protection (hilt) would affect technique to some extent.  When fencing with French Cane one's guard position is different and the distance a bit different than when fencing with other weapons that provide some hand protection.  Essentially, you need to protect your hand, which is the closest target to your opponent.  I don't think this level of detail is, however, important for Mythras.

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  • 1 year later...

Coming to this a bit late, but I hope you forgive me. I really cannot see sword canes being as effective as rapiers in a fight. A rapier - if we talk about the kinds of rapiers used e.g. in the 17th century battlefields by troops such as Pappenheim's cuirassiers - is a tough 1.5kg (3lb) sword that can both cut and thrust. A sword cane is a thrust weapon only and would be pretty weak in comparison. Even weaker than the "transitional" rapiers (1kg, 2lb) that began to emerge in the early 17th century as civilian weapons, but perhaps otherwise comparable.

Thinking as I write, I'd give the sword cane similar damage as the light transitional rapier, but have it break more easily and give a -10% or -20% to parry.

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57 minutes ago, Susimetsa said:

Coming to this a bit late, but I hope you forgive me. I really cannot see sword canes being as effective as rapiers in a fight. A rapier - if we talk about the kinds of rapiers used e.g. in the 17th century battlefields by troops such as Pappenheim's cuirassiers - is a tough 1.5kg (3lb) sword that can both cut and thrust. A sword cane is a thrust weapon only and would be pretty weak in comparison. Even weaker than the "transitional" rapiers (1kg, 2lb) that began to emerge in the early 17th century as civilian weapons, but perhaps otherwise comparable.

Thinking as I write, I'd give the sword cane similar damage as the light transitional rapier, but have it break more easily and give a -10% or -20% to parry.

Considering that the Rapier stats in BRP also cover the Foil and Estoc, I think it is probably close to a smallsword than the true rapier from earlier on. The sword cane's real value is in that it's better than nothing and most attackers aren't expecting it. In game terms we can't downgrade it too much, or else it becomes worse than just using the cane. 

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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11 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Considering that the Rapier stats in BRP also cover the Foil and Estoc, I think it is probably close to a smallsword than the true rapier from earlier on. The sword cane's real value is in that it's better than nothing and most attackers aren't expecting it. In game terms we can't downgrade it too much, or else it becomes worse than just using the cane. 

Shows how much time I've had to familiarise myself with the rules (just beginning to read them after playing Runequest back in the late 80's early 90's). :D

But, yes, if the rapier in BRP is comparable to an in-game foil (a term that was used for a practice sword in the period, iirc) it is probably mean to represent the civilian rapier , i.e. transitional rapier (if you are playing a King's Musketeers kind of character, you'd opt for the heavier version). Probably the ones only meant for thrusting. In that case, a sword cane could get close to it in attack ability, but would still be weaker in defence.

Transitional rapiers often had less sturdy hilts than late 16th century rapiers (and military rapiers), but they still had them. And rapier hilts were meant to protect the hand well enough so that the fencers didn't have to use armoured gloves anymore - so a sword cane would be much worse at defence.

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10 hours ago, Susimetsa said:

Shows how much time I've had to familiarise myself with the rules (just beginning to read them after playing Runequest back in the late 80's early 90's). :D

Don't kick yourself. I believe the definition of a rapier varies a bit among different BRP games, depending upon the setting and who writes the weapon description. Most these people are gamers not weapons experts and some terms get thrown around a bit loosely. For instance what BNRP games call a "Broadsword" usually isn't a broadsword at all but an arming Sword. Chances are when they use the term "Rapier" they are probably referring to what most people today think of as a rapier, namely a smallsword. Ans practically every fantasy and histoical RPG has "Chain Mail" Armor mostly because Victorian Scholars adding mail to the end of every type of armor, despite those armors not actually being mail. 

. Also, all versions of the rapier need to fit into the damage scale already created, so there isn't much wiggle room to work with when starting out the various rapiers.

5th edition CoC had the sharpened Fencing Foil at 1D6+1, the Rapier/Heavy Epee at 1D6+1 and the Sword Cane at 1D6. 

 

10 hours ago, Susimetsa said:

Transitional rapiers often had less sturdy hilts than late 16th century rapiers (and military rapiers), but they still had them. And rapier hilts were meant to protect the hand well enough so that the fencers didn't have to use armoured gloves anymore - so a sword cane would be much worse at defence.

Yup, although I'm not sure if it matter much in game terms when you consider other weapons like clubs and axes.  Sword canes also tend to be weaker than actual swords, being a lighter, narrower weapon that had to fit into a stick. Thus lower Armor or Hit Point.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

5th edition CoC had the sharpened Fencing Foil at 1D6+1, the Rapier/Heavy Epee at 1D6+1 and the Sword Cane at 1D6.

You are right - the system doesn't allow for much variety or individuality between weapons in this regard. Which is good, since it makes it faster. One of the reasons I stopped playing Rolemaster was that while it seemed to go into detail with different hit tables for each weapon and armour combination, that detail was as much guesswork and supposition as any simpler system (i.e. not based on any real world data) and only caused the fights to stretch into eternity.

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43 minutes ago, Susimetsa said:

You are right - the system doesn't allow for much variety or individuality between weapons in this regard. Which is good, since it makes it faster. One of the reasons I stopped playing Rolemaster was that while it seemed to go into detail with different hit tables for each weapon and armour combination, that detail was as much guesswork and supposition as any simpler system (i.e. not based on any real world data) and only caused the fights to stretch into eternity.

Yup. After a certain point it get's hard to qualify the differences between sabre, cutlass, tulwar, yaghitan, and scimitar in any sort of scientific way at this scale. In fact even the differences between various handgun rounds isn't as great as we once thought, according to the FBI.

As for Rolemaster, MERP streamlined the damage table considerably, and HARP follows suit. You're quite right: seventy five to a hundred different weapon damage tables do not necessarily make for a better game or a more accurate play model. In RM's defense though, it did come out in the early-mid 80s when the simulation approach to RPGs was at it's height.

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Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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14 hours ago, Susimetsa said:

Transitional rapiers often had less sturdy hilts than late 16th century rapiers (and military rapiers), but they still had them. And rapier hilts were meant to protect the hand well enough so that the fencers didn't have to use armoured gloves anymore - so a sword cane would be much worse at defence.

The only time I have used a sword cane, my instructor told me to parry with the cane, not with the sword ... and I could not do it, having more than 10 years of fencing behind me at that time. This being said, the sword cane is really 2 weapons; A blade used (mainly) for threatening or attacking somebody that (supposedly) has only a knife, and a staff (the tube), used either to parry (the blade has no guard) or to strike your opponent as a club. But the sword cane has never been intended to perform normal fencing fights, like a rapier, a sabre, a foil or an epee: It is a self defense weapon for a gentleman, to protect himself from brigands that have shorter or no blades. In fact, in France, it's use was teached as part of Savate (french kickboxing), not of fencing.

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6 hours ago, seneschal said:

Now that we've got that sorted out, we've got to discuss the concealed scattergun your PC has strapped to each forearm.  😉

And the pistol in the bicycle handle bars.

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