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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Combat Systems: Weapon Strategies

    Recently, Iíve been working on designing futuristic weapons for Cyber Run, a tabletop trans-dimensional RPG. Iíve found that most tabletop RPGs donít offer interesting weapons choices. Many games contain a list of swords or guns, with the only major difference being their damage capability, which isnít much of a choice. The reason behind most weapons and their uses seems to have gotten lost in the game mechanics.

    A weapon choice could be viewed as picking the right tool for a particular job. For example, a rapier is useful in a dual against an unarmored opponent, but isnít the best weapon to be used on a battlefield. Similarly, wearing full battle armor and carrying large weapons around town is socially unacceptable. From my weapons research, Iíve grouped weapons in several categories that have similar attack strategies.

    Safe Distance

    Keeping a safe distance is a strategy using a weapon that has a greater range than your target. A warrior employing a long spear against an enemy with a club gives the spear-holder the advantage of distance as a defense. The same idea can be used for archers behind battlements, increasing their safety with distance and cover. A more modern version is a sniper that has an even greater distance and the added advantage of a hidden location. Finally, a drone attack is the next step in the progression, attacking from a distant location with little fear of enemy retaliation.

    Up Close and Personal

    While distance gives the advantage of safety, it has the disadvantages of an increased chance of missing the target and the need to correctly identify the target. For a high-value target, when identification is important, or the targetís defenses are impenetrable from afar, a close-as-possible strategy is needed. This tactic usually involves secret or hidden weapons, such as small blades, single-shot pistols, or ropes hidden among clothes or jewelry. The strategy requires the attacker to be allowed close access to the target through hiding his or her intent and weapon. The main disadvantage with this strategy is after the attack, when the attacker has difficulty keeping his or her identity secret and leaving the area where the attack took place.

    These weapons can sometimes involve the use of poison as a boost for lethality, usually because the smaller the weapon the better chance of it being hidden, but also it also drops its attacking power. A further advantage of using poison is that the effects can take time, allowing the attacker to escape and keep their identity secret.

    The Japanese Kakute is worn on the attackerís finger as a spiked ring that is usually tipped with poison. The Bulgarian Poison Umbrella is used to shoot a small dart with poison into a target at very close range. The America Glove Pistol contains a single-shot gun attached to a glove that is triggered when a plunger is depressed against the target.

    Breaching Defenses

    Weapons changed as armies adapted to the defenses of their particular enemy. In ancient times this usually involved getting through the enemyís shield. The Chinese Zhua is a claw attached to either a pole or a rope that could pull away an enemy shield. The Egyptian Khopesh is a curved sword that could either get around a shield to attack or be used as a hook to pull the shield down. The Roman Scissor is a horizontal blade that could be used as a hook to pull down a shield. Finally, the Indian Urumi is a flexible metal sword that could get around shields.

    Once past the shield there are weapons that specialize in armor penetration. The Indian Katar, a three-bladed knife, allowed for a greater chance of hitting an unarmored part of the body. The European Misericorde is a long, slender dagger intended to get between a knightís armor plating.

    Teamwork

    Most ancient weapons are meant to be used against a single foe in one-on-one combat. Tactics evolved to fight as a unit; shield walls and pole arms or a combination of weapons were used together to make each individual in the unit more effective. Using a formation modified shield designs and allowed for longer spears to be used. Teamwork also included horses, whose speed and strength allowed the use of lances and greater mobility for archers. Horses also advanced tactics for the use of chariots, which gave javelin-throwers and archers greater mobility and stability.

    Psychological Warfare

    Psychological weapons would be ones that either terrified enemies or enhanced the authority of the leader and, therefore, the morale of the troops he or she leads. These ďmagicalĒ weaponsí effectiveness is dependent on the local cultural and religious views of the people. These weapons are reserved for very specific situations.

    Some typical weapons were designed to appear more terrifying than others in an effort to unnerve an enemy. Other weapons were terrifying because what they didóthe Chinese Fire Lance is an ancient flamethrower that would either explode poison or shoot out flames. An Aztec Sacrificial Dagger was used for cutting hearts out during rituals.

    Some weapons are used as symbols of power, such as the New Zealand Mere Club that is built from nephrite jade and remains a symbol of leadership. In Japan, the Kusanagi no Tsurugi is a part of the Imperial Regalia and is one of the symbols of imperial power. A modern weapon equivalent might be an atomic bomb, as its ownership can bring both terror to others and boost authority.

    Socially Acceptable Weapons

    Laws often restrict the possession or use of certain weapons against citizens of higher status, so new weapons evolved in accordance of these laws. Many cultures only allowed nobility to have swords. In India, the Madu was a shield with animal horns attached to the sides, which were technically legal, but were dangerously sharp. Japanese law enforcement had to use Sodegarami, spiked staffs, to catch the clothes of a samurai, since they werenít allowed to use swords or kill a samurai who was of a higher class.

    Nonlethal Weapons

    Some of these laws involved taking a person alive, usually because he or she committed a crime or the attacker wants to make the target a slave. The European Man Catcher was used to pin a target to the ground. Japan still uses the Sasumata, the spear fork, to pin a targetís limbs to a wall or floor. Nets and Bolas are also used to impede movement in order to capture a target alive. Saps are used to beat someone into submission or knock them unconscious, while Whips are used to deliver nonlethal pain.

    Low-Skill Weapons

    Often levies had to fill the ranks of armies when there werenít enough professional soldiers. Familiar work tools or easy weapons were what they were used to. Axes, Spears, and farming tools were common. Later, Crossbows were easier to operate than Bows and Guns eventually became even easier.

    Another need for the use of low-skill weapons is for defense within urban areas where violent crime is common. In India, the Bagh Nakh, tiger claws, are easily hidden and gripped. Modern nonlethal equivalents that also stay within legal restrictions are pepper spray and electric tasers.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Combat Systems: Weapon Strategies

    Take a look at the Riddle of Steel and the Blade of the Iron Throne games. They present a rich, detailed, combat system with strategies based on weapons.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Combat Systems: Weapon Strategies

    I think this looks very promising and I'm what the mechanics will end up being like (and how easily they will translate to other games). For instance: the safe distance group groups weapons that are meant to keep people at a distance with ones you use from a distance, it will be interesting to see how your choices (and they have to be made, not every weapon is unique) affect the way this might play.

    But the reason I'm posting is mostly because I giggled/fanboy raged (even my underwear turned pink, just like Thog's!) a little at this randomly picked example that randomly landed on my "must react, someone is not spending a paragraph explaining something before coming to their point" button:

    Quote Originally Posted by attevil View Post
    For example, a rapier is useful in a dual against an unarmored opponent, but isnít the best weapon to be used on a battlefield.
    This happens to be pretty much my favorite history nerding era, and a rapier is definitely a battlefield sword. A backup weapon, sure, but with a one meter / 3'4" blade, the ability to block straight on (pretty much unheard of until then) and a total weight of only a kilogram/ two pounds it is pretty much the ultimate military weapon of the Western tradition. The whole dueling thing and civilians wearing them for show (plus of course the further decline of swords on the battlefield, which went pretty fast as soon as the bayonet was invented) is what caused these weapons to further evolve into smallswords and stuff.

    I get that in a game the light but moderately long sword is going to be fast but underpowered. But honestly, even as a non-backup stand alone weapon these things could probably be surprisingly effective on the field against earlier sword styles, it's hard to compete against something invented later using the technology of their time, it might nullify the advantage you get from using something that was designed as a main weapon.

    (Also: not trying to derail your thread, shutting up now.)
    Last edited by Lvl 2 Expert; 2015-06-30 at 01:15 PM.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Combat Systems: Weapon Strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruno Carvalho View Post
    Take a look at the Riddle of Steel and the Blade of the Iron Throne games. They present a rich, detailed, combat system with strategies based on weapons.
    I checked out both, the combat sounds interesting but very complex. I didn't find a lot of information on weapon Special Abilities, but saw mentions of weapon type vs armor type.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Combat Systems: Weapon Strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    pretty much the ultimate military weapon of the Western tradition. The whole dueling thing and civilians wearing them for show (plus of course the further decline of swords on the battlefield, which went pretty fast as soon as the bayonet was invented) is what caused these weapons to further evolve into smallswords and stuff.
    Sorry about that, I was only considering it's use against heavy armor and halberds. Really just the first example that came into my mind.

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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Combat Systems: Weapon Strategies

    OP: Check the manuevers under the proficiencies chapter in both books. And I assure you the combat is, albeit complex, quick and deadly. I remember once GM'ing a Riddle of Steel one-shot at a convention years ago and placing the characters in a fight scene at the very start of the game. The archer did his first shot, rolled the dice, it went right on the torso of a chain-mail armored guard, and the game instructed me to describe the result as "The arrow pierces the guard's lung, and he drops to the ground, drowning in his own blood."

    I still remember the player's face when I looked to the one with a melee character and asked "Do you charge into melee with the second guard?".

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Combat Systems: Weapon Strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruno Carvalho View Post
    I still remember the player's face when I looked to the one with a melee character and asked "Do you charge into melee with the second guard?".
    Ha ha nice, I'll check it out!

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