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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    In fantasy/medieval RPGs (as well as, say, Warhammer Fantasy Battle and similar) goes lengths to distinguish between one-handed and two-handed weapons.

    In these games, the main advantage of two-handed weapons are generally that they deal more damage. Some of them also have longer reach than one-handed weapons (but that's usually reserved for spears and pole-arms). If they have a disadvantage, other than occupying both hands, it's that they're slower. For example, in the alternate speed factor system of D&D 5e, they have a negative initiative modifier.

    I had a friend that practised sword fighting (don't ask about what kind or at what level) that said this was bull****. First, he didn't like the damage difference and claimed that you're equally dead from a dagger stab in the stomach as from a two-handed sword going through your shoulder and into your torso (technically, I suppose that's correct. But the abstract nature of hit point systems make it a bit more complicated). Secondly, he argued that two-handed weapons are faster. You're using both arms, i.e. double your strength, to move the weapon around, making your attacks and responses easier. Lastly, he pointed out that reach is probably the main advantage of two-handed sword vs. a one-handed one.

    His simple suggestion, that works in most system, was to make damage pretty much equal between weapons but give two-handed weapons a +1 to hit (or similar) to simulate that they're easier to wield. The reach part, I thought then, is trickier, you'd need to increase granularity the grid system or use 'zones' of distance or something for theatre-of-mind games. Now, I'm thinking that perhaps you could invert the initiative modifier in the speed factor system, making two-handers having a better chance of going first in initiative order. That would simulate that the guy with the longer weapon can strike first.

    Is it the RPGs that are wrong, or am I? Could you help sort this out for me - what advantages and disadvantages are there to one-handed and two-handed weapons, and how could that be represented in traditional RPGs?
    Last edited by Blymurkla; 2017-08-13 at 11:52 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Blymurkla View Post
    In fantasy/medieval RPGs (as well as, say, Warhammer Fantasy Battle and similar) goes lengths to distinguish between one-handed and two-handed weapons.

    In these games, the main advantage of two-handed weapons are generally that they deal more damage. Some of them also have longer reach than one-handed weapons (but that's usually reserved for spears and pole-arms). If they have a disadvantage, other than occupying both hands, it's that they're slower. For example, in the alternate speed factor system of D&D 5e, they have a negative initiative modifier.

    I had a friend that practised sword fighting (don't ask about what kind or at what level) that said this was bull****. First, he didn't like the damage difference and claimed that you're equally dead from a dagger stab in the stomach as from a two-handed sword going through your shoulder and into your torso (technically, I suppose that's correct. But the abstract nature of hit point systems make it a bit more complicated). Secondly, he argued that two-handed weapons are faster. You're using both arms, i.e. double your strength, to move the weapon around, making your attacks and responses easier. Lastly, he pointed out that reach is probably the main advantage of two-handed sword vs. a one-handed one.

    His simple suggestion, that works in most system, was to make damage pretty much equal between weapons but give two-handed weapons a +1 to hit (or similar) to simulate that they're easier to wield. The reach part, I thought then, is trickier, you'd need to increase granularity the grid system or use 'zones' of distance or something for theatre-of-mind games. Now, I'm thinking that perhaps you could invert the initiative modifier in the speed factor system, making two-handers having a better chance of going first in initiative order. That would simulate that the guy with the longer weapon can strike first.

    Is it the RPGs that are wrong, or am I? Could you help sort this out for me - what advantages and disadvantages are there to one-handed and two-handed weapons, and how could that be represented in traditional RPGs?
    I think it is difficult to divide weapons into "one handed" and "two-handed" as such. There is more to it than that.

    • Rapier is one handed is fast and quite long (good reach).
    • Longsword (late medieval sword primarily used two handed) might have about the same reach as rapier and also be very fast.
    • Small-sword is also fast but shorter.
    • Arming sword/viking age sword are shorter (thus less reach) and not as fast (though still "fast"). Is it enough to give rapiers/longsword the reach-advantage like spear/polewepons?
    • Greatsword/claymore/Zweihander etc, is a very different weapon, and I would argue not as fast, but much harder hitting (for defeating armoured oponents, cutting polewepons staffs etc, this is handy). I would say bonus reach, but slower than longsword/rapier.
    • "short" swords (messers, seaxes etc). Fast, but poor reach.


    The reach thing is difficult as you might not have "a whole" square/yard/foot/zone extra reach, but its still important to the fight. Depends on how the system operates how the best solution is. A simple solution is having the weapon giving a bonus to initiative or similar (a way of giving the one with the longest weapons within the category a chance to get an attack first). Then I would have "greatswords" (true double handers) in the same reach category as short pole-weapons. But Longswords/rapiers/arming-swords in another category. So I would give initiative to the longsword over the "normal" one handed sword, but equal to the rapier. I would similar have the arming sowrd and twohanded sword have the same initiative, but having the "greatsword" having a greater reach than both the arming sword and longsword.

    I am no expert swordsman, but from what I have tried, it is also easier to parry with a longsword than an arming sword. It is much easier to get the sword where you want it fast (which you need when parrying). Others (such as G) might have more accurate (skilled) opinion on this.

    About damage: no you are not equally dead with a dagger than a sword (or: dead is dead, but not all wounds are fatal right away). Yes, if it hits your vital organs. But a dagger to your body doesn't necessarily bring you down. A cut from a greatsword does. Similar a sword cut can pretty much remove an arm or leg, a dagger might not (note armour changes things, but lets leave that out for now).

    DnD hit points confuses things as you can survive the most extreme situations.... (like falling from high buildings, shrug of the damage and move on). But a greatsword SHOULD give more damage than a seax or other small sword. Also more than an arming sword.

    I think damage is difficult to calculate between stuff like rapier/longsword/arming sword. Rapiers thrust really well, and also cut fine, but I would argue doesn't have the power of a longsword for powerful cuts (perhaps disallow attacks such as DnD "power" attacks with a rapier could model this). An arming sword also possibly cuts better than a rapier.

    Instead of having classes of wepons in earlier version of this thread people have suggested using "features" of the wepons instead. This could look like this (with variansion depending on system)
    Rapier: fast and long (good initiative), cuts and thrust fine, but no power-cuts.
    Longsword (used twohanded): fast and long (good initiative), thrust and cuts, "power-cut", good at parrying/manoeuvre (+ to skill or parry or AC or whatever the system uses). Doesn't leave a hand free.
    Arming sword types (including Spathas, Viking swords etc): Not as long and fast as rapiers, but still decently fast (compared to axes etc). Cut (and likely thrust depending on type). Decent power cut (compared to rapier). Suited to use with large shields.

    And so on.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Blymurkla View Post
    Snip
    Your friend is mostly correct if we are talking about real-life, or human vs human combat...well, only mostly. I've read that most knife-related murder cases takes dozens of knife stabs to finally kill someone, but I presume a powerful sword slash can end someone's life pretty quickly.

    Now, in a fantasy world with ogres and dragons running around, this will certainly not be the case. Some of these monstrous humanoid can apparently survive a cannonball to the gut, so using a two-handed sword will certainly be more effective against them (deal more damage) compared to a dagger.

    However, he is more or less correct in stating that two-handed weapon has better reach, speed, control/accuracy and leverage if you are going into a bind (and power/killing potential too, actually), all else being equal. They are just that good.

    The only thing going for one-handed weapon is that you can grab a shield/a second weapon with your off hand.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Amaril View Post
    Few questions here. Let's say I'm working on a low-fantasy game with the tech level of the setting pegged to mid-to-late 11th century western Europe (if a specific year is needed, go with 1066 CE). It's rules-light, with a simple combat system that uses ablative armor. You can equip up to four kinds of armor at once: cloth or leather padding (a gambeson or something similar), a shield, a helmet, and mail or lamellar. When you get hit, you can sacrifice one piece of armor to protect yourself; on a good armor roll, that piece is intact but no longer useful in that battle (helmets get knocked off, straps on mail come undone, etc.), on a bad roll, it's broken and will need repair.

    I want weapon selection to matter in this system, so one way it factors in is that certain types of weapons can't be blocked by certain types of armor. My main question is, what weapons should get past what armor? The weapon list I'm imagining would include one-handed spears, two-handed longspears and glaives, one-handed axes, two-handed battleaxes, swords, maces/hammers, bows, slings, and daggers (the last two inferior to everything else in pretty much every way, but acquirable basically for free as backup weapons). There would also be a note made that crossbows exist, but are unpopular among adventurers because their long loading times leave the user vulnerable in the short-range, small-group engagements they tend to end up in. I know maces were historically used to deal crushing blows through mail, so I'd assume they'd also ignore padding; is that accurate? My research so far has turned up conflicting reports about the effectiveness of piercing weapons against mail, so how would that work? What about against padding? How about swords, would they ignore anything? Axes?
    Note that there is almost no maces in western Europe in the 11th century. We had a long debate about it in the previous thread. When Maces became more "popular" was a matter of debate though (my opinion later, more like 14th century than 12th century, well except for in Byzantine empire and partly "Russia").

    I have difficult answering your question as I do not understand the armour system (or do not agree with the premise). Armour can withstand multiple hits (yes they get worn down over time, loosing rings etc, but not by one or two hits!). Also Padding as standalone armour is not a 11th century thing (and until proven otherwise I will argue that thick clothing was the only padding worn, no evidence of padding until somewhat later).

    No weapon should really ignore armour. Swords might cut through padding, but it will still not go as deep as without padding etc.

    I always think giving armour a damage resistance is much better. Then certain weapons (such as "spiky things" for mail, cutting things for padding etc) can reduce the damage resistance. Thus a mail might have between 4 and 8 of DR depending on quality, then sword cuts deal 1d6 damage, a narrow-pointed spear also 1d6 (or possibly 1d8 or whatever), but with a 50% reduction to DR giving it a change to hurt the opponent (thus reducing the armour protective value to 2 or 4 depending on quality, thus many hits will still be ignored).

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Note that there is almost no maces in western Europe in the 11th century. We had a long debate about it in the previous thread. When Maces became more "popular" was a matter of debate though (my opinion later, more like 14th century than 12th century, well except for in Byzantine empire and partly "Russia").

    I have difficult answering your question as I do not understand the armour system (or do not agree with the premise). Armour can withstand multiple hits (yes they get worn down over time, loosing rings etc, but not by one or two hits!). Also Padding as standalone armour is not a 11th century thing (and until proven otherwise I will argue that thick clothing was the only padding worn, no evidence of padding until somewhat later).

    No weapon should really ignore armour. Swords might cut through padding, but it will still not go as deep as without padding etc.

    I always think giving armour a damage resistance is much better. Then certain weapons (such as "spiky things" for mail, cutting things for padding etc) can reduce the damage resistance. Thus a mail might have between 4 and 8 of DR depending on quality, then sword cuts deal 1d6 damage, a narrow-pointed spear also 1d6 (or possibly 1d8 or whatever), but with a 50% reduction to DR giving it a change to hurt the opponent (thus reducing the armour protective value to 2 or 4 depending on quality, thus many hits will still be ignored).
    That's similar to what we did in the old homebrew.

    Every weapon had a damage and a "penetration" value, and every armor had a "reduction" value.

    (No "armor makes you harder to hit", either.)
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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Amaril View Post
    Few questions here. Let's say I'm working on a low-fantasy game with the tech level of the setting pegged to mid-to-late 11th century western Europe (if a specific year is needed, go with 1066 CE). It's rules-light, with a simple combat system that uses ablative armor. You can equip up to four kinds of armor at once: cloth or leather padding (a gambeson or something similar), a shield, a helmet, and mail or lamellar. When you get hit, you can sacrifice one piece of armor to protect yourself; on a good armor roll, that piece is intact but no longer useful in that battle (helmets get knocked off, straps on mail come undone, etc.), on a bad roll, it's broken and will need repair.

    I want weapon selection to matter in this system, so one way it factors in is that certain types of weapons can't be blocked by certain types of armor. My main question is, what weapons should get past what armor? The weapon list I'm imagining would include one-handed spears, two-handed longspears and glaives, one-handed axes, two-handed battleaxes, swords, maces/hammers, bows, slings, and daggers (the last two inferior to everything else in pretty much every way, but acquirable basically for free as backup weapons). There would also be a note made that crossbows exist, but are unpopular among adventurers because their long loading times leave the user vulnerable in the short-range, small-group engagements they tend to end up in. I know maces were historically used to deal crushing blows through mail, so I'd assume they'd also ignore padding; is that accurate? My research so far has turned up conflicting reports about the effectiveness of piercing weapons against mail, so how would that work? What about against padding? How about swords, would they ignore anything? Axes?
    I, and apparently most gamers, are perfectly okay with unrealistic interactions as long as they make mechanical sense. Fire Emblem's sword beats axe, axe beats spear system doesn't have any justification as far as I can tell, but it works perfectly well in their context of a turn based tactics game.

    I'm not sure about the gameplay utility of this system either. Damage resistances tend not to work in a system where you can only control one unit. So if I built my character to be good with a sword, but a sword doesn't do well against mail armor, am I just screwed in a fight against someone wearing mail? That's not fun, nor does it make sense for realism - in reality, mailed warriors with swords killed each other all the time by using their swords on the body parts not covered by mail, sometimes requiring a bit of close quarters struggle. Or, if it's not a big deal to use a different weapon, does this mean that all player characters will want to have access to a large breadth of weapons? If that's possible, what's the point of having this different weapons system to begin with?

    If weapons are supposed to feel different, where does this difference in feel come in? Am I more likely to encounter some armor types than others? Is it a bigger deal to be able to pierce lamellar than it is to be able to pierce gambeson? What makes a player choose one weapon types or armor types over the others, besides what all the other players are choosing?
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Blymurkla View Post
    First, he didn't like the damage difference and claimed that you're equally dead from a dagger stab in the stomach as from a two-handed sword going through your shoulder and into your torso (technically, I suppose that's correct. But the abstract nature of hit point systems make it a bit more complicated).
    I agree that a killing blow can be delivered by different scale weapons and when you're dead it doesn't matter what weapon did it, but the idea that all weapons therefore do equal damage is just silly. I guess it doesn't matter if you get the result you want from a game, but if you're trying for 'simulationist', there should be differences in damage.
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

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    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    My responses to a lot of these comments will have to stray away from history and into game design, so I'll spoiler them for now, and if the discussion continues that way, I'll move it to its own thread.

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I have difficult answering your question as I do not understand the armour system (or do not agree with the premise). Armour can withstand multiple hits (yes they get worn down over time, loosing rings etc, but not by one or two hits!).

    ...

    I always think giving armour a damage resistance is much better. Then certain weapons (such as "spiky things" for mail, cutting things for padding etc) can reduce the damage resistance. Thus a mail might have between 4 and 8 of DR depending on quality, then sword cuts deal 1d6 damage, a narrow-pointed spear also 1d6 (or possibly 1d8 or whatever), but with a 50% reduction to DR giving it a change to hurt the opponent (thus reducing the armour protective value to 2 or 4 depending on quality, thus many hits will still be ignored).
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    That's similar to what we did in the old homebrew.

    Every weapon had a damage and a "penetration" value, and every armor had a "reduction" value.

    (No "armor makes you harder to hit", either.)
    The system is a Powered by the Apocalypse hack. For reference, here's the combat rules as they currently stand.

    Spoiler
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    Stats
    Characters have five main stats. Each ranges from -3 to +3. The two most directly relevant to combat are brave and strong.

    Brave means courageous, thrill-seeking, lacking in self-preservation, able and willing to throw yourself into danger without faltering.

    Strong means physically strong, strong-willed, tough, aggressive, violent and skilled in the doing of violence.

    Basic Moves
    For anyone not familiar with Powered by the Apocalypse, the game revolves around actions called moves. A move is triggered when a player character does something that creates uncertainty in the fiction. Almost all moves involve a roll of 2d6 plus relevant modifiers, usually a stat. A total of 10 or higher indicates a complete success--the character accomplished exactly what they wanted. A 7-9 indicates a partial success--they get part of what they want, or succeed with complications. A 6 or lower is a failure, which usually gives the GM open-ended license to inflict badness as fictionally appropriate.

    In Drifters, much of combat is based around two basic moves: throw yourself into danger and do battle.

    Throw yourself into danger
    When you throw yourself into danger, or steel yourself to endure, roll +brave. On a 10+, you do it. On a 7-9, you flinch, hesitate, or stall; the GM can offer you a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice. On a miss, be prepared for the worst.

    Do battle
    When you attack an enemy in combat, roll +strong. On a 10+, you inflict harm, evade or stop their counterattack, and keep them at the distance you want. On a 7-9, you inflict harm, and they retaliate, inflicting harm back on you, or moving to their preferred range if they can't. On a miss, be prepared for the worst.

    Peripheral Moves
    There are two peripheral moves that will also come up a lot in a fight: harm and armor.

    Harm
    When you suffer harm, mark off a harm box and roll +current harm. On a 10+, you're incapacitated, out of the fight. On a 7-9, you're struggling; take -1 forward. On a miss, you're fine for now. If you're at 4 harm, don't bother rolling, because you're dead.
    When you rest up in town, if you're at 1 harm, heal up to full health. Anything more serious will require treatment.

    Armor
    When you protect yourself from harm with armor, choose a piece of armor you're wearing and roll. On a 10+, the armor stops the hit, but you won't be able to use it again this fight. On a 7-9, as above, and the armor gets in your way; take -1 forward. On a miss, the armor stops the hit, but breaks in the process, and won't be usable again until someone with the appropriate skills takes time to fix it up.

    More on Combat
    When you get in a fight, the first thing you need to figure out is what range you're fighting at. This is determined by your weapon. Too far, and you can't reach; too close, and you don't have the space to swing properly. The ranges are shot (bows, slings), thrown (thrown weapons), reach (longspears, glaives), close (most other melee weapons), and hand (daggers, bare hands). Sometimes, the location of the fight will determine the range--if you're fighting in a closet, you're at hand range. Failing that, compare your weapon with your enemy's; the person with the longer range gets to pick. You can't attack someone outside your range, unless you can close the gap somehow, which will probably mean throwing yourself into danger. If you have the range advantage, your enemy can't hit you, but may get a chance to close the distance as per your do battle move. The same applies if either of you wants to retreat to a longer range.

    Besides its range, every weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses. Common weapons are listed here with theirs.

    (Still working on the weapon list, but below it, I'll have a list of each characteristic and what it means.)

    Weak means it can't get through armor. If your opponent is wearing any, you're out of luck. This will mostly apply to unarmed attacks.

    Deadly means if it's not stopped by armor, it inflicts 2 harm. Keep in mind that helpless, unaware, or unsuspecting targets can't use armor, even if they're wearing it. (I hadn't mentioned that last part yet here, but it's detailed in the full rules as part of the move for attacking such targets.)

    Cheap means any time you have a chance to pick up new weapons, you can get one essentially for free, no bargaining or spending treasure needed. Expensive means it'll cost you 2 treasure instead of 1 (or double the price of other weapons, whatever that is at the moment).

    Two-handed means you can't use a shield with it.

    Ammo means it uses a limited supply of projectiles, which you can run out of.

    (My plan was to also have characteristics that let weapons bypass different types of armor, but obviously I'm still nailing down just how that works.)

    More on Harm
    When you get hurt, you take harm. Most injuries are 1 harm--that includes normal weapon strikes. Drifters have 4 harm boxes. 1 harm is scrapes, bruises, and shallow cuts--painful, but not serious, and they'll get better on their own with time and rest. 2 harm is a real, telling injury that hurts a lot and needs help to heal, but isn't life-threatening. 3 harm is a mortal wound; if you don't get help within a few minutes, you'll bleed out and die. 4 harm is death--you might have time for a few last words, but no healing can save you now. Remember, though, that even 1 harm can take you out of a fight if you get unlucky with your harm move; this is where armor can really be helpful.

    Most NPCs, human or otherwise, die at 2 harm, though some really tough ones might take 3. There's also d-harm, or direct harm. D-harm is for things like poison, or falling off cliffs; normal armor can't stop it.

    You can equip up to four pieces of armor: padding, mail, a helmet, and a shield. As per the armor move, you can use it to avoid harm. Mail is expensive to buy, though not to repair. Armored NPCs don't roll for armor--they just spend it to absorb hits, 1 piece per hit. Certain non-human creatures also have 1 or more n-armor, or natural armor, which they can spend the same way. N-armor might be ignored by certain types of weapons (a skeleton's n-armor might be ignored by blunt weapons, for example), or by certain other kinds of harm, like fire or silver. N-armor can stop d-harm, unless the d-harm is of a kind that specifically bypasses that creature's n-armor.

    Treasure
    Treasure is abstracted as points, found in the course of adventures or given as payment by NPCs. In terms of relevance to combat, 1 treasure buys: a new weapon; a new piece of armor; the repair of two broken pieces of armor; or full treatment by a healer (all assuming you get a fair deal, which you often won't). Anything cheap is free of this price, anything expensive doubles it.

    I think that about covers it. Anyway, the gist of it is, PbtA systems don't make damage granular enough for weapons with AP ratings to be viable. Granted, the original Apocalypse World does armor as simple damage reduction, but the armor system I'm using is essentially copied from Sagas of the Icelanders; I thought it more fitting for a dungeon-crawling fantasy system with more focus on combat than vanilla AW. The reason for the fragility of armor is that fights are extremely short. Most fights between unarmored combatants will come down to just one or two rolls; with that kind of lethality, a single piece of armor absorbing one hit nearly doubles your survivability, which is a big deal. Also, keeping your armor in working order is meant to be a huge part of the resource allocation game--you only have so much treasure to throw around, so do you spend it on a bed for your stay in town, or on fixing the broken helmet that might save your life? It's definitely unrealistic for armor to fall apart so fast, and the only real explanation here is "because games", but I'm comfortable with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    No weapon should really ignore armour. Swords might cut through padding, but it will still not go as deep as without padding etc.
    See above. I'm sure realistically, no weapon completely ignores any type of armor, but at the level of granularity I'm working with (very little), it makes sense to abstract it as such. It's a case of rounding the effect of armor to "no damage" or "full damage", and the former doesn't work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    I, and apparently most gamers, are perfectly okay with unrealistic interactions as long as they make mechanical sense. Fire Emblem's sword beats axe, axe beats spear system doesn't have any justification as far as I can tell, but it works perfectly well in their context of a turn based tactics game.
    Couldn't agree more. Hopefully my above responses have made it a little clearer where I'm coming from.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    I'm not sure about the gameplay utility of this system either. Damage resistances tend not to work in a system where you can only control one unit. So if I built my character to be good with a sword, but a sword doesn't do well against mail armor, am I just screwed in a fight against someone wearing mail? That's not fun, nor does it make sense for realism - in reality, mailed warriors with swords killed each other all the time by using their swords on the body parts not covered by mail, sometimes requiring a bit of close quarters struggle. Or, if it's not a big deal to use a different weapon, does this mean that all player characters will want to have access to a large breadth of weapons? If that's possible, what's the point of having this different weapons system to begin with?

    If weapons are supposed to feel different, where does this difference in feel come in? Am I more likely to encounter some armor types than others? Is it a bigger deal to be able to pierce lamellar than it is to be able to pierce gambeson? What makes a player choose one weapon types or armor types over the others, besides what all the other players are choosing?
    As I've hopefully explained, all weapons can get through all armor, so you can totally kill someone in mail using a sword. It'd just take a roll or two longer than using a weapon against which mail is ineffective. My goal is, indeed, for PCs to want access to a variety of weapons. The main limiting factor on that will be what your class allows you to start with (in standard Apocalypse World and Dungeon World fashion, each class offers a different selection of starting equipment), and how much treasure they have to spend on buying new weapons, or replacements for ones they lose when they blow their moves and the GM gets to take their stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Note that there is almost no maces in western Europe in the 11th century. We had a long debate about it in the previous thread. When Maces became more "popular" was a matter of debate though (my opinion later, more like 14th century than 12th century, well except for in Byzantine empire and partly "Russia").
    I've been told they're rare, but I'm given to understand they did exist, in the form of simple blunt instruments--no flanges or proper warhammers. PCs in this game are supposed to be unconventional, so even if they're uncommon, it's appropriate to have them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Also Padding as standalone armour is not a 11th century thing (and until proven otherwise I will argue that thick clothing was the only padding worn, no evidence of padding until somewhat later).
    Really? My research has turned up talk of leather used as armor going back to the viking age. Are we talking about different kinds of padding?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Gambesons

    This is honestly little more than semantics in terms of protectivity. Sure, migration era Europe didn't have gambesons per se, but if you're wearing 4 thick wool layers and maybe reinforce some of it with leather, it functions pretty much the same. It matters when you're trying to put together a period appropriate costume, not so much when designing a TTRPG system.

    In any case, there are far, far too few find of any sort of clothing and armor to make sweeping conclusions. From what we have, several thick layers plus leather looks reasonable and works pretty well in practice. I added strips of leather into my padded mittens (for c1300 AD) to help with protecting my fingers, once they were in, no one was able to tell my gambeson was anything but standard, and I don't think no one at the time when they were used thought of this.

    Weapon systems

    My advice is, don't try to go in too deep into the rabbit hole, or go all the way. If we want to go all the way, we must ask ourselves, what does damage represent? In DnD-like system, it measures how much hurt a weapon can deliver if it hits. A big blade is far better at this than a little one, simply because it has a bigger chance to hit something important, like an artery. A guy may walk away from a stabbing if he's lucky, not so much if he has a longsword in the middle of his ribcage.

    DR as armor is not a good idea either, simply because it represents how armor works rather poorly. Sure, if you try hitting the armored part, then it's accurate, but what about someone having a mail shirt with short sleeves while you try to chop off his hands? In some respect, armor should also represent that it makes harder to hit a body part that is unprotected by it. Hybrid AC and DR system may work, but then you need to ask yourself why apply DR if the AC is higher? You could also split the target roll into 3 areas (no hit, hit armor, hit unarmored part) but that becomes rather tedious pretty quickly.

    And let's not even go into how some weapons (e.g. a pollaxe) work far, far better when paired with armor.

    Then you have the problem of scaling. Most TTRPGs have characters become more powerful, so how do you reflect that mechanically while keeping the longsword through the ribcage as lethal at level 1 as it is at level 15? There are solutions to this, like transforming HP to represent being tired or lucky etc etc, but none of them are perfect.

    You have two options there, go with a completely new system built from ground up - one based on how Filipino MAs deal with weapon types could work well - or pick a really abstract system like FATE and assign bonuses on a case-by-case basis. If you feel compelled to make changes based on "realism" don't. If you want to make changes for mechanical reasons (e.g. one handed weapons suck compared to two handed ones in this system), ignore our reality and substitute your own.
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    Maces in 1066 AD. Note that it could be not just a weapon, but also a symbol of authority.
    Spoiler
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    Also: spade fight!





    Concerning weapon categories, I'd add manoeuvrability, which isn't the same as speed. Musashi said that you couldn't move a katana like a washizaki, because the katana was longer, which gave it more momentum. So you couldn't just interrupt the swing of your katana like you could interrupt the swing of your washizaki, which gave you a "recovery time" you had to account for.
    Last edited by Vinyadan; 2017-08-14 at 10:04 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post
    Your friend is mostly correct if we are talking about real-life, or human vs human combat...well, only mostly. I've read that most knife-related murder cases takes dozens of knife stabs to finally kill someone, but I presume a powerful sword slash can end someone's life pretty quickly.
    In previous threads, we devised a way of expressing the difference as lethality and incapacitation.

    A dagger to the gut and a sword cleaving you in two are both equally fatal (ie you will die from this), but the former isn't as incapacitating (you can no longer fight). This means you can stab the person back, often fatally as well as their dagger is currently buried in your belly. I believe the 'right of way' rules in modern fencing were devised as a way of addressing this as 'both fencers dead' isn't a satisfying result for determining a winner in a sport.
    Poisoned weapons (barring some rare and incredibly toxic ones) are also generally lethal but not incapacitating.

    Things like nets, entangling weapons (eg 'man catchers') and tear gas are on the other side - incapacitating but generally not lethal. In very, very general terms, most slashing weapons tend not to be as lethal as piercing weapons, but location matters (severing the tendons in an arm tends not to be lethal, but hitting a major artery is; stabbing someone in the thigh isn't as lethal as stabbing someone in the head).

    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post
    The only thing going for one-handed weapon is that you can grab a shield/a second weapon with your off hand.
    You can also grab your opponent, their weapon (eg polearm haft), or something in the environment, either to throw at them or to steady yourself on unstable surfaces like a ship's deck.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Hi guys, welcome to the new thread everybody. So this is number 24? I think I've been on this thread for maybe 10 or 15 incarnations. It's always fun and I often learn things here.

    I have a few comments on the recent questions.

    On disciplined infantry in the middle ages.

    This was not nearly as rare as people assume. One has to remember that most European armies in the early medieval period, the migration era, were made up of infantry, infantry which was sufficiently disciplined to eventually overwhelm the Roman Empire. In Europe you had both heavy and light infantry, but Europe was really (arguably) the epicenter of heavy infantry, infantry wearing mail armor and helmets, and in those earlier days, protected with strongly made shields (made of wood with bronze or iron bosses as opposed to those light wicker shields used by the Persian infantry) proved capable of facing down every other troop type.

    Perhaps the most famous and well-known triumph of Germanic infantry in the Early Medieval or Migration Era was Charles Martel's famous victory at Tours against a massive invading army of Arab / Moorish cavalry in 732 AD. This engagement, which ended a major incursion into France by the Moors and we now know (though nobody did back then) reflected the high-water mark of Moorish conquest of Europe, represented the classic dynamic of infantry vs. cavalry warfare: a small but well-disciplined and well-led force of heavy infantry faces down repeated charges and sustained missile attacks from a much larger force of cavalry, by both resisting attacks and counter-attacking opportunistically without losing unit cohesion. Frankish heavy infantry at this time would be armed something like this:



    ...armed and protected in a manner similar to a Roman Legionnaire of 3-4 centuries earlier.

    Tours in 732 is the template for the successful infantry battle against a cavalry force. It would be repeated again and again through the centuries, with both cavalry and infantry forces adjusting tactics in response to one another, in kind of a see-saw effect where cavalry would be ascendant for a while, then infantry, then cavalry again and so on, but with the "oscilations" gradually diminishing as each type of unit improved their game so to speak, both in terms of tactics and gear.

    Tribal armies of the Migration Era had acquired this ability, as a fusion of Celtic / Germanic / Greek and other indigenous fighting traditions with sophisticated theoretical Roman tactics and equipment (which in turn were largely adapted from their enemies in places like the Iberian peninsula).

    Heavy infantry vs. cavalry.
    Heavy cavalry seems to have come to Europe from the Central and South Asian areas, especially from Persia / Iran. We know that the Franks, which were a tribal confederation rather than a tribe (like most of the Germanic 'tribes' that you hear about - Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Allemani, Vandals - all tribal federations made up of multiple ethnic and language groups) incorporated Taifal and Alan tribesmen from Iran, as part of the cavalry branch of their armies. The Franks themselves - the ethnic Franks or Franconians, specialized in light-infantry, but had heavy infantry as well. I often irritate my French relatives by pointing out that these Iranian people were settled in France as founding members of what became the French nobility. We even had a Taifal Saint.



    I like to point out this image out when making this point in lectures etc. Look closely at these cavalry warriors. They look like they could be French knights from the 13th- 14th Century. But they aren't -they are Sassanid cataphracts from Iran in the 6th Century. Heavy cavalry of this type was effective against the Roman Empire and the Romans, particularly the Byzantines of the Eastern Empire, adapted their own version, the Clibinari.

    The rise of Feudalism and Heavy Cavalry

    During the period roughly from the Carolingian Age through the time of the brutal Norman conquest of England in 1066, much of Latinized Europe was under very heavy and sustained pressure from external enemies. Pagan Norse Vikings, Magyars from the Steppe (who were just the latest incarnation of Steppe raiders after the devastating invasions by the Huns), Moors in Spain and Arabs throughout the Mediterranean basin, invaded and conducted devastating slave raids into Europe from all directions. Gradually, in response to this and as a byproduct of the process of Christianization and the adoption of Roman customs, what became known as the Feudal system came into existence.

    This allowed political leaders to summon forth armies of suitably equipped and armed men, who were in turn supported by (a usually fixed ratio) of unarmed men or families, as a type of military tax. For example, for every ten men from a given region one man had to be armed with mail, a shield, a helmet, an axe and a spear. Or in poorer districts maybe just a man with an axe, a bow, and 20 arrows. We have plenty of these laws, Merovingian and Carolingian Capitularies, Norse leidang, Anglo-Saxon Fyrd etc. which outline all these rules and the specifics of what weapons were required.

    At this time, in many though by no means all areas, serfdom was introduced at the same time that the need for heavy cavalry was recognized. Cavalry had the advantage of being able to rapidly descend on a given trouble-spot, such as some port on a river attacked by Viking raiders, and many of the invading forces (Arabs, Moors and Magyars among others) were heavily based on cavalry and it was hard to intercept a raiding column of Magyars with marching infantry following them around on foot. Cavalry was needed, and this meant more people had to work to support the fighting class or estate, in what French philosophers called the three estate system. In the relatively inefficient Carolingian economy, to support a heavily armored rider on a horse with 2 or 3 attendants, it took 20, 30, maybe 50 farmers working full time. These same warriors also became tax collectors, and eventually, part of a hereditary nobility.

    Cavalry in Latin Europe quickly developed it's own special niche - Latinized European armies began to specialize in the Sassanid type heavy cavalry, but with many improvements. Better armor, better saddles and stirrups and horse harness, new and stronger breeds of horses, longer lances. Better swords. A rapidly developing and increasingly robust warrior culture developed in Latin Europe in part by the emerging violent martial sports such as in the Chivalric tournament. It was with the heavy cavalry that Latin European armies had their best military successes toward the end of the Carolingian period, leading into what you might call the Norman heydey of the 11th -12th Century, when Latin heavy cavalry proved to be a major shock to Arab, Turkish and Byzantine observers.

    But at the same time, Latin military leaders had two problems. On the one hand, cavalry wasn't enough, a truly effective military force was always combined-arms, utilizing every troop type available, and had both light and heavy cavalry as well as infantry. They had a need for infantry, this is something you can see clearly in the story of Alfred the Great who reorganized Anglo-Saxon militia back in the 8th Century to better face Viking raids. Part of what he was forced to do was give the Feudalized tribesmen more autonomy, because serfs made poor soldiers. The other part of the dilemma that Latin leaders had was that the process of Feudalization was uneven, in many areas the local tribes, who had a tradition of every able-bodied man being a fighter, strongly resisted being pushed down into the status of serfs. This was particularly true in mountainous, forested, or swampy areas, and in towns.

    The revival of infantry
    It was this latter process which eventually put elite Latinized cavalry into direct conflict with their own people, armed and kitted out as infantry, and the latter gradually began to gain the upper hand. This was a kind of an arms race between the new noble Estate and what was emerging as a 4th estate - the burghers.

    Frankish infantry of the 5th-8th Century were armed like Roman Legionaires - with a large shield, a javelin which also worked as a spear (the angon), a sword as a sidearm, mail shirt and a helmet. This kit was no longer sufficient to face off armored heavy cavalry by the 11th-12th Centuries. New weapons however helped even the score - larger spears, two-handed poll-maces, the longbow, the crossbow, and the halberd and various polearm cousins were gradually developed. A major source of innovation for infantry came into being with the revival of the towns. Already in the 9th-10th Century we can see that Frankish armies were utilizing town militia as a separate and better class of infantry over the regular rural levies. The towns had the money to afford much better equipment, especially armor, and could also much more rapidly disseminate new and better types of weapons like the new types of crossbows and rapidly evolving battle axe / halberd precursors.

    This led to major conflicts between the nobility, with their excellent heavy cavalry, and the newly assertive urban militias, protected by their town walls but emerging into the open to fight in the field, with increasing discipline and improved weapons. Local conflicts escalated upward as regional knights and counts were defeated by burghers and untamed rural tribes, until the princes themselves got involved. Again, there were many examples of this happening but the biggest shock early on was probably the defeat of the Holy Roman Emperor by the Lombard League in Italy in the 12th Century. This was an alliance of dozens of Italian towns which rose up in defiance in the 11th Century and continued to match escalating military pressure from the Emperor, culminating in the Battle of Legnano in 1176.

    By the end of this series of wars, which continued intermittently through the 13th Century, the Emperor was basically thrown out of Northern Italy, the cities had become independent city-states, and the would -be King of Italy (and son of the Emperor) was held in golden chains by the militia of Bologna.


    (This is him being led into his jail cell)

    At this juncture you begin to see a different type of infantry, well protected with body armor and lines of pavise shields, armed with lethal missile weapons such as longbows and powerful mechanically spanned crossbows, and wielding long spears and large two-handed cutting or smashing weapons. Heavy infantry of this type was almost as expensive as cavalry, and had an equally important role.



    To cultivate the warlike esprit de corps among their citizens the towns held their own war-games and warlike sports, with an increasing emphasis on shooting - the schutzenfest of the German, Flemish and Czech towns and the Palio della Balestra of the Italians. The Genoese became famous very early on in the Crusades for the effectiveness of their crossbowmen, but they were by no means unique. This emphasis on warlike games seems to be another particular (though not quite unique) characteristic of European warriors (in both Latin and Greek cultural zones). The Greeks of course had the Olympic games.

    In this same period, in places like Flanders, the Rhineland, Southern Germany, Bohemia, and Poland, urban militias were facing down the regional gentry in pitched battles. One example I have cited before is the battle where the 'fighting Bishop' Walter von Geroldseck was defeated in the field by the militia of Strasbourg. By the end of the 13th Century mighty Latin princes were defeated in Flanders at Golden Spurs, in Scotland at Bannock burn, and in Switzerland at Morgarten

    But I never heard of this !?

    We don't know much about this rise of the cities and rise of infantry because we English-speakers get our history from England and France, which were both strong Monarchies and areas with limited urban development (particularly in England). Though a Renaissance had started in southern France in the 11th-12th centuries, it ended in a smoking ruin with the Albigensian Crusades. Instead, it was in Flanders, northern Italy, the Rhineland and Southern Germany, later to be joined by several other scattered zones (Catalonia, the shores of the Baltic and North Sea, Bohemia etc.) where urbanization took hold and all the new technology and innovations, as well as surging wealth, began to change the fabric of Latin Europe.


    In the 15th Century the Swiss rose to such a high level in Central Europe, with the innovative revival of pike warfare, and the Czechs similarly a little bit further to the East relying on guns, war-wagons and two-handed flails, that the balance tipped back toward infantry became if anything a bit more dangerous on the field than cavalry.

    But this continued to shift back and forth - in the 16th Century new types of cavalry emerged, with longer lances and new tactics, and toward the later 16th - pistols, all of which helped cavalry keep pace with infantry. The French Gendarmes and the Polish Winged Hussars reached lethal new levels of efficiency. At the same time, social and political conditions changed rapidly with the opening up of the Atlantic and Pacific trade routes, the conquest of foreign people, the establishment of overseas colonies and slave plantations, all led to massively increased wealth for the powerful coastal Monarchies of England, France, Portugal and Spain. These in turn, linked by marriage to Central Europe (for example the Hapsburgs connecting Spain, Flanders and Germany), began to consolidate power and diminish the strength of the towns.

    Serfdom, essentially, returned to much of Latin Europe and with it came a degradation of the social base of heavy infantry.



    So the TL : DR is that the High to Late middle ages was actually the heydey of strong, disciplined infantry, which faded to a large extent into the Early Modern era, until gradually the musket and the bayonett brought even conscripted troops back up to parity with cavalry once again.


    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2017-08-14 at 10:16 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Just to emphasise something Galloglaich was saying about interchange between northern Europe and central Asia, that expressway was in operation as far back as 4th century BC, Skythians and others had been roving as far as modern Poland or even Germany for that long. Partly for trade in amber, but there was also some exchange in peoples too.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Just to emphasise something Galloglaich was saying about interchange between northern Europe and central Asia, that expressway was in operation as far back as 4th century BC, Skythians and others had been roving as far as modern Poland or even Germany for that long. Partly for trade in amber, but there was also some exchange in peoples too.
    Yep

    In fact Polish mythology / cultural narrative in the late medieval to Early Modern period emphasized the idea that they (the very large Polish nobility in particular) were descended from the Sarmatians. It was a doctrine which some modern scholars believe was intended to differentiate them both from the Germans and other West-Europeans and simultaneously from the Greek-Orthodox and Mongol dominated Russians.

    They had their own unique fashions and everything based on this idea, which was called 'Sarmatism'

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarmatism



    In the late medieval period, it was that other group of West-Slavs, the Czechs, particularly Czech Hussite heretics, who helped stem the tide of the Steppe nomads, largely with heavy infantry. The war-wagon tactics initially developed against the Crusaders were utilized by Czech mercenaries fighting for Hungary (including in the Black Army), for Poland, for Austrian and various other German polities, and as mercenaries hired by the Venetians and Genoese - against the Mongols and the Ottomans, where they proved highly effective against steppe-nomad tactics.

    The other tactic which seems to have worked well was river-borne 'marines', a tactic utilized with great success by the Norse Varjag trading and war-bands, which by the late medieval period was augmented by the addition of swivel-guns on the boats.

    Both of these tactics, as well as (eventually) and adaptation of Steppe nomad type light cavalry warfare, were adapted by the runaway slave armies of the Cossacks of the Dnieper and Don rivers, and they in-turn were used from the Early Modern to Modern period as muscle by the Russians, who conquered much of Siberia and Central Asia with armies of Cossacks.

    Spoiler: Cossack raid in Siberia
    Show



    The Cossacks and their Ukranian descendants continued to use and develop war-wagon tactics right into the machinegun age with the tachanka.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachanka

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    One could argue that it (the improvised war wagon / the tachanka) survives in spirit to this day in parts of the world:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_(vehicle)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-14 at 09:36 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Regarding weapons,

    - as a side note, I am biased, I made the Codex Martialis combat system specifically to answer these kinds of questions.

    The TL : DR is that it's subtle and hard to account for in a combat system with only one die-roll 'To hit' and one for damage, but with a little bit more granularity you can simulate something much more like a real fight without making your game slow or overly complex. You just have to think of the whole system and then pare it down to the level of simplicity you are comfortable with.

    Two handed vs. single-handed
    Having said that, the issue of what the difference really is between two-handed and single-handed weapons is actually one of the most difficult to quantify and is harder and less intuitive than it sounds like it would be. It's definitely not as simple as giving a +1 to two-handed weapons, because many single handed weapons are extremely accurate as noted upthread - spears, rapiers, arming swords, spatha, gladius, sabers, maces, war-hammers, daggers and so on are very effective, accurate and very fast in the hands of a trained fighter (with the level of training needed varying by weapon type).

    having been doing Historical Fencing for 20 years with all types of weapons I still can't really summarize it perfectly, but I would say the biggest single difference is that a two-handed weapon has more authority in the bind. All things being equal, the single handed weapon actually has a bit more reach, effectively, maybe a few inches. Single-handed weapons can be extremely fast, especially in the initial attack, and in the case of shorter weapons like sabers, gladiii or daggers.

    With longer weapons though (say, four feet or more) in particular, the issue comes with control at the bind. When your opponent parries or you parry your opponents attack, for example, a swift response is arguably easier with a two-handed weapon. It's also easier to exploit weakness or strength at the bind.

    Precisely how to emulate this in an RPG is a challenge. Two handed weapons can probably be said to help with defense, if you model defensive value of weapons (which most systems don't) but not necessarily over shields. They are also better than other long weapons in follow-up attacks, giving you more authority at a distance. But this only matters if you do multiple attacks and / or make note of fighting ranges or distances.

    Thrusting vs. cutting
    This was a huge debate for centuries and subject to a sort of flame war in particular in the 18th-19th Centuries. Cavalry people liked the effects of saber while smallsword fencers advocated the primacy of the thrust. The latter would point out that only 3-4" of a thrust in the right place (between the third and fourth rib, say) can kill very quickly, whereas in most parts of the body a cut will only wound or maim.

    However the devil is in the details - a thrust in the heart, throat or eye can kill instantly, but a good cut to the neck or head, or a cut to the hand or wrist can end the fight just as quickly. In German medieval laws wounding someone with a thrust was considered a more serious crime normally, since medicine at the time was fairly good at coping with cuts but bad at coping with stab wounds, particularly where the abdomen or lungs were penetrated.

    We do actually have a lot of statistics now gathered from coroners rolls in England, letters of remission in France, court records in Italy and town council records in Germany, which give us some idea of the lethality of different weapons based on thousands of recorded incidents. I have posted some of these stats on previous incarnations of this thread. And the results are quite interesting.

    The dagger is not a nuisance weapon!
    FBI statistics show us that knife attacks with modern knives are not frequently lethal - because most modern knives are folding blade weapons of flimsy construction and blades of 3"-4". FBI stats show a substantial rise in lethality with larger and sturdier kitchen knives or bayonets with a blade length of 6" or more.

    Ballock daggers, roundel daggers, stilettoes, baselards, bauernwehr, and various other knives used as weapons in the medieval period - were often double edged, very sturdily made, and ranged from 10" - 20" blades (or spikes, in some cases). And it turns out from what we know so far from recorded incidents of violence that the lethality of dagger attacks in particular was apparently the highest for any weapon used regularly in urban brawls. This is also noted or alluded to in Fight-books from the middle ages. The sword was for self-defence, the rapier for the duel, the dagger was for killing.

    A dagger strike with a 16" blade can kill just as easily as a sword cut and at close range a dagger is much faster than any sword. A sword has better reach and can probably more easily disable an attacker, and a sword is better for defense.

    Daggers do the infamous 1d4 damage in DnD because DnD has no way to differentiate weapons except for damage. So if a longsword does 1d8 and a dagger is cheaper, the dagger must do less damage or players will 'cheat'. The difference isn't actually damage though it's reach and defensive value. A longsword can cut or stab you from 5 or 6 feet away, and a longsword can parry or pre-empt an attack very easily, a dagger can't parry very much and has comparatively short range.

    How to model armor protection
    People debate whether it's better to model armor as going around it, or going through it. The reality was that people preferred to go around armor (especially anything stronger than textile armor) but would try to go through it if they had to. For metal armor this typically meant using specialized armor-piercing weapons (even if that only meant a spear with a narrow striking point).

    In the Codex I do both. DR to go through if you want to - and if you have a specialized weapon like a halberd, a roundel dagger or a war-pick this might be a good option - and a 'bypass' option to try to attack the unprotected parts, for a To-Hit penalty.

    There is also an optional rule which allows certain attack types to work better against armor than others. Smashing or piercing attacks are generally better against armor, slicing or cutting is better against unprotected flesh.


    Weapons for defense
    The most important thing left out on almost all RPG's is the value of weapons for defense. If someone is trying to hurt you with a weapon your best defense is another weapon. A staff, a spear, a longsword, a saber- these weapons help enormously in defending yourself against an enemy attack, so long as you have some training. If all you have is a dagger you are basically going to be relying on voiding - jumping out of the way or ducking. This forces you to be much more careful with your distance. With a spear or a staff facing a shorter weapon like a hand axe or a knife, you can hit them before they even have a chance to get at you. With a weapon like a sword, you can parry an attack and move in aggressively to counter. This is especially true if you have a weapon with substantial hand protection like a cross or a complex hilt, something almost unique to Latin Europe and one of the key characteristics which differentiates martial arts in Latin Europe from elsewhere in the world.

    A shield of course also works this way. Shields can be incredibly effective for defense far more than the +1 you get in DnD (or did in the older versions, I don't know anything about 4E or 5E). In the Codex I give a 'free dice' to the shield bearer - they get to roll two die rolls for defense and keep the higher number.

    But you can also hack through shields, depending on what they are made of...

    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2017-08-14 at 10:40 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    One could argue that it (the improvised war wagon / the tachanka) survives in spirit to this day in parts of the world:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_(vehicle)
    Yes I think you are right. Dan Carlin also argues that this is the modern adaptation to ancient light cavalry warfare tactics in the Middle East.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Gambesons

    This is honestly little more than semantics in terms of protectivity. Sure, migration era Europe didn't have gambesons per se, but if you're wearing 4 thick wool layers and maybe reinforce some of it with leather, it functions pretty much the same. It matters when you're trying to put together a period appropriate costume, not so much when designing a TTRPG system.

    In any case, there are far, far too few find of any sort of clothing and armor to make sweeping conclusions. From what we have, several thick layers plus leather looks reasonable and works pretty well in practice. I added strips of leather into my padded mittens (for c1300 AD) to help with protecting my fingers, once they were in, no one was able to tell my gambeson was anything but standard, and I don't think no one at the time when they were used thought of this.
    Do you have any evidence that they specifically used up to 4 layers of thick wool to protect themselves? I haven't seen any, and I have seen the suggestion brought up multiple times. Also there is no historical mentions of "cloth" armour from western Europe in the time-frame 10th-12th century that I am aware of: text usually differentiate between armoured (meaning mail) or unarmoured. Nothing in between.

    I do not think its a pedantic question: I feel heavy gambesons is just as much out of place in the 11th century as coat of plates or early plate-armour. They could have made it (since romans sort of did) but didn't. It is OK if you take it in as a fantasy element, as people mix periods up anyway, but it isn't 11th century.

    Maces in 1066 AD. Note that it could be not just a weapon, but also a symbol of authority.
    Here I agree it is a matter of terminology. I consider it a club, not a mace (I think a mace should have a straight pole and a "head" mounted on it). But yes we do have a few clubs. And if you call them maces, then they exists. Odo is famous for it in that scene, but it isn't a common weapon people go around with. If Odo used it in order not to spill (Christian) blood or it was a symbol of some sort is debated (he was Williams brother and a bishop). But you don't see normal soldiers using it in the tapestry

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Alright, I'll avoid calling them gambesons in the rules text (don't think I was going to anyway), but I'll keep thick cloth or leather as the most basic armor. If it's still a little anachronistic, eh, no big deal.

    Setting aside any game design concerns, can I just ask whether piercing weapons like spears or arrows were effective at penetrating mail of the period? I've seen conflicting reports.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Do you have any evidence that they specifically used up to 4 layers of thick wool to protect themselves? I haven't seen any, and I have seen the suggestion brought up multiple times. Also there is no historical mentions of "cloth" armour from western Europe in the time-frame 10th-12th century that I am aware of: text usually differentiate between armoured (meaning mail) or unarmoured. Nothing in between.

    I do not think its a pedantic question: I feel heavy gambesons is just as much out of place in the 11th century as coat of plates or early plate-armour. They could have made it (since romans sort of did) but didn't. It is OK if you take it in as a fantasy element, as people mix periods up anyway, but it isn't 11th century.



    Here I agree it is a matter of terminology. I consider it a club, not a mace (I think a mace should have a straight pole and a "head" mounted on it). But yes we do have a few clubs. And if you call them maces, then they exists. Odo is famous for it in that scene, but it isn't a common weapon people go around with. If Odo used it in order not to spill (Christian) blood or it was a symbol of some sort is debated (he was Williams brother and a bishop). But you don't see normal soldiers using it in the tapestry
    This has been an issue brought up many times before in many places, both with the weapons and the armor, but this may have to do with the type of records we have and the artistic conventions of the time. We see clothing for example portrayed rather stylistically - it all tends to look kind of like togas or airy tunics. Most of the records I know of from that far back is in Latin and often tends to be abbreviated and not that good to begin with. They use terms like 'ballista' for crossbow and 'scutum' for shields, miles for soldiers or knights and so forth, even though we know that isn't precisely what they meant.

    We also don't get that many textiles in the archeological record from that far back - some, of course (I mean in extreme cases we have bog men and guys like the Ice man but those are pretty rare)

    I suspect however there are some records from Italy which do mention textile armor. I can't see why they wouldn't use it, it was known in prior periods, the 11th-12th centuries are themselves part of a period of intense and increasingly sophisticated textile production, and the effects of textiles against weapons like arrows are pretty obvious (while mail's vulnerability, especially if we assume mail actually was as vulnerable as some suggest) would seem to require addressing. Byzantine records would probably also be worth checking.

    The earliest references I know of to textile armor is in the 13th Century, specificially the word 'aketon' referenced in conjunction with soldiers from the Hebrides, specifically with coverings of pitch possibly for waterproofing. Arab writers like Usamah Ibn Munqidh mention combined textile and mail armor in the same period (13th Century).




    I am of the opinion however that textile armor would have been in continuous use from the Classical era through the late medieval, though it's popularity would wax and wane for various military, cultural and economic reasons.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    The Kings Mirror (13th Century) also mentions textile armor both for horse and rider, specifically 'blackened' which probably means with pitch like in the Hebrides. See Chapter XXXVIII: Weapons for Offense and Defense

    http://deremilitari.org/2014/04/medi...orwegian-text/

    for the horse:

    "He should also should have a good shabrack (14) made like a gambison of soft and thoroughly blackened linen cloth, for this is good protection against all kinds of weapons. "

    for the rider (to be worn under metal armor)

    "Above and next to the body he should wear a soft gambison, which need not come lower than to the middle of the thigh."

    The thing is, we just don't really have a lot of documents of the verbose and somewhat prosaic type as the King Mirror or Usamah Ibn Munqidh's memoires from prior centuries. Or anyway they are a lot more rare in Northern or Central Europe from those earlier periods.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Amaril View Post

    Setting aside any game design concerns, can I just ask whether piercing weapons like spears or arrows were effective at penetrating mail of the period? I've seen conflicting reports.
    That is a huge can of worms.

    There is vast disagreement, and a lot of tests are very bad. You can watch lots of guys go out in the backyard and attack butted mail with weapons, and defeat it. But that's a poor material to use for a test. It's fine if you want it to look like mail, but not if you want it to keep sharp points out of you.

    In general, good riveted mail offers reasonable protection against piercing weapons. Narrow points can go through a ring and maybe, with enough force, burst the ring, but it loses some power doing so and may not penetrate deeply, especially against padding, which is good at slowing down weapon that don't have a good edge to cut the path in the cloth as they penetrate. Bodkin arrows, for example, don't do well against gambeson. Big, massive piercing weapons, like the top spike of a halberd, may well have enough momentum to punch through.

    So, the jury is out. Mail must have worked well enough, or people wouldn't have worn it for a thousand years, but it mustn't have been perfect or they wouldn't have spent sop much time improving plate.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    I also think there's some odd requirements for armor that get into people's heads.

    Armor doesn't need to be perfect to be useful... it just needs to do enough to be worth the cost and weight and extra fatigue and so on.

    Armor that even quite often manages to turn a killing blow into an incapacitating blow you might at least live through, and an incapacitating blow into a surface wound you can fight on with and thus maybe live another day, will still be worth it to the people wearing it.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_G View Post
    That is a huge can of worms.

    There is vast disagreement, and a lot of tests are very bad. You can watch lots of guys go out in the backyard and attack butted mail with weapons, and defeat it. But that's a poor material to use for a test. It's fine if you want it to look like mail, but not if you want it to keep sharp points out of you.

    In general, good riveted mail offers reasonable protection against piercing weapons. Narrow points can go through a ring and maybe, with enough force, burst the ring, but it loses some power doing so and may not penetrate deeply, especially against padding, which is good at slowing down weapon that don't have a good edge to cut the path in the cloth as they penetrate. Bodkin arrows, for example, don't do well against gambeson. Big, massive piercing weapons, like the top spike of a halberd, may well have enough momentum to punch through.

    So, the jury is out. Mail must have worked well enough, or people wouldn't have worn it for a thousand years, but it mustn't have been perfect or they wouldn't have spent sop much time improving plate.
    Noted, thanks. For the sake of giving blunt weapons a niche in my game, I'll have mail be effective against piercing weapons, as much as anything.

    Can I ask a similar question about 11th century helmets? Are there contemporary weapons especially suited to getting through them, or was the solution to a helmeted enemy to just not attack their head?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I also think there's some odd requirements for armor that get into people's heads.

    Armor doesn't need to be perfect to be useful... it just needs to do enough to be worth the cost and weight and extra fatigue and so on.

    Armor that even quite often manages to turn a killing blow into an incapacitating blow you might at least live through, and an incapacitating blow into a surface wound you can fight on with and thus maybe live another day, will still be worth it to the people wearing it.
    This sounds very much like the rationalization that the SCA repeated millions of times for the basis of their fighting system.

    As Mike said, it's hard to know for sure whether mail can protect against powerful bows, because the tests done depend a lot on having the right kind of mail (a much trickier proposition than most people would assume - just riveted mail isn't enough) and the right kind of bow and the right kind of arrow and so on. Probably the same for spear thrusts, we can't be certain yet because not enough testing has been done.

    But we do know that neither bows nor swords nor spears or axes could do much of anything to a man in plate armor. We know that mail can turn aside cuts very easily.

    The notions like that armor was supposed to protect against a 'glancing blow' are very misleading - armor was meant to save your life and it did. The expense and hassle involved with armor would not be endured by the kind of warriors who used it, if it didn't work very well indeed. Armies 500 or 1000 years ago weren't conscript armies who wore uniforms.

    It's an incredibly persistent trope in RPGs, video games and movies and so on, that armor only protects 'sometimes' or against 'glancing blows'. Generally speaking it protected almost all the time unless you went around it.

    The other equally idiotic myth is that blades could knock people out through armor. I've been fencing for 5 years against steel weapons with no more protection than a fencing mask some elbow pads and a padded coat, and I haven't been knocked out yet. Including in tournaments where people are swinging for the fences.

    BOTN and other Bohurt events show irrefutable proof that blades make very bad hammers and that armor protects extremely well.

    That is why armor piercing weapons were invented folks.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    This sounds very much like the rationalization that the SCA repeated millions of times for the basis of their fighting system.

    As Mike said, it's hard to know for sure whether mail can protect against powerful bows, because the tests done depend a lot on having the right kind of mail (a much trickier proposition than most people would assume - just riveted mail isn't enough) and the right kind of bow and the right kind of arrow and so on. Probably the same for spear thrusts, we can't be certain yet because not enough testing has been done.

    But we do know that neither bows nor swords nor spears or axes could do much of anything to a man in plate armor. We know that mail can turn aside cuts very easily.

    The notions like that armor was supposed to protect against a 'glancing blow' are very misleading - armor was meant to save your life and it did. The expense and hassle involved with armor would not be endured by the kind of warriors who used it, if it didn't work very well indeed. Armies 500 or 1000 years ago weren't conscript armies who wore uniforms.

    It's an incredibly persistent trope in RPGs, video games and movies and so on, that armor only protects 'sometimes' or against 'glancing blows'. Generally speaking it protected almost all the time unless you went around it.

    The other equally idiotic myth is that blades could knock people out through armor. I've been fencing for 5 years against steel weapons with no more protection than a fencing mask some elbow pads and a padded coat, and I haven't been knocked out yet. Including in tournaments where people are swinging for the fences.

    BOTN and other Bohurt events show irrefutable proof that blades make very bad hammers and that armor protects extremely well.

    That is why armor piercing weapons were invented folks.

    OK, if my post came across as promoting the "glancing blow" fallacy, that's not at all where I was trying to go with it. Of course armor worked, of course it saved lives, very few would have gone to the trouble if it was just for show.

    But what I've seen at the far end of the fallacy spectrum is this idea that armor had to be perfect to be useful. I mean, literally absolutely perfect. As if the slightest dent or bruise or anything that drew blood was an instant death sentence. That it had to be absolutely proof against all blows in order to save the wearer's life.

    For example, the idea that if a helmet doesn't allow you to ignore every blow to the head, you might as well not wear it -- that the difference between having your skull caved in by a club without a helmet or having the same blow leave you dazed but able to recover with a helmet, is nothing, and you might as well not wear that helmet at all.


    To use a modern example: bullet proof vests are hot and bulky and uncomfortable, and getting shot still hurts like hell and leaves an awful bruise sometimes, and it doesn't protect from headshots -- it's not perfect -- but police still wear them while on duty because it greatly increases their chances of coming home alive from a Very Bad Day At Work. That's what I was getting at.


    When some people see these tests and the arrows or whatever don't just bounce off... they assume the armor was "worthless". The whole "longbows are can-openers" thing.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-14 at 03:49 PM.
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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Amaril View Post
    Noted, thanks. For the sake of giving blunt weapons a niche in my game, I'll have mail be effective against piercing weapons, as much as anything.

    Can I ask a similar question about 11th century helmets? Are there contemporary weapons especially suited to getting through them, or was the solution to a helmeted enemy to just not attack their head?
    Again, you're going to get different answers.

    I think it would be very difficult to hurt somebody through a decent helmet.

    There is a whole thing about katana cutting helmets, but even under perfect conditions (helmet is on a hard surface, at waist height, swordsman has all day to wind up and make a cut) they don't split helmets like watermelons, they may achieve a gash in the metal.

    As G pointed out, looking at modern full contact tournaments like Battle of Nations, people are winding up and smacking helmets with big heavy swords and axes and generally the victim keeps on fighting just fine.

    I'm not saying it's impossible to kill a man through a helmet, just that it's very unlikely, and you're better off hitting him someplace else.

    Most of the ways to defeat armor are:

    1. Hit where there is no armor.
    2. Find the gaps in armor.
    3. Knock the guy down and take him prisoner or stab him through a gap in armor, or make a gap in his armor and then stab him through it.

    It was almost never "Just hit him really hard in the armor with your ancestor's sword."
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    I think clubs and maces, and flails, and hammers and so on, probably do more damage even through a helmet. I would be careful against them. I think helmets are the reason for example why steppe warriors often have those light maces with a thong around the wrist. Some guy riding by fast on a horse and banging you on the head as he goes by would very likely ring your bell.

    Blades just don't seem to work that well against armor. I know a modern fencing mask isn't the same but they are hardly all that formidable, and if anything in the HEMA world they have conveyed too much of a sense of invulnerability against steel blades.

    One big difference from what we do compared to BOTN is that you are much less likely to get blindsided by person C when you are fighting person B, so you probably don't get hit as hard. It's not easy to deliver the same kind of haymaker you could when somebodies back is to you as you can when you are in a fight with them.


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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    OK, if my post came across as promoting the "glancing blow" fallacy, that's not at all where I was trying to go with it. Of course armor worked, of course it saved lives, very few would have gone to the trouble if it was just for show.

    But what I've seen at the far end of the fallacy spectrum is this idea that armor had to be perfect to be useful. I mean, literally absolutely perfect. As if the slightest dent or bruise or anything that drew blood was an instant death sentence. That it had to be absolutely proof against all blows in order to save the wearer's life.

    For example, the idea that if a helmet doesn't allow you to ignore every blow to the head, you might as well not wear it -- that the difference between having your skull caved in by a club without a helmet or having the same blow leave you dazed but able to recover with a helmet, is nothing, and you might as well not wear that helmet at all.


    To use a modern example: bullet proof vests are hot and bulky and uncomfortable, and getting shot still hurts like hell and leaves an awful bruise sometimes, and it doesn't protect from headshots -- it's not perfect -- but police still wear them while on duty because it greatly increases their chances of coming home alive from a Very Bad Day At Work. That's what I was getting at.


    When some people see these tests and the arrows or whatever don't just bounce off... they assume the armor was "worthless". The whole "longbows are can-openers" thing.
    Ok sorry that just 'triggered me' so to speak heh heh...

    I think you are right when it comes to textile armor etc. and when it comes to bows maybe mail too.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Here I agree it is a matter of terminology. I consider it a club, not a mace (I think a mace should have a straight pole and a "head" mounted on it). But yes we do have a few clubs. And if you call them maces, then they exists. Odo is famous for it in that scene, but it isn't a common weapon people go around with. If Odo used it in order not to spill (Christian) blood or it was a symbol of some sort is debated (he was Williams brother and a bishop). But you don't see normal soldiers using it in the tapestry
    Personally, I read it as a weaponized sign of authority, since William was the only other carrier of such a weapon. It must have not been too unique, however, because William has to show his face to prove he's not dead, so he wasn't too recognizable, even with a club. What I find interesting is that, out of battle, William bears a sword as ensign.

    However, there are more mace-y weapons around. They seem to be thrown by the Angli.


    To the far left, there is a flying mace.

    Angli escape while carrying maces:
    Spoiler
    Show


    Cool unrelated detail: a Norman knight cuts away the blade of a war axe while the owner is looking the other way (to the left, the first person on the left bears the sword, the second the now useless axe-shaft, while the blade flies away):


    I searched for other mace heads, and I got this (early Norman):

    See here for details: http://www.hillside.co.uk/arch/stgeo...xcavation.html

    A similar item: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/75038

    These last two might actually have been rattles with religious purposes.

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