The Javelin -- am I missing something?

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SurrenderMonkey
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The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by SurrenderMonkey » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:46 am

On page 61 of Advanced Fighting Fantasy, the javelin is described as follows:

"A light spear designed to be thrown, this weapon can at a stretch be used in hand-to-hand combat. A javelin only requires a single hand to use effectively."

So far, so good. But if you look at the damage table on the opposite page, the javelin is outright superior to any other one-handed melee weapon. Its capacity for damage dealing outstrips the mace, war hammer, and the hand axe, not to mention the normal spear! The sword has an identical damage track, but the javelin has it beat with range, making it the optimal choice for anyone who doesn't want to wield a two-handed weapon -- and that's before comparing prices! (The javelin is by far one of the most economical weapons at 10gp, compared to 70gp for a mace, 50gp for a short sword, etc.)

Surely an oversight?

darksoul
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by darksoul » Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:39 am

Hey.

I think a few things have to be considered here and a few adjustments.
The weapon is designed to be thrown, not for melee combat. I would use a different damage table if it's not thrown, or reduce the damage roll by a certain amount, -2 maybe, if not used as a thrown weapon.
Also, a different skill set is needed to use it as a thrown weapon and a melee weapon.

Mr Nibbs
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by Mr Nibbs » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:58 am

Alternatively, treat the javelin as a different weapon when used in melee. It is described as "a light spear", while "at a stretch" implies an improvised weapon, which neatly sidesteps the need to decide on a damage mod and the skill set problem in one go. The damage spread makes a difference, so the improvised weapon damage table is my guess.

Mr Nibbs
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by Mr Nibbs » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:11 am

Is the javelin a one-handed weapon in the usual sense? As a thrown weapon, the other arm is like a counterweight and is part of the movement required to use it effectively. Holding something might not be a problem, but using a shield or second weapon probably isn't a practical option. In melee the javelin would need to be used with two hands, like a spear.

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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by Skyrock » Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:25 pm

The Roman legionairies used their pilum frequently with their shield in the off-hand, so it is definitively not an issue when used as a missile weapon.
I don't know any records of them being used as melee weapons, but why would anyone? They were purposefully built to bend and get stuck after hitting a shield or a body, so they would have only been good for a couple of hits.

Actually, if you want to reduce the effectiveness of the javelin as a melee weapon, that might make for an easy fix: Anytime when the javelin hits someone, it gets so badly bent that it either becomes useless (on a non-fatal hit) or gets stuck (on a fatal hit), unless a Test your Luck roll is successful. In either case, it is no good unless it gets properly repaired.

Robb 1
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by Robb 1 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:26 pm

I think I remember reading something years ago about the ancient Greeks being able to fight 1 handed with Javelins using them to stab their opponents at close range similar to a Roman Pilium and carry and use a shield too but I could be wrong which could allow you in game turns to treat it as a light spear for damage purposes and also use it as a thrown weapon as well.

You could also assume that thrown javelin damage is only at the damage rating noted if an atlatle ( think that's how it's spelt) throwing rod is used with it this might also increase the range it can be effectively thrown at. What dose every one think could be a house rule :)

Mr Nibbs
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by Mr Nibbs » Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:44 am

Skyrock wrote:The Roman legionairies used their pilum frequently with their shield in the off-hand, so it is definitively not an issue when used as a missile weapon.
Thanks for that, Skyrock. I had assumed the pilum throwers would have been behind a shield wall and having a shield in the off-hand might have been a disadvantage. I was aware of the one use design and considered having a "weapon breaks" option, but your easy fix is a great idea. As a melee weapon, I assumed "at a stretch" meant you had no other options.

Mr Nibbs
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by Mr Nibbs » Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:38 am

Robb 1 wrote:You could also assume that thrown javelin damage is only at the damage rating noted if an atlatle ( think that's how it's spelt) throwing rod is used with it this might also increase the range it can be effectively thrown at. What dose every one think could be a house rule :)
I think the problem is with the javelin being used as a melee weapon. I would leave the stats for a thrown javelin as it is and use Skyrock's easy fix. An atlatl would probably increase effective range, though.

darksoul
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by darksoul » Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:52 am

I'm going to keep it the way Mr.Nibbs wrote it out. I'll treat the Javelin as an improvised weapon if it comes to melee combat.

Mr Nibbs
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by Mr Nibbs » Sat Apr 05, 2014 9:32 am

darksoul wrote:I'm going to keep it the way Mr.Nibbs wrote it out. I'll treat the Javelin as an improvised weapon if it comes to melee combat.
I called it an improvised weapon because I think the numbers are about right, but I don't think of it as an improvised weapon. It is a specific-purpose weapon being used for something it is not designed to do.

Skyrock's easy fix for a broken weapon addresses that, but testing your Luck isn't the only way to do that. One might assume that, since the weapon is designed to break on impact it will do its job properly 5 times out of 6.

Whether a javelin is the same as a pilum is another matter. I would guess that a pilum is a top grade military weapon, but the 10gp javelin would generally be used for hunting and made to a lower standard.

SurrenderMonkey
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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by SurrenderMonkey » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:35 am

I'm certainly no expert on the subject, but for all my poking around on the internet I can't find anything to suggest that a javelin should do more damage than a spear in any case (with a possible exception for the use of a spear-thrower). In the D&D/Pathfinder tradition, the javelin does less damage than a spear but has greater range, which makes perfect sense to me and reflects what I've read elsewhere to the effect that we are basically talking about a sliding scale between the two types of weapons anyway.

I think my house rule is simply going to be a matter of switching the two damage tables. Pathfinder and more modern editions of D&D do give an attack penalty for a javelin if used in melee, but I don't know if I'm interested in that kind of granularity for my AFF game.

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Re: The Javelin -- am I missing something?

Post by Mr Nibbs » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:45 am

SurrenderMonkey wrote:I'm certainly no expert on the subject, but for all my poking around on the internet I can't find anything to suggest that a javelin should do more damage than a spear in any case (with a possible exception for the use of a spear-thrower). In the D&D/Pathfinder tradition, the javelin does less damage than a spear but has greater range, which makes perfect sense to me and reflects what I've read elsewhere to the effect that we are basically talking about a sliding scale between the two types of weapons anyway.

I think my house rule is simply going to be a matter of switching the two damage tables. Pathfinder and more modern editions of D&D do give an attack penalty for a javelin if used in melee, but I don't know if I'm interested in that kind of granularity for my AFF game.
One of the reasons D&D is so good is that it is was written by people who knew their stuff. Before D&D, Gygax worked on Cavaliers & Roundheads, Chainmail and table-top wargaming rules, and you know how fussy some of those players are about historical accuracy.

I think the bottom line is to keep the game flowing, keep the players on their toes and don't let the rules get in the way.

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