Combat modifiers for shields/weapons with longer reach

Advanced Fighting Fantasy discussion
Post Reply
RobertWF
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 4:34 pm

Combat modifiers for shields/weapons with longer reach

Post by RobertWF » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:51 am

Given that shields can be used as an offensive weapon in close combat, would it be terribly unbalancing to award characters a +1 combat modifier if they're wielding a shield in combat?

In addition I'm considering giving a combatant wielding the weapon with greater reach a +1/+2 combat modifier. Looking at the weapon list on page 60 of the AFF Core rulebook, I'd rule daggers, handaxes, maces, and short swords would belong in the "Short" reach category. Spears, lances, polearms, and greatswords would be classified in the "Long" reach category. All other weapons would be in the "Medium" reach category.

Therefore according to these reach categories, a Hero armed with a Medium weapon vs. an opponent's Short weapon, or a Long weapon vs. a Medium weapon, would be allowed a +1 bonus. A Hero armed with a Long weapon vs. an opponent with a Short weapon would be awarded a +2 bonus.

User avatar
SkinnyOrc
Hero
Posts: 682
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:53 am
Contact:

Re: Combat modifiers for shields/weapons with longer reach

Post by SkinnyOrc » Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:37 am

My opinion is if the shield's as well as a proper weapon then anything offensive a character can do with it is already included in their SKILL. To put it another way a low SKILL character would just block blows with it but a high SKILL character would throw the odd shield bash in. If they weren't using a shield they'd do the same with a gauntleted fist. For characters who were fighting with nothing but a shield it would count as an improvised weapon.

I like the melee weapon reach idea, I actually did something similar with another system. But with that system all one handed swords, axes, hammers and maces were lumped together as "hand weapons" so they all fell into the medium reach category. The effect of that I found was that most melee was medium versus medium, which was good because reach modifiers weren't coming in all the time and potentially slowing things down. But reach did make it more interesting when people were using long reach weapons or were forced to fight with a knife or similar.

I think with AFF, handaxes, maces and warhammers should still count as medium reach weapons. Handaxes are one handed axes, not little throwing axes, and those can be pretty big. Likewise one handed warhammers and maces can have long hafts with close enough to the same reach as a sword. Short swords could still fall into short reach, partly because they're used mainly for stabbing not slashing.

One thing I'd suggest is if you use this you also apply penalties to long reach weapons to balance things. There are plenty of reasons why in real life warriors didn't always use the biggest weapon they could find, or also carried one or more smaller weapon.

Normally narrow corridors cause a -2 modifier and very narrow corridors are -4. Increase those by a further -2 for long reach weapons (so -4 and -6) and don't apply any penalties at all to short reach weapons. That's pretty much the same as making long reach weapons ineffective but I always prefer a big modifier to an outright ban. What this does is encourages players to go full tunnel fighter when things get tight.

Also consider if the number of characters that can melee the enemy should be reduced if some of them are using long reach weapons that need to be swung like the great sword and battle axe, unless there's a lot of space. You can't fight shoulder to shoulder with great swords! Spears should be okay for this though.

Another idea is to let those with shorter reach weapons (including some natural weapons) who win a combat round, get in too close for the longer reach weapon to be effective (-6), leaving little choice the next round but to drop it and draw something else.

RobertWF
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 4:34 pm

Re: Combat modifiers for shields/weapons with longer reach

Post by RobertWF » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:36 am

SkinnyOrc - thank you for posting, this is very helpful.

Regarding the shield modifiers, my thoughts are that given two combatants with identical skill scores, special skills & talents, the combatant who is wielding a sword and a shield will have an advantage over the one armed solely with a sword. Right, you could argue low skill fighters will merely use their shield defensively. However when two highly skilled fighters are squaring off, the guy with the shield and sword will have a significant advantage over his equally skilled opponent, using his shield both offensively and defensively.

Certainly some training is required to properly wield a shield. Instead of giving everyone a +1 skill bonus for shields - perhaps the Shield skill bonus ought to equal the Hero's rank in the Armour Special Skill? Since shields could be used offensively as a blunt weapon, maybe a +1 damage bonus would be in order as well.

Lots of good ideas for using reach modifiers in combat; you're right that maces & handaxes could be scaled up to medium reach weapons. I like the mechanic for getting inside an opponent's defenses. If you really want to get into details, a spear wielded two-handed (no shield) can be quickly withdrawn for fighting in close quarters. Also some weapons, like battle axes, while in the same reach category as a longsword, were not as effective at parrying as a sword I imagine.

User avatar
SkinnyOrc
Hero
Posts: 682
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:53 am
Contact:

Re: Combat modifiers for shields/weapons with longer reach

Post by SkinnyOrc » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:52 pm

The battle axes are described as two handed and double headed so I had them down as long reach, but sure where you choose to draw the lines is kind of arbitrary.

As far as parrying goes I reckon greatswords wouldn't be as good as a longsword for that either. With that much momentum you kind of have to keep your enemy at a distance! But personally I don't want to model combat more closely, part of why I like AFF is it doesn't try to do that.

For me something like these reach rules is to give the players interesting choices to make. You'll find them using a wider range of weapons and considering which to take where, which to have readied in different situations.

Slloyd14
Site Admin
Posts: 656
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:39 pm
Contact:

Re: Combat modifiers for shields/weapons with longer reach

Post by Slloyd14 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:33 pm

I like the idea of being able to use the shield as an offensive weapon as well as a defensive one. Maybe this works for characters if they have a certain talent - they can get a +1 bonus when using a shield (or if you want to be more complicated, they get a second attack per round with a shield, or this could come under ambidextrous).

Thinking of the film 300 (the hallmark of realism), fighters could also throw shields like Frisbees.

For the reach weapon thing, I like it. I'm just reading the Adequate Commoner and it talks about how reach weapons are vital if you are outmatched.

At the moment, the rules state that anyone armed with a dagger or unarmed gets a -4 penalty against anyone armed with a bigger weapon. I think this is quite severe, and having 3 categories of reach can mitigate this. So if someone has no reach against medium reach, they get a -2 penalty and no reach vs long reach is -4. Equal reaches have no penalty.

Great ideas, guys!
http://virtualfantasies.blogspot.com/

A blog about writing gamebooks. My musings on how to write a gamebook and what makes a good gamebook.

User avatar
SkinnyOrc
Hero
Posts: 682
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:53 am
Contact:

Re: Combat modifiers for shields/weapons with longer reach

Post by SkinnyOrc » Tue Jun 16, 2015 5:12 am

Slloyd14 wrote:they get a second attack per round with a shield, or this could come under ambidextrous
Yep you could stretch the ambidextrous talent to cover this. You could rule it lets them use the shield as a second weapon (stats as an improvised weapon or maybe a club), the question is would they still get any of the armour benefit of the shield doing that? There's also the possibility of adding bucklers for people with ambidextrous, with both some offensive and defensive benefits.
Slloyd14 wrote:the rules state that anyone armed with a dagger or unarmed gets a -4 penalty against anyone armed with a bigger weapon.
Ahh okay I'm still getting my head around all the possible modifiers, that is a simplified reach rule really. A -2 modifier per reach class doesn't seem unreasonable.

Post Reply