Monday, March 11, 2013

Weapon Styles

"These chattering and drooling Things traverse the Underground of the Ancient City. They are the roaming digestive system of Some Other Thing. You can put them down, but whatever has birthed them will simply send more. Only the power of Magic or, Sophia help you, a true Supernatural weapon can truly kill these Things. Oh! You will know when you run into one -- a swollen bulge of a man's head with nothing but a mouth, atop a pair of spindly legs. . ."
-Uthal the Warrior, traveler beyond the Ancient Gates

I have referenced Weapon Styles in previous posts, both in terms of equipment and the Weapon Proficiencies of Fighters. In this post I want to elaborate more on how the Weapon Styles differ and the options available to Characters. First, the choice of weaponry by a Character is only limited by Ability Scores as I have done away with all pretense of Weapon and Armor restrictions by Class. If a Player would like their Magic-user to utilize large Weapons and heavy Armor -- they need only invest in Strength. If a Fighter would like to Dual Wield Swords effectively, they will need to invest in Agility.

Although, anybody can pick up any Weapon and attempt to use it, their attacks will be Clumsy if they lack the minimum Ability Scores to do so. This is the main penalty that informs the rest of the Weapon system. My goal with the design is to get away from the dozen of tiny penalties and bonuses that I typically see around rules for Weapon use and skill. Here is the rule:

Clumsy Attacks: Any attack with a Weapon by a Character who lacks the Ability Score Requirement for its use will Stun that Character on a Miss. A Stunned Character loses their next Action while recovering and before they recover they cannot take any reactive actions such as Opportunity Attacks, Dodging, Parrying etc. Even if an Attack Hits, it still counts as a Miss for this Rule if the target successfully Dodges, Parries or Blocks.

There are four ways in which a Character may equip themselves for combat: 1) Weapon and Shield, 2) Weapon in two hands, 3) Dual wielding Weapons and 4) Weapon in one hand and the other free. I will talk about each of these below in turn.

Weapon and Shield

Using a Shield provides two main bonuses to Characters, generally. First, using a Shield allows a Character to Block incoming attacks. Blocking immediately raises Armor Class and Special Resistance by 4, but requires a Save to prevent being Stunned / knocked off balance from the Blocking attempt. Note: Critical Hits can not be Blocked. Secondly, using a Shield provides Damage Reduction for the Character from all incoming Damage. Also note: Critical Hits bypass Damage Reduction.

The Weapon in this style is wielded in one hand. A very strong Character can wield a large two-handed Weapon in one hand, but this provides a penalty to the Attack rolls, a reduction in bonus Damage provided by the Weapon's Damage Grade, as well as increasing the Ability Score Requirement by 1. Fighters who are trained in Weapon Proficiency: Shield utilize their Shield for the Advanced and Power Attacks associated with those Abilities.

Example: Jones the Fighter is wielding a basic, hard bronze Arming Sword: +2 Attack, 1d6 Damage, Damage Grade is the better of Agility or Strength * 1.0. Along with her Weapon she is wielding an Iron Buckler, which is a basic Light Shield that provides Damage Reduction of 1 and requires an Easy Save to prevent Stunning when she uses it to Block. As Jones is trained in Shields, she uses her Iron Buckler to make special attacks from her Proficiency in Shields, which is +0 Attack, 1d6 Damage, Damage Grade of Strength * 1.0.

Weapon in Two Hands

The other more common Weapon Style is using a Weapon in two hands. Two-handed Weapons, such as the Axes and Maces, benefit greatly from this style of combat. Some one-handed Weapons can be used effectively in two hands, which increases their effectiveness. Generally, this increase is in the bonus Damage provided by Strength, though this can vary in some cases. For instance, Arming Swords and Saifs do not increase their Damage Grade when wielded in two hands. In addition, Daggers gain a bonus to Attack, but no increase in Damage. The other benefit of wielding a one-handed Weapon in two hands is that the Requirement for use is reduced by 1 point. In the case of Arming Swords and Saifs this can be helpful to a Character who lacks the Strength to use one effectively in one hand.

Example: Jones the Fighter picks up a reinforced iron Flanged Mace: +2 Attack, 2d6 Damage, Damage Grade of Strength * 2.0. This weapon has a Strength Requirement of 2 and Jones has a Strength of 2, meeting the Requirement. If Jones uses this Weapon in one hand the Strength Requirement increases by 1 to 3 -- Jones will be Clumsily attacking with the Mace with the following adjusted scores: +0 Attack, 2d6 Damage, Damage Grade of Strength * 1.5.

Dual Wielding

Using a Weapon in each hand is a less common style of combat, but can be as effective as the previous two. When equipped in this manner, the Character must designate which Weapon is being used to Attack when making Basic Attacks or using Abilities that utilize his Weapons. In addition to the Requirements for wielding a Weapon, a Character must have at least an Agility of 2 (above-average coordination and reflexes)  to  Dual Wield effectively. Having less than this Requirement results in the bonus Basic Attack from rolling Natural-Evens being a Clumsy Attack.

Example: Jones has both Weapon Proficiency: Swords and Maces. She is dual-wielding her Arming Sword along with a Baton. During combat, when she utilizes Abilities from her Proficiency in Swords, she uses her Arming Sword to Attack. So with her Proficiency in Maces: she uses her Baton for the Attacks.

A Fighter dually dueling while Dual Wielding
The main benefit for Dual Wielding comes into play whenever an Attack hits on a naturally even number on the 20-sided die. This triggers an Opportunity Attack with the other Weapon against a target of the Character's choice. This bonus Attack is triggered by both Basic Attacks and Abilities -- so a Fighter or Thief who is Dual Wielding will receive this benefit when Attacking through their Proficiencies and Skills, respectively.

Returning to the Example: Jones makes an Opportunity Attack against a retreating enemy with her Arming Sword and hits with a 16 showing on the 20-sided die. Because the die roll is Natural-Even, she receives a bonus Basic Attack with her Baton, which she can use against the same retreating enemy or another opponent within melee range. On her Action, Jones hits an opponent with an Advanced Attack with her Baton, with an 11 showing on the 20-sided die -- Jones does NOT receive a bonus Attack with her Arming Sword because the roll was Natural-Odd.

The exception to this rule is that using mixed Ranged and Melee Weapons does not count as Dual Wielding. However, it is possible to Dual Wield Ranged Weapons (such as Crossbows), which does trigger this bonus Attack. I will probably post further on Ranged Combat in a near-future post as most of my posts have concerned Melee Combat.

"One-Handed" Weapon Style

The last Style of Combat is when wielding a Weapon in one hand, but with the other hand free. This Style of Combat is employed when having a free hand is necessary to utilize other Abilities. Magic-users must have a hand free to use their Spell-Magic. Some Thieves have grappling techniques from Skills that require at least one hand free. There is no mechanical benefit from this Style apart from allowing the so-equipped Character access to options due to having one hand free.

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