Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I'm No Fun

There are a lot of cinematic conventions that I despise, but, nowadays, if I had to name one that's really worn out its welcome, it'd have to be the wielding of two weapons. Whether it's swords and guns, I don't care; I'm tired of the image and wish it would just go away. I know that's not likely to happen anytime soon, as it's too strongly entrenched in popular culture to fade, but I hate it nonetheless. Aside from being terribly impractical in most instances, it's just so trite. Can't we come up with a different absurd combat convention and overuse it for a while?

87 comments:

  1. Two guns? Overdone. But Florentine style swordplay? Not done enough.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sheilds need to become more effective, so that second-weapons become less advantageous. Blame the system, not the people.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd be cool with Florentine style, absolutely, but we never see that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Blame the system, not the people.

    Where's the fun in that? :)

    More seriously, I'm not thinking specifically of RPGs but more of movies, TV shows, and video games, which, even when set in the historical past, seem to think dual wielding two equally large weapons is superior to other options, including, as you say, the use of a shield. This baffles me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Shields need to become more effective, so that second-weapons become less advantageous.

    Agreed. D&D does a poor job of simulating how important a shield is in hand to hand combat. I know a lot of people like the "Shields shall be splintered" rule... but it's not much better.

    TV shows, and video games, which, even when set in the historical past, seem to think dual wielding two equally large weapons is superior to other options, including, as you say, the use of a shield. This baffles me.

    Maybe it's a good option when they're light sabres, stunt fighting sticks, or even SCA clubs. That's not much like a real sword though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. D&D does a poor job of simulating how important a shield is in hand to hand combat.

    Yes. I think it's probably the weakest part of the game's combat rules and the one most in need of a house rule in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I infinitely prefer using a shield over two weapons doing reenactment medieval combat.

    One thing I don't get to do is the shield bash which would be far more effective than anything you can do with a second weapon.

    As for making shields more effective in D&D, that can be difficult as D&D abstracts combat too much to highlight their strengths.

    The shield is a parrying weapon like a sword but only better. It's effectiveness is easily modeled in a system that has defense rolls or the equivalent.

    In D&D however all that is abstracted into armor class. You could give a bigger shield bonus. Or assign a hefty penalty to AC when being attacked by multiple opponents, a penalty negated by wielding a shield. Also allow a shield attack that knocks a target prone for a round.

    ReplyDelete
  8. In C&C rules, I got rid of the whole "shields, depending on size, is effective against only so many opponents in a round." Also, I am thinking of adding the Flame Princess rule that shields give a +2 against ranged attacks instead of just +1. Of course, the shield-bearer would have to be AWARE of said attacks. What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
  9. D&D does a poor job of simulating how important a shield is in hand to hand combat.

    That's one reason why I prefer Runequest over OD&D - a system with great shield rules. :) Alright, I'll shut up now.

    What are some examples of movies/shows/games, set in the historical past, that emphasize two-weapon fighting? Just curious.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yeah, the late 90s ushered in the double weapon trend. I can't remember when it started. Was it The Shadow movie or Barbed Wire? Either way it's overplayed.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hackmaster Basic makes shields pretty important. They add around 8 points to your defense, which is a pretty significant number. Of course, that means you're actually using your shield to block, and thus even a miss is considered a shield hit, and thus you risk the shield breaking and some of the attack getting through anyway.

    Holding your shield up to protect yourself from a giant swinging a tree at you isn't really helping you. But get in a fight with a bunch of standard humanoids, and that shield is the difference between life and death.

    ReplyDelete
  12. In stage combat for theatrical productions, the Florentine combat style is still going strong.

    Similarly, I do kendo, and there is a two weapons style known of "nitō" that has become popular in the last few years. It's very effective, but Very difficult to master. It's not like you can pick up a kodachi and go to town like the popular media would like us to believe. The key to "nitō" is moving both swords at the same time. One to move the opponent's sword and the other to strike.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Well, I always thought Eskrima was relatively not-silly.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well, I always thought Eskrima was relatively not-silly.

    But, unless I'm badly mistaken, eskrimadors mostly fight with sticks and knives, not large swords. My issue isn't with two-weapon fighting per se but with two inappropriately sized weapons.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Was it The Shadow movie

    To be fair, the Shadow has long been portrayed as carrying two pistols, so that's not an invention of the film.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hmmm...

    We pretty much dropped the rules for two-weapon combat from the DMG because (for people who had studied martial arts and/or fencing) they made no sense. While high Dex would help, the ability to use two weapons was *far* more a matter of training.

    So we simply made it a proficiency - you wanted to be able to use a Longsword and a Dagger? "Two-Weapon: Longsword/Dagger" was so noted under proficiencies. The Dex rules came into play if you tried to do so without the proficiency (plus the non-proficiency penalty).

    It worked well, and kept it pretty much under control when it came to play balance.

    The thing that drives me crazy? The "holding the gun sideways" thing that seemed to have been started by John Woo in his films - admittedly usually with two pistols at a time. But I hate seeing that bit of firearms/marksmanship nonsense...

    D.

    ReplyDelete
  17. What are some examples of movies/shows/games, set in the historical past, that emphasize two-weapon fighting? Just curious.

    There are many, but two that stick out in my mind are the late 90s Zorro movie and that horrible Kingdom of Heaven film. I'd be amazed if people couldn't cite other examples.

    ReplyDelete
  18. James and all other old school bloggers,

    Please take this on as a personal crusade. I would love for this troupe to die as well. The "old school blogger network" has more influence in this hobby then I think they realize.

    I see many topics on this and other old school blogs get repeated and then digested in "new school" arenas. Especially if multiple old school blogs discuss the same topic, then you are pretty much guaranteed to have a ripple effect across the industry.

    So get some of those other bloggers to chime in as well and get those ripples going. I expect this troupe to be dead within a year. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  19. @JM - "My issue isn't with two-weapon fighting per se but with two inappropriately sized weapons."

    Like dual Chinese Broadswords?

    We always treated it with a strong dose of realism (strength and mass of the character) matched to some knowledge that the weapon design itself mattered. I think we all felt like we had enough knowledge to call each other out on an unreasonable selection - not that that ever happened IIRC.

    D.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This guy is the future of multi-weapon weilding.

    ReplyDelete
  21. rattan sticks wielded by escrima practitioners are very effective weapons, though I'm not sure how they would fare against a sword and large shield.

    But yes, wielding two huge swords, one in each hand, is ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "Sheilds need to become more effective, so that second-weapons become less advantageous."--A Paladin In Citadel

    How about this?

    First, make all shields effective against every attack that the shield-wielder can in any way sense coming, even if just at the last instant before it hits him, and could possibly, no matter how unlikely, use the shield to block.

    Second, make all shields effective against every attack that comes from within the 90° arc that the shield faces (left-front or right-front if the shield is held to the side, front if the shield is held in front, back if the shield is strapped on the character's back) regardless of whether the character does, or even could, sense the attack coming.

    Finally, increase the AC value of most shields:

    A buckler improves AC by 1 point against melee attacks, by 2 points against missile attacks.

    A small shield improves AC by 2 points against melee attacks, by 4 points against missile attacks.

    A large shield improves AC by 3 points against melee attacks, by 6 points against missile attacks.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dual wielding a bad thing? Since when? People have been doing it for the longest time, swashbuckling pirates, feudal lords wanting to settle via crossed swords, gladiators with nets and a trident. All are factual and prevalent in stories written way before Drizzt and his posse made it a common thing amongst gamers.

    Personal preference?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Rob Conley: "Or assign a hefty penalty to AC when being attacked by multiple opponents, a penalty negated by wielding a shield."

    This is an excellent idea that reflects one of the most important advantages of a shield. Stopping one attack with a weapon of your own is (relatively) simple, but stopping two or more coordinated attacks is monumentally harder with a non-shield defense. I'm adopting this as soon as I figure out what the penalty should be.

    ReplyDelete
  25. @BigFella, ha! I was going to mention Zolo myself.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Fight LARPing convinced me how effective a shield is over two weapons (unless the fighter is amazingly good). Fight LARPs that allow shield bashing have convinced me that the shield should be listed in the weapons column of most games. The problem with a shield in movies is probably that it covers up the actor too much, or that it just doesn't look as cool.

    I still like to see the amazing moves with multiple weapon fighting in movies and imagining them in games. I'd just like to see more offensive shield use (hoping the Captain America movie with do this) and I'd like to see armor actually matter, it somewhat annoys me when someone draw cuts (slashes) someone to "death" through armor that would have certainly stopped it. There are reasons for warhammers, maces and picks (though most fight LARPs ignore this part).

    ReplyDelete
  27. Dual wielding isn't any more impractical than casting magic spells, so I don't see a problem from that angle. I guess the question is whether you think that spellcasting classes are the only ones who should break the laws of normal physics in your campaign.

    Of course I have no problems with disliking it from a purely stylistic perspective, but there's no accounting for taste, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Two weapon combat is very difficult, it doesn't provide much of a benefit without an insane amount of practice.
    In one of the LARPS I've played all the veteran fighters refer to the use of two weapons by a defender as "goal posts" becasue all you have to do is aim down the middle and you get your goal: i.e. you hit them.

    Fighting with two weapons forces a stance that disadvantages the inexperienced fighter.

    Few armies in the history of the earth sent in packs of men armed with a melee weapon in each hand, unless of course one considers a shield to be a weapon. That to me is ample evidence the tactic is vastly over-rated.

    It can work in single combat but the warrior who trains to be effective is often a one trick pony.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I think that on the whole I am more tired of hearing that shields are underrated in Dungeons & Dragons. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Holding your shield up to protect yourself from a giant swinging a tree at you isn't really helping you. But get in a fight with a bunch of standard humanoids, and that shield is the difference between life and death.

    But no amount of non-magical (or high-tech) armor would protect you from a giant swinging a tree at you. This actually suggests the shield should be more useful relative to armor instead of less.

    ReplyDelete
  31. If you want to see something recent that bucks the trend, check out Game of Thrones. The only time I can recall seeing anyone wielding two weapons in the show so far was when Drogo draws a pair of daggers against one of his lieutenants. I especially liked that they maintained Syrio Forel's fighting with a single wooden sword against the Lannister soldiers, even though his style is similar to Italian style fencing. There are some people involved with visual media that are keeping it real.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Dual Weapon Fighting is, as the kids would say, "So OVER!"

    ReplyDelete
  33. In movies and art, I hate the sword worn on the back with the hilt projecting over the shoulder. If you're not actually a ninja in the act of climbing a wall, nobody did that.
    It's impractical. The hilt catches on stuff, if it's not a very short blade, its difficult to draw,etc...
    The only other example I can think of is carrying a large two hander directly to a battle. Even then they'd shrug off the scabbard and then draw the sword, leaving the scabbard behind.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Dual weapons doesn't annoy me nearly as much as walking away calmly from an explosion behind you. That is the most cliche bit in action movies EVAR.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Even in movies two gun combat is plain stupid 90% of the time. As far as I know only the Soviets ever formally trained this way and only for a little while as a substitute for SMG's. As soon as they got Stechkins the training stopped.

    Now mind its not utterly unrealistic , some people do use this "Macedonian" style but they are few and far between.

    In games one PC is fine or an entire group if its their shtick but its something I can do without.

    I'd rather see more New York reloads, i.e draw another piece instead of reloading. This is realistic, effective and cool.

    For ancient weapons I'd like to see more buckler play myself. For the type of combat most "adventurer" types get into, a buckler is far more likely (they were ridiculously common for 300 years) and practical to carry.

    Shields while superior are quite heavy and I don't know about you I don't want to go crawling into a hole or around town with 3500 grams the size of an old school trashcan lid on my back.

    Its also great for Hollywood as its shows the actors faces better. They did this back in the Errol Flynn days and once I understood both movie making and the buckler I came to appreciate it.

    Its also easy enough to get trainers now, more cinematic and perfectly realistic. Its can have cake and eat it too situation which is nice

    ReplyDelete
  36. As as I can see by looking at middle-ages miniatures - and I had quite a number of XIIIth century books in my hands - I never saw two weapons fighting. But the feature which puzzled me the most is the use of grasping and grappling. Figthters very often use one free hand to grab their opponent while striking with their sword.

    ReplyDelete
  37. In fact, there is a series of videos on YouTube from a Canadian group (Ottawa Swordplay, I think) that demonstrates some examples of grasp, hold, and throw in sword-and-buckler fighting.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Shields while superior are quite heavy and I don't know about you I don't want to go crawling into a hole or around town with 3500 grams the size of an old school trashcan lid on my back.

    I totally would. Who wants an arrow in the back? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  39. feudal lords wanting to settle via crossed swords

    I'm pretty sure crossed swords means they're crossing their sword with another person's sword. I have never personally seen an image produced in the middle ages that shows someone dual-wielding. I've seen a few early modern ones, but they're usually sword and dagger and I don't think they're what James is talking about.

    Two swords would be almost prohibitively expensive throughout most of the middle ages due to the metal required. "Feudal" society was one in which one's class is based on one's ability to own a horse. Imagine then how expensive something that you have to dig out of the ground and then smelt would be.

    The gladiator example isn't bad, but you must admit a retiarius doesn't use his net the same way a modern action hero does his two swords.

    Also, swashbuckling would mean he's using a buckler, which is a shield.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Stuart's point about the rear defense is good but D&D also under estimates the effectiveness of armor (and its cost but thats another issue) save maybe vs L0 types.

    For the most part mail and plate are quite arrow proof save at close range. There are a few exceptions of course, 1.5mm plate vs close range bodkin , bad manufacturing and such. Even leather and padded armor (linen jack) and such would be a pretty decent defense against Goblin bows and the like.

    If they have armor as most PC's do considering weight and bulk and such, well 7-15 lbs of shield is too much for the loot and scoot crowd to carry. magic shields exempted of course

    As a note I do like specialized gear. For example a I do suspect that "delvers" helmets might be a bit like a combat version of a miners helmet equipped with neck guard like a lobster back.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I only let players dual wield if they can explain why their character would be able to do it. Berzerks for example, and not just a barbarian.

    Even Conan used shields.

    http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/savage-sword-of-conan/1-3.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm personally getting tired of Hollywood tough guys using their foreheads as their weapon of first choice.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Example of dual wielding in the media courtesy of TV Tropes:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DualWielding

    ReplyDelete
  44. I'm sick of the tough guy of the group being a super hot 110 lbs girl.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Trite huh? Tell that to Clint...

    http://members.gcronline.com/kneal/clint2guns.jpg

    James, y'know I love ya but...seriously? Why does it bug you. If I can kill bad guys with one gun, I can kill more with two guns. Duh.

    Fafrhd and Gray Mouser were known to use two weapons on occaision. Conan never did?

    I don't know man. This one I just don't comprehend. I could see you being sick of it being over used but I honestly didn't even realize it was 'a thing'.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I prefer dual wiedling ... that is, twin clones of Jane Wiedlin in her prime.

    How about this simple solution ... shield bash is like a second weapon, roll d3 nonlethal damage and apply it instead if it's higher than the main weapon roll. A "second chance" damage roll is how I handle the off-hand dagger in my game, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  47. The "holding the gun sideways" thing that seemed to have been started by John Woo in his films

    Nope! John Woo definitely popularized the two pistol motif (along with general gun-fu/ballad stuff), but the sideways pistol bit originated with American action movies.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Like dual Chinese Broadswords?

    How big are these broadswords?

    ReplyDelete
  49. Dual wielding a bad thing? Since when? People have been doing it for the longest time, swashbuckling pirates, feudal lords wanting to settle via crossed swords, gladiators with nets and a trident. All are factual and prevalent in stories written way before Drizzt and his posse made it a common thing amongst gamers.

    My beef is with dual wielding two large weapons or two handguns, not with a sword and a dagger or anything similar.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Dual wielding isn't any more impractical than casting magic spells, so I don't see a problem from that angle. I guess the question is whether you think that spellcasting classes are the only ones who should break the laws of normal physics in your campaign.

    Well, there's no magic in the real world, but there are swords. We know how swords work and how best to use them effectively in combat, so changing their operation for a fantasy setting involves more suspension of disbelief than magic, in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Few armies in the history of the earth sent in packs of men armed with a melee weapon in each hand, unless of course one considers a shield to be a weapon. That to me is ample evidence the tactic is vastly over-rated.

    This is my feeling, too, which is part of the reason why it bugs me.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Trite huh? Tell that to Clint...

    Does Blondie ever actually use two guns at one time? It's been a while since I watched any of the films, but my recollection is that he does not.

    Fafrhd and Gray Mouser were known to use two weapons on occaision. Conan never did?

    The Twain sometimes used swords and daggers, which is reasonable. They never used two swords that I can recall. Ditto for Conan.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I agree that shields are undervalued in D&D -- but the armor categorization pattern is such a basic, core assumption that I can't bring myself to change it. And all of the situational modifier tinkering is too complicated, IMO. So it's a bridge I can't cross with D&D.

    ReplyDelete
  54. James, just wanted to point out that Escrima is a multi-weapon system that trains with sticks, but uses the angles and techniques with a variety of weapons, ranging from the open hand and (especially) knives to the aforementioned dual swords. Many (though not all) of the techniques can be applied to most weapons.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Shuang dao (double broadswords) looks like a serious martial arts style, so it's apparently possible to fight with two full-sized melee weapons simultaneously--provided that you're in a dueling situation. I suspect that much of the duel-wielding on display in modern media is the result of Asian cinema influence.

    That said, sword-and-board is actually quite a viable style in 4E: one of the best fighter At-Wills is Tide of Iron, an attack-and-move that requires a shield to carry out.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Shields are only undervalued in d&d if you don't allow them to provide partial cover against missile weapons.

    I follow the Chainmail rule of partial cover which reduces the number of hits by 1/2. So 2 arrows in a round, both would have to hit the players AC and then I would roll only 1d8 dmg.

    The above plus the shields shall be splitered rule makes shields almost too
    good.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Only comment is every John Woo movie I can think of has the hero jumping in slow motion with two pistols blazing. I didn't really see the trend in movies until I saw John Woo's Killers in 1995/6? After that it was in most every action movie I saw (Grosse Point Blank, Broken Arrow, etc...). BTW, Killers is an amazing movie.

    ReplyDelete
  58. UWS guy said: "I follow the Chainmail rule of partial cover which reduces the number of hits by 1/2."

    Just to be clear: While cover is in Chainmail, shields aren't a qualifying condition there.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Good point delta and I dost mean to imply that they did. ad&d's rules on dual wielding all but necessitate treating shields as such I believe though.

    ReplyDelete
  60. It could be far worse. Dual Dual Wielding for the four armed hero.

    OK thats 3 attacks every two rounds per weapon so I am now 4/1 then 2/1.

    ReplyDelete
  61. IIRC, in Miyamoto Musashi's [I]Book of Five Rings[/I] the author told his students to hold short-swords in their off-hands simply to keep them from using both hands on their main swords.

    Dual-wielding is cool insofar as one has to be ambidexterous, super-strong, and insanely skilled to make an off-hand weapon as effective as a boring old shield. In limited situations, e.g. thin swords and daggers only, blocking with a smaller weapon might work, but armies throughout the world found shields far more effective until the advent of accurate gunfire.

    ReplyDelete
  62. But, unless I'm badly mistaken, eskrimadors mostly fight with sticks and knives, not large swords.

    It depends on what you mean by "knives". Bolos look like they're the equivalent size of the Malay parang, which would between 30-40 cm, which would be, what, a short-sword? A gladius?

    I mean, double-wielding at 40-cm blades would be reasonable, I guess, and arguably, those are, probably, geez, what's the minimum length for a blade to be called a sword again?

    @BigFella LOL, I knew someone was gonna bring up Roronoa Zoro.

    My understanding of dual-wielding firearms was that you either didn't have rapid-fire weapons, or reload times were so long that you might as well not bother with it and just have a secondary (and tertiary) gun ready.

    So dual-wielding makes sense for revolvers without speed-loaders, muskets and the like, or you wanted to provide covering fire and you didn't have a SMG. But that's it.

    ...although Equilibrium is still awesome, after all these years. SHUT UP I LIKED IT.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Heya, sorry it took so long to get back - was tied up at work for the evening.

    Here's a link to a vid showing some of the form, but a clear look at the swords as well:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uitPXTIUFOg

    And here's a link to the wiki page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dao_(sword)

    In general, and in my opinion based on my own martial arts experience is that for short sword length blades, the design isn't as important. It's the same techniques as if you were using sticks. But when you get into larger swords the sword design itself really starts to matter because of the physics involved in swinging two of them around. The hilt design, curvature of the blade (that makes a real difference in how a blade works), single or double edge of the blade (hard to use some of draping blocks if the edge pressing against you is sharp) really start to make a huge difference.

    As an aside on the why haven't armies sent off masses of men armed with two weapons it is pretty simple - it doesn't blend well with close order drill or combat. It's great for one-on-one or one-on-many, but not when you want your mass of troops to move and fight as one. Plus... as mentioned, it is a very training intense form of combat, and most armies were not that well-trained nor did they have the time or resources to do so.

    D.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Has James revealed the guilty movie yet, or are we still in speculation phase? My guess: Solomon Kane. I'm watching it right now, and Solomon is totally dual wielding all over the place, stabbing people without looking at them, walking in slow motion from exploding witches, you name it.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Re: shield appreciation, in the epics of world literature, there were LOTS of magic shields and named shields and shields with special magical designs on them. Only when you get to the eras of plate armor, etc., do you have people in stories not being particularly enthralled with their awesome shields and the awesome tricks they could do with them.

    ReplyDelete
  66. "It could be far worse. Dual Dual Wielding for the four armed hero."--Anathematician

    In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas gave us a four-armed, quad-wielding villain -- General Grievous.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Ed

    That is great! My mind jumped to the Dual Dual Dual Wielding Type V Marlinth. I mean six is better than four right?

    I wonder if there is a dual dual dual dual wielder or would that simply be a dual dual wielder. Hmmmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  68. For what it's worth, in a Raymond Chandler story, the two-pistol style is refered to as "chinese style" and is about as effective as the gangsta sideways shooting technique.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Should "Chinese style" refer to shooting bullets of pure qi?

    ReplyDelete
  70. My guess: Solomon Kane.

    Solomon Kane is certainly bad on this score, but, honestly, dual wielding is the least of its problems. What an awful movie.

    ReplyDelete
  71. I agree that shields are undervalued in D&D -- but the armor categorization pattern is such a basic, core assumption that I can't bring myself to change it. And all of the situational modifier tinkering is too complicated, IMO. So it's a bridge I can't cross with D&D.

    That's pretty much my opinion, too, which is why I've never bothered trying to seek out or create house rules to correct this problem.

    ReplyDelete
  72. "I agree that shields are undervalued in D&D -- but the armor categorization pattern is such a basic, core assumption that I can't bring myself to change it. And all of the situational modifier tinkering is too complicated, IMO. So it's a bridge I can't cross with D&D."--Delta

    You can cross that bridge with D&D while neither changing its core assumption about the armor categorization pattern nor doing any complicated situational modifier tinkering. It's simple and easy! Just do these few things:

    1. Make shields effective against all attacks.

    2. Make shields improve AC by an extra point against missile attacks.

    3. In melee combat, in addition to any other attacks a character can make, allow a shield-wielder to make a shield-bashing attack for 1 point + Strength Bonus damage.

    Done!

    ReplyDelete
  73. "1. Make shields effective against all attacks.

    2. Make shields improve AC by an extra point against missile attacks"

    Yep. That seemed to be the logical solution around our tarpaper shack kitchen table as early as 1980. Sort of mystifying that the shield continues to be a source of consternation. To one degree or another I permit bashing, edge smashes, hurling it like a frisbee, ramming, wearing it like an umbrella to deflect falling rocks and sluices of boiling pitch, you name it. Sheilds are uber.

    ReplyDelete
  74. I also have shields run from a 1 to 3 ac bonus depending on size.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Re: Ed Dove

    (1) Fine, but doesn't count as a change in OD&D.
    (2) Counts as too complicated.
    (3) Not really addressing the defense issue.

    ReplyDelete
  76. "(2) Counts as too complicated."

    Ha, I've used that house rule for 30 years. If only I'd known.

    "(3) Not really addressing the defense issue."

    What, you've never heard that the best defense is a good offense? The thing is, Dove actually contributed a couple of ideas someone could take or leave. Dove 3 to nil, plus a fifteen yard penalty on kickoff for excessive pedantry.

    ReplyDelete
  77. "(1) Fine, but doesn't count as a change in OD&D."--Delta

    Sorry, I didn't know that. I stupidly assumed that all versions of D&D limited the attacks that shields count against in at least some way.


    "(2) Counts as too complicated."--Delta

    Clearly, you and I use extremely different definitions of the word "complicated". Nothing to be done for that though. But I can see how your definition has prevented you from addressing this issue -- and I'm just glad that I don't have that problem.


    "(3) Not really addressing the defense issue."--Delta

    Sorry, I didn't realize that you're concerned solely about the defensive value of shields. I thought we were discussing the fact that they're "undervalued" in general.

    So it looks like you 'win'. Given all the assumptional and definitional limitations that you burden yourself with, you really can't cross that bridge with D&D. I'm sorry that I can't help you.

    ReplyDelete
  78. @imago1 -- Thanks for your support!

    For anybody who uses the full complicated mess of AD&D1E rules (like I do), here's a bunch of AD&D1E-specific house rules that augment, but still limit, the value of shields:

    Shields are effective against every attack a shield-wielder can in any way sense coming, even if just at the last instant before it hits, and could possibly, no matter how unlikely, block or deflect with the shield.

    Shields are also effective against every attack that comes from within the 90° arc that the shield faces (left-front or right-front if the shield is held to the side, front if the shield is held in front, back if the shield is strapped on the character's back) regardless of whether the character does, or even could, sense the attack coming.

    Bucklers improve AC by 1 point against melee attacks – and by 2 points against missile attacks.

    Small shields improve AC by 2 points against melee attacks – and by 4 points against missile attacks.

    Large shields improve AC by 3 points against melee attacks – and by 6 points against missile attacks.

    In melee combat, in addition to any other attacks a character can make, a shield-wielder can make 1 shield-bashing attack each round against 1 opponent the same size-class as the shield-wielder.

    (Shield-bashing a smaller size-class opponent is too awkward. Shield-bashing a larger size-class opponent is ineffective.)

    To shield-bash without a Non-proficiency Penalty, a character must have a Weapon Proficiency in the type of shield they’re wielding.

    Bucklers have a Speed Factor of 2, use the Armor Class Adjustments for Bo Stick, and do 1 point (+ Strength Damage Adjustment) shield-bashing damage.

    Small shields have a Speed Factor of 4, use the Armor Class Adjustments for Jo Stick, and do 1-2 points (+ Strength Damage Adjustment) shield-bashing damage.

    Large shields have a Speed Factor of 6, use the Armor Class Adjustments for Staff, quarter, and do 1-3 points (+ Strength Damage Adjustment) shield-bashing damage.

    And, in addition to all that, I'm now also considering that maybe having a Weapon Proficiency in a type of shield should also mean that you can use that type of shield more effectively for defense too. Probably another 1 point AC improvement. What do y'all think?

    ReplyDelete
  79. Two weapon training patterns, train the human body bilaterally, which is good and bio-mechanically healthy. Which is why historically you see "a case of rapiers", double-stick patterns in FMA and the other two sword Forms and Katas mentioned. I currently forget the term but there is a neurological feed back to single weapon fighting that is created. How ever it is skill intensive.

    I had a conversation with a guy who has earned the title of "king" in sca and he said some thing about Florentine style that still rolls around my head. "If your going to fight Florentine style, be prepared to get hit a lot."

    If I truly felt the need for a house rule, it would most likely consist of giving a two, "larger sized" weapon fighter a penalty to AC, one that fits the type and sizing of mods currently being used in game.

    ReplyDelete
  80. There are plenty of two weapon techniques around in real life, but they all belong to niche specialities designed by dedicated martial artists who trained to use them. Even so, generally one weapon was used to fight offensively and one weapon was used to fight defensively.

    Still, in D&D, most fighting men use two weapons. One of them is a shield, and there are plenty of offensive tricks that can be used with shields, from bashes to hooks. But you should never consider the shield in isolation, it's really part of a single unified two-weapon system.

    [One of the things in my campaign is that only fighting men can use two "weapons." Thieves/rogues can't even use bucklers or off-hand main gauche. Bravos are fighting men, not thieves. But I agree, shields are seriously underrated in D&D. As is the fact that the need to be replaced/repaired after every battle.]

    Ricasso smallswords (longswords in D&D) was quite possible, but inefficient. After all, shields make far better defensive weapons. One of the advantages of having two different-sized blades is that it allows you to have two different engagement distances. Normally the longer weapon was the offensive one, but you could press the opponent, moving inside the effective radius of the longer weapons, in which case the roles reverse and the long weapon is used to hinder the opponent's ability to attack whilst the short one can be engage in the unprotected belly.

    [That being said there are special katas that effectively make sequenced attacks with one weapon after the other, but they do tend to leave you open. Runequest worked when it allowed you to fight normally (one attack & one parry), offensively (two attacks), or defensively (two parries).]

    In a similar manner the shortsword finds little use in D&D, since it is best used in formation (or other tight places, making it ideal in dungeons), and your typical D&D fighter is a warrior, not a soldier. Formation fighting is something else that D&D doesn't do well past the LBB (which effectively borrowed basing standards from Chainmail abd Swords and Sorcery).

    Which leads me to my pet bane of weapons use (mainly in RPG rather than other media), and that is people using a two-handed weapon to make epic sweeps, generally against multiple attackers. [Unless you are a giant attacking with an area affect tree, of course.] It's taken me years, with extensive actual demonstrations, to partially convince people that pulling your greatsword back to make a mighty swing, is really an invitation to your opponent to allow him to help you to commit suicide. Plus it negates the primary advantage of the weapon - it's length. It's such a genre trope that they can't believe it doesn't work that way in reality.

    [Disclaimer: good armour does change stuff, and many weapons that D&D class as one-handed (such as broadswords) could be used two-handed to help batter a foe in heavy armour. Pendragon is one of the few games that tends to do this right. But it also leaves you more vulnerable, since you don't have a shield any more whilst doing this.]

    ReplyDelete
  81. @Delta & James Maliszewski

    I thought of another way to make shields more valuable in D&D without violating the basic, core assumption of the armor categorization pattern or doing any situational modifier tinkering. And I think you might possibly, maybe, not think it's too complicated either.

    Here it is...

    A shield reduces the damage of every hit by 1 point.

    That's it. If you're using a shield and still get hit, then the hit does 1 less point of damage than is rolled.

    And it occurs to me that the same idea could be used for helmets too.

    What do y'all think?

    ReplyDelete
  82. "Does Blondie ever actually use two guns at one time?"

    He did in the Outlaw Josey Wales, with a pair of Colt Army revolvers no less, while on a galloping horse with the reigns in his teeth.

    Chuck Norris wishes he was that tough.

    I have a soft spot in my heart for dual wielding pistoleros, due to a love of pulp heroes and anything starring Chow Yun Fat.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Now that I think about it, so did John Wayne in "True Grit." In this case, a Winchester rifle in one hand, pistol in the other, and the reins of the horse in his teeth.

    ReplyDelete
  84. What's the beef with 2 full length swords?

    Just going by extant European historical fight manuals this has been treatised by Manciolino, Marozzo, Altoni, Docciolini, Di Grassi, Lovino & Agrippa (Italy), Swetnam (England), Heredia (Spain), Sutor (Germany) and probably other which don't come to mind at this moment.

    This is not to mention fighting with sword and dagger which was incredibly prevalent.


    So anyone who says this isn't an historically accurate and effective fighting style is just misinformed. Obviously it wasn't used much in pitched battles because its useless for fighting in formation.

    Can't comment on SCA or Larp but I would argue its not even that hard if done in the cannonical way (to grossly simplify one sword forward and low, one high and back), it's the first thing Altoni and Docciolini teach after the single sword. It's only swinging both swords around like Obi Wan which is a) difficult to master b) liable to get you killed inherently ineffective.

    ReplyDelete
  85. You might enjoy the banter about double/triple lightsabres about halfway in:
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/unskippable/3538-Star-Wars-The-Old-Republic

    ReplyDelete
  86. I'm not against it in all instances. Perhaps its because some of the coolest looking miniatures when I started playing D&D in the eighties featured dual axe wielding and dual hammer wielding dwarves and fighters.

    I don't remember the manufacturer, but I loved those and still create fighters and barbarians wielding two axes as my character generation test cases to this day.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.