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Re: (TFT) How often should TFT swords Break

In a message dated 4/2/2004 4:50:46 PM Central Standard Time, pvk@oz.net 

>>And again, I expect very high quality weapons to mostly survive such things
>>where poor quality weapons would break (except for maybe the stone pillar 
>>- but IMC fighting near a stone pillar is a noteworthy event in its own 
>How about stone floors and ceilings? Or wood ones - embedding a sharp swung 
>weapon in soft wood can take it out of a fight. Getting an axehead stuck 
>inside a corpse's breastplate or even ribcage might also force someone to 
>abandon a weapon. Getting a weapon stuck, snapped, or twisted away while 
>penetrating someone's shield is another possibility. Or, perhaps the most 
>common - simply swinging full-on against someone else's weapon coming the 
>opposite direction - might usually not break, but sometimes...

Stone ceilings are rare too, IMC, but you have a point about the floors. The 
rest of your examples, though, fall into cases that are either more like 
dropped weapons than broken ones, or cases where I'd expect good weapons to be much 
more likely to survive. 

>Having read accounts of weapons having broken in combat (including a 
>prince's axe in a formal duel simply breaking on an opponent's helmet 
>[opponent died] - no comments were made about him being a fool for 
>obviously having a cheap axe if it broke), 

Except for the "not a cheap axe" bit, that sounds like my own house rule of 
"breaks on a 3" rather than the standard "breaks on a 18." But then my own 
game-preference *is* for breakage on the less-often-than-realistic side. And I'll 
also point out that accounts of weapons breaking in combat could be cases of 
"man bites dog" - worth reporting *because* the event is unusual.

> the frequency with which broken 
> weapons appear in contemporary illustrations of battle aftermath

Now that's a good piece of evidence for your side of the argument.

> and 
> examples such as "sword breaker" weapons and jitte designed to snap fine 
> samurai sword blades, or zweihanders used to cut pikes, etc., strongly 
> suggest to me that there would be a significant chance for even a good 
> weapon to get broken, one way or another, in serious combat.

I consider *deliberate* attempts at breaking weapons to be a whole 'nother 
case. IMC I make a distinction between "won't break accidentally" and "immune to 
even deliberate attempts to break." 

Part of my problem with the standard rules is that it gives the wrong "feel," 
even in cases where I'll accept the probabilities as correct - e.g. "breaks 
on an 18" vs "breaks on a 3." I'm happy with my own rates of heroic weapon 
(non)breakage in my own campaign, but if I wanted more shitty weird shit, I'd be 
more inclined to a rule like "17 = Opponent gets a free attack. This must be a 
'special' attack of some sort (shield rush, attempt to disarm, attempt to 
break your weapon) rather than a straight hit for damage."

> I do sympathize with trying to get odds right. One in 7776 is a long way 
> from 9 in 10. One in 7776 * 5 seconds = 10.8 _hours_ of non-stop combat. 

Or 1-2 weapons in an army of 10,000 breaking after 1 turn of combat.

But I'm glad to see that you consider trying to get the odds right to be 
important. One reason why the subject is a sore point with me is that I've 
encountered so many gamers who *don't* care about getting the odds right. Or worse, 
gamers who considered grossly screwed up odds to be "more realistic" as long as 
they were screwed up in the More Bad Shit direction. Then there are those who 
want to have the rules produce lots & lots of Bad Shit with the expectation 
that the GM will fudge away 90% or 99% of the bad results. (I suspect that 
GURPS is guilty of this last - possibly unconsciously, and especially after it's 
fall to Krommunism.) 

>Even if I believe your advertising about the indestructibility of your 
>wonder weapons, I would still say that even a great fighter is going to 
>find himself in an unexpected tough spot about as often as they would roll 
>an 18. I think TFT's chances of special good and bad events cover that 
>adequately, though they aren't very detailed or varied in the possible 

Except that the standard TFT rule has that "tough spot" occuring on a 17-18 - 
four times as often. Also, "permanently lose an exceptionally good and 
valuable weapon" is a much more severe result, IMO, than "permanently lose an 
ordinary (or cheap) weapon." A rule along the lines of "A fine-quality weapon gets 
stuck (12 turns to recover) if it makes the roll to avoid breaking" might work 
- more severe than an ordinary drop-weapon result, but less so than a 
break-weapon one.

>I'm talking about the chance something will happen like tripping, 
>slipping, straining a joint or muscle, hitting a funny-bone on something, 
>bumping into an obstacle, losing grip on equipment, etc. If TFT players 
>prefer not to have detailed rules for such things, sticking to dropped and 
>broken weapons, removing the broken weapon result gets you down to one 
>bland "lose a turn" type event.

Well I use the even blander "there are no such things as criticals or fumbles 
- or even automatic hits and misses" house rule IMC, because I'm going for a 
deliberately heroic style of play. I don't consider that unimagnative; rather 
it opens up new vistas for the exercise of my and my players' imaginations. 
Not having to worry about the "special" 16+ or 5- rolls can be a liberating 

Erol K. Bayburt
Evil Genius for a Better Tomorrow
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