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Re: (TFT) More Weapons, and variable strength

Hey Neil,
I think the thing with the Romans was training. They trained their legionna
ires to fight together, support the man next to you. And thus a standard we
apon was important to them. The spatha was Celtic, I think, adopted by the 
Romans after their adventures in Gaul because of the longer reach -- and le
ading to all of our ideas of Dark Ages swords (Viking, Norman, etc.)
I did take fencing and archery in college (what fun a single credit could b
e!) but no, I've never studied fighting with an ax or spear. I just know th
at they were the weapons that were most likely to hand for most non-nobles.
 If you grew up on a farm, you used an ax as a tool and a spear to fend off
 predators. And when you wandered off to become a hero, they were probably 
the weapons you took with you.

I've always thought that swords took a lot more effort to make than either 
spears or axes. All that banging and folding to get a weapon that is flexib
le and hard at the same time. And while I'm sure that thousands of them wer
e made, I still suspect that many more spears and axes were turned out by h
alfway talented blacksmiths all over the world. I do agree about armor. Har
d and time consuming to make.
And the arrow thing. The English had a cottage industry making arrows, and 
while an individual arrow might only take a short while to fashion, you nee
d the set up to churn out a bunch. I guess my point there is that many of u
s think of arrows as free, and they would not be. And unlike most weapons t
hey get used up and need to be replaced. I just bought a couple of hundred 
rounds of .38 special and they set me back a shade over $.40 per round -- c
heap, but not so much when you start spraying them around like a fire hose!

I was thinking of halberds as being fairly late (14th century) but I do see
 that the naginata was around in the 12 century -- though this weapon has a
lways bothered me in the rules. It's a cultural misfit and was certainly no
t known in the worlds most of us set our games in. If you're playing Bushid
o, fine. If it's Camelot or Middle Earth, not  so easy to explain. And
 I'm not sure I agree about it being equivalent to a halberd or spear. The 
usage is certainly very different with the naginata being more of a sword o
n a stick and the fighting style more like fencing than jabbing or chopping
. (No, I've not used one, but I have watched bouts on TV.)

I like the Shield Wall talent -- certainly something well known as a defens
ive style.
As for the naming of names, that's part of the charm, isn't it? What makes 
my guy different than yours is that he carries a rapier, not just a sword. 
But not in Camelot.

      From: "raito@raito.com" <raito@raito.com>
 To: tft@brainiac.com 
 Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 10:24 PM
 Subject: Re: (TFT) More Weapons, and variable strength
> Just a quick set of comments:
> Surely part of basic training for an army would be physical exercise for
> the troops to get them all to be strong enough to wield their basic
> weapons. So I have no issue with requiring the Roman Legionnaires to be
> min ST 11 to use the gladius effectively. If someone less than ST 11
> picked one up, they would be at an AdjDX penalty --not incapable of using
> it. Similarly when someone advances to ST 12, they don't have to stop
> using the gladius. Arguably you could give them an AdjDX bonus for being
> stronger than needed, but I think it just adds unnecessary book keeping.
> I agree about the interchangeability of weapons issue. But the real issue
> for me is not that a sword pierces and an ax slashes. It's based on cost
> and convention. Historically swords were EXPENSIVE and were a mark of
> upper ranks (gladius carrying Romans being an exception, perhaps -- but
> the cost of equipping a legion was a major reason only the Romans did it)

It's more likely that the Romans culture was different than either the
Bronze Age European Celts before (and during) it and the feudal cultures
that followed. And note that originally the spatha was a cavalry weapon,
which ends up pointing to the ascendency of the mounted knight in Europe.

And historically, swords were less expensive than you seem to think. There
were many thousands made. Armour was a lot more expensive than weapons.

Sure they were the mark of nobility. Can't have the peasants having decent
weapons, now can we?

The Romans had industry. Metal objects for them weren't all that expensive.

> Axes and spears are much cheaper to make and easier to learn how to use.I
> think that swords should cost much more than other weapons -- and long bo
> arrows should be a significant expense too -- and probably have some sort

Arrows are really not expensive. If they were, the English wouldn't have
had so many.

It's also hard to believe that axes and spears are easier to learn. A
sword cuts when swung with the blade in line with the cut. So does an axe,
but not for its full length. A spear pokes, but only at a point
(generally, there's tons of exceptions there). My experience is that it's
easier to teach basic competency with a sword than nearly any other hand
weapon. Have you learned to use any of them? (I figure it's an honest
question as you've said which are easier.)

> of penalty for badly made.
> Naginata, etc. These are highly specialized weapons from fairly late era
> societies. If you're gaming in Conan era settings they should be
> unavailable unless someone has a very good back story. (I am a firm
> believer in paying for unusual talents or gear with excellent back
> stories.)

1146 is hardly 'late'. But I think you miss the point. *

> Defense: I do think that a Parry talent would be appropriate (and should
> be built in to Fencing). Though I must say that using a battle axe to
> parry seems a stretch. IQ and DX minimums should apply. I could see it

Hardly a stretch. If it has a haft, it's used for defense, one way or
another. Read Jeu de la Hache and you'll see what axe fighting was like.

> being used with blade weapons and spears and quarterstaffs, for instance.
> You could wrap the Shield talent into it -- or expand shield to include
> it. Sometimes you use a shield to slide the blow aside rather than just
> absorb the damage.

* My point is that you're putting way too much emphasis on the names of

The naginata in game terms is nothing more than a polearm that gives more
damage if one has the requisite skill. And note that when the wielder has
the strength for a more powerful weapon, that skill no longer has value.
Similarly, I don't consider the names of any of the weapons to be literal.
They're just part of the fetish of game designers to put names to things.
I can partly understand that, because 'sword for strength 11 doing 2-1'
doesn't sound as good as 'shortsword'. But don't let names get in the way
of the mechanics. Don't go the way of Gygax, who had to have umpteen pole
arms, every one just a bit different. They just aren't all that different
(and I say that from experience).

As far as other Talents go, I've been messing with TFT since it first came
out, and tried many variations on improving the Shield Talent, adding
Parrying, modifying damage based on ST/DX, allowing variable damage dice
according to a formula, and a whole lot of other things. And the only
things I've kept over all that time were allowing the Fencing Talent with
weapons other than swords, and the Shield Wall Talent.

The Shield Wall Talent is worth describing again, since the Romans came
up. It's an IQ 8 cost 1 (as I remember) with a prerequisite of Shield. How
it works is that if a figure's front hexes overlap with another figures
front hexes, and they both have shields and the Shield Wall Talent, the
figure can subtract damage equal to both shield's ratings. And it works if
the figure has 2 other figures with overlapping front hexes. Makes for a
mean formation when you have a line of these guys, each reducing the hits
by 3 shield's worth.

Neil Gilmore

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