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Two-weapon styles?

posted Jan 25, 2013 20:07:46 by thomas5251212
I was reminded of this by a side comment in another thread.

As written, is there any real benefit to being a brace of sword or two-baton fighter in RQ6? Shields have some benefits to justify their use, but as far as I can tell normally an off-hand weapon can't do anything for you that a single weapon wouldn't.

Am I missing something?
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25 replies
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bluefenix42 said Jan 25, 2013 20:19:52
You can passively ward one location with an off-hand weapon. This is less useful than a shield, but still handy.

Having two weapons protects you a bit from being disarmed or pinned, because you always have the other weapon. It also makes the Impale maneuver more tempting, because you can impale with one weapon, then just let go of it and keep swinging the other one. Also, it could be good for using Pin Weapon offensively - pin their sword with yours, then strike with your off-hand weapon.

If the off-hand weapon is a light, throw-able thing like a dagger, you have a minor ranged weapon ready to go at all times.

Dual-wielding a bludgeoning weapon in one hand and a sharp weapon in the other gives you more versatility in the choice of special effects - you can use Stun, Bash, Bleed, or Impale depending on which weapon you attack with. If you have enchanted weapons or use weapon-enhancing magic, you can also have two different enchantments (e.g. Flameblade on one, Bladesharp on the other).

Finally, don't forget combat style traits. The GM is encouraged to invent new combat style traits to fit the setting. A school of combat which focuses on dual wielding probably has a trait which makes it more advantageous, such as better passive warding or getting to use the Flurry special effect to make an immediate follow-up attack with your off-hand weapon.
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jackpersona42 said Jan 25, 2013 20:52:49
"Finally, don't forget combat style traits."

I've not seen much in the way of third party combat traits - but I like the idea for two-weapon fighting to leverage this. Something like "When you are wielding two non-shield weapons that are supported by the combat style, you roll two dice and take the better result when determining initiative" perhaps?

I was looking for an option that added more oomph to the attack with the second weapon to represent the first weapon tying up the opponent's attention a bit. Not sure how to represent that, though. It's too much to say that the attack roll is Easier, but flat percentage bonuses aren't very RQ6...
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DanTrue said Jan 25, 2013 21:51:42
Yes, RQ6 is per default geared towards historically correct fighting styles. And in reality, two-weapon combat styles are very rare and not very optimal. Especially outside of the arena and formal duels, since on a battlefield you also need to take arrows, shield walls, charges etc. into account.

I've not seen much in the way of third party combat traits - but I like the idea for two-weapon fighting to leverage this. Something like "When you are wielding two non-shield weapons that are supported by the combat style, you roll two dice and take the better result when determining initiative" perhaps?


Sadly, not many have been made. But yes, if the desire is for a campaign with dual-wielding rogues all over the place, then making new combat styles is the way to do it.

I wouldn't like the idea of altering initiative, as that is sometimes rolled before weapons are drawn anyway and what weapons you bear have really no say in how you achieve tactical initiative.

Some ideas could be:

1) Being able to use the flurry SE armed.
2) Being able to enhance the size of a parrying weapon by one (by cross-parrying)
3) Enhance the reach of the off-hand weapon by one step.

There are many possibilities, and it depends on the focus of the particular school and the style of the campaign.

- Dan
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thomas5251212 said Jan 26, 2013 23:34:08
I do agree that they aren't usual for heavy battlefield usage, but things like sword-and-dagger styles were perfectly functional during the era of light armor on non-battlefield situations.

Its a good point about including things like the flurry as style elements though.
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jackpersona42 said Jan 27, 2013 04:33:03
Yes, there must have been some benefit to sword and dagger (or main gauche) style fighting - though there isn't anything inherent in the RQ6 system that I recall that would make it smart to go with a dagger over a buckler in any way. I was looking for a style element that would do for small weapons used to parry what the unarmed element (whose name escapes me right now) does, namely make the dagger effectively Medium to be truly useful as a defensive tool.
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thomas5251212 said Jan 27, 2013 06:32:09
I'll look over the extent elements and see if anything looks sensible tomorrow.
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bluefenix42 said Jan 27, 2013 07:28:00
You're thinking of "Unarmed Prowess" combat style trait that makes Unarmed attacks count as Medium for parrying.

I believe at least one previous edition of Runequest had a "parrying dagger" which was more expensive than a normal dagger (and may have done 1 less point of damage? Or couldn't be thrown as well? not sure), but counted as Medium instead of Small for parries.

In my current game, one player is a monk of an order that is all about collecting and preserving knowledge: The Brotherhood of Eternal Memory. Their combat style is overly defensive, because they strongly prefer never to kill a thinking being, for fear that any secrets that person knows will be lost forever. Thus, their cult's combat style consists of shields and one-handed bludgeoning weapons, encourages use of the Bash and Stun Location special effects, and has the combat style trait "One-handed bludgeoning weapons count as one size larger for parrying." So far, this has worked out fine in my game.
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DanTrue said Jan 27, 2013 08:17:59
I do agree that they aren't usual for heavy battlefield usage, but things like sword-and-dagger styles were perfectly functional during the era of light armor on non-battlefield situations.


Well, they are perfectly functional in RQ6, even giving some advantages as bluefenix42 enumerated. However, I'm not convinced that a guy going longsword + dagger will in any way gain a major advantage over a guy using the longsword two-handed (because the swrod becomes VERY quick), or a guy with arming sword + buckler or larger shield. It often arises of the belief that a two-handed weapon wielder is slow to strike (and that may be true for axes and hammers), but the longsword is very quick indeed when used correctly.

Also remember that many combat styles used in history were non-optimal. For instance in the (very) late medieval period and renaissance, when rapier + dagger combat developed in Italy and Spain - if you had brought a longsword to a duel in those weapons, you would most likely have thrashed your opponent unless he was a fencing master. Bt you couldnt, because duelling rules stricly forbade it and if you had used it anyway, anyone at court would have judges you a thug and a barbarian. So the use of rapier + dagger historically does not mean that it is on par with using a spear + shield or a longsword etc. So social rules have just as much, if not more, to say in the usage of certain weapons, than their gaming-power-value (as relflected excellently in bluefenix42's post).

But again, combat in rpg's shouldn't be about emulating historical combat. It should be about story telling and style - and combat style traits really is the way to do that. And as mentioned in my earlier post, I would work mostly with the already existing SE, or work with the reach and/or size of the weapon.

I believe at least one previous edition of Runequest had a "parrying dagger" which was more expensive than a normal dagger (and may have done 1 less point of damage? Or couldn't be thrown as well? not sure), but counted as Medium instead of Small for parries.


RQ6 has a Main Gauche which is entrapping. So, using this instead of a normal dagger is already a good step along the way.

- Dan
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bluefenix42 said Jan 27, 2013 08:40:13
RQ6 has a Main Gauche which is entrapping. So, using this instead of a normal dagger is already a good step along the way.


Wow, you're right, I totally missed that weapon and rule! Thanks for pointing it out.

One final suggestion for an alternate combat style trait: Allowing a short sword in each hand, as an alternative to the rapier/dagger combo. It increases the size and damage of your off-hand weapon, at the cost of lower damage on the main hand. It might be unrealistic, but it's still several steps better than the bastard-sword-in-each-hand builds I see in D&D now and then.
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DanTrue said Jan 27, 2013 08:54:21
One final suggestion for an alternate combat style trait: Allowing a short sword in each hand, as an alternative to the rapier/dagger combo. It increases the size and damage of your off-hand weapon, at the cost of lower damage on the main hand.


What would be the purpose of it? You're average damage is the same and you get weird situations where dropping an off-hand weapon (which might be pinned and broken) increases your main hand damage.

Giving entrapping to off-hand weapons could be a possibility though.

- Dan
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PeteNash said Jan 27, 2013 09:29:11
"Yes, there must have been some benefit to sword and dagger (or main gauche) style fighting - though there isn't anything inherent in the RQ6 system that I recall that would make it smart to go with a dagger over a buckler in any way."

Other than the opportunity for an off-hand Bleed attack, nor should there be. Historically the benefit was that you didn't have to carry a buckler around all day, which would both get very annoying and lacked practicality since 'arming' it would take too much time in comparison to a dagger. The other thing to note is that a dagger really only works as a parrying device (and a particularly risky and unforgiving one at that) because it is deflecting thrusts, not swings.

Remember that Sword and Dagger was a civilian style that arose for a only brief period because it was fashionable - not because it was that tactically effective. It was soon superseded by a return to heavier single-handed cutting blades with nothing in the off-hand.

There is an opportunity here for those interested in the renaissance and post-renaissance period to develop style traits for particular weapon combinations of that time. So for example:

Sword and Dagger: Can use the main gauche's Entrapping ability.
Sword and Cloak: Can use Entangle and may use Blind Opponent on attacking criticals.
Single Sword: Trips and Disarms are made one step harder for an opponent to resist.

and so on...
[Last edited Jan 27, 2013 09:33:50]
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thomas5251212 said Jan 27, 2013 18:21:15
"Other than the opportunity for an off-hand Bleed attack, nor should there be. Historically the benefit was that you didn't have to carry a buckler around all day, which would both get very annoying and lacked practicality since 'arming' it would take too much time in comparison to a dagger. The other thing to note is that a dagger really only works as a parrying device (and a particularly risky and unforgiving one at that) because it is deflecting thrusts, not swings. "

I suspect strongly that you have it backwards there; likely barring a main gauche (which had specific design advantages) that normally the smallsword was used to pull the attack out of line with a parry, while the dagger was the follow-through weapon.

But the argument about bringing a longsword to a rapier fight is missing the point; as is in the rules, I'm not seeing much advantage to having the dagger there even in comparison to someone just using a rapier. And I'm afraid I just kind of don't buy that idea, having done fairly extensive single baton and two baton work.

They don't work well as mass combat weapons and I'm not going to argue that they're in any way superior to the larger shields, but I'm really unconvinced the "you're better off with a single weapon" argument is true, because personal experience seems to suggest otherwise.
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DanTrue said Jan 27, 2013 20:35:17
They don't work well as mass combat weapons and I'm not going to argue that they're in any way superior to the larger shields, but I'm really unconvinced the "you're better off with a single weapon" argument is true, because personal experience seems to suggest otherwise.


No one suggested you're better off with a single weapon - unless that single weapon is wielding your longsword two-handed, which is bloody damn effective.
We aren't saying that you won't gain an advantage by drawing a dagger together with your rapier, if your hand is empty anyways. You get the opportunity to impale him and leave the weapon in, if you draw a small hammer instead of a dagger you get the opportunity to stun, and if you're disarmed or your weapon is pinned, you have a backup. These are fairly good advantages. And if your setting sports a two-weapon combat style, nothing is stopping you from introducing a combat styles which allows the flurry SE with the off-hand. In exchange you loose the ability to start grabbling him with your free hand (used very much in Messer fighting: https://www.google.dk/search?q=talhoffer+messer&hl=da&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=q40FUenQOsqxtAas84DwAQ&ved=0CCwQsAQ&biw=1920&bih=955)

Of course there is the problem of reach - you need to close to dangerous distances before you can use the dagger. This fits perfectly with my sword & buckler and Messer experience (where we gladly use the off-hand for unarmed attacks or to grab the opponent).... often, you don't get to attack with the off-hand, as the opponent is too skilled at keeping you at a distance. Sometimes you manage to close without getting a sword in your face, and then it works well.

Is a combat style with a trait allowing Flurry SE with the off-hand, or something similar, unrealistic? Not particularly, as this reflects someone who has trained specifically for fighting with these two weapons. This is the way to handle these sort of things in the RQ6 combat system... But an immediate mechanical advantage of picking up an off-hand weapon (like the +1 AP as in previous editions) which is above and beyond simply having that ekstra weapon? I find that very unrealistic, and it would introduce some weird situations. For instance, why does the dagger in the off-hand confer an advantage when fighting at VL reach? If the dagger is a stick rather than a club, does it still confer that advantage?

Still, your runequest may vary, so introduce whatever things you like to make the feel of your game as you wish it. For instance, I had a little beef with the combat rules that dual-shortsword fighting was not possible, even though there is historical basis for it (I thought, until Pete corrected me on the lengths of the machairi knives). But the fact is that if I wanted to include dual-shortsword gladiators in my game, I would simply have made a combat style trait allowing that.

- Dan
[Last edited Jan 27, 2013 20:39:09]
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PeteNash said Jan 27, 2013 21:11:00
"I suspect strongly that you have it backwards there; likely barring a main gauche (which had specific design advantages) that normally the smallsword was used to pull the attack out of line with a parry, while the dagger was the follow-through weapon."

I can redirect you to a number of period manuals which show both methods, but in general, strongly emphasise using the dagger to parry. For example...

Giacomo di Grassi (http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/NewManuals/DiGrassi/03001047.jpg)
Salvatore Fabris (http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/Fabris/book1/04012113.jpg)
or Capo Ferro (http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/NewManuals/CapoFerro/10001091.jpg)

...who were three of the leading proponents of Sword and Dagger fighting, a core part of the Italian school at the peak of its popularity. By the rise of the smallsword, the sword and dagger style had faded towards obscurity.

It might seem arse backwards, but the fundamental basis of the style was that if you managed to take you opponent's rapier thrust off-line with your dagger, then you can thrust with your rapier in comparative safety since your weapon was within reach, whereas his dagger was not. If you parry rapier to rapier and step in to gut your foe with the dagger, then his dagger will be doing the exact same to you!

"But the argument about bringing a longsword to a rapier fight is missing the point; as is in the rules, I'm not seeing much advantage to having the dagger there even in comparison to someone just using a rapier. And I'm afraid I just kind of don't buy that idea, having done fairly extensive single baton and two baton work."

Mechanistically within the game it _does_ have some advantages as pointed out by BlueFenix and Dan above, the inherently lethal threat of Bleed or the ability to follow up after impaling your foe with the rapier are not to be sniffed at. But really sword and dagger was a 'fad' style which flourished briefly for a short period of time because of social and cultural restrictions. If your players want to create lightly armed fencers then make sure the campaign is set in a period or setting analogous to the renaissance, where they can shine, and won't be competing with heavy armoured knights or hoplites.

As to comparing baton fighting with rapier combat, you do understand that the rapier relies primarily on the thrust? Due to this a single sword user can actually keep their body in a narrow profile whilst remaining lethal, well behind their weapon which makes them hard to reach for anyone wielding two weapons; since keeping both of those weapons in play requires them to stand square on instead. Batons on the other hand are generally clubbing weapons and short to boot, which makes delivering an incapacitating blow difficult unless you start from a fairly square stance to generate significant power. So comparing the two is fraught with problems since their basic dynamics are very different.

"They don't work well as mass combat weapons and I'm not going to argue that they're in any way superior to the larger shields, but I'm really unconvinced the "you're better off with a single weapon" argument is true, because personal experience seems to suggest otherwise."

And I'd counter that my personal experience and study of history suggests the exact opposite, that an open hand can be a far more useful tool in a myriad of ways. From being able to take a more defensive position, to the ability to throw nearby objects, overturn furniture or perform far superior trips, grapples and disarms. From many years of practice I find an off-hand dagger actually limits my options. ;)

If you have strong opinions then feel free to tinker with the rules and re-balance them to favour whatever style you prefer. We happily encourage you to do just that! RQ6 has been written with a grounded basis in reality, but retains enough flexibility to model most forms of combat throughout history, plus the ability to create weird exotic forms too. :)
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PeteNash said Jan 27, 2013 21:13:08
Ninja'd by Dan. :)
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