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Author Topic: TROS Weapon Statistics (ATN, DTN, & Damage)  (Read 10765 times)
Shadow
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« on: May 18, 2002, 02:31:50 AM »

(*Long post, mainly focused on damage rating of the rapier)

From my reading of the game rules, I find that TROS uses a (very impressive) combat system in which the difficulty of striking with a weapon (ATN) and parrying with the weapon (DTN) are represented, as well as the sheer ability of the weapon to do damage ("Damage" rating).  With such statistics, TROS can represent the advantages and disadvantages of various weapons in a detailed yet concise manner.  TROS additionally differentiates between other attributes for specific weapons, such as with a separate ATN for cut vs. thrust.

While generally I find the ratings intuitive and logical for the weapons, I have a question regarding the damage rating assigned to the Rapier in particular.  The ATN is appropriately low, especially for the thrust (the weapon is quick and agile as fittingly described in Appendix Two, pg. 253), and the light build of the weapon is appropriately dealth with in the difficulty defending with it against a slashing attack.  The weapon is further given a very poor damage rating when used to cut (ST-3 damage), which seems fitting for a thin blade with little mass at point of contact.  On the thrust the weapon has a great damage rating (ST +3 damage).  

While I agree the rapier should be deadly especially when thrust, I am not sure this is best represented by a high damage rating.  My thinking is that the low ATN (5) on the thrust represents the weapon's advantage well, but the high damage may over-represent this advantage.  The low ATN will make it easier for a fighter employing the Rapier to deliver a good thrust, since it will result in more successes and thus more damage per # of dice rolled.  Given 10 dice rolled for ease of example, one using a rapier (ATN 5) will on average score 6 successes, while one with say a cut-and-thrust sword (ATN 6) will score 5 or a Great sword (ATN 7) would score 4.  All things being equal, not accounting for the weapons' damage ratings, the Rapier will hit for more damage, for the reason I feel it should... it is quick and agile, with good reach to deliver a fine thrust.

If we include the damage rating into the equation, the Rapier will do yet greater damage (Rapier damage = ST+3, Cut and thrust sword or Great sword damage = ST+1).  The result is that the Rapier will probably cause the most damage of any weapon on the thrust (except perhaps a mounted lance on the charge), unless I misunderstand things.  My thinking is that the damage ratings represent more the impact value of the weapon, when properly delivered in an attack, whereas the ATN represents how easily a good attack is accomplished with the weapon.  

What brought this to my attention most was consideration of attack against an armored opponent.  The bastard sword, for example, is designed to penetrate armor with a stiff blade and good point.  While it may not be as easy to deliver a good thrust with this sword as with the Rapier (as represented by the Rapier's superior ATN), I question whether or not the Rapier should really have a superior damage rating to such a weapon?  As is, the rapier is both easier to strike with on the thrust, and also has a greater damage rating, so it is a better anti-armor rating than the Bastard sword, Cut & thrust sword, Estoc, or probably anything except the charge of a mounted lance.

This post is long already, but I felt it appropriate to provide detail to my rationale before asking if the Rapier should have such a powerful damage rating.  I see the Rapier as a finesse weapon rewarding a skillful use, but not so devastating for attacks that succeed by a narrow margin.  Any feedback or questions to my rationale are appreciated, I am very impressed by this game and system and think it very much worth understanding better.

Many thanks to readers interested enough to pour through my post and add their comments, clarifications and/or explanations for me.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2002, 07:44:03 AM »

Hey Shadow,

I'll go first. I think you're probably right. There are a few ways of handling this issue (that come to mind at present):

1) Drop the damage rating. This is probably the simplist way to go, and would not at all be unreasonable. The logic in the high damage was that a rapier is/was a wicked, horrible weapon. I could go on for quite some time talking about how un-finesseful (is that a word?) the rapier is in reality, that it's heavier than a greatsword and all kinds of other stuff, but it cannot be denied that the rapier had a wicked-quick thrust and a devastating effect when it hit the torso or head (and almost no effect on the limbs whatsoever)

2) Modify the damage based on where you hit. This would be the most cumbersome and most accurate approach. The damage would still be ST +3 on body and head shots, but Only ST+2 on the throat and groing (if even that) and only ST on limb shots (if that).

3) Give the rapier a damage penalty against metal armors. This is another appropriate and not unreasonable change (similar to the modifiers a saber experiences) that would similuate the uselessness of the rapier in battle (and it WAS useless in the press of battle).

The most realistic approach would be a comibination of (2) and (3). As for the overall qualities of the real-world rapier, that'd be another (but very engagin interesting) discussion. Any other thoughts? We're all ears.

Jake
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Casey Goddard
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2002, 08:23:57 AM »

To add to this topic I though I would compare the arming sword to the one handed long sword.  these two weapons don't really compare.  Granted to long sword is "long" while the arming sword is only "medium,"  but the added length just doesn't seem worth the increased difficulty of cut, thrust, and defense.  It looks to me that the arming sword is just better.  Any thoughts or ideas about that?
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Jaif
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2002, 10:23:27 AM »

I agree w/shadow - the good chance to hit on a thrust should suffice for a rapier.  Issues as to damage for a specific body part should be handled by the damage tables.  A pointy thrust is relatively the same, whether it's an arrow or a rapier.

I would also argue that the shock value of a rapier against heavy armor would be the reverse of a mass weapon, and should probably have a note similar to mass weapons, but reversed (e.g. -x shock damage).

As for longswords, I haven't looked at longsword v. arming sword much: part of the equation there should be the available manuevers, though.

-Jeff
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2002, 12:00:15 PM »

Quote from: Jaif
As for longswords, I haven't looked at longsword v. arming sword much: part of the equation there should be the available manuevers, though.


Actually, as I was reading the inital post, I thought the same thing. For example, the 2 proficiencies dedicated to the rapier (Rapier and Case of Rapiers) are not that great.  

They lack the counter, for one thing, which is a powerful defensive maneuver.  In fact, Case of Rapiers has only Parry and Expulsion (at a cost of 3 rather than 2 dice). Expulsion seems to be of quite limited usefulness to me. If you fail the parry, you get no bonuses (fair enough), but if you succeed, your opponent gets a -1 CP penalty for each success in your margin applied to any thrusting attack they make on you in the next exchange. Now, since you were just successful in your defense, you have initiative. Unless your opponent wants to die, they're not going to be attacking. I get the feeling that this penalty is supposed to be applied to your opponent's defense against your thrust on the next exchange, but it doesn't seem to be written that way... Maybe I'm reading it wrong?

On the offensive end, both the Rapier and the Case of Rapiers proficiencies get the Feint maneuver. This seems fitting to the nature of the weapon, but in the game they are of very limited usefulness. The Feint is a great maneuver but, since both types of Feint must be opened with a slash, and your opponent will most likely know that slashing is mostly useless with a rapier, it will be obvious that it's a feint.

I do agree that a rapier would be less effective against plate armor. It simply lacks the mass and rigidity to punch through that often. But the rapier has a lot of drawbacks already, I don't think it needs more. Besides, it doesn't get a bonus against chain mail, which I feel it would penetrate quite easily. Why should it get penalized for plate? Also, think of the situations that a rapier would find use in. Considering that users of plate mail will be out of their armor quite a bit, the odds are that a rapier won't be used against them that often. Aside from walking out on a battlefield, or participating in a parade, I don't think most people would wear full plate mail that often.

Something that I was suggesting to Lance the other night was that perhaps the different pices of armor should have 3 armor values instead of one. For example, it's listed like this now:

Piece of Armor  AV: 5

Perhaps it would be better to have it like this:

Piece of Armor  AVs: 5c, 3p, 4b

That way you can represent the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of different types of armor against different types of attack. I think it would be simple to implement, and wouldn't slow down the game either. I'd love to see that in the next printing! :-)

Well, I think I've probably rambled on enough for now.

Brandon
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2002, 10:43:34 AM »

A couple things to hit on, it seems...

First, the "one handed long sword" is not a different weapon than a "two handed long sword." It's the same weapon weilded with just on hand. The arming sword is a "dedicated" single-hand sword, and as such is intentionally superior to the longsword when used single handed. These are two weapons that I really know my stuff on, so they're solid.

The rapier damage is overinflated, I agree, but remember that, in truth, damage isn't that inportant in TROS...you can die just as easily from a dagger.

Counters for rapiers are a good idea, although the "expulsion" was originally intended to handle that, I think that "counter" could/should be added to the rapier.

As for the "limited usefulness" of the expulsion...yeah, the activation cost is a bit stiff (maybe too much so), but you're reading the role of "defender" wrong. Remember, once you steal initiative, the other guy is the defender. Thus it drains CP from his pool when you attack him, not when he attacks you.

As for feint...rapiers should be the exeception to the "start out with a slash rule." Something to fix...

Rapiers don't work all that well against chain, contrary to what some folks believe. They work even less well against plate, but, then again, so does everything.

As for multiple armor values...it was something that I avoided originally, but if enough of you fell it's a good idea it might resurface in the Flower of Battle.

Jake
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2002, 07:50:46 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
Counters for rapiers are a good idea, although the "expulsion" was originally intended to handle that, I think that "counter" could/should be added to the rapier.

As for the "limited usefulness" of the expulsion...yeah, the activation cost is a bit stiff (maybe too much so), but you're reading the role of "defender" wrong. Remember, once you steal initiative, the other guy is the defender. Thus it drains CP from his pool when you attack him, not when he attacks you.


OK! I thought that I might be misreading it. Now it makes more sense! :-) And yes, I'd love to see the Counter added to the Rapier's maneuvers.

Quote from: Jake Norwood
As for feint...rapiers should be the exeception to the "start out with a slash rule." Something to fix...


Groovy. The feint just makes me think 'swashbuckling fun'! So does the rapier. The two just seem to go together.

Quote from: Jake Norwood
Rapiers don't work all that well against chain, contrary to what some folks believe. They work even less well against plate, but, then again, so does everything.


Ok, I have little doubt that you'd know more about it than me. :-) I'll keep that in mind. However, isn't it true that plate wasn't really as thick as people imagine? Especially in the case of a full suit covering most of the body... I would think that if it were as thick as most people portray it, a knight in plate would be unable to move at all, much less fight...

Quote from: Jake Norwood
As for multiple armor values...it was something that I avoided originally, but if enough of you fell it's a good idea it might resurface in the Flower of Battle.

Well, my first instinct is that it would bog down play. But then I thought about it in more detail, and I realised that people are going to have the AV of their armor written on their sheet, whether it's one number or 3. It doesn't really add any steps to the combat process, and in truth it wouldn't really change the combat process. Another point in favor of multiple armor values is the feel of the game. It's got that "Gritty Realism". The combat system is based heavily on it. Why shouldn't armor be handled in the same level of detail that weapons, maneuvers and damage is?

But that's just my take on it! :-)

Brandon
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2002, 08:33:22 PM »

Ah, armor...oddly a controversial topic amongst people that don't know jack about it. Some guys, such as the SCA, know a lot (but never as much as they tell you), others just think they do...

Plate armor was thin. On the other hand, it was incredibly well made and quite light. It's real virtue was not the strength of the metal, but in the engineering of that metal--angle, supports, etc.

IRL it was near-to-impossible to cut through plate. You could dent it, sure, but cut? It just couldn't be done. The angles that plate was built at made it very difficult to get a "flush" thrust in on it as well, which is why half-sword techniques either go for joints and gaps, or angle in at 45* or so in an attempt to get that "perpendicular" alignment on a thrust.

Plate was so much better than people think, yet it was better in ways that people don't comprehend. In TROS the Armor Value covers both an armors ability to deflect and to absorb punishment (since damage in TROS is calculated in conjuction with the attack roll that works out great).

The real weapons for plate were axes, maces, and picks. The estoc was also a specialty weapon for knights on foot (in many times more common than knights on horseback, again contrary to the belief of many), as was the bastard sword (both throught the use of half-sword techniques).

Anyway, just felt like ranting about armor.

Jake
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2002, 09:46:01 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
The angles that plate was built at made it very difficult to get a "flush" thrust in on it as well, which is why half-sword techniques either go for joints and gaps, or angle in at 45* or so in an attempt to get that "perpendicular" alignment on a thrust.


There's something I'd like to see in Flower of Battle. Rules (perhaps optional - perhaps not) for striking at gaps and seams in armor. I'm guessing that a major part of fighting an armored opponent involved this. Perhaps something like a CP cost to target a given area (an area smaller than a typical attack area)? In fact, since it would give the attacker a great advantage (making the defender's armor useless) I would say paying a one for one die cost to make that attack might not be out of the question. In other words, every die allocated to the attack costs 2 CP rather than one.  But success still should not be automatic, of course...

Just another thought...

Brandon
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2002, 10:50:54 PM »

Quote
There's something I'd like to see in Flower of Battle. Rules (perhaps optional - perhaps not) for striking at gaps and seams in armor. I'm guessing that a major part of fighting an armored opponent involved this. Perhaps something like a CP cost to target a given area (an area smaller than a typical attack area)? In fact, since it would give the attacker a great advantage (making the defender's armor useless) I would say paying a one for one die cost to make that attack might not be out of the question. In other words, every die allocated to the attack costs 2 CP rather than one. But success still should not be automatic, of course...


Actually, I think that aiming for these spots is considered fairly automatic. A rapier is NOT going to run through the center of a piece of plate armor. It's not going to happen, no matter how strong you are. A rapier will, however, slip neatly and painfully into the gap. The difficulty of doing so is part of how the armor protects. The armor rating is subtracted from your successes, meaning that you had to expend X dice of effort in hitting a gap, rather than using those dice to inflict harm.
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2002, 11:05:39 PM »

I actually had considered that perhaps the AV is, in part, the difficulty in finding a way into these gaps. But it really seemed odd to me. Maybe it is? What does Jake have to say about this? :-)

I just had the feeling that the AV reperesented the "toughness" of the armor.... I could be wrong tho - it's happened before...  ;-)

Brandon
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2002, 11:16:51 PM »

AV represents how hard it is to get past armor--either through deflection or "toughness." It may be partially applied to the "gap" issue, but only partially.

The idea behind the hit locaiton charts (and the Gift: Accuracy) is that on, say, a strike to area IV (downward diagonal, or a "zornhau/oberhau," since I see a few WMA types have wandered into the forum) you might hit the shoulder, neck, face, or head. Different armors cover different areas, which is why I didn't get specific in mentioning stuff like "plate covers zones I, II, III, IV, and IV," because earlier forms of plate left the neck alone (or, rather, covered with only the chain of the coif), come helms leave the face open but not the top of the head, etc. Thus hitting gaps is tightly associated with the hit tables and the accuracy gift.

Could we put in a maneuver meant to hit gaps specifically...we could, but do we want to? How much is it lacking, in other words, that we need more for it.

SO what's my answer...do what works for you. Emphasise Wolfen's take or Rattlehead's take, and run with it. They both work.

Jake
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Shadow
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2002, 08:42:41 AM »

Thanks for all the responses to this thread!  My suggestions for Rapier stats in TROS are as follows (the 1st 2 were presented as options in the second post of the thread, by Jake):

1) Reduce damage on the thrust

2) Reduce its damage vs. metal armor

3) Give it a reach advantage (rather than high damage rating)

Details and rationale:

1) The rapier is a thin-bladed sword, but quick and deadly for thrusting.  This is best reflected by the low ATN it already has, the damage rating should reflect more the size of the wound in my opinion.  I would reduce the damage to +0 (if the reach advantage, #3 below is added) or possibly +1.  I agree with Jeff that TROS probably does not need weapon stats to account for damage to different areas, beyond what is already represented in the damage tables.  If thrusts to the arm in general (from all weapons) are seen as too damaging, though, the optional -1CP modifier for thrusts to the arms (pg. 234, Appendix A) could be increased (to -2 or -3).

2) The rapier may have a good acute point, but with its thin blade to length ratio should flex more than other thrusting swords against hard targets and should have a harder time penetrating metal armors.  Make the Rapier's damage rating go down 2 points against metal armors (ST -2), similar to what is done for sabers/scimitars when cutting.

3) The Rapier has a relatively long blade, as long or longer than a Bastard swords's blade typically.  I feel it should have a reach advantage against the typical one-handed sword (and other medium weapons), so I would give it a length (reach) of "long".  Due to the weapon's quickness, I might give it an extra advantage, in being able to be used at "long" and "medium" distance with no disadvantage.  Thus against an arming sword a rapier would have advantage at "long" range but no disadvantage at "medium"; and, against a bastard sword would have advantage at "medium" range but on equal footing at long range.  A reach advantage (along with the already low ATN of 5) would represent the rapier's deadliness better than a high damage in my opinion.

On a side note, I think the shortsword (assuming the Roman model) should have a higher damage rating (ST+1 instead of ST+0) on the thrust due to its combination of good point and broad blade.  Since the disadvantage of its short reach is already accounted for by weapon length rules, I also think it's cutting ATN could be improved (from ATN 7 to ATN 6).  A gladius-type shortsword is really a short, broad and wieldly sword suited to a cut-and-thrust style of fighting.  Not sure it will be used to cut with in-game much anyway, except for feints and maybe against a rapier if it is ruled to be strong enough to raise the rapier DTN to 8 against a cut, though...

Brandon's idea of giving armor different ratings vs. different types of attack (cut, thrust & blunt) is very possible to add to the game, I agree.  TROS already accounts for this to some degree, in the weapon stats section (with axes, maces etc getting damage bonuses vs hard armor).  Regarding striking at joints in the armor against pinned foes (stabbing with dagger), but maybe could just give a bonus to damage or ATN in this situation?  Pulling off the helm of a grappled foe could be another tactic employed.  I'm not sure TROS needs a ton of rule detail added for this kind of stuff, though.

I would be glad to see any discussions on real-world qualities of rapiers (and other weapons, armor, etc.), such can only lead to more ideas on how to best represent them in-game.  As far as rpg forums go (rather than WMA or "sword-forum" types), I think this one for TROS must have the audience & participants most interested in real-world weapon characteristics.  Hmm I bet the thread, "real-world weapon characteristics" would get plenty of hits & replies here...
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2002, 09:17:35 AM »

Shadow-

I like your modifications (though not as extreme in some places), and I'll consider implementing them. I have studied a lot more about the rapier since I wrote all that this time last year.

1) Reducing damage to ST+2 is a good idea, but I hesitate to drop it lower, as the rapier had incredible penetration. They almost always passed all the way through the body or head (!) on a clean thrust.

2) Reducing damage vs. metal armors is VERY appropriate, and I'm kicking myself for overlooking that in the stats.

3) Many Rapiers had blades 4'long, whereas most bastard or long swords were just plain 4' long, hilt included. A range increase is definitely in order, although I disagree about the "also works in med range" thing. Rapiers were clumsy as crap once you got in close, but deadly as anything at their own range. There were, however, different lengths of rapier. In truth you could have long and meduim range rapiers with identical stats otherwise. Hmmm....

Your point about the roman gladuis having an improved thrust is good, although the TN on the cut isnt' do to range, but rather the build and momentum that a shorter sword carries.

A thread on real-world weapon qualities would be good. I'd love to start one, but I'd prefer it if one of you did. I try not to be the "driving force" here, as whatever I say ends up being some kind of final word and it kills discussion in many cases (the problem with being the creator of the game, i guess).

Fun fun fun.
Jake
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2002, 09:27:22 AM »

Hey,

Quick rapier comment: if an opponent gets in close, past point-range, rapier hilts and the weapon's substantial heft made for very nasty punches. Same goes for the small bucklers that were used with them in some cases.

I vote for keeping the ST+3, extending the range a bit, and dropping the +3 against metal armor. No other modifications seem appropriate to me. They really are horrible, fearsome weapons in an urban environment. People used to get killed in sportive fencing right into the middle of the twentieth century, before blades were lightened and the button-end was blunted.

Cool but possibly apocryphal detail: a "buckle" is a "buckler," and "swashing" it means to clap on it or rattle it with one's sword. Apparently duelists (read: gangs) in Renaissance Italy would do this while challenging one another ... hence the name "swashbuckler." (My question is why the name, which is clearly etymologically English, is supposed to come from an Italian phenomenon.)

Best,
Ron
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