Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Frostgrave: The Two-Weapon Question

Frostgrave Treasure Hunter painted by Kev Dallimore
A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about Experience in Frostgrave, and asked for feedback from players on how they thought it could be improved. I got a lot of great answers, and I’m still digesting it all.

Today, I would like to talk about a smaller point in the rules, but one that I’ve never been completely happy with. The rule concerns figures that wield two-weapons. Basically, a figure that wields a hand-weapon and a dagger receives +1 Fight. Now, I’m no expert in hand-to-hand combat, so I admit that I don’t really know how much having an off-hand weapon helps when fighting for your life. However, it seems reasonable that it does offer some advantage if you know what you are doing.

For soldiers, this isn’t a big deal. The +1 is already worked into their stat line, and their capacity to improve that stat line is severely limited. For wizards, apprentices, and captains however, it can be one of many ways to improve Fight. On a side note, that +1 Fight does also increase a figure's defence against missile weapons. This is really just an unfortunate side-effect of a simplistic set of combat rules, but it is slightly annoying.

So, the question is, should I change the rule? Are we seeing too many wizards fighting with two weapons? I think we all agree that this should be a rarity and not a common occurrence.

Thinking about it, there is slightly more to the issue than just the +1 Fight. Any spellcaster or captain who is carrying two weapons is suffering a penalty in that he has essentially used up an item slot that could be filled by some other magic item. On the other hand, the figure gains a slight advantage in that if one of its weapons is destroyed, it still has a back up.

Two-Hand Weapons

+1 Fight & back up weapon / Takes up an Item Slot

Is that a fair trade-off, and if I did change it, what would I change it to? I considered giving anyone with the extra weapon +1 damage, but then there seems little reason to take it over a two-handed weapon. Potentially I could say it only gives an advantage when fighting multiple opponents, but that is perhaps getting more complex than most people want.

Opinions please!

49 comments:

  1. I'm happy as it is to be honest. Removing the +1 tight during shooting attacks makes sense, but if it makes the rules more complicated then I'm happy to let that slide.

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    1. Happy as is.

      I'd always assumed the Fight bonus for using a second weapon was written as a split stat and therefore didn't add for dodging missile weapons etc.

      The +1 Fight is worth it on it's own (the back up weapon is just gravy), but I do miss that item slot a lot.

      Probably well enough balanced as is but I'm still thinking it should be a split stat and only effective in appropriate situations (i.e. during close combat, & not being shot at or avoiding slipping on ice or...).

      For simplicity sake I'm happy as is, though!

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  2. I'm happy with the effect. I have studied historical fencing inducing rapier and dagger which was actually a fairly common weapon set in the 15th to 17th centuries. I think the rule works fairly well. The improvement against missile weapons is inaccurate but the only way I can see to fix it is to give characters a seperate dodge stat used to avoid shooting attacks.

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  3. From re enacting experience used a second weapon more as a block and set up for a riposte than as a straight attack. +1 fight is fine IMHO

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  4. You could make it give the enemy -1 fight. It gets around the +1 fight vs shooting and works conceptually by putting the enemy on the back foot.

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    1. Actually this sounds like a nice easy fix, good idea

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    2. I like this, good idea.

      Alternatively, you could rule that the +1 Fight vs. missile represents a warrior that is more agile. Makes sense given that he's fighting with two weapons - a difficult thing to do that requires training and practice.

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    3. That works for me. -1 Fight to the opponent in melee.

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    4. That sounds a very elegant way of doing it, similar to how staffs work.

      Playing devils advocaat (mmm evil egg nog), why should it work differently between Soldiers and named characters though? Would you rework the soldier list so treasure hunters etc go down a point of fight but get "two weapons" special rule, or leave them as is and just live with it?

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  5. I'd agree there. Given that it's a relatively simple rule set, it's suggest keeping the rules as they are. Although I do see a lot of wizards with two weapons as result, there is a cost (5gc and an item slot) to balance things slightly, and although it's counter-intuitive to help against ranged attacks, having an option to help against bows is very helpful indeed

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  6. I also would say that the +1 in avoiding missiles should be removed and thats it.

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  7. I completely agree with Stan Mc Kim. I will also encourage Wizards to use staffs, giving a -2 to the enemy's damage and just a -1 to the wizard's one.

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  8. Maybe make the hand weapon and dagger + damage and you win draws in melee. Removes the +1 to fight while basically having the same effect in melee without changing the rules

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  9. I think the +1 to fight when getting shot at would be accurate. I assume the fight bonus being added when shot at will reflect more agile opponents being harder to hit, anyone training long enough to be effective at using 2 weapons in close combat would be more more agile than someone who hadn't.

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  10. I think a bonus for melee combat with more then just one enemy would fit very well, because the model can better parry a blow of more opponents. i think everything else is a more disadvantage, especially the extra slot used. maybe its a time for a new spellcaster class, called battle mage, who is allowed to wear plated armour and 1-2 melee weapons, then is would fit very well with your initial concern about wizards with to much melee weapons ;)! A defense buff in melee only would be the best i think :).

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  11. Having a second weapon instead of a shield offers some minor offensive and some minor defensive options. It's also good to have a second kind of offensive variety - that's why a net is often accompanied by a dagger or spear. A left handed dagger was useful in the defense against rapiers. Against heavier weapons (broadsword, axe) though it would be mostly inefficient. Second weapons, like daggers were used because carrying shields was encumbering, and it still gave some adventage for the fighters.
    Most soldiers weren't trained in the use of second weapons, and if you'd like to do anything besides holding it, it will require training.
    +1 damage: It is not realistic, as most second weapons weren't really used for extra attacks. If you hold two axes, and swing both, you might get an extra number of attacks (it could be useful with a magical weapon), but you can't get your whole strength into your strikes.
    Multiple opponents: You can't really fight two opponents with two weapons, as it would require too much focus. It could be possibly done with magical weapons specifically created for this. You might hold multiple opponents at bay with two weapons though.

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    1. Did u see the Star Wars movies and the jedis/siths wearing dual lightsabers. Its a good example of fighting against multiple opponents with two hand weapons. I think we shouldn't take this issue to much in a realistic/historical way and maybe a bit more fantastically. just my 2 cents ;)

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    2. I'm totally okay with a fantastical approach, however that should be stated in the game, so it wouldn't confuse players. When I see a mini with two weapons, instead of a weapon+shield, I'll consider it a weaker opponent. If it's not weaker in this universe, it's better to know about that beforehand.

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  12. I think it Works fine.. as is

    I find it silly to go for realism in a fictional game... Believability is good, but realism is bad...

    +1 fight works for all intents and purposrs: it doesn't feel right, when all those wizards are dual wielders, because that is not how we see wizards. But I would let that one slide - if you want your Wizard to get in fights, you really need it... If you want it to be more safe from shooting, maybe shooting should be changed... In any case, you would get rid of it, as soon as you got enough items

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  13. Give wizards some ingredients to hold in their hand while spell casting. Giving wizards a boost to spell casting will be preferred to holding a second weapon. Example Fresh Skull +1 to all attempts to cast Necromancer spells. (Must be held while casting)
    Beating heart +2 while casting summon zombie or summon construct. (Must be held while casting) one use only :-) x

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  14. I would leave as is. Also you have all forgotten a dual wielding Mage with no staff has lost his -1 damage in melee. Maybe you should consider adding that advantage to shoot attacks too. (Image of Mage swatting arrow away), or if that is too much allow the -1 damage against magical attacks and magical shoot attacks only.

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  15. I think the rule is fine as is. If a player does indeed want to fill an item slot with a dagger (which of course he must buy) then that simplifies the soldiers.

    This will likely be more of an issue with lower level magicians until they start getting magic items to fill those item spaces.

    Currently our group has yet to have anyone with the Decay spell. Having this come to light may lead to some more Decaying happening

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  16. I also like the -1 fight on opponent suggestion. You could remove the option for wizards altogether ofc, on a captain its less an issue as he has max fight 3 generic.

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  17. Might have missed it above, but what about making the +1 fight for extra dagger/hand weapon a split stat and state ranged attacks are checked against the base fight value?

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  18. I am a fan of the +1 fight from a second weapon only applying in combat, and not in shooting.

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  19. I think wizards shouldn't be able to equip two weapons unless they want to forgo casting spells that turn. Otherwise I think the rule is fine how it is.

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  20. I don't think the +1 Fight for two weapons needs to go or be changed, but I remove any non-magical modifiers to Fight for spellcasters/captains vs shooting.

    Otherwise, I'd make shooting be a roll against Shoot. It wouldn't hurt (for example) for a Barbarian to have a Shoot of +4, as they don't have access to ranged weapons.

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  21. I think a shield could be a bit more effective against arrows.

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  22. I would leave the rules are they are. No change necessary.

    Zellak fae Scotland.

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  23. Advantage only when fighting multiple opponents is indeed too cumbersome.

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  24. I am okay with the current rules, but if I were to change the two-weapon fighting rule, I would make the bonus not apply to missile weapons. It would lead to split stats though, but anyone with an RPG background should be fine with that. I.e. A +4/+3 stat for +4 in melee and +3 vs shooting. I would also make magical weapon buffs not apply versus shooting. Might almost be easier to have a separate dodge stat based off of base fighting skill.

    Again, I am okay with the way things are, but if I were to change it, that would be how I would do it.

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  25. I would say leave rules as they are . I've not seen many wizards in combat with two weapons .

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  26. I would say leave rules as they are . I've not seen many wizards in combat with two weapons .

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  27. I would leave it as is, never had a problem with it.

    Also, it is nice to have your book and supplements knowing "that's it, this is how the game works" without having to keep track of changes to the basic rules. Makes it easier to lend the book to a rookie without him getting confused afterwards too.

    I think changes to core mechanics like this one are a slippery slope, and not worth the risk if the game works well as is. :)

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  28. Question! What's wrong with saying that with a split stat, only the base is used for defence? So 2 weapons give a bonus in Ml attack but do dick against arrows, without altering the rules any further.

    Thoughts?

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  29. Great thoughts and suggestions so far guys! I am encouraged by the number of people that say it's not a big issue. The problem with going with a -1 to enemy's fight is that this is essentially giving the two-weapon wielder a bonus point Armour along with an advantage in combat, and thus two-weapons being significantly better than a shield in hand-to-hand. In truth, two-weapons should be written with a split stat anyway, but the split stat should count against missile weapons as everything else that causes the split stat would.

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    1. True... what about doing away with a modifier entirely? You could make it so using two weapons makes you win ties. Fixes the range issue, no need for split stats, doesn't impact other gear but also makes 2 weapons better than just a hand weapon.

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  30. perhaps have a staff benefit casting over fight...then the wizard can make a choice what they really want to do

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  31. From my experience with Japanese swordfighting (Katori shinto ryu) and Filipino double stick fighting (modern arnis) and a little bit of live roleplay, I can tell you that a shield is absolutely and utterly the best thing to be armed with. If, and only if, you fight in a duel context, where shields are not allowed, should you ever even consider using a secondary weapon. Being able to block arrows and strikes to a large part of your body more than makes up for the questionable offensive output of a secondary weapon.
    It is much the same today, with two pistols being inferior to one rifle, even while looking cooler.

    The fact that dual wielding is more common than not in Frostgrave reveals a problem with the rules.
    My suggestion is to just disallow dual wielding weapons by wizards. Barring that, removing the added protection from arrows and making the dagger cost an item slot would probably fix the problem. For starting gangs, the dual wielder would have an advantage, but as they accrue artifacts the item slots become more precious than +1 Fight.
    I do not recall if +1 fight for a secondary weapon stacks with +1 fight for a magic weapon?
    For shooting, the base fight stat should probably be used, without any of the modifiers

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  32. I think the split stat is the most elegant way to address this without introducing too much extra complexity. We've always house ruled it that way and no one has ever argued the contrary.

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    1. That would seem a decent plan IMO - only thing against it is you might have to get very prescriptive about when the split is used. That could be as simple "+1 Fight in melee only" or it might have to be an exhaustive list of "this situation, that situation but not this one or that one", because players can be difficult even leaving out reading the rules differently :D

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  33. I really don't think it's a big rules burden to make the +1 fight only apply in hand to hand combat rolls.

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  34. I've been thinking about this a bit actually. I'd consider allowing a 'Main Gauche' to allow you to roll a second, lower die in combat (D12?). This gives you an additional, lower powered attach that might save you (like a parry) but is unlikely to do more than chip damage unless it's a crit.

    I like this better than a simple +1 Fight, as mod stacking can be abused. The basic premise here would be that you roll a D20 and D12 and pick whichever is most beneficial in each fight.

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  35. i like the +1 which helps the wizard in melee , but to be honest my head is still in the D&D of the 80's where wizards are concerned.
    That being a wizard cannot wield a bladed weapon or wear armour.
    I think I would make the only weapon they can use a staff, they arent really there to get down and dirty, they are there to stand back and magic spell the Cr*p out of you, but will fight if they are forced to :)
    Roger

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  36. I do think it might need work. With an enchanter, things can get brutal. But then again, with an enchanter, I'm not sure the +1 matters with the other bonuses they're getting.

    I do have two questions though: when a spell like Grenade says "make a +3 shooting attack", is the +3 added to the mages Shoot score?

    And, when measuring, are we measuring from middle of base to middle of base (like warhammer) or edge to edge (like warmachine)? How you measure matters, as one way you're losing ~1" over the other.

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  37. You never add the wizards Shoot stat to a spell attack. Just use the value listed in the spell. I measure from the edge of the base, but as long as you and your gaming group are consistent, it does't matter.

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    1. Thanks for replying!

      We decided to measure from the middle of the base, because we each play with minis from different companies and all of our bases differ in size. =)

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  38. +1 Fight already makes sense in close combat. And for the shooting part; if I dodge a projectile because of this bonus, I always think like I am deflecting it with my weapons. In my opinion, it is satisfying not only as a mechanic but also as a role-playing element.

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  39. I'm still of the opinion that for defense against shooting & general missile attacks, you should use your base stat. So for a Wizard as an example:

    Let's say you've got a Wizard carrying two hand weapons, one of which is a magic +1 sword. By the rules he now has a +4/+2 Fight value (+1 from the weapon & +1 from the extra). However from an Archer he defends with just +2. The greatest sword skill in the world doesn't mean much vs a well-placed shot :)

    Easy, and you just have to change ONE word in the rulebook :D

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