[Runequest] Getting to the point.

Lawrence Whitaker lawrence.whitaker at gmail.com
Sun Aug 11 01:13:58 EST 2013


Hi Asher,

I was wondering about spears.  At an RPG session the other night, some
fellow spoke glowingly in praise of spears, and I thought to myself, if
spears are so great, why swords?  (I mean, aside from the social aspect of
doing one's shopping with a sword sticking out from the hip instead of a
spear poking into almost everything.)

Two reasons. First, cost. Spears are cheaper and easier to make than
swords. In ancient cultures owning a sword was a sign of prestige reserved
for the wealthy and honoured: swords were very expensive - especially good
ones. Most warriors fought with spear and shield because it was the most
efficient and effective way of arming a soldier.

But spears do have several advantages over a sword. They are easier to
train, and they have a greater reach. A traditional way of fighting was the
shield wall, where a line of warriors locked shields and presented a line
of spears against their enemies. Spears deter cavalry much more than swords
do and the greater reach makes it easier to use them in shield wall. Swords
require room to swing and thrust: spears don't need nearly as much effort.
If a spear haft breaks, it can still be used: if a sword breaks, its broken.

Spears can be set against a charge: much harder to do that with a sword.

Spears can be thrown. Only an idiot would throw a sword. They're not
balanced for it, and given their cost, why would you?

So spears offer many advantages over a sword.

   Why do I feel more confident about defending myself when I pick up a
sword than when I pick up a spear?

It depends what you've been trained in. In you've only been trained in a
sword, then you'll feel more confident with it. Its weight and breadth will
have something to do with that, but if you've been trained in a spear,
you'll know how to keep someone at a distance, how to jab and parry, and
how to get the most from the reach.

   Obviously, our hard-fighting ancestors considered swords to be a good
choice for war.  How would they have answered the question.

Hard-fighting ancestors would most likely have been trained in sword, spear
and shield - a common combat style - and would use appropriate weapons for
the type of combat they were involved with.

   Any other thoughts or insights along the sword versus spear line?

Read any of Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian novels: The Winter King, Enemy of
God and Excalibur. In there you will find countless examples of where and
when a spear is preferable to a sword and vice versa. There are superb
descriptions of shield wall battles and sword duels. Its one of the best
written examples of how ancient cultures cross-trained in weapons and made
intelligent choices based on needs.



   If I may switch from the comparative to the pointless, here is another
question:  What are the stats for the bayonet?
   For both RQ3 (which I grok) and RQ6 (which I now run), what would be the
stats for a fixed (mounted, or whatever the term is) bayonet in melee
combat?
   I'd like to consider the muskets of the American Revolutionary War and
US Civil War, but also the 20th century musket (of rather harder steel, I
imagine).  Reach, damage, armor points, encumberance, etc.  A table
somewhat like this:

   If anyone knows where these stats are to be found, or knows what they
should be, your advice would be warmly welcome.
   Well, I should go, as the kids (aka the players) will soon be up & about.

Go to the Design Mechanism website and download the RQ6 Firearms
supplement. It has, first of all, stats for black powder weapons plus all
the rules needed for incorporating such into RQ6 games.

Curiously, we haven't included bayonets - an oversight we ought to correct.
However, its simple enough to create some simple bayonet stats. A bayonet
blade is equivalent in length and weight to a shortsword. Its being
attached to a musket, or similar, which is about the length of a
spear-haft. You can therefore treat the weapon as a shortspear, but
increase its Armour Points to 6 and Hit Points to 10. Obviously it can't be
thrown.

Lots to work with here - good luck!


On 10 August 2013 10:31, Asher Royce Yaffee <ashersensei at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi, All,
>    Yes, the subject line is, indeed, a rather dull pun.  Nyuk nyuk.
>  Anyways,...
>    I was wondering about spears.  At an RPG session the other night, some
> fellow spoke glowingly in praise of spears, and I thought to myself, if
> spears are so great, why swords?  (I mean, aside from the social aspect of
> doing one's shopping with a sword sticking out from the hip instead of a
> spear poking into almost everything.)
>    Am I right in assuming that spears have greater reach than swords?
>    Did I hear correctly that spear training is easier than sword training?
>    Why do I feel more confident about defending myself when I pick up a
> sword than when I pick up a spear?
>    Obviously, our hard-fighting ancestors considered swords to be a good
> choice for war.  How would they have answered the question.
>    Any other thoughts or insights along the sword versus spear line?
>    Any and all answers are warmly welcome.
>
>    If I may switch from the comparative to the pointless, here is another
> question:  What are the stats for the bayonet?
>    For both RQ3 (which I grok) and RQ6 (which I now run), what would be
> the stats for a fixed (mounted, or whatever the term is) bayonet in melee
> combat?
>    I'd like to consider the muskets of the American Revolutionary War and
> US Civil War, but also the 20th century musket (of rather harder steel, I
> imagine).  Reach, damage, armor points, encumberance, etc.  A table
> somewhat like this:
>
> MUSKET             RQ3 stats                  RQ6 stats
>
> 1776-1865
>
> 20th C.
>
>    If anyone knows where these stats are to be found, or knows what they
> should be, your advice would be warmly welcome.
>    Well, I should go, as the kids (aka the players) will soon be up &
> about.
>    Sincerely,
> Asher
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Runequest mailing list
> Runequest at rpgreview.net
> http://rpgreview.net/mailman/listinfo/runequest_rpgreview.net
>
>


-- 
Will there be time enough and World for me to sing that song?
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