[Runequest] Getting to the point.

Marko Perälä perala at student.uef.fi
Thu Aug 15 05:55:51 EST 2013

I think the concept of reach has been misrepresented in RQ3 (possibly RQ6, I haven't read that thoroughly yet). In RQ3 long weapons have only the advantage of smaller Strike rank and that's it. They only get to strike a bit earlier than shorter weapons, but then the shorter weapons strike anyway. On the downside when someone closes in and uses shorter weapon, he always strikes first.

The problem: This is unrealistic, because the whole point of spears and other polearms is to keep the enemy too far away to attack at all. They are defensive weapon, the point of which (pun) is to prevent enemy from getting close enough to attack. The point of an attacker using the shorter weapon is to deal with the long weapon, slip past it and then be able to attack polearm user without him being able to hit back, until he shortens his weapon length.

I don't have SCA background and obviously I have never participated in an actual spear fight, but there are plenty of videos about re-enactments on Youtube - even some spear use lessons. The point (pun) of those videos was all about getting to attack the enemy, while preventing the guy with shorter weapon from attacking back, and the trick to defeating them was slipping past spear head and close in before spear user could respond. While the sword has more options for striking, they are (and should be in RPGs) completely useless, if the intended target is not located in the area, where that sword can reach.

There is also the matter of spears being cheap. Well, part of that argument is the historical fact that spearmen (even more so pikemen) didn't need much armor to begin with. They use armor, because they didn't receive attacks. Swordsmen, men-at-arms and so on used lots of armor, because they needed it. They had shorter weapons, they had to expect to receive a few stabs, before they could start dishing out their own attacks. Look a few pictures of renaissance soldiers. Pikemen wear very little armour (maybe a cuirass and helmet) and greatsword-men have plate armour (except oddly no shin armor). Basically long polearms were substitutes for armor that kept enemy from using their weapons.

The benefit of long weapon on long range and short weapon on short range reduced to a measly order of striking does great injustice on my opinion to the whole concept of polearms. According to RQ3 deluxe the closing in is automatic. It is handled by a simple declaration of intent and moving closer. That is wrong.

Possible solution: Maybe getting past spear point should require parry or dodge to get a better level of success against spear attack (success vs. failure, special vs. success, critical vs. special), before being able to move past it and then the polearm user should get a better level of success with his parry to either back away again or successfully reduce the length of the shaft to also perform attacks with his weapon. Without closing short weapon user could only attack the long weapon itself. Lances and pikes shouldn't be able to attack in close quarters at all - only parries.

P.S. The thing about spears being only stabbing weapons - not true. There were slicing spears too. There are reproduction of some viking model sold in the internet, and it gives a very powerful cut like a greatsword. Shaft prone to shattering, though.

P.P.S. Weak shafts is another thing that should be addressed. I suggest spear APs should be halved, if it was target of an attack - to represent attacks against the shaft, instead of the spear head. There are some examples - one on Youtube and one I saw with my own two eyeballs - of spear shafts breaking after a single hit very easy like.
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