August 31st, 2010

After chatting on the ARMA about pike techniques, and listening to a bit of Bowie (changes) I’ve decided to streamline the rules I have. I want to remove the double rolls for binding, and push it towards a single roll (MA test to defend, bind, and attack) – but require that the use of bind requires the ‘Bind’ technique to be taught to the trooper. If a combatant has not learnt the bind techniques then they cannot use them. Warriors will be up to speed, but conscripts are not. This means a conscript is in real danger as they can be automatically defeated by using a bind (in reality they would have some bind techniques as men fight, but we can deal with this a bit later…)

Parry skill tree, once parry is learnt then bind can be learnt.

Parry > Bind

(in full it would be Block > Parry > Bind > Grapple)

New techniques start of at ‘0’  (zero) and once learnt and thoroughly practised they are raised to the base MA. In  most humans that would be MA:6. A human with MA:6 who has fully learnt the bind technique would execute binds at MA:6. Until the bind technique has been raised to MA:6 they are considered to be learning it. If a technique is not fully learnt a person is reluctant to use it as it will execute at a low MA. This means a person with MA:6, but Bind (5) would execute a bind at MA:5. This is not great.

As a defence is combined with the bind (to then make an opening), to put pressure on one’s opponent, if you fail to bind properly you will loose control and be open for attack. Only one MA test is needed, but a few moves and techniques are combined into that MA test.

Example: Using this concept it is possible to defend against a blow and attempt to follow up with a bind, fail at the bind, and then be exposed and cut down. This only needs one roll to resolves as it encompasses the whole defence and counter as one exchange of combat. In this example the fist defence (parry) worked, but in trying to bind the defence failed.

The MA test is not specific to which bit of the defence failed, it is general to the whole attempt to defend and counter. All we know is that the person failed to defend themselves and was cut down.

Note: As rolls are effectively stacked, a person with Bind MA:5 but Parry MA:6 would successfully bind on a roll of 5 or less, but only parry on a roll of 6, and thus on a roll of 6 we can tell that it is the bind that failed. On a roll of 7 it is a failure, most likely the parry. However, as the bind is the weak point, a person would feel uncomfortable in using it, and would only use it if forced too (i.e. someone bind them, they have have a chance).

On the RPG side of things we can get into more detail, but for table top this seems to be a sufficient level of detail.

Conscripts: Back to the conscripts I mentioned earlier. Obviously a conscript would not choose to bind straight off if their binds are poor. They will try to keep it simple as attempting a bind would lower their chances of countering, and put them in mortal danger. However, if the conscript is attacked with a bind, they will use what they have to stop themselves from being overpowered. Therefore a low bind of MA:1 or MA:2 will be used. This means the chances of defence are much lower than usual (for a simple parry and strike), but at least they have something.

Note: A conscript, a men, would have a base MA:6, but they could be so raw that thy have no techniques other than basic training. This may include suck basics are ‘block’ (which sucks) and it may even be lower than their base MA.

Professional warriors are aware of this weakness and would seek to bind as it gives them a great advantage. By using advanced techniques a warrior can cut through novices like a hot knife through butter. This is because the novices are not familiar with these advanced ways of fighting, and simply can’t cope.

Low skill: Usually the way a person would deal with a lack of ability is to keep their distance (bit hard in rank and file!) – close enough to menace, but far enough away to enable escape, then provoke > duck back > quick strike > and steam in if it lands (much like Chimps :P). Nice and simple. However this will not work against a skilled fighter and they will retain their balance in their attack and counter the steaming in.

This basic way of fighting is in us all and is built up with children’s games like ‘add’. Chasing around after each other, learning to dodge, is all part of growing up and what makes humans pretty good at getting out of trouble (and fighting). The problem for this whole concept is that formations really mess with that. You cannot jump back when in a formation.

Formations and shields. The answer in most cases is to use shields. Shield can give an ‘auto-defence’ against attacks, and you cannot really bind a shield in a shield wall with a 2-H weapon (as you can’t get around them). The shield allows unskilled/ low skilled fighters to band together and actually make it difficult for their enemies to get at them – even if the enemy are skilled. If any one of them are separated from the group, or if degenerates into a melee, they will once again be vulnerable.

This can be seen in the Roman legions against the Germanic hordes. When the Romans are in formation they tended to win, when the formations broke down the Germans tended to win. Not 100%. The Germans were more a collection of powerful, individual, warriors. Whereas the Romans were team players. One on one the Germans could hold their own, and were often more powerful than a Roman opponent, but against an organised formation the Germans had trouble. Ironically it was a sign of the times; if the Germans and Romans had fully automatic weapons, then the German way of doing things would pay off (being in a slow moving formation would mean you are sitting ducks).

Fundamentally the bearing a shield is using a technology to overcome a lack of difficult to master defensive skills, and is basically a derivative use for an arrow defence, adapted for another purpose as the benefits were seen. An evolution of a defence made for another purpose, but once deployed it’s role grew. Using technology to over come weakness is nothing new, a spear was made to extend our reach and defeat powerful animals.

Equipping shields is cheaper than training up troops to be expert swordsmen, and it gives a good defence against missiles. A win-win situation for most generals.

Pulling it all together: The new rules will be far more streamlined, and include add-on ‘techniques’ that upgrade the troopers. The same MA is used for all the techniques. These techniques allow new options, and if an opponent does not have the same techniques, they cannot properly counter.

A defence skill tree is:

Dodge* > Block > Parry > Bind > Grapple

  • Each defence in this tree allows an immediate strike.
  • *Dodge cannot be used in formation.

A trooper must learn them in order. You cannot learn parry without first learning block – dodging (keeping distance) and blocking (covering up) are skills children learn in the playground. We tend to not really notice these skills, but if a child does not roughouse they will lack these fundamental early skills. During the medieval period young men all practised to use weapons, it was a pastime.

I’m going to have a long think about how to pull this all together and the various advantages and disadvantages of each defence, and the options that lead on from a successful execution of a given technique.

Categories: Concepts |

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