Stacked Tests

October 30th, 2012 [Post]

The idea of ‘stacking tests’ is to make it quick to resolve multiple tests with a single roll of the dice. Each Attribute is overlaid on top of each other, and depending on the values of these Attributes, it’s possible to pass all, fail all, and in some instances pass some of the tests and fail others (giving a compound result). Not only can complimentary skills within an Attribute be stacked, but also skills from Mentality and Action can be stacked, effectively binding the psychology rules into the combat loop. Only a single roll is required to resolve both tests.

For example: A fighter has M:8 and A:6. He’s a little bit on the aggressive side. When making a skilled attack, both Attributes are taken into account. On a roll of;

  • 1-6 – passes both tests – makes a skilled attack
  • 7-8 – fails their Action test, but passes their Mentality test. Aggression takes over and the fighter resorts to an unskilled ‘auto-hit’, leaving themselves vulnerable to a skilled counter such as deflect (parry).
  • 9-10 – fails both tests – does not attack, and will cover up if attacked, or flee if charged.

In the above example a roll of 7-8 results in one test being passed and the other failed. This changes the type of attack the fighter intended, from a skilled attack to an auto-hit, due to their Mentality getting the better of them. This gives a little bit of character to the fighter. The Attribute value can be reversed and produce a different type of fighter.

Example: A fighter has M:6 and A:8. He’s a bit more cautious than the fighter from the previous example, perhaps a little bit under confident, but he’s also better trained. On the roll off;

  • 1-6 – passes both tests – makes a skilled attack.
  • 7-8 – passes their Action test, but fails their Mentality test. This means it’s half-hearted, and has no follow through. He makes the skilled attack, forces the enemy to make an Action Test, but does not follow-up if that enemy fails that test. If the enemy does fail their Action Test, then this cautious fighter gains a bonus to Mentality.
  • 9-10 – fails both tests – does not attack, and will cover-up if attacked, or flee if charged.

In the above example a roll of 7-8 results in the cautious fighter bottling it at the last-minute, they get the reaction they want from the skilled attack, but they pull back unsure if they’re being suckered. Their aggression is not enough to overcome their fears. This is like someone testing the water, and observing their opponent. After enough 7-8 results, where the enemy failed their test, the Mentality may build to the point where they are confident enough to use all their skills.

This needs a bit of work to sort out the various details, it’s a bit RPG at the moment, and has to be properly converted to the Tactical Sphere with the options (the Mentality gain in the second example is not going to work in a massed battle), but I hope it illustrates the idea behind ‘stacked tests’.

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Combat – Zweihänder vs Pike

August 27th, 2011 [Post]

This article is a reworking of pike combat. Pike combat has been a bit of a tricky one to sort out due to my preconceptions. It’s not like regular skilled combat. I have classified pike formations as ‘mobile fortifications’ (obstacle) – I see the ‘skill’ in using the pike as maintaining formation and presenting a mass of points toward the enemy. The defence is in the structure not in the skill of the individual pikeman to defend through binds, parries, etc. The concept of Pike = ‘mobile fortifications’ ties in with the other concept Shield = ‘mobile cover’.

Pikes are unwieldy, and while they can be used in single combat (with enough space), they are restricted when in a block formation. The only rank that can do any kind of defence work is the front rank, but even they are hindered by all the other pikes from deep ranks getting in the way, and they cannot move about.

The second and deeper ranks have limited view, and cannot really move their pike about in defence.

The core concept of the pike block is to present an impassible obstacle, a mass of pike points so dense that it is hard to move through. Cavalry cannot move through pike, but highly skilled swordsman can. Sword and shield has a chance, but the best is the Zweihänder (a very long 2-Handed sword) which can catch a long of pike is the bind.

Zweihänder vs Pike

The basics of taking on pike is very similar to the basic prototype rules except it starts out with an MA test instead of an auto-hit. In the following an attacker (Zweihänder = 2-Handed sword) takes on a multi-rank pike formation.

Note: Those who wield Zweihänder (Landsknecht) are highly skilled ‘Doppelsöldner’ (double pay).

A pike formation is made up of a number of ranks, and the Zweihänders must overcome each rank before they can attack the pikemen.

  1. Zweihänders – first rank: The Zweihänders seek to bind a pike in the first rank with an MA test.
    > Each roll over the Zweihänders MA is a failure to bind and they back off (repelled). They have to wait until the next turn to reattempt this.
    > Each roll equal to or under the Zweihänders MA is a strong bind and can move in; on to the next rank. The Pikeman does not get the opportunity to defend themselves – the defence is in the number of pike ranks presented.
    > Go to step 2 .
  2. Zweihänders – second and subsequent ranks: Having pushed past the first ranks of points the Zweihänders seek to bind a pike in the second, and subsequent, ranks with an MA test. Each rank requires an MA test.
    > Each roll over the Zweihänders MA is a failure to bind and they back off (repelled). They have to back off completely. They have to wait until the next turn to reattempt from rank one.
    > Each roll equal to or under the Zweihänders MA is a strong bind and can move in: on to the next rank.
    > Repeat step 2 for each rank.
    > When there are no more ranks, move on to step 3.
  3. Get stuck in: When the last rank is defeated, all the Zweihänders who made it past all the ranks can now attack the pikemen direct. Pike are useless this close, and have to draw secondary weapons. This is resolved as a Zweihänder vs 1-H weapon combat loop.

To summarise, you need a string of successful MA tests, one for each rank, to overcome a pike block.

Example: 10 Zweihänders attack a pike block of 200 pike, with 20 men in the front rank. The pike block has long pikes and presents 4 ranks for pike points toward the Zweihänders. Each rank of points must be overcome in order before the Zweihänders can attack the pikemen directly. The Zweihänders make an MA test for their opening binds, the Zweihänders have MA:8, and the Player rolls 9 successes! The Player then rolls the 9 dice for the second rank and get 6 successes. Then he rolls 6 dice for the third rank and gets 4 successes. For the last rank he rolls 4 dice, and gets 3 successes. 3 Zweihänders have managed to bind and hack their way through the pike points and now attack the pikemen direct. The pike block is compromised. Next turn the Zweihänders start hacking away at the pikemen, the pikemen will draw secondary 1-H weapons to defend themselves.

So to get an idea of speed: Roll 10 dice, 9 hits. Roll 9 dice, 6 hits. Roll 6 dice, 4 hits. Roll 4 dice, 3 hits and the pike block is compromised.

It simply a string of MA tests. The pike are too unwieldy to defend directly against the Zweihänders, and instead rely on their numbers to make a defensive structure.

A compromised pike block has to make a Mentality check or break. If the pike block breaks then the Zweihänders can hack down many pikemen as they try to flee, made easier as the block opens up allowing hewing strikes to. If the pike block holds, the pikemen engaged in close combat with the Zweihänders may triumph (if they know how to bind and fight close). If a pikeman dies the Zweihänders will open up space, killing, barging about, and generally causing mayhem.

Pike vs Zweihänder

Pike can’t really attack Zweihänder (or other formations) in the usual sense. A Pike block can advance on a Zweihänder unit and force them to give ground or engage. If the Zweihänder engage and fail: they will have to give ground. This allows the pike block to push enemy units back. If an enemy unit breaks, or is more than one rank and fails to get through the pike points, then new rules for the pike block to ‘steamroller’ the enemy kick in (I haven’t written them up yet).

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Attributes – simple complexity

August 15th, 2011 [Post]

This article introduces some of the thought processes behind Attributes and modifiers, and is targeted more to the Technical Sphere and for possible use in an RPG. I’m thinking about how to phase this concept, and what can be cut out in a quick start rule set.


One of the radical (stupid/ crazy/ wtf???) aspects of WarSpike is lumping together all physical abilities in the Action attribute (the command and control system of the mind over the body). This includes everything that uses muscles, from gymnastics to fine manual dexterity, right down to facial expressions. It also includes the five senses and their sensitivity; which provides feedback, allowing us to adjust our movements to events as they unfold.

All the variability is moved over into the modifier group Repertoire. Included within Repertoire are all the skills and variables that modify actions, along with traits and other special abilities that enhance (or harm) the Action attribute.

This allows you to make the character as complex or as simple as you wish. You could leave Action as it is, without any modifiers in Repertoire, and use a single value to resolve virtually anything physical the ‘average’ man could do. Nice and simple. On the other hand you may enjoy more complex games like D&D or Rolemaster and feel a strong need to fill Repertoire with all kinds of modifiers.

For example: In many traditional RPGs the fine manipulation of small objects is down to ‘Dexterity’, a specific testable statistic along with associated skills. In WarSpike the Dexterity stat is moved to Action and becomes a modifier. The Dexterity modifier can have sub-modifiers (the same as skills), allowing a PC to be defined to what ever level of detail the Player desires.

This is not too controversial, but other stats get moved over to Action such as ‘Charisma’. I think many may scratch their head for a second and think: WTF???

Communication: In many games communication is often handled by a stat called ‘Charisma’, or something similar. A specific statistic used to test against when social interaction is call for. In WarSpike this stat is moved over to Action, and is a modifier.

This means that Charisma is under the same Attribute as Agility, Combat, and other physical skills. The reasoning behind this is a quirk of WarSpike’s set-up. In essence the ability to communicate effectively is down to well-timed facial expressions and body language appropriate to the culture you are in, correct pronunciation, observation of reactions, ability to listen, mirroring, etc. which is all down to muscle control moderated by the senses, and hence ‘Action’. However, Action does not work in isolation it is ‘backed up’ by Stature, or Reason. In the case of communication the back up Attribute is Reason.

Within the modifiers group of Reason you’ll find ‘language’ and all sub-sets, but it also includes stuff like ‘culture’. Knowing a language allows you to communicate complex ideas, it also allow you to understand what is said, but it also ‘backs up’ your ability to use the more complex communication skills. Without good communication skills of Action, a PC will be perceived as a monotone bore droning on about stuff no one cares about, who is completely oblivious that everyone in earshot is agitated, and doesn’t take the hint to shut up (:P). With a high communication skills of Action the PC can inject some personality, embellish their story, to make even the dullest of subjects come alive.

Learning curve

Not everyone is familiar with RPGs, and if WarSpike is their first introduction to the hobby, I want the learning curve to be as low as possible. To this aim, I wish to delay when the modifiers are introduced.

New Players can start simple and work their way up to more complexity should they wish it. Once the players have a grasp of the core mechanics they can then delve into modifiers. This allows the modifiers to be fed to the gaming group at a rate they can easily absorb.

The ‘simple’ PCs without any modifiers are impossibly average at all common skills (universal to all) and lack any of the specific background or occupation skills. Once the Players understand how things work, they can pick an occupation and start to access higher rules.

Seasoned veterans of RPGs can jump in at the deep end; pick an occupation and work up a far more detailed PC, with back story, loads of modifiers etc. before they sit down to play.


This system also make NPC generation very simple, and relative to what they are used for in the scenario. Quick kill ‘mooks’ in a dungeon crawl can be summed up with the Attributes alone, and you probably do not need all the Attributes. If they are going to fight no matter what you can dump Mentality, the chances are Reason is not going to matter, and only Action and Stature are going to play a part (along with gear).

More complex NPCs can have occupations and the GM can simply use the occupation mods ‘as is’. While is may be a good idea to records the mods of pre-defined NPCs in their stat block, along with any extra stuff, for NPC the GM invents ‘as needed’ they can simply reference the occupation. As an average man is ‘6’ (60) in all Attributes, it’s very easy to figure out what this NPC’s abilities are.

It might be an idea to include an example NPC of each occupation, so the players can see what they are getting, and as a resource for the GM.

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Combat – unit conflict overview

August 14th, 2011 [Post]

This article takes the ‘core rules’ and extrapolates them onto the battlefield. It is a summary overview of what happens when armed units clash, and the effect of their weapons on that conflict. I’m attempting to match the outcome of resolving combat with these rules with historical information.

All the ‘core rules’ from the highly detailed ‘Technical Sphere’ (single combat/ duels) are summarised into a set of rules for the ‘Tactical Sphere’ (resolving massed battles). Think of the Tactical Sphere rules as a generalisation of the Technical Sphere rules.

Now that’s out of a the way, I present a few examples of combat between units and how use of the rules result in situations that are similar to historical accounts of clashes between units. Hopefully this will get across the concept of how the core rules inform the results of massed combat.

Examples of clashes

These examples are quick ‘overviews’ – they do not reference all the rules of combat – much is swept under the carpet! The examples are intended to illustrate specific parts of combat.

All examples blow are unit formations. The example title list their combat gear. So ‘1-H Sword’ is a whole unit armed with one-handed swords and no other ‘combat’ gear or armour. For the purposes of these examples all units in conflict are of a similar size, say 20 men on each side.

1-H : one-handed
2-H : two-handed
F=D : Failure = dead
S=C : Success = counter
Longsword : warsword, bastard sword, hand-and-a-half sword. 1-H or 2-H depending on technique.

1-H sword attacks 1-H sword

Attacker = charge in for an auto-hit
Defender = MA test to null auto-hit and counter. Failure = dead. Success = counter (F=D, S=C)
Attacker = MA test to null counter (F=D, S=C)
Defender = MA test to null counter (F=D, S=C)
Pair are in a death spiral loop.

1-H sword + shield attacks 1-H sword + shield

Attacker = charger for an auto-hit.
Defender = auto-block, followed by auto-counter. (S=C)
Attacker = MA test to null auto-counter and counter. (F=D, S=C)
Defender = MA test to null auto-counter and counter. (F=D, S=C)
Shield has advantage, but ends up in death spiral and 1-H attacker will half-sword.
Possible bonus for MA test, or reduction in hit area similar to armour?

Longsword attacks Longsword

It’s the same mechanism as 1-H sword.
Pair end up in a death spiral loop.

Longsword attacks 1-H sword + shield.

Attacker = charges in for an auto-hit.
Defender = auto-block ineffective – MA test to pro-actively defend with shield. (F=D, S=C)
Attacker = MA test to null counter. (F=D, S=C)
Defender = MA test to null counter. (F=D, S=C)
Pair are in a death spiral loop. Ends up the same as 1-H sword vs 1-H sword.

1-H sword + shield attacks Longsword.

Attacker = charges in, but Longsword is has greater range so the tables are turned.
Defender (Longsword) = attacks first with auto-hit.
Attacker = auto-block ineffective. MA test to counter. (F=D, S=C)
Defender = MA test to counter.
Pair are in a death spiral loop.

Pike attacks Pike (equal length)

Attacker = advances for an auto-hit.
Defender = auto-binds the incoming pike, cannot counter due to unwieldiness and entanglement.
Attacker = auto-bind to tries and counter, but cannot counter due to unwieldiness and entanglement.
Pair are in a stalemate loop. The ‘pike push’ rules to resolve, similar mechanics to the ‘shield wall’ clash.

The list can go on and on, for all weapons and weapon combinations, and then armour etc.


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Combat – Defence Progression

August 13th, 2011 [Post]

Forward: This is another article about a combat element I am currently pondering. This deals with the various levels of defence. It looks at the core of defence, developed from base principles extracted from Talhoffer’s fight book, to form a solid foundation to build upon later.

Defence proficiencies

Everyone starts out with basic defence skills, learnt while playing as children, the art of evasion. This is born of base instincts to run and chase, and are important for the young to evade predators. In later life, as the basic evasion ability develops a child can be trained. Building on what they have learnt in play. With training more advanced defence options come to the fore; that give the skilled combatant a tremendous advantage. This advantage does not come from raw speed or power, but in their approach to combat and their actions born of that approach. All this training will be recorded the under ‘Repertoire’ the modifier group for ‘Action’.

(note: for those unfamiliar with WarSpike’s way of doing things: ‘experience’ is separate from training and skill, and is recorded under the Mentality modifier group: ‘Attitudes’. Experience is used to reinforce skills, keeping the person focused on the task in hand)


Basic defence is to stand your ground and move back, and preferable sideways, when attacked. Watching the attack and hoping to make a counter attack if your opponent over-balances. This is like basic knife fighter (as it very hard to parry with a knife!)

The basics of this type of combat can be summed up with ‘dodge’. But it relies on ‘big bomb’ attacks coming in at you, where your opponent is making up a lot of distance to strike.

Another type of defence at this level is the ‘quick charge’ from very short-range. This is done as the attacker raises their weapon to strike with a full power hewing blow. A quick-witted defender could steam them and grapple – but such a move is risky if the attacker is skilled and retains balance. I would say that usually this is mistake on the part of the attacker where range has been misjudged, or the mêlée is confusing and the opportunity presents itself to the attacker and they just go with it.


Next up is basic defensive work, but here the deflection are often combined with the dodge to get out-of-the-way. Here the defence allows you to remain closer, and therefore better able to counter strike.

This can be handled with ‘parry’ or ‘deflection’. This is a more advanced type of attack and can catch out an attacking opponent who over-commits.

Advanced Training

The last type of defence is binding. This allows you to defend yourself and to control your opponent’s weapon. If your opponent does not have binding techniques then they are at a serious disadvantage as you can move in to finish them off and they can do little to stop you.

This type of combat can be summed up with ‘binds’.

These three ‘levels’ of proficiency are used as the basis of the game mechanics.

Game Mechanics

The following is an general concept of the core mechanics of  these proficiencies work. It does not delve into all the aspects of combat. Some areas like ‘damage’ are glossed over for now. What I am looking at is the basic structure on which I can build.


An MA test is required to jump back out-of-the-way (and perhaps move a little sideways!). Failure means your jumped back too far (or moved too soon!). A success means you are still close enough to take a swipe at your attacker before they re-balance. Think ‘bull fighting’ and it gives a much bigger, and easier to see, example of what the dodge basically is. Generally the dodge is designed to keep you alive and get you out of harms way first, and attack is secondary.

Is it possible to actually fail at dodging and get hit? Yes. If you are unhealthy, immobile, or the attacker is skilled and feints an attack and quickly follows up.

Most able-bodied fighters have an Action value of 6, the human average, and dodging is well-developed so uses the 6 value (60% in the Technical Sphere). To fail at a dodge to the point you get hit you have to roll double your stat value which is impossible for a value of 6 (it would work out as a 12 or more on 1D10). However for those who did not play as children, or have underdeveloped dodge skills, such that their value for dodge is 4 or less, it then becomes possible to fail at dodging (value 4 would double up to 8, and it’s possible to roll over 8 with 1D10). For the purposes of this article we’ll ignore this for now, and the other complications such as speed enhancements etc. via Stature agility bonuses.

A dodge is not automatically successful if used to evade a skilled attack. A skilled attack is one that is based on an initial MA test when opening rather than the usual ‘full on’ auto-hit type of attack. This skilled attack is often a ‘feint’ (mechanically skilled attack as handled in the same way but the specifics of what is actually done varies with the situation).

Feint concept: Use deception to compromise an opponent’s defence. Make an MA test to fake an attack, to draw your opponents attention to the fake attack, then quickly change and strike while their guard is temporally compromised by their erroneous response. A successful MA test means the feint is convincing. A failure means the feint is treated as a regular auto-attack (which could be bad against a skilled opponent). Feints allow you to catch dodgers flat-footed, and to draw a skilled opponent’s defence away from your target to reveal an opening.

Feints and dodging.

A successful MA test for feint fools the dodger.

The dodger misreads the signs, and they may be hit. If the dodger fails their dodge roll they are struck! They do not ‘jump back too far’, they actually get hit this time. If the dodger succeeds in their dodge roll they get away by the skin of their teeth. This is close, and while the dodger can stay close to counter, this close shave may convince most to leg it instead (as they have dodged they can run and disengage from combat).

A failed skilled attack MA test means the dodger judges it correctly and gets the usual dodge roll handled in the usual way (and if successful they may come back in for a counter of their own!)


An MA test is required. If you fail you will be hit! If you pass you will defend yourself and make an automatic counter that cannot be dodged! The only way to stop this type of attack is to use deflects too.


An MA test is required. If you fail you will be hit! (or you may simply deflect? Too powerful?). A successful test means you bind your opponent, controlling their blade, from which you can ‘strike from the bind’. The only way to stop a strike from the bind is to use binding or be wearing mail armour. If an opponent does not having binding techniques they are in serious trouble.

Notes: A person without binding techniques may consider wearing mail armour as a defence to make up for their lack of skill. However this is a false security. When facing a skilled opponent who can (and will) bind, this unskilled fellow is in trouble. The unskilled fighter who is bound will automatically fail their defensive MA test. They do not roll an MA test. This failure will allow the binder to push the unskilled fighter away from the bind and set up an automatic ‘unstoppable’ strike. This would result in the unskilled fighter being seriously injured. Mail armour is only useful for those will skills, taking on other’s will skills.

Notes: At a higher level, or more details play of the Technical Sphere, a feint could be stacked with Mentality (Attitude) to ‘sell’ the attack and mess with the targets head. It would be possible to pull of the MA test and fail at the Mentality test. This would allow the target to see through your attack, nit because it was poorly executed, but they ‘knew’ you were going to fake it. At this level your ability to lie and hide your expressions plays an important part.

Note: children could be good at dodging but they have limited range (being small) so they have to make up more distance if they wanted to strike back, which in turn is a disadvantage and make it hard to dodge and stay close. In fact it makes it so hard that an athletic adult should catch a child without any real problem (unless not concentrating or paying full attention). In addition a child is small and could count as a smaller target (stature wise – Stature 5). This should allow for street urchins in fantasy games to escape adults, but not be a dodging ninja and take out adults in hand to hand combat. I’m thinking Arabian adventures.

Notes: Sleep spells and status ailments will work against someone who can dodge, allowing you to catch them even though you do not have the feint ability.

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Combat – binds and chainmail

August 12th, 2011 [Post]

Forward: this is explaining how binds fit in with, and interacts with, mail armour. It an overview and does not go into the details of the follow up combat mechanics (like the specifics of causing damage). I’m post this as I want to get the working out of the system swimming around in my head down on paper and see what people think. This article probably requires familiarity with WarSpike’s way of doing things, though I have tried to write it so anyone can understand it, systems are complicated and it’s easy to forget relevant information a new view needs to get up to speed.


Binds (quick recap) are used in defense against an attack, used in place of basic deflections, and are resolved with MA tests. A successful MA test against an incoming attack results in a binding defense and follow up auto-counter (strike from the bind). Mechanics wise it is worked out just like regular defense rolls except weapons stay in contact and count as ‘bound’.

Important point: If a combatant has the ability to ‘bind’ they will choose to do so; as it confers an auto-win against those who cannot bind.

It is assumed that professional warriors are able to bind, and they can slaughter unskilled opponents very quickly (if you attack a skilled warrior, he is likely to bind and intend to finish you off with a follow through strike – either the point of the sword or some form of slicing. If you cannot handle a bind, you have serious trouble!

This all sounds ideal, as binding confers a huge advantage to a trained warrior, and strikes from the bind are lethal. The problem is that binding is all to common and defences were made to counter it: mail armour (‘chainmail’)

This raises an issue, as all strikes that come from the bind are far less effective than a ‘full on’ strike that is normally used.

This reduced power means that mail armour is effective as stopping all attacks from a bind.

This ends up in a bit of a catch 22
A competent mail armoured warrior will use binds to get a quick win, but if their opponent is a warrior of similar stature; it is likely they can also bind and are wearing mail armour. This has the effect of both mail armoured warriors being in a situation where their strikes are no longer effective.

Temp resolution concept
This is an idea to resolve this conflict, but I am unhappy about the rules below as they are. They are not streamlined enough for the Tactical Sphere, but are OK for the more detailed Technical Sphere.

The answer is to win at the bind and while you have the upper hand: push your opponent away and strike with a ‘full on’ blow (a regular hit, not a strike from the bind). This push and strike is special, as the strike is delivered while your opponent is wrong footed. For this to actually happen your opponent will have to first fail their fail their normal defensive MA test. If they do fail, then instead of wasting the opportunity with a ineffective (regular strike from the bind) strike, you opt to make this special push and strike move.

Note: an alternative is to grapple-at-the-sword, but I’ll deal about that at a later date.

Recap: once you have defended yourself from an attack using the bind option (successful MA test), and you choose to follow up with a ‘push’, and your opponent then fails their MA test to stop the push you can then use these rules:

The shove creates distance, and the attacker can immediately follow up with an auto-hit attack. The problem is that this attack can (and will) be defended in the usual way (not much of an advantage). The alternative is to specifically tailor the attack to take advantage of the situation.

The attacker can elect to make another MA test immediately, and to strike in a way that will deny the target a defensive MA test. Such an MA test is moving to the target’s blind side during the push, attacking as they are off-balance and unable to defend (includes spinning them, and getting in behind them, or step behind etc.)

The second MA test is taken immediately after the target fails their defensive MA test. A success second MA test will upgrade the attack to ‘unstoppable’, or from the target point of view ‘indefensible’. A failure in this test results in the regular auto-hit strike that can be defended as normal.

An unstoppable attack is a full on hewing power blow (much like a regular strike) and it will cause damage (blunt force trauma) to a person wearing mail armour.

In effect the attacker has to win two MA tests, one after the other, to put your opponent down. This is like a buffer for professional warriors.

Note: Mail armour will protect against regular one-handed trusts, but it will not protect against thrusts delivered with two hands such as half-swording, or hammer blows from a dagger (often delivered during a grappling win and the target prone – covered later).

Either way its a warrior only option (or one trained in combat).


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Shooting and MOA

May 2nd, 2011 [Post]

In working up WarSpike I often find myself down a rabbit hole of tangents and weird thoughts. Chasing new information and concepts and seeing where it leads me. Invariably this destroys much of the work I have already down, torn to shreds by some new ‘obvious’ notion exposing the flaws in my thinking. This may all sound like an utter disaster from a designers point of view, but this is where the magic happens, and interesting concepts come up from the chaos. What follows is born out of my determination to squeeze MOA (Minutes of Angle) into the shooting rules of WarSpike – which is a ridiculous idea seeing as the intent of WarSpike is to make a fast, simple, and intuitive, percentile system. What is presented below is all my thinking and justifications. It may not make it into WarSpike ‘as is’ but it will inform my designs in the future.


Categories: Concepts, Rules, Thoughts | 2 Comments


February 22nd, 2011 [Post]

This is a ‘Sapce Hulk’ redux project. More info can be found on the Troll Forged forum thread: Psdemic. The idea of these rules is to introduce WarSpike, a ‘quick-start’ rule set to get people familiar with WarSpike’s concepts. It also to get me writing down the rules and start ‘setting them in stone’ (not to imply they can’t be modified by Players!).

This is a slide show tester. I intend to use ‘pictorial rule’ descriptions. Lots of diagrams – it seems to have problems loading. Direct slide show link.

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Everything in it’s place

September 24th, 2010 [Post]

After writing up the parry stuff last post, I’m gearing up to setting out where everything (techniques and gear) goes in relation to each other within the rules. This post is to outline a portion of my ideas behind the overall concept, and to justify how it will be laid out. I want to set weapons and armour in their proper place, and model them so that the way they are used in the game shares the same concepts of weapons and armour in real life. I want the rules to ‘illustrate’ the way weapons are used in principle. To get the ball rolling; I thought I’d post my ideas on mail armour, and then a bit on the sword. A later post will start to deal with the rules to mirror these concepts, and introduce the shield.

Mail armour is very good at stopping a slashing blow or piecing thrust from penetrating it. It is not so good at dealing with the force of the impact. This is because it is both hard (good at transmitting energy of the blow through to the person) and flexible (no overall structure to spread the load). In effect mail armour converts most slashing, hewing and piecing impacts into blunt force trauma. Mail would convert a sword hit into something akin to being hit with an iron bar. Being hit with an iron bar is still not pleasant, but the human body is much better absorbing blunt force trauma than resisting slashing or piecing attacks. The human body is very vulnerable to slashing and piecing attacks.

On its own mail armour does little to counter the blunt force trauma aspect of the strike. To resolve this weakness in mail armour is usually combined with a padded undergarment to counter the blunt force. The combined armour, of mail over padding, was very effective at stopping all but the most powerful blows.

If you are wearing mail, a hit from a sword is much the same as a hit from an iron bar. This may not sound like a big difference, but the true beauty of mail is that it takes away the major advantages of the sword…

Swords can deliver powerful hewing strikes and piecing attacks, which mail has some trouble with, but they can also deliver rakes and slices from binds, using the full length of the sword to carve into an opponent. Those who know how to bind, and attack from the bind (where it is hard to get a good swing, but the edge overcomes this limitation), gain a real advantage in combat. Such an individual can control those who do not know about binds, move in and cut them to ribbons. A skilled swordsman against an unskilled man is going to result in a short fight as the unskilled man does not know how to deal with binds. A skilled warrior is fit, but not unnaturally so, their real power comes from the fact they know what they are doing (imagine playing sports without knowing the rules or basic plays?).

Protection: This is wear mail armour shines when facing the sword. It can stop slices and rakes delivered from the bind, and makes attacking in this manner ineffective. It takes away one of the warrior’s ‘easy win’ trump cards (through warriors are a creative bunch and skills are adapted and developed along side the technologies of the time). This forces the warriors to go back to direct attacks, adopt new techniques like half-swording, or move in and grapple: ditch the sword and use a thin dagger (Misericorde) to piece the mail armour.

Looking at the overall picture this seems to imply that other weapons, like clubs, maces, or warhammers are just as good as a sword against a mail clad opponent, and perhaps even better if the blow lands. This may make you wonder why warriors even bothered with the sword in the ages when mail clad warriors were common, and in turn why mail armour did not die once the swords were proved to be no more effective than much cheaper weapons? I know it puzzled me for a while. Like much of history sometimes things just aren’t that straightforward. There are other forces at play that kept the sword relevant.

Society: Warriors exist in the context of their civilization. There are very good reasons why a sword was the preferred side arm of the warriors/ ruling class.

Back in the day mail armour was expensive to make. Those with power and status could afford it, but the lower classes (peasants and serfs) could not. Without mail armour peasants and serfs are very vulnerable to the sword’s weaker attacks like slashing and rakes. This makes even glancing hits or touches very dangerous. This was compounded by the fact, due to a lack of resources and training, they could not effectively defend themselves with weapons either. It is very easy for a skilled swordsman to kill an unarmoured opponent/s who do not know how to bind or to counter such binds with a sword, let alone an opponent armed with makeshift weapons. This is one reason the sword became such a potent symbol of power over the under-classes: it is expensive and the poor simply could not effectively defend themselves against it.

Any Lord or knight would know how amazing the sword really is when they have to lay down the law on their ignorant underlings. It is so good everyone in power wears one (it’s also where a lot of the mystique of the sword is derived, and why they are so desirable – less as a weapon in later years and more as a potent symbol of power). This mystique of the sword would endure, and still has an effect to this day.

As everyone in power has a sword, when opposing factions clash, this means they all need mail armour as the threat of the sword is very real. If one decides to leave their mail at home because other weapons are used on the battlefield, you can bet his opponent remembered to bring his sword (he still has underlings, the sword is still a status symbol and effective threat). The simple fact is that as soon as a warrior takes off his mail be becomes vulnerable to the most common side arm worn but warriors. Even if a warriors took another weapon to war, like a good axe, it may be hard to resist the sword when he sees an opponent without mail. The sword is just too good, too smooth, against an unarmoured man.

With the development of mail (and other similar armours), the sword lost some of its dominance on the battlefield, but continued to dominate in the social arena as a personal side arm. As such the sword as always around, even in war. This is not to say that there were not types of sword that were specifically for war, called (conveniently enough) a war sword, or longsword, which is too long to be worn as a personal side arm but can be strapped to a horse. These were a more powerful version of a regular sword, and were often used in combination with plate armour, and this freed up both hands to use the techniques developed at the time. However they suffered from the same problem as all swords, it was tough to get through mail, and even these wonders of technology slowly fell out of favour with the rise of full plate armour, and the two-handed warhammer become the dominant anti-armour weapon.

With this in mind I hope it will make it easier to look at the sword for what is was, and render up a more accurate place for it on the battlefield. In the next post I’ll look at how to put all this together in the rules. As always comments, corrections, and questions are welcome.

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Parry and Binds

August 31st, 2010 [Post]

In this post I’m going to expand on the last post and show how it works. I figure a good place to start is with parry and bind. Both these techniques (groups of techniques) are similar in execution rules wise. Both require a single MA test (since the change). However there are differences…

All techniques are arranged in a ‘tree’, and in the defence tree: Parry is before Bind. Therefore Parry has to be leant before Bind.

Dodge > Parry > Bind > Grapple


To parry an attack and follow up with a counter strike is a single MA test.


To parry and attack and bind, and then move in with a strike is a single MA test.

So what is the difference?


They work out as exactly the same rules wise: one MA test, and success means you defend yourself and strike back.

The difference only shows up if on combatant is missing a technique, and the options each technique brings.

Missing: The skills in the tree are like ‘trumps’, the more advanced skill trumps the previous skill. If all involved have the same techniques then there is no noticeable difference, but if one combatant has access to a higher technique they will use that to ‘trump’ their opponent.

Example: There are two combatants, both MA:6, armed and armoured the same.

  • If both have the Parry techniques, they will exchange blows using parry to deflect and then counter with a strike. Each parry and counter is a single MA test.
  • If both have the Bind techniques, they will exchange blows using binds. Each bind and counter is a single MA test.
  • If one has the Bind technique and the other does not: the one that knows how to bind will use it to ‘trump’ their opponent. The trumped opponent, who does not know how to counter a bind, does not get a MA test to defend themselves as they have ‘0’ (zero) value in their bind Techniques (unlisted).

In the last of the examples, if should be noted that some techniques could be of lower value as they are skill being learnt. A person would not chose to use the bind as it would lower their chances of successfully defending themselves, but they my use it if forced to do so.

Example: Combatant A (Arnold) and Combatant B (Bernhard) both have MA:6, both have the parry and bind techniques, but Bernhard is skill learning his bind techniques and it is listed with a number; Bind[5]. A fully learnt technique has no number as it will use the base MA:6, because Bernhard’s has a number it means he will use MA:5 instead of his usual MA:6.

Arnold attacks Bernhard with an auto-strike. Bernhard could defend with either a parry (MA:6) or a bind (MA:5), he chooses to parry and counter (MA:6) and is successful. Arnold notes that their was no bind, and suspects a weakness, and decides to bind (MA:6) and counter. Now Bernhard is forced to use his bind techniques (MA:5) and is successful. Now both sides have to use binds, unless one wins and chooses to back off instead of taking their free attack (unlikely).

This naturally leads to escalation of techniques as the two sides press each other.

Binds also open up the possibility of using deeper techniques. Once a bind has been used, the next time around the combatant may opt to close even further and grapple at the sword. Using the previous example as a base;

Example cont. : Bernhard’s defence was successful, he may have had MA:5 but he pulled it off. If Arnold had the ‘grapple-at-the-sword’ technique set, he would now have the option to close in even more. Arnold could close in and grapple, and if Bernhard lack that skill: he would be trumped.

This can be further messed about with by saying only one bind needs to be used to open up the grapple option. Building on the example above, and now assuming both have all techniques;

Example: Arnold directly attacks Bernhard. In response Bernhard successfully binds and counters. Arnold notes that a bind has been used and chooses to counter bind and move in with an aim to grappling (as Bernhard used a bind). Arnold is successful in his MA test and both grapple from now on.

It should be noted that strength (a modifier of Stature) can be used to overpower opponents. While a strike is backed-up and enforced by strength, in grappling higher strength can over-ride an opponent’s MA test. If you are stronger and make a successful MA test, you win (this can be modified later with some advanced add-on rules to take into account the Equational Percentile System). It is a benefit to be strong in a grapple, and those who are strong may seek to grapple as a way to overpower their opponents.

Binding may allow you to trump one who does not know how to bind, but it also opens the door to those who do know how to bind to move in and grapple.

More: Dodge – as in ‘keeping your distance and jumping back out of trouble’ – is a simple MA test to jump back out of range from a swipe. Once this is done the dodger can opt to come back in with an auto-strike. This is much the same mechanic as used for Parry and Bind. However if the dodger takes the auto-strike they can be parried and countered. They cannot dodge a parry and counter, they can only dodge a direct ‘auto-hit’ attack.

In low skill fights where neither has Parry (let alone Bind) this results in combatants keeping their distance, staying on the edge of the other’s reach, and striking when the opportunity arises. A bit like a street knife fight, or any fight. One strikes the other sucks back).

There is an exception that as hands are the main weapons any landing blow can be a grab instead, and this will enable a direct jump to body wresting (not grappling at the sword). This opens up new options (so once you catch the bugger, head lock him, and take control).

Later: needs a bit of a tidy, but I hope it gets across the idea?

This will open up a lot of options later, like a mailed gauntlet being able to grab a Rapier, or hands can grab a bat in used to thrust (so people tend not to do that), and if you swing a bat you can be dodged and attacked after the swing.

I have to figure out how to denote who is doing what on the battle field, and I think different coloured dice may help in this (blue to start off, and red for binds and grapples).

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