Combat Style, Weapons and Armour


Combat & Magic

Liberty's Edge

There are some facets of combat in 3.x that bother me.

Specifically, the fact that a character's choice of armour and weapon (and implied combat style) seem to be so independent of each other.

I realize that D&D is not a historical game, but follow this line of reasoning for a bit:

Before 1300 (European) knights would wear mostly mail armour. They would also carry a rather large shield to complement their defenses (especially, I think, to protect against arrows) and hence used single handed weapons.

As plate armour became the norm, first through the coat-of-plates concept and finally up through a full plate-style harness, two things also happened:

1. The shield mostly went away as irrelevant (this suggest that plate is more or less impervious to flying arrows, except lucky shots hitting a joint or hole... maybe?)
2. Now with a second hand free, two-handed weapons became more common for knights... and they were needed as their opponents were better armoured as well.

This is the only way to explain the myriad types of weapons that aren't swords that fill the PHB. All sorts of 2-handed polearms with pointy ends and axe heads and picks... good at attacking heavily armoured opponents; particularly puncturing or breaking armoured plates. Not to mention the ol' blunt force trauma routine (maces, hammers, etc)-- armoured plates don't protect as well as one might like from blunt impacts which transmit force through to the person in the armour.

Anyway, I'd like to see if an effort can be made to re-imagine arms and armour in this light. Some possibilities:

1. Armour having different AC bonuses for different attack types (sounds a bit cumbersome... slash AC, blunt AC, pierce AC, arrow/bolt AC)

2. Plate being very expensive, but great... I think in the Medieval days it wasn't a question that it was the best armour you could get... standard men-at-arms and foot soldiers (i.e. non-nobles) just couldn't afford it.

3. The choice of weapon used vs opponent faced making more sense... you can see this a bit when a party faces undead. Put away the swords and pull out the clubs, or whatever. Now it could also be: oh crap, there's a knight in plate--

...Discuss...


I'm not sure I like this being a standard feature of combat. I remember back in the 2nd edition days, I always wanted to use the armor versus weapon chart, but I rarely did because it slowed things down so much to figure out what applied where.

Plus, imagine the armor line in a stat block:

AC 15, 14 (flat footed), 11 (touch), Against Missle weapons and blunt weapons 17, 15, 11; Against piercing weapons 13, 12 (flat footed), 11; Agaisnt slashing standard

Seems a bit too complicated.

I have thought a few times that, instead of making this standard, however, you might have feats to simulate this ability, but it would probably be over simplified for what you are thinking (i.e. you get +2 to hit with blunt weapons against opponents in light or medium armor, you get +2 to hit with piercing weapons against heavy armor).

But even that has problems. Strictly speaking rapiers and picks are both piercing weapons, but a rapier isn't going to do much against a guy in plate in the real world, but a pick will.

I'm not sure that D&D/d20/Pathfinder's style of abstract combat is the best to model this kind of combat physics.


I tend to agree with KnightErrant here. The 3.5 system, and by extension PfRPG, is too general, as it should be, to harness itself with these kind of technical mechanics in combat. Actually the entire system is one of a grand generality, but that is a statement for another thread. However I do think that you are definately on to something there, like an Advanced Combat System (ACS, patent pending). Making up some house rules there would be the only thing that could be done at this stage of development. That is until we could convince Paizo to work on an ACS. Hmmm, Pathfinder mass combat...

Liberty's Edge

KnightErrantJR wrote:


Plus, imagine the armor line in a stat block:

AC 15, 14 (flat footed), 11 (touch), Against Missle weapons and blunt weapons 17, 15, 11; Against piercing weapons 13, 12 (flat footed), 11; Agaisnt slashing standard

Think of it in this light: there are three types of saves and different spells target different ones. The fighter has a weak WILL save, so hit him with spell A, the Wizard has poor FORT, hit him with spell B, etc. In this case, you'd preferentially select a type of weapon based on the damage type dealt (and whether or not it would defeat the target's armour).

Plus, all of the complexity would be "behind the scenes"; you do not have to re-calculate all of this during play. You figure the numbers out once and write them down, and don't worry about them again until your character changes armour.

I wouldn't want to make too many more AC's... but even having 3 or 4 (Slash, Blunt, Pierce, maybe Arrow/Bolt; doubled to 6 or 8 when flat-footed) doesn't sound that horrible. Maybe...

Semi-related note:
4th Ed. has a similar mechanic where all saves are static numbers and not "Saving Throw" active rolls made by the target of the spell-- these are just like the AC is in 3.x. In a sense, they are using 4 AC-type static values to determine the target numbers of various actions against the PC.


As a player it might not be too bad, but as a DM, eh... I wouldn't want to keep track of it.


You may be more interested in different armors providing DR when it comes to different types of damage in addition to their AC bonuses. It sounds like a headache, but when I ran it with a friend who was a staunch "realist" when it came to his RPGs, it actually worked out pretty well.

Dark Archive

You should have played Harnmaster! :)

That ruleset, which you could house-rule, of course, gave different protectons for Blunt, Edged, Point, Squeeze, and Energy damage.

You could do up a quick chart and do something like this:

Chainmail
- Blunt AC +2
- Edged AC +5
- Point AC +4
- Energy AC +1

Then you would need characters to have several different ACs (and Flat-Footed ACs, as well). But I think that would add too much complexity to your average game, and I wouldn't recommend it. Pathfinder and 3.5 are supposed to be abstractions in combat.

But you could always try Harnmaster ... :)


it has always bothered me that there are so few or no combat styles for two handed swords when history shows that this was a common weapon and medival manuscripts show these sword techniques; with all the games styles it is incomprehensible that this is missing.

Additionally, grappeling an armed opponent is far to easy that or damage against grappeling opponents is to weak; if you grapple an armed opponent; your gonna get stabbed or whatever the weapon effect is, the problem with this game is that grapple is far more effective than a weapon; no 10th level guy for example is gonna worry about getting hit 3 times with a sword; but in three rounds a grappler of the same level can render you helpless or unconscious or dead. Try a few builds and test what I say; you will probably come to the same conclusion.

My appologies if this isnt true to PRPG specifically, as I dont have that material, but if they followed the d&d rules then it fits.


Of course, then you have the problem of:
AC 15, slash 16, blunt 13, pierce 12, arrow/bolt 18
Flat-footed 13, slash 13, blunt 10, pierce 9, arrow/bolt 15
Touch 13, slash 13, blunt 10, pierce 8, arrow/bolt 12
Flat-footed touch 7, slash 4, blunt 18, pierce 17, arrow/bolt 29
Flat-footed touch while standing on one leg when it's a Tuesday 45, slash 8, blunt 12, pierce 3, arrow/bolt 16

Admittedly, I'm pushing it, but you see where I'm getting at? It's already annoying how many AC bonuses/penalties are on/off/always on/only on sometimes/Tuesdays, without having to go for the added complexity of the weapon type.

Plus, when you figure in that most slam attacks can count as slashing or bludgeoning, bite attacks can be B/P/S, or anything like that, it gets REALLY old fast.

I could agree with "particular weapons(eg Picks) gain a bonus vs heavy armour" or something as simple as that but even that could be quickly and radically abused fast.


Brent Evanger wrote:

Think of it in this light: there are three types of saves and different spells target different ones. The fighter has a weak WILL save, so hit him with spell A, the Wizard has poor FORT, hit him with spell B, etc. In this case, you'd preferentially select a type of weapon based on the damage type dealt (and whether or not it would defeat the target's armour).

Plus, all of the complexity would be "behind the scenes"; you do not have to re-calculate all of this during play. You figure the numbers out once and write them down, and don't worry about them again until your character changes armour.

Multiple problems. First, there are already three AC scores (normal, flat, and touch). Adding additional AC scores against additional damage types adds three different ACs apiece. Even if you want to say that touch AC is unaffected, flat AC would be affected, so two. Thus, just to use bashing, piercing, and slashing ACs, this would create a minimum total of 7 AC scores for anybody wearing armor.

Secondly, the complexity would be in real-time, just like anything else in the game. Mage armor, protection from missiles, shield, etc., would all have to modify the various armor types, and many of these would modify them unevenly.

Simply put, as the OP said, it's a "bang-for-buck" issue, but with the added problem that the simplified armor defense system of D&D doesn't scale well when trying to incorporate the complexities of armor dynamics - the system was, by design, made to brush-stroke all of these factors (hence why armor makes it harder to hit you rather than harder to injure you).


All in all I am VEEERRRYY excited about the new Pathfinder RPG. I have one issue that has bothered me since I began playing D&D back in 1978 and that is AC. Every character continues to excel in fighting expertise as they advance in level but there is never a corresponding expertise in defending oneself as one progresses. Instead one can only become harder to hit by the use of magical protections (whether armor, shields, or spells). I suggest there be a Base Defense Bonus (BDB) similar to the BAB that increases at various intervals based upon your character class. I do not think using the BDB one must choose between that or normal AC but they should be combined. I realize that OGL combat is very abstract but I still feel that includes a little more realism without altering the combat system much at all.


Christopher ODonnell wrote:
All in all I am VEEERRRYY excited about the new Pathfinder RPG. I have one issue that has bothered me since I began playing D&D back in 1978 and that is AC. Every character continues to excel in fighting expertise as they advance in level but there is never a corresponding expertise in defending oneself as one progresses. Instead one can only become harder to hit by the use of magical protections (whether armor, shields, or spells). I suggest there be a Base Defense Bonus (BDB) similar to the BAB that increases at various intervals based upon your character class. I do not think using the BDB one must choose between that or normal AC but they should be combined. I realize that OGL combat is very abstract but I still feel that includes a little more realism without altering the combat system much at all.

You're saying have a general combat bonus, a la True20 where your attack bonus and defense bonus are the same thing, and let it stack with AC? That's ludicrous. The only reason why it works in True20 is because armor doesn't provide a bonus to your AC/Defense, but rather absorbs damage.

Imagine two level four fighters, both in full plate with a shield. As it stands now, the level four fighter would need to have a heck of an ability bonus to reliably hit the other (and no argument - plate is supposed to be a tough nut to crack). If you let them add their BAB to their plate AC, they'll be looking at something on the order of an AC of 13, which will be well-on impossible for them to hit and impossible for anybody else. We go back to the Daleks, only nobody can hit anybody.[URL=smurf][/URL]

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