Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dual Weapons Revisited

I had three good comments to my post on dual wielding weapons so I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit the subject.

First off I would just like to say that I know that two weapons can be wielded at the same time. I have seen it done to great effect. I myself was in the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) and have seen several fighters wield two swords with great skill. But these were veteran fighters who had been practicing for years. Most used a sword and dagger but some used two swords; however, they never used two swords with blades longer than three feet and I certainly never saw anyone using two axes, spears, or maces. Of course they were using weapons made of rattan and not steel; but these fighting styles are also used by other historical recreation groups that do use steel weapons like the one pictured above and in my last post on this subject. So there is no question that it can be done in my mind, the question is simply how do you reflect this fighting style in game terms?

When fighting with two weapons at once, the weapon in the off hand is often used for defensive purposes (at least as far as I have seen). This off-hand weapon is used to block incoming blows, launch feints, and occasionally make attacks. This is my reason for reducing the effectiveness of the second weapon by not counting weapon adds. Another suggestion on Trollhalla was that the second weapon only provides extra adds in the amount of the dice plus one if the weapon has positive adds. A dirk (2+1), for example, would provide +3 adds if used as a second weapon. I like this idea, but I also like the random effect dice provide rather than pure adds. Of course, this penalty can be minimized by selecting weapons with the most dice and fewest adds. A short sword (3+0), for example, could be used as a second weapon with no penalty.

My comment on game balance had more to do with different fighting styles available to player characters rather than between characters and monsters. As Ken said, the fighting abilities of monsters are often balanced by game masters to match the characters. I usually don't subscribe to this idea, often presenting my characters with both push-over fights and hopeless ones; it's up to the players to figure when they should fight or not. But given the current rules I don't see why any character would not elect to use two weapons at all times. Mine certainly do. In T&T, characters can fight with one one-handed weapon often paired with a shield, one two-handed weapon, or two one-handed weapons.

Let's look at a match up between three warriors with a 14 Strength, 14 Dexterity, and 14 Constitution. Looking for maximum punch a warrior selects a headsman's axe with 4D+4 and pairs it with a pavise shield that can take 7x2 hits. Another warrior, wanting to get the largest weapon possible, selects a forkspear, a 7' polearm that gets 5D+2. Maybe it's not the most practical weapon to bring into a dungeon, but what the hell. A third warrior likes the flash of wielding two blades. He selects a saber and a haladie that gets 5D+8 combined. The warrior with two weapons is the most effective in combat according to the rules as written. Of course, the warrior with the shield can absorb 14 hits of damage, but the warrior with two weapons generates 1D+4 more per combat turn which is often enough to turn the tide of a battle.

I decided to assume that they all have equal personal adds and no body armor to see what happens when the two-weapon warrior faced the weapon-and-shield and two-handed weapon warriors in five battles using standard 7.5 edition rules. The two-weapon warrior fared very well against the two-handed warrior. He won all five fights, the longest taking only four combat turns while he won three fights in just two turns. In all five fights combined he only lost two combat turns both in the same fight. The weapon-and-shield warrior proved a bit more of a challenge due to the fact that he could absorb 14 hits of damage per turn. That's a good thing because the weapon-and-shield warrior lost 57 combat turns out of 60 in the five battles to the two-weapon warrior. The battles lasted an average of 12 turns, the longest being 17 turns and the shortest 9 turns. The two-weapon warrior was able to get past the shield eight times (2/1/1/2/2) over the course of the five battles. This was enough to soundly defeat the weapon-and-shield warrior every time.

These lopsided results point to the reason I think it is necessary to modify the dual-wield rules. I simply don't want the warrior with two weapons to always win a fight just because he has two weapons. This is why I wanted to add some kind of penalty to the second weapon and limit the size of the weapons used. Tom's suggestion of doubling the Dexterity requirement of the second weapon was quite interesting. This rule would definitely temper weapon combination. In the end, however, I think I prefer limiting the number of dice of the weapons that can be used and cutting the adds of the second weapon for the sake of simplicity.

I played out some quick fights with the house rules from my last post and did find them a bit wanting. So like any good set of house rules, I altered them. Here are my newly revised house rules for dual wielding weapons. I think that they are a little cleaner than my last set. Of course they are only my house rules and everyone has plenty of their own.


No weapons with more than 3 dice may be wielded at the same time. This eliminates the ridiculous combination of heavy weapons like a broad axe and a pilum or a war hammer and morningstar. I know this is fantasy I cannot see this happening. Of course this rule applies to human-sized characters. This can be increased by one or two dice for such larger than human character types as trolls, ogres, or giants.

Warriors may use any two one-hand weapons with 3 or fewer dice. Rogues may use a second weapon with 2 or fewer dice. Wizards may not use two weapons at once. This reflects the extra training of warriors but allows rogues to use a dagger or similar as an second weapon. Wizards, with no combat training, are more likely to hurt themselves while trying to wield two weapons than their opponent.

Weapon dice are used for the second weapon but not weapon adds. This accounts for a slight loss in effectiveness of the second weapon in attacks. This is meant to help balance the three fighting styles even if it is not an ideal representation of reality.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Temple of Issoth

I recently released a stand-alone version of my solo adventure The Temple of Issoth on RPGNow. This solo first appeared in TrollsZine #3 released in August. I have made a few modifications and improvements to the original solo, including corrected a couple of links, adding a few new paragraphs, and providing some new options. I have also added a color cover with art by Joe Calkins (Cerberus Illustration) and Robert Hemminger (Avalon Game Company). The interior of the book includes several black and white illustrations. The Temple of Issoth also includes three fully equipped pregenerated characters just in case you don't have a delver that meets the requirements of the adventure.

The Temple of Issoth is currently available as a free pdf download at my Lone Delver Games page. I will be releasing a print version of this solo on either LuLu or the new print on demand feature offered by RPGNow. So far The Temple of Issoth has been downloaded over 260 times!


"You must help me. The priests of Issoth have carried my son away. He is to be sacrificed to their dark god this very night. I will pay you 100 gold talents if you go to the Temple of Issoth and rescue him."

Your blood chills at the mention of Issoth's temple. You have heard only rumors of that dark and forbidding place. Horrible stories of demons and the undead. The priests of Issoth are said to be fanatics that sate the great beast Issoth's every fiendish appetite. This man asks you to risk a great deal and offers very little in return. Do you dare enter THE TEMPLE OF ISSOTH?

This solitaire adventure is suitable for a single humanoid warrior with 20-30 combat adds. You may bring whatever weapons, armor, or equipment you wish. Three pregenerated characters are provided if you do not have one that fits the requirements.

Friday, December 10, 2010

One Sword or Two?

Starting characters are usually pretty poor fighters. Even a well-to-do starting delver will only be equipped with a weapon that provides three dice and a few adds. That's not much, especially when you are going it alone. One way to give your first or second level warrior or even rogue or wizard a leg up against that MR 30 goblin is to leave your shield behind and go into battle with a blade in each hand. With the right combination of Strength and Dexterity, any character can become a unstoppable killing machine; well, almost.

In a previous post I mentioned my preference for using two weapons over a weapon and shield. My personal favorite combination with starting warriors is a short saber and bank. In all T&T editions, as long a a character has a Strength and Dexterity equal to or exceeding the combined Strength and Dexterity requirements of two weapons, he can use those weapons at the same time and get the full combined dice and adds of both weapons. That's a pretty significant increase in fighting power. Even the weakest of characters could go into a fight with two banks requiring a ST and DX of 2 and get 4 dice and 6 adds. An average warrior with a ST and DX of 12 could use a short saber and haladie and get 5 dice and 5 adds. A more powerful warrior with a ST and DX of 19 could potentially wield a falchion and a short saber and get 7 dice and 5 adds on top of any personal adds, which if the character wasn't horribly unlucky would be at least another 14 adds. Not too bad. Such a warrior could handle a MR 50 monster single handed. The dual weapon wielding warrior not only has a better chance of winning a combat turn, but also effectively limits the number of hits he may take if he does lose. In this way the second weapon also doubles as a shield.

It does seem that this rather simple game mechanic can get a little unbalancing. In my play-by-post game, The Lost City, there are two dwarf characters, a warrior and a wizard. The warrior wields two short swords providing him 6 dice and 11 adds in combat. The wizard wields two kukri (daggers) providing him 4 dice and 20 adds (!!) in combat. Just these two characters, therefore, are able to muster 10 dice and 31 adds per combat turn. That's an average CBT of 61 between the two of them and they're first level characters; holy $%#^!

Given the power that using two weapons provides, I have previously stated that shields are almost useless in the rules as written. I tried to remedy this situation in another post with some shield house rules to make them a little more appealing. There is also the question of two-handed weapons. There are few cases where a single two-handed weapon provides the dice and adds of two one-handed weapons; so why bother with a polearm or two-handed broadsword unless your character concept demands the use of such weapons.

Despite the balance issue, there are more practical questions about fighting with two weapons to consider. For example, when fighting with two weapons, could you really get the most out of both? Is it reasonable that anyone could effectively fight with two broadswords, two scimitars, or two heavy flails? Does fighting with two weapons require special training and years of practice that most characters would not have (yes it does)? This is supposed to be heroic fantasy, however, and not an accurate re-creation of medieval combat. Almost every sword and sorcery story includes a warrior charging into combat with a weapon in both hands. So rather than removing the use of two weapons completely, why not alter the rules a little (i.e. complicate them) to keep the arms race under control.

To that end, I have come up with a few house rules for two-weapon fighting.


Warriors only: Fighting with two weapons requires special training and practice. Warriors have this training, rogues and wizards do not.

One weapon must have at least 1 die less than the other: The weapon in the warriors off-hand should be smaller to maintain balance and speed. The classic example of this is fighting with a sword and dagger.

Weapons with five or more dice may not be paired with another: There is a limited set of one-handed weapons with five or more dice, but these may not be paired with another weapon.

Weapon dice are used for second weapon but not weapon adds: Only the dice for the second weapon are used in combat, weapon adds are excluded. This accounts for a slight loss in effectiveness of the second weapon. If the weapon has no adds or has negative adds, then it loses 1 die.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Still Delving

Only one post in November? Where has the time gone?

Over the next couple of months I plan on continuing my "Evolution of T&T" series. Future posts will include discussion of Attributes, Character Types, Levels, Arms and Armor, Combat, Spells, and of course Covers.

I also have a few new house rules posts rattling around in my head (two-weapon fighting, ranged weapon combat, and first level spell details) as well as two new Solo Design topics, Consequences and Twists.

I'm also working, somewhat sporadically, on a stand-alone version of my "Temple of Issoth" solo originally published in Trollszine 3. This will be fully illustrated, revised with some new sections, and available as a free pdf from RPGnow. My goal is to have this available by the end of December.

There are some new T&T blogs out there including "Deeper Delvings" and "Five-And-A-Half Trolls" that I plan to add to my list. If anyone knows of any others, please let me know. A few blogs on my watch list have not been updated in months; these I'll likely cut loose.