Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Of the Tabletop, and other, lesser varieties.

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The Utilitarian
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:08 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:Yeah, if the Greatclub was a simple weapon with the same stats, it'd also be acceptable.
Ug have go to fighter school to learn swing big club. No give Ug skill away for free!

On the subject of unintuitive "Simple" weapons does anyone else think it's ridiculous that the Atlatl is an Exotic weapon? It was the third weapon ever made for Ares' sake!
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Meteorswarm » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:31 am UTC

The Utilitarian wrote:On the subject of unintuitive "Simple" weapons does anyone else think it's ridiculous that the Atlatl is an Exotic weapon? It was the third weapon ever made for Ares' sake!

Have you used an atlatl? All the people I've talked to who have think it's wicked hard to use properly. Simple to make does not mean simple to use well. Even using a sling well is really hard, and atlatls are really most useful for throwing into crowds of prey animals from a distance, so you need to be really good at throwing things that far and fairly accurately.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Vaniver » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:37 am UTC

Meteorswarm wrote:Not everybody plays that way, and it's an approximate measure, assuming you hit every time regardless.
Huh? Obviously it's approximate (and including less hits will make the crit end an even higher part of the damage, making the scimitar even better), but the RAW is 1 is a miss, and the most common house rule is that a 1 is a -10, meaning it's almost always a miss. I don't know of anyone else that has their 1s do any damage to the enemy.

Meteorswam wrote:In this vein, how do your groups deal with the growing lethality as you go up in level? It seems like in most of the games I play, combats get short and really deadly around level 8 and only get worse, with the only things being able to harm you at all can also take you out in a round or two.
If you don't have save-or-die effects, I find this is often true for PCs for but not as much for NPCs. First level is the most lethal, since a single crit can take down pretty much everyone- after that, you get more options and get hardier about as quickly as the monsters get more dangerous, so the main question is how you leverage your feats, items, and magic relative to your opponents.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:56 am UTC

Meteorswarm wrote:
The Utilitarian wrote:On the subject of unintuitive "Simple" weapons does anyone else think it's ridiculous that the Atlatl is an Exotic weapon? It was the third weapon ever made for Ares' sake!

Have you used an atlatl? All the people I've talked to who have think it's wicked hard to use properly. Simple to make does not mean simple to use well. Even using a sling well is really hard, and atlatls are really most useful for throwing into crowds of prey animals from a distance, so you need to be really good at throwing things that far and fairly accurately.

Point taken, it just feels silly to me to say that you need specialized training to use one of the most primitive weapons in history. More training than, I dunno, a composite longbow.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Meteorswarm » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:58 am UTC

I guess my point is that, while rocks are very simple, for example, they'd better be an exotic weapon to use effectively because (1) they're not easy to use well and (2) they're not commonly taught.

Martial weapons, in my view, are the kind you learn at fighter school, and simple weapons are the kind you learn in basic self-defense. If nobody uses a weapon, it won't be simple or martial, although another culture might view it so.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Chen » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:19 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:If you don't have save-or-die effects, I find this is often true for PCs for but not as much for NPCs. First level is the most lethal, since a single crit can take down pretty much everyone- after that, you get more options and get hardier about as quickly as the monsters get more dangerous, so the main question is how you leverage your feats, items, and magic relative to your opponents.


If you take appropriate CR encounters from the book with the hit points they give the monsters a moderately well built party will absolutely destroy them. Forget it if you have each party member optimized well (not even munchkin'd out). We've found you need to increase the monster hit points by a fairly significant amount before things become dangerous. Now granted even with normal monsters a debuffed mage will get wrecked pretty quickly, but usually there are spells and contingencies in place for that kind of thing. I do like the fact there is at least a chance of player death (or at least being dropped) in 3.5. I really didn't get that feel from 4th unless you really threw hard encounters at the party constantly (like level + 5 with increased hit points).

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:31 pm UTC

The Utilitarian wrote:Point taken, it just feels silly to me to say that you need specialized training to use one of the most primitive weapons in history. More training than, I dunno, a composite longbow.

That isn't surprising to me.

One of the ways a weapon can be better than another is that it gets easier to use.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EmptySet » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:21 pm UTC

The weapon classification generally refers to how common they are, the context in which you might find them, and/or how difficult they are to use, not how they are constructed. Crossbows are simple weapons because they are fairly common and require minimal training to use. Slings are simple weapons because your average peasant probably used one to catch rabbits when he was a boy. Pikes are martial weapons because they're something commonly used by soldiers, but unlikely to be used by anyone who isn't a professional or semi-professional fighter. Exotic weapons are exotic because seriously, where do you even go to learn the ancient art of the Dire Flail? When was the last time you even saw anyone using one of those? They certainly don't hand them out to regular infantry and the town watch, I know that. If you're a warrior from the land of Flailtopia you might be able to treat it as a martial weapon or even get free proficiency (c.f. Dwarven waraxe, Dwarven urgrosh, Gnome hooked hammer) but for everyone else they're exotic.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Decker » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:26 pm UTC

I'd argue with anyone who says that a crossbow is easier to use than a longsword.
You might be able to make an argument with how common they are, albeit a weak one.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:57 pm UTC

I'm having a hard time finding anything relating crossbow use and sword use. It's pretty easy to find sources comparing crossbows to longbows, though. We're talking a few weeks to become effective with a crossbow to as long as a year or more to be as effective with a long bow.

For me, though, my gut tells me it's a lot harder to use a few feet of sharpened metal to effectively hurt someone else while not harming myself than it would be to wind or pull back a string with a lot of tension, point it at something, and fire.

Granted, I'm no weapons expert, although I've read a small amount of material by people that are. So, my gut could be totally wrong.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Decker » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:59 pm UTC

pseudoidiot wrote:For me, though, my gut tells me it's a lot harder to use a few feet of sharpened metal to effectively hurt someone else while not harming myself than it would be to wind or pull back a string with a lot of tension, point it at something, and fire.

Sure, USING it is just as easy. Hitting someone with it is a whole diffferent story.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:01 pm UTC

A crossbow is easier to use than a longsword.

Longswords need more physical training, and to use it properly you are both attacking and defending with it at all times. Being made out of a large hunk of high quality metal, getting time to practice with one is also difficult.

Crossbows need aim.

Now in (all versions of?) D&D, Longsword proficiency only grants you an improved attack with it, while it should grant you both attack and defense.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:08 pm UTC

Different versions of D&D use Proficiency to mean different things. From what I recall of AD&D, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, Proficiency meant you couldn't just use it, but were actually pretty good with it and got a +1 to hit or something similar. In 3.X/4.X, it simply means you can use it without penalty. The penalty being a -4 to your attacks.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

AD&D had some kind of non-proficiency penalty as well.

In 4e, it just means you don't get the proficiency bonus. :)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:15 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:AD&D had some kind of non-proficiency penalty as well.

In 4e, it just means you don't get the proficiency bonus. :)

It really amounts to ALMOST the same thing. If the game is balanced around you using weapons you're proficient with, it works out to be the same whether you get +3 to hit for being proficient (4e, and yes I know it varies from weapon to weapon), or you lose -4 to hit when you're NOT proficient with it (3.5e, 3.0e)

You'd have to go all the way back to 2e to not be able to use something you're not proficient with at all.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Klapaucius » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:28 pm UTC

To clarify: I maybe shouldn't have used the word "maul"--I just wanted a term for huge friggin' hammer. Greathammer is the word for Large warhammers, isn't it? Those, then.
The point is that the dervish variant would functionally work similarly, but instead of doing a whirling dance around the battlefield, the dwarf would be use the momentum from the twenty-pound blocks of stone in each hand to become a spinning, unstoppable hammercopter.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:12 pm UTC

Yeah, use warhammers. They're close enough to scimitars that it won't be gamebreaking.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Decker » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:26 pm UTC

Klapaucius wrote:The point is that the dervish variant would functionally work similarly, but instead of doing a whirling dance around the battlefield, the dwarf would be use the momentum from the twenty-pound blocks of stone in each hand to become a spinning, unstoppable hammercopter.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:35 pm UTC

Now I'm picturing a Dwarvish olympic event with dwarves spinning wildly with hammers in their hands then releasing them and going for distance.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:52 pm UTC

With axes, the Dwarves can have the "hoverspin" event.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby joeframbach » Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:57 pm UTC

Speaking of exotic weapons, take a look at a picture of a gnome hooked hammer.
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Think about it for a second.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:05 pm UTC

It's the swiss army knife of swinging weapons.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:13 am UTC

The hooked hammer is the CLASSIC non-nonsensical double weapon, I won't hear any sass given to it. Any weapon which would likely impale you in the ribs you tried to strike someone with the other end of it is a-ok by me.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EmptySet » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:20 am UTC

Decker wrote:I'd argue with anyone who says that a crossbow is easier to use than a longsword.


I'm not an expert, but as I recall a week is long enough for someone to learn basic crossbow operation and marksmanship. It requires little instruction beyond "Here's a crossbow, this is how you load it, this is how you look after the string, don't point it at anything you're not willing to shoot, there's the target range, off you go." Obviously this isn't going to produce expert snipers who can take people out from a mile away with perfect accuracy, but it's enough to give people a decent chance of hitting what they aim at.

Using a sword, on the other hand, requires substantial physical conditioning to develop the necessary endurance and musculature, as well as lessons in the actual stabbing people / not getting stabbed part, and practicing requires not just a target but an instructor, sparring partner(s), and probably practice swords and armour unless you're willing to have an extremely high rate of training accidents. Furthermore, if you're likely to fight targets in heavy amour, someone wielding a sword needs to learn where the weak points of that armour are, how to attack them, and to develop the control necessary to strike them; simply slashing away will in many cases be ineffective.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:25 am UTC

Even a high level of capability... (in real life)

Crossbows have to take into account height, speed of the bolt, distance of the target, crosswind.

Swordsmen have to make sure they avoid kuzushi before during and after their attack, how to not leave themselves open, they have to know how to parry, dodge, and counter other melee weapons. They have to know how to avoid getting disarmed, while also knowing when holding onto the weapon too hard will totally screw them over. You have to know how to cut properly, when and where on the blade to apply force. You have to know tai sabaki to keep yourself ready for any attacks. You have to know how to keep maai. Ukemi as well...

At the really highest levels you have to know how to present false openings so you can force an opponent's move, you have to know how to use kiai...

There are whole martial arts based solely around using the sword... >.>;
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:19 pm UTC

Even European ones!
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Pianodog » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:22 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Even a high level of capability... (in real life)

Crossbows have to take into account height, speed of the bolt, distance of the target, crosswind.

Swordsmen have to make sure they avoid kuzushi before during and after their attack, how to not leave themselves open, they have to know how to parry, dodge, and counter other melee weapons. They have to know how to avoid getting disarmed, while also knowing when holding onto the weapon too hard will totally screw them over. You have to know how to cut properly, when and where on the blade to apply force. You have to know tai sabaki to keep yourself ready for any attacks. You have to know how to keep maai. Ukemi as well...

At the really highest levels you have to know how to present false openings so you can force an opponent's move, you have to know how to use kiai...

There are whole martial arts based solely around using the sword... >.>;


I haven't played D&D in a while (since 2nd Edition), but wanted to chime in here regarding difficulty of weapons in sword vs. crossbow - and make sure we're already talking about unskilled characters using these. There may be more to learn as far as using a sword goes when it comes to being a superior swordsman - but at level 1, everyone's on essentially the same plane, rudimentary understanding. A character's evolution is a progression of skill and understanding. A swordsman progresses very differently from a crossbow user (from 2nd Edition; there may be dozens of new rules I don't know about).

I recall more and more rules to allow melee specialists to continue to excel at what they do - just as described above - in varying feats and abilities you can take as you gain levels. There really aren't many I can recall for crossbow users. It's possible to evolve a superiorly trained swordsman capable of pulling off multiple attacks, dodging, parrying, defensive manuevers, etc over time. A crossbow user just gets better at hitting with it, maybe even at point blank range. It frees the crossbow user up to explore other paths; herbalism, cartography, etc - while the swordsman has to devote himself to his art to stay alive in combat.

At that "Level 1" stage, though, a sword is a sharp club to it's user. Swing it hard, hope to hit, and at that hard enough to kill the other guy before he kills you. Don't hold it by the sharp side. Don't hit yourself if you can avoid it.

The quoted swordsman might be level 16 - and a master in his art. At some point, though, he was just a grunt who would be lucky to survive being conscripted and handed a chipped and rusted blade and barely knew what to do with it; but could still kill with it.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:27 pm UTC

And the Crossbow user just has to remember to point the pointy bit at the enemy before pulling the lever. They crossbow user also has the luxury of not having someone a few feet away trying to kill them, but rather tens of feet away .. and closing, sure, but enough time to at least try to aim the shot. Most people won't stand still and let you line up a swordblow.


(That said, the Weapon proficiencies/Nonweapon Proficiencies were further expanded. The Fighter can be deadly with the sword AND know all about herbalism at the same time. Hell, a fighter with a high Int may know more about generic stuff than your standard Wizard.)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:08 pm UTC

I find that the Shadowrun system for melee combat (or at least the version of it I'm familiar with) makes for a better representation of the difference between trying to kill someone up close and personal versus just pointing a ranged weapon at someone and letting fly. Aiming at a target /= finding an opening in melee.

That said, I'll take the straightforward d20 (or 4e) combat system, even if it does mean that stabbing a trained combatant with a rapier and shooting them with a crossbow could potentially be of equivilant difficulty. Enemies don't get to defend themselves, they get to die on my swordpoint and turn into XP!
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby joeframbach » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:25 am UTC

Alright, so apparently there's a new text filter. "hammer" is now "hammer". And "filter" is now "filter".
Whatthefook.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:41 am UTC

joeframbach wrote:Alright, so apparently there's a new text filter. "hammer" is now "fjafjan". And "filter" is now "cheesegrater".
Whatthefook.

Go read the site news/announcement section.The Gods must be crazy.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:17 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:And the Crossbow user just has to remember to point the pointy bit at the enemy before pulling the lever. They crossbow user ALSO YOU GUYS: has the luxury of not having someone a few feet away trying to kill them, but rather tens of feet away .. and closing, sure, but enough time to at least try to aim the shot. Most people won't stand still and let you line up a swordblow.


(That said, the Weapon proficiencies/Nonweapon Proficiencies were further expanded. The Fighter can be deadly with the sword AND know all about herbalism at the same time. Hell, a fighter with a high Int may know more about generic stuff than your standard Wizard.)


I think people underestimate how much knowledge you'd need to have basic sword proficiency. A sword really is not just a sharp club, you can't just hit stuff hard... Personally if I was to create my own combat systems any bladed weapon would use a hybrid of STR and DEX for it's damage calculations dependant on how top heavy the weapon is. Ie. Axes would be more strength dependant whereas rapiers/daggers would be much more dex dependant. I figure someone with 20 STR swinging a big ass rock on a stick will do more damage than someone with 20 str who doesn't realise how to do a proper cut (low training, or not being dextrous enough to preform the subtle movements necessary) swinging a sword.

A quick youtube search gives me this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rkO2k2P16g&#t=3m05s

First 3mins is just him doing cuts, not anything about Strength vs Technique.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Vaniver » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:53 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:A sword really is not just a sharp club, you can't just hit stuff hard...
A sword used as a blunt club is pretty effective at damaging people, and a lot of early swords weren't really all that sharp.
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Gelsamel
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:12 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:A sword really is not just a sharp club, you can't just hit stuff hard...
A sword used as a blunt club is pretty effective at damaging people, and a lot of early swords weren't really all that sharp.


Okay, I suppose it's wrong to say "you can't"... but that isn't showing proficiency in wielding a sword. That is just holding it and swinging it around (at a -4 penalty, mind you).

Edit: Then again, I did say "you can't" after mentioning that I'm talking with respect to proficiency...
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:00 pm UTC

You also keep bringing up Eastern swords which were essentially giant razor blades - good for cutting and you have to know they're only good for cutting and use them as such. Western blades were heavier and built on the "If you swing it hard enough, it doesn't matter if it's sharp" principle, meaning you don't necessarily need to understand the cutting principles as much as you do the "Smash their head in with it" principle.

Not that there weren't far more elaborate styles used with the blades that did require skill (which would be better reflected in Weapon Specialization) but the basic use is relatively simple... but not as simple as the Crossbow.

(I'm not sure why you quoted me on your comment earlier, as.. I'm agreeing with you. Swords are harder to use than crossbows)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:07 pm UTC

"Eastern swords were more like razors and western swords were for hitting people" is a misunderstanding.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:10 pm UTC

... Point. Go Go Gadget Me for ignoring 90% of Asia there.
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Gelsamel
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:29 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:(I'm not sure why you quoted me on your comment earlier, as.. I'm agreeing with you. Swords are harder to use than crossbows)


I quoted you because the posts in between yours and mine were not on this topic and I felt the quote would help the discussion have better flow.

Also, yeah, I agree a lot of swords do make accomodations for striking but a whole bunch of them don't make much if any at all. Your typical cruciform sword, while heavy, surely takes more cut and less strike to bring out it's best potential (although the ones that don't thin would generally be better for striking).

And yeah, the Dao is badass, but there was also stuff like this
Image


Hmm... that makes me think... pretty much all top heavy swords are single edged aren't they?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EmptySet » Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:40 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Western blades were heavier and built on the "If you swing it hard enough, it doesn't matter if it's sharp" principle, meaning you don't necessarily need to understand the cutting principles as much as you do the "Smash their head in with it" principle.


Actually, many (most?) Western swords were designed on the basis that there will be a significant amount of stabbing, which is why they have a straight blade with a pointy tip. In addition, high-quality Western swords can be very sharp. It may be true that cheap, mass-produced Western swords are a bit blunt, but this primarily due to craftsmanship rather than the design. Some countries (ie. Japan) couldn't produce swords en masse at all, because the quality of iron was so poor every weapon had to be a masterwork, which actually used to be a rule with katana in D&D. It is true that swords with a curved blade like the katana are a bit better at slicing things, but that's far from saying that a straight blade is blunt or incapable of slicing.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:10 am UTC

Let's see...a bit of black onyx, yes, and then I simply swish my hands like so, and...ARISE! THREAD!

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