Timpthy, you `pretty much defined our definitions for our HR combat system. We have minor adjustments, but weapons inside each category are more or less identical. We haven't got as far as you define, but that is the basic idea. And it works well.



In Ars there are up to 3 rolls per person per round, init, attack, def assuming you redo initiative.

I find the pre-calculated weapons stats invaluable. Luckily i'm in 2 groups with mathematically minded people.

The reason I think you need to expand combat for cinematic style fighting is that you need to be able to play things at certain stages...

for exmaple can Geoff the barbarian climb the ladder of crystal darts to get to Geoffina the Archmaga. Who goes first the darts or the barbarian.

Equally things like if person X is using a lance then do they get to use it before person Y can close into the lance and negate some of it's usefullness.

I think this may be more nailing down action chamberpots mid combat, but think it adds a nice feel to the game and you can more easily fit rules in as and when.

I quietly forget to roll Initiative, esp. when running demo games at Conventions... it is not only the delay for extra rolls, but also the randomisation of the order of action which is time consuming!

In demos, I find it much easier to have prepared a written action-sequence for the whole group (players and non-players), and just run down that asking for actions... And no, I don't much bother with minor +/-1 shifts between different weapons, or whatever...
"Cruel" maybe, but I want to get through each step of the scenario at a good pace to give people a good flavour of the game.

And yes, I too use pre-calculated weapon stats -- I use MetaCreator and print the combat summaries... it also pretty-prints character sheets to hand out to players...

See, I refuse to use Metacreator. I know it rocks, but I think, as an author, that I'd come to assume that everyone else had the same magic dohickey I had, and make things too complex for people who just use a pencil.

And for me, that makes Ars combat -way- too complex compared to, say, D&D. I'm really not all that sure why each of the build strategies emobided in the numbers couldn't just be made overt. So instead of getting a high Qik and then choosing a weapon with a high Qik and rolling every time for a high Init, couldn't you just have a virtue called "Quick" and let characters with it go first? You could have others called "Damaging" and "Offensive" and "Defensive". Basically I'm not sure what the rules are doing here in terms of the play experience. I'd like one of you to write in and explain why this level of elaborateness makes the game your cup of tea, because I'd like to understand the perspective that is other than mine.

In mine, the grogs are a sort of meatshield that pauses the opponent long enough for the magi to think of something interesting to do with their magic that closes out the encounter with a dose of Awesome. As such, their Init and all that are basically not used to the extent that they justify their paperwork.

I think there are far more numbers than needed for combat. I like weapon cathegories similar like Timothy did however a sword should have better stats than an axe has.
Instead of these stats weapons would need an armor piercing rate or similar. It becomes more important from the 14th century. Who said all the games start in 1220?
I found agility is more significant in the system then strength but IRL the heroes were known for their phisical power and not their agility.
I think the damage is few. I would like more damage. Maybe reducing the damage steps (or what) by 1 may solve this.
Many weapons should have historical notes where and when were they used. Some weapons are missing like sabre, composite bow, light crossbow from the list. I know the game concentrates on the Western Europe but Eastern European and Arabic adventures require their stats.
Armors' stats are similar they had in AD&D. In the reality there were leather armors strong like chainmail. Not every type but there were such armors. Chainmails and metal scale armors gave similar defense.
Long sword is a single weapon in ArM but in the reality it was a lighter two-handed sword from the 14th century.

I think that the ability of a system to handle cinematic combat is not directly related to its complexity. Second edition exalted has provided me with the most cinematic combats of any game I've ever played (Feng Shui included) and it is exceedingly detailed. Your bold statement "Cinematic combat doesn't work well with micromanagement" is in blatant contradiction with my experience.

This is a question of quality not quantity. The questions to ask are what do the mechanics communicate and how well do they communicate it?

Mechanics are description you want to make certain that they speak in compelling moving statements rather than as a boring drone. The amount that they say is a somewhat different question.

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My grogs are as important as the magi quite a lot of the time. Magi are not always around, while grogs are there by default. So we do not cinsider a living being with a soul to be an expendable meatshield.

Still the numbers for weapons et al in ArM5 are basically a piece of junk IMO. The whole combat system is one of the weakest parts of ArM5 for sure, as it was in ArM4. It can be simplified without affecting the game mechanics much and it works quite ok doing so. This is why combat is one of the most house ruled parts of Ars magica, after all.



I prefer more detail in a combat system. I also sometimes might even prefer the 'slowness' that some of you object to in running a combat scene / sequence. Now as to why...

Firstly I think that a more detailed rules system as far as equipment, options, actions etc... these things add flavor to combat. Some people are more in favor of this flavor being 'fluff' and and that rules lite combat versions encourage said fluff to be more dominant. I get that, and perhaps they are right in some circumstances. I however prefer, and often actually enjoy, having a certain ammount of that clearly laid out as to how it functions mechanically, and how to resolve it etc. It gives you a baseline to go from in your house ruling should you find a need for it, a place to depart from with a great deal of context in which to try and achieve consistency.

I also think the statement about rules being description and what they are trying to evoke, as far as the feel of a combat scene, is dead on. I feel exactly the same way. That also makes the favor, or not, of a set of combat rules largely a matter of preference both as to the feel a given group wants in a combat scene and how they think it is best achieved.

Personally I think the combat rules for Ars are already a bit light for my taste. I'd like some rules for ambush/surprise and 'backstab' attacks for example. ( If they exist, please slap me with them. ) More detail as to various types of mundane items and equipment ( Art & Acadame was very interesting for this. ) would be nice. ( Where are those crossbow rules anyway? I can't find them. )

Now I think for a lot of people in this particular game 'physical' combat doesn't tend to be very important or really even described that often as they tend to be engaged in more of a purely magical variety. I do however think that the rules for physical combat shouldn't thereby be skimped on because the 'option' should still be there for that very decisive / lethal physical engagement. Heck. Some magi specialize in being very good at this. It is much more entertaining to me if my area of specialty in a given game has more description and development rather than less.

As to the feel I think Ars combat should shoot for, I think it generally should be rather lethal, though favoring the armored over the unarmored, the trained over the untrained, and the disciplined formation over the rough rabble. Those factors I think help reinforce the setting. 'Rangers' should be annoying, and potentially lethal to a small group... but the charge of heavy cavalry in full armor and with tipped lances should be a moment of terror. I see Ars as having a wonderful blend of both the mystical and fantastical and a very good grasp on the gritty feeling of the medieval era, along with darker aspects of the time and myths being developed. Combat should be bloody and feared and to me, usually, rules lite doesn't achieve that.

( I draw the line at figurines. Some people like them, that is fine. I however shouldn't -need- them by a predisition of the combat rules of my -rpg- to keep everything clear. A map, sure... I'll use a map all day. Figurines just annoy me. )

I'm not really sure that an axe should have worse stats than a sword. My point here is that by bringing that in, you are forcing the game to model all sorts of weird bits of complexity which matter only marginally when compared to the dice roll. So, an axe is +1 different to a sword....and the average dice roll added to the mix is 5 times this amount and can just swamp out that tiny bonus. Also, IRL, you need then to account for guys like Rober the Bruce who used an axe in preference ot the sword that all of his relatives used. I also think that not penalising players for choising something other than a sword makes their characters more colourful.

For me the question is not so much if the rules model "real" weapons as if they model "real" folklore. In real folklore weapons do -way- more damage than they do in Ars. Heaps more. So much more that little bits and pieces like +1 for a sword not an Axe are chickenfeed. In a lot of Arthuriana swords do modern chainsaw levels of damage. The persnicketty real details of the weapons are less important than the moral and narrative significance of the fact that a character has decided to fight a particular guy, and then has murdered (or killed in fair duel) the same guy and what the rest of their society thinks about that.

At the very minimum, I would like to suggest that in future versions of Ars, the baseline for combat be set so that rather than a fist being +0/+0/+0/+0, that a sword, which is the generic weapon used by most characters most of the time, be set as the baseline for Init, Atk and Dfn.

In a general rpg axes may have the same stats than swords. But in ArM swords are expensive weapons and expensive things should be better ones.
I agree with you in the case a standard weapon should be The general and not the fist.

A longsword maybe. A shortsword was an extremely common weapon.


I don't think that the game is the sort that requires "expensive" weapons to be better than "standard" or "inexpensive".

I agree, although there's social posing potential, much like having, say, a Mercedes today has no real impact on your Drive skill, but people look at it and go "Ah, he's rich, and wants me to know he's rich." 8)

I certainly don't play Ars for the combat system. If I want that, I'll play The Riddel of Steel, with much more detail, options and tactical decisions, wider range of weapon stats etc.

Is a sword better than an axe? Yes and no. The sword should have benefits regarding speed and defense, and perhaps ease of attack,. But the axe might be slower, but is much better at cleaving shields and armour. Such detail cannot be encompassed by Ars, with the current system. Especially because the dice rolls mean so much more than the differences in weapon stats.

But all things aside, I've never had much problems with this simple system. It works for us, even if we're playing a grog-only story, with only mundane fighting.

I'd disagree with the inability to differentiate stats...

for example Axes a large brutish levers of pain but they're a real dog to weild however the fact that are a simple lever means they are incredibly effective and hacking gashes in armour and people.

A sword is not so effective a lever but can be wielded with more precison and has more killing edges then the typical axe (axe as the axehead edge vs Sword tip, and two edges). It's also easier to parry with but it doesn't have as much clout.

A sword would therefore have a greater attack and defence bonus then an axe but a much lower damage bonus. The sword may also have a slightly faster initiative. The differences look fine to me.

having been part of various re-enactment groups for nearly 15 years now I think the weapon stats are actually quite realistic.

However the fact that skill and luck play a huge part in combat these are effectively reproduced by the skill and dice roll. In the confusion combat you may get a lucky parry, spot a patch of bad ground before your opponent steps onto it and take advantage or accidentally place yourself in harms way by stepping on rough ground equally you may spot an opponents gambit and make the most of it. These are just some of the myriad problems i've encountered in combat. The Weapon design means nothing when you've just got your foot stuck in a rabbit hole or your axe stuck in your opponent.

I think that the rules allow for highly cinematic combat it just needs the GM to flower up the action descriptions.

Andrew W:
Is it a real possibility to parry with a sword? I heard swords were too heavy and the soldiers parried with shields.

It is qiuite good there. You do not tend to stop the enemy weapon dead on its tracks, but you deflect it. What you tend to see in cinema is plain bullshit. As a deflecting item a sword is quite OK. At least my experience with longsword combat reenactment (admitedly limited, though) makes me believe that.

If you have a shield, you try to parry with the shield, it is easier. The sword adds to your defence as a sidekick, but it is easier to use the shield there. The absortion capability of the shield is much larger, and easier to intercept the enemy weapon with it: it requires less strength and speed, and offers a much larger interception area.



It's certainly possible and TBH it's possibly to parry with a mace or axeshaft if push comes to shove. But a shield is much better for this.

However there are various styles of fighting. I would strongly reccomend the woodplates by Hans Talhoffer showing slightly later styles of fighting (14th and 15th Century) but still not escaping the real core of medival combat. It shows that swords were used in a whole world of less conventional ways then just the hilt in hand. Some of which did come about due to plate armour some of which due to simple combat functionality.

a common stance is the running and later hanging guard stances (which are slightly later then 1220 and 1300 respectively) which is used mainly for great weapon fighting which is deisgned to turn the greatsword into a guard-rail for the purposes of deflecting blows in an absence of a shield. if I'm honnest it's my favourite sword stance because it's simply a use of basic leverage.

As I have stated my beliefs earlier:
ARM has its appeal TO ME in being rooted in ACTUAL history.
I believe the combat rules for ARM5 should result in similiar outcomes from real historical battles.

If in an actual historical medieval battle both sides had high proportions of spears & longswords, AND the side that won could be shown to have a higher proportion of longswords, AND after much study it could be reasonably assumed that the winning side WON becuase of longswords...

The rules should NOT portray the best strategy in combat as being throwing sharpened rocks running away and throwing more rocks! (not saying they do... just giving an example)


I was happy when I saw the weapons list for ARM5 because I thought that it was quite heavily cogent and seem to run in line with my personal experiences of the wide and wonderful world of sharp pointy sticks.

I think that the rules follow logical progressions of weapons abilities in scenarios without actually inbuilding specific styles of usage.

for example longspears are great when used en masse in a phalanx but the rules look at the individual fighitng merits of the spear and do not built a strategic asusmpition into the weapon.

for that you'ld need more cinematic storytelling.