Embarrassing Case of Weapon Table Rage

Hi all,

I had a slightly embarrassing case of Nerd Rage a few months ago. I had a look at the weapon tables and did a bit of a freak out.

Basically, my issues are

  1. Some of the weapons are clearly better than others mechanically


  1. Some of them are anachronistic.

I know there's the idea that 'This is a game of wizards, deal with it' but it really annoyed me for some reason.

I was wondering what your solutions to this have been or could be.

My solutions that I implemented:

  1. Greatsword no longer exists.

  2. Longsword is now a 'great' weapon, and is a two handed weapon. I increased the attack of the longsword by + 1 to compensate.

  3. the 'short' sword is now the single handed 'arming' sword.

My solutions that I haven't implemented:

  1. Make all swords expensive (So only Wealthy people or covenants can have them) but leave their stats as they are. Somehow ignore greatswords.

  2. Make bucklers load 0. Decrease load of round shields by 1.

  3. Lances from horseback can use the horses strength bonus to damage.

  4. Ride bonus to initiative.

Some of the problems lie with the way certain blades are named.

Large, two-handed blades were in use IIRC well into the 16th century. I believe they called them Doppelhander i Germany.

What was called Longsword was really what many rpg-systems call Bastard Sword or Hand-and-a-Half since knights used them ine handed from horseback and with a shield but they were more easily wielded with a two handed grip.

What was simply called Sword is also often referred to as an Arming Sword in rpgs, it was a one handed blade, what many other places call Longsword

Shortswords as they're called in rpgs come in many shapes and sizes, but if it means a smallish blade used as backup mostly it would have been single edged, large knives known as Messers in Germany. IIRC many spear- or pikemen in the late medieval has blades called Baselards which had short, sbroad blades.

IMHO ArM doesn't really have or need the level of detail to get this "right". For this I wholeheartedly suggest GURPS Low Tech or The Riddle of Steel.
The system as is is sufficient for me.

And this is a problem how? The only real problem is the choice of weapons that are superior.

congratulations - you have redefined the great sword to have a different name.
The great sword is simply defined (in context) as a sword long and heavy enough to require 2 hands for proper use.
No more no less.
The idea that a great sword must necessarily be a zweihander style sword some 6 feet long is largely a D&D-ism.

No options for wielding something like the roman gladius?

if you go by what wikipedia calls an arming sword, that's rather exactly the definition of what the ArM5 book calls a long sword.
NB: I prefer arming sword, long sword is another silly anachronistic word.

It was thus is previous edition - and this seems plausible. However I am insufficiently cognicient of 12th-13th century economics to say for sure if this was correct in europe during this periode. I would assume so though, as it certainly appears to have been correct from how the sword became the "noble man's weapon"

I liked back when they used the horse's size bonus myself

what, in general? You strike faster because you also have to worry about controlling a horse?

apologies if I seem confrontational, I largely just agree with Christian above.

I'd welcome a revised weapons chart (LoM has been rather dissapointing concerning this). After all, we are not playing AD&D here. I'm sure ArM6 will improve this.

I like it that all weapons are not created equal.

Combat redone. Characterstic + WS + usual modifiers for high ground exertion et al. Compare with the other guy's total, the winner scores a hit. Compare Carryover attack total + weapon damage vs soak (sta + armor) to check damage as usual.

  • Weapons (both close combat and missile) classified as brushing, light, medium and heavy for +0 to +9 damage. They do not offer any kind of bonuses to attack.

  • Armor goes light medium heavy as well, for +3 +6 +9 protection. A shield adds +3.

  • The big thing: Weapon skills evolve as accelerated abilities.

Some odds and ends, but that is it. Much simpler faster and certainly less unbalanced than the current system. The current system is one of the aspect of Ars that I like the least.


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If you´re playing within the standard timeframe, 12/13th century, they´re not really anachronistic but rather incorrectly or poorly named. They´re essentially simplifications of real stuff, even if some of it may be based on weapons that just barely was around at the time.

There was a big discussion about this sometime last year...

  1. Why not? It should probably be named longsword or bastard sword instead though, and it´s just about appearing at the start of default game-era... OR you can let it be an early precursor to the zweihänder style of swords(which developed from the 13th century onwards but wasnt really finalised until 16th century).

  2. Longer arming sword.

  3. Shorter arming sword. 2 & 3 are basically just simpler "popular" names.

In essence, if you start looking at swords of the era, +- a century or two, it´s a complete mess. Some sword types are known by different names in different places, and many names are used for more than one type of sword. During the last discussion i went through quite a lot of material and just about found that in game-era terms, you can probably find almost any kind of swordtype that isn´t completely exclusive for a region or other timeperiod, it´s just a matter of details and how common or not.

I have no reason to believe than the 12th century was a time where even "shortswords" were too expensive for non-nobles.

I mentioned the single-edged Messers, most likely wth blades 1-1½ feet long. Essentially just /very) large knives and tools used by many occupations. Don't have any concrete sources, but such a (relatively) small blade should not be much more expensive than an axe, there isn't that much more material. Sure the time to make it might be higher, but those weapons are most likely of lesser quality than the "arming swords" and "longswords" of the wealthy knights.

I fail to see the point. You essentially slightly simplified the Attack/Defense calculation; how is that much simpler and faster? Or do you mean that you don't roll at all, just compare pre-calculated totals? Also - why let weapon skills be accelerated abilities?

Please, explain yourself!

Personally, I liked the "duels" of third edition, and the idea that longer weapons engaged first. It was not particularly fast or simple, however.

Basically, the price of sword blades (during earlier periodes) have gone up by at least length-of-blade squared.
To create a longer blade, strong enough to survive battle use yet light enough to be useful yet able to hold an edge, requires skill and metallurgy.
These requirements become harder the longer the blade.
Thus better raw materials are required, or better techniques for refining the material (also meaning more work).
This was the major limiter on quality swords in japan some 400 years later, I'd imagine it exists as well in mythic europe.

Swords were limited in length not by magination but by technology.
A 40 inch sword is more than twice the price of a 20 inch sword, because it requires better materials and/or a more skilled smith.

I didn't because I was considering turning this into a Sub Rosa article :slight_smile: but basically the core of the "changes" are:

  • What matters is your weapon skill, not the weapon you choose. Making it accelerated differentiates amateurs from professionals quite heavily, something that a score of +3 to +5 to +7 does not make.

  • weapons have NO stats except damage. So all weapons are equal. You can use a mace, a sword or an axe just for aesthetic reasons. this has increased dramatically the amount of weapon variety in our saga, something I and the other people IMS consider a boon.

  • Making the total numbers fairly equal to the current system (+14 to attack total...) makes recalculating the combat stats for non-humans unnecessary if you don't want to. It is better if you do, but you can use the supplements on the fly without major issues.

And that would be it. It is about making the players use the weapons to game, not gaming the weapons. We had issues with that before, and this has largely been corrected by now. :slight_smile:


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Not just 400 years later, all the time. OTOH, there were some early tachi swords made that were almost silly long, the extra length as they were made for use on horseback. The biggest surviving such is probably(uncertain) a ceremonial sword but the bugger has a 2.2m long blade and is 3.7m in total. Probably from the 15th century.

Anyway, the point i was getting to was simply that there are ways to get around those limitations.

While that´s certainly understandable, it also feels like going a bit too far into the realm unrealistic.
OTOH, the game is more about magic than steel edges or whatever... Again though, weapons or nowhere near equal in reality.

I know. It just follows the idea that a specialist in his weapon of choice will do as well with that weapon as an specialist with another weapon of his choice. The combat factors for weapons in ArM4 and 5 are just random. No relation with reality at all either, so we just got rid of them and let weapon skill carry the day. As such, the weapon is not important. it is the fact that you are armed. And that is all you need to know in a game about magicians.


Now that is unfortunately all too true.

Oh the Blasphemy! :mrgreen:

Give me a knife and i´ll pretty much fight as if unarmed, give me a glaive or naginata and i´m ready to dance. :smiling_imp:

Yeah i know, it still feels wrong to mangle things that badly though. :cry:

We have playtested like 4 different alternatives until we reached this one. it has been playtested consistently for the past 3+ years, and it works for us. Others might not like it, since it gives away a lot of granularity for broad-stroke system. Still, it was asked how we dcorrected what the OP thought to be wrong, and this is how we approached this. But then, we play Ars with D6 instead of D10, so hey.


Hmm. I like the simplicity, and if the math comes out like core ArM that and the importance of skill are good arguments for accelerated abilities. It sounds like it has worked well for you, too.

Have you made some adjustments? I'd specifically allow only Dodge against arrows, and give a -6 Attack penalty (but +6 extra damage, to balance it) to a longbow. While it's more fantasy than history, I'll also allow a "Super-Heavy" weapon for -3 to Attack but with +15 to Damage, and requiring +3 Strength to wield; just for the fun of having huge battle hammers around :smiley:

Missiles work somewhat differently. We went backwards to a more ArM3 system. You use perception for missiles, not dexterity. Missiles shot against a target number of +12. You get modifiers for aiming, moving target, large target, enemy using a shield.... etc etc. Generally the target number tends to be more around +15 or +18 in a combat situation. Then you proceed to the damage phase if you hit, as usual.

This is FAR less tested, since we tend to rely in magi to do the pyrotechnics, while grogs engage in close combat


Sounds good. I still think some bonus to dodge and/or shield is in order, but - still, sounds good.

+3 to difficulty if enemy is using a shield (on top of his Soak bonus) and +3 iirc if actively dodging. So yes, it is considered. :slight_smile:

One of the thing I like about nwod core is that there is just damage 1-4 and (B)ashing or (L)ethal. Probably changes in one of the supplements.
The one thing I like about Cyberpunk2020 is the crazy amount of different guns that feel so real.

I guess there are two options: simple elegance, or wallowing in numbers. Anything in-between is less fun (unlike Aristotle, who claimed the middle-ground was the best in his ethics)

Meh, i tend to prefer the "In between", where you both get some degree of accuracy or complexity but dont blast off with a halfdozen dierolls for every move you make or something.