Extra arms and combat

ok. I have a problem. A new player.
And this player want a spell that can make him grow two extra arms.
No problem for this: MuCo etc etc.
But HOW I can handle this in term of rules? of combat? in some book are monster with this that I can use for reference?
Any suggestions are accepted!

Different games have different concepts about "How combat works". In AM, 2 weapons does not equal 2 attacks, so if he's hoping for more than one attack/round, the rules do not lean that way.

To make things worse, AM ~tends~ to shy away from combat - mano-a-mano is not what this game is about. And as a result, combat can be very dangerous and deadly - sooner or later, every gets unlucky, and it's game over. So a mage that wants to go into combat is rarer still.

You're going to be stuck with 3 things to consider - game balance, combat mechanics, and (last but not least) spell mechanics.

That last is possibly the easiest - it's "unnatural", so it's Muto Corpus. Level 3 Guideline is inadequate, because 4 arms is not "human in form", but it should, imo, be easier than becoming a land animal, Level 10 - so Level 4 or 5 seem the best bet, your call (and keep reading.)

For game balance, you don't want this spell to be the ultimate combat spell. If you start at the higher of the two, Level 5, then for Level 10 it's Personal Diameter - perfect for the average combat. You don't want a Level 10 spell to be a "Now-I-blenderize-everything-in-sight" effect - what mage would NOT have that at Touch, for Level 15, and cast it on every grog they have?!

A Level 30 effect is, typically, a "Now you just die!" sort of spell, if that's any yardstick that's handy. So what's to stop this from being that?1) Coordination. Having 4 arms doesn't mean the still-normal human mind knows what to do with them. I'm not ambidextrous, and only average coordinated - I would have a problem attacking with two weapons. Imagine not being quadri-dextrous! 3 of those 4 weapons are just going to hang there in his hands, with an equally unnatural Mentem boost.

  1. Botches. To me, it sounds like Blendo the warrior mage might find that when things go wrong, they go VERY wrong. :wink:

  2. Skill. "Two weapon" fighting is not supported in the core rules. But if it were included, then there is 3 and 4 weapon skill. (And good luck finding a teacher.)

  3. Law of diminishing returns. 2 weapons do not do ~twice~ as much as 1 would. Better? Yes! Twice as good? Not a chance. Four vs two? Even less improvement.

  4. Clothing. Um... yeah. Two extra arms tucked inside your tunic or robes is not impressive.Looking at the combat charts, I'd add a few points to each category, maybe, and call it good. No more damage, certainly. Probably more defense than offense, as extra offense translates to extra damage. In fact, I'd LOWER the damage and raise the offense an equal amount, meaning that he'd hit more often but do exactly the same damage as otherwise.

For some tasks, it would definitely be superior - grappling/wrestling would give an advantage - again, only ~if~ the target knew how to wrestle! Otherwise, a skilled opponent just has twice the targets for an arm lock. :wink:

And climbing would be easier, and some other tasks.

You might want to talk to your Troupe about this - if they want to go big and crazy, then make it easier - if this feels a bit "over the top", then make it a little harder and less appealing - but remind them that it's going to happen, so the question is just how hard it is and how effective it will be. And if you don't want to shut the player down flat, then you have to let him nurture his goal, let him define his own fun in the stories - if he wants to slaughter diabolists and be waist-deep in blood, what's a few more NPC's in each encounter to you? You have more where they came from.

But a Level 10 or 15 effect doesn't have to be the "Mother of All Combat Styles" that some would imagine it to be.

I would make him add on a Rego requisite. The point about how does the player move those arms once he gets them is a valid one.

He can move them the same way a target can move a lost arm regrown by CrCo - my point was effective coordination, not a lack of any motorskills at all.

We've all seen something like the Seven Voyages of Sinbad, where the 4 (or 6?) armed statue revs up and tries to slice-n'-dice our heroes - this spell should not have that end result. They would be like 2 additional awkward left hands, not lifeless tubes of flesh and bone.

MuCo that grows wings does not need Rego - this would not either. It changes the body, and they're now a functioning part of that body, just not a natural or very familiar part. Not natural like one's good right hand has been all their life.

My personal recommendation would be to require the character to learn a new ability "Four-Arm Fighting".

This sounds just about right to me.

Could possibly give a small bonus to labwork(or any other craft where an extra hand comes in handy), AND 1-3 extra botch dice, because i would expect any 4-armed person used to having 2 having a very easy time forgetting what he´s doing with one or two arms.

Yeah base 4 or 5, id guess 4 is "closest"...

This spell wont even come close to that... You´re being overly "-anti"/negative.

Reduce damage slightly, add some defense, add some offense(more than damage reduction certainly but not a lot more) AND then add botch dice, because yeah its really not going to be an easy thing for any person to handle 2 extra arms.
Maybe add as much as 5-Dexterity botch dice or perhaps even 10-(Dex+Ability 4-Weapon Fighting) or something like that.
Try using that on your average grog and you soon have a picnic consisting of sliced up grogs!

From personal experience i know very well that handling just 2 weapons is hard enough, and a perfect setup for accidental "ouch!"-ies. Well trained(like with say a separate ability made up specially for it) multiple weapons ARE superior however.
So if lets say for theory you reduce damage by 4, maybe up defense and offense by 3-6 and 5-8 respectively.
Or for a very simple version, add 1 each def/off for each extra weapon that isnt used untrained.

No, I'm speaking from my experience.

5th ed does not address 2-weapon fighting - not one way, not the other. Some games allow 2 attacks for a 2-weapon form (which goes against how most interpret 5th ed combat). If the player thought their character was going to get 4 standard attacks, or 4 attacks at a bonus because of the "advantage" of having 4 arms, then this spell would be exactly like that.

I'm projecting a concept to its extreme interpretation because that is exactly what many players do, or expect to be able to do. If you've never experienced that, you have a superior track record with the players you've had. :wink:

(Also, note that in 5th, a bonus to offense equates to an identical bonus to damage, PLUS the obvious additional chance to hit more difficult targets. The amount you succeed by is added to damage. Add +3 to offense, then if that hits by any significant amount (and it will more often) that's +3 more to damage.

Adding to offense and not reducing damage at least as much makes the extra swords not only more accurate but individually more lethal - which makes no sense to me. ymmv.)

If we find something to have been badly ruled previously, we usually change it while playing or add some kind of "explanation" or balance for it "on the fly".
Usually works.

Eh, yes? I know.

Individually more lethal? In case you missed it im specifically NOT talking about adding extra attacks for each extra weapon!!!
The modifier is for the character´s overall combat values still attacking like normal.

And chopping at someone with 4 weapons instead of 1 certainly gives LOTS of chance to cause more damage than with 1 weapon, even if each weapon is far less well-handled.

I would add nothing to the attack because while you have more weapons, they are all coming from same direction and more likely to get in the way of each other.

I would add a limited defense if using weapons since you can parry more directions and turning your body doesn't expose an undefended flank as much. I would add slightly more defense if two shields are held (since there is a shield on either side of the body, defense is stronger.

and then because it is so much more likely to interfere with yourself for the extra limbs, I would add botch dice.

Basically, I think I would judge: +1 defense to weapon defenses if weapons are in off hand. +2 - +3 to shield defenses if there is second shield. +3 botch dice

Though in RoP: D I did provide stats for Mamluks who had been specifically trained to fight with two-swords at once (see page 119). I basically gave a slight advantage for coming at your opponent with two swords rather than one, but I also required extra Strength too. The Mamluks were actually trained in this technique.

In this situation I would certainly require the character to get used to having two extra limbs through dedicated practice, maybe requiring the character to gain a number of temporary seasonal experience points up to their current Single Weapon Ability, at which point these would disappear and they could revert use their Single Weapon Ability thereafter. In the meantime, I'd create a "four swords" weapon profile, though exactly what this would be I'd have to consider for a bit...

I think that I would just rule that the spell gives +3 to circumstances where multiple arms are useful --- which would probably include combat, climbing, etc. I don't think that there is any need for any rules more complicated than that.

There is something to be said for brute simplicity.

It's interesting how many different views people have of the (dis)advantages of 4 arms. Some seem to think it's all good, some that it would be a disaster without practice. Since no one has ever had 4 arms (well, none of us anyway), it's all just so many rabbits pulled out of hats (or other orifices.)

Which gets us back to the other considerations - game balance, and Troupe preference. Take a look at other Level 15 combat spells, and try to make it be "about the same". Ask your Troupe what they want - but remind them that others can use similar effect on them too (that's usually a sobering comment, depending on the StoryGuide's reputation and poker face.) :wink:

True. On the other hand, it is clearly possible to operate in a co-ordinated fashion with 6 limbs. Insects have 6 limbs as do some Mythical creatures (say a Pegasus).

If we were playing Cyberpunk, and someone received two extra cybernetic limbs, then sure it would be reasonable to suppose that they would need some time to get used to their limbs --- and we'd need to test for cyberpsychosis too. However, that is technology. In ArM5 we are dealing with magic. I see no reason why a magic spell to give someone 2 extra arms should not be a magic spell that gives someone 2 extra functioning arms.

Yep. That's why I think a +3 bonus is reasonable. That's what Intuition of the Forest (InHe 10) gives you. And a +3 bonus is what someone would get by using a Confidence Point. So it's sort of equivalent to other bonuses.

InHe15 gives you a +9 Defensive bonus (Shriek of the Wooden Shafts), and I use a similar spell against metal weapons (InTe15 Howl of the Steel Weapons).

So, level 15 to give you a +3 Atk/+3 Def seems quite reasonable and balanced to me. Not to mention the drawbacks of the bizzare appearance. The two aformentioned Intellego spells can be used without causing fear and panic amongst mundanes. Four arms would certainly draw some unwanted attention.

I would also go for the +3 to combat totals. And add an extra botch die just for the fact that it is odd to work around with 4 arms when most of the time you operate with just 2. Remember to have specially crafted armor!

This will only matter against supernatural creatures most of the time since mundanes that see a 4-armed dude yelling at them like a crazed berserker are more than likely to flee in terror. The next human settlement you come across will be quite hostile for sure and you are likely to face a few knights hunting "the monster" down the road, so be careful with such obvious displays of weirdness. IMO the human reaction to those changes is MUCH stronger than to a few spectacular fireballs. At least IMS :slight_smile:


An extra botch die is a good idea. That nicely captures any oddity about multiple arms without resorting to faffing about with temporary experience points or similar madness.


Seems to me the player in question might be better served by inventing a muto corpus spell that benefits his soak total instead. If he/she continues to utilize that spell then that character would most often be singled out in small engagements to be the target of a larger portion of the opposition.

On a personal note, from 25 years of martial arts experience I can tell you I wouldn't personally want an extra set of arms. Fighting with two weapons requires extensive training and the weapon size of each weapon should be balanced against the reach and strength of the weilder with the other weapon in mind as well. Adding an additional pair of arms cuts into that equation, furthermore, another pair of arms throws the body's balance decidedly off, making the body much more top heavy. Admittedly, grappling would be something a four-armed opponent would have an advantage with. Though if this person is trying to use weapons or even bare hands he would be well advised to remember that each additional arm is also an additional target his opponent/enemy can exploit.

And, as said above, clothing and armor become problematic.

From what I've seen in the rules for 5th, which admittedly I've not had long, it would seem more effective to use a combination of muto corpus spells for gaining soak total bonuses, and perhaps increasing size to raise the wound increment.

just my ideas :slight_smile:

Angado, wizard of Cymril of the Seven Kingdoms

Thanks to all! I'd never think that all this good people give some advice on my question.Now I "digest" this info and have a talk with my giant autotrasformist player.!