One of my players brought up an interesting point in the combat rules, and I answered that it would surely be straightened out with the release of Lords of Men. The point was the use of lances and long spears in Ars Magica. The player asked me why a knight on horseback, armed as he is with long sword, heater shield and lance, would even bother to use his lance in even a mounted charge. The long sword is better, and the lance gives him no advantages, despite it being made for mounted attacks.
Same with the long spear. These give no advantage against a person wielding a much shorter weapon.
How about giving a lance +3 to attack in mounted charges and long spears +3 to attack when interupting a charge? Or something like that? Any thoughts?
I think it is not canonical at all, but IMS it allows you to get the exertion bonus WITHOUT exerting yourself. If you charge, that is. Also add the strength of the horse to the damage total. Makes for quite A LOT of damage on the charge. Enough to wound a big angry magical creature, as it should be.
If you are an INFANTRYMAN and you have a long spear and you are charged by cavalry, add the damage of the charging horse to your damage against the horse or rider, and you also get the exertion bonus without exerting yourself.
Solves quite nicely why the hell people would be using those useless (as written) weapons in Ars.
Spears and lances have a better Init modifier with respect to swords. They enable you to go first, exert on Attack, and wound your opponent in the first round. In my experience the first wound usually decides the outcome of the fight. So I guess I don't agree that lances and spears give no advantage -- I think you're under-rating the value of the Init modifier.
The long sword has the same initiative when compared to a lance, actually, and a mounted knight usually carry both weapons. Why would he use his lance?
I would suggest something along these lines:
Lance: When using this weapon in a mounted charge, use the Strength of the horse instead of the Strength of the rider when calculating the Damage Total. In addition, if the optional rule for Evasion is used, the target can only use his Evasion Total to defend himself, not his Defense Total.
Long Spear: When using this weapon to interrupt a charging attacker, a character who is wielding a long spear has a +3 bonus to his Action Priority Total.
You could even give the lance a +3 on the Action Priority Total too. So, lance vs regular infantry, the lance attacks first most of the time. Thus, a long spear neutralizes the advantage of the lance. And finally, long spear vs charging attackers without lances, the long spear would have the advantage.
Couldn't something like this be written into the pdf with the weapons and armor from the web site?
I don't think that is a good idea, as much as I like your rule. It has not been through the playtest process. I can't speak officially here because I'm not the publisher or editor, but in general "official" Ars Magica material has to go through a series of checks before it gets printed. Even with those checks errors and omissions sometimes get through (as I am painfully aware).
HOWEVER -- this is a great time for me to plug the HermesWeb project, currently at hermesweb.ekkaia.org. That is a big fan-created Wiki collecting all kinds of information about Ars Magica. House rules like your idea for lances and spears are exactly the kind of thing we want to post there. I'm busy this week but next week if you want I can help you post your house rule there.
Yes, that's a good idea. I have a few more thoughts on house rules that are easily compatible with the official rules. But lances and spears are important to get right, I think, as they're such an important part medieval combat.
Very important, there´s good reason spears and later pikes became the basis of warfare for a very long time.
And at least spears pretty much managed this on 4 continents. Inferior or even equal weapons doesnt lead to similar developments in several separate instances.
Yeah, thats not too far from how we have played it the few times its come up.
One addition you missed though is that whenever several or many spearmen work properly as a coherent unit, they should get a an additional, quite hefty bonus one way or another.