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 Post subject: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:04 pm 
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Let's talk about bastard swords.

In AD&D 1e, the bastard sword can be used one-handed or two-handed. If used one-handed, it's basically a longsword, doing 1d8/1d12 damage. If wielded two-handed, it does 2d4/2d8. For comparison, a true two-handed sword (which is much heavier) does 1d10/3d6.

Used against opponents of size S or M, the bastard sword does higher minimum damage compared to the longsword (2 vs. 1) and slightly higher expected damage (5 vs. 4.5). But it also has a probability curve that's weighted toward that average: a longsword has a 1/8 chance of doing 8 pts damage; the bastard sword has a 1/16 chance of doing 8 damage.

The bastard sword has a clear advantage against size L opponents. But because Basic-like systems such as LL don't use the SM/L damage distinctions, the advantage vs. big opponents vanishes in those systems.

So I'm curious whether anyone actually prefers bastard sword. Does anyone use bastard swords two-handed? How often do people actually use them to switch from one-handed plus shield to two-handed without shield?


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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:35 pm 
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Zhym wrote:
So I'm curious whether anyone actually prefers bastard sword. Does anyone use bastard swords two-handed? How often do people actually use them to switch from one-handed plus shield to two-handed without shield?
I have always really liked bastard swords for their versatility, and think it's an intriguing (and underused) weapon.

It's just my opinion, but I am of the belief that story potential outweighs actual damage potential pretty much every time.

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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:56 pm 
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I've never noticed anyone choosing to use a bastard sword when playing D&D, it's either a sword or a great sword. However, I also noticed that back when I fought in the SCA a lot, the fighters there greatly preferred bastard swords over great swords. So there must be some use for them, and it would be nice to have D&D reflect that.

For one, the size is an issue. Very few D&D games ever get strict about how much space it takes to use a weapon effectively, but I can see that in most dungeon environments a great sword could only be used if the fighter is standing by himself, as the only person in the front rank. A bastard sword, wielded two-handed, could at least allow one other person up there with him. Also, if you are wielding a great sword, the only place to sheath it is across the back—but to do that you can't be wearing a backpack, so if you are loaded up at all then you'll just have to hold the great sword the whole time. This means you'll have to set it down to climb places, for example.


Last edited by Starbeard on Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:06 pm 
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That's a good point. Hardly anyone uses the weapon speed, space required, or to-hit vs. AC adjustments, but they could make a big difference in weapon choice if used.


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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:17 pm 
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I've always thought it would be fun to try taking a crack at playing AD&D with all the added weapon crunch nobody uses, just to see how it changes play regarding tactics and weapon choice.

So the PHB gives these stats for swords:

Code:
TYPE              WEIGHT DAMAGE (S/L)  SPACE  SPEED
Sword, Short        35     1-6 / 1-8     1'     3
Sword, Long         60     1-8 / 1-12    3'     5
Sword, Broad        75     2-8 / 2-7     4'     5
Sword, Bastard     100     2-8 / 2-16    4'+    6
Sword, Two-handed  250    1-10 / 3-18    6'     10

Code:
TYPE           AC  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
Sword, Short      -3 -2 -1  0  0  0 +1  0 +2
Sword, Long       -2 -1  0  0  0  0  0 +1 +2
Sword, Broad      -3 -2 -1  0  0 +1 +1 +1 +2
Sword, Bastard     0  0 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1  0
Sword, Two-handed +2 +2 +2 +2 +3 +3 +3 +1  0

Two-handers give better damage and better hit factors almost across the board, so if that's all you care about, then the only reason to use a bastard sword would be if you know ahead of time that your opponents will be unarmoured with a few wearing leather.

It is much slower, though. About 86% of all weapons in the PHB will strike before a two-handed sword when tied for initiative, and 27% of them will get multiple attacks in after closing—whereas the bastard sword loses 27% of the time, and 9% of other weapons will get multiple attacks in. In fact, the two-hander is so slow, the awl pike is the only weapon in the list slower than it, but it has a much longer reach so it'll get the initial attack anyway—in fact, every other Speed 10 weapon has a longer reach and takes up less space to use.

The two-hander is longer though (6' vs 4 1/2'), which helps with winning initiative when closing to combat. In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed the first strike against all but spears & pole arms in the opening charge. The two-handed sword is also much heavier, taking up over 71% of an average character's unencumbered weight allowance. A bastard sword will only take up 29% of unencumbered weight allowance.

The two-handed sword uses up the largest possible space required (6'), which takes up 60% of the front rank in a standard 10' corridor. A bastard sword takes up 4', so you can squeeze two of those in and still have 2' left over for people to shoot down the sides or fill in the gaps with smaller weapons. SIDE NOTE: Now I'm probably interpreting this all wrong, but it seems like the space rules would actually allow TEN GUYS with short swords to line up in a dungeon corridor, like a Roman shield wall. Not all of them could attack the same opponent (they only have a reach of c. 2', and anyway small creatures can only get ganged up on by 6 at a time), but that's a lot of pokey power to distribute around, especially when you add in 10 more people with pole arms in the second rank.

So in all, it seems like a choice between initial charge damage output vs greater mobility and more protection, but whether these mechanically balance out I wouldn't know without playing with these rules a lot.


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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:28 pm 
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Interesting analysis. I don't think you could get that many short swords next to each other in a hallway, though. You still have to have room for the people wielding them, and they will usually take up more than 1' each.

You mention quicker weapons getting more attacks in. I hadn't even realized that until yesterday. Here's the DMG text:

DMG p. 66 wrote:
Simultaneous Initiative: When opponents in melee have tied for initiative, blows (attack routines included) occur simultaneously, except when both opponents are using weapons. Each weapon has a speed factor, and in the case of otherwise simultaneous blows, the opponent with the weapon which has the lower speed factor will strike first. Thus, a blow from a fist occurs before a blow with a dagger (1 to 2), a dagger before a short sword (2to 3), a short sword prior to a hammer (3 to 4), and so on.

Weapon Speed Factor: This number is indicative of the wieldiness of any particular weapon, how long it takes to ready the weapon against an opponent, or how long it takes to recover and move it in its attack mode. A pike, for example, is a 13, as it must be lowered, grasped, and then held/thrust firmly. Such a weapon is not usable in dungeon settings, or anywhere else without masses of other pikes to support it. In the latter case, an opponent surviving the first attack from the bearer of the pike will likely be able to strike several times before recovery of the pike for a second thrust. This is further detailed below. A two-handed sword, with a 10 speed factor, likewise requires o lengthy readying time and recovery period after its attack due to its size and weight.

When weapon speed factor is the determinant of which opponent strikes first in a melee round, there is a chance that one opponent will be entitled to multiple attacks. Compare the score of the lower-factored weapon with that of the higher. If the difference is at least twice the factor of the lower, or 5 or more factors in any case, the opponent with the lower factored weapon is entitled to 2 attacks before the opponent with the higher weapon factor is entitled to any attack whatsoever. If the difference is 10 or greater, the opponent with the lower-factored weapon is entitled to 2 attacks before the opponent is allowed to attack, and 1 further attack at the same time the opponent with the higher-speed-factored weapon finally is allowed to attack. Note that such speed factor considerations are not applicable when either closing or charging to melee, but after on initial round of combat, or in cases where closing/charging was not necessary, the speed factor considerations are applicable.

I don't know if I've ever seen someone play with that rule.

And note what that says about pikes: they aren't even usable in dungeons!


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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:37 pm 
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Good point about pikes! And the DMG also adds, "or anywhere else without masses of other pikes to support it." Even where a single character has the space to use a pike, its 13 speed factor means that after the first round closing to melee, most other weapons will get an extra attack in every round before the pike can attack. Short swords would even get two extra attacks!

I think you're right about figuring the space required to use a weapon. Personally I think the D&D games are a little too conservative in how many combatants you can squeeze into a space, but I've never decided where to draw the line. It looks like this Roman formation is comfortably close together, maybe taking up 2' per person. But then these SCA fighters are literally formed up in a 10' corridor and they've squeezed in 7 guys, and could maybe get 8 if they put their minds to it. But 8 guys in a 10' corridor seems excessive from a gameplay perspective.





The key thing is to use thrusting weapons, I guess. Shortswords, spears and polearms are meant to stab and/or swing downward, so you can squeeze in real tight without reducing combat performance. Big bastard swords and bludgeon types require torque, so formations have to spread out to allow you to pivot the hips and snap the weapon without getting in each other's way.

I might simply say that all weapons take a minimum of 2', so that in a corridor you can have combinations like this:

5 shortswords/spears
3 longswords
2 bastard swords & 1 shortsword
1 two-handed sword & 2 shortswords/spears
1 two-handed sword & 1 bastard sword

Anything longer than 8' is simply too big to use inside unless the rooms are unusually spacious and high-ceilinged.


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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:51 pm 
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Have any of you played Hackmaster? Reach and weapon speed are integral to combat. Reach determines who will attack first when closing, and weapon speed will determine on what count you will be able to attack next. As the GM counts up, each second of combat has things happening. Characters can move each second, not waiting until their initiative count each round and moving all at once. In fact, rounds don't exist. As a rogue stepping in to attack someone wielding a two-handed sword who is already in combat with someone else, I would not need to worry about reach. Otherwise, the longer weapon would attack first. As the aforementioned rogue, wielding a dagger, I would be able to attack every 5 counts, whereas the two-handed sword has a speed of 16, thereby enabling me to attack three times before the two-handed sword attacks once. Granted, the bigger weapon does a lot more damage, although it is mostly mitigated by the number of attacks the dagger would get. And, actually, with the penetration rules in Hackmaster, the dagger has a much higher chance (1 in 4) of doing additional damage than does the two-handed sword (1 in 12), and is far more likely to continue penetrating, thereby actually allowing the dagger wielder to do more damage overall than the two-handed sword, assuming strength bonuses are equal and attack bonuses confer the same odds of hitting. Combat is very crunchy in Hackmaster, and I don't know if I would be interested in playing on a regular basis, but I definitely enjoy playing a session or two at conventions.

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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:23 pm 
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That sounds very cool. Is that the original Hackmaster or the new system? I've never played or read either but would be very interested in both.

So does each of these counts basically correspond to an AD&D segment? Like, a character with a 12" move rate could move 12' per count?


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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:53 pm 
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Starbeard wrote:
That sounds very cool. Is that the original Hackmaster or the new system? I've never played or read either but would be very interested in both.


New system.

Quote:
So does each of these counts basically correspond to an AD&D segment? Like, a character with a 12" move rate could move 12' per count?


Humans, elves, M and L creatures walk 5 ft. per second. Dwarves, Halflings, S and T creatures half that. You can either start moving at a walk or a jog, which would make your movement 10 (or 5), then move on to a run (15/ 7.5) or sprint (20/ 10). It is interesting in that you can't stop "on a dime" as it were, but requires 10 feet of movement, which is actually pretty realistic. If you want to slow down but keep moving, that is obviously allowed as well.

I bought the Player's Handbook after playing a bit, because I really liked the system, but since I play at conventions, with characters that have all the details filled out and people to help with the rules, this is actually the first time I have ever used the book for anything. I really should get around to reading some of my gamebooks sometime.

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 Post subject: Re: Bastard swords
PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:26 am 
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Not bad, I like it. It's essentially the same idea as 'impulse' movement from air & space wargames, like Star Fleet Battles, but for character combat. Nice.

That HM initiative system could be put into AD&D really easily. The movement rates already include feet per segment. Spells already have a casting time in segments. Surprise is already figured in segments. Weapons already have a speed factor from 1 to 13, which can be interpreted as segments. Just get rid of the round structure, count upward by segments and you're good to go. That would make the difference between a two-handed sword and a bastard sword very apparent.


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