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Sturgeon

Swords And Their Historical Context

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It's like saying animals can be broken down into mammals, reptiles, etc. They're more similar than not when it comes to the business end of things, but how they get there is not necessarily that similar.

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Doesn't this operate under the assumption that each weapon has "attacks" you can make with it, remaining totally irrespective of how each weapon was actually used?

 

Again, by analogy, you could just distill modern arms this way, but you'd miss the differences in how precision rifles, DMRs, infantry rifles, automatic rifles, and machine guns are used, distilling it down to "oh, the MG just does 1d6 damage at 875 rounds per minute with a 200 round belt."

 

In determining mortality effects of weapons from forensic evidence the difference between an automatic rifle and an infantry rifle is nonexistence.  The soft tissue damage caused by each weapon is similar enough that even a forensic investigator cannot determine which weapon originated the shot.

 

 Interestingly enough current emergency room procedure also fails to differentiate between a machine gun and a single shot in admissions - both get GSW charted as if both weapons were the same, because in effect they are in terms of the damage they caused.  P type injury incurs one type of response, B type another.  

 

When studying a medieval burial pit I have limited evidence to follow, but the wounds will all be of four types for death in battle - for those that can be determined at all.  

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In determining mortality effects of weapons from forensic evidence the difference between an automatic rifle and an infantry rifle is nonexistence.  The soft tissue damage caused by each weapon is similar enough that even a forensic investigator cannot determine which weapon originated the shot.

 

 Interestingly enough current emergency room procedure also fails to differentiate between a machine gun and a single shot in admissions - both get GSW charted as if both weapons were the same, because in effect they are in terms of the damage they caused.  P type injury incurs one type of response, B type another.  

 

When studying a medieval burial pit I have limited evidence to follow, but the wounds will all be of four types for death in battle - for those that can be determined at all.  

 

But you're not simulating CSI: Florence, you're trying to simulate combat.

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This is all taken from the book I am writing on infantry weapons, but the ancient tool kit developed four weapon styles: bludgeoning, cleaving, slashing, and piercing.  Bludgeoning is the oldest human weapon style and likely predates the stone age.  

 

B A bludgeon attack is deadly when directed against the head or neck, and is capable of disarming or rendering silent an enemy through painful strikes to the extremity.  Bludgeons are generally heavy and require strength to employ.  The earliest B weapons are made from tools used to separate grain from chaff.

 

C Cleaving weapons are bludgeons that have a reduced edge, for example axes and glaives.  Cleaving weapons are best used as jointers - targeting the joints of an enemy they cause dislocations, those dislocation can be fatal if carried through with a will.  The earliest C weapons are made from devices used to fell trees and clear plant matter.

 

S Slashing weapons were developed by sharpening cleaving weapons.  The S class of weapon solves a problem created by B and C class weapons in that its damaging attacks create a cumulative or whole body injury that today we call shock.  When a B or C class attack fails to carry through, the force is usually expended against resilient muscle and body structure.  A human can literally be beaten black and blue and have little long term issue as long as the attacks do not rupture a small number of protect internal organs, or cause a concussion.  Slashing weapons open the human tissue and even in small cuts lead to blood pressure loss and effort of the body to control the loss of blood volume.    A cut, followed by another, followed by a third is cumulative in its effect.  Knives used to dress leather are the first major slashing devices, based on the ability of some stone when snapped to form a sharp edge.

 

(P) Piercing weapons were developed hunting weapons like the spear, and are the deadliest weapons, but often the hardest to employ and manufacture.  Where a slashing weapon relies on blood loss from arterial destruction, piercing weapons rely on organ destruction and are the only weapon designed to pierce deep into the human body.  

 

(D) not an offensive category but a defensive category, some weapons have defensive design elements, such as the glaive whose length is a defensive feature.

 

The sword gained a following in Greek times because of versatility.  A properly designed sword was capable of being used in all four fighting modes listed above, plus has defensive value. In addition swords, along with knives, were natural side arms.  This means a weapon that can be carried around while camp duties are carried out. 

 

Wouldn't it be just as viable under this system to separate weapons by cause of injury/death?

 

~

 

E = exsanguination (death by blood loss). This is the major effect of all edged weapons, including arrows and spears. Swords, spears and arrows are 70% E weapons. NOTE: a major immediate cause all fatalities in battle.

 

BA = breakage/amputation. This is the loss of limb and torso function due to broken or parted bone and tissue. Swords are about 10% BA weapons, with clubs and the like being about 45% NOTE: not a direct cause of death in most cases, but a major cause of casualties.

 

N = neurological damage. This is the disruption of brain and nerve tissue sufficient to disrupt function. Swords are about 10% N weapons, with clubs and like being about 45%

 

O = organ damage. This is non-specific damage to deep thoracic and abdominal organs. Swords are about 10% O weapons, with spears and arrows being 30%. NOTE: a major cause of overall fatalities in battle and afterwards.

 

S = Sepsis. Post-battle sepsis is a major cause of fatalities in campaigns, and (obviously) co-localises with all of the above effects.

 

~

 

This classification scheme puts swords, spears and arrows into the same broad family; with clubs and axes in their own separate group.

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Yes - it would work.  The main reasons I use the system I do is that 1) it neatly connects with major classes of pre-historical weapons, and 2) it is impossible to translate the system you describe directly from pre 1800 data and anthropological data, 3) exsanguination is a two category effect model - shock and system collapse, and the system described is useful for force models regarding armor - allowing protection to be included.  

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I sort of don't see the rationale for categorising weapons by class first and then building a wounds/fatalities model around that (seems like circular reasoning); but if it works for you then that's fine.

 

Armour penetration, sadly, isn't reducible to a force model. Hard and soft armour also have different defeat mechanisms, and different constructions (plate vs. a jack of plate) will have major effects on what works and what doesn't.

 

Finally; what issues might there be with sample skewing? I mean, all your data is coming from people who didn't make it off the battlefield, which discounts the majority of folk who died of sepsis or whatever after the fact. Worse, a large number of your dead are going to be in the form of prisoners/wounded who got executed and tossed in the pile with the rest of the corpses by the winners. Finally, your recovered artefacts are going to be extremely skewed towards whatever wasn't worth enough for scavengers to take.

 

I'm sure you are well aware of all of this already. But I am interested in how you account for it and limit the damage.

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This leads to the very weird place where swords, axes and clubs fall under the same skill set while bows, crossbows and slings each occupy their own :P .

 

Or do you mean 'how they are used' in terms of range, or position in the line of battle or something?

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I would instead classify weapons according to how they are used, and I would make the damage model reflect that. I think that is the best way to reduce workload for the player and GM.

Obviously throwing 1d6 damage for a pistol and 2d6 for a submachine gun is easier, but I did not start out using this data set for games, it was used for games only after it was used by me for writing a pair of historical papers.  

 

Achieving a spacial intersect with a bullet is a different issue by and large than the effect of the bullet when it achieves that intersect.  When I stated my models I was not seeking a means of making a game system, but was determining how much danger I was personally in when presented with different tactical situations when I was myself the possible target of various weapons.  There was simply no need for me to simplify at this point.

 

When I created my game and expanded my research I did not need to simplify the system until I was ready to create my model. 

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This leads to the very weird place where swords, axes and clubs fall under the same skill set while bows, crossbows and slings each occupy their own :P .

 

Or do you mean 'how they are used' in terms of range, or position in the line of battle or something?

 

I was thinking in terms of more differentiation, probably involving breaking up the effects of a given strike and what bonuses a weapon would give to that strike. For example, you could perform a mortschlag with anything, a longsword (as it was intended), a messer, a pole, or even your fists. Fundamentally, the mortschlag is the same, but it would be more effective to perform one with a longsword than with a messer, and of course than with a pole or bunched fists. So the stroke itself has some data, but then the weapons modify it. For individual, hand-to-hand combat, these rules give a lot of flexibility in storytelling without requiring repetitive lists of possible attacks or requiring a lot of looking up if something interesting happens. The GM simply notes what sort of attack is happening, and then modifies it according to the weapon used.

 

This is decidedly superior to the system of 1d6 universal attack for a given weapon, a la D&D, because with that, each fighter is reduced to a blob spitting out damage. This isn't how actual fighting works, and is only suitable for large-scale wargaming, not RPing. With this system, instead, the player gets to say what they want to do, to fire off and be responded to (oh, you'll need a much better initiative system, BTW) in ways that actually simulate real melee.

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Obviously it's not my baby but I always prefer a system that is fairly simple and intuitive to use for the notional battles fought. I've been in too many games where some autist is stubbornly folding his arms while we spend an hour going through the special results tables and erratta because he won/lost a meaningless (or important) skirmish. This is on top of playing with guys who are inveterate min-maxers and will literally try to compute every single result that could arise for their round.

 

I'm more of the speed chess guy who prefers a quick and fun game and for you to hurry up with your god damn turn. And don't spend all the time yakking and not paying attention to the game. Yes I just dumped an entire amphibious army on your coast. Yes, it is threatening your capital and you have no units around to do anything about it. If you were paying attention you'd have noticed. NOW GO!

 

As for the RPG. Combat is great and coming up with a cunning strategy to beat an opponent is neat. By I always kinda dug the role-playing aspects and seeing how the story progressed more than the orc stomping. 

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The main issue here is the continuum of detail.  No matter where a design puts the peg, they will be derided.

 

The simplest system I ever designed had each soldier with 3 numbers - an attack, defense, and damage score using d12.  The attack score determines how many dice you throw to determine a success, the second score indicates what number is needed to result in damage, and the third number is the amount of damage you can sustain before you are out of battle.  So a great warrior (6-11-55) faces 10 Kobolds (1-1-4) is assured to kill 1 per round - he cannot miss, while each kobold has only 1/6 chance of hitting the warrior each round.  Special abilities, such as the ability to target two creatures at the same time, more than one attack per round, or attacks that can nullify the attacks of the enemy ad a layer of complexity, but the system is so simply anyone can learn it in a few hours.  Despite its simplicity this system always play tests out the best and gets highest ratings from players.  More complexity is added in terms of modules.

 

On the far extreme is Arms Law which purports to be one of the most accurate in the business.  It is not all that accurate, but it is complicated and presents literally tens of thousands of options for players to contemplate.  

 

When I design a new game I always use my generic system first, then replace it with the new system.  However it is funny that once released no matter what system I use it will generate controversy.

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If I'm recalling our early comments, I think the great complaint was the use of hit points and the issue that any weapon was just a generic damage dealer. Now this was often modified with games where certain types of armor or certain villains would negate different weapons and their attack values (slashing, bludgeoning, piercing, etc). Your spear or arrow is going to do much less piercing damage versus that undead skeleton whereas your warhammer will smash them up nicely. As for hit points, we've all been in games where our character is chugging away with 2 hit points left out of 40 and he's still rolling his full attack bonuses regardless of the fact that he is chopped up like Monty Python's Black Knight. Your opponent is a block of ice. You chip away at it until he is gone and the determining factor is how hard the ice is and how big the chunk is and how pointy your ice pick is.

 

(Ice axe gets a special damage role against Leon Trotskys).

 

Whereas in "real life" if you get whacked by a tomahawk and it pierces your armor and cleaves flesh, you will generally be incapacitated, even temporarily. It's an all or nothing approach where an attack will have a lot more blows delivered (or simply one that gets through) which would place more emphasis on the type and direction of the attack.

 

 

I'm "old" and am used to the previous game system and never have had any real problem with DnD or any similar game designs. However, our young guys are eager for a new and realistic approach. Which is also cool just so long as it doesn't turn into an exercise in data collating.

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The main issue faced by game designers is the suspension of disbelief versus playability.  It is easier to play a "realistic" game for a player because art imitates life.  However then you run into the issue that reality for most people is informed by improbable Hollywood epics.  Then you run into the conundrum of the mean versus the outlier - Sergeant York for example performed an impossible task - no system can easily simulate that effort.

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Well, that's the trick, and it's the reason why I suggest a system that does not require the GM to memorize a table, but also offers more depth than the simple dice game D&D throws at you that makes fighters so unappealing to play.

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Well, that's the trick, and it's the reason why I suggest a system that does not require the GM to memorize a table, but also offers more depth than the simple dice game D&D throws at you that makes fighters so unappealing to play.

It's got a huge amount of complexity and very little choice for melee fighters. Compare to Virdea's system, which has a resolution mechanic stripped to the bare minimum to allow differences between characters. There's three places complexity has the potential to help, and those are verisimilitude, character creation choice, and gameplay choice. There's two places it really hurts that are tied together, those being difficulty of managing in the player's head and pace of play. The connection is obvious, but you can mitigate the latter separately with clever bookkeeping tricks and the former also hurts the player's ability to meaningfully reason about the game. Then there's the other downside, which is that it's really hard to balance choices. Different things affect different classes differently, and that reduces choices to system mastery checks not to be a worse character.

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One thing not often talked about is how swords were prized possessions that often got passed down across generations, especially in the post-Roman, pre-High Medieval periods. One example of this is below:

o1h.jpg

 

The crossguard dates to the early 10th Century (Viking era), while the blade dates from the early 9th Century (Migration Period) at the latest. A very cool crossover of technology.

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I do HEMA, I.33, Talhoffer based competitive steel fighting. I primarily use the Petersen type H broadsword and 32" round shield, but I also fight sword and buckler, one and two handed spear, and Dane axe. My main focus is on the period between the end of 8th through to the mid 11th century and specifically Viking age living history. 

I'm pretty familiar with this period and the fighting styles, what the average guy on the ground used, line tactics, and general period related things. 

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I do HEMA, I.33, Talhoffer based competitive steel fighting. I primarily use the Petersen type H broadsword and 32" round shield, but I also fight sword and buckler, one and two handed spear, and Dane axe. My main focus is on the period between the end of 8th through to the mid 11th century and specifically Viking age living history. 

I'm pretty familiar with this period and the fighting styles, what the average guy on the ground used, line tactics, and general period related things. 

Welcome to SH!

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