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> "Medieval" Shadowrun, Bending the rules to fit the setting
Austere Emancipa...
post Oct 27 2003, 09:48 PM
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Have the specifics of playing a "medieval" fantasy game with Shadowrun rules been discussed on this forum before? I tried searching, but nothing came up.

I've been doing a bit of translation work (from 2060s to fictional 1100s-1400s, mainly in the field of melee combat (attacking/defending, 2 weapons, shield use, interception, reach, damages and armors) and some other generic stuff, like figuring out resources, the balance of awakened vs mundane -- redoing some magic rules, adept powers, spells, etc. (all PCs would most likely be awakened of some type) -- and that's about it.

So what I'm looking for are the stories of others who have attempted this (and hopefully succeeded). What SR things were most problematic to translate to "medieval" fantasy and how did you solve these problems? Any generic advice?

Or even if you've never actually tried making SR work in such a setting, feel free to offer advice or ask questions or rant or something about how it might or might not work.

I'll post the things I've done so far in detail once I get confirmation that this hasn't been discussed to death before.
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Siege
post Oct 27 2003, 09:49 PM
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The number system should transplant nicely -- you might have to drek some numbers for horses, but otherwise...

-Siege
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Austere Emancipa...
post Oct 27 2003, 09:55 PM
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Yeah, got it, this is what university does for you.

Yeah, the system will work fine.

Horses and mounted combat in general is a bit of a bitch, but I got it worked out. Sorta. Ride checks to control the mount in combat, to "Dodge" for the mount (complementary), TN -1 in general for riding (this is something I'm not sure about, could someone who knows more about horseback fighting tell me whether it makes sense), TN +1 (or even with the aforementioned -1) for walking mount (generally horse's Q x 2, or in the whereabouts of 10-15 meters per CT) and TN +2 (TN +1) for a running mount (up to Q x 6 or something, have to do the math).

This post has been edited by Austere Emancipator: Oct 27 2003, 10:04 PM
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Siege
post Oct 27 2003, 09:57 PM
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"Number system" refers to the entire game mechanic system.

Like d20 or d6 or Cyberpunk or anything else.

-Siege
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Hot Wheels
post Oct 27 2003, 10:04 PM
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Snow fox did it very well going back to late 19th century. The biggest problem is cyberware. I think she borrowed heavily from "Harliquin's Back" for that.
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Stonecougar
post Oct 27 2003, 10:14 PM
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Actually, a friend and I play a fantasy version of SR all the time. We simply nixed cyberware, guns, and vehicles, cut the power of awakened characters in half, and tossed in a Ride skill. We also tweaked the armor, mostly just reversing ballistic and impact ratings, and made projectile weapons go off quickness instead of strength... it seemed rather silly that the ubiquitous (at least in fantasy games) crossbow should have its use based off strength. For bows, we took a trip from D&D 3E and made more powerful bows cost more, to take advantage of higher strengths. After all, who needs a ballista when you have a Welsh troll with a Longbow? We fudged a lot of the magic, to make magic items more interesting... after all, SR-style weapon foci get boring when playing a sword-and-sorcery setting. I want a rapier that does lightning damage! Stuff like that. Other than that, the racial stats transferred nicely, and the SR system is beautiful for making up stats for new races... like feline/human hybrids, or demons, or neat stuff like that.
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phelious fogg
post Oct 27 2003, 10:35 PM
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Lightning damage off a weapon focus.. . its called anchoring.. yummy anchoring
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Austere Emancipa...
post Oct 27 2003, 10:37 PM
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I won't do anything resembling cyberware. There might be some things that look a bit like bioware. Or a lot like bioware. But that will definitely not be very common, weird "alien" symbiotes and whatever else.

Is there a description of Snow Fox's campaign, rules and all, somewhere in public?

Since there doesn't appear to be an earlier thread completely along these lines, I might as well post some other stuff I've made so far:

All melee combat skills are pooled for offense and defense, much like Sorcery is for Spellcasting and Spell Defense. CP can be used for either up to the # of skill dice in that pool. Offense works just like attacking works in canon. A char's melee combat skill pools only refresh in the beginning of his/her action. A defense pool die can only be used to defend against one attack before the char's next action.* If a defending character gets net successes, he/she does not automatically counterattack and do damage, unless using a Counterattack maneuver/power/whatever.

Offhand weapons add half the respective skill (e.g. Offhand Longsword, unless ambidextrous in which case just Longsword), rounded up, to be used for off or def pools. THey only add dice to either, an offhand weapon does not increase damage (Longsword 4 + Offhand Dagger 4 just as effective as Longsword 4 + Offhand Longsword 4, unless you lose your main weapon or some other special situation).

A shield is a special type of offhand weapon, which has a defense base TN of 3 and offense base TN of 5 (and generally does fuckall damage). Otherwise it follows all the rules of offhand weapons.

Net reach increases the offense TN of the character with reach disadvantage. (Not any other TNs.) You can attempt to negate reach by going Up Close and Personal. This allows an Intercept to the enemy, but if UCPer gets net successes, reach is negated and both get a flat +1 TN to offense tests. To regain reach, must Break Off Melee.

Breaking Off Melee allows the enemy and Intercept. If tie or BOMer gets net successes, melee breaks up with distance = longer reach +1m.

Amount of Intercepts = 1/Pass + the standard attack (so if you Intercept twice in the first pass, you can no longer do a normal attack in the 1st pass). Full off pool can be used for each Intercept.

All defense dice against an offence (def pool from all weapons, CP for defending with weapons, dodging) must be declared at the same time.

With only 1 one-handed weapon, Dodge TN -1.

For every 3kg or part thereof of armor over Body x 2, +1 to Quickness-related skill tests, Athletics, Unarmed Combat, -1 Quickness for movement, -1 Combat Pool.

Long Reach Weapons: Attacking LRWer with Short Reach Weapon -> Intercept for LRWer. If LRWer gets net successes or even (!= 0 successes), SRWer cannot attack. If no successes for either or SRWer gets net successes, reach bonuses negated and LRWer offense at +1 TN (vs Reach 1+ SRWs) or none at all (vs reach 0 SRWs). LRWer must BOM to regain advantage (as with UCP).**

* Not sure about this. Might also use +1 TN for each attack beyond 1 (or +1 TN/2), but full defense pool dice against each. Or perhaps allow the character to choose between either, +1 TN but full pool vs same TN, divided pool.

** This is just too complicated overall, but it was all I could come up with. Anybody got suggestions for dealing with weapons like pikes?

Then there's rules for grappling and disarming (without any special maneuvers), and weapon and armor lists if anybody's interested or might have suggestions.

PS. Totally agree with Stonecougar on the magic items. Going to make just about every one of them "unique". No anemic Power Foci-6s or Longsword-6s.
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nezumi
post Oct 27 2003, 10:48 PM
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My biggest complaint is that you have to cut cyber and bioware, which means you have to seriously handicap awakened characters or EVERYONE will be magical (which might not be so bad). One thought I had was make something like tattooing or some sort of special weapon focus. It would still boost some stat or do something nifty (perhaps the 'third eye' which gives you -2 to ranged attacks and automatically ejects expended bolts, or 'fourth eye' which also tells you the range to your target), but instead of costing karma, it costs essence (it somehow binds or feeds off your soul). Obviously, it would require renaming and rebuilding all of the gear you want, but at least you wouldn't have to worry about balance so much.

That said, I love these ideas people are throwing out. I was worried I might have to play the Other Game to get some good medieval action.
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ialdabaoth
post Oct 27 2003, 11:21 PM
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First idea: this is a low point in the mana cycle, so require Initiation to get anything done. Make the world a level 8 mana warp, with caerns and ley lines maybe lowering the background count by 2-3 points, and then allow Initiates to learn cleansing and filtering as their first techniques.
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Kurukami
post Oct 28 2003, 12:55 AM
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As others have mentioned, the shield rules definitely need a sharp kick in the head. There are a number of SCA sword-n-boarders in my Shadowrun group (myself amongst them, though I'm far out of practice) and the SR shield rules as written are useless for medieval combat.

My suggestion for them? Use them as "defensive Reach" -- based on the size of the shield, they may only be used to increase the attacker's TN, rather than decrease the defender's (such that a buckler/small shield might grant 1, a heater/round shield 2, and a tower shield 3) -- and give a bit of Impact armor which stacks with existing armor like a helmet (rather than being halved). The maximums for armor ratings before you get penalties to your Quickness-based skills and Combat Pool should definitely still apply, though.
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Austere Emancipa...
post Oct 28 2003, 09:48 AM
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Actually, I did not actually mean to use the official SR timeline medieval times, nor did I mean to use this planet of ours. Using the planet might work, but I wouldn't use the timeline under most circumstances, since that would basically mean a very, very low fantasy game.

I was going to use some fictional world, maybe akin to Forgotten Realms or something. There would be no actual mana cycles, or then they'd be so long that it has been hundreds or, preferably, thousands of years since the last awakening.

Rebuilding all items is not a problem for me in the least. I in fact like rebuilding items. The rules are my major headache. Tattoos rock, I will certainly incorporate some Planescape: Torment -style unique tattoo magic. Thanks for reminding me, Nezumi.

I'm not planning the use the armor rules as they stand, but rather introduce different protection ratings against Piercing, Slashing and Bludgeoning weapons (yeah, I know, it looks very Other Game-ish, but I couldn't help it) to get some variation between the weapons. Otherwise, just about every weapon would be (STR+1)M, with names varying from War Pick, through Footman's Mace to Longsword. Normal armor ratings will range from 1 to 5 (5 being full plate vs slashing and maybe piercing). I'm not very excited by using Shield to give armor, though it certainly is a possibility.

I also hate the idea of limiting armor rating by Quickness. That just plain sucks. If you've got a very light, very protective suit of armor, you shouldn't be as limited as with a heavy, rugged suit of armor. This is why I've got Quickness and CP modifiers by armor weight in the rules above.

Defensive reach is a good idea. Up to 3 might be overdoing it, however. I'd rather just use 1 for just about all shields, with limitations to against how many opponents and what kind of attacks (basically, can it be used effectively against ranged attacks) it can be used based on shield size (again very much like in a certain Other Game). I'll have to check how that will effect game balance. At the moment, fighting with just 1 weapon one handed, with 2 weapons, with a 2-H weapon or with a weapon and a shield are pretty nicely balanced. Using more than 1 defensive reach would give the shield bearers a heck of an advantage, but just +1 might work.

However, with the rules I've got so far, it doesn't make quite as much sense as it makes for most people who'll want to keep SR rules as intact as possible. With the rules I've got, there's that symmetry I like of a shield really just being a "weapon" you wield with your offhand, it is just used a bit differently than most weapons.

I do have a nagging feeling, though, that shield use isn't as much a question of skill as using melee weapons is. Also, the advantages of a low skill in shield use are not very large. In fact, they are nonexistant, since people with a single 1-H weapon are better off. Perhaps, to make the rules I've got so far work, I'd have to give shields additional dice automatically, for defense purposes only. E.g. 1 for bucklers, up to 3 for large shields.
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Stonecougar
post Oct 28 2003, 11:42 AM
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For shields, we just use the Riot shield rules from SR. I like the tattoo magic idea...

One weapon we found strangely lacking from SR was a rapier. We had to create it ourselves... here's what it looks like.

Damage: (STR)+1M
Reach: 1
Halve armor rating on strikes by rapiers.

We never bothered with weight or price... weight is screwy in SR anyway, and price varies.

Good point with the anchoring... I'd totally flaked on that. What I had was a rapier that did the usual damage, but at will discharged an 8S(Stun) shock, rather like a stun baton. I wound up simply parrying with it and knocking people out... or tapping them on the shoulder. It got a skosh beardy at the end...
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Abstruse
post Oct 28 2003, 02:58 PM
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Shadowrun in a medieval setting...isn't that Earthdawn? Just use Shadowrun's rules system with Earthdawn's setting, a little bit of fudging, and voila.

The Abstruse One
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Kurukami
post Oct 28 2003, 03:11 PM
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QUOTE (Stonecougar @ Oct 28 2003, 11:42 AM)
For shields, we just use the Riot shield rules from SR. 

Shields add 2 to the TN for both the attacker and the defender?!? Not a chance I'd ever use that in a game, then. Any decent sword-and-shield fighter will have been trained how to fight around a shield -- and frankly, the riot shields listed in the SR3 book don't give enough of a benefit to warrant that penalty. I stand by my "defensive reach" suggestion.
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Austere Emancipa...
post Oct 28 2003, 03:17 PM
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I did a bit of math, and I'll be sticking with my original system for shields. That's not to say that Kurukami's Def Reach system doesn't work, I'm in fact pretty certain it'll work nicely. It's just that my system ALSO works, and I prefer that since it's mine. :)

I definitely do not want to run Earthdawn. What I know of that game simply doesn't appeal to me. Therefore I do not plan on buying the books for it, when the only advantage would be (possibly) some hints at how to change the rules.
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Kurukami
post Oct 28 2003, 05:56 PM
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Something you might want to consider for a medievally themed game as well would be the inclusion of various styles of weapon'd combat, complete with various maneuvers like the unarmed styles from Cannon Companion. Think of all those swashbuckling movies like The Princess Bride -- "Ah, you are using Bonetti's Defense against me, eh? Naturally you must expect me to attack with Capafera!"

If for no other reason, any style which teaches Close Combat (which would probably require a bit more difficulty to use with weapons and shields) would allow a person to get inside the guard of an opponent. When you're facing off against an armored knight with a big shield and a longsword, getting inside his reach and his shield's useful radius could be invaluable.
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Austere Emancipa...
post Oct 28 2003, 07:50 PM
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I already included the UC&P maneuver, which anyone can use. I will probably use styles whenever someone has really been schooled in martial arts, like monks or rich/noble characters (Kung Bloody Fu and fencing, etc). However, I do not intent to make the average thug or infantryman the master of Bloody Dragon Fist Longsword Style or anything like that. Most styles of fighting will just fall under the weapon categories (Edged Weapons, Hafted Weapons, Polearms for most cases). Thanks for reminding me of actually having to make rules for the few styles that there will exist, however.

A good point about a shield being rather useless when UC&P. Will have to make up rules to include that. Maybe a flat +2 TN for shield use, bringing the TN for defending with a shield to 5 (harder than "Dodging"), attacking to 7 (ie useless).

Fighting an armored knight, a good idea might be to throw a stone at him when he gets to 3 meters, then run 20 meters, wait, repeat. Add mocking of said knight at your whim. Unless of course he's on a horse, in which case you're a bit screwed. A suit of plate armor will weigh at least 20kg (this in fact is one thing I need help on, the weights of actual suits of armor), slowing the knight down quite nicely (unless it happens to be a particularly strong, sturdy dwarven knight).
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Kurukami
post Oct 28 2003, 08:08 PM
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Actually, you might be surprised at how fast fighters in plate can run, especially when they're just chasing you down. Think of a freight train -- decent on acceleration, and you don't want to get in their way... but they don't turn quickly. Most anyone who's worn armor for a good portion of their life will be at least somewhat acclimated to the weight.

I know that I was, when I still messed around with heavy combat in the SCA. If a suit of armor is well-designed and -supported and centered on your body mass, then you don't really feel the weight all that much. And heavies can charge in at an astonishing clip.

As for the rock? Well, if you're not attacking me from the front, yeah, that's possible -- helms limit your peripheral vision considerably. But the likelihood of your doing anything other than annoying me with a rock that you can throw is low. Most helms, medieval-replica anyways, are 12-gauge steel or thicker and backed by padding. They're made to stop full power blows from guys that could bench more than 200 pounds. Your wee rock isn't likely to do any more than get his attention.

And don't ever get within three meters of a knight when he's facing you with weapon drawn. He can close that distance and beat you down before you can turn and run, trust me. :cyber:
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Austere Emancipa...
post Oct 28 2003, 08:28 PM
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That's why I mentioned mocking. It's not supposed to damage, at least not physical (not Physical, but physical). My wee rock is nothing but a tool for causing humiliation, which is why it's wee.

What do SCA plate armors weigh? I really do want to know, because if the weights really were 20kg+, then I seriously doubt the average footsoldier is gonna do a lot of sprinting in it. Sure he can cross the 3 meters I mentioned, but I'm pretty sure I could run a hundred meters, fire a cross bow, take out my melee weapon, etc. if they're that heavy. If, however, most footman's plate armors were in the 10-20kg range, that would change the situation a lot.

The running speed of said knight will not be reduced by as much as it might, though, since I calculate movement rates as (6+Q)/2, so the slowest you'll ever get is 3, or 9 meters for a running human, no matter how much armor he's got on.

Full power blows from guys that can bench more than 200 pounds are going to fuck you up, regardless of your helmet -- unless it's bolted on to your full plate armor, which is completely rigid and just as thick. And I don't really wish to hear SCA antics on that one, because I'm sure there's no one here who would want to get hit with a crowbar by the people I know who can bench that, no matter what kind of helmet they're wearing.
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Stonecougar
post Oct 28 2003, 09:50 PM
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Matter of fact, those blows to the head ARE from guys who can bench 200+ pounds. Were you in the Kingdom of An Tir, I'd introduce you to a beast of a man named Fiacca the Blue. But as you said, you don't want to hear the SCA bit.

Okay, so blows to the head from a guy who can bench 200 are gonna fuck you up. Consider that those REPLICA helms are 12 gauge steel. The real thing was probably more like 10 gauge, hard forged. Under that, they wore a chain coif. Under that, they wore a quilted biggin, or padded cap, for cushioning. Yes, blows to the head DO suck, but they did a damn fine job of making them survivable.

Another point to make is, yes, the boys in the SCA can bench 200+ and are beating you on the head, but then, they're only swinging inch and a quarter rattan sticks, things that will break before your head does. Now, put a 15 pound mace in the hands of one of those gentlefolk, hard forged steel all of it, and that's gonna seriously ruin a man's day, helmet or no.

Now, you say the average footman's plate mail. No such thing. Plate mail was for knights, wealthy, strong, landowning men who were trained from their youth to be the most fearsome warriors western Europe had ever seen. The average footman wore chain if he was lucky, or perhaps rings and leather. If his knight was kind and liked his men, they might wear brigandine. But most likely, he'd have a crude suit of cuir boilli, leather boiled in wax to reach a hardness roughly equivalent to modern plastic. Heavy, hot, restrictive, and still not the most protective, that was likely the best the average footman got. When you watch LOTR and see Aragorn and Legolas in their soft leather armor, that's nonsense. Soft leather is clothing, and it will maybe stop a poorly aimed knife blow, but nothing more. The average footman likely will not have a sword and shield, either. He'll have spears, halberds if his knight is wealthy, or some sort of local hardened farm implement. The peasantry were quite good at coming up with equalizing weapons... for example, the Flemish peasants had a rather nasty two handed affair that consisted of a long haft, a big heavy wooden head, and several long, sharp steel spikes coming out of the head. This weapon was known as the Godendag, or "Good Day!" Apparently, the Flemish peasantry had a rather wry sense of humor. This thing was used to great effect against the French mounted knights... but then, that's the French...

Where was I? Oh yes, common footman weapons. Spears, pikes, halberds... long weapons, things they could engage a man on horseback with. If they were up against other men on foot, you're looking at flails, hammers, maces, swords, but very few could afford fine swords or shields. Bows were used, but the only ones who ever really gave the bow credence on the battlefield for the longest time were the English/Welsh, whose longbowmen were rightly feared throughout the land. Mostly, the poor sods with bows sat there launching volleys of ineffectual arrows, armed with little more than long daggers for melee combat. Gods help them if they were charged, for they'd break and be cut down like dogs, more like than not. And much as they may like to tout archers in fantasy games and fiction, the medieval European archer was a rather depressing fellow, poor, out of shape, ill-trained, unarmored, and with a rather weak bow that would simply bounce sharpened sticks off knight armor. A wonderful diversion if you really want the knight's attention over there, but not much else. Nobody cared about the archers; if they were killed, eh, oh well. The English or Welsh longbowmen, however, were respected and used heavily. They were trained and drilled, hardened soldiers who were protected as valuable assets on the field of war. Their bows, yew staves that were taller than they were, could launch arrows hundreds of yards with devastating power and surprising accuracy. They couldn't always punch through plate mail, but then, that's what knights are for, isn't it?

Crossbows didn't really become common until the late middle ages, when the Catholic church actually sought to ban them, as they were simple weapons that the common folk could easily obtain and readily use with little training or skill. The power of a crossbow, when compared it a bow, is obviously superior in manners of penetration and wounding capability, if not necessarily range. The trouble with crossbows is, they're slow to reload. An English or Welsh longbowman could launch several volleys of arrows in under a minute, but a group of soldiers with arbalests would take much, much longer, as the crossbows with the strength required to penetrate heavy armor also typically required heavy winches to reload.

Back to the original subject of plate armor, however. Plate armor was ALWAYS properly fitted. It was custom made for the user, for the knights were influential and wealthy men who could hire the best smiths in the land. Thus, their armor fit almost like a second skin. Wearing plate armor feels little different than wearing clothing, if it's buckled down and distributed properly. Men in plate can run, jump, tumble, do cartwheels or handsprings, and fight with devastating effectiveness, and the knights were at the top of their game, for they trained regularly to maintain good physical condition. No, they don't turn well when they get up a head of steam, but then, neither to 300 pound NFL defensive linemen. A full suit of properly made gothic plate in 12 gauge steel would weigh in at about 40-45 lbs., roughly 18-20 kilos. However, it's all distributed so evenly over the entire body that as I said, it feels as if you're merely wearing thick, slightly rigid clothing. Chain is actually heavier and harder to move in, because all the weight is hanging from the head, neck and shoulders. Go find a chain hauberk at a Ren Faire or something and try it on, and you'll see what I mean.

Yes, you could probably outrun the knight to get a hundred meters away and get your crossbow. However, most knights fought from horseback, and I challenge any human being to outrun a fully barded Percheron with a head of steam up. Those horses were 7 or 8 feet tall at the shoulder, with legs as thick around as my torso. Monstrous, magnificent beasts, and they had to be, too, to carry all that weight.

Ah, damn, look at me, I've gone off on a colossal rant now. Well, enough with the history lesson, I'm gonna shut up now.:P
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CoalHeart
post Oct 28 2003, 10:04 PM
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Stonecougar you're wrong about the weights of weapons and the protective value of plate. but Pretty dam right about the rest of it.

Maces Axes and Hammers all weighed around 4-7 pounds. any heavier and they were too tiring to use in an extended battle. Expecially for poorly trained and conditioned peasants, and warriors.

Also Axes and Hammers tended to have a striking point opposite of thier bladed and hammer head. Find someone wearing ridged plate, or even chain, just give your weapon a back hand swing or twist the alignment.

On the other hand norse warriors from the northern lands tended to use much heavier weapons and they had the strength and conditioning to use them for extended amounts of times.

A single spear thrust (though there's risk of the shaft breaking) , and yes a thrusting point of the shorter hafted weapons could easily pierce plate and most other lesser armors.

Getting hit in the head by any of the dark age wepons and it spelled death almost assuredly.
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Austere Emancipa...
post Oct 28 2003, 10:30 PM
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Average footman's plate = Average for the suits of plate mail meant to be worn outside of mounted combat. That doesn't mean it has to be carried by the "average footman". I am not an idiot, although I am aware I might sound like one at times. I know plate armor was expensive, and not exactly common. But I've seen several pictures of plate armor meant to be worn outside of mounted combat, and I have a habit of believing my eyes.

18-20kg sounds a bit light. Is that just the plate, or does it include padding? In any case, the whole of your "rant", after slight deflation, more or less agrees with the views I have on middle aged weapons and armor. Many things in there are certainly worth reminding people of.

Messages like the one from CoalHeart I like to see. What's mentioned there agrees almost completely with my views, but I would like to hear as much as possible in case I've got something completely wrong. I might, in fact, have put down some footmen's hafted weapons as weighing far more than practical (~5kg), gotta redo those.

Anyways, just so we don't get completely derailed into discussing medieval warfare, which HAS been done several times before, I'm still looking for discussion on how to do e.g. the Longer Reach Weapons, like pikes. While I know the rules I have at the moment work, sort of, they are too cumbersome for my liking. A more streamlined version would be preferable. I'm open for any suggestions. Same goes for all the other rules I've mentioned so far.

A funny side effect of the rules changes I'm doing for medieval Shadowrun is that I'm going to use many of them in my current 2060s Shadowrun game, especially where melee combat is concerned. It will be nice to see how they work in this setting...
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Siege
post Oct 28 2003, 10:35 PM
Post #24


Dragon
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One more tidbit -- armor your head all you like, but it's still mounted on your neck.

-Siege
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Kurukami
post Oct 28 2003, 11:08 PM
Post #25


Moving Target
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A distinction which SR seems to ignore, for the most part. Unless you're doing a called shot to the head, that is. :D
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