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Matt J

Location: Durham, NC
Joined: 18 Aug 2015

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PostPosted: Mon 24 Aug, 2015 12:38 am    Post subject: Theoretically Join the Non-Historical Crusade!         Reply with quote

Okay, so, as I have mentioned in a previous post, I am working on a roleplaying game. I'm trying to make it as realistic as I can, but it is still a fantasy, and I'm not incredibly worried. I would like to set the stage, or context, for everyone, and offer the option for you to tell me what kinds of equipment you would use, and how you would use it.

I do understand that this is a historical forum, and I have appreciated you guys helping me learn and understand. I apologize to anyone who reads this and feels like my post does not belong here and has wasted your time.

The playing field is restricted to approximately the 11th Century through 16th Century, more specifically, 13th-15th. I am, and you, are focusing on Europe, but do not feel required to think exclusively to them. No firearms, no firearm-proof steel. But there is anything from Plate Armor, Mail, lamellar, etc, etc.

The world, you could imagine like ours, except where some humans live in reality, there may be Elves, Dwarves, or Orcs living there instead. Or inhabited, or more mystical creatures. In this world, recently, (~25-50years) a series of dimensional portals in the north have opened. These connect our realm with the realm of demons. So, corruption and what not spreads from the these areas in the north. Crazy and chaotic mutations to both living and unliving things. Water may freeze or boil regardless of temperature, trees come to life, animals warp and mutate. Same with people who've travelled here. The nations of man reacted by sending armies into the north to push back the "handful" of demons that had invaded our world. Overpowering them in numbers, all of the nations of man succeeded, however, they became corrupted. Basically, lots and lots of undead, mutants, and hideous abomination such things roaming around in the north, progressively making their way south.

It has become clear to mankind that quantity is not a proper solution to this problem, but instead, sending skilled and trained warriors and magi was the solution. Warriors prepared mentally for the trials of combating undead and inhuman creatures, and wizards, scholars who would study the new science/magic in an effort to both defend our world, and progress technologically.

You are one of these people, basically a mercenary, who has trained, or is currently training, to join the crusade in the north to defend and combat the demonic corruption and evil.

I'd be most interested in what you would choose if you had as much currency as you'd need to be properly suited for combat. "the works," if you will. But also, if you choose, I'd like to know what you'd use as a cheaper alternative.

When equipping yourself, keep in mind a few things.
1) You will be living on a base, going on patrols that could last a week, or possibly half a day. Sometimes you may know prior, sometimes you may only have an estimate.
2) You will be taken care of, not to the extent that soldiers are today, but you are considered valuable. As such, you are paid for service, you are fed, taken care of, given shelter, medical care, etc, etc, but you will be required to replace your gear, repairs are free.
3) Equipment should be limited to something you could carry into battle without a horse. You may have one, but assume you are not using it, as cavalry is a variable I am not prepared to evaluate. Primary Weapon, Side arm(s), and smaller, "accessory" weapons like daggers or throwing axes, I don't know.
4) You are very far in the north, the idea of overheating while wearing full plate armor is actually reversed. It would be common to wear a lot, whether it was clothing or armor, it is cold in the north. Think Game of Thrones Watcher's on the Wall.
5) You are not limited to enemy humans. Though, your enemies will be undead soldiers from a previous generation (which, I might add, does not have lesser equipment), their skills and capabilities are different. They are not human, other enemies may be things like orcs, ogres, trolls, but more likely it will be demons and undead. So, imagine a horror setting, I know this is extremely unrealistic. And when thinking about historical weapons and how they work in reality is hard enough, thinking about how they'd work in a fantasy setting is nearly impossible. But, I think the same general principle is the same in regards to choosing equipment.
6) You will not be alone, you will fight as part of a small team, I am not sure what the proper (if there is) terminology for this is. In RPGs it is called a party. Anyway, it is you and at least 2 other guys, no more than 5 other guys. This should give you an idea for the number of enemies you could realistically face, together. A number for an effective working team, and a much smaller number for a less effective working team. I'd be curious to know how many "whatevers" you think a group of 4 or 5 Men at arms could take care of.

So yeah, please, I'm very interested in knowing how you guys would role play a 15th century Man at arms.

I'd like to note that ideally, this game would have a set up similar to the Roman Coliseum, where you could create a character and then fight against your friend's character. In this regard, it should reflect reinactment sparring, ideally.... except, to the fantasy death.

Second note, a Longbow is a perfectly valid primary weapon, I know polearms seem to be highly dominant, but if you wanted to use a bow and stand being the polearm guys, that is your preference.

I'd also be interested in the tactics, strategies, abilities, or interesting notes you would add about the way you would conduct your warfare. Either as a group, or an individual (keep in mind, the rest of your group would actually be other people in real life, you would have to work with them, not simply control 6 people).
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Jasper B.

Location: Europe
Joined: 09 Dec 2014
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Aug, 2015 5:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First, when you say role playing game, do you mean the good old pen-and-paper edition? or do you refer to their computerized bastard offspring?

Then, I'm not sure this question is answerable... The issue is that historic reality doesn't really mix with fantasy. Both arms and armour existed because of choices made, based upon what people could afford, were likely to encounter, and thought adequate.
In late medieval Europe, cavalry was a very important factor on the battlefield and armies where large. If you decide (you can, it is your world) leave the cavalry out or reduce the size of armies to small groups of combatants, the fantasy world no longer is a medieval world, safe maybe from a very superfluous perspective.

The moment you introduces fantasy elements, this balance changes. If the orc in your fantasy setting is, for example, quite a bit stronger than humans are, it may well turn out that maille is no longer an adequate type of armour. If dwarf only stand 4 feet tall, what does this mean for warfare tactics? Or, how would being only half the size of your typical opponent affect your choices in arms and armour?

Also, a realistic historic settings doesn't necessarily create a good and fun game experience. A fantasy setting allows you to create a world that is tweaked to your needs. You can introduce elements that increase drama and opportunity for good gameplay experiences. However, with this freedom of a fantasy world comes the burthen of having to define the limits of reality yourself. Obviously, you already have some sort of image in your head of how you would like your world to be. Since I don't know nearly enough about this image, I can't really answer the question you ask. Maybe the best equipment would be comfortable clothing and a pebble inscribed with a rune of slay demon?

Don't let this answer put you off. Writing a fantasy setting can be great fun. Just figure out what type of gameplay you want to support and build you plausible world around it. Also, if you decide up front if you want to flesh out the technical/rules part of the game first and the world/storyline later or vice versa.

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Tom King

Location: florida
Joined: 11 Sep 2009
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Aug, 2015 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is how I'd wish to be kitted out at an Archer/crossbowman once given some time "questing", say lv5ish.
padded jack, maille standard, out of style but functional kettle hat, single hand sword+buckler, and associated war kit. mid-late game have jack chains, a open faced sallet or better kettle helm, a maille shirt under the jack, and probably "archers knees". Late game up arm as far as a breastplate, but not much further due to needing dexterity.

A billmen/melee dps would be armored similarly and have a spear or munitions bill/halberd/glaive. He'd proceed all the way up to a fullface helmet and a full 3/4 harness of high quality and perhaps a bastard sword while retaining his polearm as a primary weapon.

and your man at arms/tank would probably start out/end up with quickly with a breastplate, maille, and close helm like a sallet and be armed wit a longsword/hand and a half sword+shield

pretty rapidly your player characters will find "full" gear, so the easiest way to continue progression is weapon/armor quality increasing as the story advances.

2 guys should both be men at arms. that way they don't get eaten alive when outnumbered.

3 guys and one man at arms with two billmen makes sense

4 guys and ^ with an archer/"mage" buddy makes sense

5 guys and a tank-dps-dps-Rdps/magic-Rdps/magic makes the most sense, as it does in traditional high fantasy party building

terrain will be very important to dictate how many mobs they can slaughter in the quest for epic loot, if your 5 guys are fighting 10 goblins and 5 of the goblins can walk around your party and attack from behind it's over.

as far as the historical carrying of gear, this resource looks pretty good.

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Matt J

Location: Durham, NC
Joined: 18 Aug 2015

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2015 1:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for your reply, and your continued help. It is clear to me, that I at least have an understanding of the basics that I am attempting to represent. Now comes the difficulty of balancing it for a game, while keeping it realistic enough to where certain things are clearly superior.

I hope other people respond, but I don't see that happening.

I really like to hear that you did not opt for the most expensive plate and a pollaxe, as I was expecting to be the first answer.

Archer knees? I suppose I can easily google search this, right?
What are you referring to when you say bastard sword?
The Man at Arms, why a longsword? vs a two handeder, or better yet, a pole weapon?

Yes, better quality. As they will start with being provided munition gear. It doesn't make sense historically, but the players will begin "naked." This is simply for teaching purposes, and kind of steps outside of the roleplaying aspect. And with this, it should be said, that adding magic as a variable adds to the ability to improve armor. For instance, Enchanted plate armor that can stop a magic missile is pretty useful in this context.

Do you think the party should be a smaller representation of units on a battlefield? Like you describes? Where a fully functional warband would include some heavy infantry, medium infantry, range, and utility? As oppose to a group of heroes who'll either have a greater or lesser chance of success.

Terrain is incredibly important. I do understand. I believe it was you who used the Dungeon crawl example in my previous post. The first "boss" I've been working on will be in a chapel/church/cathedral. And inside, the layout creates small avenues, like hallways, where players can only fight 1 inch wide (1 player). Putting an even larger emphasis on how you construct your battle line, and protect your flanks. Because you are right, a goblin, or equally simple enough weak enemy, can become very dangerous from behind. Being flanked sucks, truly, you can't hit your enemy well, you can't defend yourself well, you can't even get a good look at what is happening. Then, to top it all off, the flanker has good options for where to strike.

I really liked that link about carrying equipment. I loved reading that they did not sleep in the forests. One, because that is a misconception I have grown accustom to. And two, because they mention Trolls and Werewolves.... and now I know exactly what to put in my forests! lol. I've been worried about making a world and telling people to go north and join the crusade, and having the player be like "nah, I'm going to go see what is to the west." Yeah, nothing but TROLLS AND WEREWOLVES in every forest.
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Tom King

Location: florida
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2015 2:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt J wrote:

I really like to hear that you did not opt for the most expensive plate and a pollaxe, as I was expecting to be the first answer.

Actually I've got that too, but honestly it would have taken a lot longer to put on, especially without a squire. Even tossing on a Jack and associated war kit took me 10-15 minutes. In classic D&D they treat anything less than full plate as clothes you can just toss on, but thats not the case.

Archer knees? I suppose I can easily google search this, right?
What are you referring to when you say bastard sword?
The Man at Arms, why a longsword? vs a two handeder, or better yet, a pole weapon?
Bastard sword, hand and a half sword, etc. are modern/victorian descriptions of a sword you could use with one or two hands effectively. Back in the day they really didn't make distinctions in surviving documents. A longsword is a 2H sword, but not one of the giant warswords/slaughterswords; you could still carry it on your hip/horse's saddle.

As to why a longsword, if your guys are early game aren't going up against armored opponents an armor cracker like a poleaxe (which would still work mind you) isn't "mandatory" like we were saying in your other thread. zombies, low level fantasy mob characters, corrupted priests, etc. aren't going to be wearing A Full armored harness and a longsword will lay out someone without armor in one hit. A fun doubletwist would be for there to be a BBEG black knight "boss" relatively early game to give the group their first real hard fight/provide the Tank and other guys a logical way to get better/more gear.

Do you think the party should be a smaller representation of units on a battlefield? Like you describes? Where a fully functional warband would include some heavy infantry, medium infantry, range, and utility? As oppose to a group of heroes who'll either have a greater or lesser chance of success.

3 or 4 guys in full harness with poleaxes/polehammers and a crossbow or two in the ole bag of holding would work too, but thats the easy route and would put the party disadvantaged in certain situations. Say in your Church level, if you had a 5 man group with a thin hallway and piles of mobs coming down the pipe, 5 men at arms would only be able to have one guy be fighting at any given time, whereas a traditional "unit" you'd have the tank out front and your two dps guys with thier polearms past him down the hallway and your ranged guys sending shots down the lane past them; all 5 characters could attack.

imagine one guy with full armor and a 2h sword/poleaxe a step ahead of the two front guys with polearms in ^, he'd be able to keep people right within the back ranks killzone[/quote]
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Matt J

Location: Durham, NC
Joined: 18 Aug 2015

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2015 8:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had to reread that a few times to understand what you were asking.

"make sure to link the system you're developing one it's complete, realistic "grimdark" RPGs are hard to come by. It'd be interesting to see how it compares."

Then, I realized what you meant by "link." lol. I will surely provide this forum with my game. It is not a video game, though, and it is not a website kind of thing. Board/Tabletop game. Like a wargame version of Dungeons and Dragons. Anyway, pen and paper and written rules. Though, with any success, it'll become more than that. I'm not banking on this idea, though lol.

Whatever does get done I'll provide you guys with.

Keep in mind, players in this game will wake up each day inside a building. Whether a small outpost, inn, or castle. So, you can wake up, eat, put on your armor, wait 2 hours for the tank to finish getting dressed, and then head out. I'd have to learn exactly how long it'd take to put on full plate... but even if would take an impractical amount of time, whose not to say that you cannot "rent" a number of servants each day. Or better yet, you leave your arms and armor in the armory. When you return from a mission, there is a dedicated team of servants. Like on a Nascar track to replace your tires. When you return from a mission, for a small fee, the armory will act as not only a bank, but will also dress and undress you. After all, you are a "highly prized" mercenary helping to defend mankind.

Naming my weapons is going to be a challenge, but, I feel I'll have some leeway, seeing as, in the time, there were countless names for countless weapons. Is there a distinction between a 30" bladed sword (I wanted to call it a broadsword), a 42" bladed sword (I want to call it a Longsword) and a third sword, in between the two, that is, technically a longsword, but either lighter or shorter (lighter option being the profile tappering version).

Yeah, I agree with you on the party-composition. I'm glad it makes sense both historically and in a gaming sense.

Thank you very much for all of your help. I still, of course, have more questions.

Range/Reach? This is how I understand it. These are in terms of the length of the weapon, but in terms of the length that the weapon can reach when it is being held. Note, this would be referring to the farthest possible distance, with hands extended fully. I'm not using actual distances, I'm just making categories.

Pikes, Forest Bills, and Long Staves are extremely long.
Spears/Partizans, Black Bills, Staves (Quarter?), Halberd, Glaive, and Two Handed Sword are long.
One handed sword, axe, mace, longsword, and pollaxe are medium.
Daggers and short swords are short.

I'm not sure where the longsword should go, I thought medium was fine as long would be a little too long. One handed sword - longsword would be the general reach of this category.

I'm also confused on the greatsword. So, since the blade is over 4ft long, would you actually have more reach than a spear? Seeing as the spear will have 6-9 foot length, but the gripping is like 3 feet wide, therefore, a thrust with a spear would actually be shorter than a greatsword unless you extended it out passed the grip you held it with.

Minimum Range/Reach?

Now, I'm sure there are issues with pikes and those very long ranged poles. But I'm not even worried about that right now. What I'm worried about is the minimum range on a 1 handed sword.

So, in fencing, you are taught very early about footwork. It is important to move around. If your foe takes a step towards you, you take a step back. Always maintaining the distance until you are prepared to strike. Generally, yeah?

But, I can't force my players to move. I need to make them choose to move. I need moving back to be the smarter option, instead of standing still when your foe gets too close. There is no precedence for this, in gaming. Players never feel a minimum to their weapon. When two miniatures stand in base to base contact (that is, the circle that represents their space in reality is touching the same circle that surrounds their enemy), at least in my game, I am considering this being an arm's length away. It Where the bases touch is your elbow when you extend your arm. It takes your upper arm to travel across your base, and your lower arm to travel across your enemy's base. This means, if your weapon is inside your target, your hilt is pushing against their chest.

So, if you are standing that close to someone, how does this effect your ability to use a one handed sword? Longsword, two hander, spear, etc etc. You don't need to answer for every weapon. But this is something I need to figure out... for each one. So, for a sword. If I was that close to you, would backing up truly be the best option? Would there be other decent options?

If my character is using a spear, and you are using a dagger.... and you've made it passed my point, and I don't back up because I was never taught to, and do not instinctively react that way, you would be at an advantage, right?

To what extent? With a sword, can you even strike at something within arm's reach? Can you thrust? How close in front of you can you begin your thrust? Would your strike actually do more damage because you'd hit with the wider, stronger part of the blade? Would it do less? Would it be awkward and difficult to swing, or would it be impossible?

I'm also wondering how someone with a shield and spear would retract their spear if an enemy got too close. I'm assuming they can't. I'm assuming they'd rely on a their shield in such a situation. Meaning that the one handed spear only really works with a shield? Possibly a short sword so you could stab people who get to close, but I imagine a spiked shield would be way more effective.
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Lafayette C Curtis

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PostPosted: Thu 10 Sep, 2015 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The difficulties you've stated with regards to footwork is precisely the reason why I prefer pen-and-paper RPG systems that use a relatively abstract combat system rather than ones that try to represent combat in great detail. I was particularly fond of AD&D 2nd edition and its explanation that combat was just a representation rather than a detailed recreation of what was actually happening in the fight -- one instance was the reason they gave for why higher-level characters could make more attacks, in which case low- and high-level characters actually make roughly the same number of attempted attacks over the duration of a combat round but higher-level characters have the skill to make more of those attacks count. A really good abstraction if I may say so.

Similarly, I normally used only the bare-bones combat system in D&D 3e and 3.5, ignoring many of the detailed manoeuvres described in the combat SRD in favour of adjudicating them manually/narratively as the DM. More detailed and more "realistic" rules don't necessarily lead to a better game or a more fun experience except if the GM and all the players are hardcore simulationists.
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Joe Fults

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PostPosted: Fri 11 Sep, 2015 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I saw and read nothing after mutations (not quite true) which I have chosen to interpret as meaning beneficial mutations are a distinct possibility. Additionally, I've chosen to conclude that I can have multiple beneficial mutations since they are about for the having in this world. So give me a whole bunch of those and I'll head north to fight the undead in a Speedo and a Hawaiian Shirt. :-)
"The goal shouldn’t be to avoid being evil; it should be to actively do good." - Danah Boyd
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