For those of us who grew up playing RPGs....
Having recently got the 4th Edition GURPS Martial Arts sourcebook, I've been surprised to find it has a fairly accurate treatment of German Longsword in the Liechtenauer tradition. It's the first time I've seen an RPG that gets medieval combat remotely close to correct. It also has a pollaxe system reminiscent of Le Jeu, and reasonable treatments of Capoferro, Thibault, La Verdadera Destreza, French Smallsword and Escrima (as well as the usual Karate, Kempo etc). Overall I have to say I am mightily impressed.
Wait for GURPS Low Tech 4e. It will be the first RPG to give armour a realistic treatment. It has just finished being edited and should be released later this year.
It sounds amazing, getting game mechanics right have been a major problem for most/all games.

Cloth armour (gambeson) is usually dismissed as next to worthless, sure it is not as good as mail, but it can't be easy to cut through.
Thanks for the heads-up. I run a campus "DnD" (PnP RPG) club, and I'm always willing to look into things that get something right.

Also check out "The Riddle of Steel". I've not read through it much, but it got the approval of some guys at ARMA.

I know that Codex Martialis comes highly reccomended as well

*Adds these manuals to wish list*
GURPS has always been on the forefront of RPGs. I also liked HARN's system with armour, but it was difficult to explain to people moving up from simpler RPGs.
Humm Iīll have to check out gurps again. Itīs a good that 3.x D&D ripped off...but then again D&D is more popular so itīs easier to get a D&D game going then gurps.
3.x didn't take much of anything from Gurps that I saw. The core mechanics are completely different, and 3.x is certainly a continuation from ADnD.

FWIW GURPS Low-Tech is now available in PDF format
Considering the amount of research and man-hours that went into this book it is well priced.
Hardback is due in December.

In the interests of disclosure I wrote two of the chapters in the book. I was paid a flat fee for this, not royalties, and therefore have no financial interest in how well this book sells.
And I want to go on record as stating that I love what Dan wrote in the armour chapter of GURPS Low-Tech. Kudos, Dan.
I got into RPGs with Cyberpunk 2020 and the Finnish version of RuneQuest, a custom translation combining the best bits of RQ2 and RQ3. RuneQuest was actually far more popular up here than D&D ever. Personally, I count that a blessing. :D

We still play classic RQ regularly, with no major changes to the rules (of course there's some - YGWV and all that, the system is so modular houserules are practically RAW), and never saw any reason to pick up the Mongoose remake. It's just that good. :)

I've never been a fan of GURPS, for some reason - it works just fine for its intended purposes, and I've run a few games with GURPS Lite (notably an annual series of Hellboy/BPRD one-shots) that went quite swimmingly, but it just leaves me cold. No objective reason, just some kind of personal hangup. But that's actually something of a non-issue in practice since, IMO, the greatest strength of GURPS has always been its vast range of quality supplements and sourcebooks. And I dare say the 4th edition GURPS Martial Arts is no exception in that regard.

The Riddle of Steel is, of course, the first game most people will think of when you bring up realistic quasihistorical combat. Unsurprising, considering it's basically a melee simulator with a RPG spin-off bolted on. :) From what I can tell, it does capture something essential of the real-time full-contact chess feel of real swordplay. Buuuuuuuut it's simply too fiddly for my taste. Same with Burning Wheel. (I still haven't even finished reading the damn rules... it's a really interesting system but ye gods! is it wordy.)

Personally, I'm beginning to lean towards more abstract systems like PDQ, FATE, and such - basically, the opposite approach towards realism: instead of adding on layers and layers of "realistic" detail and mechanics emulating the process of fighting move-by-move, why not just emulate the results and leave the graphic details up to the players? The outcomes are just as, if not more, realistic, and it's a hell of a lot less work.

One of my personal favorite combat systems was actually in the Gold Rush Games' Usagi Yojimbo RPG. It revolves around a rock-paper-scissors type interplay of three possible strategies (Total Attack, Cautious Attack, Total Defense) chosen in secret: you designate an opponent and pick a card representing a strategy, your opponent picks a card, then you both reveal them and make an opposed skill roll to see what happens. If both picked Cautious Attack, the loser is hurt; if both picked Total Attack, the loser is hurt twice as bad; if both picked Total Defense, you spend the whole round just circling, watching and squinting at eachother (you know, like in chambara duels and Sergio Leone shootouts); Total Defense automatically beats Total Attack so nobody's hurt; and with Cautious Attack against Total Attack, or Cautious Attack against Total Defense, if the more aggressive strategy wins the other guy gets hurt, otherwise nobody's hurt.

It's perhaps not entirely realistic, and models the situation in very broad strokes, but it does produce a very entertaining and suspenseful dynamic, vividly reminiscent of good cinematic fights (like seen in, say, Rob Roy, The Duellists or any of Kurosawa's period films). And let's face it, entertainment is the reason we play these games. :)

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