Shields & Dual wielding

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Wotan
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Shields & Dual wielding

Postby Wotan » Sun May 13, 2018 9:49 pm

A question which came up at my table last week. I'm fairly confident of my ruling on it but thought I'd seek clarification & opinions in case I'm being a "Bastard GM". :D

Two Weapons on P126 says "A character using two melee weapons increases his melee weapons defense by +2."
Shields (P146) give their rating to "a character’s defensive skill, normally melee weapons or dodge, as long as the attack comes from the front or shield-side (GM’s call)."

So, the question which was put to me was whether a character with a weapon & shield load-out gets the Shield Rating AND the +2 Two Weapons bonus to their Melee Defense. The player's main argument being that, if not you end up with a bigger Melee Defense from using even a small weapon, like a dagger, in a character's offhand (+2 MD) than if using a small shield (+1 MD).

It would be easy enough to just "NOPE" the idea of stacking on the grounds that a shield isn't a melee weapon (sure, it is its own class of thing, but the fact that it adds to MD & can be used to attack with the Melee Weapons skill, makes this feel like a slightly nitpicky/rules-lawyery justification IMO.)

Also, I have some sympathy for the observation about parrying daggers being better for MD than a small shield. It does feel odd.*

OTOH, given the way the combat mechanics are balanced, the potential for stacking these two bonuses, to get +5MD when using a weapon & large shield, feels unbalanced. Combat Modifiers mostly top out at -6, so it doesn't seem completely out of whack, but it is essentially reducing any melee attacker's hits by one whole success level, which feels like a significantly powerful bonus.

In a simulationist game I'd probably shrug & say that the numbers don't feel unreasonable for increased difficulty of hitting a guy who's parrying with a sword & hunkered behind a tower shield.
In Torg it just feels kind of wrong though. Those kinds of numbers make having a shield so good that you'd be a fool not to have one. Torg feels like it's built with the philosophy of allowing as wide a range of viable character concepts as possible though, and not every character looks right lugging a shield around. *shrug*
After the effort put into creating a balance between the different Cosms, I find it hard to believe that the game would intentionally build in a kit load-out which is so much better than all other options.

If stacking's allowed, there's also the implications of what it does to NPC stats. Armoured mobs with shields are a lot more of a challenge. Again, this would be totally in keeping with a simulationist game, & maybe it works in Torg too. But, for example, a group of Church Police with riot gear (standard loadout plus Tower of Babel shields) become quite a serious opponent. They're meant to be on the high end of the mook scale as is, but including the Two weapons MD bonus on top of the shield rating gives a MD 14 which, with their Toughness of 12, is going to make them very hard to take down in one hit.

*TLDR: On balance, I'm coming down on the side of saying the two bonuses don't stack, but allowing shield users to claim the two weapons MD bonus instead of their shield rating if they want; this gets round the anomaly of a parrying dagger being better for MD than a small shield.
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ZorValachan
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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby ZorValachan » Sun May 13, 2018 10:13 pm

The default in TE is that bonuses of the same type do not stack, you use the highest, unless it is specifically stated otherwise.

but remember the shield is a little more versatile. It also adds to missile defense and if used in an active defense the rating also applies to Toughness
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Wotan
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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby Wotan » Sun May 13, 2018 10:30 pm

ZorValachan wrote:The default in TE is that bonuses of the same type do not stack, you use the highest, unless it is specifically stated otherwise.

OK, but playing Devil's Advocate (& anticipating counter-arguments from my player who raised the question,) are they the same type of bonus? Ones a MD bonus & the other's a Shield Rating. Yes, they're both adding to the same stat in the end but we see other examples where similar but slightly different bonuses effectively end up stacking in some circumstances. (e.g. Toughness & Armour bonuses, or, bless (dex), copycat (defensive skill) & awareness, or, diminish, curse & stymie, etc...)

but remember the shield is a little more versatile. It also adds to missile defense and if used in an active defense the rating also applies to Toughness

Yes, important considerations & a point I made to the player, but it doesn't resolve the mechanical anomaly of being better off with a parrying dagger than a small shield when in hand to hand combat. *shrug*
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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby Atama » Mon May 14, 2018 9:39 am

In our game we have a character with a shield and one who wields two weapons. The shield is only +1 but in general still seems to be better overall. The dual wielding is mainly for the “cool” factor.

As to the original question, of course a shield isn’t a melee weapon. It’s not in the melee weapon list. If you want to go further you could argue an armored fist is a weapon but again I would argue that you need to have two weapons from the melee weapons list to qualify for the bonus.

If the player is bothered by the anomaly of a shield situationally being weaker than two weapons (in a very narrow sense) point out that two weapons might be less cumbersome to move around with, and were favored at one time by duelists. Just to mollify sensitivities.
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ZorValachan
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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby ZorValachan » Mon May 14, 2018 9:57 am

Wotan wrote:
ZorValachan wrote:The default in TE is that bonuses of the same type do not stack, you use the highest, unless it is specifically stated otherwise.

OK, but playing Devil's Advocate (& anticipating counter-arguments from my player who raised the question,) are they the same type of bonus? Ones a MD bonus & the other's a Shield Rating. Yes, they're both adding to the same stat in the end but we see other examples where similar but slightly different bonuses effectively end up stacking in some circumstances. (e.g. Toughness & Armour bonuses, or, bless (dex), copycat (defensive skill) & awareness, or, diminish, curse & stymie, etc...)

but remember the shield is a little more versatile. It also adds to missile defense and if used in an active defense the rating also applies to Toughness

Yes, important considerations & a point I made to the player, but it doesn't resolve the mechanical anomaly of being better off with a parrying dagger than a small shield when in hand to hand combat. *shrug*


Actually, in the text they both use very similar language. They both are just a general add bonus to melee defense. And again, in TE it needs to be explicitly stated as a different bonus or the description makes it clear they stack. I do not see the words 'shield rating' anywhere, only bonus.

Personally, id consider the small shield in TE by its description more of a buckler, which would make sense of the +1 instead of +2 - less control. By the medium shield you have a +2 to melee as well as missle and the active defense Tou increase.
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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby TorgHacker » Mon May 14, 2018 10:16 am

They don't stack, mainly because the Small Shield does not specifically say that it doesn't take up a hand.

However, this does not necessarily mean that the Small Shield is inferior, it's just different.

Wielding two weapons gives you a +2 bonus to your melee defense, but a Small Shield:

Gives a +1 to melee defense, a +1 to dodge, it grants +1 Toughness if used in an Active Defense, and in a pinch can be used as a weapon with Strength +1 damage.
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mario1789
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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby mario1789 » Mon May 14, 2018 8:42 pm

Wotan wrote:Also, I have some sympathy for the observation about parrying daggers being better for MD than a small shield. It does feel odd.*


This is actually a corner case. Most melee folks will take something larger for damage or effect.

Even in that corner case, it feels odd because you're probably imagining some kind of straight up swordfight. If there is grappling involved, like in any fight today, or in a cinematic fight--an airplane cockpit at 40,000 feet, the inside of a speeding car--I'll take the dagger over the small shield. And the dagger in those situations will definitely help ward off a bad guy.

And then there's that the rule as is gives people a reason not to feel penalized for not taking a shield as well. In the rules right now, there are times when the shield is better, but it isn't universally so, and it all kind of works out in that way. Or maybe everyone carrying a riot shield works for you. I think the tone of the game should be cinematic, not simulationist. That all said, I can see why it won't work so well in some groups.

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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby fougerec » Tue May 15, 2018 6:53 am

As a GM the best part of having a PC with a shield is when the enemy bum rushes them and smacks the shield into their teeth. Just because you're not using it as a weapon doesn't mean a determined foe won't :)

(Did that in a Conan 2d20 game and the player was like "but I disarmed her" and my response was "Yes, she didn't use her shield to shield bash you...")

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Stewbacca
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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby Stewbacca » Tue May 15, 2018 8:29 am

If you really want to get complicated with a shield, read the rules for The Dark Eye by Ulisses. TorgE is the hyper simplification of systems by comparison to TDE.

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Re: Shields & Dual wielding

Postby Savioronedge » Thu May 17, 2018 11:24 am

Stewbacca wrote:If you really want to get complicated with a shield, read the rules for The Dark Eye by Ulisses. TorgE is the hyper simplification of systems by comparison to TDE.


I have way too little time and way too many games in my head already for that time. That said, the above quote is the first thing I have seen to make we really WANT to get into TDE.


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