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Old 07-14-2018, 07:29 PM   #11
tbone
 
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

I've asked this question on the forum long ago, and have even asked medieval combat enthusiast forums somewhere out there: What's the combat reason (not social, monetary, etc. reason) to select a mace over an axe?

I don't recall I ever got a solid reason. Maybe a mace just doesn't have a battlefield advantage over an axe, and that's that.

But Bruno makes a good point: if the goblin is making skull hits, GURPS gives maces the same damage multiplier as an axe. The game also gives a mace better base damage for its weight than it gives an axe, so in a GURPS reality, that goblin actually knows what he's doing!

More broadly, though, I don't see much combat reason to choose the mace. Mebbe the powers of blunt weapons should be boosted a bit: say, tweak the rules to create more of a gap between sharps & blunts in terms of knockback. Or boost the knockout potential of blunt weapons on skull/face/head hits: say, x1.5 damage for blunts, or x2 if a dedicated "KO" weapon like a cosh, only for the purpose of determining a major wound to check for knockdown/stunning/KO.

That latter bit may or may not be realistic, but it fits a common game system (and fiction) concept of extra knockout potential for blunt weapons to the head.
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Old 07-14-2018, 07:29 PM   #12
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

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Originally Posted by VariousRen View Post
I've got a goblin thief who loves using his signature mace to deliver backstabbing skull blows. It's a ton of fun to yell "Thunk!" in a goblin voice while I brain someone from behind, but it feels like not using an axe is holding him back for no real reason. Axes can be made fine or very fine for extra damage as well as do cutting damage. I was hoping you fine people could give me some solid reasons to keep my beloved mace, or ways I can make it more effective so it stays relevant compared to an axe.
If you are hitting people in the brain, cutting vs crushing is a pointless distinction - the brain's x4 damage multiplier over-rides the damage type. They also do more blunt trauma and they do knockback regardless of penetration. A dwarven made one is good for parrying with as maces are heavy for 1-handed weapons. Whether these and the slightly higher base damage offset the increased damage of an axe when used on places other than the target's skull (and the higher base damage of a very fine axe) is the question. At the point levels where you can reliably brain someone the answer is unfortunately 'probably not'.
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Old 07-14-2018, 07:56 PM   #13
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

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Since it is a hafted weapon, you can also get an axe, spear, and/or butt spike. If you get all three, you can have a weapon that deals swing+3 crushing, swing+2 cutting, thrust+2 impaling, or thrust+4 crushing.
LTC gives butt spikes as doing +1 to the normal thrusting damage, as crushing (the impaling butt spike is only available to spears and pole arms). Maces (and axes) have no normal thrusting damage, so if allowed at all you'd have to guess at a fair starting point. They are heavy and unbalanced, and so a Large Falchion would seem a good starting point, and they do thr-1, so an axe or mace's butt spike would do thr crushing. That's the same as you'd get for a punch with a guard, gauntlets, or a fist-load, so seems fair.

The rear axehead and the full-sized spearhead add 2 lbs, making this a 7 pound axe-mace. It also costs another $70, bringing it to $120. It minimum ST rises to ST13. It's also at -2 to hit should it be thrown, and as one of the nice things about maces (that you don't have to concern yourself with keeping the pointy/cutty face towards the target when attacking) is gone, I'd rule a -2 familiarity penalty for using the thing until that's trained off.
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Old 07-14-2018, 08:13 PM   #14
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

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Originally Posted by VariousRen View Post
I was hoping you fine people could give me some solid reasons to keep my beloved mace, or ways I can make it more effective so it stays relevant compared to an axe.
(emphasis added)

I'd say the main reason to keep it is the fun of role-playing it. Sounds like you're already having a blast with the concept. The only two situations where I might worry about it would be if you have other martial PCs in the group who are overshadowing you or if the GM balances encounters for some sort of theoretically DPS-optimized group. In either case, you may want to talk to the GM about options... perhaps purchasing an enchanted mace or going on a quest to find a legendary one.

One of my players in a beginning DFRPG game has been using Kromm's Lucky the Agile Goon sample character who fights with a club rather than a sword. He hasn't missed the cutting or impaling multipliers at all. His gleeful club jokes during combat are a highlight of every game for the rest of us. This is one of the advantages that tabletop games have over CRPGs—there's not as much pressure to optimize at all costs.
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Old 07-14-2018, 08:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
I've asked this question on the forum long ago, and have even asked medieval combat enthusiast forums somewhere out there: What's the combat reason (not social, monetary, etc. reason) to select a mace over an axe?

I don't recall I ever got a solid reason. Maybe a mace just doesn't have a battlefield advantage over an axe, and that's that.
In real life, having to hit at the correct angle with an axe is more difficult than hitting with a mace that's effective from any angle of impact, as long as you hit at all. It's not a huge difference, but it should probably be worth something. GURPS currently doesn't reflect this at all, taking the (understandably) simplified stance that any hit that makes it through Active Defences is a controlled attack that allows one to select the angle of attack.
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Old 07-14-2018, 09:09 PM   #16
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
In real life, having to hit at the correct angle with an axe is more difficult than hitting with a mace that's effective from any angle of impact, as long as you hit at all. It's not a huge difference, but it should probably be worth something. GURPS currently doesn't reflect this at all, taking the (understandably) simplified stance that any hit that makes it through Active Defences is a controlled attack that allows one to select the angle of attack.
One possibility is giving weapons like clubs, maces, and staves a -1 to defence against swung attacks (not thrusting attacks, because otherwise you'd have to give it to all trusts, and that'd mean rebalancing all the weapons...) to reflect the ease with which the line of attack can be changed without messing up the attack, compared to an axe or sword. This gives them an advantage, but only when the opponent actually defends.
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Old 07-14-2018, 09:18 PM   #17
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
I've asked this question on the forum long ago, and have even asked medieval combat enthusiast forums somewhere out there: What's the combat reason (not social, monetary, etc. reason) to select a mace over an axe?
The usual answer is that it hits harder so when you face someone with good armour which will not be pierced by an axe, you will hurt them more with a mace blow. I don't know if that's correct or not but it's what I've been told.

Also anecdotally I know a guy who does mediaeval combat recreation and they banned maces because it was too difficult to avoid causing serious injuries.
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Old 07-14-2018, 09:25 PM   #18
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

Most species have a way of fighting among themselves without causing lethal injury (in humans, this is hitting with the fists) and a second way of fighting among themselves murderously. For the human-on-human murder-fight, the downward blow with a tool from above down onto weaker crown of the head (or neck and shoulders) of your opponent is the instinctive preference [1]. It's been the go-to since we figured out how to swing an antelopes thigh bone in anger, and was just encouraged by our developing more dangerous bashing weapons.
Maces obviously are bad to be hit by anywhere on your body but human skulls are weaker than other similar sized animals (such as the pig), and are disproportionately large targets.

I suspect the biggest "advantage" of the mace, in the end, is that we understand their danger on an instinctive level and so we just like them. Our brains have used culture to come up with vastly more superior kinds of weapons, just as we've come up with more dangerous hand-to-hand fighting styles than grabbing-and-biting or thumping each other over the head with our fists. But clubs remain stubbornly popular just as thumping each other and biting each other remain still in use.

[1] For adults and older children. Younger children fight like chimps: grabbing on and biting. As do some adults, we don't always grow out of infantile behavior.
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:34 PM   #19
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
I suspect the biggest "advantage" of the mace, in the end, is that we understand their danger on an instinctive level and so we just like them.
Sure, but I don't know that people would – by instinct or intellect – consider an axe to be any less dangerous. Anyone giving it even a moment's thought should understand the axe to be more dangerous. (Though if your understanding is "Yes! It's 50% more dangerous!", you just might be a GURPS player. : )

In the end, I think non-combat blunt weapon advantages are going to be cost, ease of care, cultural symbolism, legality, etc. – all things discussed somewhere in the forums.

As for combat advantages... Well, there may not be any in the game (other than edge cases like targets that take extra damage from blunt weapons, or cases in which you specifically want a weapon that delivers mace damage and no more).

If we wanted to get more fiddly, I think it'd be possible to play with knockback and with knockdown/stunning/KO, as I mentioned; the issue of edge alignment, as Icelander mentioned; and, I suspect, the fact that any weapon stabbing/slicing into a target, not just a pick, could get stuck at times (even if only long enough to, say, prevent a quick parry after an attack).

Little things like that would all provide some minor advantages to blunt weapons. But the fiddly factor gets pretty high!
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:42 PM   #20
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Default Re: [DF] Maximizing Maces

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Originally Posted by mr beer View Post
The usual answer is that it hits harder so when you face someone with good armour which will not be pierced by an axe, you will hurt them more with a mace blow. I don't know if that's correct or not but it's what I've been told.

Also anecdotally I know a guy who does mediaeval combat recreation and they banned maces because it was too difficult to avoid causing serious injuries.
Back when mail was the standard armour that was a fairly common rule in friendly tournaments too. Maces break bones, swords that land on mail only bruise, at most.

Here's a suggestion: Have a new weapon modifier that's only for curshing-only melee weapons and gives them the same benefits of 'fine' that axes get, for the same cost. We can call it 'Goblin Made'.
Goblin Made*: -1 to odds of breakage and +1 to crushing damage for a melee or thrown weapon. Any crushing-only melee or thrown weapon: +9 CF.

* Mutually exclusive with Fine and solid silver, effectively mutually exclusive with Dwarven as Dwarves and Goblins are not on speaking terms.
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