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Old 12-31-2014, 01:03 PM   #1
Sindri
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Default Improving the Tonfa

The GURPS tonfa seems rather unimpressive. It has a number of cost saving features that could cause a character to end up using one but it doesn't have anything that would push someone to design around it in the first place. Removing the tonfa skill as part of a melee weapon reorganization is nice but doesn't solve the underlying problem.

Is there a realistic benefit that we can give the tonfa to make it more attractive?
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:17 PM   #2
Gedrin
 
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Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

They always struck me as versatile weapons for people in closer range combat. Not the king of anything, but good for a number of purposes. Also, less threatening than a blade or mace, so there are sometimes social advantages. IMC (non-DF Fantasy), tonfas are used by "town guard" in places that have cultural exposure to the weapon and don't want to use army troops for the purpose. I also allow the Grip Mastery perk to switch between use modes for weapons, ie between a punching and swinging grip, using the separate skills, for a tonfa. This augments their versatility.

There are better weapons for tripping, snagging and disarming. There are better weapons for killing at reach 1 and reach C. There are even better less threatening weapons. However, the tonfa is a decent choice for each of these categories. I think it's a poor primary weapon, but a great backup for an adventurer (as opposed to a soldier).
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:21 PM   #3
Ulzgoroth
 
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Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

The Tonfa's most interesting feature is probably how it interacts with unarmed combat skills for parrying.
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:34 PM   #4
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Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

FWIW it is supposed to be unimpressive. It is a handle from a mill used by a people who were forbidden to use real weapons.
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

The modern tonfa seems less impressive than an mace, yes. But the tonkwas, the Okinawan tonfas, were very, very dangerous.
  • First, they were crafted in hard wood which made them strike very hardly, especially to the main targets learned for this weapon in kobudo: skull, temple, knee or throat... My masters say that one good swinging blow to the skull is sufficient to kill someone. And the least blow to a bone like a knee would break it very easily.
  • Second, because of their quickness. It strikes so fast that parrying a tonkwa attack to the head requires a very specific jodan uke. Without this specific parry, the move is to slow.
Modern tonfas are more soft. They allow policemen, guardians and the likes to use them without risking to kill to easily... It becomes a defensive weapon...

But Okinawan tonkwas were very dangerous weapons. Maybe one of the most lethal in kobudo. Which always teach to use two tonkwas at the same time (one in each hand). It makes them even more dangerous: the foe can't know from which side the attack will come.
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

Any character designed around using a tonfa is probably going to be in a society where he can't access better weapons and/or be using a cinematic version of the tonfa.

For the first, you're probably talking about something like Social Stigma, low Status, etc. For the latter, you might want to have the tonfa usable in both grips (and even when swinging) with Karate (possibly a Perk) and either let it benefit from both the Karate damage bonus and the Weapon Master damage bonus (a rules exemption probably worth at least [5], arguably more) or make Striking ST (Only when striking with a tonfa) fairly cheap. Let them have the Ninja modifier (DF12, p.13), and have Parrying with a reverse-grip Tonfa be at +1 normally, possibly +3 or higher against a foe who doesn't know you have a tonfa. Spinning the tonfa might allow it to Block as a DB 1 or 2 shield (particularly against light projectiles). Allow characters to use the handle with Hook, and also as a climbing aid. Having a tonfa protect the hand (and forearm, if in reverse grip) passively like a katar or similar weapon might also be worthwhile.
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:30 PM   #7
Sindri
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gedrin View Post
They always struck me as versatile weapons for people in closer range combat. Not the king of anything, but good for a number of purposes. Also, less threatening than a blade or mace, so there are sometimes social advantages. IMC (non-DF Fantasy), tonfas are used by "town guard" in places that have cultural exposure to the weapon and don't want to use army troops for the purpose. I also allow the Grip Mastery perk to switch between use modes for weapons, ie between a punching and swinging grip, using the separate skills, for a tonfa. This augments their versatility.

There are better weapons for tripping, snagging and disarming. There are better weapons for killing at reach 1 and reach C. There are even better less threatening weapons. However, the tonfa is a decent choice for each of these categories. I think it's a poor primary weapon, but a great backup for an adventurer (as opposed to a soldier).
If they were a generalist weapon that would be fine but nothing about their actual stats makes them versatile. Instead they are a mediocre weapon that for PC purposes are used as a parrying aid by some unarmed specialists and which are cheap, but not actually better at switching in and out of reversed grip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
The Tonfa's most interesting feature is probably how it interacts with unarmed combat skills for parrying.
Yes, the tonfa has some utility as something that karateguy picks up. The problem is that there isn't a reason for there to be a tonfaguy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
FWIW it is supposed to be unimpressive. It is a handle from a mill used by a people who were forbidden to use real weapons.
However they are also unimpressive compared to other "non-real" weapons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
The modern tonfa seems less impressive than an mace, yes. But the tonkwas, the Okinawan tonfas, were very, very dangerous.
  • First, they were crafted in hard wood which made them strike very hardly, especially to the main targets learned for this weapon in kobudo: skull, temple, knee or throat... My masters say that one good swinging blow to the skull is sufficient to kill someone. And the least blow to a bone like a knee would break it very easily.
  • Second, because of their quickness. It strikes so fast that parrying a tonkwa attack to the head requires a very specific jodan uke. Without this specific parry, the move is to slow.
Modern tonfas are more soft. They allow policemen, guardians and the likes to use them without risking to kill to easily... It becomes a defensive weapon...

But Okinawan tonkwas were very dangerous weapons. Maybe one of the most lethal in kobudo. Which always teach to use two tonkwas at the same time (one in each hand). It makes them even more dangerous: the foe can't know from which side the attack will come.
What is unimpressive is the GURPS tonfa. That represents a tonfa of traditional construction. GURPS doesn't penalize wooden weapons shifted to plastic construction and it probably shouldn't though it's possible cheap examples exist. Not to mention that there are police tonfa made of hard wood.

While real tonfa may be a fine weapon the GURPS tonfa really isn't. Any wooden weapon a PC uses is normally going to be made out of quality wood whether it's a tonfa or bokken and any long object made out of hard wood is something that can kill someone. Likewise any one handed weapon can be used as a pair and tonfa don't get any bonus regarding this.

The GURPS tonfa is dangerous in an objective sense but compared to other weapons it suffers. If the PCs are a group of kobujutsuka the tonfa is probably going to be used less than other weapons and it's going to be even less common if they have a greater variety of weapons and styles to choose from.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Any character designed around using a tonfa is probably going to be in a society where he can't access better weapons and/or be using a cinematic version of the tonfa.

For the first, you're probably talking about something like Social Stigma, low Status, etc. For the latter, you might want to have the tonfa usable in both grips (and even when swinging) with Karate (possibly a Perk) and either let it benefit from both the Karate damage bonus and the Weapon Master damage bonus (a rules exemption probably worth at least [5], arguably more) or make Striking ST (Only when striking with a tonfa) fairly cheap. Let them have the Ninja modifier (DF12, p.13), and have Parrying with a reverse-grip Tonfa be at +1 normally, possibly +3 or higher against a foe who doesn't know you have a tonfa. Spinning the tonfa might allow it to Block as a DB 1 or 2 shield (particularly against light projectiles). Allow characters to use the handle with Hook, and also as a climbing aid. Having a tonfa protect the hand (and forearm, if in reverse grip) passively like a katar or similar weapon might also be worthwhile.
It should certainly be able to use the Hook technique and also hook various things such as in climbing. Giving it a chance to protect the forearm in the right grip and maybe the hand is a good idea. A +1 to parry in reverse grip seems a bit strong. Certainly the tonfa is good at parrying in reverse grip but if it gets one there are probably quite a few other weapons that equally deserve it.

Last edited by Sindri; 12-31-2014 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:51 PM   #8
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Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
Yes, the tonfa has some utility as something that karateguy picks up. The problem is that there isn't a reason for there to be a tonfaguy.
Should there be? Does anyone use a tonfa because it is the optimal combat weapon? It's hardly the only thing in the weapons list that is lacking a niche of superiority.

Also, the obvious reason to be tonfaguy that the rules almost can't help but support is that a tonfa is the weapon you have access to...for instance if you're in a police force where they're carried.
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:58 PM   #9
Sindri
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Should there be? Does anyone use a tonfa because it is the optimal combat weapon? It's hardly the only thing in the weapons list that is lacking a niche of superiority.
I don't know. I'd like it if it could have some kind of niche even if it's a pretty small one though so I'm hoping we can come up with some realistic benefits to help it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Also, the obvious reason to be tonfaguy that the rules almost can't help but support is that a tonfa is the weapon you have access to...for instance if you're in a police force where they're carried.
That's part of the problem really. If it's just a bad choice on the weapons list that's a shame especially if one of the players likes tonfa but it's not a big problem. However it's frustrating for a PC to have to put up with gear that is mechanically bad though if they are a member of that police force. It's much more pleasant for the PC if their assigned gear has some kind of niche of superiority even if it's overall worse than other choices.

Last edited by Sindri; 12-31-2014 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 12-31-2014, 03:07 PM   #10
DanHoward
 
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Default Re: Improving the Tonfa

The whole point of the Police tonfa/baton is that it isn't very effective at killing people. Police carry them because they are less lethal than their sidearm. These days the taser meets that criteria.
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Last edited by DanHoward; 12-31-2014 at 03:11 PM.
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