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Old 08-10-2010, 09:16 AM   #21
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
In fact, you could extend this to all pole weapons. Spears used at -1 to damage get +2 to parry. Halberds used at -1 to damage get +2 to parry. And so on. Heck, even a 2 handed sword held with one hand well along the blade might qualify for +2 to parry at -1 to damage (they were historically often used like this).
Maybe some kind of Defensive Grip (Martial Arts p. 110), or Defensive Attack (Martial Arts p. 100), you mean?

That's pretty much what those rules are there for, and what they do (especially in combination). I know this won't make the staff-is-too-powerful crowd happy, but frankly I don't see why it's so powerful.

Damage: sw+2/cr or thr+2/cr? Nice, but it's merely 1 point better than most 1-handed weapons, it's not better than any two-handed weapons, and it's only crushing, so you don't get any damage bonus past DR.

Defense: +2 to Parry, lots of improved defenses if you turn all the optional rules on. Good stuff, making it defensively worth it. A strong point in its favor but not as good as, say, fencing weapons vs. multiple attacks.

Reach: 1,2 is pretty sweet, but lots of two-handed weapons have that - swords have it too for their big swing attack, which is what they mostly get used for.

Odds-and-ends: It's two handed, so you can't keep using it after you get an arm or hand crippled. That's a big downside. It's terribly ineffective against missile attacks, like most melee weapons, and you can't supplement with a shield to get a Block score. If you have cinematic skills like Parry Missile Weapons, or if you are also a very-high-Dodge character, this is less of a problem, but then it's in-genre for you to be kicking ass all over the place. Even then, other melee weapons can replicate this effect.

I've been running GURPS a long time, but the killer wave of staff monsters has never come. Even killer staff NPCs are really annoying until someone with a higher skill just kills them anyway, or someone with a good ranged attack blows them away. The two-handed nature of the weapon is a real limiter in actual play, nevermind having to always tote around this big non-concealable stick. The damage is the next big limiter, because crushing just isn't that exciting, especially if you do sw+2/cr for like 2d+2 and your buddy is doing sw+/1 cut for like 2d+1 one-handed and has a shield or another weapon. Finally the lack of missile defenses is really annoying, so you have to be Staff Monster and Dodge Monster...and if you are Dodge Monster, who cares about the staff's superior Parry anyway? You go get something higher damage because defenses are already covered.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:23 AM   #22
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

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Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post
Defense: +2 to Parry, lots of improved defenses if you turn all the optional rules on. Good stuff, making it defensively worth it. A strong point in its favor but not as good as, say, fencing weapons vs. multiple attacks.
Unless you're using the 'Parrying with Two-Handed Weapons' rules from MA123, in which case it's superior.
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Odds-and-ends: It's two handed, so you can't keep using it after you get an arm or hand crippled. That's a big downside. It's terribly ineffective against missile attacks, like most melee weapons, and you can't supplement with a shield to get a Block score. If you have cinematic skills like Parry Missile Weapons, or if you are also a very-high-Dodge character, this is less of a problem, but then it's in-genre for you to be kicking ass all over the place. Even then, other melee weapons can replicate this effect.
Parry Missile Weapons is not cinematic (MA58), but other than that, yeah. Though if you did the sensible thing and used a spear as your staff, you can still use it in a one-handed spear grip.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:45 AM   #23
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

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Unless you're using the 'Parrying with Two-Handed Weapons' rules from MA123, in which case it's superior.
If you using them, they're slightly better compared with a single fencing weapon. Most fencers in my games used either two fencing weapons (so you had two weapons to cascade down for penalties) or used a shield (against missile weapons). And Staff doesn't gain a +3 from Retreat like Fencing Weapons do, but a mere +1...which makes them a lot more functionally equal defensively compared one staff vs. one fencing weapon.

Compare:
Smallsword-16 gives Parry 11, -2 for additional parries after the first, +3 for Retreat.
Staff-16 gives Parry 13, -2 for additional parries after the first using the rules from MA123, +1 for Retreat.

So with retreat they both have a 14. Additional parries for smallsword are at 9, 7, 5, and of which get a potential +3. The staff gives 11, 9, 7, any of which get a potential +1.

And yeah, off-hand parrying will affect two-handed fencers, but I've yet to see a two-weapon user who didn't just pay his or her 1 point to get rid of that penalty entirely.

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Parry Missile Weapons is not cinematic (MA58), but other than that, yeah. Though if you did the sensible thing and used a spear as your staff, you can still use it in a one-handed spear grip.
True. The skill isn't cinematic - but it's not very effective at a low point investment, and the +2 Parry for the staff does little more than eat up the -2 to parry quarrels and arrows. And it's another P/H skill to learn and improve, since it doesn't go up as you improve Staff.

If you use a spear as a staff, you'll need to learn two skills - not many weapons using two skills turn into a Reign of Terror in my games, because you could have gotten 2x as good at one of those skills. Staff @ DX+8 (32 points) is generally more attractive than Spear @ DX+4 and Staff @ DX+4 (16 points each).

...and I guess I'm wondering, does making Staff do -1 damage "solve" all of this? Does adding an additional layer of defensive weapons use on top of the two rules that already exist help? Does reducing the +2 parry to +1 for certain staff weapons equalize them? And is staff so damn awesome now that you need to do all of this to fix it?

This is why I didn't try to change any of this stuff in MA or in Low-Tech. It doesn't seem to be a problem that needs fixing in the first place, to me.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:34 AM   #24
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

I somewhat like the idea of a sliding +2 bonus: Base damage is unmodified swing or thrust crushing, base Parry is 0, and you get +2 – total – to allocate between damage and Parry at the start of each turn. This would reflect various transitional grips, and be independent of whether you selected All-Out Attack, Committed Attack, Attack, Defensive Attack, or All-Out Defense, which would give all their usual bonuses and penalties . . . although naturally, someone who planned to pick All-Out Attack (Strong) or All-Out Defense (Increased Parry) would lump the +2 into damage or Parry, respectively. It would also be independent of combat options. Thus, a staff fighter could get the listed damage with no special Parry bonus, the listed Parry with weak damage, or something in between, and the justification for this extra level of trim would be the relative ease with which one can adjust staff grips.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:40 AM   #25
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

Makes me wonder if all those Arena reports are an exaggeration.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:54 AM   #26
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

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If you use a spear as a staff, you'll need to learn two skills - not many weapons using two skills turn into a Reign of Terror in my games, because you could have gotten 2x as good at one of those skills. Staff @ DX+8 (32 points) is generally more attractive than Spear @ DX+4 and Staff @ DX+4 (16 points each).
Well it ought to be, considering spear and staff cross-default at -2, so Staff at DX+8 includes Spear at DX+6 for free.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:57 AM   #27
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Makes me wonder if all those Arena reports are an exaggeration.
I find staves are a very good choice for a one-on-one combat, or even small-group combat, in an arena. They were great choices in Man-to-Man and that hasn't changed much since. They are cheap, with a good reach, good defensive capability, and very solid offensive ability But they are good defensively as long as you aren't mobbed too badly or don't have to worry about getting shot down at range. They are great if you never have to conceal a weapon (or if your GM is a big believer in "there is always a staff-like weapon at hand" - or you buy a limited version of Serendipity to ensure that's the case), never need to hold something in your off-hand like a torch or lantern or a wounded buddy, your friends open doors for you, etc. They're just fine as long as you aren't particularly worried about arm or hand cripples that extend past a single encounter. They are good if you know crushing damage will always suffice - because your guy, say, has Targeted Attack (Staff Swing/Brain) and you don't have a GM sending fantasy monsters with no heads or ogres with DR 17 headgear after you. And so on.

My argument isn't that they suck. It's not that that all weapon choices are perfectly balanced against each other. It's not even that staves won't shine in certain situations. It's that they aren't overwhelmingly awesome, be-all-end-all weapons for regular use in a campaign. They have a good set of advantages that makes them very attractive weapons. But the same can be said for a number of other weapon choices - fencing weapons, for example, have a lot going for them (along with a couple of potentially nasty drawbacks).

I won't say that people's arena experiences are wrong. Just that you're never going to see me offer up rules based solely on arena experiences. In my actual gameplay experience, staves aren't uberweapons.
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:00 AM   #28
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Well it ought to be, considering spear and staff cross-default at -2, so Staff at DX+8 includes Spear at DX+6 for free.
Heh. True. I should have made my point differently - which is that a single-skill weapon (or just picking a single skill) generally nets you more overall advantage for the same point investment in multiple skills. That's a problem inherent in GURPS's point cost system and default system, which is a whole different discussion. Changing staff damage wouldn't change that.
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:05 AM   #29
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
I somewhat like the idea of a sliding +2 bonus: Base damage is unmodified swing or thrust crushing, base Parry is 0, and you get +2 – total – to allocate between damage and Parry at the start of each turn. This would reflect various transitional grips, and be independent of whether you selected All-Out Attack, Committed Attack, Attack, Defensive Attack, or All-Out Defense, which would give all their usual bonuses and penalties . . . although naturally, someone who planned to pick All-Out Attack (Strong) or All-Out Defense (Increased Parry) would lump the +2 into damage or Parry, respectively. It would also be independent of combat options. Thus, a staff fighter could get the listed damage with no special Parry bonus, the listed Parry with weak damage, or something in between, and the justification for this extra level of trim would be the relative ease with which one can adjust staff grips.
Heh, and my combats take twice as long as everyone tries to figure out the best bonus combo to use this turn.

I think something like this would work, but I'd personally want to apply it much more broadly - subsume the entire AOA/CA/Attack/DA/AOD spectrum, and all parry bonuses for weapons into a spectrum. Maybe that's just years of Rolemaster, where you had one massive +whatever to skill you divided up into attack and defense, coming to the fore.
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Old 08-10-2010, 01:02 PM   #30
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Default Re: My thoughts on Staves

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My copy of GURPS Martial Arts disagrees with you here. I'm looking at pg. 194 and I don't see Two-Handed Sword at all on Shaolin Kung Fu.

Wing Chun (pg. 204) does, as an optional skill, but that's a very specific case - lots of schools seem to take the approach of teaching you to fight with a staff (presumably a boat's pole) by swinging it around at maximum reach, without much emphasis on the cool stuff that you can do with a staff otherwise. But since it more-or-less originated as a way for people on boats to fight other people also on boats, it's less representative than exceptional.
My mistake. I confused it with Jojutsu.
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