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Old 03-28-2022, 12:37 AM   #11
OddGamer
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
What happens when someone shoots a bow at spear guy? Or sneaks up on him and stabs him in the back? Or fights him under the influence of a Shield spell? Incredibly mediocre knight is better prepared for each of those eventualities. That is the peril of choosing to be a one-trick pony quite apart from the uproarious laughter from your DM when you present such an unbelievable character.
I actually have a question about that Shield spell. Well, the Armor spell, really.

But first, a Shield spell isn't about to help anything. If you've sunk points into Magery (25 to be able to get that Shield spell) you're missing out on ST and HT at this point, need to get your spell skill up there (otherwise you end up not having it, so let's assume 12). Said mage can have the Comfortable wealth level to afford the armor, but at that point there's not much left for any form of actual attack skill. I think this would have to be something along the lines of Spear Guy is up against multiple opponents. But that's not a fair comparison.

So the only way that works, really, is for 2 Spear Guys against mage and knight. But this doesn't work since Spear Guy can just Feint to obliterate any bonus that mage could give (and I didn't even simulate Feinting in my run, just 'Deceptive Attacks').

This brings me to the Armor spell... does it cover the eyes? The Magic book says it offers DR 'just like armor', but the whole point of attacking the eyes is to avoid the armor! If it does cover the eyes, yes this will severely mess with Spear Guy's day.

Ranged weapons and sneak attacks are, of course, far more of an issue, and there's not a lot this character can do about that, true.

However, all that said, I'm not sure the knight is faring much better in these scenarios than Spear Guy. What if the knight (or two of them) were up against someone with a shield spell? Armor spell? Those would ruin his day by almost as much since basic damage is 1d+1 vs 1d+3. And if it were against another knight, the attacking knight is toast! It's the DR of the spell and the underlying armor now! If we considered 5 DR from the spell and 4 from the armor, that makes the knight effectively unable to do any damage at all without trying for the impossible eye shot (needs a 3 or 4 roll), meanwhile Spear Dude still does damage on a roll of 5 or 6 and is hitting with a 17.

Then there's ranged combat. Not sure the knight's faring a whole lot better there, either. Sure, with his DR of 4 most shots aren't going to hurt him at all (depends on the weapon, but a regular bow with ST 10, so not even knightly, would do damage on a 6) while the Spear Guy gets pelted with arrows and turned into a pin cushion, but that person with the bow, unless they are heavily armored, too, can likely just outrun the knight, keeping him at a distance and pelting him with arrows until he goes down anyway.

Now the knight can correct this by getting a block skill, but the Spear Guy can largely do the same since even at Poor he's still got plenty of money left over to buy a shield, though he'd lose 1 point of damage. Not sure how this would play out. Unlike the knight, the Spear guy can't really be kept at a distance because he's likely moving the same speed as the archer (whereas the archer is likely moving much faster than the knight).

Last edited by OddGamer; 03-28-2022 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 03-28-2022, 12:54 AM   #12
OddGamer
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

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Originally Posted by Farmer View Post
Thanks. Effective discussion technique.

It's good to have a discussion and have people correct things. That's how we learn. I think you've set up such an unrealistic scenario that I'll agree I was throwing in a number of things to try to get a more balanced take on it. Things that aren't simulated with your straight numbers.

I'll add that without a shield skill, you've removed the possibility of closing the close combat to cause issues for the spear. You've removed block. You haven't considered attacking the spear to break (knight goes first, too). A spear is already a *very* effective weapon, so when you create a completely unrealistic scenario to further advantage it, you've pretty much guaranteed it's going to "win".

Anyway, I did learn some valuable things from the conversation, mostly unrelated to game mechanics, but still.
Yeah... adding a shield skill might help. If I get that to 12 on the knight, and sink the same number of point into Spear Guy's spear skill (again, keeping them even), I think that gets Spear Guy to 28 only. He now has a 17 parry, but also closing to close combat is not as helpful as you might think. Notice that Spear Guy has the 'Close Combat' technique from Martial Arts, meaning he can use his spear in Close Combat at a -4. Perhaps if he were knocked down, too, that'd be a -8? ... Okay, so now I'm imagining this heavily armored knight jumping on top of the Spear Guy in a very inappropriate fashion... it might be late. :P

In any case, I wasn't trying to 'create a scenario' to make it more advantageous. Honestly I stumbled onto this entirely by accident. I was trying to make a combat simulator so I'd have a vague idea of 'if I put my players up against this baddy/group, how likely are they to survive the fight'. I made a lot of simplifying assumptions (basically the two sides just sit there and hit each other until they go down, no feinting, etc.) for the purposes of running the simulation, but I wasn't trying to favor spears at the start. Heck, the whole reason I picked the spear initially was the serious possibility that the player wouldn't be able to afford anything I initially thought was better!

I've decided to cap skill at 16 after seeing all this stuff, because... beyond that it gets ridiculous as this shows.
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Old 03-28-2022, 01:27 AM   #13
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

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Originally Posted by Gold & Appel Inc View Post
Spear Guy rapidly develops a reputation. Nobody engages him in hostilities except at range, and his social life isn't great either once he becomes known as a serial eye-stabber. He is a lonely man who talks to his spear, which he has given a girl's name in a fit of maddening loneliness. Even if he has a hobby he's terrible at it. There is no relief but the death of a broken man.
A response of pure beauty.

But yeah, add me to the growing list of those who find Spear-27 ridiculous, and that's not even addressing how a schmuck "poor peasant" gets to a level beyond Dr Kromm's "best in the history of the world" marker. (For my part, in 37 years of GMing GURPS, and over 200 characters, I've allowed two players to reach -25 with a single skill each. Their characters were something like 325 and over 500 pts apiece, at the time.)

Granted, this is a time-honored riff ... remember the people who just could not be separated from the concept that Utter Dome + Create Fire was the invincible tactic that would surely have its practitioners ruling the world?
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Old 03-28-2022, 03:55 AM   #14
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Equal points does not mean equal ability, only equal potential.
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Old 03-28-2022, 04:11 AM   #15
Plane
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

in the case of unparryable (deceptive -10) attacks to the eye, can't you just opt to hold a buckler in front of the eye slit as cover (have to strike THROUGH it) to stop this?
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Old 03-28-2022, 04:20 AM   #16
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

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in the case of unparryable (deceptive -10) attacks to the eye, can't you just opt to hold a buckler in front of the eye slit as cover (have to strike THROUGH it) to stop this?
Fighting blind is not really a great idea, plus I guess the spear guy can simply stab some place else w/o the need to do a deceptive attack since you can't defend anyway. An Impaling attack to the vitals is not as bad as one to the eye but it will still eventually kill, it will just be slower and more painful.
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Old 03-28-2022, 09:15 AM   #17
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Part of the issue is that GURPS makes eye-shots too easy.
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Old 03-28-2022, 09:25 AM   #18
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Character points spent in a melee weapon skill are way more effective than points spent in just about anything else combat-related in realistic low tech games.
That single skill gives you the ability to hit (and pierce defenses with deceptive attack), deal lots of damage (by targeting vulnerable locations), and defend yourself (using parry). In 3e, "physical" skills have a slower progression (maxing out at a cost of 8/level rather than 4), which helped mitigate this problem--I have adopted this as a house rule for weapon skills in 4e, and it has really helped with this problem. I highly recommend it, I have seen no negative side effects, and my players have even talked about how much they liked this change when I first implemented it, because they could focus on other aspects of their characters.

People sometimes talk as if this is only a problem when you have "spear guy" and how unrealistic he is, but it's really a problem for every PC who has to contemplate whether to spend 4 points raising melee weapon skill or raising anything else combat-related--raising melee weapon skill just looks better a lot of the time.

In fantasy games, the threats can be much more various, so you might consider whether it's more important to have, say, Will for resisting mind control or Dodge for avoiding lightning bolts, or what you'll do against a skeleton with no eyes and DR 6 plate armor when you have ST 10 and Spear-27.
But even in DF, I've found my house rule is fun and definitely worth having, so that you don't end up with a Rapier-30 Swashbuckler within a few sessions of advancement. The Swashbuckler already has an Edged Rapier to do sw cut damage, Weapon Master to do a lot of damage, and Luck to avoid crit fails and other mishaps, so they avoid some of the weaknesses of "spear guy."
What really messes things up for the GM (and other players) is that any enemy that even threatens Rapier-30 guy on the battlefield instantly slaughters everyone else...
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Old 03-28-2022, 09:49 AM   #19
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

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Originally Posted by Aldric View Post
Fighting blind is not really a great idea, plus I guess the spear guy can simply stab some place else w/o the need to do a deceptive attack since you can't defend anyway. An Impaling attack to the vitals is not as bad as one to the eye but it will still eventually kill, it will just be slower and more painful.
The idea is that someone who is fully armored could do this to protect his eyes. Now, "fully armored" generally does have armor gaps other than just the eyes; of note here is the armpit (where you are hitting the Vitals, and can cripple the arm to add insult to injury), which you'll be exposing by holding that shield up anyway (and, humorously, these armor gaps are actually easier to hit than the eye slits). Of course, at TL 4, those may be covered by mail, thanks to the knight's arming garments. On the other hand, there are face coverings that will prevent a spear from being able to hit the eyes without having to deal with DR - see this thread.

As for the topic of this thread - yes, pumping all your points into a single combat skill is a very effective, if boring, way to build a fighter. The primary way to avoid this is to just say "No." Failing that, things like needing to maintain your skills, making it clear that many scenarios in the setting won't call for just stabbing things as an effective means of getting through them, enforcing the use of templates, having foes who have full-coverage DR (such that you need higher ST to wound them), etc, can certainly help.
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Last edited by Varyon; 03-28-2022 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 03-28-2022, 10:36 AM   #20
Tomsdad
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

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Originally Posted by OddGamer View Post
Yeah... adding a shield skill might help. If I get that to 12 on the knight, and sink the same number of point into Spear Guy's spear skill (again, keeping them even), I think that gets Spear Guy to 28 only. He now has a 17 parry, but also closing to close combat is not as helpful as you might think. Notice that Spear Guy has the 'Close Combat' technique from Martial Arts, meaning he can use his spear in Close Combat at a -4. Perhaps if he were knocked down, too, that'd be a -8? ... Okay, so now I'm imagining this heavily armored knight jumping on top of the Spear Guy in a very inappropriate fashion... it might be late. :P

In any case, I wasn't trying to 'create a scenario' to make it more advantageous. Honestly I stumbled onto this entirely by accident. I was trying to make a combat simulator so I'd have a vague idea of 'if I put my players up against this baddy/group, how likely are they to survive the fight'. I made a lot of simplifying assumptions (basically the two sides just sit there and hit each other until they go down, no feinting, etc.) for the purposes of running the simulation, but I wasn't trying to favor spears at the start. Heck, the whole reason I picked the spear initially was the serious possibility that the player wouldn't be able to afford anything I initially thought was better!

I've decided to cap skill at 16 after seeing all this stuff, because... beyond that it gets ridiculous as this shows.


While I'd say 27 is clearly a exceptionally high skill for most settings which in turn can be leveraged to get exceptional results (as you pointed out) especially if no on else comes close, a cap at 16 might be going a bit far in the other direction depending on what you want in your game.


For instance a cap at 16 meaning a lot of fighters will be lower will make shields very powerful in relative terms. This is not necessarily a bad thing of course!

What kind of feel are you going for here?

I used to run a lot of v.low fantasy/historical, combat skills v.rarely over 20. fights generally favored defense and players had to generally speaking look for advantages and tricks to get past defensive opponents rather than raw skill.
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