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Monday, 10 June 2013

What does a real fight with weapons look like? (Two propellers clashing is too simple an answer)

During the discussion on turn lengths on The Big Purple, there was some nice reality check about armed fights from ChalkLine. I thought it might be useful to read it for inspiration.
    I'm going to give the posters here some background to base thier assumptions off. The following refers to hand-to-hand mediaeval combat.

    First off, people are going to imply I do not know what I'm talking about. So I will say to them that I have spent over a decade fighting in and out of harness (blossfechten and harnissfechten) using medieval weapons. Not LARP, SCA or sports fighting. This is study of medieval combat systems.

    - A fight with weapons last seconds.
    - German style fighters attack several times a second, usually two or three.
    - Any attack which is not with lethal intent gives your opponent the chance to land one instead. Therefore there are NO feints when your life is on the line.
    - Grappling is slower, but not by much. It usually accomplished within five seconds.
    - Any blow is possibly lethal due to shock and pain. You only have to worry about a swordsman and a person reeling in pain is not a swordsman. to quote Hindenburg; 'cut the arm, go home, drink wine.' He means one good hit is a kill, not a whittling of 'hit points'.
    - Nothing is more dangerous and lethal than a dagger fight. I include poll axe here. Daggers are fast, lethal and easy to use with training. Liechtenaur says 'God have mercy on those who fight with daggers.' He means you will not come out unscathed even if you win.
    - Harness fights use the same systems but different attacks. You do not batter armour to kill unless you have a poll weapon or a mace/pick; instead you attack where the armour is weak.
    - The Maxim of Combat is this;
    "The Shortest Route to the Nearest Opening."
    What they mean is speed. Speed means your opponent has no time to cover, block or move.
    Perhaps a one second 'round' in this case is too long.

    I'm practising medieval sword use myself, albeit having much less experience. Also, footage of street fights I've studied wherever I could get it has lead me to similar conclusions. Well, that's true as soon as at least one of the opponents is skilled enough to deal real damage unarmed. With untrained opponents, it often looks like an MMA match that usually ends with ground-and-pound.

And yeah, 1-second might well be too long. Right now, as people on this blog know, I'm using FWTD (or more precisely, the ORC-Classic system, since FWTD is the name of the setting) which has 0.5 seconds long rounds. I find it makes for really dramatic fights where people often end up out of the fight within 3 rounds at most. The drama is in the high stakes, and since most fights end up by someone running away, I'm not even talking about PC death here. If you run by a drug-dealer that forces people to inject his stuff, or a serial killer, how many people would get their lives ruined or ended?

OTOH, realistically, fights do tend to drag out if nobody manages to sneak a strike through the other's defences. They only become dragged-out punch-out affairs if nobody manages to end it early.
So, how long are the fights in your games, and what do the look like?