Reply To: Battle Report

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Hans Hellinger

Some answers below, interespersed

The fights very much feel like a duel. There is a lot of back and forth. I tried another fighter with the Meisterhau/Versetzen combo but he lost, too. It was a much closer fight, though. Now I’m trying that duelist vs. a Halberd fighter… slip-thrust is just nasty.

Yes… and polearms have a lot of reach, do a lot of damage, and have some extra special traits (like allowing ‘grappling at a distance’)

I’m not exactly sure how many martial feats you are supposed to have, I’ve been building 4th level characters with 4 feats. I made a 5th level guy with 7 feats and he just dominated. I think 1 feat per level seems good, but I’m not sure. I know 4th level is a good starting level for this system, so I am trying different builds.

The Players Guide is your friend here. The nominal rule or recommendation for characters MF is one per fighter or other martial class level a bit less than that for other class types depending on the specific one. Another way to do this is one per (3.X) BaB / or (Codex) Prowess (Proficiency ala 5e goes up too slowly).

Players Guide gives you a bunch of classes ranging from heavily martial (Soldier, Knight, Nomad) to hybrid partially martial (Artisan, Courtier, Noble, Patrician) to a diminishing degree of fighting ability (Scholar, Outlaw, Sailor, Friar, Zealot). Most Chrs are multi-classed by default in Codex historical adventures so your typical equivalent will be probably an average of three MF per four levels, less or more depending on the focus of the character build.

Though the “Lifepath” Character Generation system in the Players Guide is meant for historical gaming, it’s also intended to be a template you can use and borrow from to create your own system or adapt Codex to other systems.

As you can see, having a lot of MF makes a big difference. This is basically the alternative to having tons of hit points and magic. It gives the PCs something fun and engaging to do every turn, and does make them more powerful. One interesting idea to try out in a duel would be a typical Codex character of say, 5th level with 5 MF but a max of 30 hit points and historical weapons, vs something more like a typical Pathfinder character of the same level with ~70 hit points and a few magic artifacts, and more generic DnD type weapons and armor.

The pre-generated PCs are very interesting but not necessarily optimal for combat. I notice some armor values are different from the main rules but I imagine you are constantly updating those kinds of things.

Where you find discrepancies, if you have time, I’d appreciate if you could let us know. The pre-gen PCs were made with a computer application which is (I think) 99% “in sync” with the current core rules but there still may be a few variations. Armor can also vary in quality and coverage and so on, and (what I think is the most likely issue you are seeing) many of those PCs have ‘ad-hoc’ armor made up of various pieces, per the Armor and Missile Weapons rulebook. So for example they might have a mail shirt but also some gauntlets and a helmet, which would increase Bypass Penalty.

Some of those characters are more fighter or duelist types, while others are more focused on diplomacy, scholarly knowledge, or some other skill set, or are more “shooters” than “sluggers”, so to speak. One of them is a physician. So not all of them are optimized for fighting in hand to hand combat, no. But I think at least two or three of them are. Some of them are really good at avoiding fights in various ways which is also important in a Codex campaign!

I find that Distance Fighting is almost essential (which requires Sidestep, using up 2 feat slots) unless you have a shield or buckler. I’ve build some shield users with Bind and Strike that were quite effective, although I gave them Viking shields which are easily torn apart (especially going up against a great axe).

If you read the Sagas, shields were always getting cut up. During some forms of traditional Viking duels or judicial combats, (holmgang) they used to issue each fighter three shields, because they would be destroyed so quickly. However shields last longer when protecting against missiles (particularly thrown missiles).

Distance Fighting is very helpful – so long as you have room to move back. This may not always be the case in a dungeon chamber or inside of a building. There are also other MF which are also very handy for defense. Versetzen, Absetzen or Abzug for example. Feinting or as you noticed, Contra Tempo or Mezzo Tempo can also help break up those multi-dice attacks before they happen.

Certain feat combos just work so well together. I’ve studied those builds on page 45. Some of the feats seem confusing, but that usually clears up during play. I find that 1-on-1 duels really help to learn the system. Sometimes I forget to do something (like Contra Tempo). Some of those feats requiring Slash or Chop attacks seem very limiting, as armor is so strong against those types of attacks. For instance Asbetzen requires the opponent using slash, chop, or bludgeon attacks.

What is the case for a given combination of antagonists may not be the same for another. Generally from my experience, whether or not chop or slash attacks are being used is based largely on the opponents armor. If their coverage is below say, 8 to Bypass, then multi-dice chop or slash attacks can still be a good idea. Keep in mind, chop and slash do more critical hit damage (D10 and D12 respectively). Similarly if their armor isn’t very protective (i.e. textile or just cheap armor) chop and slash can still get through it. Bludgeon is always good since it works well against armor anyway, and bludgeon weapons usually do a lot of base damage (and many have good AP).

If your opponent is in full cap a pied armor (which costs them an MP penalty, usually) but they are on foot, the best bet is often to grapple them or use specialized weapons. With some weapons like a halberd you can pull them down from a distance. If they are in cap a pied armor and are on horseback, run away!

One thing I haven’t heard you mention yet is the whole realm of missile weapons. Missiles can change the situation in a small group fight or even a one on one duel. Weapons like crossbows and handguns can wreck people from a distance, while less formidable weapons like hurlbat or a javelin can help start a fight advantageously.

I do appreciate your feedback. I don’t know if I’ll ever get a campaign going but I hope to. I would probably not use late medieval Earth myself. I think it’s perfect for Conan’s world and I might try that. Personally I would love a historical setting but I don’t know about my players. My old GM drove us crazy by constantly starting new campaigns with new systems and never actually finishing anything. I’ve GMed a Pathfinder campaign from 1st to 14th level so far, almost completing the story. The mindset would be very different with this system.

Conan is a great fit I think, though you would have to customize a bit. I think Codex goes together very well with Conan. Basically any low magic / low fantasy setting is pretty easy. You can do high magic too but there is more to think about.

I will definitely keep an eye on your page for updates. I haven’t dove into your magic system yet. I might take a look at that Baltic book you’ve written for campaign ideas.

The magic book is a lot, and so are the Baltic books! The magic is based on historical grimoires, and basically just exists on the assumption that the magic the people of the era thought was real, is real. I think you’ll like it.

The Baltic Books are basically an encyclopedia of the historical reality of mid 15th Century Central Europe. Those are not game books, they are strait history books, I think mostly HEMA people buy them. They are useful as a reference – but a lot to read at one sitting. At the risk of sounding self-aggrandizing, they are at a pretty high level of research in terms of sources and thoroughness, though I am an amateur researcher so of course it’s not perfect. I wrote those basically because I couldn’t find anything like that written in English, and I needed it.

I learned a lot while compiling those books and I have lectured at universities on this specific period of medieval history, and published some peer-reviewed academic articles, so I’m not a complete dilettante. But, as with all would-be historians, the best thing I can provide is probably the bibliography, and as many direct quotations as I can from the primary sources, so the reader can look to the data and decide for their-self.

For campaign ideas, the Players Guide takes a lot of what is in the Baltic books and simmers it down to something much more manageable. It gives you some useful (if fairly broad) guidelines on running historical adventures in various types of polities (principalities, city-states, theocratic states etc.) in late medieval Central Europe. And there are a lot of charts with sample equipment and so on. Hopefully in the future we will have some more specific ones for other times / places / genres. If you had to pick one for us to do, which one would you be interested in?