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  • #2799
    Caldreas
    Participant

    I played out a 1-on-1 duel with the following characters:

    Fighter 1: Duelist armed with a cut-thrust sword, buckler, and scale armor. His martial feats were Contra Tempo, Distance Fighting, Mezzo Tempo, and Sidestep
    Fighter 2: Swordsman armed with a bastard sword wearing scale armor. His martial feats were Distance Fighting, Fuhlen, Mutieren, and Sidestep.
    The duelist dominated this fight. He won initiative and every round he started with Mezzo Tempo. The swordsman would waste an MP every round to block it. The duelist would keep pressing forward with 1 die attacks. When it was finally the swordsman’s turn, he was often down to 2 MP or less. He would go to attack, then the duelist would strike out with Contra Tempo with 1 or 2 dice when he could.
    The swordsman used Fuhlen a few times to successfully block attacks. He never had a chance to use Mutieren. He was really good at blocking attacks but he would just run out of MP and spent most of the fight on the defensive.
    The duelist just kept harassing his opponent, piercing him when he was out of MP and unable to defend himself. Some attacks that came at the duelist were easily blocked with the combination of the buckler and distance fighting. He was hit a couple times, though. But he hit the swordsman hard, one time hitting him for 16 points of damage; 1d8 (an 8!) +3 and 1d6 (a 5!) for Artful Strike for his 2-die attack. He usually went for the armor bypass, although the final blow he punched through the armor for the final 3 points of damage that took his opponent below 0 HP.
    I think the Duelist’s feats give him an edge in this matchup. Of course luck always plays a part. I’m curious how this would play out in multiple battles. I wish I could plug the numbers into a computer and run a hundred simulations to see what would happen. Anyway, I really enjoy playing this duelist character. I played him against a different fighter and lost, he kept rolling 1s on the Mezzo Tempo attacks.
    I plan on doing some more duels like this in the future, it really helps to teach how these Martial Feats work. I was doing larger battles with multiple opponents using different combinations of feats but that can get hectic until I have a better feel for how they work.

    #2803
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Interesting! We have been doing some computer simulations of Codex (and a nascent computer game) actually with the intention of posting some results exactly like that, and doing little scenarios like you have been playing out. It kind of got derailed by the Hurricane but we might have something like that we can post soon.

    It does sound like an interesting fight! Kind of similar to the duel in Rob Roy if you have ever seen that:

    For your two hand sword guy, you might want to try a couple of different MF. Meisterhau and / or Versetzen are good for longsword guys (allowing for simultaneous attack and defense), as is Absetzen (defensive, but also a simultaneous piercing attack – very deadly). Some “interrupting” MF are good for cases where you lose initiative, like Counterstroke, Schnappen, Bind and Batter etc.. Provoker / Taker / Hitter is an effective offensive tool, good for longsword guys and saber etc. as well.

    Here is Anton Kohutovic doing some nice Absetzens…

    I think what you are doing is a good way to test out different combinations of MF. There is a section in Monsterberg which describes tactics for different pre-gen PCs, and this along with the stuff on pages 45-47 of core rules help give you some idea of a few ‘packages’ which work well together (there are definitely many others though). Duelists are one of the most interesting archetypes I agree. You can make characters like that out of Courtiers, Nobles, Scholars or other hybrid character types.

    You seem well on your way to figuring it out though. Look forward to hearing about the next one!

    #2804
    Caldreas
    Participant

    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.

    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 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. 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).

    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.

    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.

    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.

    #2805
    Caldreas
    Participant

    I just finished that duelist vs. a halberd fighter with Distance Fighting, Poll-axe Fighting, Side Step, and Slip-Thrust. The polearm fighter dominated this one. He started every round with slip-thrust and the duelist kept moving away. Polearm guy just ignored the armor and punched through several times, effectively hitting for 3d6-1 with artful strike and armor factored in. He even voluntarily took damage just so he had more MP for attack to finish off his enemy. Duelist was unlucky with most of his Mezzo Tempo attacks. Battle lasted 7 rounds (which seems typical in my battles).

    #2806
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    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?

    #2808
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Needless to say your fights will got a lot quicker if it’s not between two equally matched, experienced fighters with good armor and equipment and a lot of Martial Feats.

    #2809
    Caldreas
    Participant

    What I noticed most was a lot of armor had the same DR vs. Piercing and Slashing in those character sheets. For instance, Johannes has Brigandine and Helmet listed as DR 8 for Piercing and Slashing. Looking at the core rules, Brigandine typically has 3 times the protection for Slashing (for instance Brigandine & Gambeson is listed as 6/12/18). I didn’t really study the sheets that closely, but I did see that on various characters.

    I will have to play around with Slash and Chop attacks. It just seems like bypass is the only option if there is any decent armor. I guess you could just attack the armor instead. That seems kind of like cheating, is it really that easy to hack a chainmail shirt so it’s useless? Chainmail is listed as 6 Hardness and 5 HP so a nice chop or slash for 11 points would destroy it if I’m understanding the rules. I have no idea if it was that easy or not, I believe your team has done the research so I’ll trust your judgement.

    I have played around with ranged weapons a little. I think a thrown weapon in the beginning of a battle is a good idea before they get in close. Bows have been dangerous, but it was easy to rush into range and engage them up close. If they try to back off for another shot that’s an opportunity attack (unlike standard Pathfinder rules that allows a 5-foot stop with no OA). I love how the bows are deadlier up close. A little more bookkeeping but more realistic for sure.

    I always enjoyed Robert E. Howards original Conan stories because he used real history for his fictional world. Of course he threw in “low” magic and monsters, often fighting great apes, giant spiders, and “things from beyond (like Cthulhu)”. He mostly fought humans and he often wore armor when he could get it.

    I have always been interested in history and that time you picked in the Baltic does seem to have a lot of opportunity for stories and adventure. I’ve always been interested in the Vikings myself although I don’t know how it would work for an RPG. Looting a coastal town doesn’t seem particularly inspirational for players that usually play heroes! The Eastern World is always fascinating as well.

    #2810
    Caldreas
    Participant

    Needless to say your fights will got a lot quicker if it’s not between two equally matched, experienced fighters with good armor and equipment and a lot of Martial Feats.

    Definitely. I’ve fought some of the NPCs in your books and I made a few of my own. My 2nd level militia guys with spears and shields go down fast, although they can do some serious harm. I like how a low-level threat can still be dangerous. Part of the reason I’m doing this is to build PCs and see how they work against equal opponents with different feat combos. I suspect standard 3.5 characters would kill each other in about 3 rounds. There are just not much in the way of tactics in 3.5. Power attack, full attack.. kind of boring actually. The character building is all about maximizing AC, HP, attack bonus, and damage. I like how in your system a rich baron could arm villagers with polearms and good armor and have a decent fighting force.

    #2811
    Caldreas
    Participant

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Caldreas.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Caldreas.
    #2814
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    What I noticed most was a lot of armor had the same DR vs. Piercing and Slashing in those character sheets. For instance, Johannes has Brigandine and Helmet listed as DR 8 for Piercing and Slashing. Looking at the core rules, Brigandine typically has 3 times the protection for Slashing (for instance Brigandine & Gambeson is listed as 6/12/18). I didn’t really study the sheets that closely, but I did see that on various characters.

    Thanks for pointing that out, that looks like an error on our character sheets, Chop and Slash are out of order too, it may have had a problem importing the data into the PDF. I’ll have to take a look at that tonight. I think I need to do an update.

    I will have to play around with Slash and Chop attacks. It just seems like bypass is the only option if there is any decent armor. I guess you could just attack the armor instead. That seems kind of like cheating, is it really that easy to hack a chainmail shirt so it’s useless? Chainmail is listed as 6 Hardness and 5 HP so a nice chop or slash for 11 points would destroy it if I’m understanding the rules. I have no idea if it was that easy or not, I believe your team has done the research so I’ll trust your judgement.

    No, you have another fair point there – it is not that easy to damage mail, especially well made mail, though a really powerful cutting weapon like a halberd could break some links. The current ‘Hardness’ value for armor is kind of a compromise between ‘cinematic’ and ‘realistic’. We have a house rule that armor can only be degraded by 1 DR per attack, but I didn’t include that in the Published rules because I thought it added another layer of complexity.

    I have played around with ranged weapons a little. I think a thrown weapon in the beginning of a battle is a good idea before they get in close. Bows have been dangerous, but it was easy to rush into range and engage them up close. If they try to back off for another shot that’s an opportunity attack (unlike standard Pathfinder rules that allows a 5-foot stop with no OA). I love how the bows are deadlier up close. A little more bookkeeping but more realistic for sure.

    So in war, or with your party, you will typically have tough guys with shields and / or good armor up front, and shooters behind them. That is where it gets tough.

    I always enjoyed Robert E. Howards original Conan stories because he used real history for his fictional world. Of course he threw in “low” magic and monsters, often fighting great apes, giant spiders, and “things from beyond (like Cthulhu)”. He mostly fought humans and he often wore armor when he could get it.

    Yes exactly. Just like Leiber and Vance, the protagonist was in real danger. All three of those authors based their work on history and mythology. Subsuquent fantasy authors based their work on… other fantasy authors. And it shows!

    I have always been interested in history and that time you picked in the Baltic does seem to have a lot of opportunity for stories and adventure. I’ve always been interested in the Vikings myself although I don’t know how it would work for an RPG. Looting a coastal town doesn’t seem particularly inspirational for players that usually play heroes! The Eastern World is always fascinating as well.

    Viking is one of the ones we are looking at doing, though it would really be three separate sourcebooks – Swedish Vikings facing East to Finland and South to the Russian and Central Asian Steppes and the Byzantine Empire, Danish Vikings facing France, Germany, the Low Countries and Britain, and Norwegian Vikings facing the British Isles, Faeroes Orkney, Ireland, and Iceland. It can definitely be done well and right (and be quite epic) but you really need to know the material well. Have you read the sagas, like say, Grettir’s Saga or Egil’s Saga? Hrolf Kraki?

    #2815
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Definitely. I’ve fought some of the NPCs in your books and I made a few of my own. My 2nd level militia guys with spears and shields go down fast, although they can do some serious harm. I like how a low-level threat can still be dangerous. Part of the reason I’m doing this is to build PCs and see how they work against equal opponents with different feat combos. I suspect standard 3.5 characters would kill each other in about 3 rounds. There are just not much in the way of tactics in 3.5. Power attack, full attack.. kind of boring actually. The character building is all about maximizing AC, HP, attack bonus, and damage. I like how in your system a rich baron could arm villagers with polearms and good armor and have a decent fighting force.

    Yeah both skill and equipment are important. If the villagers have some fighting experience (reflected by at least 2 or 3 MP) with good armor and weapons they could be dangerous. Conversely, a 6th level soldier with five or six MF, even just a knife and no armor could also be dangerous. And getting ganged up on is definitely a major problem.

    Regarding armor, armor piercing weapons help. Those +3 or +4 AP bonus don’t sound like much but in practice it means you can start causing serious injuries unless they are wearing very strong armor.

    #2844
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Ok we have fixed the Pre-gen characters armor issue.

    #2845
    Caldreas
    Participant

    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.

    I was curious, I did a little battle. The two characters just tore each other up, round 4 the Codex guy died, but his opponent had 1 HP left. Basically they hit each other every round. The Pathfinder guy had a +15 attack that was hard to parry, and my duelist had a +12 attack that beat the 21 AC pretty easily. Just stood in place and hacked each other. My Codex guy used Lunge and Riposte but it was a pretty even battle.

    Ok we have fixed the Pre-gen characters armor issue.

    Great, I will check it out.

    Have you read the sagas, like say, Grettir’s Saga or Egil’s Saga? Hrolf Kraki?

    No, but I should put those on my reading list 🙂

    #2846
    Hans Hellinger
    Moderator

    Interesting. I wouldn’t think the Codex character would have too much trouble with a +15 attack if they had good defense and multi-dice rolls.

    How many attacks were you giving your pathfinder guy? With MF like Meisterhau you’d be getting 2 dice attacks which also count for defense, I would think the Pathfinder guy would have a hard time getting hits.

    Try someone with a shield like the Orebite Knight or the Brother Knight in Monsterberg 2 (but on foot, so no lance or charge bonus). Or try a character based around the Ernstfechten longsword fighter. That would be fun to watch.

    #2849
    Caldreas
    Participant

    I realized that the Pathfinder character I was using had some coding errors. Computer was rolling +20 for the attacks, so Codex had to try to block numbers in the 30s. I’ll have to try it again. One thing is that Power Attack is really powerful, popping out 20+ damage pretty easily.

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