September 17, 2018 0 comments

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"Fighting With Two Weapons" Combat Options

Hello everyone,
I want to submit to the community a particular combat option that we hope you will include in your game sessions so that you can help us playtest it.

Please feel free to provide your feedback in this post, and please always specify whether your observation is a consequence of a game situation or is a personal take. Both points of view are welcome and equally considered.


Fighting With Two Weapons

A character may want to fight with two weapons at once in melee.
Generally speaking, this is a diminishing return condition in most cases. However, a skilled fighter can actually be very effective against lesser skilled opponents attacking with two weapons.

The general rule for two-weapon fighting characters is:

  • The two weapons must be one-handed weapons.
  • At least one of the two weapons (the one wielded in the “off hand”) must generally be a Hand or Short weapon, or the character must be wielding two bladed weapons of the same size - like two arming swords.
  • Both attacks suffer a special -20 penalty to the CMB.
  • The Clumsy Range for both weapons is doubled, to a maximum of 1-10.
  • The amount of CMB used to Parry is subtracted from the total CMB of each attack. However, the character wielding two weapons at once can split the CMB they use to parry in two pools and use it against two different attacks.
  • A character may want to fight with two weapons at once in melee.
  • Generally speaking, this is a diminishing return condition in most cases. However, a skilled fighter can actually be very effective against lesser skilled opponents attacking with two weapons.
"Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." "Doesn't sound too bad, I'll try to stay awake"

I expect I can get my group to adopt VsD at the end of January. At that time I’ll see if anyone wants to try Two-Weapon Fighting (though it’ll be ineffective if we get started at Level 1). In the meantime...

I have a larger design question. Perhaps this should be its own thread. Just how much “crunch” do you imagine for the finished product of VsD? Calculating the proliferating conditions and penalties and modifiers in the family of games to which VsD belongs slows down gameplay. I imagine that you want a manageable level of complexity and simulationism. As such, I expect it’s difficult to maintain perfect balance. (On my end, I try to remove as many modifiers as possible; my ideal game would be one roll and one table, but I haven’t discovered a workable utility for removing Def and some modifiers.)

All this is to introduce my own suggestion for Two-Weapon Fighting. How about, if a character wants to be skilled at fighting with two hands, that character independently develops the off-hand in the usual way of assigning skill ranks during skill development. For me, I think there would be some crossover in skill in fighting with an off hand, if one is reasonably trained with one’s primary hand, but not much (perhaps a bonus of +10 or +20, the total not to exceed the total bonus of the primary hand).

Howdy Gabe, and welcome to the forums also from my side!

I will try answer your question since I developed myself the draft of most of the rules for combat.

As a matter of fact yes, VsD is a crunchy game. The combat rules are probably the crunchier bit of the whole game. The full rules will feature lots of options for tactical combat over the Quickstart, and suggestions to make up more combat maneuvers and tactics. All these options are, however, exactly that: optional. VsD combat works fairly well with only the rules provided in the Quickstart, and has a decent amount of tactical options too. Just the fact of having to decide wheter to attack or parry and with what amount each is an interesting enough tactical choice to be made. Different weapons with different lenghts and attack tables/crits makes combat probably less boring than a mere "rollin to hit and then to damage" stuff.

However yes: the Full Rules will have quite more options for combat, spell casting, adventuring. But one would be able to choose whether to use all of these options, none, or pick them one by one to incorporate in their game and disregard the others as one sees fit.

As for Two Weapon Combat. In real life fighting with two weapons is a tricky thing and only very skilled masters can be effective at it, mostly using block & strike techniques. The two weapon combat seen in movies and games is something that hystorically never existed. This could eventually never have mattered, since VsD is a fantasy game and not a treatise of medieval fencing, however we wanted to prevent a single fighting technique to be superior to any other. In many (most) games, being tabletop RPGs or VGs, dual-wielding is simply the best melee technique you may want to develop. We instead wanted players in VsD to actually be effective in combat independently of the combat style used, and also make player's skill matter over character's skill.  This is why we "nerfed" two weapon fighting a little - although it is still there, it's a viable option, but you'd probably better be a high level Warrior or Champion to use it effectively.

Your proposed rule sounds interesting; it is somehow similar to the rules for TWC in the original *master games. It is maybe a bit over complicated but if you feel comfortable with it why not giving it a try in your game. We also thought initially of making TWC a secondary skill, but soon discarded the idea to straighten up the rules. Who knows... Maybe an improved version of the TWC option could still find its way in future releases!

Gabe Dybing has reacted to this post.
Gabe Dybing
For no one in this world you can trust, my son. Not man, not woman, not beast. But STEEL... this, you can trust!

Hi, SOLIDToM! A pleasure!

I’m sure I’m going to appreciate the various options and certainly use whatever is most relevant for my game. I also prefer the rules to be more simulationist of reality than of “fantasy.” The sources that inspire VsD (Tolkien, Le Guin, etc.) don’t ignore “our world’s” understanding of physics, though I’m thinking that legitimate TWC might be an Elven Kin option or—as you say—the Champion vocation.

I agree with you that, realistically and historically, TWC is more a means of defense rather than offense. This reminds me of a house rule in Swords & Wizardry (the game I have been playing most recently). That rules set treats an offhand weapon analogously to a shield. A shield adds +1 to AC, so a weapon in the shield hand simply adds +1 to the character’s attack bonus.

To use this as a precedent for VsD, a shield in any of the *master games adds (roughly) +25 to Def. So someone with an offhand weapon is giving up the added Def of a shield for a different kind of Def. To go “full crunch” here, I’m thinking (depending on type and size of the weapon) an offhand weapon provides only +5 - +15 to Def, BUT, if an opponent’s guard ever goes down, the TW fighter can exploit the off hand weapon for more damage. I’m thinking of two TWC effects here:

1. If the TW fighter ever lands a critical, that character can adjust the critical result (up or down on the table) by the remainder of +25 after the bonus still used for Def. (For example, a dagger might provide +5 Def but +/-20 on the crit tables).

2. If for any reason an opponent is unable to parry, the TW fighter can add the full +25 from the offhand weapon to a single attack (provided that the TW fighter is willing to give up all weapon Def at that moment).

Ah, I love this stuff. Thanks for the opportunity to express these sorts of things! I’m looking forward to the full version of VsD!

Hello Gabe,

my name is Nik,  and I’m one of the game designers. Welcome to our forum, and thank you so much for all your precious and interesting ideas. I won’t repeat myself on what Max and Tom already have written on the TWC. I personally really like what you stated in your last post, and since it seems you are on a roll on this topic, I would like to share with you and all the community something that is perhaps aligned with what you suggested.

This a secondary skill linked to a background option, it costs 1 point, and it’s part of a larger group of combat styles that we still play-testing.

Paired Weapons: when you attack with the chosen Skill, if you’re wielding a secondary weapon of the same type in your off hand, you can choose to get a -20 penalty on your Attack Roll to gain a +5 bonus to your Critical Strike Roll for that attack.

Feel free to use it and let us know how it works among your group. Always keep in mind that this is still in play testing phase,  so nothing is written in stone.

Thanks again for your support and don’t hesitate to provide any feedback it is most welcome.


Gabe Dybing has reacted to this post.
Gabe Dybing
"Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." "Doesn't sound too bad, I'll try to stay awake"

Raise, Thread!

Now that the Game is officially out, it's time to revisit the rules for Two-Weapons-Fighting!


Maybe it's because I'm German and do not really understand it because of the language, but ... well, I do not understand it. 🙂

I understand I need to either

  • wield 2 similar one-handed weapons
  • or a one-handed and a short weapon

in order to be entitled to the second attack (free action) with the offhand weapon.

If both attacks get a -20 penalty to hit, this indicates I use my individual CMB (-20 each) for both attacks. So if I have, let's say Blades 80 and Blunt 60, I would attack with my arming sword at +60 and my light mace at +40.

My oppenents need to be at my front, and the clumsy range is doubled. Also, weapon length is reduced by one step. All good.

Now it get's tricky for me: If I have 2 separate attacks with individual CMBs (both reduced by -20), I would reckon I can subtract individually for the sake of Parrying, as both attacks are resolved individually? If so, how does it make sense to split my CMB in 2 pools and use each for a different opponent? Or do I add my CMBs together, define my Parry CMB, split that in 2 pools and allocate them differently? I don't get it. Help anybody, please? I just don't think it is explained very well in the book. Or worded, let's say.



I think an example might clarify this better:

You're fighting with your arming sword and light mace, facing two different opponents. You decide to Parry with 30, so you must subtract 30 from both your mace and your sword CMB. You now have a "parrying pool" of 30. You can use it normally, to Parry the attacks of one opponent, or split it into two different pools and, say Parry one with 20 and the other with 10.

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

Ah, thank you, now it makes sense to me.