Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Barbarian meatgrinder

So, last session I let the Barbarian bring a maul to a sword party. My poor bandits weren't expecting anything of the sort and were brutally murdered. Brutally! I wept. The children wept. The little puppies wept. (I even had the players wincing at one point - I'm particularly proud of that.) But! lo! a voice from the heavens! I looked into the Holy Writ and it said '13‡'.

Glory! My (next) bandits were saved! That damn dirty ape-err, I mean, technologically challenged exemplar of the Elder Race could no more deal out double-fisted death every turn with a mere 16 ST. Muahahaha!

So I spoke to the player about this, and last night we came up with a solution. (It helps that she's my wife - it means easy access to her opinions on the matter.) At first she wanted to go with a mace, but I explained the delicious advantages of wielding a Reach 1,2 weapon  when all your foes are stuck at Reach 1. So that was out. Still, she didn't like the idea of not getting two attacks every round. "But with a maul," I explained, "you would need to be effectively ST 20 in order to hit with it every round. Instead you'll be taking an All-Out Attack (Strong) and then readying the maul your next turn." I toyed with the idea of making a house rule saying that if you All-Out Attack (Double) you can switch that second attack for a Ready, but no - that was explicitly debarred in the rules, and I respect that when something is explicitly mentioned as a bad idea, Evil Stevie and Dr. Kromm mean it. (Side note: I'd pay money to see a riff off Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog starring Steve Jackson, Sean Punch, and Warehouse 23.)

We cast around for options. She had five points to spend; those obviously went into Striking ST 1. (I allow my players to upgrade Striking ST to full-bore ST if they're lacking ST that the 250-point template calls for.) Okay, ST 17 still isn't enough to wield a maul without it becoming unready. Hmm...what other Two-Handed Axe/Mace weapons are there?

She liked this one specifically.
Oh. Warhammer. A sledgehammer with a spike on one end. And that's only 12‡, you say? Where's the dotted line? 1.5 times 12 is 18; only 9 more points and she'll be swinging that monster twice a round.

My innards ache in sympathy just thinking about it.

(As if that weren't bad enough, going back over her character sheet, I realized that the maul was Dwarven - what berserker barbarian who also has Sense of Duty (Adventuring Companions) also needs a Dwarven weapon? - and that she never spent the extra $900 of debt per person the party was loaned from the Arcanists' Assembly in Verbobonc. So now our Barbarian has a silvered warhammer and real armor as well. Oi, vey. It's a good thing the Knight is badass in his own right.)


  1. Technically, the warhammer doesn't have a hammer head on the peen, it's purely a spiked weapon.

    If you add a hammer head, it ups the weight by 0.5 lbs and adds $25 to cost. Admittedly that number is for a one-handed weapon, so it's plausible to add a 1 pound, $50 hammer head if you think that's more fair. Either way, ST of the weapon is unchanged. With the hammer head, it would do sw+4 crushing (if you follow Low-Tech's charts) or sw+3 crushing (Basic Set), same as the sw/impaling attack.

    As for Dwarven, don't forget Parry 0U for either the maul or warhammer. So if you want to attack and parry with or without that ST 18, you'll need Dwarven to get rid of the U.

    But it's a nice weapon. Don't forget you need to check if it gets stuck, and you need to spend an extra turn pulling it out of your opponent if you use the impaling point. But it's incredibly lethal. ST 17 is 3d+3 impaling, which is 6-21 base damage, 12-42 after the +100% for impaling to the torso! (Vitals shots are out, though, it's not a thrusting attack.)

    Hope that helps.

    1. It does! Most of that I already knew, but it's a good reminder, especially about getting stuck, because that's easy to forget in play. (Not that it'll matter too much, ST 16 has a pretty high chance of pulling it out.)

      The player knows that her damage is going to shift from crushing to impaling and is fine with that, and that technically it doesn't have a hammer head. If she wants to do crushing damage for some reason, I'll allow her to reverse the weapon for -1 damage per die. (Swung impaling weapons aren't mentioned on B401, but I figure that's a fair ruling, in line with Defensive Attack.)

      As for the 0U, it doesn't matter. She'll never be parrying. The first time anyone gets hit in combat she hulks out.

    2. Torso? I foresee a technique in her future - Targeted Attack (Warhammer Swing/Skull). Got a nice ring to it. And with that strength behind it, there's little armor out there that could protect, even with the DR2 skull in the way, from a nice x4 damage shot to the brain.

      Mmm. Brains.

    3. +Peter, you can target the vitals with any impaling attack, even swung ones. It's one of the things that changed between 3rd and 4th editions.

      +Patrick, I'd recommend upgrading to a crushing hammer-head on the maul. There are a lot of monsters in DF that have Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous), like golems, and they're usually bad enough news that you want to take them out quickly. Giving up 3-4 points of damage against them by using an improvised striking surface is bad; using an impaling weapon against them (and having injury past DR) is much worse.

    4. Thanks, Mark. I'm not (yet) allowing combination weapons and other Low-Tech paraphernalia into the game; we're keeping it in the Basic Set and DF line. However, once (if) she gets up to ST 20 I wouldn't be surprised if she switches back to the maul.

    5. Where is the rule on checking if it gets stuck? I noticed this trait to the warhammer, but not how to resolve it.

    6. The rules for swung impaling weapons getting stuck are on B405, "Chapter 13 Special Combat Situations: Special Melee Weapon Rules:: Picks".

    7. Mark, don't tell my players they can aim for vital with sw/imp. I forget that and they don't seem to remember it either. I'll bust it out when I need it. ;)

  2. Christian, see page 405 of the Campaigns book, under Picks.

    It breaks down to a ST roll to pull it free, costing you a ready action, if you penetrate DR with it.

    When it comes out, it does half again the damage it did going in. Gruesome.