Defensive Grip

A fighter with at least two hands and a one- or two-handed melee weapon can use a "strong" two-handed grip that sacrifices side-to-side movement for frontal defense. To assume or relinquish a Defensive Grip requires a Ready maneuver (see Ready, p. 101-104).

A Matter of Inches

These rules address minute differences between melee weapons. They're highly optional. Use them only if you want subtle distinctions influencing your battles!

This adjustment plays two roles:

• Add it to skill when making or resisting a Beat.

• Add twice this modifier to parries against flails,

Swing vs. Thrust

Swung weapons enjoy superior damage because they take extra time to apply ST through a long arc, increasing momentum. This makes swings slower than thrusts. When using Who Draws First? (p. 103) and Cascading Waits (p. 108), combatants must declare in advance whether they plan to thrust or swing. Those who intend to swing get -1 in these Quick Contests. When using Stop Hits (p. 108), fighters making swings subtract 1 from their m■ i r<ri n r^f curppcc tr^ cpp lylin m=»tc thp rlpfpncp npnci hf

cumulative with the basic -4. Use this rule instead of for-

bidding fencing weapons to parry flails outright.

Weapon Length

A weapon's Reach statistic is an approximation. "C" describes anything under 1 yard long, "1" covers lengths between 1 yard and just under 2 yards, and so on. Two weapons with identical Reach could differ in length by 1 or 2 feet! It's possible to categorize weapons relative to other weapons with the same Reach:

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Extremely Lone: Bill, dueling polearms (all), eku,

Weapon Weight

glaive, halberd, heavy spear, horse-cutter (any), long

A weapon's weight and balance affect reaction time in

spear, long staff, naginata, pollaxe, quarterstaff, rope dart,

two ways.

Relative Weapon Weight: How heavy the weapon feels. When using Who Draws First?, Cascading Waits, or Stop Hits, each fighter has a modifier for his weapon:

User's ST under weapon's ST statistic: -1 per point of difference

spear, trident.

Very Long: Chain whip, flail, great axe, greatsword, javelin, kusari, kusarigama, kusarijutte, lajatang, maul, monk's spade, scythe, short spear, sodegarami, tetsubo, three-part staff, urumi, warhammer, whip.

Long: Bastard sword, estoc, gada, katana, longsword, rapier (any).

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Bare hands: +2 (or +0; see below) User's ST at least 1.5 times weapon's ST statistic: +1 User's ST at least twice weapon's ST statistic: +2 User's ST three or more times weapon's ST statistic: +3 Unbalanced weapon ("U" in its Parry statistic): -1

Medium: Axe, backsword, bokken, broadsword, cavalry saber, dao, jian, jo, large falchion, late katana, light club, mace, mensurschlager, morningstar, pick.

Short: Baton, bola perdida, bolas, cutlass, dusack, falchion, hatchet, hook sword, jutte, kick, knobbed club, kukri, life-preserver, long knife, nunchaku, qian kun ri yue

Apply this to the Quick Contest or margin of success just like the swing penalty in Swing vs. Thrust. It replaces the -1 for having the heavier weapon in Who Draws First?

This modifier affects two other situations. Bare hands get +0, not +2, in these cases.

dao, saber, sai, shortsword, sickle, small axe, small falchion, small mace, smallsword (any), tonfa, weighted


Very Short: Balisong, bite, dagger (any), deer antlers, elbow, katar (any), knee, knife, knife-wheel, main-gauche,

• Add it to skill when making or resisting a feint. It's

punch, shield bash, short baton, slashing wheel, stiletto,

easier to flip a relatively light weapon to a new attack or

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straight razor.

defense position.

• Adjust the -4 penalty per parry after the first in a turn (p. B376) by this amount - a bonus offsets it, a penalty worsens it. Trained by a Master or Weapon Master halves the total penalty (round against the defender). Use this rule instead of halving the penalty for fencing weapons.

Absolute Weapon Weight: How heavy the weapon actually is. A heavy weapon or an unbalanced one with its weight concentrated in the head is beneficial here. Use

For instance, a greatsword and a rapier both have Reach 2, but a greatsword is longer.

When using Who Draws First? in a standoff between fighters with weapons of identical Reach, the -1 for the longer weapon goes to the individual who has the longer weapon on this progression. It takes longer to draw a greatsword than a rapier!

When weapons are already out, length is an advantage. In a Cascading Waits or Stop Hits situation, ties go to whoever has the longest Reach. If Reach is tied, they go to the

these modifiers: Bare hands: +0

Balanced weapon weighing 1.5 lbs. or less: -2 Balanced weapon weighing more than 1.5 lbs., less than 3 lbs.: -1

longest weapon on the scale above. A rapier is at a disadvantage to beat a greatsword to a hit.

If length doesn't break the tie, thrusts come before swings. If that doesn't break the tie, the lightest weapon goes first. If that, too, is a tie, the fighters really do act

Balanced weapon weighing 3 lbs. or more: +0


unoaiancea weapon: +i

A warrior using a Defensive Grip has his weapon firmly in front of him in two hands. He holds a two-handed weapon, like a staff, across his body. For any weapon, this grip gives +1 to parry attacks from the front but an extra -1 to parry attacks from the side (for a net -3; see Defending Against Attacks from the Side, p. B390).

If using a one-handed weapon, Defensive Grip involves placing a second hand on the weapon. This hand must be empty. The extra hand makes it awkward to use normal one-handed strikes but adds power: -2 to attack rolls, +1 to damage. Treat the weapon as two-handed for all purposes. When using this grip with a fencing weapon (a weapon with "F" in its Parry statistic), it becomes possible to parry flails at the usual penalties.

If using a two-handed weapon, Defensive Grip involves moving one hand forward to "choke" the weapon or grip it by the ricasso. This effectively reinforces the weapon, giving -1 to odds of breakage. It also greatly narrows the possible arc of a swing, giving -2 to hit with a Wild Swing (for a net -7; see Wild Swings, p. B388) and less power with swinging attacks: -2 damage or -1 damage per die, whichever is worse.

Treat a weapon that can be used one- or two-handed -such as a bastard sword or a spear - as two-handed for this purpose.

A warrior with a sword of any kind can instead opt to place a hand just behind the tip, as part of his Ready to a Defensive Grip or using a later Ready. The rules above apply for everything except reach and damage: regardless of the sword, reach drops to C ("close combat only") and damage becomes thrust impaling - or thrust crushing, if blunt. Swung attacks are impossible. This allows superior point control, removing -2 from the penalty to target chinks in armor, cumulative with any similar benefit the weapon grants.

A fighter using a Defensive Grip can select any maneuver - even All-Out Attack (but not the Long option) or Committed Attack. Deceptive Attack (p. B369), Rapid Strike (p. B370), Telegraphic Attack (p. 113), and Tip Slash (p. 113) likewise remain viable.

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