24 November 2010

Worst Labyrinth Lord melee weapons

OK, the title of this post is sort of a tongue-in-cheek reference to my top ten LL melee weapons. The idea, though, is to look at the thirteen weapons that didn’t make that cut. Well, that was the idea. Some are going to have to wait for another post.

A two-handed sword is mechanically identical to a pole arm except for one thing: It costs more than twice as much.

You might say that pole arms should really only be good in formation fighting, but I think that only really holds for things like a pike. Poleaxes and halberds seem to have been used in similar contexts to swords.

You might say that a sword is a noble’s weapon while a pole arm is a commoner’s weapon. I’m not convinced, but that works. Some characters may be willing to spend the extra gold in order to not be seen wielding a commoner’s weapon.

How about space required? It seems to me that a two-handed sword and a pole arm are going to have similar space requirements, but I don’t know.

I have read, however, that the true two-handed swords were a specialized weapon used mainly on the battlefield. Like (and often against) pikes. So, I think I can be happy with its mechanical inferiority to the pole arm in the game.

The LL trident is a two-handed weapon. I believe retiarii—a type of Roman gladiator—would sometimes use their trident in one hand. Although it may have been most effective when used with both hands. Nice to have it available, but I’m OK with it not being an optimal choice.

The war hammer. Is this something like Mjöllnir or a late medieval bec de corbin kind of thing? Is the latter subsumed within pole arm or pick? Why is it two-handed with no one-handed counterpart? Note that dwarfs can’t wield two-handed weapons, but the magical dwarven [sic] thrower war hammer has special rules when used by a dwarf. I’m beginning not to care that the mechanics are suboptimal and unlikely to be picked by a PC. ☺

A scimitar is (again, mechanically) equivalent to a long sword except for one thing: It’s 50% more expensive. I think the scimitar is the “foreign long sword”. If the PCs travelled to another land, they might find the prices of the long sword and scimitar reversed. So, I might allow a character with a suitably foreign background to buy a scimitar during character creation at the long sword price.

I’ve always thought the spear should be used more often in role-playing games it has been in my experience. Historically, this was an important weapon. In LL, the only thing that really sets it apart is that it is explicitly cited as a weapon that can be braced against a charge for double damage. Although I have yet to see that actually occur in a game.

Why choose a spear instead of the less expensive hand axe? Length, but that doesn’t figure into LL combat except through ad hoc rulings. Although, it could double as probe outside of combat.

Both the mace and flail inflict 1d6 damage, but the mace costs 5 gp while the flail costs but 3. On the other hand, the mace weighs only 3# while the flail weighs 5. I suppose if the full encumbrance rules are being used, those couple of pounds might make a difference. As both these weapons seem unlikely to be chosen by any character but a cleric, the cleric’s specific faith might have an influence the choice.

The mighty Roman gladius, the short sword, gets overshadowed by the long sword and the hand axe. That’s probably just as well. If a campaign was geared more towards ancient times then you might want to adjust all the equipment lists appropriately. As it is, I’m glad the short sword is here, and I don’t know that it needs to be made more attractive a purchase.

The lance seems to call for some special rules, but none are given. Well, not where you might be looking. The “horse, war” entry in the Monsters chapter says that, when charging, a rider with a lance does double damage. If I dropped the light hammer from the top ten list, then perhaps I’d add the lance.

Does anyone actually ever buy a club? It’s the original improvised weapon, eh? Glad we have it listed, but it doesn’t need any differentiation to encourage character’s to buy one.

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