Observations on Arms Law combat

Copyright Dean Letchford © 2007

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

Here are some variant rulings that may add greater realism to your Rolemaster combat:

Duration of Rounds

To tie in with the rate of fire of a bow, I think the duration of a round should be reduced to 5 seconds. All activities would still use the same % of the round. Thus, for example, spell casting would be quicker. The Exhaustion Point cost for each activity except movement would remain the same. The Exhaustion Point cost for movement would be halved, i.e. Walk: 1 per 120 rnds, Fast Walk/Jog: 1 per 60 rnds, Run: 1 per 24 rnds, Sprint/Fast Run: 1 per rnd, Fast Sprint: 3 per rnd and Dash: 25 per rnd. I would keep the spell durations the same (in minutes), although one could halve them.

Endurance Skill

At present, the only way a character can increase his/her Exhaustion Point total is if his/her Constitution stat bonus increases through stat increases during level advancement. Using the current rules, it takes an average character (0 Quickness bonus) 229 minutes to complete a marathon (26 miles) at a Run pace using 115 Exhaustion Points! Since he/she would start with a 40+3xCo bonus, an average character (0 Constitution bonus) would be 75 Exhaustion Points short.

Therefore, I propose that ranks developed in an Endurance skill can be used to redress this shortage. I would place it in the Body Development category, give it the same development point cost and same Professional skill bonuses as Body Development. It would use the Combined skill progression: (0-5-3-1.5-0.5). Therefore under this proposal,
Exhaustion Points = 40 + Racial Bonus + 3xCo stat bonus + Professional Bonus + Skill Bonus

Polearms

Firstly, I would reclassify the Quarterstaff as a Polearm as it used more like a Polearm than a Two Handed Weapon such as a Two Handed Sword or Battle Axe.

Secondly, I would allow Polearms to be used one-handed with a -10 penalty to OB as they can be used so. There would be no -10 penalty for 1-handed Mounted Lances or Spears.

Thirdly, Polearms wielded in 2 hands can be used to attack 2 different opponents. To simulate this, use a version of Two Weapon Combat Skill with normal criticals for the "sharp" end and Krush criticals for the "blunt" end. This attack technique may not be used with pikes as they are too unwieldy.

Parrying

There should be no limit to parrying 1-handed weapons with a weapon used in 2 hands; in fact, many were designed to do so. For example, the English Bill (a polearm) was the favoured weapon of the English man at arms during the Hundred Years War. In fact, it is harder to parry a 2-handed weapon with a 1-handed weapon. However, a Polearm used 1-handed is very unwieldy to parry with. I would use the following rules:

Parrying with 2-handed weapons (Two-Handed and Polearms): +1 DB for every -1 OB

Parrying 2-handed weapon with 1-handed weapon (not Polearm): +1 DB for every -2 OB

Parrying 2-handed weapon with 1-handed Polearm: +1 DB for every -4 OB

Parrying 1-handed weapon with 1-handed weapon (not Polearm): +1 DB for every -1 OB

Parrying 1-handed weapon with 1-handed Polearm: +1 DB for every -2 OB

Parrying Missile Fire

I would place no limit on the amount of OB used to parry missile fire but would suggest the following:

Parrying thrown weapons: +1 DB for every -2 OB

Parrying fired weapons: +1 DB for every -4 OB

Armour Quickness Penalty

I remind readers of an old RM rule: When the weight penalty is calculated, the encumbrance penalty can be reduced by 3 x Strength bonus; any positive Strength bonus remaining can be used to offset the Armour Quickness Penalty to DB. Note that the Armour Quickness Penalty cannot be raised above 0 i.e. DB cannot be increased..

Large and Super Large Weapon Criticals

I tend to use the Arms Companion tables for Krush, Puncture and Slash critical tables for Large and Super Large results. I use Option 2 when calculating the result, i.e.:

Critical Large Critical Super Large Critical
A None None
B -10 None
C 0 None
D +10 -10
E +20 0
F +30 +10
+1 level +10 +10

Martial Arts Companion: Weapon Styles

If you are using the Martial Arts Companion, then you could use the following additional Weapon Styles:

Advanced Elven Bowmanship

Advanced Weapon Style (60 style points)

Recommended Skills: Composite Bow, Long Bow, Short Bow

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): All Bow missile attack (10); -1 fumble; Reduce range penalties by 10 (10); Reduce reloading time by 20% (20); Halve movement penalties (10)

Basic Bowmanship

Basic Weapon Style (30 style points)

Recommended skills: Composite Bow, Long Bow, Short Bow

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): All Bow missile attack (10); Reduce reloading time by 20%

Horse Bowmanship

Basic Weapon Style (30 style points)

Recommended skills: Short Bow; Riding; Mounted Combat

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): Short Bow missile attack (5); +5 Riding skill (5); +10 Mounted Combat Skill (10); Reduce Reloading Time by 10% (10)

Nito Ryu Kenjutsu

Advanced Weapon Style (60 style points)

Description: This was the two weapon form developed and taught by Musashi (1584-1645) using Katana and Wakizashi

Recommended skills: Katana (1 H), off hand Wakizashi, Quickdraw, Feint

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): Katana (1 H) melee attack (10); +10 Quickdraw (10); All round attack (15); +10 Feint (10); Additional Wakizashi melee attack (15)

Mounted Lance

Basic Weapon Style (30 style points)

Recommended Skills: Lance, Spear, Riding, Mounted Combat

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): Lance or Spear melee attack (10); +10 Riding skill; +10 Mounted Combat skill (10)

Sword and Normal Shield

Basic Weapon Style (30 style points)

Recommended skills: Broadsword, Shortsword, Scimitar; off-hand Normal Shield

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): 1-handed Sword attack (10); Shield Training (Normal Shield) (20)

Longsword and Shortsword

Basic Weapon Style (30 style points)

Recommended skills: Longsword, off-hand Shortsword

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): Longsword melee attack (5); additional off-hand Shortsword attack (15); Defensive Ward (10)

Elven Longsword

Basic Weapon Style (30 style points)

Recommended skills: Longsword; Adrenal Defence

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): Longsword melee attack (5); Lesser Adrenal Defence (10); -2 Fumble Range (10); +1 Initiative (5)

Dwarven Battle Axe

Basic Weapon Style (30 style points)

Recommended skills: Battle Axe

Weapon Style Abilities (Core): Battle Axe melee attack (5); +2 Initiative (10); All-Around Attack (15)