The Absurdly Overpowered Great Weapon

By bogi_khaosa, in Dark Heresy House Rules

I've been thinking that Great Weapons, especially once mono'd, are ridiculously too powerful. 2d10 + SB is more damage than a Heavy Flamer; much more than a Power Sword. Their only downsides are weight and the fact that you can't parry with them. So, I've been thinking about how to better represent the "HUGE BUT CLUMSY weapon."

My idea is to represent that you need to use big, powerful, easy to avoid swings. I suggest that 1) attacks with a Great Weapon can only be made every other Round (since you need to spin the thing around), 2) cannot be used in conjunction with Swift and Lightning Attack (same reason), and 3) opponents get a +10 to Dodge them.

What do you think?

Sounds like they'd be useless then.

Right now, the downsides of great weapons are the weight, the two-handedness, the impossibility to hide them, the fact that they're melee-only and that they can hurt at most three people in a round (whereas the flamer you mentioned incinerates everything in front of it).

They'd hit less often, but still do their ZOUNDS!! damage when they hit. I just think it's a bit silly that you can attack 1, 2, 3 times in five seconds with a giant maul.

They'd have to deal more than six times the damage of a regular weapon then, as you only need a single dodge (at +10 even) instead of 6 dodges to negate the attack entirely.

They're actually pretty balanced the sort of damage dual-weilded autopistols do with a good BS skill and roll.

Plus you can't quick draw it. So that that's another round that you can't charge/swift attack in. That makes a big difference.

bogi_khaosa said:

They'd hit less often, but still do their ZOUNDS!! damage when they hit. I just think it's a bit silly that you can attack 1, 2, 3 times in five seconds with a giant maul.

Dude, im not exactly the beefcake of the block here, but even I can make 3-4 swings with a really heavy weapon in roughly four seconds, which is the length of the average combat round in Dark Heresy.

Also, when you use heavy close combat weapons the point is to roll with the blows and using the added momentum to do additional strikes. In that regard you could say that each time a character will try to use the Multiple Attacks action with a heavy weapon, they have to take a Strength Test with an appropriate penalty. If they fail, then they have to sacrifice their reaction for that round because they couldn't control the massive momentum of the great weapon, leaving them well open for attack.

I think they are just totally out of whack when compared to any other weapon. I haven't decided 100%, but for my games I am definitely going to modify it. I can't decide if merely dropping the pen to 0 would be enough, or if it should be changed to 1d10+something (3 or 4 maybe). Perhaps with all the other drawbacks merely losing the pen would be enough. As it is now a mono great weapon hits like a heavy bolter... yeah, sure.

You could also ad-lib disadvantages. Say you're fighting in a narrow hallway, give the character with the great sword a penatly to hit, or give his opponent a bonus to dodge.

If we assume we're talking about grotesquely oversized weapons, which, based on the artwork and the damage seems top be the case, you could institute a "critical miss" rule similar to that of the eviscerator (but less severe, of course). Actually, I think I may combine this with dropping the pen, that should be plenty.

I think this query is predicated on basically a flawed assumption; a misunderstanding of how great weapons were used.

They were not 'slow but clumsy' at all. Most were swift, versatile and practical weapons developed in concert with the increasing effectivelness of armour to make the warrior even more deadly.

The disadvantage of a great weopon lies in the space needed to wield it, since as pointed out above, they require a flow of movement to exploit, maintain and enhance their striking speed and power.

A bastard sword for example, when used effectively is a terryfyingly swift and deadly weapon able to strick, slash, stab, block, pummel, and disarm an opponent in a flurry of blows in quick succession, from many directions. Sure if you stand like an idiot and simply swing/slash with it, it'll be slow and you'll get very tired very quickly. Use it as intended (think 'dance of death') and its swift and deadly.

Even the feared early Medieval 'Danish' axe can be wielded swiftly, acting as a cross between a spear and an axe....stabs and short slashes would injure and slow down your opponent ready for the coup de grace of the 'mighty blow' that will cleave you from crown to groin.

2d10 is a pretty accurate damage to represent this i think...then again the whole Dh/RT damage system is pretty daft from a 'simulationist' stance...works ok from a 'gamist' stance though...

Luddite said:

I think this query is predicated on basically a flawed assumption; a misunderstanding of how great weapons were used.

They were not 'slow but clumsy' at all. Most were swift, versatile and practical weapons developed in concert with the increasing effectivelness of armour to make the warrior even more deadly.

The disadvantage of a great weopon lies in the space needed to wield it, since as pointed out above, they require a flow of movement to exploit, maintain and enhance their striking speed and power.

A bastard sword for example, when used effectively is a terryfyingly swift and deadly weapon able to strick, slash, stab, block, pummel, and disarm an opponent in a flurry of blows in quick succession, from many directions. Sure if you stand like an idiot and simply swing/slash with it, it'll be slow and you'll get very tired very quickly. Use it as intended (think 'dance of death') and its swift and deadly.

Even the feared early Medieval 'Danish' axe can be wielded swiftly, acting as a cross between a spear and an axe....stabs and short slashes would injure and slow down your opponent ready for the coup de grace of the 'mighty blow' that will cleave you from crown to groin.

2d10 is a pretty accurate damage to represent this i think...then again the whole Dh/RT damage system is pretty daft from a 'simulationist' stance...works ok from a 'gamist' stance though...

Right. I'm (somewhat) familiar with the disparity between real-world medieval weaponry and the kind we often find in RPGS. But like you say, going for a "realistic" simulation of weaponry and combat would require many changes apart from just modifying the great weapon. We must also keep in mind the abstractions involved in this system. If we were thinking realistically, a single hit from any weapon should be sufficient to kill any character of any rank. Which, I suppose it is when you include the possiblity of Righteous Fury.

spaceratcatcher said:

If we were thinking realistically, a single hit from any weapon should be sufficient to kill any character of any rank. Which, I suppose it is when you include the possiblity of Righteous Fury.

That's pretty much what Righteous Fury is for.

I try to think of the damage as being an additional indicator of exactly how well a hit is scored. Low rolls basically means that the weapon or shot just grazed it's target. High rolls or Righteous Furies basically means that the slash or shot hit home and was able to score it's effective damage.

Again, it's really funny to read this thead and then compare the Great Weapon to what an Autogun or Autopistol can just as easily do.

Ie, they aren't overpowered, DH combat is just very lethal. Great Weapons are melee's way of keeping up with the crazy stuff SP ranged weapons can do in the early game.

Luddite: Agreed in every detail.

A weapon makes the game less fun if there is no reason to take any other weapon. I think the greatweapon is an alternative, not the only choice. A regular sword allows a +10% parry. A punch dagger is much easier to hide (and very cheap to get made in Best Quality). Both of these lets you carry another weapon for alternatives (pistol + ambidextrous is very useful before you gain quickdraw) or an extra attack. You can even combine any onehanded weapon with a shield.

The greatweapon have a 19% chance for a fury and an average damage of 11+SB, but that's all it is. For a beginner character this is around 7 points per hit better than a onehanded sword, if you are hitting armored targets, lets say one hit every other round, so that's 3.5 damage per round gain over the sword. Here is a short list of things you give up: Parry. Quickdraw. Any pretention of innocence, undercover work or peaceful intents. A greatweapon is a weapon of war. It is an interesting choice to make, so it brings good things to the game.

As soon as chainweapons are available, around 2000xp and good enough resources, the greatweapon becomes outdated.

Greatweapons are also a good tool for GMs who wants groups of low-tech enemies that can be dangerous to the well equipped party. A horde of mutants or feral worlders with mono-edged greatweapons (can be thought of as "really heavy and spikey" much like the orc choppa, rather than extremely well made) is pretty dangerous even to properly carapace armored PCs. This can give rise to interesting "lack of resources" challenges, as the players must spend hightech and costly ammo to take down waves of enemies that give no useful supplies in return. Think survival zombie horror... in space!

In Rogue Trader (aka the 40K RPG revised rules) lose their Pen of 2....that should compensate...

from france

i should add that close combat weapons are very differents in their use if it is for mounted combat or not. for mounted fight take the example of the japanese naginata the momentum necessary to swing the weapon is very differents than on foot and you can forget to parry or dodge. the naginata was crafted with the idea that you can parry with it. the rule are two brode because some great weapons were designated to parry.

the 8 spider said:

from france

i should add that close combat weapons are very differents in their use if it is for mounted combat or not. for mounted fight take the example of the japanese naginata the momentum necessary to swing the weapon is very differents than on foot and you can forget to parry or dodge. the naginata was crafted with the idea that you can parry with it. the rule are two brode because some great weapons were designated to parry.

To simulate that, you'd probably want to use the Long-Sabre stats, which is a 2-handed melee weapon which does 1d10+2 R, Pen. 2, and is Balanced.

Hodgepodge said:

the 8 spider said:

from france

i should add that close combat weapons are very differents in their use if it is for mounted combat or not. for mounted fight take the example of the japanese naginata the momentum necessary to swing the weapon is very differents than on foot and you can forget to parry or dodge. the naginata was crafted with the idea that you can parry with it. the rule are two brode because some great weapons were designated to parry.

To simulate that, you'd probably want to use the Long-Sabre stats, which is a 2-handed melee weapon which does 1d10+2 R, Pen. 2, and is Balanced.

Or a SPEAR, since a Naginata is essentially a very pretty glaive. Anyone care to argue that a mono-spear would not be suitably cool?

Great weapons are damaging because their real-world equivalents are. It's that simple. If you think it's a game breaker reduce the damage, but I don't really see the problem. You want to see what a razor sharp greatsword can do? Seriously, get hold of one and have a hack at something, I guarantee it'll make shorter work of it than a flame-thrower.

Acolyte-Plath said:

Great weapons are damaging because their real-world equivalents are. It's that simple. If you think it's a game breaker reduce the damage, but I don't really see the problem. You want to see what a razor sharp greatsword can do? Seriously, get hold of one and have a hack at something, I guarantee it'll make shorter work of it than a flame-thrower.

It's a bit more complicated than that since in the game we're trying to hit moving targets wearing exceptionally tough body armour. I don't have too many legal options around here that I can swing at that fit that criteria.

As for your comparison, do you feel that a strike from a great weapon should more damage than a heavy handgun or rifle shot? How about a shotgun slug?

One fix I saw talked about in one of the groups I was in was to reduce the damage of great weapons to the same as the one-handed version of the weapon but to allow 2 x Str Bonus - in effect the weapon just allows for better use of the weilder's strength. I haven't tried it out, but it might work.

HappyDaze said:

Acolyte-Plath said:

Great weapons are damaging because their real-world equivalents are. It's that simple. If you think it's a game breaker reduce the damage, but I don't really see the problem. You want to see what a razor sharp greatsword can do? Seriously, get hold of one and have a hack at something, I guarantee it'll make shorter work of it than a flame-thrower.

It's a bit more complicated than that since in the game we're trying to hit moving targets wearing exceptionally tough body armour. I don't have too many legal options around here that I can swing at that fit that criteria.

As for your comparison, do you feel that a strike from a great weapon should more damage than a heavy handgun or rifle shot? How about a shotgun slug?

One fix I saw talked about in one of the groups I was in was to reduce the damage of great weapons to the same as the one-handed version of the weapon but to allow 2 x Str Bonus - in effect the weapon just allows for better use of the weilder's strength. I haven't tried it out, but it might work.

To compare melee damage with shooting wounds I'll take this example: When swedish military are standing guard in a place where they might have to harm civilians they have a "scale of violence" ranked after expected mortality rates. They are supposed to step upwards through this scale to as low a level as needed to solve a threatening situation. I believe several law enforcement and military organisations have similar scales. According to that scale, a point blank shot using a modern automatic rifle (AK5, a swedish version of the FN FNC ) with military ammunition through the body carries less risk of killing or permanently harming it's victim than hitting them in the head with the butt of the same weapon.

I think that partly the american action movies are to blame for this missunderstanding of the human bodys ability to handle damage. There people tend to be able to take a lot of physical blows to the head, because it makes foor cool fighting scenes. And they tend to fall down and go out of fighting action after just taking one bullet hit.

My experience of reenactment fighting with point heavy 2H weapons is that strength is not a big factor in how damaging your blows are. The weapon in itself carries the weight to deal damage, you just need a bit strength (and a lot of tecnique) to handle it properly. So having greatweapons gain one extra SB of damage is indeed an interesting and clever game mechanic, but it is not particlarily connected to the real world.

"Greatweapons" were designed to hit well armored targets. For lightly armored targets you used either quick weapons or long hafted weapons. Of course armor qualities in 40k are quite different from medieval times, but the "primitive" on oldfashioned melee weapons covers that pretty well. The "mono-edged" ugrades then respresents the weapon tech adapting to the heavier armor.

So, finally, my two main issues: Does greatweapons make for an interesting strategic choice in the gaming part of DH? Yes I think they do. I even think I've argued why in an earlier post... Second: Does greatweapons bring something good to the story? Yes, I think they do. They are awesome, big, scary and carry a certain "feeling" or "image" with them. I like greatweapons just the way they are in DH. I somewhat lack an analogy for endgame equipment though. The greatweapon compared to the sword, the eviscerator compared to the chainsword, and then maybe the powerfist compared to the powersword... But I'd like something more iconic.

But I'd like something more iconic.

In RT, that big two-handed power axe used by the Techpriests might count. It might also be possible for someone outside of Terminator Armour to use a Thunder Hammer with both hands, but I'm not too sure on it.

HappyDaze said:

Acolyte-Plath said:

Great weapons are damaging because their real-world equivalents are. It's that simple. If you think it's a game breaker reduce the damage, but I don't really see the problem. You want to see what a razor sharp greatsword can do? Seriously, get hold of one and have a hack at something, I guarantee it'll make shorter work of it than a flame-thrower.

It's a bit more complicated than that since in the game we're trying to hit moving targets wearing exceptionally tough body armour. I don't have too many legal options around here that I can swing at that fit that criteria.

As for your comparison, do you feel that a strike from a great weapon should more damage than a heavy handgun or rifle shot? How about a shotgun slug?

One fix I saw talked about in one of the groups I was in was to reduce the damage of great weapons to the same as the one-handed version of the weapon but to allow 2 x Str Bonus - in effect the weapon just allows for better use of the weilder's strength. I haven't tried it out, but it might work.

A strike from a great weapon should absolutely do more than a handgun. Landing that strike is a challenge of course if the opponent is armed with a sword. Bear in mind that solid projectiles while damaging are much less likely to do catastrofic damage than a metre and a half of heavy, sharpened metal with added force behind it. Anne Boylin was decapitated with such a weapon and it was common practice to execute people in a similar manner in the past. Bear in mind that just because it's 'primitive' doesn't mean it's not effective. The English yew-longbow has approximately the same force/inch as a 12bore shotgun blast. In other words, muscle powered weapons can be pretty devastating.

Acolyte-Plath said:

A strike from a great weapon should absolutely do more than a handgun. Landing that strike is a challenge of course if the opponent is armed with a sword. Bear in mind that solid projectiles while damaging are much less likely to do catastrofic damage than a metre and a half of heavy, sharpened metal with added force behind it.

I disagree. A metre and a half piece of sharpened metal will most of the time cause crippling damage (like damage to skin and muscles as well as breaking bones), but that damage can't compare with the high risk of the internal injuries that bullets from firearms cause.

Even an arm or a leg chopped of with a halberd can be cautirized and stabilized. But if you get shot in the liver, or the heart or some other important internal organ then you're pretty much beyond all help within seconds.

Also a large melee weapon aimed at the torso area isn't as likely to cause internal injuries as projectiles from firearms mainly because the force of such a weapon is too spread out and way too small in comparison to the concentrated force of a bullet, most of the damage will be absorbed by fatty tissue, the muscles or the ribcage.

So no, a strike from a great weapon should not do more damage than a shot from a handgun.

Since the middle ages, it is not only the lethal range of an individual soldier that has been increased, but also the lethality in general. Guns are better overall at killing people than swords, plain and simple.

Acolyte-Plath said:

Anne Boylin was decapitated with such a weapon and it was common practice to execute people in a similar manner in the past. Bear in mind that just because it's 'primitive' doesn't mean it's not effective. The English yew-longbow has approximately the same force/inch as a 12bore shotgun blast. In other words, muscle powered weapons can be pretty devastating.

I don't think you can really apply an example concerning formal executions to a real fight. An execution (even with a melee weapon) is usually conducted with the victim tied down and staying still, giving the executioner an extreme benefit in hitting his or her target as effectively as possible. That benefit just aren't a part of the equation in a close combat fight where both combatants are swinging, parrying and sidestepping eachother armed with long pieces of sharpened steel.

Also, the yew-longbow doesn't gain it's impact energy due to muscle power but because of the charged energy of the bow.

Just a slight detail to add to your post Varnias. When I fight using medieval historical tecniques, my priority is not to kill my opponent, merely to make her stop being dangerous. (nb: of course I do not really intend to maim my opponents when I fight with my friends, we pull the blows to leave a bruise at worst and we use some armor) If I place a hit that breaks a bone in an opponents swordarm, or even just cut a sinew in a leg, I will have won that fight. Killing my opponent is very much a non-issue, if we win the battle I can always go back and fix that later. I understand that the effect is very similar in modern warfare where a wounded target is in some regard even better than a killed one, because you will tie up additional resources for your enemy.

I aim to maim! ;-)

from france

yes but in this case it become to abstract to be playable at least in my opinion. for simplicity sake i don't mind if the opponents must be defated or kill. i just want him to stop figthing and be a probleme.

and the example of the excecution is just... a bullet in the head or the use of the axe is the same the target is a helpless victime. it is not moving.

as a side note just remenber how much energy using a great weapons can be. it is tiresome very quiclikng. it is a drawback not present in the game. but for me it is a important drawback. yes it is effective but not so long.

moreover the game know sometimes a agility penalities for heavy armour but no techniques to bypasse the armor. a medievale full plate is in this case a coffin. so if the primitive quality still apply in the case of melee figth if a sword fighter with a greatsword facing a opponent in any armour imposing a penality on agility should do more damage.