Dual Wielder talent analysis

Cubicle 7 // 2018
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CapnZapp
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:38 am

The rules for this are rather complicated:
Dual Wielder
Max: Agility Bonus
Tests: Melee or Ranged when attacking with two weapons
When armed with two weapons, you may attack with both for your
Action. Roll to hit with the weapon held in your primary hand.
If you hit, determine Damage as normal, but remember to keep
your dice roll, as you will use it again. If the first strike hits, once
it is resolved, the weapon in your secondary hand can then target
an available opponent of your choice using the same dice roll for
the first strike, but reversed. So, if you rolled 34 to hit with the first
weapon, you use 43 to hit with the second. Remember to modify
this second roll by your off-hand penalty (–20 unless you have the
Ambidextrous Talent). This second attack is Opposed with a new
defending roll, and damage for this second strike is calculated as
normal. The only exception to this is if you roll a Critical for your
first strike. If this happens, use the roll on the Critical Table to also
act as the roll for the second attack. So, if you scored a critical to the
head and rolled 56 on the Critical table for a Major Eye Wound,
your second attack would then strike out with a to-hit value of 56.
If you choose to attack with both weapons, all your defensive rolls
until the start of your next Turn suffer a penalty of –10. You do
not gain an Advantage when you successfully strike or Wound an
opponent when Dual Wielding unless both attacks hit.
CapnZapp
Posts: 205
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Location: Norsca

Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:44 am

Put plainly, there's a lot of moving parts. There are too many cumbersome things to remember:
- "remember to keep your dice roll" (to revert later); too often the attack scores a crit and the player unthinkingly grabs the dice
- "You do not gain an Advantage when you successfully strike or Wound an opponent when Dual Wielding unless both attacks hit" is, taken individually, probably the most motivated special rule. Taken as a whole, however, it mostly contributed to the heavy rules overload
- "If you choose to attack with both weapons, all your defensive rolls until the start of your next Turn suffer a penalty of –10." A feeble attempt at balancing. In my opinion it would be far preferable to give the penalties now than require the player to remember them for later.
- "use the roll on the Critical Table to also act as the roll for the second attack" is outright insane - the minor benefit of saving an extra roll is far outweighed by the need to remember a special exception

I understand the designer added those in the hopes it would limit the talent's effectiveness (compared to simply allowing an extra attack). Comprehensive playtesting has shown me that this is not true.

All the "use reverted roll for second attack" accomplishes is make the Talent worthless when you aren't very good. Once your effective Test score reaches 70 or thereabouts, which is not hard to achieve in this system (remember this includes your Melee Skill, Advantage and any circumstance bonuses such as outnumbering the foe), all the complicated clutter achieves little more than give you a headache.

In practice, you hit with both attacks against inferior foes sufficiently often it feels like having two attacks.
Last edited by CapnZapp on Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
CapnZapp
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Location: Norsca

Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:15 am

The bigger issue is this: 2E correctly identified an extra attack as far too powerful for Dual Wielding. Lots of older game naively thinks "one attack for each weapon, right?" but this is not only unbalanced, it is a poor fit for how dual wielding actually works.

I am definitely not one who lets real-life considerations (such as LARP experience) influence my preference for ttrpg rules design, but in this case it makes a lot of sense to only allow Dual Wielding to help you defend, and just maybe set up follow-through attacks.

So here's an attempt at a simpler and better Talent:

Dual Wielder
Max: Agility Bonus
Tests: Melee when attempting a deflection (as described below); Ranged when firing a Pistol in your off-hand
When armed with two melee weapons, you may use your off-hand weapon to make a deflection: parrying an incoming attack using your off-hand weapon enabling a counter-attack with your main-hand weapon. If you win an Opposed Test when defending in melee combat, even taking all consequences for using your off-hand weapon into account, you cause Damage just as if you were the attacker. Use the SL from the Test but the Damage of your main-hand weapon. You must decide to attempt a deflection (and take any off-hand penalty to the parry) before resolving the Opposed Test. You may only attempt a deflection once each combat round.

Alternatively, you may fire a loaded Pistol you are using in your off-hand as an extra attack if you have this Talent. This attack suffers the normal penalty for using your off-hand.

If you use the optional In-Fighting rule (page 297) you may always choose which of your two melee weapons determine your effective Weapon Length.
CapnZapp
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:25 am

As you might realize, the inspiration for this version of the Talent comes from the Champion monster trait (page 338), though suitably limited in scope. The main intent is to still let you accomplish the basic function of the rulebook Talent (=delivering more damage) but without all the special rules cruft. For instance, since this activates on a "regular" parry, there's no need for any special rules on Advantage. The "remember to apply -10% next round" is also not necessary - as you can see, the Talent's "Tests:" bonus applies only to the deflection Test, not to melee combat in general. And of course, since you aren't making any extra die rolls, there's no need... for extra die rolls (or stupid rules to reuse existing die rolls). :ugeek:

Any feedback (questions, criticism, pointers for improvements in rules balance or clarity) welcomed! :)
fluminor
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:59 am

High level feedback: I like it quite a bit. Simpler, definitely, with a risk/reward twist. And if feels different.

Specific feedback: given how you updated the shield rules, I believe in your game a shield offers the same defensive benefit in melee as a main gauche does. If so, this is not great. I can see why a main gauche may give a chance to counter-attack, but it should remain the case that a shield is better at parrying - because it is, well, a lot bigger :D. Anyway, this seems easy to fix. Overall, thumbs up from me!
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Orin J.
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:05 am

Forewarning: i was a participant in one of those rare groups where the adventurers would be periodically transferred over to warhammer fantasy battles as part of a game or three, so my experience is flavored by the requirement that dual-wielding needed to be cohesive with the tabletop.

the whole thing with multiple attacks has always been an issue with WFRP (and i've learned a fairly controversial one!) and 4th ed sought to solve the issue by removing the attack stat and making the idea of "bonus" attacks an alternative. I don't feel dual wielding was properly thought out though (i don't much think riposte was either, but that's not something anyone else has complaint about so i digress) and think it could be better directed towards the vein of combating multiple opponents rather than simply becoming a powerful and over-complicated method of dealing damage to a single target.

if i was going to rework the talent and not simply remove it (as my group politely decided to agree never to use dual weilding after a pistolier incident) i think i'd start testing with this:

Dual wielding
Max ranks: 1
You may use two weapons to attack effectively. When attacking with one handed melee or pistol weapons in both hands you may choose to make melee attack with each hand as a single attack, applying the usual off-hand penalty as relevant. They may choose to strike either two targets or the same foe twice and taking -10 on all rolls to defend until the player's next turn Other talents that modify your attack do not apply when using dual wielding (eg strike mighty blow, furious assault, so on). If both attacks are directed at a single target they use the longest weapon reach for opposing and may choose to use their initial defensive roll against both attacks or roll separately. If each attack has a separate targets you must declare which hand is directed against which adjacent target before rolling. You can only gain advantage as though you succeeded in a single attack, but do not lose advantage if only one attack is a failure (unless this failure results in damage, as usual.)
~

obviously, this is untested and just the conceptual draft. with the talent, my first concern is that firing a pistol from melee might prove too powerful, which is something i've been concerned about with the damage system in 4th this whole time but i don't have enough data on it to really resolve my concerns. The other worry is that with the application of multiple talents on the additional attack things could quickly snowball to i opted to restrict that until i can figure something else out.
EDIT:i've clarified some details i felt were lacking and imposed a -10 defensive roll penalty until i can test for balance.
Last edited by Orin J. on Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
fluminor
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Joined: Fri May 24, 2019 1:30 pm

Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:29 pm

Cap: another complaint you may have with your version of the talent is the case of someone with dual wielding and a weapon in each hand attacking an enemy from behind and not being allowed to attack with both weapons. That is, the idea of using the off hand weapon for deflection is nice, except when you are not afraid that the enemy may attack you, in which case it would make sense for dual wielding to allow to use both weapons to attack.

Maybe in the talent description one could add the option to declare, at the beginning of the round, either an offensive stance or a defensive stance. The defensive stance allows for the use of deflection, as you explain. The offensive stance, instead, allows an all-out attack with both weapons, which is resolved as usual, with off-hand penalty; however, all melee range attacks received in the round will be rolled as non-opposed tests with a +30 bonus.
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Orin J.
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:50 pm

Zapp's version is also a more complex riposte talent that doesn't require a fast weapon. Which is fine, but kind of redundant. that said, it is a bit hard to parse what the riposte talent does.
fluminor
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:18 pm

Orin: your version seems, at a first glance, too powerful. The current rules, though overly complicated, place quite a few restrictions on the second attack: it does not always trigger, you get defense penalty, etc. And still, dual wield is quite good. In your case, except for the fact that other talents do not stack, which I indeed like, it seems that the second attack comes with little downsides (of course off hand weapon applies to any sensible dual wield talent). I can be wrong of course, without testing it is hard to tell. So, just my 2 cents.
CapnZapp
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Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:08 am

fluminor wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:59 am
High level feedback: I like it quite a bit. Simpler, definitely, with a risk/reward twist. And if feels different.

Specific feedback: given how you updated the shield rules, I believe in your game a shield offers the same defensive benefit in melee as a main gauche does. If so, this is not great. I can see why a main gauche may give a chance to counter-attack, but it should remain the case that a shield is better at parrying - because it is, well, a lot bigger :D. Anyway, this seems easy to fix. Overall, thumbs up from me!
Thank you.

The Shield doesn't (in my game) suffer from any off-hand penalties. Combined with how it is a Basic weapon while the main-gauche is a Parrying weapon I wouldn't say they offer the "same" benefits...

Yes, if you spend enough XP to bring up your Melee (Parrying) to the same level as your Melee (Basic), AND purchase both levels of Ambidextrous, then the main gauche becomes just as good as the Shield. But that's a lot of XP you could simply have spent on Melee (Basic)...

I quite like the idea that Shields are the best basic weapon (for defense), but that "expert" warriors can find specialist equipment to be better... for them. While a shield might ALWAYS be preferable in real life, a fantasy game should support all kinds of archetypal heroes, and so reality takes a back seat. Plus, in real life a shield is big and unwieldy, which explains why people didn't always lug around shields. (In a rpg, encumbrance is boring administrative work, so I vastly prefer rules that don't force you to calculate Encumbrance, just because that's the IRL drawback of using some otherwise superior equipment.)
Orin J. wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:05 am
the whole thing with multiple attacks has always been an issue with WFRP (and i've learned a fairly controversial one!) and 4th ed sought to solve the issue by removing the attack stat and making the idea of "bonus" attacks an alternative.
Well, I don't think the Attacks characteristic was the problem. 4E seems to think so, since it removes the stat, but keeps the extra attacks. There are two issues:

1) Movement is fun. Don't have your rules force you to choose between moving and attacking. Extra attacks are so central and so powerful, so don't make the player choose between them and anything - that just ends in combats that are static and boring, since when your life is on the line, you always choose extra attacks. WFRP2 drew a lot of design inspiration from 3rd Edition D&D. It is telling how 5th Edition D&D allows you to move and attack freely during your round.

I'm telling this story because the problem with 2E wasn't the Attacks characteristic per se, but how the rules forced you to spend your entire round if you wanted to make more than attack, even when your Attacks was 2 or more. 4E has fixed this, but C7 did not need to remove Attacks to do it, is my point.

(And yes, I am aware of the argument that the presence of an Attacks characteristics drives players into finding out how to raise it; while by "hiding" the extra attacks, you feel better when you don't have them)

2) The other issue is that Dual Wielding is, put simply, better off not granting an extra attack. Getting more than one attack is incredibly powerful since it essentially doubles your character's power. But okay, at some point warriors need a second attack to look forward to, that's just the perks of "leveling up". And so I consider Furious Assault basically fine. Getting an extra attack through the path of the Berserker is also fine, since it comes with heavy penalties. But Dual Wielding in my opinion is better off as something you can do earlier in your career, and thus shouldn't be quite as powerful.
fluminor wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:29 pm
Cap: another complaint you may have with your version of the talent is the case of someone with dual wielding and a weapon in each hand attacking an enemy from behind and not being allowed to attack with both weapons. That is, the idea of using the off hand weapon for deflection is nice, except when you are not afraid that the enemy may attack you, in which case it would make sense for dual wielding to allow to use both weapons to attack.
Allow me to make a counter-argument:

That it does not make sense for dual wielding to enable two attacks. :)

Why would you risk messing up your ambush by making two swings when all you need to do is make one powerful attack? Yes, in the context of roleplaying games the answer is "because one attack isn't enough to eat all his hit points", but I choose to use reality as pretext to avoid problematic rules design in this case! :)
Orin J. wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:50 pm
Zapp's version is also a more complex riposte talent that doesn't require a fast weapon. Which is fine, but kind of redundant. that said, it is a bit hard to parse what the riposte talent does.
Well, thank you for bringing that up. Yes, they use the same idea. Still, I think there's space for both. (I haven't checked if access to the Talents overlap or if they are offered to different Careers)

I do not believe keeping DW different justifies the rulebook implementation.

If anything, I would question the balance of Riposte. A "riposte" is essentially a free attack. (There's a reason Champion is one of the best Monster Traits) But unlike Dual Wielding or Furious Assault or any other Talent, you gain one free attack for each level of Riposte, making the Rapier absurdly good for top-tier characters. (I haven't seen any discussion on this, and the only reason why not that I can think of, is that it has seen very little play).

Change Riposte (page 143) from "You can Riposte a number of attacks per round equal to your Riposte level." to the following, and I believe my version of Dual Wielder can stand firm.
Riposte
Max: Agility Bonus
Tests: Melee when defending
Conforming to ‘the best defence is offence’, you respond to an
incoming attack with a lightning-fast counterstrike of your own.
If your weapon has the Fast quality, once per round you may cause Damage when
you are attacked, just as if it was your Action.
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Orin J.
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Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:09 am

okay, after some consideration i fully agree that i've written the trait with too much oomph in the name of ensuring it does what i need it to do. given the way 4th works i don't intend to apply restrictions on how you use your attacks as i want the option of attacking (and therefore engaging) more than one enemy to keep them from rushing past you if you're trying to hold a doorway but i think i will consider either migrating the -10 to all defensive rolls or simply denying the use of parrying to represent the attacker focusing entirely on offending with their weapons instead of making concessions to defense for now.
CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:08 am
Orin J. wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:05 am
the whole thing with multiple attacks has always been an issue with WFRP (and i've learned a fairly controversial one!) and 4th ed sought to solve the issue by removing the attack stat and making the idea of "bonus" attacks an alternative.
Well, I don't think the Attacks characteristic was the problem. 4E seems to think so, since it removes the stat, but keeps the extra attacks. There are two issues:

1) Movement is fun.
i entirely agree here (we'd had extensive rules for using multiple attacks while moving in 2nd in or group) but i'm not sure 4th does. as-written, the rules lock you in place during melee combat under threat of taking horrible amounts of damage. I'm also in general agreement they didn't need to remove attacks to do it, but the fact they made stats progression standardized and always available is probably the reason behind it.

CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:08 am
(And yes, I am aware of the argument that the presence of an Attacks characteristics drives players into finding out how to raise it; while by "hiding" the extra attacks, you feel better when you don't have them)
haven't found the argument to be true in practice myself- if a group of people is new to a game, but familier with one that allows extra attacks built into progression then you tend to find they look for where the extra attacks are "hidden". even if they really don't have any.
CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:08 am
2) The other issue is that Dual Wielding is, put simply, better off not granting an extra attack. Getting more than one attack is incredibly powerful since it essentially doubles your character's power. But okay, at some point warriors need a second attack to look forward to, that's just the perks of "leveling up". And so I consider Furious Assault basically fine. Getting an extra attack through the path of the Berserker is also fine, since it comes with heavy penalties. But Dual Wielding in my opinion is better off as something you can do earlier in your career, and thus shouldn't be quite as powerful.
much of this is the reasoning behind my disallowing other talents when using two weapons- dual wielding is easy, but very powerful. i felt that the best resolution was to make the trade off higher level- a skilled knight will have enough advances that they can both effectively defend against both attacks and connect with a single, much more powerful and effective blow.

i have issues with furious assault, but those are centered mostly around the bonuses it provide to bonus attacks- they apply to all bonus attacks, and not just ones from the talent! i very briefly toyed with giving a chaos warrior several tanks in both the talent and tentacles trait as a high level enemy and quickly realized that the SL bonuses from traits are very fast to get out of hand
CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:08 am
Orin J. wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:50 pm
Zapp's version is also a more complex riposte talent that doesn't require a fast weapon. Which is fine, but kind of redundant. that said, it is a bit hard to parse what the riposte talent does.
This argument is one I will seriously consider. I will have to get back to you to see if there is rules space for both Talents. Thank you.
again, there's certainly room for talents doing the same thing different ways, i simply feel that ir risks entering "use dual wield only if you can't afford a smith to make your weapon of choice with the fast talent" which is a poor direction to take it and the appeal should be the focus.
CapnZapp
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Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:09 am

I entirely agree here (we'd had extensive rules for using multiple attacks while moving in 2nd in or group) but i'm not sure 4th does. as-written, the rules lock you in place during melee combat under threat of taking horrible amounts of damage.
Well, WFRP has always penalized just leaving a combat, without properly disengaging. I'm sure we agree 4Es rules for this are needlessly complex, but they do allow you to pay Advantage to move away. Anyway, my point was that 4E does not force you to do nothing but attack if you want to make more than one. (Largely an academic issue, since there's not much you can do in 4E combat but make a whack at your foe, but still)
haven't found the argument to be true in practice myself- if a group of people is new to a game, but familier with one that allows extra attacks built into progression then you tend to find they look for where the extra attacks are "hidden". even if they really don't have any.
Of course, our group is too always looking to create well-built characters. I was referring to what I believe was the official argument; why they disliked the Attacks stat.
much of this is the reasoning behind my disallowing other talents when using two weapons- dual wielding is easy, but very powerful.

You mean the mythical rpg two weapons usage... ;) In real life two weapons just isn't so good, and so easy, or it would be used more. Certainly not to the level that is modeled by giving you twice the attack power! (And C7 are bad at math, since all their cluttery attempts to limit the power of the Talent fail as your skill becomes high enough). Look, we all know dual wielding looks cool. So we include it in our rpgs. But that does not mean we need to make it overwhelmingly good. As I said, 2E was onto something with its implementation.
i felt that the best resolution was to make the trade off higher level- a skilled knight will have enough advances that they can both effectively defend against both attacks and connect with a single, much more powerful and effective blow.

Not sure what you mean here.
i have issues with furious assault, but those are centered mostly around the bonuses it provide to bonus attacks- they apply to all bonus attacks, and not just ones from the talent!

I don't immediately see the problem. Spending 200 XP on a second level of that Talent does grant you +1 SL to any extra attacks you make. Still pales into insignificance compared to what the first level gives you for half the price! And you still need to pay for all those extra extra attacks (otherwise it will only apply to the one extra attack Furious Assault gave you).

When you reach a career level that allows Furious Assault you're well on your way to becoming a Gotrek...
i very briefly toyed with giving a chaos warrior several tanks in both the talent and tentacles trait as a high level enemy and quickly realized that the SL bonuses from traits are very fast to get out of hand
This passage reads as if garbled?
again, there's certainly room for talents doing the same thing different ways, i simply feel that ir risks entering "use dual wield only if you can't afford a smith to make your weapon of choice with the fast talent" which is a poor direction to take it and the appeal should be the focus.
I could be wrong, but this seems to assume you can't combine my version of Dual Wielder with Riposte?
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Orin J.
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Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:25 pm

CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:09 am
again, there's certainly room for talents doing the same thing different ways, i simply feel that ir risks entering "use dual wield only if you can't afford a smith to make your weapon of choice with the fast talent" which is a poor direction to take it and the appeal should be the focus.
I could be wrong, but this seems to assume you can't combine my version of Dual Wielder with Riposte?
no, i meant that riposte is much more effective comparatively. Dual wielding would be seen as a stopgap until the player can manage to aquire their weapon of choice with the fast quality added in this situation.
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