Arms-ish Playtest #4

2012-9.25.10The latest playtest was with my ongoing Arms of the Chosen testing group, but this time we put the artifact weapons away to focus on some of the combat subsystems. This will come in handy later, insofar as various combat techniques might be used with (or against!) an artifact’s wielder.

For the first test, Pat proposed another sparring session in Scavenger Lands Sparta. This time, three heroic mortals would step into the ring, each equipped with a staff. The requirement for victory was to disarm both opponents and pick up both their staves, thus holding all three at once. Physically harming one’s opponents was forbidden.

This… well, it went poorly. The third edition combat system can do all sorts of interesting things, but this scenario isn’t among them. It was clear from the get-go that whichever fighter was ahead would get double-teamed, and without the ability to inflict permanent harm, we’d go around in circles forever.

Dropping down to two competitors didn’t improve matters much, as whoever got disarmed was able, in each instance, to retrieve the lost weapon first. While success was theoretically possible, I didn’t want to waste our limited testing time to see how long it would take. I am, however, pretty sure that the main problem was the equal mortal skill of the competitors. An Exalt should be able to accomplish this, as might a mortal hero facing a far less able fighter. And an ally would make the exercise trivial. In any case, the disarm mechanic itself is straightforward, and quite usable under less contrived circumstances.

With disarms set aside, we moved on to grappling. Again, two heroic pseudo-Spartans dueled on the field of honor. This time, my fighter fought unarmed (with improved dodging ability to make up for his lack of a parrying weapon), while Shane’s wielded spear and shield. My unarmed strikes were distinctly weaker than his sword attacks, but I caught him in a momentary grapple early on and injured him slightly. Between his wound penalty and some lucky dice rolling on my part—not to mention spending Willpower at opportune moments—I avoided taking any serious injuries for several exchanges of blows. Eventually I built up enough combat momentum to seize him in a more solid hold, which I took advantage of by raising him overhead and smashing him down through a broken pillar, fatally impaling him on the jagged stone.

Grappling turned out to be straightforward, integrating easily into the cut and thrust of melee. I can absolutely see myself resorting to grappling on occasion with a character who’s in no way dedicated to a grappling build.



  1. It seems to me that the disarm and hold all three is a contest of martial skill and endurance – it’s going to take a long time, because of that gang-up mechanic, so abstract that out in to a roll which includes Stamina and Resistance.

  2. I am worried by any playtest which ends with “It doesn’t do this cool thing” but still calls the mechanic a success. If the test was going to be wrong, why was it attempted?

    In this case, I agree with the Kukla that the result here is likely to be that it’s a long-term test of skill and endurance with three people.
    With two, however, I would expect it to be much swifter – yet it apparently was not. What was the problem there?

    1. The problem was almost definitely, reading between the lines, that disarming someone constitutes a whole action, which means the turn passes to the opponent, who immediately retrieves their disarmed weapon and the cycle starts again.

      Since you can’t use that pause to actually ATTACK the other person (not the point of the exercise) it was doomed to failure from the start. You’d need some way to stop the other person from acting or to flurry your disarm with an action to take their weapon, which I suspect is not the kind of thing you can do any more in Exalted 3rd Edition as a natural outcome of reducing or eliminating flurries from the game.

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