Melee (Parry) and Shields

Cubicle 7 // 2018
The Rangdo of Arg
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Wed May 15, 2019 11:12 am

So I know there was a long and controversial thread about this on StS, but has there been any clarification on how the Melee (Parry) skill and shields work?

If parrying with an off-hand weapon is -20% without the skill, but you can parry anyway with your main weapon at no penalty, why take the Parry skill or have an off-hand weapon at all?

And where do shields fit in?
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Hyarion
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Wed May 15, 2019 3:04 pm

There has been no clarification that I know of, official or otherwise. I am really hoping that by answering and trying to similarly seek some clarity, the controversy from StS does not rise here again.

As I look at the Two Weapon Fighting section on page 163, I do see where *attacking* with an off-hand weapon is listed at -20. Personally, I would not classify a parry as an attack (and not subject to the -20 penalty). If you then wanted to use a shield bash (because your sword is pinned or broken), I would classify that as an attack.

The benefits of a shield over a different off-hand weapon or no off-hand weapon becomes the bonus armor from the Shield X special rule and the Defensive special rule they grant. I think that fits well with the historical ubiquity and usefulness of a shield.

The benefits of the Melee(Parry) skill are proficiency with the Main Gauche/Swordbreaker, both losing the Undamaging special rule and some of the other special rules. See below**

To those who would want to dual-wield shields at a time, I would only allow a player to benefit from one Shield X special rule at a time (from the one in the primary hand).

** I do think Melee(Basic) is a bit over used in 4e and might be better served with a Melee(Basic) representing a very basic usage where you cannot use a second weapon at all, and a Melee(Martial) which represents real weapons training. But that is a tangent better discussed in a separate thread.
I hold the glaive of Law against the Earth.
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Orin J.
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Wed May 15, 2019 3:56 pm

There was actually an attempt to resolve this in the discord chat ratcatcher's guild at one point. andy law tried to explain it and got all tripped up over his ideas and the whole thing was shelved for an errata coming "eventually". practically, i don't think it can actually work as intended with the rules as written because of the way weapons are resolved.

i personally want parry as a skill removed from being a weapon skill, and have shields and other defensive options separate from weapons, being the only way to parry with inflicting damage as the result. barring some sort of talent i suppose.
CapnZapp
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Thu May 16, 2019 4:28 am

The Rangdo of Arg wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:12 am
So I know there was a long and controversial thread about this on StS, but has there been any clarification on how the Melee (Parry) skill and shields work?
No. The rules doesn't work as written.
mormegil
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Thu May 16, 2019 2:28 pm

If you are defending and have an AP 2 shield in your offhand, your options are:

With Melee (Basic) skill:
1. Roll using main hand weapon. Gain +1 SL (Defensive). 0APs.
2. Roll using offhand shield. Gain +1 SL (Defensive). 2APs. -20% on Melee (Basic) test.

If you have the Melee (Parry) skill you can use that instead, which is the same but without the-20.
The Rangdo of Arg
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Thu May 16, 2019 4:14 pm

Thanks. I'm tempted just to rule that a shield doesn't count as being used in the "off" hand, but maybe have Parry weapons grant an extra attempt at defending if you have the skill.
CapnZapp
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Sat May 18, 2019 2:57 am

mormegil wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 2:28 pm
If you are defending and have an AP 2 shield in your offhand, your options are:

With Melee (Basic) skill:
1. Roll using main hand weapon. Gain +1 SL (Defensive). 0APs.
2. Roll using offhand shield. Gain +1 SL (Defensive). 2APs. -20% on Melee (Basic) test.

If you have the Melee (Parry) skill you can use that instead, which is the same but without the-20.
While the rules (for the Defending quality) indeed allows this interpretation - specifically that you gain the Defensive bonus even when you're parrying with your sword or whatever (and just holding the shield), I am not sure that's isn't simply yet another case of imprecise rules writing. For instance, Hack and Penetrating too fail to mandate that the quality only should be applied when you're actually acting with the weapon having the Quality.

But it doesn't matter. Getting -20% to your parry is functionally negating the 2 APs, meaning it's an useless juggling of numbers: if your foe wins by 3 SL and gives you 10 damage before deducting 4 for Toughness and 2 for the shield's APs that's a loss of 4 Wounds. But if you didn't get the Parry penalty (and didn't get the APs), your foe would have won by 1 SL and thus given you 8 Damage which works out to exactly the same loss of 4 Wounds.

Except that it's actually worse! Getting a -20% penalty is worse than getting 2 APs which effectively amounts to "you gain +2 SLs when you win the opposed test" since it doesn't help when you lose the Test, and getting a penalty makes it more likely you do just that. That is, if your foe only won by 1 SL when you parry with the shield that's supposedly better at parrying, if you had parried with your sword instead, the foe wouldn't have won at all, and avoiding the damage entirely is obviously better than negating some of it.

Even if you sensibly rule that you don't get the Defensive quality unless you actually use the equipment that has it, your foe would still only have tied you!

In short, the rules for Shields are utterly borked and does not work at all. You still need Melee (Parry) if you want your shield to actually help you parry blows! (Since shields can negate crits they're still incredibly valuable, but that's another story) They were written for an earlier version of the game where you needed Melee (Parry) to even use shields. When that was rightfully lambasted, C7 hurriedly dropped the requirement without redesigning shields fully.
macd21
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Sun May 19, 2019 4:55 am

mormegil wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 2:28 pm
If you are defending and have an AP 2 shield in your offhand, your options are:

With Melee (Basic) skill:
1. Roll using main hand weapon. Gain +1 SL (Defensive). 0APs.
2. Roll using offhand shield. Gain +1 SL (Defensive). 2APs. -20% on Melee (Basic) test.

If you have the Melee (Parry) skill you can use that instead, which is the same but without the-20.
This is correct - it’s a summary provided by one of the devs.
mormegil
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Sun May 19, 2019 7:11 am

CapnZapp wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 2:57 am
mormegil wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 2:28 pm
If you are defending and have an AP 2 shield in your offhand, your options are:

With Melee (Basic) skill:
1. Roll using main hand weapon. Gain +1 SL (Defensive). 0APs.
2. Roll using offhand shield. Gain +1 SL (Defensive). 2APs. -20% on Melee (Basic) test.

If you have the Melee (Parry) skill you can use that instead, which is the same but without the-20.
While the rules (for the Defending quality) indeed allows this interpretation - specifically that you gain the Defensive bonus even when you're parrying with your sword or whatever (and just holding the shield), I am not sure that's isn't simply yet another case of imprecise rules writing. For instance, Hack and Penetrating too fail to mandate that the quality only should be applied when you're actually acting with the weapon having the Quality.

But it doesn't matter. Getting -20% to your parry is functionally negating the 2 APs, meaning it's an useless juggling of numbers: if your foe wins by 3 SL and gives you 10 damage before deducting 4 for Toughness and 2 for the shield's APs that's a loss of 4 Wounds. But if you didn't get the Parry penalty (and didn't get the APs), your foe would have won by 1 SL and thus given you 8 Damage which works out to exactly the same loss of 4 Wounds.

Except that it's actually worse! Getting a -20% penalty is worse than getting 2 APs which effectively amounts to "you gain +2 SLs when you win the opposed test" since it doesn't help when you lose the Test, and getting a penalty makes it more likely you do just that. That is, if your foe only won by 1 SL when you parry with the shield that's supposedly better at parrying, if you had parried with your sword instead, the foe wouldn't have won at all, and avoiding the damage entirely is obviously better than negating some of it.

Even if you sensibly rule that you don't get the Defensive quality unless you actually use the equipment that has it, your foe would still only have tied you!

In short, the rules for Shields are utterly borked and does not work at all. You still need Melee (Parry) if you want your shield to actually help you parry blows! (Since shields can negate crits they're still incredibly valuable, but that's another story) They were written for an earlier version of the game where you needed Melee (Parry) to even use shields. When that was rightfully lambasted, C7 hurriedly dropped the requirement without redesigning shields fully.
I disagree, having a shield gives you tremendous options already. In fact without the -20%, the shield is so much effective in comparison to any other build like, two-handed weapon, two-weapon fighting etc that you will not use them.

There is a fine line up to how much realism you can include in your fantasy games. An example is that, historically in late Medieval times the most important weapon in the battlefield was the pike, while in the city was the rapier. Or the worst weapon to utilize in defense is the axe.
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Danke Dave
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Sun May 19, 2019 10:36 am

If you want an official answer, it has been answered time and time again. They even made a post about it.


Here is an official post:

https://cubicle7.co.uk/wfrp4-in-defence-of-defence/
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Orin J.
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Sun May 19, 2019 11:04 am

Danke Dave wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 10:36 am
If you want an official answer, it has been answered time and time again. They even made a post about it.


Here is an official post:

https://cubicle7.co.uk/wfrp4-in-defence-of-defence/
While extensively describing why they like shields, it doesn't in any way address OP's question. It actually side-steps the whole issue by switching from discussing rules to getting into roleplay detractions when the issue comes up.
macd21
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Sun May 19, 2019 11:17 am

Orin J. wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 11:04 am
Danke Dave wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 10:36 am
If you want an official answer, it has been answered time and time again. They even made a post about it.


Here is an official post:

https://cubicle7.co.uk/wfrp4-in-defence-of-defence/
While extensively describing why they like shields, it doesn't in any way address OP's question. It actually side-steps the whole issue by switching from discussing rules to getting into roleplay detractions when the issue comes up.
They have also answered the OP’s question, with the summary provided above. Though they really need to release that FAQ.
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Hyarion
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Sun May 19, 2019 4:38 pm

Wow, that official post took what I thought was a relatively simple question and made it almost completely unintelligible.
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sx dwarf
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Mon May 20, 2019 3:26 pm

macd21 wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 11:17 am

Though they really need to release that FAQ.
Soon.
CapnZapp
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Thu May 23, 2019 4:24 am

mormegil wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 7:11 am
I disagree, having a shield gives you tremendous options already. In fact without the -20%, the shield is so much effective in comparison to any other build like, two-handed weapon, two-weapon fighting etc that you will not use them.

There is a fine line up to how much realism you can include in your fantasy games. An example is that, historically in late Medieval times the most important weapon in the battlefield was the pike, while in the city was the rapier. Or the worst weapon to utilize in defense is the axe.
You are not addressing the issues I raised.

You reply as if I suggested the -20% penalty should be removed? Your attempt to justify ill-conceived WFRP4 shield rules by talking about pikes and fantasy games in general is noted. I have nothing to say to either.
CapnZapp
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Thu May 23, 2019 4:27 am

macd21 wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 4:55 am
This is correct - it’s a summary provided by one of the devs.
Since the only post between yours and his was mine - in no way was I disputing the veracity of his details. Read my post again.
CapnZapp
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Thu May 23, 2019 4:28 am

Orin J. wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 11:04 am
While extensively describing why they like shields, it doesn't in any way address OP's question. It actually side-steps the whole issue by switching from discussing rules to getting into roleplay detractions when the issue comes up.
Hyarion wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 4:38 pm
Wow, that official post took what I thought was a relatively simple question and made it almost completely unintelligible.
This.
CapnZapp
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Thu May 23, 2019 4:37 am

The real story is:

Yes, shields are incredibly powerful.

Not because they help you parry blows - they don't (over and beyond other Defensive weapons) unless you have the Parry Melee skill. (Getting -20% is slightly worse than getting +2 AP*)

But because they let you negate crits.
* again, apart from the crit negation ability

WFRP4 represents a complete break to previous editions (meaning 1E and 2E) in that armor and shields is no longer something only some characters wear. APs have been made mandatory for anyone expecting violence.

If you like this version of the Old World, good for you.

But let noone say it isn't a complete departure from how armor used to function before. Lots of character archetypes are more or less invalidated by this sea change. The foppish nobleman in fancy clothing. Lots of civilians in civilian clothing, from a humble fish wife to a lawyer in impressive robes.

I don't just mean "of course you put on armor if you're heading for trouble". I mean that all the classic Warhammer tropes of "fighting beastmen at the Theatre" and similar just got crazily deadly, in a way the original game never intended. The devs seem to blithely assume heroes are always armoured. While heroes in Dungeons & Dragons may routinely sleep in plate mail, that's just not the game of WFRP I grew up with.
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Orin J.
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Thu May 23, 2019 6:04 pm

CapnZapp wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:37 am
The devs seem to blithely assume heroes are always armoured. While heroes in Dungeons & Dragons may routinely sleep in plate mail, that's just not the game of WFRP I grew up with.
It's not so much that they expect characters to always have armor, it's that they seem to write things with the idea in mind that any sign of danger is going to be blared out well in advance to allow players to ready themselves for battle. it's a common enough thing in very long-standing groups, where the GM's habits have 'tells' the players will anticipate to avoid ambushes that wouldn't be otherwise caught.

it's not so much that they're trying to change the way WFRP works, but that i suspect they simply overlooked their own internal foibles and mistakenly assumed everyone plays like that. it's worth making them aware of it, but you shouldn't be so vitriolic about it mate. they were a little too enthusiastic to be the guys behind the new WFRP is all, i doubt anyone here can say they'd been able to avoid that particular pitfall!
mormegil
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Sat May 25, 2019 2:26 am

The Rangdo of Arg wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:12 am
So I know there was a long and controversial thread about this on StS, but has there been any clarification on how the Melee (Parry) skill and shields work?

If parrying with an off-hand weapon is -20% without the skill, but you can parry anyway with your main weapon at no penalty, why take the Parry skill or have an off-hand weapon at all?

And where do shields fit in?
This is the initial post that started the discussion and to which some of us try to reply.

The rant whether the WFRP4 moved to another direction than WRFP1, is not the topic of the original post.

Cap, you are the one chasing mills and in any way, each of us have a different aspect of the Old World in his mind, your personal tastes does not validate anything. The only validation will come, from how successful the edition will be to the young people interested in RPGs.
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