When Spears are not the best weapons

Watching a Schola Gladiatoria video the other day, got me thinking about further complications for weapons in YAGS, in particular when using them in confined spaces. A lot of what I’ve been seeing recently about the use of different types of weapons is that swords were often back-up weapons, with the primary weapon actually being something larger like a spear.

But if larger weapons make for better weapons, then there needs to be a reason why you might drop your spear and draw your sword – one of these reasons is that large weapons aren’t that useful in confined spaces.

Previously, there was just a -5 penalty in such situations, but the problem with flat penalties is that though they make a difference for equally matched opponents, once you get good enough they become irrelevant. So what I’m thinking of doing is making the penalty an increase to the fumble chance. That affects everyone equally, regardless of how good you are.

So you normally fumble an attack/defence roll on a ‘1’ on a d20 (with a fumble resulting in being disarmed, gaining fatigue or other options). If your use of the weapon is confined, then this gets increased, maybe +1 if lightly confined (light woodland), or +3 if heavily confined (narrow passage).

Very long weapons (such as pikes) will get larger penalties.

The trick is keeping it simple. So possibly there will be two types of confinement (lightly and heavily), and two break points for when weapons get penalties. Long weapons get the lower penalty, very long weapons get a higher penalty. Trying to use a pike in a dungeon is probably not a sensible idea. It’s not just dungeons though – as mentioned in the video, even places like woods can cause problems due to overhanging branches and undergrowth getting in the way and hampering movement.

When out in the open, it’s assumed that if someone gets in close to you, you can step back, so there aren’t any penalties for being in close combat where movement is unrestrained. It’s possible if you can’t retreat then penalties may become necessary, but I haven’t thought in detail about that yet.

Samuel Penn