Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chronica Feudalis: Talhoffer Edition

As mentioned before, I'm a bit of a HEMA nerd and I've had a hard time finding games that really let me express that particular interest. After some wonderful experiences with The Riddle of Steel, few other games have come close to that intricate maneuvering and sword-play (a dragon I'm still chasing with Band of Bastards). Imagine my surprise when I started reading through Chronica Feudalis and realized the potential of their maneuver system.
While nowhere near as technically detailed as TRoS, the open-ended nature of the maneuver and condition mechanics would allow the clever would-be swordsman to come up with all kinds of dirty tricks that even Talhoffer would be proud of. Just a few ideas that spring to mind:
  • A Round or Heater shield might be used to bash someone, giving them the Off Balance (d6, d8), or Prone (d10) for a follow-up attack.
  • Hand axes, javelins and spears can catch in someone's shield when thrown, giving them an Encumbered Shield condition until they either remove the object or abandon the shield.
  • Infantry using spears, long axes, halberds, and other lengthy weapons can use crafty foot-work to impose the Reach Disadvantage condition, keeping their opponent at bay until they manage to close the gap and land a blow.
  • Axes, halberds, and other weapons with angled protrusions can be used to hook into an opponent's weapon or shield, giving them the Disarmed condition. Shields that are strapped to the arm can't be lost this way, but they can be rendered useless against a follow-up attack in the next turn (or against an attack from another party in the same turn).
  • Longswords, greatswords, and zweihanders can be turned over-end (as in the illustration above) and used in the same way as above, and any weapon that is sufficiently long can also be used to hook or trip an opponent to give them the Knocked Prone condition.
  • Fighters with daggers, shortswords and other up-close-and-personal weapons can use clever footwork to get inside the reach of an opponent with a longer weapon, giving them the Too Close For Comfort condition and hindering their ability to attack or defend themselves until they land a successful blow to get some breathing room, or drop their weapon in favor of a shorter one. This rule might also apply to confined fighting conditions, such as below a ship's deck.
  • Cloaks, sand, or even a glass of wine could be thrown to temporarily Distract an enemy for the next round, or a quick follow-up attack.
It is really astounding how much martial complexity can be found in a system this open ended. Chronica Feudalis is one of the few systems I've seen that really nails creative thinking over rules management.

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