Thursday, February 2, 2017

"For Clarification"

After working through a bit of a roundup of new rules, I thought I would take a look at one of the larger changes more in depth.  The changes to the way archers will have some impact on the game, if nothing else due to our ingrained habits needing tweaked.  For your ease, the relevant new rules:

3.13.6. An archer who attacks with an arrow or bolt may call a combat hit for clarification when the shot clearly and unambiguously hit a target area. For a shot to be clear and unambiguous, the archer must have an unobstructed view of the entire flight of the arrow or bolt including post hit deflection.
3.13.9. When in doubt, the target makes the hit determination for missile weapons.
Several archers out there are worried about 3.13.9, thinking that it lets anyone just ignore arrows.  However, this is in line with all of our other weapons as far as someone deciding to cheat on the field.  It does seem like this rule might be prime for a bit of rewording, specifically when "who" is in doubt.

With that in mind, here is my interpretation of how a few common archer/target interactions might work out with these rules. These are strictly based on my personal interpretation of the rules above, and are intended to start some discussion on how fighter etiquette might change a bit due to these rules.

Example 1:
An archer fires an arrow and it hits their target with good deflection near the seam of two target zones, such as right near the hip. The archer thinks it might be a body shot, but the target takes leg.  Under the old rules, the archer could just call the target dead.  Under the new rule, the archer wouldn't be able to make a call for clarification, because the target zone wasn't hit clearly and unambiguously, meaning it was the target's call to take the hit correctly.

Example 2:

An archer fires an arrow which hits low on a target wearing baggy pants (hakama).  The arrow stops, but the target doesn't take a hit.  Under the old rules, the archer could call leg, if they wanted.  Under the new rules, because the baggy pants prevent seeing if the target zone was hit clearly and unambiguously, the archer doesn't get to make a call for clarification.  This leaves it to the target to decide if it was garb or leg.

Example 3:

An archer fires an arrow at an unaware target that is in full armor.  It very clearly hits in the middle of their back and deflects.  Under both the new and old rules, the archer can call a combat hit.  Even if the target didn't feel the hit, they should take it.


Just from working through those three short scenarios, it appears to me that both of the first two rules are highlight what the best archers out there do already.  3.13.6 says that archers need to be certain that their arrow hit a specific target area, without question, in order to call a combat hit. says that an archer has to be able to see the whole flight and deflection in order to even be able to ascertain whether a shot hit clear and unambiguously.

Most of our experienced archers already call their shots this way.  They only bother calling a hit when they are certain it is a good hit, or if a target requests clarification (ie, giving them the deer in headlights look).  In essence, these adjustments to the rules actually force newer archers to adopt best practices of our seasoned vets, while giving targets a chance to disagree with bad calls.

"But Torry, what about when people just ignore my arrows/calls and don't take hits?"  Well, this is exactly what other fighters deal with on occasion.  Heralds/Marshals still have the authority to call hits, and are still the people you should take problems to.  If it happens to be someone you know fairly well, just ask them about the hits and discuss it.

At the end of the day, this sort of change to the rules requires archer and targets to both make some adjustments in how we do things.  People that aren't archers need to read the rules for arrows and understand how to properly take hits from them.  Simple things like arrows passing through weapons often leaves people confused already, so it will take time for them to adapt to not relying on archer calls for simple hits.  Archers will have to grow accustomed to only calling shots that they are sure exactly where they think they did.

Personally, I'm hopeful for how these changes impact the game.  As a herald, I definitely have spent way too much time managing incorrect archer calls and bad hit taking from arrows.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New Season, New Rules

Long time, no post.  It's been a busy time for me away from fighting.  If things happen to calm down a bit, I'll get back to writing more regularly.  I realize this post is a little sloppy, my apologies, I'll try to clean it up soon*.  I just wanted to get this started and out there for folks that hadn't had a chance to read the new rules.

Update 2/2/17: added change regarding having one leg hacked and the other pierced.  Also added "Unclear" section.

Update 2/14/17: added head then body to unclear

Update 2/17/17: added Shields lying on the ground can't be broken


The War Council of Belegarth has recently passed a vote to accept a new, updated version of the Book of War.  This version was crafted by a rules committee, which was appointed by War Council, through a long process of analyzing the old rules for issues and reconciling differences between interpretations from various realms.  It isn't "perfect", but it does give us, the Belegarth community, a solid footing to look at our rules and make changes as needed down the line.  Lots of rules have changed to reflect clarifications or compromises between different interpretations.

I had originally intended to compile a list of changes and break each of them down here.  It quickly became apparent that was beyond the scope of a quick blog post.  Instead, I would like to point your attention to a few items that are definite changes to how the game is played (vs. my local realm of Numenor).  I only highlight below a few of the things I noticed on a couple of quick reads, so this is in no way comprehensive.  If you want to check it out and see for yourself, GO READ THE RULES:

These are just a quick overview, not exact wordings of the new rules.  Significant changes are those that might have an impact on how the game is played or on current equipment passing weapons check.  Minor changes are those that, while different from the previous version, shouldn't change much of how the game is typically played. Clarifications are things that either were implied through various old rules interactions or were played a specific way that never made it into the rules. Unclear is anything I notice that is either still ambiguous from the old rules, or where I noticed some sort of conflict between rules.

Significant Changes:

  • No leg running.  From what I have seen, this is likely to be updated in the next round of voting later this year.  This is a carryover from the old rules that no one seems to remember enforcing.
  • Archers can call hits for clarification if they have an clear, unobstructed view of the whole arrow flight.  The target gets to make hit determinations if it is unclear, for all missile weapons.  This will take some adjustment and discussion on how these rules actually work out in combat.  From what I have seen, "archers" are usually playing to these rules most of the time anyway.  "Guys with bows", not always. It does bring archers more in line with everyone else as far as hit taking goes.
  • Incidental and courtesy padding have specific, and different, definitions now.  Incidental has to be somewhere between a striking surface and what generally has passed a semi-okay non-striking surface in the past.  Flails, glaives, and other weapons with haft padding need be looked at to conform with the new rules.  For incidental padding, 6" for one-handed, and 12" for two-handed is required for swung weapons.  It will take some time for the community/craftsmen to figure out what exactly passes for incidental padding.
  • "Two-handed" is defined as both hands firmly gripping the weapon at the point of impact.  Allows you to pool-cue double, but only if you grab with the sliding hand at the end.  Same applies to the two-handed "ax swing" for swung weapons.
Minor Changes:
  • Half-draw for arrows has a little different wording.  It now means "half the force of a full-draw".  Not a big change, but it is a good thing for archers to be aware of.
  • Draw stops on arrows have stricter requirements than before. Most of the our archers were already conforming to standards close to the new rules.
  • Sufficient force is defined a little differently
  • Heavy hits for shield breaking hits is better defined (and is specifically "heavy")
  • Communication for "light", "graze", "garb", "armor" is now required, as well as truthfully reporting any damage/armor condition when asked.
  • No intentionally hitting a combatant with non-striking surface (like flail haft to hit with ball). 
  • No feinting head strikes from non-head legal weapons or shields.
  • Weapons "contested" in a grapple take limbs if they are grabbed by the blade.
  • The rules for shield bashing/checking were cleaned up.  They also added shield bumping (pushing without trying to knock them over) and bracing (static bracing against someone moving into you).  Basically, don't try to knock people over from behind, and target their center of mass if you are trying to knock them over from a different quadrant.
  • Crossguards are now actually in the rules (templated like a pommel).
  • If you have a pierced and hacked leg (both will be down), hits to the hacked leg don't do damage. The wording of rule is a little goofy, but this seems to be the intent of the second part. (Added here 2/2/17)
  • Shields lying on the ground can't be broken. (Added here 2/17/17)
  • "Magic Switching" your weapon when your arm is killed is specifically legal.
  • "Shot In Motion" is now official, including "Late" being defined in the rules.
  • Shield kicking requires one foot on the ground.
  • Grappling has been cleaned up and better defined.
  • Grabbing a weapon handle/haft padding is NOT a grapple.
  • Grabbing your own striking surface (half-swording) is legal.
  • A hit to a disabled arm when you are wearing body armor counts as hitting the body armor.
  • Armor definitions got better.
  • Handles have to be continuous except on double ended weapons.
  • Arrows hitting a hand on a weapon has two rules in conflict.  Hand on weapon counts as part of the weapon, so the arrow should go through.  However, the rules for the hand target area specifically say hits to the hand count as hits to the arm.  Traditionally, the interpretation was that arrows go through hand on weapon.  
  • A swing that hits both head (illegal target area) and body doesn't specify if the target should take the body hit, or discount it due to the illegal hit.  Strict reading would indicate this is still a valid body hit, as long as it is sufficient force.  Common way to play is based on if the head shot was significant enough, to ignore the body shot. (Added 2/14/17)