Level Up (A5E) Parrying Weapons

Is the list odd or is it just me? Weapons historically known/designed for parrying (Rapier) not given the property, but then giving it to weapons historically know for being the least capable of parrying (Great Sword). I understand at some point you need to build a feature around game mechanics and balance, but it's such a flagrant disregard for reality it stands out.

The heaviest full size (1d8) sword (Bastard) and the heaviest sword available (Great) both have parrying. Additionally, even in the smaller swords, it's the heaviest of the category (short sword) that is the parrying weapon. This leads me to believe someone designated size and heft as the mechanism for the focus of this feature, rather than speed and maneuverability.

The best fictional example I can think of is the Three Musketeers (the movies, since they are visual). It seems like they modeled the dueling dagger after those often used by the Cardinal's guard, but then completely ignored the rapier battles and how they were used in the very same fights. Maybe it was Porthos always using an improvised weapon in his off hand to parry that threw them off?
 

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i always assumed the big swords were pretty decent for defensive fighting, mainly because it creates a larger “don’t go there” radius around you, but I am no historical sword expert
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
I'm not sure I follow your reasoning: the rapier may be a good parring weapon against other light weapons, but definitely not against the vast majority of them (larger swords, spears, maces, axes etc). It makes more sense for me that a greatsword and its smaller siblings make good parrying weapons in D&D rather than a thin blade like a rapier...
 

I see your point, rather than the ability to maneuver the blade, it's more a function of how you divert the attack from an ogre's claw. So it's not weapon vs. weapon as it is weapon vs. world of D&D attacks. That I can see a bit more. BUT, from a purely weapon vs. weapon, a rapier or saber is perfectly able to parry the attack of larger sword, because it's not force on force, it's about redirecting a blade.

Dragon claw coming at you, throw up your great sword. That I get...
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
BUT, from a purely weapon vs. weapon, a rapier or saber is perfectly able to parry the attack of larger sword, because it's not force on force, it's about redirecting a blade.
I'm not really sure of this. A longsword, broadsword, greatsword, mace, halberd, glaive etc attack mostly by sweeping, not by thrusting.
There's no way you can really parry a sweeping attack with a heavier weapon using a rapier, your best chance would be to try to dodge the attack and then counter.

Rapiers were surely exceptional dueling weapons and were also used on battlefields when heavier armor was disappearing (due to the ever more prevailing presence of firearms and cavalry), but in a fantasy medieval setting with heavy armors and lots of large sweeping weapons they would be totally useless
 

ReadyButNot

Explorer
I'm not sure I follow your reasoning: the rapier may be a good parring weapon against other light weapons, but definitely not against the vast majority of them (larger swords, spears, maces, axes etc). It makes more sense for me that a greatsword and its smaller siblings make good parrying weapons in D&D rather than a thin blade like a rapier...
I'm not really sure of this. A longsword, broadsword, greatsword, mace, halberd, glaive etc attack mostly by sweeping, not by thrusting.
There's no way you can really parry a sweeping attack with a heavier weapon using a rapier, your best chance would be to try to dodge the attack and then counter.
okay, now, see, you MIGHT have a point with all this...except the QUARTERSTAFF of all things has parrying. no, i'm not joking, look at the quarterstaff, its FIRST PROPERTY is PARRYING. you're telling me a long piece of wood is better at parrying things then an extendo-bladed arming sword (which is basically what a rapier is - an arming sword with the blade thinned out to be as long as a longsword's while still being able to be wielded one-handed)? you're telling me i can parry an axe or an owlbear or a DRAGON'S CLAWS with a QUARTERSTAFF, or a shortsword, which is the same weight as the rapier (which would suggest it's an arming sword, but that's just semantics), or a LITERAL DAGGER, but not a rapier? okay. cool.

also, just as an aside, rapiers are actually pretty heavy - they're comparable in weight to longswords (which a5e does actually get right - the rapier is 2 lbs, the longsword is 3. that's about right, and both are fairly heavy for melee weapons). the problem is that, well, rpgs tend to get weapon weights completely and ridiculously wrong. like, why is the bastard sword five pounds? in the medieval ages that just meant a sword whose owner you didn't know of, but today it usually refers to a sword between the sizes of an arming and longsword - why is it the weight of a light zweihander (that's not a joke by the way - from what i can find, the lower range of zweihander weights is 4.4 lbs)???

basically, if you're going to try to make a realism argument for why the rapier, the most famous parrying weapon in existence, can't parry in dnd...i don't think you can win. it's absurd any way you look at it.
 

Bunker

Hero
okay, now, see, you MIGHT have a point with all this...except the QUARTERSTAFF of all things has parrying. no, i'm not joking, look at the quarterstaff, its FIRST PROPERTY is PARRYING. you're telling me a long piece of wood is better at parrying things then an extendo-bladed arming sword (which is basically what a rapier is - an arming sword with the blade thinned out to be as long as a longsword's while still being able to be wielded one-handed)? you're telling me i can parry an axe or an owlbear or a DRAGON'S CLAWS with a QUARTERSTAFF, or a shortsword, which is the same weight as the rapier (which would suggest it's an arming sword, but that's just semantics), or a LITERAL DAGGER, but not a rapier? okay. cool.

also, just as an aside, rapiers are actually pretty heavy - they're comparable in weight to longswords (which a5e does actually get right - the rapier is 2 lbs, the longsword is 3. that's about right, and both are fairly heavy for melee weapons). the problem is that, well, rpgs tend to get weapon weights completely and ridiculously wrong. like, why is the bastard sword five pounds? in the medieval ages that just meant a sword whose owner you didn't know of, but today it usually refers to a sword between the sizes of an arming and longsword - why is it the weight of a light zweihander (that's not a joke by the way - from what i can find, the lower range of zweihander weights is 4.4 lbs)???

basically, if you're going to try to make a realism argument for why the rapier, the most famous parrying weapon in existence, can't parry in dnd...i don't think you can win. it's absurd any way you look at it.
It was a long search, but I think we found the world's #1 rapier fan at last!
 

Stone Dog

Adventurer
I'm going to put the constructive stuff up top instead of after my negativity and say that the rapier is certainly missing something that could be used to meet some of the expectations of it. Defensive (light) is good, but it doesn't quite gel. I'd add a fencing quality to the rapier, dueling dagger, and shortsword.

Weapons with the fencing quality are treated as dual-wielding only when paired with other fencing weapons in the hands of a user with proficiency in both weapons. In addition, a proficient user that is not wielding shield may have the use of the Defensive property as if they were wielding a light shield.

Now to the negativity.

Absolutely, a quarterstaff is better at parrying things than a rapier. 100% No question. In addition, the rapier is absolutely crap at parrying a quarterstaff. If I'm going to be a defensive fighter in a dungeon or any threat diverse combat career and depend on my weapon to keep me safe instead of a shield or my dodging ability, no, I do NOT want a rapier.

I'd only want a rapier if I was a fencer or swashbuckler or something and even then my defense would be based on footwork and dodging, and I wouldn't want to parry anything that wasn't heavier than the same class of light skirmishing weapon that I'm already using.

The Parrying quality probably should be called "blocking" since it is a weapon that can take the place of a shield for (normally) up to 4 AC. That indicates that the weapon should be big since it is on average as good as a heavy shield and it should be two handed because using your wrist to take a heavy impact is a bad idea. It should be balanced because you can attack and defend with it in the same round, which is troublesome if one end of the weapon is significantly heavier than the rest of it. It should be sturdy to avoid breaking after a single blow.

In my opinion the weapons that do have the parrying quality that shouldn't are dueling daggers, shortswords, and scythes. The first two because using them as shield substitutes are bad ideas. Your wrist is a bad fulcrum for taking impacts. The scythe is just a dumb thing to bring to a fight anyway and it is way too unbalanced to attack and defend in the same round.
 

you're telling me a long piece of wood is better at parrying things then an extendo-bladed arming sword
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A quarterstaff is dramatically longer end to end than nearly all weapons other than some pole arms but unlike those pole arms it is wielded in such a way that the wielder is the fulcrum & able to push against the load as well as pull against the effort to exert much more force even under load than if held towards one end or used as a thrusting weapon. In the case of parrying a forceful blow that dual leverage can even be used to push the wielder away from the blow using the force of the blow to aid in their movement.
 


lichmaster

Adventurer
you're telling me a long piece of wood is better at parrying things then an extendo-bladed arming sword (which is basically what a rapier is - an arming sword with the blade thinned out to be as long as a longsword's while still being able to be wielded one-handed)?
Well, a quarterstaff is not just a piece of wood, it has iron bands at the extremities and it's made from 4 sections of treated wood, nailed together. Given its length, versatility (can be used 1h or 2h and you can change that in a fraction of a second) and relatively light weight for its length, it's a pretty good weapon to try to deflect a sweeping blow if you can catch it when its sweep has just started, so it has little momentum. It's also effective against thrusting attacks from shorter weapons if you can maintain your distance, and may work against longer thrusting weapons like spears if it's 1 handed against 2 handed. It will fail if you have limited space around you, so in very close combat a short weapon is always superior, even for parrying.
With a side sword or a rapier, your parrying is limited by the fact that you have a thinner blade than most swords, shorter range than other swords or long weapons, and you can only wield it with 1h, meaning you can only parry short thrusting weapons. In very close combat, or when you don't have much space to move around, or when the enemy has no armor, is an exceptional weapon.
i don't think you can win. it's absurd any way you look at it.
I can't stress this enough: I really couldn't care less about convincing you, or "winning" whatever you think it can be won here.
D&D and A5E are fantasy RPGs in a generic medieval setting, there's absolutely no realism one can rely on. If you want the rapier to have the parrying property in the game, go on and have fun.

My comments above were about the fact that each weapon had its use and purpose and existed at very specific periods for very specific reasons, and yet the distinction between the different varieties of swords and polearms can be very blurry. Rapiers were NOT used when full body heavy armors were around, and actually in those periods most swords were a last resort weapon in any case, polearms, blunt and heavy weapons being far more useful and common instead. Their "superior" parrying abilities of the rapier would have been nonexistent in that kind of historical period.
 

I like what was done with the weapons in Level Up, with all of those interesting properties creating more choices and possibilities. However, some of the specifics of which properties go on which weapons missed the mark for me.

For me and pretty much everyone I play with, if asked we would say we want our combat scenes to look cinematic. If someone has a rapier, they should be parrying up a storm like the Three Musketeers or the Princess Bride, etc. The suspension of disbelief needed to have them ward off a dragon's bite with their rapier is less than the suspension of expectation needed to have their rapier be worth squat for parrying. Especially since, I should note, it makes little sense to parry the bite of an enormous creature with any melee weapon, so some weapons being better than other in such situations only affects verisimilitude in limited circumstances anyway.

Another problem with the weapons for me is that to be effective with the rules the scimitar should basically only be used as an off-hand weapon by someone who is using a bastard sword or short sword in their primary hand. The concept of dual-wielding two scimitars has become a thing, but despite the fact that you can technically do that with the A5e rules, there is virtually no benefit to doing so. I suppose a druid could benefit from it, since they are proficient in scimitars but not martial weapons, but anyone who is proficient in martial weapons is better off using a shortsword in their primary hand (parrying property) or a bastard sword if they are Strength based (parrying plus more damage).

That being said, there is a balance between weapons on the table. If you want to maintain that balance, you can't just add properties. There is also a balance regarding who has access to which weapon proficiencies. For example, in the prior version of the Adventurer's Guide, the rogue didn't have proficiency with the dueling dagger. This limited their options compared to a Dex-based warrior who is proficient in all martial weapons, and it was kind of cool. The final version, however, gave them dueling dagger proficiency and that has thrown off that balance. Now a dual-wielding rogue should be using a rapier (or sabre) and a dueling dagger. That's it. There is no other competing choice--everything else is strictly inferior.

Those are the places that stick out the most to me as rough spots. Because of this, I'm just going to make my own table, taking what A5e has done and switching it around a bit. I'm not sure what it's going to look like, but thoughts that I've had include:
-Add certain weapon properties that only apply if the wielder uses the weapon under certain conditions
-Scimitar could have the parrying property when you are wielding two scimitars
-Rapiers and sabres could have the parrying property if you are not wielding another weapon

Those are the sorts of things I'm considering that I think would fix what I see as rough edges in the details. (I have other changes I want to make, but they are for reasons of personal preference and better compatibility with O5e.)
 


lichmaster

Adventurer
I like what was done with the weapons in Level Up, with all of those interesting properties creating more choices and possibilities.
Same here! Overall I find the equipment section exceptional: it can easily be plugged and played in o5e, and it immediately results in a more interesting game!

However, some of the specifics of which properties go on which weapons missed the mark for me.
I can see that. Maybe I'll have to tweak some weapons, depending on my players' reaction to them
That being said, there is a balance between weapons on the table. If you want to maintain that balance, you can't just add properties. There is also a balance regarding who has access to which weapon proficiencies. For example, in the prior version of the Adventurer's Guide, the rogue didn't have proficiency with the dueling dagger. This limited their options compared to a Dex-based warrior who is proficient in all martial weapons, and it was kind of cool. The final version, however, gave them dueling dagger proficiency and that has thrown off that balance. Now a dual-wielding rogue should be using a rapier (or sabre) and a dueling dagger. That's it. There is no other competing choice--everything else is strictly inferior.
Having a trade off is an important aspect for me. No brainer choices like these shouldn't really be there IMO.
Those are the places that stick out the most to me as rough spots. Because of this, I'm just going to make my own table, taking what A5e has done and switching it around a bit. I'm not sure what it's going to look like, but thoughts that I've had include:
-Add certain weapon properties that only apply if the wielder uses the weapon under certain conditions
-Scimitar could have the parrying property when you are wielding two scimitars
-Rapiers and sabres could have the parrying property if you are not wielding another weapon
I like that there are general guidelines about how to generate weapons (with no more than 4 properties each), and I think this will be a section ripe for homeruling or supplements.
One thing I'll probably do is to generate a point buy system for weapons and armors, so they're all "balanced" in a way.
For example, you always start with a 1d4 small simple weapon with no properties, a very low cost and a damage of choice.
Then for every "point" you either change the damage, the size, or buy a property, and the cost increases. After a certain amount of points the weapon has to be martial, and depending on the size the damage cannot be more than a max die (1d6 for small, 1d8 for 1h medium and 2d6 for 2h). This idea borrows heavily for how weapons were generated in Trailblazer.
Those are the sorts of things I'm considering that I think would fix what I see as rough edges in the details. (I have other changes I want to make, but they are for reasons of personal preference and better compatibility with O5e.)
I agree with you, there are some things I will change straight away, for personal preference: one being the attribute bonus linked to the background, and the other being the attribute bonus linked to the kind of stronghold (there's no stronghold that gives a dex bonus, btw).
 



Stone Dog

Adventurer
You don’t; works fine in the off-hand.
In which case...
Another problem with the weapons for me is that to be effective with the rules the scimitar should basically only be used as an off-hand weapon by someone who is using a bastard sword or short sword in their primary hand. The concept of dual-wielding two scimitars has become a thing, but despite the fact that you can technically do that with the A5e rules, there is virtually no benefit to doing so. I suppose a druid could benefit from it, since they are proficient in scimitars but not martial weapons, but anyone who is proficient in martial weapons is better off using a shortsword in their primary hand (parrying property) or a bastard sword if they are Strength based (parrying plus more damage).

You can use the scimitar in your primary hand and the shortsword in your off hand, right?
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
I love how playing fantasy games based very loosely on medieval Europe seems to make people believe they are experts on medieval combat and how weapons were used.
That's a good point!
Hobbies tend to be related, though, so it's not unthinkable some also practice medieval fencing, or martial arts with weapons, or are actually interested in history and/or white arms and read actual hoplology/warfare/white arms books. It is obviously different from claiming to be an expert, but it's at least being somewhat informed
 


Stone Dog

Adventurer
Nope, because the shortsword lacks the dual-wielding property, and so it can only be used in your primary hand.

Dual-Wielding just lets you use a bonus action for another attack with that weapon. I can't see anywhere that says you can't use a weapon in your off hand for other purposes, or even for an extra attack if you have one. Just have the scimitar in your main hand, use the short sword for parrying, and your bonus action for something else.
 

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