GM may I…?

You know that moment when you ask the GM if your character can do some thing which even to you sounds decidedly iffy?

Such as

Player: May I hold my spear in my bow hand while I shoot the goblins?

GM: No, you are on a horse!

Player: In that case can I hold it in the other hand and draw the string and hold the spear?

GM: No!

I think this came up recently in the RMU beta forums about could you swap a two handed weapon into one hand while you cast a spell. I think the idea was that a sword and shield user could probably hold their sword in the shield hand to cast a spell but the two handed weapon user possibly couldn’t.

Take a look at these photos from a horse combat competition in Iran recently. As with all horseback archery they are doing all of this at a canter, actually most of these arabian horses were doing a flat out gallop!

Here we have a spear being held in one hand while the rider is shooting a bow and the reverse of that of using the spear with the bow in the off hand.

This may not look that impressive but can you see the arrows sticking out of the ground? The archer is expected to reach down and pull an arrow out of the ground, traditionally it would have been a corpse but health and safety these days…, nock and shoot. They then swap to the spear to do some targets.

It is hard not to be impressed isn’t it?

10 Replies to “GM may I…?”

  1. Very cool pictures! It does lead me to reevaluate what I think is ridiculous for characters to do, especially in the field of horseriding and archery.

    Just a quick note about the debate on the RM forums though: you are right that the debate was about whether a character with a 2-handed weapon could use one hand to cast a spell while holding the weapon in the other; there was also a question of whether it would cost any action points to shift the two-handed weapon to one hand. But the ruling from JDale was that shifting a weapon from one hand to the other (which a sword-and-board user would have to do, shifting the weapon from the weapon hand to the shield hand) is already assessed at 1 action point in the current beta rules. So the sword-and-board guy could shift the weapon, but would have to pay 1 ap to do so. The 2-handed wielder, on the other hand, is in better shape, because he isn’t shifting his weapon from one hand to the other entirely; he is just taking one hand off his weapon to cast a spell. JDale thus ruled that taking a hand off a 2-handed weapon was just a free action (no ap cost). So the 2-handed wielder actually doesn’t have to pay anything to do that.

    1. Yes, I agreed with the ruling in that releasing with one had should be less time consuming than passing from one hand to the other.

      Until I saw these photos I simply would not allow a PC to hold a spear in one hand and shoot a bow! Nada, can’t do it!

  2. OK, I would argue “If you have Two Weapon Combo with Spear in right hand and bow in left hand…” LOL Looking at those pics, anyone has to admit that the riders trained SPECIFICALLY for that action… not some adventurer who says “Can I hold the spear in one hand and shoot my bow with the other?” Peter didn’t decide today “Hey, I’m going to ride a horse, hold a spear, and shoot a bow” this morning. He spent years and years practicing that very feat. (Shhh… Peter. They have no idea the truth. Just go with it.)

    As for the AP being spent to hold a weapon in another hand… come on now. We’re really getting down into obscene levels of micromanagement. Someone take a ruler, a simple 12″ ruler or rolled up magazine and pretend it’s a sword.

    You. Yes, you. Reading this rant. Take that pen that’s on your desk, just to the left side of your keyboard. Hold it in your right hand. Then shift it to your left hand.

    Are you going to argue that switching hands like that constitutes the burning of an AP? Especially, and here’s the kicker, especially when the sole purpose is for you to start speaking a spell incantation, not for an attack, not to pick up an item, not to use chopsticks to eat cereal.

    Changing hands, and not even to a combat grip, just holding the weapon in the other hand to free up a hand should not be an AP.

    I hate saying this, but there are more and more things about RMU I’m not liking.

    1. I totally agree that those athletes train for that event. It is interesting that the female riders use the spear in the arrow hand as their hands are smaller generally and the men with larger hands go for the spear and bow in the same hand. The spear work from horseback we call ‘tent pegging’. It is one of my ambitions to train myself and my horse in tent pegging this spring/summer.

      Regarding the AP costs, in the simple round swapping your weapon to the other hand so you can cast a spell would simply be a -25. The action points are totally irrelevant. It is only when you go to the detailed, almost second by second style tactical round that APs ever come into it.

  3. Perhaps you could say that shifting a dagger to another hand could only cost a free action, or an instantaneous action (0 ap for the first time you do it in a round, 1 ap afterwards), as Spectre makes a good point that it doesn’t take much time or effort. But trying to do it while actually fighting someone could reasonably impose a penalty — I wouldn’t want to shift my dagger while I’m in melee combat, lest I give my opponent an opportunity. And I think the action really would take some effort if the item were for example a spear rather than a dagger, and even more if it were say a two-handed sword. I think it could at least inhibit a spell gesture for a second or so — and remember that you need both hands free to cast Essence or Channeling spells. So I actually think that imposing a tactical cost on shifting a weapon is warranted. Maybe I am just a micromanager 🙂

    On the other issue, I think Spectre makes a good point that these people have trained specifically to do these sorts of feats. Interestingly, JDale outlined an idea of bringing weapon feats (he called them styles) to RMU, that would really work well here. The idea is that once you reach a certain rank in a weapon skill or skills, you unlock feats that you can spend DPs to learn:

    So for example, for the feat/style above — the one where you hold your spear in one hand while shooting your bow — you could say that you need skill rank x in bow and skill rank y in spear, then pay z dps, and you can fire your bow while still holding your spear at no penalty.

      1. Right, so it might be something like:

        FEAT: Spear and Bow style
        You hold your spear in your bow hand while loosing an arrow. Your friends are impressed!

        Cost: 5 DPs

        Prerequisites: Spear 5, Bow 10, Riding 10

        Effect: You keep a spear in your bow hand while making attacks with your bow at no penalty.

  4. late to the party again – I think as with everything Rolemaster there is a penalty to pay for being fancy. It is not that they can’t hold the spear with the bow – look at the obvious ergonomics – or that you can’t shift a weapon to the wrong hand, it is that it just takes a little more skill. On the two-handed weapon debate, perhaps the point should be could you actually hold the weight of the weapon in your off-hand?

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