Problem with "tank" PC

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Panzerkraft
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Problem with "tank" PC

#1 Postby Panzerkraft » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:05 am

I've always played SW in settings where firearms are common. So my experience with melee combat is pretty limited.
Last time we made a classical fantasy campaign and decided to use SW as ruleset, instead of D&D.
But we got a problem: two players made tanky PCs. They both have Vigor D12, Browny/Obesity and complete plate armor, which result in a Toughness of 12.
They also have Fighting D12, Blocking and spear and shield, so Parry is 12 too.
They fought 10 strong mercenaries, with Strength D8/D10 and fighting D10/D12. The mercenaries couldn't scratch them.
They needed to gang up 5 vs 1 to have a decent chance to hit, but even then they needed an 8 to hit.
Medium damage of 2D10 is 11, so even the strongest of them had an hard time wounding the PCs.
Going for the head means losing the gang up bonus, so they need to make 12 to hit.
Basically we had several rounds of strong people attacking the PCs without effect. That was not fast, not furious and especially not fun.

Using ranged weapons makes easier to hit, but even then you need to go for the head. They also have Dodging, so it would be a 9 to hit.
So I'm doing something wrong ? How could they be threatened by something other than an army of elite musketeers ?

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#2 Postby Brickulos » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:31 am

Panzerkraft wrote:I've always played SW in settings where firearms are common. So my experience with melee combat is pretty limited.
Last time we made a classical fantasy campaign and decided to use SW as ruleset, instead of D&D.
But we got a problem: two players made tanky PCs. They both have Vigor D12, Browny/Obesity and complete plate armor, which result in a Toughness of 12.
They also have Fighting D12, Blocking and spear and shield, so Parry is 12 too.
They fought 10 strong mercenaries, with Strength D8/D10 and fighting D10/D12. The mercenaries couldn't scratch them.
They needed to gang up 5 vs 1 to have a decent chance to hit, but even then they needed an 8 to hit.
Medium damage of 2D10 is 11, so even the strongest of them had an hard time wounding the PCs.
Going for the head means losing the gang up bonus, so they need to make 12 to hit.
Basically we had several rounds of strong people attacking the PCs without effect. That was not fast, not furious and especially not fun.

Using ranged weapons makes easier to hit, but even then you need to go for the head. They also have Dodging, so it would be a 9 to hit.
So I'm doing something wrong ? How could they be threatened by something other than an army of elite musketeers ?


I'm assuming that these aren't Novice characters, cause that would be insane :o Also mages with area attacks sound like the solution, as they ignore all but environmentally sealed armor.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#3 Postby SavageGamerGirl » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:07 am

I can help knock their Toughness down by 1 right away.

Characters can't have the Obese Hindrance and the Brawny Edge. It says so in the description of Brawny.

After that... as mentioned area-effect weapons ignore non-sealed armor, so full plate doesn't help against Burst and Blast.
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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#4 Postby Ryche » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:32 am

Use Tricks and Test of Wills, they most likely have lower Smarts and Spirit. Which means either a +2 to hit on the next action or reducing their Parry by 2. Also, the benefit of possible Shaken result with a good roll. As it has been pointed out, using AoE effects work well. Also look at things that might cause Fatigue rather than wounds -- which may be limited based on your setting.

Given these characters are specialized, look to exploit other weaknesses. Puppet one to attack the other is a fun tactic.

Beyond that what Rank are they, I mean if you are in Heroic and Legendary then yeah you are going to have situations, where only a good roll is going to get through and do some harm. If nothing else just start stacking the Shaken results for wounds.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#5 Postby Freemage » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:08 am

Panzerkraft wrote:I've always played SW in settings where firearms are common. So my experience with melee combat is pretty limited.
Last time we made a classical fantasy campaign and decided to use SW as ruleset, instead of D&D.
But we got a problem: two players made tanky PCs. They both have Vigor D12, Browny/Obesity and complete plate armor, which result in a Toughness of 12.
They also have Fighting D12, Blocking and spear and shield, so Parry is 12 too.
They fought 10 strong mercenaries, with Strength D8/D10 and fighting D10/D12. The mercenaries couldn't scratch them.
They needed to gang up 5 vs 1 to have a decent chance to hit, but even then they needed an 8 to hit.
Medium damage of 2D10 is 11, so even the strongest of them had an hard time wounding the PCs.
Going for the head means losing the gang up bonus, so they need to make 12 to hit.
Basically we had several rounds of strong people attacking the PCs without effect. That was not fast, not furious and especially not fun.

Using ranged weapons makes easier to hit, but even then you need to go for the head. They also have Dodging, so it would be a 9 to hit.
So I'm doing something wrong ? How could they be threatened by something other than an army of elite musketeers ?


I've got a hunch that these tanks are about as smart as a pile of bricks; Spirit is likely a dump-stat as well. Smarter opponents should definitely lead with Smarts tricks on them, and/or Tests of Will. A success on a Trick drops their parry by 2; a raise also Shakes them (making it much easier to inflict a Wound on them by meeting their Toughness on the damage roll). Tests are less effective unless you get the Raise (the base effect only benefits the character doing the Test, not his allies)--but that's a bit easier than Tricks in core, since you can get Strong Willed. Remember, once their Parry is dropped, it lasts until their next action--meaning everyone else on their side gets the effect. Finally, Wild Attack is absolutely the friend of the mob o' mooks.

So, Trick + Wild Attack + Called Shot to the Head + Gang-Up Bonus means that they now need to hit a Parry of 8, possibly against an already Shaken opponent, which will do +4 damage.

For ranged combat, Marksman (or just taking the round to Aim) brings down those target numbers. And yes, magical area attacks are very much your friend.

And if you just want to give them the worst bad day ever? Spellcaster with Obscure (Darkness Trapping) and Puppet (Darkening Trapping). Drop the Obscure on them, inflicting a -6 Obscurement penalty on them. Then hit one of them with Puppet: it's an opposed roll versus their Spirit, but they are at -6 due to the swirling darkness. Then have one attack the other (your dark cultist's third power should be Darksight, by the way, so he can give his new minion the ability to see in the Obscure effect.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#6 Postby JamesG » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:26 am

Panzerkraft wrote:two players made tanky PCs. They both have Vigor D12, Brawny/Obesity and complete plate armor, which result in a Toughness of 12.
SavageGamerGirl wrote:I can help knock their Toughness down by 1 right away.

Characters can't have the Obese Hindrance and the Brawny Edge. It says so in the description of Brawny.

I don't think the PCs took Brawny and Obesity each. I think one took Brawny and one took Obese.

Vigor d12 gives a base Toughness of 8.
Plate armor brings that to 11.
Then Brawny or Obese takes it to 12.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#7 Postby Erolat » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:31 am

I am running a Deadlands Reloaded game and have a similar situation. One character is an Indian brave that has decided to "tank" as much as possible.

Base Parry: 2
Fighting: d8 Parry +4
Shield (Last Sons book): Parry +1, +1 Toughness v ranged attacks
Shaman casts Deflection: -2/-4 to hit
Voodooist casts Armor: +2/+4 Armor
Take the Defend action: +2 Parry
Martial Arts (DLR version): No gang up bonus

He often ends up with a Parry of 9 and a Toughness of 6 (Vigor d8 and Brawny) with 4 points of Armor. That is not too bad until you realize that most ranged attacks need an 8 and melee attacks need a 13. Unless I load the bad guys up with really powerful weapons most only have AP2 (or less) so they need to roll 12-15 damage to get a wound. Even with multiple attackers, that "no gang up" makes him al but untouchable.

I have started ignoring him though. He ran up to one bad guy, went defensive and was all "Ha, now you cannot hurt me!" The bad guy was "You ran up here and are now crouched down glaring at me over your shield. Fine, I will shoot that shaman and see if I can drop your deflection." When the player realized there was no penalty for shooting out of melee he decided he may need to change his tactics. Against a single foe, especially a melee foe, he is a real problem but have just a couple of shooters and he actually has to do something. Add in the tricks and area attacks and he has realized that he may be hard to kill but I can just kill everyone else off while he crouches and hides behind his shield.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#8 Postby JamesG » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:34 am

Freemage wrote:And if you just want to give them the worst bad day ever? Spellcaster with Obscure (Darkness Trapping) and Puppet (Darkening Trapping). Drop the Obscure on them, inflicting a -6 Obscurement penalty on them. Then hit one of them with Puppet: it's an opposed roll versus their Spirit, but they are at -6 due to the swirling darkness.

The -6 Obscurement penalty is to attack rolls. Why would you apply to the Spirit roll to resist Puppet?

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#9 Postby Brickulos » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:36 am

JamesG wrote:
Freemage wrote:And if you just want to give them the worst bad day ever? Spellcaster with Obscure (Darkness Trapping) and Puppet (Darkening Trapping). Drop the Obscure on them, inflicting a -6 Obscurement penalty on them. Then hit one of them with Puppet: it's an opposed roll versus their Spirit, but they are at -6 due to the swirling darkness.

The -6 Obscurement penalty is to attack rolls. Why would you apply to the Spirit roll to resist Puppet?


Presumably its a Trapping where the lighting penalty adds to the penalty to resist. So in well lit places they'd get bonuses.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#10 Postby JamesG » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:53 am

To the OP:

I think most of the attacks that might be effective against the tanky PCs have been covered. Area effect spells and things like a dragon's breath attack. Things that target Smarts or Spirit like Smarts Tricks, Tests of Will, and certain spells (Confusion, Puppet, Slow, and Slumber to name a few). Armor Piercing weapons can help bring down their Toughness, and are something even mundane enemies can employ. Also, as Erolat mentions, the bad guys can try and bypass the tanks to attack the squishier friends. They may be able to get the tanks to stand down by holding a knife to the throat of an ally.

But I do caution you not to go overboard. These PCs have spent a lot of resources to be very, very tough against "typical" opponents in a fantasy game. You don't want to take that away from them. There are a lot of combats they should roll through with relative ease. But once this has become apparent, you may want to switch to the Quick Combat Rules for routine combats to keep things FFF:
https://www.peginc.com/store/savage-wor ... bat-rules/

Just be sure to give the PCs a suitable bonus for outclassing their opponents.

For encounters with enemies prepared to take advantage of any weaknesses the tanks have, switch back to regular combat.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#11 Postby JamesG » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:59 am

Brickulos wrote:
JamesG wrote:
Freemage wrote:And if you just want to give them the worst bad day ever? Spellcaster with Obscure (Darkness Trapping) and Puppet (Darkening Trapping). Drop the Obscure on them, inflicting a -6 Obscurement penalty on them. Then hit one of them with Puppet: it's an opposed roll versus their Spirit, but they are at -6 due to the swirling darkness.

The -6 Obscurement penalty is to attack rolls. Why would you apply to the Spirit roll to resist Puppet?


Presumably its a Trapping where the lighting penalty adds to the penalty to resist. So in well lit places they'd get bonuses.


Eh, as a player I'd be giving any GM trying to pull that some serious stink-eye. And as a GM it is not something I would ever do to my players. Trappings are well and good, but that is stretching them too far. But YMMV.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#12 Postby Brickulos » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:02 pm

JamesG wrote:
Brickulos wrote:
JamesG wrote:The -6 Obscurement penalty is to attack rolls. Why would you apply to the Spirit roll to resist Puppet?


Presumably its a Trapping where the lighting penalty adds to the penalty to resist. So in well lit places they'd get bonuses.


Eh, as a player I'd be giving any GM trying to pull that some serious stink-eye. And as a GM it is not something I would ever do to my players. Trappings are well and good, but that is stretching them too far. But YMMV.


I wouldn't do it either, except for maybe a recurring NPC from Enemy. I was simply attempting to make sense of the statement.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#13 Postby Jounichi » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:21 pm

I'm still not getting how it being dark is supposed to make it easier to mind-control someone. There probably needs to be other trappings at work.

In any case, yeah those characters are designed to survive taking hits and avoid being hit. So try something else. Tricks and Tests of Will have been mentioned, but how about environments? Could an enemy caster or monster open up a fissure in the ground they then have to roll Agility to avoid falling in (and possibly taking damage)? How are they with nets or other entanglers?

How are their penalties? Full plate and a spear together weigh 59 lbs. Even with Brawny they need at least a d8 Strength to avoid any penalties, and if there's a shield in the mix they're at -1. I try not to micromanage encumbrance during combat, but in this situation, it might not be a bad idea. They'd also suffer the same penalties to their Pace, and an Obese fighter with Strength d12 can just barely keep it together with the armor and spear alone. Furthermore, by RAW there's no Edge which allows a shield and spear to be used together. If the player is trying to benefit from both without a custom/imported Edge or setting rule, then they're -4 to attack with the spear for trying to use a two-hander with only one hand. On top of encumbrance penalties, that Fighting d12 won't help them contribute to the fight. And since the encumbrance penalty also comes off of Pace, enemies can conceivably maneuver around them with ease. They might even be able to stay out of reach entirely.

Even "tanking" in D&D requires drawing the enemy's attention by being a threat on the battlefield. If they're not a threat to the enemy then they can be safely ignored.
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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#14 Postby Freemage » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:23 pm

1: I'm going to quote from SWD, page 106:

Darkening:
Targets suffer a penalty to oppose the power
equal to the current darkness penalty. The caster suffers
a –2 penalty in normal light, and the
light power works as dispel against the power.


That was my reference point for the Puppet power--it's a bog-standard Trapping in the core rules set, one that would be available to PCs as well, assuming they have access to Darkness Trappings in the first place.

Obviously, not every spellcaster should have it--but the evil cult leader of a temple dedicated to the Lord of Night, who walks in the shadows and rules the vices of mankind? Oh, hell yes, he's got that combo down.


2:
JamesG wrote:To the OP:
But I do caution you not to go overboard. These PCs have spent a lot of resources to be very, very tough against "typical" opponents in a fantasy game. You don't want to take that away from them. There are a lot of combats they should roll through with relative ease. But once this has become apparent, you may want to switch to the Quick Combat Rules for routine combats to keep things FFF:
https://www.peginc.com/store/savage-wor ... bat-rules/

Just be sure to give the PCs a suitable bonus for outclassing their opponents.

For encounters with enemies prepared to take advantage of any weaknesses the tanks have, switch back to regular combat.


This is solid advice. Not every combat should feature one of the approaches outlined; they should be reserved for major fights, and maybe not even all of those. Let the heroes shine doing their thing much of the time; it will make those times when they are challenged all that much more memorable.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#15 Postby JamesG » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:30 pm

Good catch on the 'illegal' spear and shield combo Jounichi. Making the tanks adhere to that will drop their Parry by 1. Though like you said some settings have rules around that, like Oversized Weapon Master from 50F. So the PCs in the example may be legal already.
Jounichi wrote:And since the encumbrance penalty also comes off of Pace

Surprisingly (to me anyway), it does not. The Encumbrance rules do not mention any Pace penalty, and the long distance travel rules even say "Fatigue and Encumbrance penalties don’t normally modify Pace". So Wounds slow a character down, but Encumbrance and Fatigue do not. But I'm guessing it is a common House Rule to have one or both of these impact Pace. Though it may sometimes be an unintentional House Rule, with the proper rule being forgotten rather than willfully changed.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#16 Postby JamesG » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:48 pm

Freemage wrote:1: I'm going to quote from SWD, page 106:

Darkening:
Targets suffer a penalty to oppose the power equal to the current darkness penalty. The caster suffers a –2 penalty in normal light, and the
light power works as dispel against the power.


That was my reference point for the Puppet power--it's a bog-standard Trapping in the core rules set, one that would be available to PCs as well, assuming they have access to Darkness Trappings in the first place.

Obviously, not every spellcaster should have it--but the evil cult leader of a temple dedicated to the Lord of Night, who walks in the shadows and rules the vices of mankind? Oh, hell yes, he's got that combo down.


Well consider myself schooled.

Though this really just reinforces an opinion I already had that the example Trappings in SWD are not particularly balanced. Actually Darkening is fine by itself, it is only when you stack Obscure on top that it becomes over-powered. So I'd probably rule that only natural darkness penalties apply, not ones artificially created by spells. Or maybe that artificial penalties are halved, so the -6 becomes -3. Yeah, I think I like that latter option.

But continuing down this tangent, the Trappings that suggest adding Fatigue damage are crazy powerful. Consider that a -1 penalty is similar to a 1 die type drop and a -2 penalty is better than a 2 die type drop. So any Trappings that grant Fatigue damage turn the power into a version of Lower Trait, on top of what it already was doing. Except it effects EVERY trait not just one. Ouch!

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#17 Postby DMbobby » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:59 pm

JamesG wrote:
But continuing down this tangent, the Trappings that suggest adding Fatigue damage are crazy powerful. Consider that a -1 penalty is similar to a 1 die type drop and a -2 penalty is better than a 2 die type drop. So any Trappings that grant Fatigue damage turn the power into a version of Lower Trait, on top of what it already was doing. Except it effects EVERY trait not just one. Ouch!


It's even worse than that. Two things to remember with fatigue: 1. Fatigue can't be soaked like wounds 2. Characters can only have two levels of fatigue before falling unconscious compared tot he three wound levels. Sure this doesn't KILL the target, but a party that is all unconscious or at least losing their big protectors are sitting ducks when the more deadly effects come out.
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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#18 Postby Matchstickman » Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:40 pm

Given that most (all?) fatigue granting trappings have the PC make a separate Vigor roll at no penalty against a TN of 4, I don't think it's a hugely difficulty roll to pull off. Even at d4 with -1 that's 50/50 odds (if a wild card).

But this has nothing to do with tanks so I'll drop it there.
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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#19 Postby Freemage » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:53 pm

JamesG wrote:
Freemage wrote:1: I'm going to quote from SWD, page 106:

Darkening:
Targets suffer a penalty to oppose the power equal to the current darkness penalty. The caster suffers a –2 penalty in normal light, and the
light power works as dispel against the power.


That was my reference point for the Puppet power--it's a bog-standard Trapping in the core rules set, one that would be available to PCs as well, assuming they have access to Darkness Trappings in the first place.

Obviously, not every spellcaster should have it--but the evil cult leader of a temple dedicated to the Lord of Night, who walks in the shadows and rules the vices of mankind? Oh, hell yes, he's got that combo down.


Well consider myself schooled.

Though this really just reinforces an opinion I already had that the example Trappings in SWD are not particularly balanced. Actually Darkening is fine by itself, it is only when you stack Obscure on top that it becomes over-powered. So I'd probably rule that only natural darkness penalties apply, not ones artificially created by spells. Or maybe that artificial penalties are halved, so the -6 becomes -3. Yeah, I think I like that latter option.

But continuing down this tangent, the Trappings that suggest adding Fatigue damage are crazy powerful. Consider that a -1 penalty is similar to a 1 die type drop and a -2 penalty is better than a 2 die type drop. So any Trappings that grant Fatigue damage turn the power into a version of Lower Trait, on top of what it already was doing. Except it effects EVERY trait not just one. Ouch!


Oh, you can absolutely complain about the balance (I obviously don't have the same tastes, but that's what this is about, taste, and folks are entitled to their own feelings on the matter); it was more the fact that everyone seemed to be holding me accountable for this particular Trapping's power that made me whip out the RAW.

Discussion of the balance (or lack thereof) of the SWD Trappings is probably best started in a new thread, if folks want to go there.

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Re: Problem with "tank" PC

#20 Postby Panzerkraft » Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:05 am

Freemage wrote:I've got a hunch that these tanks are about as smart as a pile of bricks; Spirit is likely a dump-stat as well. Smarter opponents should definitely lead with Smarts tricks on them, and/or Tests of Will. A success on a Trick drops their parry by 2; a raise also Shakes them (making it much easier to inflict a Wound on them by meeting their Toughness on the damage roll). Tests are less effective unless you get the Raise (the base effect only benefits the character doing the Test, not his allies)--but that's a bit easier than Tricks in core, since you can get Strong Willed. Remember, once their Parry is dropped, it lasts until their next action--meaning everyone else on their side gets the effect. Finally, Wild Attack is absolutely the friend of the mob o' mooks.

So, Trick + Wild Attack + Called Shot to the Head + Gang-Up Bonus means that they now need to hit a Parry of 8, possibly against an already Shaken opponent, which will do +4 damage.

For ranged combat, Marksman (or just taking the round to Aim) brings down those target numbers. And yes, magical area attacks are very much your friend.

And if you just want to give them the worst bad day ever? Spellcaster with Obscure (Darkness Trapping) and Puppet (Darkening Trapping). Drop the Obscure on them, inflicting a -6 Obscurement penalty on them. Then hit one of them with Puppet: it's an opposed roll versus their Spirit, but they are at -6 due to the swirling darkness. Then have one attack the other (your dark cultist's third power should be Darksight, by the way, so he can give his new minion the ability to see in the Obscure effect.


That's good advice, thanks. I had totally forgottoten about savage attacks and tricks. Too bad the setting is low magic, so I can't have a caster every combat.

Jounichi wrote:In any case, yeah those characters are designed to survive taking hits and avoid being hit. So try something else. Tricks and Tests of Will have been mentioned, but how about environments? Could an enemy caster or monster open up a fissure in the ground they then have to roll Agility to avoid falling in (and possibly taking damage)? How are they with nets or other entanglers?

How are their penalties? Full plate and a spear together weigh 59 lbs. Even with Brawny they need at least a d8 Strength to avoid any penalties, and if there's a shield in the mix they're at -1. I try not to micromanage encumbrance during combat, but in this situation, it might not be a bad idea. They'd also suffer the same penalties to their Pace, and an Obese fighter with Strength d12 can just barely keep it together with the armor and spear alone. Furthermore, by RAW there's no Edge which allows a shield and spear to be used together. If the player is trying to benefit from both without a custom/imported Edge or setting rule, then they're -4 to attack with the spear for trying to use a two-hander with only one hand. On top of encumbrance penalties, that Fighting d12 won't help them contribute to the fight. And since the encumbrance penalty also comes off of Pace, enemies can conceivably maneuver around them with ease. They might even be able to stay out of reach entirely.

Even "tanking" in D&D requires drawing the enemy's attention by being a threat on the battlefield. If they're not a threat to the enemy then they can be safely ignored.


I missed that the spear is a 2 handed weapon. In fact it doesn't seem that there is a 1 hand spear. That's really strange, but whatever.
Penalties for the heavy armor could be used for sure. Even if they have the right scores penalties could be roleplayed.
How does nets work ? Are they opposed roll of Agility that gives penalties ?


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