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Googleshng - April 15 '03- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time

When deer aren't expecting something to kill them any second, they act just like cats. Playing and scratching behind their ears with their hind legs and lickng themselves clean, the whole nine yards. It's a very very surreal sight to behold.

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Weaponry the First

Ok, so I know you're gonna get a bunch of whiny e-mails about your bit on swords, arrows, and other chicanery. This is one of them.

The idea that a bullet does less damage than a sword is patently false. Yes, a fast moving blunt object moving at the same speed as a fast moving sharp object will typically do less damage. But that's assuming a lot of things, like equivalent sizes (a boulder moving at the same speed as a sword is generally going to do much more). Then, there's the realization that a bullet isn't just going 'fast'. It's going REALLY fast. Like, some bullets will go large portions of mach.

In fact, if you look at weapons from the civil war, you'll find that if you got hit in the arm with a bullet, the bullet took the arm off. That's blunt force.

Of course, this is all totally overlooking the idea that a sword has a range of, maybe, MAYBE, 12 feet. If you're really strong, and totally know how to handle yourself. A gun, on the other hand is going to be able to destroy things from at least a couple hundred feet.

And finally, powerbooks don't kill people, people kill people.

Googleshng:
True, with the right kind of gun, if you hit at JUST the right angle you can snap a bone and sever an arm, but this wasn't nearly as common of an occurance during the civil war as you make it out to be. It's a heck of a lot more likely to slice through nothing but muscle, bounce off the bone, or get lodged into the bone. You'll have a lot of pain and might need the arm amputated due to infection, but you aren't going to see them flying off that often. Of course, I'm really getting off topic here.

Most guns found in RPGs are going to be a simple pistol, or a rifle on par with what we're talking here. Like with any weapon, you can kill something with it if the hit lands properly, but we're assuming everyone is too inept or unfamiliar with the biology of what they're fighting to do so to help rationalize the whole HP concept. Same with any weapon, we covered that yesterday. So, we can't really use shooting people as are common ground.

Let's use a tree. Take a replica Civil War rifle to a tree, and odds are you can blow a branch off in one shot, but aim at the base of the trunk and try to bring the whole thing down, and it's going to take you a while.

Now take an accurate replica broadsword and hand it to someone with the strength and knowledge to use it properly. You can get the branches off in one swing I'm sure, and if you try and chop the whole tree down, it'll probably take less blows than bullets.

Weaponry the Second

Per your opening statement...and I quote:
"For the record though, a sword can do a good deal more actual damage than a gun can." - Is Crap.
A ordinary gun, like a taurus raging bull, chambered for a 454 casull shell, which you can get in any average gun shop (faster, i might add, than you can get a sword) will literally blow you in half if shot square in the small of the back. A sword, on the other hand, if swung at the small of the back even by the more than average strength man, will only make it about half way through before getting stuck.
I think you should study your weapons before opening your yap and inserting your foot.

Googleshng:
A BB gun fired at close range MIGHT break the skin if you're lucky. There was a point in feudal Japan when katanas were given a rating based on how many heads they could lop off in one swing.

Neither of our examples apply to the typical RPG. These days, it's most popular to give characters freaking zweihanders, which would have no problem slicing someone in half if you're actually strong enough to swing one, and your traditional western style six-shooters. I think the balancing between the two is pretty good, particularly considering that we're talking rules balance here.

Weaponry the Third

For the past week, a debate has been raging about something rather silly: Guns vs. Swords. I am hear to put an end to this debate, once and for all, but not with vague opinions supported with little more than the most basic and general of assumptions, but with facts. Cold, hard, facts.

Ask any gunsmith, soldier, general, or any general weapons expert and they will tell you this: the firearm is the superior of all weapons in the world, including bows and arrows, crossbows, and any types of melee weapons. Look at the evolution of conventional and unconventional warfare: the development of the gun has played the most crucial aspect of ever developing aspect of battle tactics. Bullets can achieve a speed of anywhere from .5 miles to 6 miles PER SECOND. In contrast, crossbows and longbows can only achieve a mere fraction of those speeds, about 100 to 600 feet per second. Swords go even slower, espically the larger or bulker they are; only about 4 - 12 feet arcs per second. Granted, if the human arm spand was longer, then so would the speed, but considering the fact that melee weapons lack any considerable range beyond the weilder's reach (maximum 6 ft., if you hit them with the tip), this a moot point. Guns and swords might do about the same damage, if you're talking about a pistol. Modern day rifles, such as the AK - 47 and the M4 are designed to inflict severe damage considerably more damaging than a sword. Swordplay is also considerably physically strenuous, allowing for only about an hour or two worth of combat before the user is whipped; guns do not have this problem, for obvious reasons (range). And despite all of this, the mere fact is that guns have distance. A lot of distance. Skilled snipers can take out targets from over 900 yards away: that's about 10,800 feet. Compared with the maximum distance of crossbows and longbows, about 200 - 400 feet, guns have a range about 27 times longer, at each one's respective bests. So it doesn't matter if you have a sword or crossbow or gun, and that they all do about the same damage, maybe; guns have distance, and you know? That's all that counts; doesn't matter how good of a swordsman you are or how skilled you are at the bow; guns will spit out more rounds of deathly goodness before you will even see whose shooting you. When you get into the realm of armor peircing bullets, uranium depleted rounds, explosive tipped bullets, rail gun technology, then whatever sembalance of equality among archaic weapons and firearms is gone; once bullets exceed the speed of sound, it doesn't matter where you're hit: you're dead, or your body is shattered forever.

So what does this mean about RPG's? Nothing. Guns and swords, in RPGs, will always do the same damage, no matter what. If games were based entirely on real life, then any schmuck stupid enough to go with a sword or longbow versus somebody with a gun, even a flintlock, is at an immediate disadvantage. To bring this into games would lessen the enjoyability of using melee weapons by having guns be the dominant weapons all the time. RPGs have something that we've all apparently forgot: "Suspension of disbelief," a handly little tool that allows us to play games with obvious logical fallacies and still enjoy them. So while in real life, the gun is the superior weapon 99.9% of the time, in our games, swords and guns can be enjoyed equally, no matter what the circumstances in real life may be.

Googleshng:
Once again, if you're going to get into stuff like railguns, you might as well compare'em to monomolecular swords capable of slicing through any sort of matter as if it were air. Yes, in real life the former is currently on the leading edge of technology and the latter is just theoretical, but we're talking about games not set in real life.

Anyway though, the latter part of your letter sounds about right.

Swords compared to other heavy metal objects.

I agree with the fact that swords are highly overused as primary weapons in RPGs, especially since it isn't all that accurate. Most RPGs have some sort of heavy armor like plate, which a slashing sword is pretty much totally useless against. A good, sharp thrusting sword might work okay if you are just one tough mother, but frankly, you usually see the hero swinging the sword. (Though some of the swords heroes in RPGs use are big enough that getting hit with a swing from one is probably pretty similar to getting hit with a heavy mace, and maces do work rather well against plate--more accurately, they break the wearer's bones, which is good enough).

I'd like to see more of the exotic historical weapons, or just new creative ones with absolutely no historical basis. Many of the best weapons against heavy armor weren't really intended to be weapons at all, at least, not at first. Let's see some heroes swinging around a flail, or wielding the versatile billhook, or the just freaking nasty looking gundetog (I think I spelled that right). You also have the probably hundreds of different types of polearms you could choose from.

Of course, I'd probably settle for an axe-wielding hero too. Vicious weapons, them axes. You have to have respect for a weapon that can deliver blows solid enough to break many shields (and sometimes the arm holding it).

Anyway, since I should ask a question, is there any particular weapon you'd like to see more in RPGs?

DumpShock

Googleshng:
Axes don't get enough use, warhammers, maces, there's a wide variety of very cool and obscure weapons from the southeastern frontier of the late Roman empire you never here of anywhere. Actually, I think that might be where they pulled swallows from for Chrono Cross.

For a change of pace, archery.

Hey,
I totally agree that an arrow can do more damage than a gun with strength. A bullet will get lodged in a sand bag, while the arrow will fly though it. The longbows of the past required pulling 100-150 lbs of weight back with three fingers. Not to mention that if you pull back just slightly differently the arrow will fly totally off target. Having said all that, why do RPGs always make the weak healer-girls archers? I seriously doubt Rosa had anything close to that kind of strength.

~Ladyhawk who can pull an average 28 lb on a recurve and that's considered good by today's standards

Googleshng:
Playing devil's advocate here for a sec, I really have to stress that the average person is going to do much better with a gun than a bow in terms if getting distance, but I've had it coraborated by many sources that the strongest archers out there can shoot a heck of a lot farther than you'd think.

Anyway though, the only archer/healer/girl characters I can name are from FF4 and Legend of Dragoon. Staves are a heck of a lot more common than bows amoungst healers. Heck, I can name more female healers that fight with frying pans. I can however, only think of one healer girl whose weapon of choice is the bible.

Shadowy Goodness

Google,
I would personally have to say that Shadowrun is the most kick ass table top roleplaying game to date. I'm not even sure what it is that I like most abou the game. Is it the skill-based character system (e.g. not set, pre-defined classes)? Is it the excitement I get when I use a Deadly Powerball that completely knocks me unconscious? Is it the witty dialogue I like to partake in right before I smoke a Mr. Johnson who's just double crossed me? All of the above, I should think. This leads me to my question: what's the best part of the game for you? I mean, what's your favorite aspect of it?

Walo
"Oh, no, I took serious dump-shock damage! Hee hee - dump!"

Googleshng:
First off, it's weird how much Shadowrun is coming up for me lately. I'm gearing up to start running a campgaign of it at the moment, Thor's reviewing the Genesis game, you're asking about it...

Anyway, I think the thing I like best about it is how it does away with any sort of MP system and instead throws in a chance of taking stun damage whenever you cast a spell. Really shakes things up, and it maes sense too.



Quickies

Greetings (Black Mage sings) Googleshng
Well I have my cliche list at my site www.angelfire.com/space/imperialmog since we're talking cliche's here, that and I want some more people visiting and can contribute to the list.
Am I the only one who wished the invisible person still existed in the FFI remake?
Imperial Mog

They took out the invisible person? Drat.

Mother 3 is coming out of GBA!!!

Are you excited?

-Peppermonkey

I reserve most such excitement for when details are revealed, but nice to finally hear something on that front.

The Last Laugh:

Really sorry how long it took to get this column up. Connecting to the mail server was like pulling teeth today for some reason.

Anyway, This has been an interesting debate overall I think, but I hope it doesn't stretch into tomorrow.

Googleshng "Yawn..." @rpgamer.com

Last night I had a much longer and livelier debate. I think I'd like to agree with people for a change.

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