Runequest Thursday #24 - Three Feats of Arms for the Would-Be Sword-Master!

Clint Staples

Because I will be away all of Thursday, I am posting this early. Hey, it's Thursday somewhere.

The Sword is perhaps the most popular weapon in all of fantasy gaming and literature. At various times it has been reserved for princes or issued to nearly every soldier. But the sword is something unique in human experience - it is a weapon. Spears, bows, axes, flails, even guns, all have uses for hunting, or as tools. But the only trade for which the sword is suited is war. 

So here I present a trio of Feats of Arms for one who would master the sword.These are, to a greater or lesser extent, based on the techniques of medieval fight-masters such as Fiore di Liberi, Hans Talhoffer, and Johannes Lichtenauer. Some liberties have been taken to adapt techniques to gaming. Any inaccuracies in interpretation are mine.


Half-Sword – DEX 13, STR 11, Sword Attack at 75%

Cost: 5 Hero Points, and you must seek out a tutor who has the Feat, and convince her to spend a week teaching you, for a fee of a minimum of 500 Lunars.

Half-sword techniques teach you how to grip your sword by the hilt with one hand and part way down the blade with the other without hurting yourself. This, in turn, allows you to perform a couple of other techniques. You must have both hands free to use this feat, thus it is often performed with a longsword or greatsword.

  1. You can use a sword to more accurately thrust. State that you are attempting to thrust with Half-Sword, then roll to hit. If you hit, you may spend a Hero Point to use the Choose Location combat maneuver. If you roll well enough to gain levels of success, the first must be Impale.
  2. You can use your sword as a lever to Trip a target in melee as the Combat Maneuver. Make a sword attack normally, but if it is not blocked, spend a Hero Point to roll damage AND attempt to trip. If you succeeded on the sword attack roll with levels of success, you do not need to spend a Maneuver to trip. It happens regardless.


Footwork – DEX 15, Defense 20%

Cost:  5 Hero Points, and you must train with a tutor who has the feat for 1d4+2 weeks, paying what they demand.

 Spend a Hero Point as you twist and sidestep. For each -10% by which you adjust your attacks, you gain +5% defense. This ability lasts for as long as you wish, to a maximum of 5 Turns.


Riposte – DEX 13, Sword Attack 50%, Sword Parry 75%

Cost 5 Hero Points, and you must train with a tutor who has the feat for wd4 Weeks, paying what they demand.  

On the Combat Action after you have successfully parried with your sword, or you have been missed because of Defense, you gain 20% to hit that opponent with your sword.


That is it for now. There are a number of other possible Feats of Arms for the sword and for other weapons. I will probably revisit this in future.