Question on Reactions and weapon choice

Hey, I am currently learning the combat rules in preparation for running my first game and had set up a few practice combats.

If I have a character armed with a bow and a sword, move into medium range and make a ranged attack with the bow.
Then later in the round an enemy moves into Reach and makes an attack. My question is: can I then make a defence reaction with the sword? Or would that require some form of action to swap from the bow?

Thanks in advance

My gut reaction at the gaming table, and not knowing if such a rule does exist, would be to say yes and just increase the difficulty. I think we gamers, get too caught up in the idea of looking for a ruling for every situation. I know I have done it, but these days I just crack out a quick rule, and move on with the story. If you know the basics of the system, just make a call. It’s possible there is a rule, but are you going to remember it when the heat is on, and you need a quick response.
Sorry, no real help, just an observation. I generally ignore gaming systems that have the - ‘you have X action points to spend, or you can do a major - minor- and free action.’ It’s too much like a war game, just narrate around the table.
My 2d…

No, that was actually a great deal of help. A simple increased difficulty on the parry makes total sense to me. Thanks.

I wouldn’t allow parrying with the sword if the character is not wielding it. He would have to use a Minor Action to draw it first.


I may be majorly over thinking things here but it was this line from page 122 of the player’s handbook that made me pause:

‘When a character makes an attack, compare the Reach of the weapon he is using with the Reach of his opponent’s weapon (opponent’s choice).’

It’s that ‘(opponents choice)’ that had me think you could maybe select which weapon to use.

That’s simple: the opponent chooses which of his own weapons he is using.

But in the example I used earlier, that could possibly suggest that: even though previously in the round I had fired my bow, when it came to somebody attacking me, as I’m now the opponent I could ‘choosse’ to switch to my sword and therefore Parry.

I realise I’m being slightly oblique here but I’m just trying to grasp the combat before I unleash it on the unsuspecting players.

Youn can still Parry even if you don’t have a weapon.

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Bows are too expensive to parry with. If you fire a bow which is a 2h weapon and use a minor action to draw a sword. Then I would let you have the bow in one hand and parry with the sword. When you want to fire again you have to sheathe, stick it in the ground, or drop the sword.

I also allow an acrobatic dodge roll because doing the above over and over again looks a bit silly. Make sure to take a doom unless someone has invested heavily in the acrobatics tree for pantherish twist.

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I like a game to flow well too. But when you begin to take advantage of player or NPC complications it adds to the narrative on the fly. Players can likewise use momentum to narrate going up a flight of stairs or down a narrow alley so only one opponent can come at them at a time. And change the environment in a manner that helps them.

I just ran a combat where characters were fighting stalk-skimmers (angry prehistoric storks the size of a giraffe) and there were many complications rolled. Once I had a character dodge an attack they could hear and feel the ground rumbling beneath their feet and they had to move out of the area before a geyser eruption. One person fired a bow and had to keep from slipping into a bubbling mud pot.

It actually made combat a little more tense as characters could take relatively minor damage from the harsh environment as well as the bad flying beasties above.

Edit mobile

You can perform the Defend Reaction (using the Parry skill) without a weapon in your hand. The Parry skill isn’t just parrying per se but rather it’s just the mechanical name for avoiding melee weapon attacks. You can easily narrate this as the archer deflecting the strike with his armoured bracer, or stepping into the blow and knocking the Attacker’s arm off line.

Given that drawing a sword is a Minor Action I’d definitely not allow it to be done as part of a Reaction without significant justification and some penalty (ie. no, but).

I feel actions should be thought of relatively simultaneously, so the archer is firing his bow at the charging enemy which doesn’t leave him enough time to draw his sword to defend himself with. This means that barring superlative skill, the archer isn’t going to have a sword for this round: decisions have consequences. However, what I would definitely allow is drawing a weapon as a 2 Momentum spend out of a successful defence (it’s opposite of Disarming an opponent, so the same cost seems reasonable).

The charging barbarian swings his ax at the archer. The archer intercepts the ax haft with his upraised forearm, steps backs and draws his sword.

That distinction, allowing it as an outcome of a superlative reaction rather than as something done to enable the reaction is an important one: it’s the essence of how Momentum works.

Re: Reach.
The quoted section on Reach is referring to the situation where an opponent has multiple weapons in his hands (Duelling Sword and off-hand Dagger for instance).


I like the option of blocking with an armored gauntlet though reach could be a tough thing to get past but that should apply to acrobatics as well.

Something to think about.

I don’t see what the problem is. A Hero can perform a Minor action and a Standard action each round. So he’s loosed an arrow at the charging dude (Standard action); then he draws his sword to Parry (Minor action). Yes, you could just use the Parry skill without the sword, but then you’d need to spend a Doom (i.e. instead of using the Broadsword’s inherent Parrying Quality).

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@Gymnosophist While you’re correct it’s doable like that, that does limit shoot and scoot tactics. I was making the assumption that the defending character had done something else with their Minor Action so was left in the situation where they needed to draw their Sword as part of a Reaction.

If the Archer hasn’t used their Minor Action then remember you can Ready Actions, so it’s entirely appropriate for the archer to go:

I use my Standard Action to shoot at the charging Barbarian. I Ready my Minor Action and Free Action: if I notice any enemy character move within Reach of me, I’ll drop my Bow and Draw my Sword.

@Feond Unarmed is Reach 1, so even without Guard there’s no situation where, due to a difference in Reach, being unarmed makes defending harder. It’s part of the reason why, narratively, I think of Defending vs Melee attacks by using the Parry skill as more than just parrying with a Sword or Shield but rather as more general defence.

I think it’s important to remember that making Parry the skill used to Defend vs Melee is a balance rather than narrative point. By allowing anyone to use Acrobatics to dodge Melee attacks while unarmed you devalue Coord as an attribute and Pantherine Twist as a Trait. This makes it far easier to Min-Max a melee character by dumping Coord. If I were going this route then I’d make using Acrobatics to Defend vs Melee harder than using Parry.

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Hi, Feond - not sure I was talking about complications, when I mentioned dropping the hole major- minor-free action mechanic.
For speed of combat and keeping it interesting, I was saying I ditch such systems. I could not be bothered keeping track, I don’t want players keeping track of such a mechanical bean counting system and taking them out of the zone. Just use your instincts and keep it fast. I think the Conan system does not even have a set round time (which I think is great), so any scenario as asked by the original question, is something the ref should rule on at the time. How fast/soon does the opponent advance on the archer, adjust difficulty to suit.