The Usual Suspects
There are longer-reach options on the books already. Interestingly, none of them are in the Basic Set, but are covered in Martial Arts.
All-Out Attack (Long) (MA p. 97) : This lets you perform a full-extension jump or lunge. A full extra yard is added to your Reach. There’s a damage penalty for swing attacks. This doesn’t feel quite right.
Committed Attack (MA, p. 99-100): This one’s better, but you have to work for it. There’s no Committed Attack (Long) option, but you can do an attack with two steps, and those steps can be forward and then back. So Committed Attack (Determined), but with two steps (one out, one back) works out to be an attack at full skill that has an extra yard of reach, but at -2 to defend (and you can’t parry with the hand(s) used to attack). This is probably a good fit.
That’s about it for formal options.
What would be nice, though, is to get the benefit of a bit of extra reach, but be able to tack this on to existing strikes. Basically, an enhanced-reach Attack Option, like Telegraphic Attack (MA, p. 113).
Which honestly is probably about what it is – something that is a bit out of your reach, but not requiring more than a bit of a lean.
This little discussion will be wrapped around a human norm. I’m sure it’s possible to consider how a creature with a 5-yard reach might well just get more than a single extra yard out of an All-Out Attack (long), but not today.
Option 1: Trade Reach for Skill
All-Out Attack provides us with an extra yard of reach being the same as +4 to hit, so we’ll go with that. You’re not giving up defenses to get there, though, so it’ll have to be worse than just each 0.25 yards being a -1 penalty to hit.
So let’s double it.
Each 0.25 yards of reach is -2 to hit. Using the RAW reach options, where your arms seem to be treated as 0.5 yards long, you cover from 0 to 1 yards with a punch, and thus need to add 0.5 yards to your reach. That should be -4 to hit, in exchange for a Reach 1 punch.
Using my suggested 0.7-yard reach, you only need -2 to hit, since that takes you from 0.45 yards to 1.45 yards. That nicely mirrors a kick, in a way. -2 to hit in exchange for getting the next yard of reach. It’s -1 damage, but you can’t fall down.
Option 2: Trade Reach for Defenses
Maybe those long attacks are easy to see coming. So it’s somewhat of a Telegraphic Attack. Instead of getting +4 to hit, you can trade that for +0.5 yards of Reach, in exchange for the usual +2 bonus your foe gets to defend, assuming a 0.5-yard punch.
For my rules tweak, Telegraphic Attack (Long Punch) still covers the same Reach 1, but your foe is only at +1 to defend instead of +2.
If you want to be a stickler for “full hex coverage,” then you don’t even need to bother with my distinction of 0.5 vs. 0.7-yard punches. 0.45 to 1.45 yard coverage for the longer arms does not fully cover the foe’s hex, so the Rule of Slavishly Following Breakpoints kicks in, and both cases compress down to the harsher penalties.
Ridiculously Fine Distinctions
If you play games that can benefit from such, looking at reach in terms of yards rather than hexes can make calculation of Reach a bit more nuanced, and puts some rigor behind A Matter of Inches (MA, p. 110). Apply breakpoints ruthlessly, decide on effective lengths for each class of weapon, and then apply the additional reach above.
For example, treat each class of weapon
- Very Short: 0.25 yards long
- Short: 0.7 yards long
- Medium: 1 yard long
- Long: 1.25 yards long
- Very Long: 1.5 yards long
- Extremely long: 2 yards if reach 3
This isn’t the overall length of the weapon, it’s how far it protrudes past the hand closest to the foe. If you know this from a real weapon (a 24″ baton held 16″ past the grip, for example) go ahead and use that – batons are thus about .45 yards.
It’s ridiculously fiddly, of course, and you don’t want to entertain people using inches of height and weapon length to munchkin the game (though they will). But if such things matter, there’s a way to make them work out.