Ubiratan of Octopus Carnival reviews the new adventure supplement Hall of Judgment (an expansion and rewrite of the older Lost Hall of Tyr) that went on sale yesterday as PDF, written for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS. He says nice things about Hall of Judgment.
Nordlond is my renamed Torengar for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG project I’m working on. Naturally, I have a playtest crew. Kalzazz is on it. For fun, and because one of the Festivals that are a key part of “town” in the adventure features a story about a bull . . . he wrote up a Nordlonder bull as a creature.
Bulls are unaltered mature male cattle, often clocking in at a ton or more of muscle and bad attitude, complete with horns. Nordlondic cattle are known for coming in a variety of colors* and have upswept curved horns. This represents a bull in his prime that is a survivor in the harsh Nordlonds. Bulls will fight to defend the herd, to drive off rivals, and because they plain do not like people.
Move 5/10 (Enhanced move 1)
DR 2 (Tough Skin) / 6 (Skull) / 5 (Feet)
Parry (Horns) 11
Kick C, 1 14 – 3d+5 cr
Gore C, 1 14 – 3d+8 imp. Can also be used as a slam. Counts as a weapon.
Bad Temper (12)
Combat Reflexes (included in defenses above)
Skills – Brawling 14
Notes – based off the Ox from Campaigns, but upgraded because its not an altered ox, its a bull!
*per wikipedia, Icelandic cattle do come in many bright colors! They also are on the small side, but Nordlond is the land of mighty barbarians, so presumably Nordlondic cattle are NOT on the small side!
OR 4 skill + 37 damage + 4 move + 3 FP = 48
PR 6 AD + 3 DR + 3 HT + 30 HP + 3 Wil = 45
Dragon Heresy: The Last 48 Hours
As always, the last 48 hours of a Kickstarter are crucial. One can frequently match the first two days’ funding totals in the last two days, and for Dragon Heresy, if we did that, we’d be seriously flirting with the big stretch goal at $16,000 for an offset run with sewn binding.
We are currently sitting at roughly $11,000, with the initial funding goal having been $3,500.
But let’s back up a bit.
What is Dragon Heresy?
Dragon Heresy is a stand-alone Fantasy RPG based on a grittier take on the Fifth Edition game engine. It uses a two-level target hit roll, and differentiated between skill and endurance (“vigor”), injury (“wounds”), and retains Fifth Edition’s excellent use of Conditions, including Exhaustion. You do NOT need other Fifth Edition books to play the game; character generation, combat, social standing, flyting, grappling, wilderness and survival, and monsters are all in the book.
The setting is strongly Norse-inspired, which influences the cultures that are playable, but also the mechanics, since the vikings’ use of lightweight, buckler-gripped shields as very nearly the primary weapon heavily influenced the combat rules options.
Finally, it integrates one of the best grappling mechanics written for such games, making grappling interchangeable with striking on a blow-by-blow basis. One new player played a dragonborn berserker whose primary weapon was a net with no slowdown in play, full use of the rules, and outstandingly fun outcomes.
Tell Me More
No problem. I’ve done a lot of that – here are some additional resources for those who wish to check out the project
Podcasts and Video
- The initial video pitch for the Kickstarter (mainly thematic); the Designer’s Comments featuring me throwing an axe in full mail, and some viking sparring
- The Established Facts podcast featured a segment dedicated to Dragon Heresy, and another relating to the business of game design.
- Some old playtest reports . . .
- . . . and a new streaming session on Roles to Astonish with four players who’ve never played DH before
- I talked about Dragon Heresy from various perspectives on an net Chat, Table Top Babble, covered the what and why of mechanics on Down with DnD, martial arts in OSR systems with Hobbs and Friends of the OSR, and also hit the game’s inspiration and aspirations with Matt Finch on Uncle Matt’s D&D Neighborhood. Finally, I topped it off with an appearance on Nerdarchy with Nerdarchy Dave, and then was on a pre-recorded episode of Shane Plays Radio. We cover much ground in these, much from different perspectives. If I had to pick two, I’d hit Down with DnD for the mechanics, and the conversation with Matt Finch for how the mechanics meet the inspiration in a rules-light way.
There have been two reviews of the pre-release copy of the game (it’s fully written).
- Follow Me and Die! took a look and liked what he saw
- Moe Tousignant is in the middle of a truly comprehensive review, and allowed me to host his first two sections on my blog
- James Spahn (White Star and other games) took a look at a pre-release copy and liked what he saw.
The Kickstarter: What You Get
There are only a few pledge levels
- At $5 you get a stripped down version of the combat rules in sort-of edited PDF format, with minimal layout and no art. It’s for taking the combat rules for a test drive
- At $20 you get a full-color, hyperlinked, layered PDF
- At $50 you get a Black and White POD hardback and the PDF
- At the $100 sponsorship level, the hardback is upgraded to color
- At $500, you get everything from the $100 level and I will hand-make for you an authentic viking shield if you live within the USA. It will be fit to you up to 35.5” diameter, with hide-glued planks, 1oz hide edging, linen stitching, and a hand-carved oak handle. This is basically “buy the shield and get the game for free.”
What Can You Do?
Obviously, the best thing for me is for you to head over and pledge. It’s a great game, with a great layout, and even if I do say so myself, the initial book block (the interior pages without the binding) from the most likely vendor unless we hit the big offset print goal are simply superb.
If you are interested in the game but can’t pledge, I’d ask that you share it on social media so that others that might be interested might see. Like Fifth Edition rules but want more grit? You’ll like what you see here. Like Norse mythology and vikings? You’re a prime candidate to love the game.
48 hours to go. Please check it out, and pledge if you can!
Moe Tousignant has a rep for thorough and detailed reviews. We’ve been in each others’ gaming orbits for a while, as he discussed below. When his dance card came up empty after reviewing James Spahn’s White Start, I teased him about reviewing Dragon Heresy.
He’s working through the preliminary-but-playable PDF file I’ve been working with, screen-shotting, and from which the edited manuscript will emerge, eventually. He notes the fix I made to moving Alignment where it’s supposed to be under Character Background somehow didn’t “take.” A few other things need fixing as well. This is why you need an editor.
Even so, he’s posted two long examinations so far, and will continue through the book. It’s readable, it’s thorough and fair. And he’s given me permission to re-host it.
So here we go, from Moe Tousignant’s RPGaMonth Group in Google+:
My history with Dragon Heresy and first look.
I’m finally caught up. It’s the fourth month of the year and I’m starting on my fourth RPG book for #RPGaMonth. If I can finish this one by the end of April then I will actually be on schedule!
For those just joining in, I’m reading this book as part of #RPGaMonth, where the goal is to read one RPG a month for the entire year. The main drive is to get those books that have been sitting on your shelf/hard drive unread and unused for far too long off that shelf/drive and get them read or, even better get them read and run.
My history with Dragon Heresy and it’s designer, Doug Cole
That goal of getting stuff off my shelf/drive? Well, that doesn’t apply here. Dragon Heresy is new to me, as of yesterday. Actually right now it’s kind of new to everyone. Well, really, it’s not new to anyone yet as it’s not actually out, or finished.
Dragon Heresy is a new fantasy RPG written by +Douglas Cole aka Gaming Ballistic. It’s up on Kickstarter right now (there will be a link at the end of this if you want to check it out).
So why am I writing about a game that’s not even finished yet? Well, it seems I must be doing something right with these reviews as Doug really liked my White Star Review and contacted me and asked if I would consider reading a pre-production copy of his new game next.
Now I’ve known Doug for as long as I’ve been on social media. From what I remember we first “met” in the Old School Gamers group on Facebook. Over time I’ve also grown to know him as That Thursday GURPSday guy, and now he’s becoming that Dragon Heresy guy (and with that, the Viking shield making guy).
I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with Doug so agreed to give Dragon Heresy a read. So take this as my full disclosure. While I don’t know Doug personally, as in, in real life (we’ve never met), I do know and respect him through our online interactions. Also, he did send me a pre-production copy of this game. Will that affect my thoughts on the game itself, I don’t think so, but it is something to consider when reading my thoughts on Dragon Heresy.
What I know going in
Due to the fact Doug was on pretty much every RPG podcast ever created in the last few weeks, I’ve heard quite a bit about Dragon Heresy. I know it uses Dungeons & Dragons 5e as it’s base. I know it’s more crunchy than D&D 5e. I know it’s about Vikings but still keeps all the magic and fantasy and I know that you don’t need to own D&D 5e to use it. It’s a standalone game. That’s pretty much it.
What is going to make this review interesting is that I have not read Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Yes, you read that right. I don’t play nor have I read the worlds most popular roleplaying game. For shame. Now I did do the whole D&D Next playtest, back when it was just the Caves of Chaos and Fighters still did damage on a miss. I’ve also got a ton of XP with D&D 4th Edition, 3.5 edition, and AD&D 2nd Edition. So it’s not like Fantasy D20 games are new to me. But I thought it worth noting that I haven’t played/read 5e so in some cases I’m not going to know if a rule in Dragon Heresy is new or something straight from the D&D 5e core rules.
Obviously, Dragon Heresy isn’t done yet and that needs to be taken into consideration for the entirety of this review. I’m dealing with PDF files here and not physical books.
That said, I was very impressed by how far along the game is. There’s art. It’s laid out. It’s full color. It looks like a complete RPG. Which I have to admit is awesome to see for a Kickstarter. When I received files from Monte Cook for playtesting they were just word documents. I really wasn’t expecting to see something this polished.
The book (you still call it a book when dealing with PDF’s right?) looks beautiful. It’s two-column justified text that looks to flow well. Most charts are in line as is most of the art (with a few bigger images squeezing one column or the other). I’m not sure if more art is coming but there are some sections where it’s a bit sparse, I found one section where it’s 12 pages between pieces of art. The art that is there is solid and appears to feature multiple artists (one of the pages I don’t have are the credits).
As expected from a book based on D&D, it looks like a large portion of the book is dedicated to spells and monsters. It’s also worth noting this is a one book system. No separate campaign book or monster manual. It does look like there’s still art coming for the Monsters as I didn’t notice any during my flip through the book.
My first thought as I scrolled quickly through the Dragon Heresy PDF was: man this looks like a complete game. As I got near the end I noticed there was still some layout to be done and art missing but overall it looks done, at least as far as the rules are concerned.
I haven’t actually read any rules or anything more than some random headings so I can’t speak about any of that yet, but I can say this is going to be a great looking game once it releases.
Now we just need to see how the rules look… next time.
Part 2 Covering: Introduction, Core Mechanics, Creature Characteristics, Ability Scores, Generating Characters, Character Races, Character Classes, Character Background, Beyond 1st Level and Equipment Continue reading “Moe Tousignant Reviews Dragon Heresy (preview edition)”
I was on a lot of podcasts this week. All different. Our discussion with Eric F on “martial arts in old-school games” was a different type of discussion than the “get deep into the mechanical weeds” with Chris S. Matt and David were both very interested in specifics on shields, while the second part of my discussion with Derek was about getting into, and staying into, the game design space.
A friend of mine told me that he was impressed I managed to cover substantially the same general territory with enough differences to make each podcast worth listening to without being repetitive.
Of course, that has a lot to do with my hosts . . .
Each of these is pretty worth listening to, even if I say so myself.
First, I was on The Established Facts with Derek Knutsen-Frey, whom I’ve gotten to know through the IGDN. We had a long chat divided in two parts: a bunch on Dragon Heresy, and then 45 minutes on game publishing as a business.
The always-awesome James Introcaso hosted me for a while on Table Top Babble, and we mostly talked about Dragon Heresy
Chris Sniezak and I got deep into the depths of the game mechanics
Jason Hobbs had me and Eric Farmer on at the same time, and our take was more broad. Can you do “martial arts” in Old-School systems? What does that even mean?
Matt Finch and I had a great chat, and he was absolutely enthusiastic about the materials, construction, and use of period weaponry, and egged me on effectively.
Finally, I was on with Nerdarchy Dave for a live discussion and chat, and I had a great time talking with him and taking questions
Murder-hobos. Heavily armed vagrants, wandering from town to town. Tempers flare, and corpses lie still on the barroom floor. Like a samurai granted kiri sute gomen, the permission to cut and depart, only the presumed wailing of friends and relatives is left in their wake. Weeks later, they return, bloodied themselves, with heaping mounds of gold and treasure. They may glow visibly with newly-acquired power. And still they provoke the inhabitants of the town, who probably treat with them anyway, and take their gold, give them lodging. And as the Chitauri master (?) said: “The humans? What can they do . . . but burn.”
A really active facebook thread about what do to about murder-hobos got me thinking about the why and the what of the phenomenon. I’m not going to try and solve it her, per se, but I do have a few thoughts.
Free Action is not Consequence-Free Action
The biggest solution to what happens when things in town (or on the trail, or . . . ) go horribly awry is always the same: have the perpetrators treated like there are consequences for their actions. People remember when they draw axes during an intense political conversation at Ye Olde Pubbe and kill some folks. They won’t be served, at least. The town may just bar the doors to them. No service for you. No corselet, no sollerets, no service, so to speak.
Writing Dragon Heresy got me thinking about this more, though, because if you kill some random chap in Viking culture, if the cause wasn’t just – and the culture seemed to have a pretty good idea of ‘just’ and ‘unjust,’ or at least ‘he brought it on himself’ or ‘that was uncalled for,’ then the family of the deceased had not just the right, but the obligation to pay you back in turn.
And that wasn’t relegated to “oh, a 1st-level schlub gets to try and revenge himself on a 17th-level guy named Sir Cuisinart.” No . . . it extends a few relations over. They might kill your brother. Or your third cousin twice removed, or something. I believe there was a limit to the distance of the relations, but things would happen. They would, if I understand it right (and I’m still learning), happen at the Thing, (pronounced ting, I think). During this moot of the karls and jarls, a claim of grievance would be lodged, and folks would basically say whether the claimant was in the right for wanting vengeance.
Here’s the kicker: if it was deemed so, that just meant the wronged party got a nod that whatever they did was within the bounds of justifiable homicide. It was up to them to recruit friends, neighbors, and relatives to try and do the deed.
I might have that wrong; I’d love reference to validate.
But in any case: the culture supported quite a bit of give-and-take on violent retribution, and the expectation that not just you (hey, I’m high level), but your brother Bernie (Berndred? Bernr?) might get offed in vengeance. If you had a house, it might be attacked and burned, and if you were in it, so much the better. If not, that’s good too.
That’s easy, though. The key bit is not having it happen to begin with.
Restrained Dispute Resolution
Sometimes I wonder if the reason a lethal escalation to violence was so very common (is very common) is the lack of alternatives that are, for lack of a better word, fun.
It can be fun to roleplay a loud, boisterous, beserker shieldmaiden that will insult the town gentry, finish off three chickens and a cask of wine, and challenge the local tough guy to an arm-wrestling contest. But if some local hotshot goes for an inappropriate pinch . . .
. . . no question he’s gonna deserve a smackdown. But brawling is frequently slow, or geared to be not that much less lethal than weapons. Grappling makes folks flip the table over in rage in many cases, as I noted when writing Dungeon Grappling.
And yet, and yet.
Having Gudrun backhand said offender across the face, then wrestle him into a pretzel until he squeals for mercy is not just satisfying narratively, it should be fun to play out. Dragon Heresy does this with the addition of better rules for grappling that allow everything from conditions to applying pain. You can, with solid mechanical support, make poor Robert the Pincher squeal for mercy. And then have your part skald sing songs about it, renaming him Robert the Squealer. Telling the tales of His Yelpiness far and wide.
That’s a combat-oriented but non-lethal avenue that provides satisfying and decisive mechanical support for a narrative outcome that doesn’t involve entrails.
A Flyting Victory
Again with the Vikings! The stories and sagas, eddas of prose and poetry, show a particular kind of “combat” that was basically a contest of insults. Called Flyting.
Now there’s something neat. Engaging in a contest of insults would be pretty spiffy. It would give mechanical support to non-spellcasting combat that focuses on CHA and INT instead of STR, DEX, and CON.
I love this idea, it’s culturally apt for the Dragon Heresy world, and I can completely see how to do this within my ruleset. So much so that I’m actively looking for a place to put it.
But again: defeat your foe in a formal contest of insults, have skalds on hand to sing the song of said stinging victory with cutting words. Your fame grows (Egil was renowned as both a lout, a brawler, and a poet) and your star rises . . . all without having to figure out where to dispose of the spare liver.
And maybe skalds could actually turn that into actual injury. Fairly sure they can do that anyway, through magic, but having this level of support for it would be pretty spiffy.
So two things, really. I think that in many cases “murder-hoboism” is played out because there’s mechanical support for it (combat rules are usually the most detailed), it’s the most fun (it’s a fantasy game based from a wargame in many cases), and there is little consequence for it (social, physical, or otherwise).
With Dragon Heresy, you’ll be able to engage in robust grappling to provide full-on combat experience with no fatality unless you mean it. The new flyting rules (gotta write those Right Now) will allow for an entirely different axis of combat.
And I definitely need to put in some reputation based rules for such, because your fame and honor need to come into play. Including a rep that turns you into “very dangerous, kill on sight.” And with enough arrows, you’re going down. Your’e certainly not getting into town to sell your loot and buy your supplies. And if the Thing votes you Outcast and Thrall . . . you’re not even a person. You can be killed and rolled off a cliff like so much trash, provided your assailant(s) has the might, or lots of people where quantity has a quality all its own.
But the more non-impaling axes one has to resolve disputes, and the more clear the consequences for murder-hoboing, the more easily players will engage with both story and rules to avoid it. Just make it fun.
It goes both ways, too. If the players can avail themselves of such avenues if a powerful NPC gets all in their face, that’s just juicy fun.
Today two different podcasts dropped where I talk about Dragon Heresy and martial arts in RPGs in general.
Down with DnD
We had a pretty far-ranging conversation, and as always, Chris did his homework, looking over the preview copy of the game I provided.
Give a listen.
Hobbs and Friends of the OSR
Here I joined Jason Hobbs and Eric Farmer to talk about a more general topic – Martial Arts in RPGs, and in the OSR specifically. Is there room for “martial arts” in such a highly abstracted rules set?
Dragon Heresy has been in development for a long time, and the Kickstarter is going very well – we’re sneaking up on 200% funding, and the big stuff happens around $16-22K.
Check it out, and if you can, pledge! If you can’t pledge, please re-share and link to it, so that word gets out.
I thought it was worth explaining in more detail what’s actually in the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set.
Other Updates from the Dragon Heresy Kickstarter
- Welcome to Dragon Heresy! (blog/KS link)
- A Great Beginning: the first 24 hours (blog/KS link)
- Hail to the Shield-Guard! The Skjald-hirð carries the day! (FUNDED!) (blog/KS link)
- Designer’s Notes, and Shields with at least 12% more Viking (blog/KS link)
- The Established Facts Podcast (blog/KS link)
- Progress Report: Things moving along well (blog/KS link)
- Page Count, Cosmology, and first review (KS link)
I’m targeting a 3-5% wordcount reduction in the overall text during the editing stage to try and keep the book at 256 pages once the front matter, maps, Index, and ToC go in, so pages might shift a bit. But this will be a good guideline.
Not Exactly a Table of Contents
- Introduction (1 page)
- Core Mechanics (9 pages)
- Generating Characters (1 page)
- Character Races (11 pages)
- Character Classes (11 pages)
- Character Backgrounds (7 pages)
- Beyond 1st Level (1 page)
- Equipment (12 pages)
- Campaigns/Adventuring (14 pages)
- Rewards and Treasure (3 pages)
- Magic Items (5 pages)
- Combat (18 pages)
- Damage, Rest, and Injury (6 pages)
- Conditions (2 pages)
- Magic (8 pages)
- Spells by Class (25 pages)
- The World of Etera (14 pages)
- OGL (1 page)
- Foes (100+ pages)
So that’s what’s in the book.
There are a few things I’ve yet to do with this that will change a tetch by final entry, but here’s a brief glimpse into Etera and the Nine Realms.
The World Tree and pathway between worlds, Yggdrasil maps the ever-shifting flows of magic through the nine realms. One can move through the realms by tapping into and following the flows of magic, by being transported by Heimdallr’s Bifrost, or by stepping through a dimensional rift. The nine realms touched by Yggdrasil, the World Tree, are described below.
Realms of the Gods
The highest branches of Yggdrasil reach into the heavens, and touch on the realms in which the most powerful beings in the universe dwell.
Asgard. The home of the Aesir, and the seat of power of Woden Allfather. Not all of the Aesir are on the level of Ziu, Donnar, Valfreya, and Skadi (to name but a few), and travelers can meet Aesir of varying power (See the Aesir section of the Bestiary). Transit between Asgard and the Realms of the Field is achieved via the Bifrost—a powerful teleportation circle over which Heimdallr of Asgard stands eternal watch.
Alfheim. This plane or dimension is the realm of the Archfae, and the home of at least the Winter Court. The Summer Court, if it exists at all, might be here as well. This plane is not the realm of the pocket dimensions of the lesser fae (svartalfheim), though access to that realm is much easier from Alfheim than other places.
Jotenheim. The “giant’s home” is the demesne of the elder dragons, where they undertake their journeys of mind and spirit as they slumber on their hoards. Even in their sleep, they are active—and very dangerous—in Jotenheim. Encounters with ancient and elder dragons can be expected, and their power is as great as their motives and desires are mysterious. It is called Jotenheim because that’s what the Aesir call it . . . and they were greatly disturbed when the Elder Dragons drove the giants from their Realm.
Realms of the Field
The middle branches of Yggdrasil contains the realms in which the powerful lords of creation play their games—the playing fields of the gods. This includes the world on which Etera sits, and possibly many others.
Midgard. The home of Etera and the physical world. The sun, moon, and the world are considered part of Midgard. The Astral plane, the realm of pure thought, interconnects the Realms of the Field like vines weaving through the branches of a tree. It is formally part of Midgard, as it cannot exist without the thoughts, perceptions, and guidance of the living minds of the world to create it.
Vanaheim. There is some mystery and argument over Vanaheim. The association of some of the Aesir, such as Yngvi Lifegiver and Valfreya with magic, nature, and the cycles of winter and summer are cause for debate over whether Vanaheim is the realm of magic itself, or if it is related to the spirts and natural phenomena of the world. The animating spirits of places and things that can be called forth that are not souls and elementals. Others—a distinct minority—feel Vanaheim consists of parallel worlds, similar to Midgard but different in some ways. The ethereal plane, the realm of alternates and interconnectivity between the physical and other, is part of Vanaheim.
Muspelheim. The plane of fire, and home to fiends. The Gods are much more powerful than even the lords of the tyrann and kvoldomur that rule over Muspelheim—at least on an individual basis. The fiends of Muspelheim are far more numerous than the Aesir, Elder Dragons, and Archfae, and pose a real threat to Midgard.
Realms of the Spirit
Here are the ephemeral planes and universes that stand in for archetypes and non-physical journeys.
Hel. The realm of death, over which Halja has dominion (but she commutes to work, and most often resides and can be found in Asgard). Here you may find the souls of the departed not selected to dwell in Asgard awaiting Woden and Valfreya’s need. This is also the realm necromancers contact and touch to create undead.
Niflheim. The realm of “ice,” so named after the first journeys to this plane found a cold and inhospitable space, filled with creatures of ice and frozen stasis. The name held, even when it was discovered that other elemental essences also were found here. This is where the fire, earth, water, ice, air and other elemental forces and archetypes originate.
Svartalfheim. The “home of the dark elves,” this is where the base fae create their pocket dimensions and personal realms. It is also an ethereal plane, and from here, a traveller may reach most other realms and worlds.
Larry Hamilton over at Follow Me and Die! likes reviewing my stuff. I like it when he reviews my stuff. It’s a good match. This is the first review published, but more are pending. So check out FMaD!’s review below
The keys to the lost hall have been found . . .
Deep in the glacial peaks northwest of Isfjall, past the northwest border of the realm, a band of adventurers is deceived and nearly destroyed by a powerful Alfar sorceress as they pursue raiding hobgoblins. Through bravery and sacrifice, they deny her possession of a lost holy relic. The Tiwstakn: key to finding the legendary Lost Hall of Judgment.
- A brief introduction to the town of Isfjall in the barbarian north, and its surrounding territory
- Advice on modifying the scenario for other settings
- Rules for wilderness survival
- A Dungeon Fantasy Grappling™ Quick-Start
- A bestiary containing every creature encountered in the adventure
— Douglas Cole
A nifty question on the GURPS Forums about fighting with a one-handed spear.
On the one-second time scale of GURPS, the grip change needs to be handled with higher resolution.
When I fight with a one-handed spear in my viking martial arts class, shield in the other hand, I use a sliding technique to reach out. I thrust with the spear, and let it slide in my hand until it reaches the bottom of the haft. I then have to yank and recover it back (Ready maneuver). This is with an underhand grip, which is my current preference because I haven’t trained up overhand yet. I hear good things about it. The sliding technique works there too, though.
Basically, you thrust with the spear and “throw” it, sliding in the hand to the limit of the spear range, typically about 6 feet. When it hits or gets as far as you like, you re-grip. Typically the spear is then over-balanced and way the hell out there. When that’s been done to me, I’ve occasionally knocked down (parried) the cast spear and then stepped on it, to take it out of play. Defender is forced to drop it and draw their seax, if they have one.
The “anyone can play” resolution that does the least violence to the rules would be to just allow anyone with training in spear to do it, but the attack causes the weapon to become Unready. A technique at Spear-1 might do it (I think it’s easier than Armed Grapple, which is at -2) and still be able to be bought off with a 1-point perk, which feels right.
This gives you Reach 2 at the cost of having to re-ready. If that one-point perk allowed you to fast-draw (spear) or Spear-4 to recover as a free action on the next turn, that would not bother me at all.
Another way to go would be to model it as a Committed Attack that is Determined and uses the “attack and fly out” option, but with a 1-point perk that lets you basically attack at full skill to Reach 2, *without* moving your feet and actually attacking and flying out in time-of-the-body.
The penalties to defense (can’t parry with the spear) make complete sense in this case, and the fact that you actually are back to Reach 1 at the end of your turn without a ready is a bit cinematic, but it’s awesome. In my experience, the sliding attack takes a turn, and then you recover the weapon on the next.
Dungeons and Dragons
Eh. With the six-second turn of D&D, you can do all of the above multiple times in a turn. The simplest way to do it would be to allow an attack to higher reach, and then recovery to low-reach as a bonus action. Or just assume all of that sliding is below the resolution of the rules, give even a one-handed spear Reach, and have done with it.
I’ll have to check to see what I did with Martial Spear Fighting in the Dragon Heresy manuscript. Make sure that the Reach change is both allowed and as simple as possible.