Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Main Gauche in AD&D

My previous post on parrying got me thinking about using weapons as main gauche. For those not versed in the art of sword-fighting, main gauche (French for "left hand") refers to a secondary weapon, something between a dagger and a shortsword, used in the "off hand" to complement a one-handed sword.

I don't recall ever seeing rules in 1E for using a main gauche. I suppose it got covered in one of the various splat books for 2E, but if that's the case, I certainly don't remember it. For 1E, I would allow characters to use a dagger as a main gauche in lieu of a shield, thus essentially reversing the rule in the DMG (p. 70). A character with a dagger as main gauche can opt to have it treated as a buckler or attack with it at the usual penalties (he chooses at the beginning of the round). The fact that it is treated as a buckler means it can only be used to get a bonus to AC against a single opponent. A hand axe cannot be used as a main gauche.

If the DM chooses to use rules for main gauche, he might also want to allow two new weapons into play, specifically designed to be used as a main gauche. These are the sword-breaker and trident dagger.

The sword-breaker is a long and sturdy dagger with a series of notches cut into the back of the blade like the teeth of a comb. If an opponent using a melee weapon misses by "1" against a character using such a weapon as main gauche, the opponent's weapon is considered to have been snagged. On the next round, the opponent must roll "to hit" successfully against AC 8 to free his weapon. If, in the process, he rolls a natural 1, his weapon is broken. Pole-arms and two-handed weapons cannot be snagged or broken. Magical weapons cannot be broken, except by magical sword-breakers of at least the same bonus as the weapon snagged. While a weapon is snagged, the sword-breaker cannot be used as main gauche. The sword-breaker costs 20 g.p., and otherwise functions as a dagger in combat.

The trident dagger is an ordinary-looking dagger until a secret catch in the handle is activated. When that happens, the blade springs into three parts and the weapon is able to snag opponents' weapons. If an opponent using a melee weapon misses by "1" against a character using such a weapon as main gauche, the opponent's weapon is considered to be snagged. On the next round, the opponent must roll "to hit" successfully against AC 8 to free his weapon. If, in the process, he rolls a natural 1, his weapon is ripped from his hand and hurled 1d6 feet away. Pole-arms and two-handed weapons cannot be snagged or hurled. When a weapon is snagged, the trident dagger cannot be used as main gauche. The trident dagger costs 25 g.p. and otherwise functions as a dagger in combat.

6 comments:

Matthew James Stanham said...

As you might imagine, Combat & Tactics deals with the main gauche (probably, A Mighty Fortress also does, but I am unsure). Basically, it grants a +2 bonus to parrying attempts.

For your purposes, I would add that a parrying dagger cannot be used to grant a bonus to AC versus missile attacks.

seaofstarsrpg said...

Stylistically, I love the Main Gauche, Sword Breakers and Triple Dagger. Not sure how effective they would be against two-handed swords, dragonclaws and other fantasy tropes. But awesome for the look and for urban games.

Ryan said...

I like it! Consider it yoinked.

Yeah, last time I remember reading stats for a main-gauche, it was basically just another dagger with a fancy-pants French name.

Joseph said...

The potential for magical main gauches is naturally there, too. Imagine the Swordbreaker +2, Bladehammer, that has, in addition to its normal +2 "to hit" and damage, the ability that any snagged weapon is automatically broken if its owner fails to dislodge it on the first round after it is snagged. In addition, it snags weapons if the attacker misses by 1-3 points (applying the magical bonus to the range of attacks that result in snagging).

Or the Trident Dagger +1, Sentinel, where any attack involving a weapon that can ordinarily get snagged, is snagged automatically if it misses. It, too, would benefit from its magical bonus in determining which attacks result in a snagged weapon.

Joseph said...

Not sure how effective they would be against two-handed swords, dragonclaws and other fantasy tropes. But awesome for the look and for urban games.

Oh, they'd be useless against any two-handed weapon and such. I mentioned that (briefly).

But I can imagine a campaign set in a world that's a little more renaissance and a little less medieval, where such a thing would be standard issue.

1d30 said...

I'd suggest that you say the following:

If your weapon is snagged by a main-gauche you cannot use it to attack. You can still use spell-like abilities the weapon may have if all you need to do is concentrate on them. It takes your entire action to free your snagged weapon. Or you can drop it for free.

I would suggest allowing main-gauche weapons to work against large weapons, but not weapons wielded by large creatures. A polearm isn't fundamentally different from a battle axe, yet you'd allow a main-gauche to snag the axe and not the polearm. I can definitely see a main-gauche snagging a spear shaft and keeping the head away.

Then again I can't see it snagging and holding an ogre's axe.

Also, the triple-dagger is really just a fancy sai.

What do you do if a player wants a hooked shield, where the edges can be used to snag like a main-gauche? Disallow for game balance purposes? Or say yes but if the shield hooks something you lose its value as a shield until it's free again?

Also, if you include a magical main-gauche, will you assume any magical bonus applies to attack and damage like every other weapon? So you'd have to specifically add a defensive bonus like a Defender sword if you wanted one.