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.