Two-Weapon Combat and Shields have been thrown into the combat mix. An overview of the benefits to different combat styles:
Single weapon, free off-hand: You get the full offensive benefits from the weapon you're wielding, most importantly multiple strikes per attack. This applies to both one-handed and two-handed weapons (for instance, the staff is a two-handed weapon with multiple strikes easily possible per attack). A good weapon style for weapons that flare or have other special effects upon striking, since it has a chance of firing for each additional strike. A purely offensive combat style. I'm thrilled to have a strong benefit to keeping a hand free in melee combat, even for some one-handed weapons (shortswords, rapiers and daggers can land up to 3 strikes per attack this way).
Two Weapons: You don't get multiple strikes per weapon, but you are nearly guaranteed at least 2 strikes per attack (one for each weapon) and you also get extra parry defense for holding the second weapon in your off-hand. Using two weapons will not increase roundtime, to keep it balanced with single weapon multi-strikes. The extra parry defense is an additional percentage based on your applicable weapon skill, not a flat bonus (this is a good thing, as it scales up with your skill). Note that parry defense does not apply to bolt attacks (fireballs, arrows, etc.), however. This style is good for heavier and less-well-balanced one-handed weapons such as handaxes, since it's difficult to land multiple strikes with them individually. A decent combination of offense and defense.
Weapon and Shield: Obviously, the defensive combat style. Shields will be the easiest way to add to your defense, and unlike parrying, shields can block bolt attacks (fireballs, arrows, etc.). Shield users will be the ones who live the longest, but will have trouble dishing as much damage. There will be a chance to shield bash on attacks, based on shield skill, with no penalties (no extra roundtime or anything).
Weapon skills now increase based on the roundtime of the wielded weapon, to prevent lighter weapons from skilling up faster than heavier weapons.
Combat messaging will now state whether an attack is dodged, blocked, parried, or plain misses.
"Dodged" means the target's General Combat roll alone was enough to avoid the attack.
"Blocked" means the target's General Combat plus Shield Block roll was necessary to avoid the attack.
"Parried" means the target's General Combat, Shield Block and Parry rolls all combined to avoid the attack.
"A miss" means the generic combat d100 roll was enough to avoid the attack.
In the works: Individual weapon parry ratings. Some weapons will be better at parrying than others. This will allow some weapons to be weaker offensively but adding greater defense (quarterstaves), while other weapons will be difficult to parry with but will be devastatingly powerful (battle-axes).
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