A Path to Steam
This is not one skill, but an entire collection of skills – one per class of closely related melee weapons. Melee Weapon skills are based on DX, and default to DX-4 if Easy, DX-5 if Average, or DX-6 if Hard. See specific skill descriptions for other defaults.
Make a Melee Weapon roll to hit an opponent in combat. You may also use these skills to parry. Your Parry defense is (skill/2) + 3, rounded down.
Melee weapons fall into broad categories on the basis of overall balance and function. When a rule refers to one of these categories, it applies to all weapons in that category and all Melee Weapon skills used to wield them. For instance, “fencing
weapons” means “all weapons used with any of Main-Gauche, Rapier, Saber, or Smallsword skill.”
Fencing weapons are light, one-handed weapons, usually hilted blades, optimized for parrying. If you have a fencing weapon, you get an improved retreating bonus when you
parry – see Retreat (p. 377). Furthermore, you have half the usual penalty for parrying more than once with the same hand (see Parrying, p. 376).
Note that fencing weapons are light and likely to break when used to parry a heavier weapon. They cannot parry flail weapons at all! You must be relatively mobile to capitalize on their speed and maneuverability: all attacks and parries take a penalty equal to your encumbrance level (e.g., Heavy encumbrance gives -3 to hit or to parry).
The skills in this category default to one another at -3. They also default to sword skills, as noted below.
Smallsword (DX/Average): Any short (up to 1 yard), light thrusting sword or one-handed short staff (such as the sticks used in the martial arts arnis, escrima, and kali). Default: Shortsword-4.
The “ready” position of a fighter using Main-Gauche, Rapier, Saber, or Smallsword skill keeps his weapon pointed toward his foe at all times. As well, the “fencing weapons” used with these skills are light and maneuverable. These factors make it easy for a
fencer to recover from a parry or fall back in the face of an attack.
With a fencing weapon, you get +3 to Parry instead of the usual +1 when you retreat (see Retreat, p. 377). You also suffer only half the usual penalty for multiple parries (see Parrying, p. 376). However, your Parry has a penalty equal to your encumbrance level, and you cannot parry flails at all.