How would one use the weapon tag:  Messy in actual play?  Other than doing damage, how would you describe it?

How would one use the weapon tag:  Messy in actual play?  Other than doing damage, how would you describe it?

How would one use the weapon tag:  Messy in actual play?  Other than doing damage, how would you describe it?

36 thoughts on “How would one use the weapon tag:  Messy in actual play?  Other than doing damage, how would you describe it?”

  1. Lost limbs is my favorite. Save that for dragons and other big monsters. I also use messy for broken bones, nasty lacerations, and in the case of death, I describe it as chunky salsa hitting a wall.

  2. I like to pit players feelings against the user of the messy weapon. If the fighter is a wanton dealer of gut-spilling, the cleric might take issue… the wizard might be creeped out.

  3. Also, an enemy with a missing arm can’t swing that big two-handed polearm at you, can it? A monster with a broken Jaw can’t bite. 

    The effects are purely fictional… but their impact is all but irrelevant! 

  4. When dealing with a messy opponent i usually go for the 1-2 combination. The first time they get hit i describe the nasty wounds it leaves and they are lucky they didn’t get hit full. (I point to an approaching threat) and the next time they get hit i go for something much more nasty if they are not careful. 

    Instant arm loss only on things that are OBVIOUSLY nasty. Like a dragon. 

    Killing of/dismembering hirelings is also a great way to tell people “hey, this is MESSY”. 

  5. It would work against a stealth attack, especially in a partial success.

    “Hey what happened to Edgar? He was standing right there.”

    “What, where that puddle of wet mud is?”

    “I don’t think that’s mud. I think that’s Edgar.”

  6. Players toting messy weapons + an environment full of stuff That Must Not Be Smashed* = hard move gold.

    Messy weapons are messy even when they miss.  More messy, in fact!

    * barrels full of unstable explosive, aliens with acid blood, magical telescopes, priceless religious icons, etc.

  7. And here I interpreted that like a scenery aspect, applying the tag to all damage that happens there. Good idea for a Place of Power, perhaps one devoted to a deity of slaughter?

  8. There would definitely be legends; I dig Places of Power that feel vivid, alien and just a bit terrifying. On the other hand, I don’t mind them being unaware of the exact location of such a site. I’d say it’s fair to spring an “Oh crap, this is that place?” moment, if handled correctly.

    Either way, I’d make it a point to describe the rage and bloodlust slowly building up in the characters’ minds and souls as they approach. It’s not that their attacks suddenly and magically becomes messy; it’s that they had the potential to be messy all along, if the characters just let go of those trifling little inhibitions and give into primal, ruthless hunger…

    Which leads in a roundabout way to situational applications of the messy tag, so take that as ya like.

  9. You don’t need the messy tag to do messy things. Having the tag allows you to just say it without having to jump through hoops. 

    On the other hand it is hard to use the weapon WITHOUT it being messy so it can be a downside now and then.

  10. Oh, wow. Awesome reference photos, Tim!

    And I like that reasoning. Hadn’t thought about it in that way. That said, the “situational tag” thing might apply the same problems. Say, a character becomes enraged, and now their attacks are messy regardless of whether they want them to be or not–problematic if they become enraged in a social situation, yes?

  11. I’m of the opinion that causing massive damage should be a result of the damage inflicted, not a tag.  If a regular weapon hits for max damage, I might well say it took off a limb or caused other messy stuff.  Similarly, a Messy weapon that does 1 point of damage shouldn’t be lopping off body parts, 1 point of damage is a scratch.

    With that in mind, I thought of a mechanical benefit to give to the Messy tag instead, something that will make bigger hits more likely:  Messy:  Reroll any damage die that rolls a 1 when using a Messy weapon.  Keep rerolling until you get a result other than 1.

  12. I never liked the messy tag that much. I mean all weapons are messy, right? What they do is a function of the fiction.

    I mean if I deal 1 damage with a messy weapon, would the results be messier than 10 damage with a regular weapon? I don’t think it would make sense if they were. Like I said, I think it’s best if you leave the effects of damage to the fiction. If I’ve got a sword with terrible ripping teeth, I don’t need a tag to say it’s going to leave ragged wounds.

    Tom Miskey makes some good points! I think his rewrite of the Messy tag is a bit fiddly, though.

Comments are closed.