One of the fundamental parts of my setting is that there are only three types of attacks: melee, ranged, and magic. Dominated primarily by the classes Warrior, Rogue, and Mage (respectively).
However, I made a realization that they could be so much more. Each element has an extreme level of diversity, so why not each type? I decided to add depth to each of them.
All hand-to-hand based combat, close-ranged fighting. I separated it into two aspects—categories and styles.
There are three basic categories of melee attacks.
Slashing attacks cut; they are the main form of melee attack and what most people associate with the name.
Piercing attacks penetrate, stabbing into the target—this offers a bridge between melee and ranged attacks, as many ranged attacks are (naturally) piercing in nature.
Blunt Force attacks crush, shatter, and maim targets. They are brute force in nature, using mass and velocity to create the maximum amount of power behind the attack. Despite what you might think, this actually offers a fine bridge into magic, as these attacks require little training and fit the style of mages quite well. Unarmed combat with hands and legs falls into this category as well.
Not all weapons clearly fall into one category (for instance, an ax uses both blunt force and slashing, and many swords can both slash and piece), but generally, you can only have at most two on the same weapon and still have it work.
There’s also styles of melee combat: unarmed (neutral and therefore not covered in this section), Single, Dual, Shielded, and Staved. The latter four (ignoring unarmed) have a modified rock-paper-scissors mechanic.
Single weapons are exactly what they sound like: a single weapon. For rogues-types, it’ll generally be a backup weapon, for mage-types, it’ll generally be one-handed to leave the other hand free to cast spells, and for warrior-types, it’ll generally be two-handed, but they can (and do) use single-handed (especially hand-and-a-half) weapons to leave themselves more flexible.
They are categorized as being one of the two defensive styles, as their flexibility and relative simplicity offers them a great deal of control for their wielder. They are overall considered the most ‘balanced’ of the melee weapon styles.
When facing off against dual-wielders, the single-weapon wielder will generally come out on top. This is because of the other category for styles, being the ‘ease of use’ factor in them: Single-weapon wielders have a better focus, owing to them only having one weapon to focus on, rather than two. They require less coordination, less dexterity, and have an overall smoother flow to them. However, single-weapon wielders are typically outclassed by staff-type weapons, owing to staves having an advantage in reach, an advantage in offense, and yet still being equally simple to use.
They are roughly on par with weapon-shield users, as the two defensive styles cancel each other out: neither has the offensive capability to get through the other’s defenses, with the single-weapon user having a stronger offense but weaker defense. This is why the two most common warrior types are single-weapon and shield-weapon users—the two are the builds which offer the best assets to them.
Shielded Weapons are those who fight with a shield of some sort augmenting their weapon. Obviously, they are highly defensive in nature, offering a stone wall of protection at the cost of raw attack power. They are frequently still incredibly strong, but their primary strength is in their ability to defend, not to attack. As such, they make an excellent counter against their counterparts, the staves. They have the capacity to never be hit, and yet, can close the distance enough to be able to hit.
They are, however, vulnerable to dual-wielders. The reason why is that both styles require more training, practice, and expertise to properly utilize, and as such, in combat, they are about equal in practicality, with both equally tied up on using both arms separately to multitask. However, the dual-wielders have incredible offense, while still having great defense—they can block with one weapon while attacking with the other. As such, they are generally capable of breaching through the shield, by either working around it or by simply destroying it.
Staff Weapons are those who fight with big pointy sticks. They are typically quite simple and easy to use, but give much better control than a single-handed weapon does, capable of striking multiple times from multiple angles.
They’re fast, they’re deadly, and yet they’re incredibly efficient, all with the added bonus of reach over the opponents they’re fighting. As such, it can be quite difficult to actually get close enough to do any damage to a staff-wielder, all the time allowing them to hammer you over and over again. They are extremely good at overcoming their shorter-reached cousins in the single-weapon style, but staves are not an immortal combination. They might have incredibly fast and deadly attacks…
…But their attacks typically lack the sheer intensity required to breach really good defenses. As such, they typically cannot get inside the guard of a shielded opponent. Their attacks merely bounce off.
They can hold their ground against fellow offensive-styled dual wielders, as both share similar movements. Though dual-wielders have slightly greater flexibility in attack patterns, staves have slightly greater speed and reach, with the two overall canceling out the other’s assaults. In other words, both have such ferocious offenses as their defenses that neither can actually get through—and when they do, it’s mutual, as neither has the defense to actually protect themselves.
Staff weapons offer a bridge into magic, as they are the signature long weapon of mages.
Dual Wielders wield two weapons (not necessarily identical, though that is one of the most common) at the same time. They are offensive power-houses, having extreme speed and ferocity on their side, able to attack from almost any angle while simultaneously offering a strong defense.
They are, however, slightly on the impractical side of things, requiring extreme dexterity to master, and very high levels of concentration to coordinate in battle. When used effectively, they can slaughter enemies better than any other melee weapon style, but when used poorly, they suffer for it and become the easiest weapon style to defeat.
They are the ultimate nightmare of shield-wielders, as their flexibility and agility allows them to overwhelm any defense the shielded will muster. This arrogance comes at a cost, however, as they are vulnerable to the far simpler single-weapons.
They are a bridge into range, as many rogues prefer dual-wielding items such as daggers.
Many soldiers, city guards, and general cannon fodder have a fondness for halberds. They give the piercing ability of a spear, and the ax’s combo of slashing and blunt force. Additionally, depending on the length of the pole, they can act as any of the four weapon types, most commonly staff or shielded, with single being quite common as well (as they are simple to wield and learn, the average combatant has little trouble with them).
Dual-wielding is rather rare, as this is cannon fodder we’re talking about.
Halberds are not the strongest melee weapon in any aspect, but they are the weapon which gives the average commoner the most diversity and best balance of all melee weapons, making them stand a fair chance against their foes. Being cannon fodder, they’re still screwed, but their chances with a halberd are greater than their chances with any other melee weapon.
It should be noted, every single melee weapon (halberds included) is highly situational, and depends largely on the training and build of the individual using it. Halberds are no exception; their general property is that they are the most balanced melee weapon overall but never the strongest in any area. Training, modification, and proper equipping can turn it into the strongest in every area, but this can be said of pretty much every single melee weapon in existence, and it’s comparatively hard to achieve, unlike, say, a sword.
Basically, the only people who use halberds to their most effective are those who have gone out of their way to have done so.
Ranged combat is exactly what it sounds like: combat from a distance. There are four primary weapon categories for ranged weapons: guns, bows, crossbows, and throwing.
Guns work differently on Soano than they do in our world, typically working on some sort of magic-technology hybrid. (They therefore are a bridge into magic; if a mage uses a ranged weapon, it’s going to be a gun nine times out of ten.)
Their main strength is their accuracy (with a secondary strength in speed of projectile); they have more average accuracy than either a bow or a crossbow. They come in two types, the handheld pistols and the longer rifles. Rifles have a range on par with a bow (but are slower to load, being just faster than a crossbow), and pistols have a fire rate slightly faster than a bow (at the cost of range, having less than even a crossbow), but they both have a tradeoff in strength, with their shots typically being the weakest of ranged weapons.
Certain guns can be modified to shoot with different properties, be it longer range, (snipers), rapid fire (gunfighters), or strength (duelists), but these modifications come at a cost—rapid fire leaves even less strength (unless accuracy is decreased significantly), a stronger bullet has either a much shorter range or a much lower rate of fire, longer rage takes either much longer or sacrifices accuracy, and accuracy decreases either strength or rate of fire.
Basically, they are the ranged weapon with the most potential for specialization.
Bows come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they typically act as the measuring stick ranged weapon, as an average of everything. They have long range, they have decent power, they are fast to reload, and they have decent accuracy, and as such, they are the staple weapon of most ranged fighters.
In other words, they are the most general weapon in the category.
Crossbows are the powerhouses of the ranged weapon world: no weapon (other than throwing) provides more strength to blows than a crossbow, but this power comes at the cost of firing rate and range. (They also have faster projectiles than a bow.) In shorter distances, they have the highest accuracy, beating out all except for handheld guns (which tie). In the longer distances, however, crossbows have the lowest accuracy; their bolts do not travel very far that well.
Throwing Weapons are pretty self-explanatory; rather than being shot, they are thrown, tossed, and such. As such, they have fairly strong ties to melee, considering the nature of most thrown weapons being modified versions of melee weapons. (Throwing knife, throwing ax, throwing spear, etc.)
They are the least-reliable ranged weapon overall, having an average projectile speed, rate of fire, range, and accuracy all being significantly lower, and are only barely on par with crossbows in strength. Plus, you’re limited on ammo more often than not.
Despite these limitations, a fair number of people use them, as they have a distinct advantage: they are not limited to piercing damage. They can be any type of melee damage type, allowing for a ranged fighter to best optimize an offense. Additionally, they have the most seemingly-random trajectories, which an experience thrower can exploit.
At their best, they can have the accuracy, range, speed, and rate of fire of a crossbow, while still having that unpredictable element to them. They are also harder to dispose of than an arrow, typically leaving larger wounds and being nastier—it’s easier to poison a throwing weapon than it is a bullet, bolt, or arrow. Plus, they have the largest flair to them.
As such, they have quite a large place in the ranged community; next to bows, this is the most common weapon style of choice from a rogue.
Magic is one of the most powerful forces in the World of Soano, holding incredible strength compared to the other types. (It’s magic, after all. In a fantasy setting, no less!)
As such, it has incredible diversity. We already know there’s elemental magic, but a lesser-known fact is that there are other forms of magic. The most basic form of magic is the magic from the body, Body Magic, which is the source most mages draw from—this is, essentially, what MP is.
Even attacks utilizing other forms of magic require at least some level of interaction with the body and mind, hence why other forms of magic still drain MP. (I’ll fully admit, this is an Author’s Saving Throw to explain why elemental magic drains MP.)
Objects can also generate and store magic of this type. Body Magic, being the basic magic, can be (and often is) converted into other forms of magic, just as other forms of magic can be transformed into Body Magic.
Elemental Magic is magic which draws from the elements, typically from the surrounding area (as such, it is technically called environmental magic, though nobody uses that name). Since trace amounts of every element are typically present everywhere on Soano (albeit often in smaller amounts), no matter where a person is, they have access to their element of choice.
The more of an element present in the current environment, the stronger that element’s magic will be. There’s not much else to see, as elemental magic is considered to be the ‘main’ form of magic—in fact, all magic is categorized as either ‘elemental’ or ‘non-elemental’, despite the fact that there are multiple forms of magic other than the elements.
So you can generally refer to the sections about elemental magic I have elsewhere.
Celestial Magic (also know as ‘magic of the stars’, ‘CosMag’, ‘Heaven Magic’, and ‘God Magic’) is similar to elemental magic, only coming from the heavens—literally. Celestial Magic harnesses the energy of the very cosmos itself. As Body is the most basic, and Elemental the most mainstream, Celestial is the most fundamental: since it draws from the forces of the very universe, it is the source of all other magics.
It is also therefore the most powerful, the hardest to harvest, and most dangerous to even attempt usage of. Alternate dimensions (such as those used by demons and celestials) are typically made from a mixture of celestial and elemental magic, and as such, creatures born in such places have the highest capacity for it.
Parallel planes (such as those that ghosts reside in) are made partially from celestial magic, but rather than also having elemental magic, their secondary magic is soul magic, covered below.
All Ascended Beings also have the capability to use celestial magic, hence the term 'God Magic'. (They prefer the name cosmag.)
Soul Magic, also called spirit magic and phantom magic, is the very magical force from the energy of life—in other words, tapping into soul magic taps into the very life-force of the user. As such, it is incredibly damaging to use, even for those who are masters of it, and basically is the last resort of last resorts.
It serves as the bridge between celestial and body magic, as it is derived from celestial magic and locked inside a body. It is the most primal form of magic, utilizing the core of a person’s very being.
Soul Magic, coming from individuals, is the rarest form of magic in existence. (It is, however, more often used than celestial magic, which is what most mortals assume is the rarest form of magic.)
It can, however, be found in plentiful amounts on parallel planes (also called the spirit planes, also called the phantom planes, and probably a dozen other names), where beings such as ghosts reside—this is where one of its alternative names comes from, as all ghost-type creatures are fueled by soul magic, both unable to survive without it, and using it for all of their magical powers.
Chi vampires drain this from their targets, as do the beings most commonly confused with chi vampires, devils (especially incubi and succubae).
It is also the primary form of magic necromancers must tap into to animate the dead.
The most lifelike golems are also created using soul magic, as a golem created without a soul is by very definition not going to be as alive.
Because of the extreme personal harm to come from it, its relative rarity, the amount of negative things harnessing it, and just plain hearsay over hundreds of years causing misunderstandings to form, it is considered to be a taboo in most places.