Ideas to nerf spears

Everyone knows that one of the makeshift spears(knife spear mostly) is the go-to weapon in the early game and i’m tired of that and want some diversity.
I don’t want to nerf their stats, and locking them behind a hard recipe would be unrealistic.
Spears should excel at two things imo:

  1. Defending near a rough terrain using reach attack. Be it traps, car wrecks or window frames.
  2. Supporting NPCs. I.e. you give a shitload of armor to npc and be a glass cannon with a spear, or vice-versa.
    The problem with current spears is that they exaggerate the point one, because with a sprinting ability you can kite slower zombies around objects for a long time, with a full stamina - even on an open field you can do sprint-reach-repeat.
    I have some ideas for solutions.
    -Zombies can grab reach attacks(they grab the shaft of the weapon). The initial chance could be low-ish, but it raises a lot with each successful reach attack on that zombie. When grabbed, if you move you do a roll of 1dyour STR against zombie’s 1dmax bashing damage. If you lose you lose possesion of your spear.
    -Zombies get “enraged” if three conditions are met.
    a. they took multiple hits in a small amount of turns
    b. player character was about 5 tiles or closer during that time
    c. they didn’t attack player charater in that time
    Enraged zombies get +50 speed until they attack and their next attack is a guaranteed grab. This way it counters sprint kiting with a spear, but if you defend across a window frame, for example, those 50 TU’s will make way less difference. Also it punishes the same strategy of sprint bursting with nail rifle and pneumatic weapons, which is good.
  • I’ve read in other thread that 180 degrees field of view(like in urw) is a controversial change. However, there’s no reason the game at least cannot track the last direction your character moved. So if your last move was N, then your attacks to S, SE and SW cost +100 moves since it simulates that you have to turn around to attack.
    What do you guys think?

In the many years I’ve played melee characters, I don’t think I’ve ever once used a makeshift spear.

The main danger of melee is bites. If you’re in a city with a reasonably high spawn rate you can handle that most of the times with bathroom supplies and ambulances(not guaranteed to spawn tho). With a lower spawn rate, or if you’re away from the cities not using spears is suicidal, until you get some way to treat infection.
Then come the special Z’s. Acidic, brute - to melee them you are supposed to have at least some protective gear like rubber boots or a decent armor. Or use a gun, with all it’s risks, even if you have it. But makeshift spears trivialise those fights.
There’s no reason NOT to use a spear.

I’d argue that the better choice is to offer more reach attack weapons.

As a new player whose spent the last three months struggling to get past Day 5 until I discovered the knife spear, and even then had troubles getting past the first season, I’d appreciate it if we didn’t nerf reach attack weapons.

I don’t really see a nerf being necessary here. Spears are far and away the safest melee weapon to use, as they should be. They’re significantly less damaging than other melee weapons, quite slow and rarely benefit from martial arts. The early spears also have the notable downside of being extremely fragile. Later in the game when you have more survivability, switching to other melee weapons can be a good idea for the increased damage output they offer.

Spears realistically should be the go-to option for an unskilled fighter who doesn’t want to risk being hit, and I think they strike a good balance as-is.


Makeshift hammer, spike, a big stick, and something to affix them to the end of the stick and you’ve got a makeshift Bec de corbin for a reaching bash/piercing attack. Makeshift axe and something to fix it to the end of a big stick and you’ve got a makeshift poleaxe for reaching slash probably not quite as good as a makeshift glaive.

I’m surprised that the steel chain doesn’t offer reach attacks. And there should be a flail with reach attack. Though I hardly know what all is in the game, it seems that the spear class is the ONLY one with reach attack, currently.

There’s a bullwhip but it does hardly any damage. Could be made a component of a crude flail.

I saw the bullwhip in a youtube video. Seems like it’s primary value is how many leather patches you could get out of it.

Just looked it up on the item browser, only 3 cutting damage. It does have an extra tile of reach but that really doesn’t compensate so yeah I can see why it would primarily be cut apart for the leather. Wouldn’t be too hard to mod up some weapons that could be made with it though. Studding it with scrap metal, tying things to the end . . .

IIRC, the Bullwhip was the original reach weapon, implemented before spears had that ability. It also has a stun effect that procs pretty often, even on zombies. So it’s not useless, though it’s also extremely loud, which isn’t great.

I…don’t see the need? I’m pretty much in agreement with Solusphere’s first comment, spears are safe and effective for unskilled survivors, but slow and weak in terms of damage compared to other weapons. And they lose utility as the player gains skills, armor, and martial arts.

If you don’t like using what is realistically the best weapon for a survival scenario, then don’t. Experiment. Martial arts exist. The quarterstaff exists. Skills exist. There are other ways to avoid bites besides spears. The ability to put points into skills at character creation or choose skilled professions (e.g. blacksmith, tailor, medical resident) seems pretty underutilized by the playerbase. Hell, I once used a pneumatic assault rifle as my primary early-game weapon because I started with the skills to make one.

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It could, though the damage output would be decidedly whip-like, i.e. not very high and pretty slow.

While a flail can have reach, in practice you have to make some terrible compromises to make it happen. In other words it either has a light head and does disappointing damage (in which case it’s similar in performance to a spear but slower) or it has a heavy head and is extremely slow. Neither of these is a particularly compelling weapon, which is reflected in the historical record, despite being pretty easy to make, weapons of this kind are essentially unheard of.

They were mostly used by knights on horse back with a heavier head during a cavalry charge to attempt to dismount opposing cavalry. Outside of mounted combat they were common tournament weapons, but never really weapons of war. The flail was a farmers threshing tool that was used as an improvised weapon by peasants mostly. The military versions used enough iron or steel to forge two or three swords and were considered specialist weapons at best.

Edit: The flail was eventually replaced with the sickle or scythe by the peasants.

spears are safe and effective for unskilled survivors, but slow and weak in terms of damage compared to other weapons.

Makeshift spears are on par with other makeshift weapons. This thread is about early game balance.

Martial arts
Skills exist.

I thought the game is balanced around a default character. That means 8s in stats and no traits\skills on chargen.

If you want to have a discussion about historical weapons usage, then spears saw the most effective use during the Roman Empire, as the second flank behind a shieldwall – a tactic that would be pretty effective against zombies to be sure.

Despite the popularity of polearms in D&D manuals, there’s very little difference in the way they are wielded in combat, and as druidniam points out, during the middle ages, they are primarily used from a position which grants distance between them and the target, and wasn’t very useful if they came in close.

Regardless, this is a conversation about game balance. If you’re going to have a Reach weapon, you should have multiple reach weapons to provide an illusion of choice. And honestly, while slow, weighted chains aren’t that difficult to aim at targets 6-10ft away. I do this regularly as part of my performance art.

Okay. Are spears overpowered in early game, and therefore in need of a nerf as your post quite clearly suggests; or are they on par with other weapons?

I don’t believe it is. It was my assumption that the game is balanced around all of the numerous possible builds at chargen, with the goal that very few should be completely unviable.

So, If your generated character has all 8s in stats, no traits, no skills, and you’re an experienced player - it is 100% your fault that your options are lacking. The game gives you plenty of options to build a character, points to spend, and a big ol’ warning if you haven’t spent all of your points. Makeshift spears are only the best option if you choose not to use any other kind of playstyle, of which there are many. Spears are just one option early on, and a sensibly easy one to be able to fall back on as a new player.
And something else - the knife spear isn’t available to zero skill characters last I checked, you need at least one level of survival skill.

Why would the game be balanced around a character that has spent zero of their points? That would result in a completely imbalanced game.

It’s balanced around 12 free points and up to 8 points in negative traits that can go toward stats or skills instead of positive traits.

Performance-wise I think spears are fine. Polearms are better than other weapons most of the time, which is why anybody ever bothered carting them around - so if they’re ending up more effective than smaller weapons, that’s good.

However, they should be a pain to cart around except in your hands. You can’t strap an 8-foot piece of wood and pointy objects to your back, stuff it through your belt, or put it in your pack.

I’d suggest increasing reach-attack weapons’ volume by 10 across the board and keeping everything else the same. Wield it or leave it at home.