The idea of having secondary attacks has been kicked around on this forum off an on, half-heartedly, for at least a year now. Someone suggests it, some few of us think it "might" be an "okay" idea, but implamentation has always been a problem. So has the idea of what the secondary attack would actually be. My suggestion takes care of implamentation, and proivides a platform for shield-bashing, hilt-punching, making polearms behave more like poilearms, fechtbook moves, and any number of other frequently suggested ideas.
Well, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, if you will forgive me for a mess of near stick-figures, hastily sketched on the spurr of the moment, allow me to substitute a few dozen paragraphs.
Now, if you'll permit me to explain:
One of the beauties of M&B is that the left muse click ASSUMES the ready possition, and that relase triggers the attack. This compares favorably to a game like, say, Oblivion, where the click triggers attack wheather you would have prefered to wait for a better moment or not.
I believe that the way to make secondary attacks work well is to make the both the primary and secondary attack flow from the same ready position
("wards" or "guards" in fechtbook terms). Pressing the left mouse button will assume the guard postion based on the position of the cursor, just as it is now. Releasing the mouse button will trigger attack, just as it does now. Releasing the mouse button while simultaniously pressing the "secondary attack button" will produce a new attack with a different animation. (For the secondary attack button I like Z or Ctrl, personally, but that can be configured to taste like everything else.)
The purpose of having a secondary attack is usually to produce a different kind of damage. Here it is no different. A thrust-only spear does piercing damage. Its secondary attack, a butt-stroke, would deal blunt. You can see the usefullness already. When fists were introduced, we realized that if we were prepared to accept much less damage, we could stop carrying around a blunt weapon for knocking out the Noble. Siimilarly, if you're prepared to accept lesser damage, using the secondary attack you could pommel, butt-stroke and shield-bash your enemies into submission.
But with M&B's parrying system we would get a new utility, for while primary and secondary attacks would flow out of the same initial position, the attacks can come from in different vectors. (EG: the primary attack with sword & shield, vs a shield bash.) If you're in the high guard with an opponent who's bliocking high? Thrust your pommel at him instead, before he changes guards. Using a quarterstaff like a quarterstaff would actually become possible.
I think we're all clever enough to figure out the logical secondary attacks for each guard position, especially given the drawing, but I can list them all if need be.
I realize that this would be a chore and a half to animate -doubling the attack animations- and would require adding even more stats to weapons and shields It may potentially add to system requirements, but not in a comparitively signifigant way. On the other hand, think of all the benefits. It's a relatively simple
way to get the shield-bashing we want. It would add a great degree of realiism to the game -some of it straight out of the fechtbooks. And
it could be used to give throwing troops melee options without switching weaons.
(PS: Forgive the second row illustrations. The stick figure is clearly readying and delivering a thrust, but I mis-labeled it as an overhead cut. Sorry!)