As I see it, there are five main attributes of melee weapons. They are:
- How easy it is, generally speaking, to land a blow
- How effective the weapon is at blocking or parrying
- How devastating it is, generally speaking, to be struck by it
- Vs. Armour (Penetration?)
- Some weapons are better against armour than others
- One-handed, two-handed, or variable
Some notes on the weapons I'm looking at here:
- A dagger is actually surprisingly dangerous to an armoured footman - in a grapple, it can be shoved through the eyeholes of the helmet, forced through the mail, the aventail (mail collar below the helmet) can be lifted and the dagger stabbed into the back of the neck...
- An Arming Sword is the typical one-handed sword of the Middle Ages.
- A Long Sword is a two-handed sword. It can be used much like an arming sword, but two-handed, or it can be used "half-sword", with one hand on the blade and one on the hilt, which delivers powerful thrusts which are useful against armour (slashing at an armour opponent does little). The 1 for armour penetration reflects using the weapon "half-sword".
- I figure axes and maces are pretty much the same. Probably, in real life, an axe is a little more devastating to be hit with, but not enough to worry about, I don't think.
- Spears are your basic spear - 6-8 feet long, 1 1/4 inch thick ash shaft, leaf blade on the tip, and short spike on the butt. Spears aren't just used for thrusting - a solid whack with the shaft can also be very effective.
- The poleaxe was a favoured weapon for armoured footmen fighting armoured footmen, and it was a vicious weapon - 6 feet long square ash shaft, hammer or axe head on the front, spear tip on the top, hook on the back, spikes coming out the sides, and another spike at the butt. It can be used to punch through armour, trip, bludgeon, parry - it's pretty much a jack-of-all-trades. Most polearms would fall into either this category or the spear category.
The spear is clearly a good choice, cheap and effective, and it was historically one of the most important weapons of the time. Poleaxes, maces, and axes are what you want if facing an armoured opponent. Swords are a prestige item, and primarily useful against unarmoured or lightly armoured opponents. This all sounds about right, and is modeled by the system.
Later, I'll look at translating these numbers into game terms.