GLAIVE: GURPS Light Arms Invention Expansion (GURPS 3e)

GLAIVE is an expansion for creating your own low-tech melee or ranged weapon for GURPS 3e, with detail like nothing ever built for the game (or any RPG??). Arm yourself with GLAIVE!

Note: This is the original, detailed GLAIVE system designed for 3e. For a simpler, shorter, 4e-ready system, see GLAIVE Mini.

Got some d20 gaming in mind instead? Head straight to this nifty reader-contributed conversion: GLAIVE Weapon Design System for the d20 System.  


v1.0: Created 03/03/14

v1.4 update (2003/07/14): Dropped COSH from GLAIVE and gave it its own page at the Diner.

v2.0 update (2004/04/12): Excised the Weapon Design System from GULLIVER and brought it to GLAIVE. Only minor updates have been made to the Weapon Design System: Expanded and improved rules for maximum impaling damage from thrusts.

v2.1 (2010/02/15): Minor clean-up of writing, including friendlier 4e-compatibility. It’s still GLAIVE for 3e, not 4e, but with the minor changes noted should play nicely with 4e. (No sense in undertaking a full reworking for 4e until we see what the coming GURPS Low-Tech will bring to the weapon design arena!)

v2.2 (2010/08/16): Removed the GLAIVE Simple Melee Damage System and gave it its own life as GLAIVE Mini. (It’s like a spin-off show! Whee!)

Using GLAIVE with GURPS 4e

While the following rules are written for 3e and have not been updated, simply introducing the following changes will take you much of the way to 4e compatibility. Be sure to test the results!

  • For any reference to “Combat ST”, use regular ST; for any reference to “Load ST”, use Basic Lift/2.
  • The “unbalance modifier” should probably be changed, in light of the way 4e unbalanced weapons have become faster. Try changing the mods from x1/x2/x3 to x1/x1.5/x2.
  • Some missile weapons rules may need tweaking, if 4e weapon stats vary much from 3e. 
  • The section on bows states that the rules would work better under “quad ST” — which is what 4e now provides. These rules should work great with 4e! 
  • See additional notes here.

You can also check out GLAIVE Mini. It lacks many details of the full GLAIVE, but it’s easy, fun, and made for 4e! 


Ryan Williams has created a spreadsheet for use with the GLAIVE Weapon Design System. Input user ST, weapon weight, and other variables, and have your damage, readying time, and other stats computed for you. See link at bottom of page. Thanks to Ryan for the great contribution!

Two additional spreadsheets, aimed at bringing GLAIVE into the GURPS 4e realm, are available on a separate page. Consider them experimental, as GLAIVE itself isn’t fully reworked 4e. Still, they’re great starts!

GLAIVE Weapon Design System

There is an infinite number of ways to make a weapon design system. How do you juggle ST, number or hands, weight, length, balance, and so on to arrive at a damage figure? The experimental system below is just one of many tested, offering a fair compromise among simplicity, detail and ability to generate GURPS-like numbers for common human weapons.

Before getting to the building blocks, please suffer through this overview of what goes into weapon design:

Weapon Characteristics


Longer weapons swing harder, but the effect is negligible in GURPS. For example, without a bonus from two-handed use, a bastard sword does no more damage than a broadsword. And compared to an axe, GURPS’ greataxe gains a mere +1 damage from two-handed use and doubled weight, leaving no bonus to be ascribed to extra length. There are many more examples.

Following that lead, these rules ignore length beyond a certain amount for damage purposes. Length beyond that won’t let you hit harder, but does offer the considerable advantage of extra reach. (Watch out, though; it also makes the weapon harder to recover after a swing!)

For all purposes, length can be handled using any units you like. Feet are the easiest measure for Imperial measure-besotted human PCs, and are the default.


Use weight in pounds. Damage from impact is linked here to the square root of the impacting weight.

Other matters of overall construction and dimension

This system doesn’t include rules for building a weapon part by part, with weight and length following. You build a custom spear by choosing its weight and length yourself, using GURPS designs as guidelines; damage, ST requirements, readying time, etc. are computed from there. Common sense and the guidelines for skills tell you that if it’s six inches long it’s a knife, not a spear. And if it is normal spear length, weight might be 4 pounds or 6, but not 50. While GLAIVE provides sensible outputs for the inputs you feed it, you have to make sure the inputs are sensible!

Similarly, these rules don’t consider materials – i.e., appropriate mass, cost, and other considerations for wood vs steel vs iron and so on. Check out the excellent GURPS Low Tech series to work that in!

To design huge and tiny weapons, start with known reasonable human-sized models, and employ scaling factors: When you scale a weapon in all dimensions by some factor Y, its mass scales with Y cubed. A Giant’s spear with all dimensions doubled will weigh 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 times as much as a normal one. For a toy-like faerie spear, imagine a human spear scaled down to 1/12 dimensions; its mass will be 1/12 x 1/12 x 1/12 = 1/1728 times the big spear’s. Or double it in one dimension only, to make a faerie pike: Mass is 1/12 x 1/12 x 1/6 = 1/864 the mass of a human spear.

That is, of course, a simplification, as it ignores scale-dependent matters of structural strength, the limits of material properties, and so on. As an example, the Giant’s spear may need to actually be thicker and heavier to maintain structural integrity, while the faerie’s pike could likely make do with even lighter, needle-like construction. See my notes on gaming Giants if you’d like to work such considerations into the system. 


Tiny size and weight don’t make your knife the perfect broadsword for a faerie. The grip is sized all wrong. This is an important part of any weapon design: What size (and how many) hands was it made for? This may place penalties on a Giant trying to use your two-handed sword as an overgrown shortsword.

For simplicity, grip is a “free” part of design, unless you add cost and weight for oddities like a two-handed hilt on a short weapon. Note the size of the intended user when designing. Effects of mismatched grip are very much up to the GM, but -1 skill per level of Size difference is appropriate, as is a -2 or so for two hands on a weapon when there’s only proper room for one. (See GULLIVER for more on gaming these matters.)

Regardless of the size of the grip, apply a -2 penalty on a short weapon (1/3 your height or less) used with two hands. It’s just a clumsy thing to do.


Unbalance lets a weapon strike harder with a swing; axe users will be glad to see unbalance add some real chop in these rules. But unbalance makes a weapon hard to recover, so use wisely.

Unlike GURPS, weapons can be built here with varying degrees of unbalance. While these are presented as a simple choice of three multipliers, you could of course use any in-between multiplier you choose.


Like GURPS, this system computes damage as base damage plus an addition for the weapon. Base damage comes from ST; the addition, Damage Add, comes from these rules.

Damage Add can be high, leaving results like “1d+6”. Reduce these to damage die: each +3 reduces to 1d damage, each +7 to 2d damage. For example, damage of 1d+9 reduces to 3d+2.

The rules try to achieve GURPS-like damage stats for common weapons used at typical ST levels. Things will be a point or two off at times; a shortsword, for example, gains a bit of thrust damage under these rules, stabbing as effectively as a broadsword. But given that those differences stem from application of consistent rules, you might like the changes they bring!

Damage type

A weapon can do crushing, cutting, or impaling damage, as appropriate. Add this freely to designs. However, the only default effect is on cost, not on basic hits; with these rules, a weapon of a given weight and length will have the same Damage Add and deliver the same basic hits whether it’s a hammer, axe, or pick. A thrust weapon does the same basic damage whether it crushes or impales. This is a change from GURPS.

With these rules, almost any weapon will have a thrust and a swing damage. That is, you can swing a spear for damage (though Spear skill won’t help you hit) and thrust an axe for damage (though Axe/Mace training won’t help). Damage type may change: A swung spear or thrust axe would likely do crushing damage, or perhaps a small amount of cutting damage for the spear.

If you’re not interested in a given use of a weapon (such as a thrust with an axe), don’t bother figuring the stats!

Minimum ST

Minimum ST is replaced in these rules by Wield ST, with slightly different mechanics.

Readying time

The rules offer Recovery, a statistic indicating how difficult it is to ready a weapon. Think of this as the time required to ready: low Recovery is good, high Recovery is bad. ST makes a big difference in the final effect.

There’s also an attempt below to allow more varied ready times. In GURPS 3e, there are only three very different rates of attack, with nothing in between. The differences among them may be even more extreme than first appears. For example, an axe in GURPS 3e isn’t half as fast as a sword, it’s slower. Over several turns, the sword can perform Attack, Parry / Attack, Parry / Attack, Parry / etc. while the axe is stuck with Attack, Dodge / Ready, Dodge / Attack, Dodge / and so on, if the user wants to be able to attack. He’s getting in half as many attacks as the swordsman, but only one-fourth as many actual uses of the weapon!

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to game small differences in rate of attack or defense in GURPS. Later below is an optional method of doing so in an abstract way; see if it works for you.


Use regular GURPS rules for weapon quality.


Sorry, these rules offer absolutely nothing on pricing custom-made weapons! It’s a good project for someone ambitious. The trick will be to create rules that give more or less the same costs that GURPS does for existing weapon designs. (Anyone up to it?)

A name is a name

Using these rules, a weapon of a given weight, length and balance will display the same basic behavior whether it’s Western or Eastern, high-tech or low-tech. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a famed nation of legendary swordsmiths in your game world! GURPS’ quality rules cover relative superiority, letting a given weapon display exemplary prowess. It’s perfectly normal that one society may be able to make weapons of better quality than another, or do so more cheaply, or simply desire to do so more often. Compendium II and Low Tech offer much more on weapon material and quality.

Relative deadliness also comes through technique, but that’s built into the user, not the weapon. One society may have more fighters of high skill levels than another, with more skilled teachers, better instruction methods, advanced fighting styles (see Martial Arts) and even original techniques.

A society or a smith can add little accouterments like a basket hilt, extra pommel length to allow two-hand use on a normally one-handed weapon, blade catchers to turn a shortsword into a sword-catcher, etc. All of these should rightly add cost and a little weight, though added weight might not be enough to impede performance noticeably.

But beyond the above, a pointy stick is a pointy stick, and an exotic name counts for nothing. If you want your favorite exotic sword staff to be faster-twirling than the domestic model, you’ll have to make unavoidable bargains with physics, and tamper with length or weight.

This feature doesn’t affect Basic Set weapons, but will definitely take some steam out of a few exotically named, physics-defying toys in the earlier Martial Arts books!

Effective ST

GULLIVER for GURPS 3e suggests a splitting of ST into two parts for odd-sized creatures: Combat ST (scaling with height) for purchasing ST and figuring damage, and Load ST (scaling with the square of height) for determining lifting and carrying ability. It’s a necessary hack to fix 3e’s unworkable problems with ST.

Both Combat ST and Load ST have roles to play in weapon use. Either may be modified by circumstances, resulting in effective ST for the task at hand.

While these rules strive for GURPS-like effects, they plead guilty to one big change: a revised treatment of ST. Your base damage with armed and unarmed attacks is computed in a different – more scalable – manner under these rules.

Using GLAIVE with GURPS 4e: GURPS 4e addresses ST problems with a reworking of the attribute, which meshes nicely with GLAIVE. To use GLAIVE with 4e, just replace all mention of Combat ST with plain old GURPS ST, and replace all mention of Load ST with BL/2. There may be several minor issues to work remaining to work out for 4e, but this change alone will take you most of the way.


Use your thrust damage from the Basic Weapon Damage table (BS 3e p. 74), as always, but based on effective ST, as follows. Strikers and kicks do thrust damage based on full ST; no change there. But punch damage changes. Instead of thrust -2 damage, use simple thrust, based on Combat ST x 2/3 (round down). For example, a ST 10 PC computes punch damage from ST 10 x 2/3 = 6.6, or ST 6. That’s 1d-4.

If you have any item in hand of reasonable mass and hardness (GM call), use Combat ST x 4/5 (round down) instead. This gives you punch damage with a small hard object in hand, a steel gauntlet, brass knuckles etc. Objects with greater heft use the same Combat ST x 4/5 as a base for damage, with Damage Add computed as weapons.

Damage from Combat ST x 4/5 is your base damage for all weapon use. Ignoring very low ST scores, you use 1d-3 for Combat ST 9 to 11, 1d-2 for Combat ST 12 to 13, 1d-1 for Combat ST 14 to 16, 1d for Combat ST 17 to 18, 1d+1 for Combat ST 19 to 21, etc.

To repeat:

Punch damage is figured from Combat ST x 2/3
Kick and striker damage is figured from Combat ST
Armed damage is figured from Combat ST x 4/5


The second big change in treatment of ST: You have no swing damage score!

GURPS’ swing stat doesn’t generify. It’s the same as thrust at low ST, twice as much as thrust at strong human ST, but once again only a fraction over thrust damage at very high ST. Making swing damage independent of scale requires setting it to a constant multiple of thrust damage, such as x1.5. But do that, and Powerful Man boosts his 20d thrust damage to 30d, just by picking up a police baton. That doesn’t sound right.

Things are funny because extra damage from swings should not be inherent in ST itself, but should rather come from the length and weight of the weapon being swung. Swinging a small object should add little extra damage. Swinging a big one should add lots. Powerful Man should have to swing logs, not batons, if he wants his extra 10d.

That’s why these rules throw out the swing damage stat for characters – which is a simplification, really. Find your thrust damage, as above, and jot it on the form. Call it base damage, not thrust damage. That’s all you need.

(Note: GURPS uses swing damage for a few special unarmed martial arts attacks; for these, just compute damage using Combat ST x 1.5. For special kicks with swing damage, that’s Combat ST x 1.5; for special punches, that’s Combat ST x 2/3 x 1.5 = Combat ST.)

One-handed use

Base damage comes from effective Combat ST, as above. Load ST, meanwhile, is used for wielding and readying purposes, without any adjustments. However, multiply Load ST by 1.5 for one hand in the center of a weapon’s balance (a spear held in the middle, etc.). This will shorten the weapon’s reach (usually halving it), but makes it easier to use.

Two-handed use

For wielding and readying purposes, multiply Load ST by 1.5 for two hands on an end of the weapon (normal use with a two-handed sword or axe), or by 2 for two hands in a wide grip (normal use with a staff, spear, or polearm).

Damage: Combat ST also benefits from any two-handed use. However, the above 1.5 force multiplier equates to a lower Combat ST bonus: Multiply Combat ST by only 1.25 (roughly the square root of 1.5).

Effective Combat ST now becomes Combat ST x 4/5 x 1.25 = Combat ST. In other words, figure base damage from straight Combat ST, not Combat ST x 4/5, for two-handed use. Easy!

Grip: You can’t use two hands on just any weapon! Two-handed use requires a long haft or double-length pommel; such long pommel should add weight and cost. Two hands on a short weapon is clumsy. With a weapon half your own length, take a -1 DX unless special skills are used (such as Katana); with a weapon shorter than that, suffer at least a -2 DX no matter what.

Example: Sir Charge has ST 14. Basic armed damage with one hand comes from effective Combat ST 14 x 4/5 = 11.2, for 1d-1 damage. He has Load ST 14 for purposes of wielding and readying swords, or Load ST 14 x 1.5 = 21 for a spear held at its center.

Switch to two hands and he has effective Combat ST 14 for 1d base damage. He uses Load ST 14 x 1.5 = 21 for wielding and readying two-handed swords and axes, and Load ST 14 x 2 = 28 for polearms and spears held with a wide grip.

Multi-arm use

For each hand above 2, add 10% to effective Combat and Load ST, for up to 4 arms or as many as the GM allows before they get in each other’s way. Make sure your weapon is built to allow this, and don’t forget Three-Handed Sword skill!

Wield ST

Wield ST measures the power needed to use a weapon.

Wield ST = weapon weight x 3

For simplicity, length, balance, etc. do not affect this.

If your favorite weapon’s Wield ST seems high, don’t worry just yet. Compare your effective Load ST to Wield ST:

Wield ST <= Load ST: You use the weapon normally.
Wield ST > Load ST: Melee weapons suffer no penalty except additional slowness: x1.5 Recovery. This is perfectly normal usage for many melee weapons, so don’t worry! Ranged weapons add +1 to SS and halve Acc.
Wield ST > Load ST x1.5: All weapons take -2 on skill. Melee weapons suffer x2 Recovery. Ranged weapons add +2 SS and have no Acc.
Wield ST > Load ST x2: All weapons take -4 on skill. Melee weapons suffer x3 Recovery. Ranged weapons add +4 SS and have no Acc.
Wield ST > Load ST x3: You cannot use the weapon effectively.

Example: A 3-lb. mace’s Wield ST is 9. A 5-lb. bastard sword’s Wield ST is 15. Sir Charge has no problem with the mace. But with the bastard sword, he’ll multiply Recovery by 1.5 when using it one-handed.

Thrust Statistics

Thrust Damage Add

thrust Damage Add = square root of (weapon weight x 2)

Round down. Thrust Damage Add cannot be higher than effective Combat ST x 2/3.

Your base damage plus thrust Damage Add is the damage you do with a thrust. Simple enough.

Maximum damage

Blowthrough limits maximum damage with any impaling weapon.

There should also be a maximum damage based roughly on how deeply the weapon can penetrate – that is, a knife will only stab so deeply into a dragon’s bulk, regardless of the dragonslayer’s power:

Simple rule: Maximum basic hits for impaling damage is 2d per foot of length: 6d for a one-yard sword, 1d for a six-inch knife, etc. Multiply damage for impaling normally.

Advanced rule: Place a limit only on the amount of extra damage added by an impale, not on basic hits. Set this at 1d per foot of length. That powerful dragonslayer’s 5d stab will inflict its 5d, but instead of adding a full 100% damage for impaling, the knife will sink into the dragon’s bulk only far enough to add an extra 1d. Double effects for a hit vs vitals: instead of adding a full 200% to damage, the weapon will only add up to 2d per foot of length.

Thrust Recovery

thrust Recovery = weapon weight x 4

Example: Sir Charge’s bastard sword has a thrust Damage Add of the square root of 10, or 3 (rounded down). One-handed thrust damage with ST 14 is 1d-1 + 3 = 1d+2. Crushing or impaling depends on construction. Max impaling damage is 5d for a 5-foot sword.

Thrust Recovery is 5 x 4 = 20 – but Sir Charge multiplies that by 1.5 for one-handed Load ST a bit below the weapon’s Wield ST. His thrust Recovery with the sword is 30.

Using two hands, Load ST becomes higher than Wield ST, and thrust thrust Recovery stays at 20.

Swing Statistics

Swing effect

How much extra effect does a swing add? That depends on its weight, balance, and effective length. Length of the attacking arm makes up part of length too! Use feet in the calculations below, as a convenient unit for humans.

Start with the actual weapon length – but ignore any length longer than your arm. This is effective length. For a human, a two-foot sword has an effective length of 2 feet; a three-foot sword, six-foot staff and nine-foot polearm all have an effective length of 3 feet (the length of the arm).

Save this “dropped length” for the moment; it’ll come back to haunt you.

A weighted end makes a weapon strike harder. Use an unbalance modifier of x1 for balanced weapons and x3 for unbalanced ones, leaving x2 for any semibalanced weapons you might want to design.

The formula looks bad, but it turns out to be simple:

Swing effect = ((effective length x unbalance) + arm length) x 1.5 / your hex length

where your hex length is half your height or length (i.e., three feet for a human).

Don’t be scared by that – swing effect comes out quite neat. For a human, it computes as follows:

A weapon length of one foot gives swing effect of 2 if balanced, 2.5 if semibalanced, 3 if unbalanced.
A weapon length of two feet gives swing effect of 2.5 if balanced, 3.5 if semibalanced, 4.5 if unbalanced.
A weapon length of three feet or longer gives swing effect of 3 if balanced, 4.5 if semibalanced, or 6 if unbalanced.

Swing effect and size: What’s important here is that swing effect is relative to your size. A human can swing an axe to great effect. A Giant swinging the same weapon will gain less swing effect. It’ll still hurt, sure, but it’s not a significant length to the Giant and a swing won’t add much impact beyond his thrust damage.

Humanlike Giants have the same swing effect numbers as above when using giant-proportioned weapons: 3 for a Giant-length broadsword, 6 with a Giant-length axe, etc. An Ellyl also has a swing effect of 3 with an Ellyl-length broadsword, 6 with an Ellyl-length axe, and so on. That makes things pretty easy.

You can use feet or any other units to compute swing effect, as long as you put all length measurements into the same units.

Swing Damage Add

swing Damage Add = square root of (weapon weight x swing effect x 2)

Round down. Swing Damage Add cannot be higher than effective Combat ST x 2/3.

Your base damage plus swing Damage Add is the damage you do with a swing. (Remember that under these rules, base damage itself is the same for both thrusts and swings!)

Swing Recovery

Part of the calculation below is the same base that went into swing Damage Add. On top of that, though, we add in any weapon length that was ignored when computing swing effect:

Recovery = (weapon weight x swing effect x 2) + (dropped length x weapon weight)

Swing Recovery cannot be less than thrust Recovery.

Example: Sir Charge’s 5-foot, 5-lb. sword has an effective length of 3 feet (his arm length) for swing effect purposes. There’s no unbalance. That’s swing effect of ((3 x 1) + 3) x 1.5 / 3 = 3 – which was already figured out for you earlier. Swing Damage Add is the square root of (5 x 3 x 2) = 5.4. Swing Recovery is (5 x 3 x 2) + (2 x 5) = 40.

One-handed, swing damage is 1d-1 + 5 = 1d+4 = 2d+1. Swing Recovery is 40 x 1.5 = 60.

Two-handed, swing damage is 1d + 5 = 2d+2. Swing Recovery is 40.

Readying Time

These rules make use of Ready Penalty:

Ready Penalty = Recovery / Load ST

Example: Sir Charge’s bastard sword Ready Penalties are as follows:

  • One-handed thrust: 20 x 1.5 / 14 = 2.14.
  • Two-handed thrust: 20 / 21 = 0.95.
  • One-handed swing: 40 x 1.5 / 14 = 4.29.
  • Two-handed swing: 40 / 21 = 1.9.

Simple rule for readying time

Ready Penalty of 4 or less means you require no readying time. Every additional full or partial 4 points of Ready Penalty means one second of readying time is required. This provides GURPS-like results.

Example: With a Ready Penalty of 4.29, Sir Charge needs to Ready his bastard sword after a one-handed swing. All of the other actions calculated above require no special Ready.

Detailed rule for readying time

Your Ready Penalty represents just what it sounds like: your penalty for using the weapon without first taking a Ready maneuver! Ready Penalty is simply a skill penalty (round fractions down).

If Ready Penalty is not 0, then the weapon becomes unready – even if just a little unready – every time you use it for an attack or defense. You can use it again immediately – but you take the penalty. After that the weapon is still unready, and your next use will again suffer the penalty. The penalty is not cumulative, but it lasts indefinitely, until you finally take time to Ready.

If Ready Penalty is greater than 4, you must first make a Ready maneuver before you can use the weapon. Each Ready maneuver reduces Ready Penalty by 4. Keep taking Ready maneuvers until your Ready Penalty is below 4 or is 0, as you like. Then you’re ready to operate.

Example: Sir Charge has no problem with two-hand bastard sword thrusts: thrust Ready Penalty of 0.95 rounds down to 0, or no unreadiness after the thrust. But after a one-hand thrust, he takes -2 on the next sword use if he doesn’t Ready first. And the same -2 on the next thrust or parry, and the same on the next… until he finally stops to Ready.

A two-handed swing slaps a -1 on Sir Charge’s next attack or parry if he doesn’t Ready afterward. And after a one-handed swing, the penalty is a hefty -4. He’ll almost always want to Ready after a one-handed swing.

Example: With a huge weapon and a Ready Penalty of -10, Sir Charge must take two Ready maneuvers before he can use the weapon. He’s ready then to strike or Parry at -2, or to take a third Ready maneuver and bring the penalty to 0.

The effect of Ready Penalty is varied attack speeds, in an abstract way. A fighter with no Ready Penalty will not need to take Ready. A fighter with a -1 will normally not take a Ready, unless there’s time to spare or TH is really in doubt. A fighter with a -2 or -3 will choose Ready more often, and a fighter with -4 will do so quite often. Fighters with a -5 or worse Penalty will have to take Ready maneuvers – but again, how many Ready maneuvers should such a fighter choose?

While the method doesn’t inject new rules into GURPS to change attack speeds on a per-turn basis, over the course of many turns you’ll see the knife fighters getting in more attacks than the bastard sword warriors.

Parries: Following GURPS, users of thrust weapons, including polearms, use thrust Ready Penalty after a Parry. Users of weapons that are normally swung, like axes, would seem to use swing Ready Penalty.

This is, however, pretty harsh on axe-wielders. If you like, let them parry efficiently with the haft like users of polearms and other hafted weapons do, and suffer thrust Ready Penalty after a Parry, not swing Ready Penalty.

Advanced rules for readying time

Rounding up: Per detailed rule above, but round Ready Penalty fractions up, not down. Set a minimum -1 Ready Penalty for all weapons, even fists and other natural weapons. The result is that no matter what the weapon, it’ll always attack or defend more effectively from a ready and waiting position, than from a position of having just been used.

Skill and Recovery: Skill is no doubt a factor in readying times; a skilled practitioner can recover from a blow and prepare for the next in less time than a beginner can.

Note that these rules already cover this factor! A high skill lets you get away with fewer Ready maneuvers, while maintaining a decent TH. Low skill means you can’t often afford to give up the Ready maneuvers.

But if you want to further simulate the ability to efficiently divert momentum from one blow into setup for the next blow, you can tweak things. Just don’t go too wild with modifications, unless you want to see Skill-18 polearms flashing with rapier-like speed; strength vs weight should remain the main determinant of recovery time.

Two suggestions, for use with thrust or swung Recovery:

1. Reduce Recovery by 5% per weapon skill level above 10 (minimum -50%), or increase it by 10% per skill level below 10. Effects should be obvious.

2. Don’t mess with Recovery. Rather, tweak the amount by which a Ready maneuver cuts Ready Penalty. Change from the current straight 4, to skill/3 (round up). Broadsword-6 must take a Ready maneuver if Ready Penalty is more than 2, and the maneuver only reduced Ready Penalty by 2. Axe/Mace-18 need only take a Ready Maneuver if Ready Penalty is more than 6; the maneuver reduces Ready Penalty by 6. And so on.

Slow Recovery: Whichever rules you use to determine Readying time, a weapon that requires a full 3 seconds to Ready is ridiculously clumsy. Apply some penalties, such as requiring a balance roll immediately after attacking to avoid falling down. (Roll at +2 if the blow hits a target of substantial weight to halt the blow.)

At 4 or more seconds’ recovery time, the GM can rule that no attack is possible, and an attempt causes the wielder to fall!


Simple rules for Reach

An unarmed attack has a Reach of full arm length, by GURPS convention.

Your effective Reach with a weapon is determined by the weapon’s length plus half your arm length. Why half? Because GURPS shortens Reach in a similar manner: A three-foot arm wielding a three-foot sword still has a Reach of only 1 yard, for example, the same Reach as an unarmed punch.

Convert combined arm and weapon reach into hexes (usually yards) and round down to the nearest hex. A Reach of zero hexes indicates Range C.

Most basic human weapons will keep their GURPS Reach stats using this rule, with exceptions: a large knife just falls short of Reach 1, for example. (If you prefer, round up to 1 hex for Reach of over 2/3 hex; that lets a large knife keep its GURPS Reach stat.)

Example: A human broadsword’s Reach is 1.5 feet (arm) plus 3 feet (sword) = 4.5 feet. That rounds down to 1 three-foot hex. With a 5-foot bastard sword, Reach is 1.5 + 5 = 6.5 feet, rounding down to 2 three-foot hexes.

Detailed rules for Reach

Compute Reach exactly as above, with one exception. You can use your full arm length with a weapon, by taking a TH penalty of -3. Replace half arm length with full arm length. If the new Reach is long enough to cover an extra hex, you can gain that Reach.

Example: Base Reach with a human shortsword is 1.5 feet (arm) plus 2 feet (sword), or 3.5 feet total. That’s barely over one yard, rounding down to Reach 1 in three-foot hexes. Extending the arm fully for -3 TH makes that 3 feet plus 2, or 5 feet. That may make a difference in some game situations, but normally not – it’s still not far enough to achieve Reach 2.

A broadsword, on the other hand, has default Reach of 1.5 feet (arm) plus 3 feet (sword), or 4.5 feet – again, only Reach 1. But leaning and stretching, you have a Reach of 3 feet plus 3 feet, or 6 feet. That’s Reach 2!

GURPS offers no meaningful game difference between shortsword and broadsword reach. This rule adds a difference. It’ll make combat a little more fluid, with the range of your opponent’s attack less certain. Stand several yards away if you want to be sure he can’t step and hit!

Thrown Weapons

Thrown weapons use normal basic characteristics, such as Wield ST. Recovery has no use once you throw the weapon, for obvious reasons.

Theoretically, damage for any ranged weapon could be derived from the collision rules in GULLIVER Book 6, but for simplicity there’s no attempt to do so here.


Thrown weapons use swing or thrust Damage Add, depending on whether they strike point-first or not. A knife or spear needs to strike point-first to be effective. An axe or throwing stick strikes with swing Damage Add. (This is generous damage. Using the better of thrust Damage Add or half swing Damage Add may be more realistic for flung axes and Braveheart-style flying claymores.)


Start with SS 12 for any thrown weapon. Modify for Wield ST and as follows:

Clumsy shape (oil flask): +1
Requires unusual preparation (lasso): +4
Specialized throwing weapon (javelin, spear, throwing axe): -2
Semi-specialized throwing weapon (hatchet): -1
Weapon is longer than half your length (spear): +1


Start with Acc O. Modify for Wield ST and as follows:

Specialized throwing weapon (javelin, spear, throwing axe): +2
Semi-specialized throwing weapon (hatchet): +1
Aerodynamic, straight flight (javelin, spear, dart): +1
Weapon is longer than half your length (spear): -1

Range, simple rules

For a comprehensive rule covering all weapon ranges, you’ll have to replace the GURPS numbers with effects from the Throwing Distance Table on CI p. 11. Final Ranges may differ quite a bit from BS p. 207 ranges.

Set 1/2 Dam Range to Max Range x2/3.

Note that BS knives have unusually short range, about x1/2 expected range for a large knife and x1/3 for those of half or quarter pound weight. Ignore as you wish, or extend it as a general modifier for all tiny weapons: x1/5 range for lower weight down to one-tenth pound, x1/7 for weight down to one-twentieth pound, x1/10 for weight down to one-fiftieth pound, and so on. Blame the effect on air resistance.

Range, detailed rules

Use throwing distance from Book 4‘s throwing rules. For simplicity, treat a throw of 15° or flatter as direct, allowing normal use but halving maximum Range. This flat-angle Range is your 1/2 Damage Range. (Note that there are no rules for determining the distance at which air resistance would actually halve the impact of a missile; for simplicity’s sake only, GURPS takes the distance at which Acc is lost and gives it double duty as 1/2 Damage Range.)

To throw farther than your 1/2 Damage Range, you need a higher angle. That turns the attack into indirect fire, which is why you lose your Acc bonus!

Tack on a -1 TH per 15° of angle above 15°. Lobbing a weapon high and hoping it comes down on your foe is not an easy task. It may be possible to reduce this penalty via an “Indirect Fire” Hard maneuver, if the GM allows.

Range, advanced rules

There’s no shortage of additional enhancements in Book 4 of GULLIVER for 3e. Play with running throws, velocity adjustments for skill, starting height, and air resistance, all to your heart’s content.

Missile Weapons

Bow ST

An archer uses his ST to draw back the bow, up to the limits of his own or the bow’s ST. (This is a change from GURPS, where only crossbows have a limit.)

Load ST: The bow’s Load ST determines how hard the bow is to draw back; it’s the “pull weight” of the weapon. You’ll want a bow with a Load ST somewhere in your own Load ST range.

However, a drawn bow stores and releases more energy than the user alone could dish out with a throw. You’ll fire using an even higher “firing ST”, for range and damage purposes (below).

Maximum ST: If you need to worry about this, assume a maximum Load ST 10 for a typical bow, and twice that much for a crossbow. Composite bows have maximum Load ST 15. These maxima might increase with tech level or the use of expensive materials.

That’s for one-yard bows (including crossbows). For longer or shorter bows, scale this maximum Load ST as you would for characters: multiply by the square of the change in linear dimension. A normal bow has maximum Load ST 10 with a length of a yard; maximum Load ST 20 at a yard and a half; and maximum Load ST 40 at two yards.

However, those maxima assume a bow scaling equally in all three dimensions. Normally, a two-yard bow will not be twice as thick in both lateral directions as a one-yard bow; it’ll be twice as long and maybe just a little thicker. Set actual bow Load ST at any arbitrarily lower number, even far less, with the user in mind: a human’s longbow might have Load ST 12, not Load ST 40!

In most cases, where a character’s prodigious strength isn’t testing the upper limits of bow capability, you don’t even want to worry about ST maxima; just pick a bow length and set an appropriate Load ST.

Bow Weight

Compute a bow’s weight as (length in yards x bow’s Load ST) / 5. Double this for a crossbow.

Wield ST

Wield ST is a matter of the bow’s weight. Set Wield ST normally for bows, using weight in pounds x 3, and refer to the earlier rules on Load ST. The Recovery multipliers for low ST won’t affect you, but the TH modifiers will.

Note that although you use two hands with a bow, only one actually supports the weight. You don’t get a two-handed bonus on your Load ST unless you’ve got three or more arms.

A loaded crossbow, on the other hand, is easy to wield (even if someone stronger had to load it for you); you just hold and shoot. Use the crossbow’s weight in pounds x 2 as its Wield ST: A 6-lb. crossbow has a Wield ST of 12. In addition, you’ll normally support the weapon with two hands, allowing a 1.5 multiplier on your Load ST and making the crossbow even easier to wield.

A very heavy crossbow could be used with a tripod or other mount – essentially creating a medieval siege engine. A smoothly pivoting mount might have a Wield ST of only weight in pounds / 5, but with +4 or more added to SS. (A suggested cheap rule of thumb: Take the divisor the mount grants to Wield ST, and subtract 1. That’s the bonus to SS. For example, a Wield ST divisor of 3 adds 2 to SS.)  

Very large weapons won’t pivot; rather, they’ll require whole crews to position. Aiming can also be controlled with mechanical devices, drastically reducing user ST requirements at the expense of time required to aim.

User ST

Wield ST covered the difficulty in supporting a bow’s weight and pointing it; User ST here looks at the difficulty of bending the bow to fire. A stout bow can require a lot of strength to use properly!

Compare your Load ST to the bow’s Load ST.

For a crossbow, that’ll tell you how quickly you can cock the device, if at all. Once cocked, it’ll automatically fire with a stored energy (firing ST) of bow Load ST x 2, using normal SS, Acc and TH (assuming you also have the ST to wield it; see “Wield ST” above).

The firing ST of a bow will vary with the archer’s ST. A strong user will pull a bow far beyond its listed Load ST; weaker users will suffer low power and penalties to SS, Acc and TH. You’ll fire farther and more accurately using a bow made for your ST than you will with one that’s too powerful.

Load ST >= Bow Load ST x 1.5: Bow users: You’ve maxed out the bow; doing this often may damage the weapon. Firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 3. Crossbow users: You can cock the weapon in 1 second; firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 2.
Load ST >= Bow Load ST: Bow users: You’re bending the bow hard, but it can take it. (The GM may check for breakage in a damaged bow.) Firing ST is your Load ST x 2. Crossbow users: You can cock the weapon in 2 seconds; firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 2.
Bow Load ST > Load ST: Bow users: Add +1 to SS and halve Acc. Firing ST is your Load ST x 1.5. Crossbow users: You can cock the weapon in 2 seconds; firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 2.
Bow Load ST > Load ST x1.5: Bow users: Suffer +2 SS, Acc 0 and -2 TH. Firing ST is your Load ST. Crossbow users: You can cock the weapon in 3 seconds; firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 2.
Bow Load ST > Load ST x2: Bow users: Suffer +4 SS, Acc 0 and -4 TH. Firing ST is your Load ST x 2/3. Crossbow users: You can cock the weapon in 4 seconds; firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 2.
Bow Load ST > Load ST x2.5: Bow users: You cannot use use the bow effectively. Crossbow users: You can cock weapon in 6 seconds; firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 2.
Bow Load ST > Load ST x3: Crossbow users: You can only cock weapon in 20 seconds using a goat’s foot (BS p. 114); firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 2.
Bow Load ST > Load ST x3.5: Crossbow users: You can only cock weapon using slow mechanical winches; firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 2.

Unlike GURPS, a crossbow doesn’t automatically deliver exceptional damage; it does so only if you build it powerfully. If you don’t mind the reloading time, you can use a crossbow with a pull far stronger than you could handle in a bow, allowing high damage and long range.

Legwork: The only way to increase your own ST for bow work is to pull with two hands – and that means holding the bow with something else. English longbowmen lay on their backs and used their feet. This pose lets you multiply your own Load ST by 1.5 to take advantage of a powerful bow. It requires a bow of your length or longer. Tack on a -2 familiarity penalty that can be bought off with a few hours’ training – and a -4 for lying down that’s not as easy to get rid of. (The King’s finest bowmen bought this off with the Ground Fighting maneuver!)

The GM might allow similar methods of pulling with two hands to cock a too-heavy crossbow. That’ll boost your Load ST as above, but you lose a few more seconds dealing with the extra preparation.


Start with SS 12. Modify for Wield ST and bow Load ST, as above, and as follows:

Bow length is greater than half your length (regular bow): +1
Bow length is greater than two-thirds your length (long bow): +3
Bow length is greater than your length (unusually long bow): +5
Unusual shape (staff sling): +2


Start with Acc 0. Modify for Wield ST and bow Load ST, as above, and as follows:

Aerodynamic, straight projectile (arrow, quarrel): +2
Bow length is half your length or less (short bow): -1
Bow length is greater than two-thirds your length (long bow): +1
Composite bow: +1
Point ‘n’ shoot device (crossbow): +2 (but only +1 for pistol-type or other one-handed use)
Other missile device (staff sling): +1


Velocity in yards per second is as below:

Max velocity = the lower of (firing ST x 0.25 / arrow weight in lbs.) and (firing ST x 2)

For the standard 2-ounce arrow and a human bow, that’s firing ST x 2. Heavier arrows will be launched more slowly.

Max Range in yards is (velocity squared) / 10. In other words:

Max Range in yards = (firing ST x 2)^2 / 10

as long as you’re not using unusually heavy arrows.

As with thrown weapons, consider direct fire to be an angle of 15° or less, which halves maximum range. Longer range requires higher angles, and becomes indirect fire; see thrown weapon rules above.


A bow needs a Combat ST stat to determine its damage. However, character-style length-based scalings don’t work well here. Rather than the character’s thrust damage, a given firing ST should automatically equate to a given damage score.

This is one of the instances where “quad ST” – as 4e later introduced! – works much better than GULLIVER’s handling of ST, allowing a very consistent relationship between a bow’s pull weight and its damage potential. Borrowing from those rules to create a rule for bow damage:

Set the bow’s Combat ST to the square root of (firing ST x 10). Round to the nearest number. Compute damage from this using the normal GURPS ST Table.

Or for a range of firing ST numbers, here’s damage worked out:

Examples: Sir Charge will do fine with any bow between Load ST 10 and 14. With a bow weaker than Load ST 10, he’s got excess ST going to waste; the bow can’t accommodate. With a bow stronger than ST 14, he’ll be too weak to use it effectively.

With a bow in that ST range, our knight shoots an arrow with a firing ST of his Load ST x 2, or firing ST 28, at 28 x 2 = 56 yards per second. That allows a maximum range of 56 x 56 / 10 = 313 yards using a high arc (outside 1/2 Dam Range). Targets up to 313 / 2 = 156 yards away can be targeted with nice, flat shots (within 1/2 Dam Range). Damage just reaches 1d+2.

Pulling the two-legged English archer trick with a Load ST 14 longbow, Sir Charge can multiply his Load ST by 1.5 to 21 – which is 1.5 times the bow’s Load ST, and thus as far as the bow will bend. Firing ST is the bow’s Load ST x 3, or firing ST 42. At a 45° angle and at 84 yards per second, that arrow will fly 700 yards! Damage is 2d-1 (almost 2d).

Finally, Sir Charge could use a crossbow with a Load ST of up to 20 and still cock the device in only two seconds. It’ll shoot with firing ST 40, flying 80 x 80 / 10 = 640 yards at an optimal angle. Damage is 2d-1.

If he doesn’t mind a long six-second cocking time, our knight could use a Load ST 35 crossbow, shooting with firing ST 70 for 2d+2 damage! Maximum range is 140 x 140 / 10 = 1960 (!) yards – although at these ranges, it’s clear that a lack of rules for air resistance greatly overstates distance.

Note too that this is a difficult bow even for a strong man, and thus an abnormally powerful weapon. Without advanced materials, the rules for maximum bow ST set the bow part at a whopping 1.5 yards long, with the whole contraption weighing over 20 unwieldy lbs.! It’s more of a small ballista than a crossbow; checking Wield ST, it seems our knight is going to need a tripod or other mount.

Advanced rules

Missile weight: If you want to allow for varying damage based on arrow weight, try this. Base damage not on firing ST, but on velocity, using earlier calculations. Compute Combat ST from the square root of (velocity x 5), or skip the Combat ST calculation and just use the damage table above, replacing firing ST with square root of (velocity x 5).

Multiply damage by the square root of (arrow weight / 2 oz.). That gives you a multiplier for any arrow not of standard 2-oz. weight, and lets you set detailed damage for anything from a Pixie’s dart to a catapult-fired spear.

Maximum velocity: A more realistic velocity calculation for bows might be:

Max velocity = the lower of (firing ST x 0.25 / arrow weight in lbs.) and (square root of (firing ST x 100))

That change decreases the rate at which maximum velocity rises as you build a bigger and bigger bow, limiting massive ranges for big weapons.

It also gives archers incentive to use ammunition sized for their weapons, if such is available. Play with some Giant and Pixie bows, and see how this works. Used with the above rule basing damage on velocity and missile weight, the Giant’s bow will do better firing Giant arrows. If you’re an Ogre wielding a mini-ballista, forget those little quarrels; go fletch some javelins!

Weapon Skills

What defines a weapon skill? A skill generally limits use to some or all the following: number of hands, hand position, weapon length relative to user height, and weapon balance. When characters start designing and using original weapon designs, you’ll need to ask what skills they fall under, and why. Some examples:


This skill covers one-hand use of balanced weapons. A weapon length limit is not explicit, but appears to be your height or close to it; that allows bastard sword use.


This skill covers one-hand balanced weapons of about x1/3 your height. Smaller one-hand balanced weapons fall under Knife skill. A Giant using a human broadsword would use Shortsword or Knife skill, depending on how big he was.


Fencing is an interesting skill. It covers the same use characteristics as Broadsword, with one interesting difference: the weapons must be light. Rule that Load ST must be Wield ST or greater to use Fencing skill, and Wield ST x 1.5 or greater to use the Fencing Parry. (Yes, this means strong characters can use broadswords – or larger! – as fencing weapons.)


This skill covers one-hand use of unbalanced weapons. Length limit should be the same as Broadsword (although few users will have the strength to use a 2-hex axe one-handed).

Two-handed Sword, Two-handed Axe/Mace

These cover two-handed use of balanced and unbalanced weapons, respectively. Length limit is your height.


This skill is for unbalanced weapons of your height or longer, using a two-handed wide grip.


Staff covers two-handed use of staves, using a wide grip. Lengths between your height and x1/3 your height (the Indian muchan) are covered. See notes below on special abilities.

Other two-handed skills

You could presumably invent two-handed skills for weapons of shortsword length or smaller, but this should be difficult regardless of skill, with a -2 or worse penalty. You can use two hands to plunge a knife into a fallen foe, but as an all-around fighting stance, it’s clumsy.

Weapon Notes


Let flails have an unbalance modifier (for swing effect and Recovery) of up to x 4. That whirling speed makes them very deadly, if unwieldy.


Build picks like any unbalanced swung weapon, with an impaling tip. That makes a pick a good weapon against vital targets, but targeting a small area from the front (heart, etc.) is probably difficult due to the odd right angle of the point to the haft. Apply a -2 TH.

That angle is also the reason a pick gets “stuck”, while a spear or sword thrust for the same damage doesn’t. Note that GURPS’ ST roll to remove a stuck pick doesn’t scale well. A Contest of your Load ST vs ((damage rolled ^2) / 3) works pretty well; even with Load ST x 1.5 from two hands to help you in the Contest, you can bury an impaling halberd so deep it’s out for the fight.


A variety of weapons can be used with Staff skill. Treat unbalanced weapons as balanced when used with Staff skill (i.e., there’s no extra damage).

Also allow an extra ability when a staff is held near the middle: you can alternate between the two ends quite quickly. Multiply swing Recovery by x2/3 when you switch from end to end, whapping with one end and then the next. With this use, however, figure Reach using only half the staff’s length (i.e., Reach 1 for the typical quarterstaff). It’s an interesting tactical option.


Figure a sling’s damage normally from the length of the sling and the weight of the stone, but using an unbalance modifier of x4. Effective sling length is at most your arm length. The Recovery stat is irrelevant.

That’s still low damage using a one-ounce stone, so multiply Damage Add by 3 for more GURPS-like numbers. Let the skill allow you to sling rocks of weight up to Load ST x 1/100.

For a simpler rule, just base sling damage on your full Combat ST x 1.25, and assume appropriately-sized rocks.

Assume velocity of your Load ST x 3, or sling length in feet x skill, whichever is lower. Compute Ranges per bows. Damage is high for this velocity, compared with bows; ignore or resolve this discrepancy as you like.

Let a staff sling offer benefits as a spear thrower, below.

Spear Thrower

Let a spear thrower give you effective two-handed Combat ST and Load ST, i.e., Combat ST x 1.25, Load ST x 1.5.

Specialized thrusting weapons

Some weapons, like fencing weapons and spears, have higher thrust damage in GURPS than these rules compute. If you like, add one-third (or +1 per die) to thrust Damage Add to these specialized thrusting weapons, at the expense of ability to swing, or lower swing damage.

Flexible fencing weapons are a good example: the blade can momentarily bend while entering, trying to straighten out inside the target for extra damage (more accurately gamed as a higher damage multiplier, not extra basic hits, but good enough). That same flexibility, though, might halve swing Damage Add.


A tonfa is balanced, but let its twirling swing strike with the power of unbalance x3 (that’s +1 damage for the standard model). If used with Tonfa skill, though, this doesn’t increase Recovery.


A hefty combat whip made of metal or embedded with weights weighs 3 lbs. per yard. Assume unbalance x1. Compute swing Damage Add from only one hex-length of length, regardless of actual whip length.

Extra weight figures into swing Recovery normally, though, making a very long whip very slow.

For the lighter (usually leather) whip, use only 2 lbs. per yard. Halve Damage Add; the weapon isn’t deadly. Instead, the weapon can be cracked or used to entangle (BS p. 52), and uses a x1.5 shock modifier for the pain caused.


Don’t limit yourself to weapons on the sample table; tweak, tweak, tweak! Many of the larger weapons will be too much for even he-man characters. Adjust length, weight, or balance until you find what works best. Don’t feel guilty about “maximization”, or shaving stats until you just cross over into that extra damage point or reduced readying time. After all, your character would test for the perfect item when shopping at ArmsMart, wouldn’t he? The GM should let you have that “maximized” weapon if you custom-order a weapon or spend a good day searching in a large city.

Sample Weapon Table

Fresh from the rack, an assortment of ready-made weapons. These are for normal humans, with a few examples at the end for Size +2 Giants and Size -9 microhumans. Note the problems these latter groups face. All but the shortsword are terribly unwieldy for a Giant of Load ST 50 or so. The microhumans, on the other hand, have no trouble waving their weapons about – even a halberd, one-handed! But the trivial Damage Adds barely make it worthwhile.

Weapon lengths are guesses, so modify as you like. That’s the whole point of things! You’ll find some of the larger weapons rather unmanageable, even for strong PCs. Reduce weight or length as necessary.

No adjustments are made for specialized thrusting weapons; that’s an option for the interested.

With the larger weapons, don’t forget that Damage Add is limited to effective Combat ST x 2/3. And remember that Wield ST greater than your Load ST doesn’t mean you can’t use the weapon; larger weapons are regularly used in this manner.

Needless to say, the below is all a lot more fun with a spreadsheet, letting you design weapons on the fly. It’s not hard to make!

Sample Weapon Table

* Sword technique
** Note that thrust and swing are nearly the same

Advanced Rules

Long weapons and TH

With very long weapons, you can let the distance to the target adversely affect TH rolls. Just use ranges from the Scale Table, as you would with any ranged weapon, using your hex size as the distance unit. For a human, that’s no modifier for a staff at 2-yard range, a -1 to hit with a polearm at 3-yard range, and a -2 to hit with a pike at 5-yard range. Weapons longer than that start to stretch belief…

There’s no TH bonus for distances less than twice your hex length, except, GM willing, in special situations. These are covered in full detail in GUTHS.

A very long weapon may also be less than rigid – imagine a pike of wood, the end dipping and wobbling from its own length and weight. Apply a further -2 or so on skill for such a weapon. However, the occurrence of this problem is a GM call; it’s a matter of the physical dimensions and the material properties of the weapon, and that’s all beyond the scope of these rules.

Detailed damage

Instead of adding Damage Add to base damage, double computed Damage Add and add it to effective Combat ST. Get base damage from that new effective Combat ST. For example, if you swing a shortsword (Damage Add = 3.2) with ST 10, start with effective Combat ST 10 x 4/5 = 8, and add 3.2 x 2 = 6.4 to get 14.4. Damage from ST 14 is 1d.

The point is greater precision in damages: There’s a difference between Damage Add 3.2 and 3.6 when the two are doubled and then rounded down.

Missile ranges

The above rules overstate the range of missiles shot with high ST. Unfortunately, rules to handle slowdown from drag aren’t fun. You can get the general effect through adjustments like “divide range in yards by (1 + (range / 5000))”, but it’s not worth much worry.

Unfinished business

The system could use rules for building cost into weapons. The haft or pommel, weapon head, edge, thrusting point, quality, and so on would all work their way into monetary costs. The trick is to create formulae that produce GURPS-like costs for standard GURPS weapon configurations, as well as reasonable costs for new designs.

Armor Design

Would you like some armor to go with those weapons? Some thoughts on a simple armor design system, using scaled versions of existing GURPS armor:

Scaling armor

The thicker the armor, the better the protection. Listed armor DR values are for typical human-scale thickness; for other thicknesses, multiply DR accordingly. Double thickness and you double DR.

Of course, if you double your armor in one dimension, you also double weight. Scale armor by some multiplier Y in two dimensions, and you multiply weight by Y squared. Scale armor by some multiplier Y in three dimensions, and you multiply weight by Y cubed. A Size +3 Giant’s armor, built to triple size and thickness, weighs 3 x 3 x 3 = 27 times the human version. It’ll be extremely heavy for its wearer! The Giant might want to reduce thickness from three times human DR to, say, one and a half times. That’ll halve weight.

For a microhuman 1/30 human height, scaled-down armor will have 1/27,000 its original weight, and x1/30 the DR. Weight will be negligible compared to ST!

That small DR is in line with the microhuman’s scaled-down HP, yet it’s something akin to tin foil. Could the microhuman wear armor with the full thickness of the human original? With only two dimensions scaled down, weight would be reduced to 1/30 x 1/30 = 1/900. That weight is bearable for the microhuman’s tiny Load ST. And wow, he now has human-scale DR, down in the microhuman world!


This sounds a little fishy, though. Would such armor, ultra-thick relative to its size, be properly jointed? For game purposes, give armor a maximum thickness, before bulkiness or inflexibility makes the armor a hindrance. For typical GURPS low-tech armor, this might be some multiplier – 3? 5? – of listed weight and DR. Or to get fancy, use a “thickness scale” that multiplies thickness and weight by the familiar x1.5, x2, x3, x5, x7, x10… progression, with a DX penalty of -1 per 2 “levels” (or per level if you want to be strict).

Whichever the method, few Giants will want to boost thickness past that of their scaled-up armor. Most will want relatively thin armor, because of the weight problem. A microhuman warrior, meanwhile, would do well to wear armor as thick as possible. He can handle the weight, and will be impervious to the stabs and slashes of like-sized combatants.

Further topics

The above is just a start at armor design rules. Additional topics include rules for armor weight and cost by material and part. Then there’s armor quality. In addition to DR varying with quality of material, good armor is quiet, low-maintenance and has tight-fitting joints (reducing TH for daggers aimed at the weak spots); poor armor is clanky, bulky or inflexible, high-maintenance and offers poor protection at joints. These would all affect cost.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.