GURPS/DFRPG resource: New weapons

Minding the gaps

This page concocts a handful of new weapons for GURPS and Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG). These aren’t built from any fancy “design system” (including GLAIVE), nor are they conjured out of thin air; they’re simply extrapolated from the games’ weapon tables to fill in “gaps” among existing models. Wherever possible, data from the newer Low-Tech, Martial Arts, and DFRPG is used as reference, superseding information in Basic Set. (Some of the existing weapons discussed don’t appear at all in Basic Set.)

In short, these serve no great need, and are some of the most mundane weapons you can find. But hey, what adventurer doesn’t appreciate more choices in the murder tool rack?

Meet the weapons

The following constitute “designer’s notes” on the weapons and the stats I’ve set in the tables that follow.

Arrow

An arrow sans bow – thrown, or hurled with an atlatl. Definitely not the preferred way to use an arrow, but in a pinch…

Range, damage, and ST for thrown arrows and bolts are purely my own conjecture; let me know if these are already covered in some obscure corner of GURPS. ST 5 is arguably far too high for such light projectiles, but that’s the same ST for a tiny shuriken or dagger. (GURPS‘ weapon ST doesn’t track to anything measurable, especially at the low end. I’m just sighing and going along with things.) In any case, note that ST 5 limits damage for a thrown arrow to an effective ST 15. And thrown arrow damage is low to begin with, compared to a throwing dart – an arrow weighs only a tenth as much as the dart! (I’ve wavered a lot on the damage, which I’ve currently set to thr-3 imp: a thrown arrow beats a spike shuriken in range and cost, but loses to the spike in damage and Bulk.)

A further house detail for your consideration: I assume that while arrows with any sort of head can be thrown, throwing speed would be too slow to let bodkin heads gain their armor-piercing effect (i.e., they would act as normal projectiles inflicting pi damage).

Note: See Low-Tech p. 63 to use an arrow as a dagger.

Atlatl

I haven’t added anything new to spear throwers (atlatl and woomera) themselves; I’ve only added new projectiles (arrow, bolt, varied throwing darts, heavy javelin, and light spear). However, examining these throwers in play turns up some points of note, detailed below along with comments on how I set stats for new hurled projectiles.

Boarding Cutlass

This name is merely descriptive; the stats could stand in for any variety of smallish shortsword (spadroon, anyone?). Falling between a cutlass and falchion in performance, the weapon adds a sw cut, thr imp damage combination not readily available after the shortsword leveled up to thr+1 imp damage in post-Basic Set books.

Bolt

A crossbow bolt minus the crossbow. Although a bolt is lighter than an arrow, I’ve made damage the same as that of a thrown arrow to keep a bolt from being completely useless. (However, I took the opportunity to lower a bolt’s damage to 1 less than an arrow’s damage when hurled from an atlatl.)

As with an arrow, a thrown bodkin bolt should be considered too slow to gain its armor-piercing ability.

Combat shovels

I’ve played around with solidifying the weapon modifiers that turn tools into weapons and vice-versa. It’s not easy, though, especially as the base stats for tools like shovels aren’t consistent among GURPS publications. For now, I’ve set that aside and have pulled appropriate-sounding numbers out of the air to give the combat shovel from the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game two new friends.

The two-handed long combat shovel adds weight and length to boost damage a bit and, perhaps more importantly, adds proper two-handed weapon reach. (To stay fair to other weapons in its class, I’ve also saddled it with the dread “requires Ready after swing” drawback.) It’s a full-speed digging tool, though the GM may halve speed in tight tunnels or in the hands of small users.

The one-handed short combat shovel is a soldier’s compact entrenching tool with two historical uses: digging trenches and bashing enemies. As a tool, its small size achieves only half the digging speed of full-sized shovels.

I’ve added a thrust attack to the long combat shovel, mainly as a way to avoid “Ready after swing”. It would make sense to also allow the same thrust attacks to the short combat shovel and the (regular) combat shovel. Change damage from sw+x cut to thr+x cut, and reduce ST by 1. However, other than the lower ST requirement, there’s little benefit to using these smaller shovels this way.

These weapon-tools are great for filling in graves, unearthing buried treasure, and otherwise digging up dirt on underground goings-on. They fall a bit short of full-fledged axes and the like in combat prowess, but are serious weapons. Feel free to set more exciting names: the Gardener’s Glaive, the Disinter-grator, the Disem-trowel-er, etc.

Allow a new weapon modifier:

Folding: The shovel head can be locked into one of three positions:
Open: The head is fully extended for normal combat or digging. Use the stats in the Table.
Closed: The head is folded against the haft. The short combat shovel gains reach C, 1; the combat shovel and long combat shovel have reach 1. All damage is crushing only. Holdout penalties are reduced by 1. No digging!
Folded: The head is locked between open and closed. Reach is that of the closed position, but swing damage may be cutting or crushing; thrust damage is crushing only. The weapon can use the Hook technique (although for no damage). Used as a tool, this position is convenient for hoe-like digging and scraping.
Take one Ready maneuver to change between closed and folded position or between folded and open position. Any combat shovel: +0.5 CF.

Heavy Throwing Dart

Is it a long throwing dart or a shrunken javelin? Hurled with the atlatl, this heftier version of the throwing dart slots neatly between the throwing dart and the javelin in terms of damage, range, and other stats. Thrown by hand, however, it needs to take on either the thr damage of the throwing dart or the thr+1 damage of the javelin. I decided to go with the latter to add appeal to the little-loved (in my experience) Thrown Weapon (Dart) skill. The downside: the decision creates a weapon on par with the javelin in terms of damage, while a bit superior in range, cost, and compactness. On the other hand, the javelin shines with far better Accuracy, as well as handiness as a melee weapon. They both have merits.

Heavy Javelin

This javelin packs a punch with weight between a javelin or short spear and a regular spear. It’s partly inspired by a note from Low-Tech Companion 2 p. 7, which says javelins came to replace bows on chariots as “…arrows were far less likely than javelins to punch through armor.” As far as game stats go, that statement is true only for the short bow, but archers on chariots likely did often use short bows. In addition, historical records depicting javelins as more powerful than bows may have been referring to something closer to what GURPS calls a spear. But whatever comparisons are made, this new weapon offers another choice for hurlers looking to out-perform the archers.

Heavy Saber

This invention exists to give Saber skill something more than one weapon. I’ve envisioned it as an entry spanning both Saber and Broadsword skill (in the manner of weapons like the long knife, which spans Knife and Shortsword). See notes below for more on what gap this weapon fills.

Katana

There’s nothing new in the tables, but see thoughts on the weapon further below.

Light Crossbow and Pocket Crossbow

My Ranged Weapons Table below repeats the crossbow and the one-handed pistol crossbow stats for reference, then adds two new offerings: a light crossbow that fits neatly between the regular and pistol crossbows, and a one-handed pocket crossbow that’s even smaller.

These simple additions bring up a number of considerations about crossbow ST, number of hands, and so on. See notes below.

Light Flail

Filling the damage gap between nunchaku and morningstar, this weapon could also stand in for heavy nunchaku. (Note that Basic Set and Low-Tech treat nunchaku as “lesser” flails that inflict only half the usual defense penalties of a flail; DFRPG does not. Feel free to use the GURPS interpretation of nunchaku in DFRPG if you like, but if you do so, consider reducing the cost of these “heavy nunchaku” from $60 to $40 to compensate.)

Light Harpoon

Because some whales (and monsters) are smaller. There’s not actually much of a niche for this weapon, which differs little from the regular harpoon. But smallish monsters might choose this lighter model as the preferred tool to pin down PCs. In melee, treat the light harpoon as a clumsy long spear with range 1, 2* and -2 to skill. (See a similar description under “Harpoon” on Low-Tech p. 72.)

Stats for harpoons lighter than the light harpoon won’t differ substantially from stats for similar spears and javelins. As a general suggestion, use the stats for any thrown spear weapon, limit Acc to 2, add $10 for the barb and tether, and change skill to Thrown Weapon (Harpoon); wield with Spear skill at -2 if used in melee.

Light Maul

A more wieldy version of the maul, perfect for the mace-favoring cleric who wants to “anoint” the heathen from a more discreet distance. (Whether you pick up this or the existing heavier version, feel free to call it a long mace or war club, a sledgehammer, a mason’s mallet, whatever you like. The name doesn’t matter for game purposes; if you’ve seen one giant hammer, you’ve seen a maul.)

Light Spear

This spear is inspired by this video, featuring a couple of long, serious-looking spears that weigh in at only 3 and 3.5 lbs., less than GURPS‘ spear. (Feel free to think of this new light spear as throwing-oriented, and the GURPS model as a more robust “melee spear”.) The light spear falls between the javelin and regular spear in its stats, and thus ends up identical to the heavy javelin (above), save for longer reach. To compensate, I’ve made the assumption that this spear is necessarily less robust than GURPS‘ hefty 4-lb. spear and the stout heavy javelin, with an increased chance of breakage. I’ve left its melee damage equal to that of the regular spear (otherwise it’d oddly deal less damage than the heavy javelin), while letting its lightness relative to the regular spear show up in lower ranged damage.

Light Throwing Dart

Going the other direction from my heavy throwing dart, this one is only half the weight of the standard throwing dart. I’ve lessened Bulk, cut range considerably, and set damage to fit right between the standard throwing dart and the wee spike shuriken. The light throwing dart is still a better weapon than, say, the small throwing knife, which costs more to deliver the same damage at shorter range, but that’s nothing to worry about; a lot of thrown weapons are better than thrown knives. (Even the standard dart is cheaper than a small throwing knife, with better damage and much better range.) Buy Thrown Weapon (Knife) for broad utility and for a small throwing knife’s tiny size, not for optimal performance at low cost.

I’ve added the light throwing dart to the atlatl’s armory as well, where it’s understandably a lesser threat than a hurled standard throwing dart but a better performer than a hurled arrow.

(Need an even lighter dart? Try something with the damage of a spike shuriken but higher weight (0.25 lbs.), Bulk (-1), and cost ($10), offset by better range (x1/x1.5). Anything lighter and cheaper than that should take on the paltry damage of a thrown arrow or bolt.)

Medium Katar

With stats (and a clunky name) that nestle semi-comfortably between the Knife-based katar and the Shortsword-based large katar, I see this weapon as bridging both skills, like the long knife.

Picks and throwing picks

The light pick, pick, and heavy pick listed under Axe/Mace skill below are simply the hatchet, small axe, and axe turned into picks. This changes damage from cut to imp, boosts cost by $25, and adds the pick’s ability to target chinks in armor and its vulnerability to becoming stuck. This transformation turns the small axe into GURPS‘ existing pick, while the hatchet and axe become the new light pick and heavy pick.

Hm, is a throwing pick a cinematic, unrealistic weapon? Maybe so, at least outside of fantasy. Either way, I’m making the assumption that, like GURPS‘ axe and small axe (but unlike its hatchet), these picks are not ready for throwing. The throwing models listed under Thrown Weapon (Axe/Mace) skill add another $10 to create picks equally suited to melee and throwing. (Another option: for $10 less, any throwing pick can be a dedicated throwing weapon that lacks a proper handle, giving -2 to skill as a melee weapon.) Other throwing-related stats are lifted from the thrown hatchet, small throwing axe, and throwing axe, as appropriate (but with Acc left at 1 for all models).

Sling

There’s nothing new in the tables, but see thoughts on the weapon further below.

Thrown sticks

This group of weapons includes the boomerang and throwing stick from Low-Tech (included on the table for reference) and two original entries: a thrown baton or short staff, and a thrown unshaped stick (tree branch, etc.).

For the latter two, I set damage and Bulk equal to those of the throwing stick, but with Acc 0. I also set Range stats that are considerably worse than those of the boomerang and throwing stick, yet still far more generous than the Range suggestions for hurled melee weapons on MA p. 220 so that thrown sticks remain an interesting option.

Going the other direction, a boomerang or throwing stick could be used as a melee weapon. I suggest treating either as a baton using Shortsword skill, but at -2 to skill (and therefore -1 to Parry) like other dedicated throwing weapons not balanced for melee combat (Low-Tech p. 78).

An unshaped stick, meanwhile, isn’t a dedicated throwing weapon and thus doesn’t suffer that -2 skill penalty in melee, but it is clumsy all around: -1 skill whether used with Shortsword or with Thrown Weapon (Stick). Depending on the wood and its condition, it may also be considered cheap. (On the bright side, you can find one anywhere in a forest, or in many other places on a Scrounging roll.)

Woomera

See notes under Atlatl above.

6′ Pole

The adventurer’s staple tool, pressed into combat service. I’ve handled this as a quarterstaff for its length, with -1 damage and +1 to odds of breakage as it’s lighter than a quarterstaff and presumably not made for fighting. I’ve left ST at 7, though, as there’s no open space between the quarterstaff’s ST 7 and the jo’s ST 6. (For Two-Handed Sword configuration, I’ve reduced ST by 1.)

10′ Pole

The show-off adventurer’s staple. Length and weight are both on par with the long staff, so I borrowed its stats – but with +1 to odds of breakage for the cheaper cost and presumably less robust build. (Tangent: If you need to equip a party with just a pole, I’d think you could cut a 5-lb. long staff at the right spot to get both a 4-lb. quarterstaff and a 1-lb. short staff; or cut a 5-lb. 10′ pole to get a 3-lb. 6′ pole and a 2-lb. jo. Or whatever other combination of poles and jos and batons and short staffs seems right. Just don’t expect the moneys to add up!)

Melee Weapons Table

This table lists the new creations, alongside a few existing weapons (marked with [1]) where useful for comparison.

AXE/MACE (DX‐5, Flail‐4, or Two‐Handed Axe/Mace‐3)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
Light Picksw imp10$6528[8, 12]
Picksw+1 imp10U$70310[1, 8, 12]
Heavy Picksw+2 imp10U$75411[8, 12]
Short Combat Shovel
or
sw+1 cut
sw+1 cr
1
1
0U
0U
$60
3.5
10
10
[13]
 

BROADSWORD (DX-5, Rapier-4, Saber-4, Shortsword-2, or Two-Handed Sword-4)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
Heavy Saber
or
sw cut
thr+1 imp
1
1
0
0
$850
2.5
8
8

 

KNIFE (DX-4, Main-Gauche-3, or Shortsword-3)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
Medium Katar
or
sw-2 cut
thr+1 imp
C, 1
C, 1
0
0
$240
1.5
7
7
[2, 7]
[8]
 

FLAIL (DX-6, Axe/Mace-4, or Two-Handed Flail-3)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
Light Flailsw+2 cr10U$60410[9]
 

SABER (DX-5, Broadsword-4, Main-Gauche-3, Rapier-3, Shortsword-4, or Smallsword-3)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
Heavy Saber
or
sw cut
thr+1 imp
1
1
0F
0F
$850
2.5
9
9

 

SHORTSWORD (DX-5, Broadsword-2, Jitte/Sai-3, Knife-4, Saber-4, Smallsword-4, or Tonfa-3)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
Boarding Cutlass
or
sw cut
thr imp
1
1
0
0
$320
1.75
7
7
[2]
Medium Katar
or
sw-2 cut
thr+1 imp
1
C, 1
0
0
$240
1.5
7
7
[2, 7]
[8]
 

SPEAR (DX-5, Polearm-4, or Staff-2)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
Javelinthr+1 imp10$3026[1]
Heavy Javelinthr+2 imp10$3538
Light Spear
two hands
thr+2 imp
thr+3 imp
1*
1, 2*
0
0
$35
3
9
8†
[3]
Spear
two hands
thr+2 imp
thr+3 imp
1*
1, 2*
0
0
$40
4
10
9†
[1]
 

STAFF (DX-5, Polearm-4, or Spear-2)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
6′ Polesw+1 cr1, 2+2$537†[3]
orthr+1 cr1, 2+27†
10′ Polesw+2 cr2, 3+2$8510†[3]
orthr+2 cr2, 3+210†
 

TWO-HANDED AXE/MACE (DX-5, Axe/Mace-3, Polearm-4, or Two-Handed Flail-4)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
Combat Shovel
or
sw+2 cut
sw+2 cr
1
1
0U
0U
$100
5
10†
10†
[1, 13]
Long Combat Shovel
or
or
sw+3 cut
sw+3 cr
thr+3 cut
1, 2*
1, 2*
1, 2*
0U
0U
0U
$110

7

11‡
11‡
10†
[13]

Light Maulsw+4 cr1, 2*0U$70912‡
 

TWO-HANDED SWORD (DX-5 or Broadsword-4)

WeaponDamageReachParryCostWeightSTNotes
6′ Pole
or
sw+1 cr
thr cr
1, 2
2
0
0
$5
3
8†
8†
[3]
[3]
 

Ranged Weapons Table

CROSSBOW (DX-4 )

WeaponDamageAccRangeWgtShotsCostSTBulkNotes
Pocket Crossbowthr+1 imp1x10/x153/0.6T(4)$1506-3[4]
Pistol Crossbowthr+2 imp1x15/x204/0.61(4)$1507-4[1, 4]
Light Crossbowthr+3 imp3x15/x255/0.61(4)$1506†-5
Crossbowthr+4 imp4x20/x256/0.61(4)$1507†-6[1]
 

THROWN WEAPON (AXE/MACE) (DX-4)

WeaponDamageAccRangeWgtShotsCostSTBulkNotes
Atlatl11(1)$20[4]
Boltsw-4 imp1x1.5/x30.06$25-3
Arrowsw-3 imp1x1.5/x30.1$25-3
Light Throwing Dartsw-2 imp1x1.5/x30.5$155-3
Throwing Dartsw-1 imp1x3/x41$205-3[1]
Heavy Throwing Dartsw imp1x2.5/x3.51.5$256-3
Javelinsw+1 imp3x2/x32$306-4[1]
Heavy Javelinsw+2 imp2x1.5/x2.53$358-5
Light Spearsw+2 imp2x1.5/x2.53$358-5[5]
Woomera41(1)$40-6[4]
Heavy Javelinsw+2 imp2x1.5/x2.53$358-5[5]
Light Spearsw+2 imp2x1.5/x2.53$358-5[5]
Spearsw+3 imp2x1.5/x24$409-6[1]
 

THROWN WEAPON (AXE/MACE) (DX-4)

WeaponDamageAccRangeWgtShotsCostSTBulkNotes
Light Throwing Picksw imp1x1.5/x2.52T(1)$758-2[8, 11, 12]
Throwing Picksw+1 imp1x1/x1.53T(1)$8010-3[8, 11, 12]
Heavy Throwing Picksw+2 imp1x1/x1.54T(1)$8511-3[8, 11, 12]
 

THROWN WEAPON (DART) (DX-4 or Throwing-2)

WeaponDamageAccRangeWgtShotsCostSTBulkNotes
Boltthr-3 imp1x1/x1.50.06T(1)$25-2
Arrowthr-3 imp1x1/x1.50.1T(1)$25-3
Light Throwing Dartthr-1 imp 1x1/x20.5T(1)$155-1
Throwing Dartthr imp1x2.5/x3.51T(1)$206-2[1]
Heavy Throwing Dartthr+1 imp1x2/x31.5T(1)$256-3
 

THROWN WEAPON (HARPOON) (DX-4 or Thrown Weapon (Spear)-2)

WeaponDamageAccRangeWgtShotsCostSTBulkNotes
Light Harpoonthr+4 imp2x1/x1.55T(1)$5510-5[6]
  

THROWN WEAPON (SPEAR) (DX-4, Spear Thrower-4, or Thrown Weapon (Harpoon)-2)

WeaponDamageAccRangeWgtShotsCostSTBulkNotes
Heavy Javelinthr+2 imp2x1/x23T(1)$358-5
Light Spearthr+2 imp2x1/x23T(1)$358-5
  

THROWN WEAPON (STICK)

WeaponDamageAccRangeWgtShotsCostSTBulkNotes
Boomerangsw cr2x6/x101T(1)$206-2[1]
Throwing sticksw-1 cr1x4/x81T(1)$106-2[1]
Baton or short staffsw-1 cr0x2/x41T(1)$206-2
Unshaped sticksw-1 cr0x1/x21T(1)$06-2[10]
  

Weapon notes

[1] Stats are for an existing published weapon, repeated here for ease of comparison.

[2] The medium katar includes a closed metal hilt that protects the hand with DR 4 (and can be worn with gloves for added DR, but cannot be worn with metal gauntlets). The boarding cutlass can add this feature as a closed basket hilt for an additional $80 and 0.25 lbs., or as an open basket hilt for an additional $80 and no added weight; the open basket hilt’s DR protects the hand on 1-3 on d6. Either basket hilt adds +1 to punch damage. See Low-Tech Companion 2 p. 15.

[3] The weapon is cheaply built, light for its length, or otherwise less robust than more martial counterparts. Modify the odds of breakage when parrying a very heavy weapon by +1.

[4] Requires two hands to ready, but only one hand to attack. (See further house-rule notes above for spear throwers and crossbows.)

[5] The projectile can be used with either the atlatl or the woomera. See weapon notes above.

[6] Tethered. See rules on Basic Set p. 411 or DFRPG Exploits p. 44.

[7] Use Boxing, Brawling, or Karate parry if better than weapon parry.

[8] Specifically designed to target chinks in armor. Reduce the penalty for this by -2.

[9] Attempts to parry flails are at -4; knives and fencing weapons (“F” parry) can’t parry at all! Attempts to block such weapons are at -2.

[10] Clumsy. Use at -1 to skill.

[11] Dedicated throwing picks that lack proper handles cost $10 less, but give -2 to skill as melee weapons (and thus -1 to Parry).

[12] May get stuck; see Picks (p. B405).

[13] The combat shovel and long combat shovel are fully functional as a digging shovels. Halve digging speed for the short combat shovel. Halve digging speed for the long combat shovel used in tight quarters or by a SM-1 or smaller digger.

Other thoughts

A smaller katana?

DFRPG offers a katana with 2-hex Reach, but not a shorter model with 1-hex Reach. I thought I’d invent one to add to this page, and decided that I’d start with cavalry saber stats but distinguish the weapons by giving the katana a longer hilt that enables two-handed use and adds about, oh, $50 to the cost.

Turns out I don’t need to do that: there’s a later-period katana in Low-Tech that beat me to it. This late katana has the same stats as the cavalry saber, with the difference being the option of two-handed use (+1 sw damage and -1 ST) and an extra cost of $50. Just what I had in mind!

So I have no added katana here; if you want that shorter model for DFRPG, just pick up Low-Tech (and get dozens more new weapons to go with it).

(See further notes below on whether the katana is overall a good weapon in the game.)

Just how do slings work, anyway?

DFRPG and GURPS Low-Tech offer three shared sling weapons: the basic one-handed sling that fires small stones/bullets, the two-handed staff sling that fires small stones/bullets, and the two-handed heavy sling that fires large (1-lb.) rocks.

DFRPG left me with one initial question: Is the heavy sling also meant for hurling potions and acids and flaming cocktails? I was under the belief that Low-Tech gives an explicit thumbs-up to hurling grenades with a heavy sling, so I happily adopted that for DFRPG, using the heavy sling’s stats for 1-lb. grenades and rocks alike. (The only change I added: a bottle or vial that breaks on its target inflicts only half damage for the impact, though its icky contents of course have full effect.) I further thought that Low-Tech allowed a regular sling to hurl grenades (and presumably 1-lb. rocks), though at Acc 0 and 40% range.

But a re-read of Low-Tech shows I was confusing things. What the text (p. 74) actually says, after introducing the above three types of sling, is, “Any of these three types of sling can lob stones or lead bullets – or even primitive Molotov cocktails (see Molotov Cocktails and Oil Flasks, p. B411), at Acc 0 and 40% normal range.”

This just leaves me with questions. Regular slings, sling staffs, and heavy slings can all hurl Molotov cocktails (and presumably any grenade) at 40% normal range? Does even the heavy sling suffer that penalty to its already short range? If so, isn’t it much worse than a regular sling at the task? If a regular sling can hurl 1-lb. projectiles, can’t it also hurl 1-lb. rocks? What’s the damage? And if a regular sling can do heavy tossing, what’s the heavy sling even for? Additional questions, for fun: What happens when a heavy sling hurls small stones and bullets? What would be good stats for a heavy staff sling? And then there’s Low-Tech‘s dart sling, which has its own unique (0.25-lb.) projectile size; what would be good stats for a heavy dart sling that can hurl 1-lb. throwing darts or even my 1.5-lb. heavy throwing darts?

And on and on, with questions that nobody else is interested in. Maybe I’ll tackle the complete sling line-up some other day.

A note on sling and prodd ammo

Unshaped rocks and stones aren’t eligible for the Balanced mod. Shaped rocks, lead bullets, and lead pellets apparently can take the Balanced mod – and given their paltry cost, it’s a waste to not take advantage of this upgrade!

The Fine modifier isn’t expressly prohibited for sling and prodd ammo, but it’ll do nothing for them – it adds to cutting and impaling damage only, and its effect on weapon breakage doesn’t matter for ammo.

Finally, a question: DFRPG Adventurers p. 104 lists ammo with these two different names, but identical stats. Are they meant to be the same thing? I don’t know.

Tweaking spear throwers

Examining and playing with spear throwers, the following tweaks come to mind:

Dart? What’s that?

I always assumed that the dart hurled by an atlatl is simply a throwing dart, but I now see that Low-Tech p. 74 emphatically states that it’s not. However, I don’t see stats for distinct atlatl darts (or for some of the many other differentiated projectiles in the book that all go under the name “dart”). Moreover, Low-Tech‘s table entry for “Atlatl w. Dart” appears to use the same cost and weight as the throwing dart. Further backing up my long-time assumption, DFRPG flatly states that these two darts are the same thing. (This direct contradiction of Low-Tech is presumably in the interest of simplifying equipment. I approve.)

So, in the discussion below, and until presented with info on how I’m doing this wrong, I’m assuming that the atlatl’s dart is essentially the same as the throwing dart, and that my light and heavy throwing darts, too, are what they are whether hand-thrown or atlatl-ed. (That said, a GM is free to follow Low-Tech‘s (apparent) lead and declare that, even with identical stats, an atlatl dart and a throwing dart are different and non-interchangeable.)

Spear thrower ST

The ST score that GURPS/DFRPG hands a spear thrower is the ST score of the selected projectile, so I’ve stuck with that rule for my new projectiles. (Exception: the games’ dart + atlatl combo lowers ST by 1; I don’t know why that should be, but I’ve left it unchanged in my tables.)

However, the ST required to use a spear thrower should arguably be higher than the ST required to throw the same projectile by hand, to account for the projectile’s weight and the throwing tool’s weight. If I were to change my tables to reflect this, I’d go with this house rule:

Set spear thrower ST to whatever ST is needed to throw the projectile by hand, then add 1 for the atlatl or 2 for the woomera. (Example: a throwing dart requires ST 6 to throw by hand; that would become ST 7 using an atlatl.) It’s a simple change to make – and a good thing for strong PCs, as the boosted weapon ST statistic allows a higher cap on maximum damage from triple weapon ST.

Spear thrower damage

A GURPS/DFRPG spear thrower changes a thrown javelin or spear’s thr damage into sw damage with no change in damage add, but the lighter dart takes on a -1 damage add when used with a thrower. I’ve followed that example for my arrow, bolt, and heavy throwing dart entries: damage using a spear thrower is that of the thrown projectile, changed to sw, with -1 damage add.

The method is fine in theory, though one oddity crops up: at low ST, hurling a light projectile with a spear thrower may yield no more damage than throwing it by hand. If that bothers you, make this small change: let any spear thrower projectile deliver the listed damage or deliver hand-thrown projectile damage +1, whichever is better.

Spear thrower Bulk

On the DFRPG tables, a javelin or spear thrown with an atlatl or woomera maintains the same Bulk as the hand-thrown projectile, but a throwing dart oddly gets bulkier when thrown with an atlatl (going from -2 to -3). I’ll guess that that’s not an error, and rather that -3 represents the Bulk of the atlatl itself, meaning that’s the best available Bulk for any projectile used.

Which means the woomera would also have a “best Bulk” of… -4? -5? I think I’ll go with -5. (Ack, that just leaves open a temptation to create a heavy atlatl/light woomera, to fill in that “in-between” best Bulk of -4… Better not go there.)

Choosing the right spear thrower

I’ve assumed that the “in-between” size of the heavy javelin and light spear (below) allows their use with both the atlatl and woomera (though with only Acc 2 for either projectile). If you’d like to be more restrictive, reduce Acc to 1 when throwing the heavy javelin with the woomera (it’s a bit small for a woomera), or when throwing the light spear with the atlatl (it’s a bit big for an atlatl).

Similarly, if a user wants to tackle any other throwing job using the wrong thrower (say, the woomera with a throwing dart, or the atlatl with a spear), consider allowing it, but with Acc, range, and possibly damage hosed appropriately.

Notes on crossbows

In creating the light crossbow and pocket crossbow, a number of considerations come up:

Pocket crossbow size

“Pocket” here is just a name; how big a pocket you’d need to hold the weapon is up to you. Going by the rules, a DF/DFRPG pouch can hold one. (Tiny “wrist crossbows” and the like would be fun to invent, though I think we’d need a new, smaller bolt size.)

Crossbow minimum ST

Oddly, GURPS‘ 6-lb. crossbow and 4-lb. pistol crossbow share the same minimum ST 7. (That’s the “firing ST” required to point and fire, not the “rated ST” for cocking, range, and damage purposes.) But it’s not odd if we assume that the pistol crossbow’s ST is set unusually high to account for one-handed use. Running with that idea, I’ve gone and set the 5-lb. light crossbow’s two-handed minimum ST lower than the 4-lb. pistol crossbow’s one-handed minimum ST.

One-handed and two-handed firing

Based on the above assumption about minimum ST, I’ll suggest the following rules for using one-handed crossbows two-handed and vice-versa:

  • Using the pistol crossbow or pocket crossbow two-handed: Multiply “firing ST” by 2/3 (round down) and increase Acc by 1.
  • Using the composite crossbow, light crossbow, or crossbow one-handed: Multiply “firing ST” by 1.5 (round up) and decrease Acc by 1.
    However, it’s reasonable to assume that, even if ST is met, these larger weapons simply aren’t configured for one-handed use. Take -3 TH, or spend an additional $50 to reconfigure the weapons for unimpeded one- or two-handed use. (Yes, this means that, with decent ST and a little extra outlay of cash, you can have a big pistol crossbow!)
Rated ST

Although crossbows’ rated ST (i.e., ST for cocking, range, and damage purposes) can be set freely, upper limits would seem sensible. As a simple solution, limit rated ST to weight x 3. Additional rated ST up to weight x 4 is possible, but at a cost of $50 per +1 additional rated ST. (Perhaps these upper limits should be increased for the composite crossbow?)

Prodds

GURPS‘ basic prodd sets all stats identical to those of the crossbow; the ammunition is the only difference. Following that example, I’ll assume that the composite prodd, light prodd, pistol prodd, and pocket prodd all exist alongside the composite crossbow, light crossbow, pistol crossbow, and pocket crossbow, respectively, with identical costs and other stats.

A prodd’s listed stats assume lead bullets. Could a prodd use the stones of a sling, instead? Sure, I say. Reverse-engineering the rules for slings: Halve range and reduce dam by 1 for a prodd using shaped stones; further add -1 TH for unshaped stones.

Combo prodds/crossbows

Is it possible to design a multi-ammo crossbow that accepts bolts and prodd pellets? Having no idea whether that passes a reality check, I’ll say it’s perfectly possible, at least in a fantasy game. Call it a $100 enhancement.

For crafty PCs, start with an existing weapon and attempt a 30-minute conversion using Armory (Missile Weapons). Failure means try again at a cumulative -1; critical failure means the weapon is broken or that the conversion appears successful but fails in the field.

Weapons that fall short

Weapons in GURPS aren’t built through some “design system” that balances merits and trade-offs to avoid questionable applications of physics (namely, too-kewl weapons that outshine everything else). But as I note in GLAIVE, for a very long weapon list that (I believe) relies on “eyeballing” to keep weapon stats reasonable, the game does a pretty darned good job! There aren’t many entries that feel overly favored or pointlessly inferior.

Still, a handful of questionable weapon entries or weapon skills have hit my eye, or have been pointed out by players. Like these:

Blackjack

This weapon has higher cost, weight, and minimum ST than brass knuckles, but offers nothing better than knucks (or a gauntleted punch, or a rock in hand, or a bunch of better options). I’ll be suggesting something down the road. (See some initial ideas here.)

Baton and short staff

There’s nothing wrong with these weapons except their costs: Why do these short, 1-lb. sticks cost $20 when a long, 4-lb. quarterstaff costs only $10?

I highly recommend swapping the costs of these! A baton or short staff becomes $10 – and a short baton perhaps becomes $5, if you like. The quarterstaff gains a new price of $20, while the long staff presumably increases to $30 – in either case, still a very reasonable cost for a great weapon in GURPS.

Katana

An overpowered example of “ethnic cool”, right? Nope. The weapon in 4e doesn’t involve a special skill or unusual stats of the sort that spurred comments under 3e. Actually, the 4e version is almost underpowered now, what with the poor thrust damage it offers relative to bastard swords and longswords of the same or lighter weight.

I don’t see any harm in boosting thr damage for both longer (early) and shorter (late) katana models by 1 (from thr+1 to thr+2) when used two-handed. That seems a reasonable and fair effect of two-handed use, while still falling a damage point behind the more thrust-specialized bastard sword and longsword in the stabbing competition.

Naginata

Similar to the above, Low-Tech (and DFRPG) make this weapon decidedly uncool, in that it’s identical to the dueling glaive in every stat – save for less flexibility in Reach despite a higher price tag! I think the easiest fix here is simplification: drop naginata stats from the game, and let dueling glaive stats handle the naginata (and its variants noted in Low-Tech).

Saber skill

Saber is your skill if you really want to be a saber fighter, and that’s fine, but be warned that the skill covers only one weapon, in both GURPS and DFRPG. The Rapier skill, by contrast, covers several weapons – including the light edged rapier, identical to the saber in every way except for a negligible bit of extra weight. You don’t have to be much of a munchkin to see Rapier as clearly offering more utility than Saber. (Especially when, if you’re really stuck on the idea of being a saber fighter, you could just go with Rapier and call your light edged rapier a saber.)

Is there an easy fix that would make Saber skill more attractive? I like the idea of cutting Saber’s cross-defaults with Broadsword and Shortsword from -4 to -2 – and maybe even letting Saber use the cavalry saber at only -1 to skill. That makes the skill more versatile. On the other hand, the jump from the saber to the cavalry saber adds a really big +2 to swing damage. Giving Saber skill easy access to the cavalry saber is perhaps too generous.

Hmm, that leap in damage suggests room for a weapon falling between the saber and cavalry saber. So I added the heavy saber (for want of a good name – though I think it makes a fine shashka, or some sort of elvish saber thing), similar to the saber save for changes in sw damage from sw-1 to sw, weight from 2 to 2.5 lbs., ST from 8 to 9, and price from $700 to $850. That yields a heavy saber that’s superior to the saber and the light edged rapier in cutting power, at the expense of greater weight and cost. It’s as powerful a cutter as the (non-light) edged rapier, for a bit less weight and cost – but at the expense of the edged rapier’s great Reach. Meanwhile, the cavalry saber beats any fencing saber or rapier in cutting power, and does so at much lower cost than the saber, heavy saber, or any edged rapier – but it remains a pure Broadsword weapon, with no 0F Parry. In short, the heavy saber seems nicely balanced with respect to its significant competitors.

I think a lot of PCs will prefer the edged rapier as the most powerful fencing weapon, but the heavy saber gives fans of Saber skill a little extra something to work with.

Two-Handed Axe/Mace skill

This skill offers a decent selection of weapons, but most bear the feared “requires Ready after swing” limitation. (“Feared”? For most players, it’s a flat-out “nope”.) The alternative, Polearm, offers two-hex weapons that are just as good but much faster (as well as polearms that are annoyingly slow but make up for it by being amazingly long). And check this out: Two-Handed Axe/Mace’s combat shovel, while thankfully free from the unpopular Ready requirement and doubling as a cool tool for yardwork, is shorter and lighter than Polearm’s dueling glaive, yet requires significantly more cash and ST.

Two-Handed Axe/Mace just doesn’t have much going for it. I don’t have a simple remedy. A fix would involve a deeper rethinking of weapon ST and speed (i.e., a reworking of that Ready requirement), and that’s a tall order.

Future updates

I’ll likely add to these tables in future (perhaps with wholly new inventions, too, not just “filling in the gaps” entries). The stats above are also subject to change as I further tinker and test and turn up mistakes.

See any problems in the above? Or do you have some suggestions of your own for new weapons? Weigh in below!


Version history: See Games Diner Site Updates.

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