Derived weapons

Following these system guidelines, here is a set of balanced, predefined weapons.

2DTH stands for “two dice, take highest” and 2DTL stands for “two dice, take lowest.” 3DTH is “three dice, take highest” and so forth.

One-handed melee

  • Axe (2DTL, sundering)
  • Dagger (2DTL, close)
  • Flail (2DTH, dangerous)
  • Javelin (2DTL, throwable)
  • Mace (2DTL, armor-piercing)
  • Spear (2DTL, reach)
  • Sword, arming
  • Throwing knife (2DTL, throwable)
  • Tomahawk (2DTL, throwable)
  • War hammer (2DTL, armor-piercing)

Two-handed melee

  • Chain scythe (2DTH, reach, dangerous)
  • Halberd (2DTH, long-hafted, sundering)
  • Maul (4DTH, heavy, crude)
  • Pike (3DTH, long-hafted)
  • Pole-flail (3DTH, dangerous)
  • Sword, claymore (reach)
  • Sword, two-handed (2DTH)
  • Sword, zweihander (3DTH, heavy)

One-handed ranged

  • Crossbow, hand (2DTL)
  • Sling (slow)

Two-handed ranged

  • Bow, short
  • Bow, long (2DTH, immobile)
  • Crossbow, light (2DTL, armor-piercing)
  • Crossbow, heavy (armor-piercing, slow)

The way this works out, the arming sword, two-handed sword, and short bow end up each being the default weapon (the mechanical result of not applying any benefit or flaw) within a larger category, which feels right to me. I am pretty happy with all of these except the long bow. I thought about “heavy,” but that does not quite seem to be an appropriate flaw to balance the higher damage. Something where the long bow could only be used with sufficient area to allow the proper stance would be best, so I invented “immobile,” which means that the wielder cannot both move and take a shot in the same round. It may still be possible to improve on that, however. The limited number of properties, especially per given weapon, seems far more approachable that my previous effort, while also prioritizing fictional logic.

You may note that there are a few different weapons listed that are still mechanically identical (such as javelins, tomahawks, and throwing knives). I do not necessarily see that as a problem, as they may have different tool uses outside of combat as well. I also added a few somewhat absurd items to the list (chain scythe!) because they are fun, and to show how the blending of properties can make stranger weapons both viable and different beyond just literal re-skinning, which I often find unsatisfying as a player.

Dark Souls zweihander (personal photo)

Dark Souls zweihander (personal photo)

5 thoughts on “Derived weapons

  1. Confanity

    How about a penalty tag like “bulky” (or “wide movements” or whatever you want to call it) – that expresses the need for a lot of space to use the weapon appropriately? A longbow can be six feet long, after all. The tag could also be used to distinguish between Zweihänder or halberds (being swung) and long spears, which need essentially no space in the Y and Z planes to use, if you see what I mean..

    1. Brendan Post author


      Yeah, that might work, though I would worry that it might not end up having much effect on a game with abstract positioning. I’d want some clear enumerated downside so that the flaw is salient. Maybe, requires the equivalent of a 10′ square to use without penalty or disadvantage? Crowding is just really hard to represent in a way that matters mechanically when exact locations are not being tracked.

      1. Ynas Midgard

        I had thought about implementing certain environment tags to define the space where combat takes place in an abstract but mechanically meaningful way. My problem was coming up with a set of tags that were different enough both fictionally and mechanically and simple to handle at the same time.

        Another hurdle I envision is the constant need to attach relevant tags to every environ, so that it matters. You either need to make such close quarters quite frequent or amplify the penalties involved in order to balance such environment dependent flaws with more generic ones.

      2. Confanity

        I don’t know that game-board-style positioning has to be that a factor. Low ceilings (cave or otherwise), bridges and corridors, etc. will all be effected, and for that matter you can simply say that someone using a “bulky” weapon can’t be part of a party formation – if you’re waving a four-foot claymore, or whatever, then you can’t have anyone guarding your flanks and you can’t have someone standing behind you in a “second rank” with a pike. Longbowmen would have to be “back” from the fighting, meaning anything circumventing or penetrating the main skirmish line would have an unimpeded shot at them.

  2. Mateo

    It might be interesting to represent magic items as weapons with a flaw removed or an idiosyncratic benefit (like dagger with reach).


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