Monday, March 14, 2011

Melee Weapons

Here's a chart of melee weapons along with their stats and characteristics.

And the definitions of each trait:
Armor Penetration. Whether through precision, penetrating power, or blunt force trauma, this weapon grants a +1 to hit foes in medium armor and +2 against heavy armor.
Catches Riders. When used to dismount a rider, automatically succeeds on a successful to-hit (defender may not choose to take damage instead).
Defensive. Grants user a 1 point improvement on Armor Class.
Ignores Shields. This weapon strikes over or around shields, negating their defensive benefits.
Light. Balanced for throwing and may be dual wielded in the off hand.
Long. Ill-suited for melee combat; this weapon may only strike in the first round of a melee. Does not apply when wielding from back ranks.
Pike. Grants +2 on morale checks when resolving charges.
Reach. Reach, followed by a number, is the rank that a weapon may hit from.
Two Handed. Despite being 3' in size, this weapon requires 2 hands to be wielded effectively.
So these weapons cover a lot of ground with many different combinations of size, damage, and traits. One aspect that isn't apparent here is cost and quality. The weapons that are derived from agricultural tools (scythe, pitchfork, pick, and machete) are clearly inferior weapon choices when it comes to comparable weapons' damage, size, and traits. However, being weapons adapted from tools, they are significantly cheaper and only come in lower quality. They represent peasant weapons and are a cheap way to arm fodder and hirelings.

Every weapon should fill a niche. No one weapon is ideal in all situations and they each have strengths and weaknesses. Whereas a great sword has the best damage output, a poleaxe or halberd would be better suited for a mounted, armored opponent.

If anyone spots a weapon that is clearly superior in multiple/all situations, let me know so I can tweak the numbers. If anyone wants to discuss how some weapons are unique, please feel free to chime in. This weapon list is still living and I might decide to add some more exotic weapons from outside mainstream European use. Plus, I also want to tackle thrown weapons and ranged weapons and give them a similar treatment. And I have a few ideas for shield use as well, none of which are original.

EDIT: Pursuant to the comments below and further thought, battle axes inflict 1d10 damage and short spears are not considered Light weapons. Short spears may be thrown but can not be dual wielded.


  1. Anthony, I just wanted to let you know I'll be giving close consideration to using your weapons rules in my game, so thanks for posting them.

  2. Thanks for the attaboy, please let me know your thoughts as they pertain to this presentation of weapons.

  3. Longsword beats battleaxe, but I guess you do have to justify the greater cost.

    See my thoughts on the issue here. I take it size = frontage?

  4. Yes, swords do beat axes, and yes, axes are significantly cheaper; I want then to be the cheap version of a high damage weapon. Besides swords, they only offer a 1 point advantage on average damage over other options, so I might increase them to 1d10. That way, swords still do better average damage when 2 handed (average 5,6, or 7) while axes still average 5 but top off at 10.

    Thanks for the catch.

    Yes, size does equal frontage.

    I read some of your earlier posts on weapons and I will have to go through some more of your recent ones it seems.

  5. Thanks - I think I should tell you that some of the rules from those posts have kind of been easy to forget in actual play, or maybe none of my players are super-strategic weapons jockeys. Anyway, we've found the spear = back rank & first strike on round 1 easy to implement, staff as nonlethal and +2 AC is easy to remember, and I had one NPC choking up on a sword in close combat, but the armor piercing rules kind of fell by the wayside.

  6. Thanks, I will keep that in mind.