Monday, November 3, 2008

A Weapons List From Scratch (or not?)

Assume you're building a RPG from scratch. It's a generic fantasy / historical RPG that should be able to handle melee and mechanical/muscle weapons from Ancient Egypt to, say, just before the beginning of the true Gunpowder era (so exlude arquebuses, cannon, etc.). The list should be culture-generic and the weapons should be themselves as generic as possible.

So my question is, what would your weapons list look like, if you were trying to cover such a time period, be culturally generic, and yet, at the same time, you're trying to have SOME degree of detail (so it's not just "small, medium, and large weapons"). How big would your list be? A dozen weapons? Two dozen? Half a dozen?

Off the top of my head...

- Knife ^
- Short Sword
- Long Sword
- Great Sword
- Hand Axe
- Battle Axe
- Club
- Mace
- Warhammer
- Flail ^
- Spear
- Javelin
- Staff ^
- Lance
- Polearm ^
- Pike ^
- Short Bow
- Long Bow
- Crossbow
- Sling

To a greater or lesser degree, what you get is the "Classic D&D weapons list" (or at least something pretty close to the list) that I remember from the Big Black Box that was my introduction to RPGs, and specifically, D&D.

If you ask me, the vast, VAST majority of weapons fall into this list in one fashion or another. Sure, you can expand this here or there (polearms, anyone?) or vie for "bigger/smaller" versions of some of these (warhammer vs. maul, mace vs. morning star, etc.), but by and large, I think it's pretty good.

So, what're your thoughts? Are there weapons missing from the above list that you consider "must haves"? Any other alterations you'd want to see?

Update: I've just gone in and did a little editing. I added Flail and Pike, and changed a few of the names a little (all new/edited entries have a ^ in front of them). This brings our list to 20 weapons. How's it look?

7 comments:

PatrickWR said...

If pressed, I'd suggest adding the "trip" weapons: net, whip, maybe flail. I dunno -- you make a strong case for the classic D&D weapons. There's not much else out there.

Badelaire said...

Not a bad idea, but such weapons require additional rules within the framework of the game to make them valid choices. Not that such isn't a possibility, but it is something to think about - if you include whips and nets, you'll have to include rules for ensnaring and entangling foes in combat.

Jeff Rients said...

How often do nets and whips get used in actually combat? Whips weren't weapons, they were tools for beating slaves and mules. Did anyone besides gladiators use nets?

I'd consider adding a long spear/pike type weapon that's great in tight formations but a pain in the ass in typical melees.

And maybe the blowgun.

Badelaire said...

You could probably bundle a "Pike" in with the "Lance". Both are exceptionally long spears that only really work under certain specific battlefield conditions.

As for the Blowgun...if you're ignoring whips and nets, you might as well ignore the blowgun. For a blowgun to be a real weapon, capable of actually taking down an opponent, you'll need rules for poisons, which probably means rules for creating poisons, etc. etc..

Again, like the whip and net, it's doable, but you're again moving into the realm of weapons that need expanded rules in order to be viable.

Darkwing said...

I think I'd just do some renaming to emphasize the generic-ness of it:
Knife instead of dagger
Polearm instead of Halberd
Staff instead of Quarterstaff

For the Mace/Hammer, I would almost split it differently--Mace/blunt hammer for one type, and spike/pick/mattock for the other type.

I would also almost be tempted into combining Short and Long bows into just "Bow", with bonuses for different power ranges.

I might include a flail/morning star type weapon too.

Zachary The First said...

Sap? But then you might be looking at subdual rules...

Morningstar jumped out, but that's just a personal favorite, I think. :)

Badelaire said...

Update: I've just gone in and did a little editing. I added Flail and Pike, and changed a few of the names a little (all new/edited entries have a ^ in front of them). This brings our list to 20 weapons. How's it look?