Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
Swords and other archaic weapons;
Once upon a time, it meant more to have a weapon than just being a collector, or going to war with another person with a stick. Once upon a time, only the noble could hold the most effective of weapons made by the hands of great artisans, and these artisans were sometimes seen as witches and wizards of great might, or enigmatic and magical men venerated by even the king if their skill was touched by Lord Almighty.
Though those days have fled into the past, their traditions live on in the hands of people trying to re-create and preserve the past in a very practical way. Weapons of death once banged out of lukewarm metal are now made by the terror that is modern man. Smarter arms swinging the hammer coupled with modern machining, pure materials, and hundreds of years of passed on techniques make truly terrible weapons a knight would have killed to possess. Despite the brutal fashion brought on by melee weapons in the modern age, many places in the world outside of the United States do still rely on folded steel to make up for scarce supplies, from Arabian extremists carrying out executions, to the Japanese crime worlds fondness for their nations traditional weapons in a country it’s difficult to acquire firearms in.
Swords are the single largest symbol of military history and tradition on the planet. So much so they are still honored in most military forces in the world, part of parade and honor guard regalia despite their lack of use. They’re also the most populous of the archaic weapons currently in existence. Because of the evolution of the swords stemmed from Daggers they remained widely simple to produce. The popularity of the weapon sparked when the reputed ‘First Sword’, the Roman Spartha, proved it was a supremely effective weapon.
Though variants of the sword still come into use in the Olympic sport of fencing, it is still a sharp piece of ornate steel, some just as large as rifles (or even bigger). Carrying a sword in the modern age – at least in the open – is a recipe for disaster. Using them as tools of strife as well creates very obvious evidence behind of what was used, though thrusting swords usually have more leeway in this regard. When the choice is made to commit to an archaic form of self defense however, a sword is a fine weapon.
Logic is like the sword – those who appeal to it, shall perish by it.
― Samuel Butler
The backsword is a type of European sword characterized by having a straight single-edged blade and a hilt with a single-handed grip. It is so called because the triangular cross section gives a flat back edge opposite the cutting edge. Later examples often have a “false edge” on the back near the tip, which was in many cases sharpened to make an actual edge and facilitate thrusting attacks. From around the early 14th century the backsword became the first type of European sword to be fitted with a knuckle guard. Being easier and cheaper to make than double-edged swords, backswords became the favored sidearm of common infantry, including irregulars such as the Highland Scots, which in Scottish Gaelic were called the claidheamh cuil (back sword), after one of several terms for the distinct types of weapons they used. Backswords were often the secondary weapons of European cavalrymen beginning in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Despite history portraying this as a budget blade, well made ones are brutally effective.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability ••)[Tags; – ][Effect; – ]
The two-handed claymore was a large sword used in the late Medieval and early modern period Scotland. It was used in the constant clan warfare and border fights with the English from circa 1400 to 1700. Although Claymores existed as far back as the Wars of Scottish Independence they were smaller and few had the typical quatrefoil design (as can be seen on the Great Seal of John Balliol King of Scots). The last known battle in which it is considered to have been used in a significant number was the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. It was somewhat longer than other two-handed swords of the era. The average claymore ran about 140 cm (55 in) in overall length, with a 33 cm (13 in) grip, 107 cm (42 in) blade, and a weight of approximately 5.5 lb (2.5 kg). The claymore remains a staple of even the layman’s knowledge of old weaponry, and remains a symbol in it’s country of origin. Sharp, huge, a masterpiece of the medieval world.
(Damage 4. Strength 4. Size 3. Availability ••••)[Tags; 9-Again. Two-Handed.][Effect; – ]
The rapier was first developed in the 1500s as the Spanish espada ropera, or “dress sword”. The espada was a cut-and-thrust civilian weapon for self-defense and the duel. The rapier became extremely fashionable throughout Europe with the wealthier classes, but was not without its detractors. George Silver disapproved of its technical potential and the dueling use to which it was put. As military cutting and thrusting swords continued to evolve to meet needs on the battlefield, so did the rapier continue to evolve to meet the needs of civilian combat and decorum, eventually becoming lighter, shorter and less cumbersome to wear. Noticeably, there were some “war rapiers” that feature a relatively wide blade mounted on a typical rapier hilt during this era. These hybrid swords were used in the military or even in battlefield. A Gustav II Adolf’s carried sword that was used in the Thirty Years’ War is a typical example of “war rapier”. Fast, sharp, and with great piercing potential in the right hands, many laugh at the rapier until having to deal with it.
(Damage 1. Strength 1. Size 2. Availability ••)[Tags; Piercing 1.][Effect; – ]
The scimitar is a backsword or sabre with a curved blade, originating in the Middle East. One of the most iconic weapons of human history, this weapon is seen though more than a few of the conflicts through the middle-east through history. From the Crusades, to the legendary Siege of Szigetvár. The curved sword or “scimitar” was widespread throughout the Middle East from at least the Ottoman period. The earliest known use of scimitars is from the 9th century, when it was used among Turkic and Tungusic soldiers in Central Asia. Truthfully, there are countless iterations of the Scimitar, what comes to most minds is the cartoonish sword shown in Arab hands in film and animation. In reality, this is an invention of Hollywood, based loosely on the Kilij, seen and perpetuated by Europeans after witnessing their use during the crusades. Even coat of arms and flag depictions of ‘Scimitar’ do not line up. That being said, this stereotype gave birth to wider and wider scimitar, until the stereotype gave birth to a weapon all its own.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability ••)[Tags; – ][Effect; – ]
The kilij is a type of one-handed, single edged and moderately curved saber used by the Turks and related cultures through history, though most popular by the Ottoman empire. These strange swords were made of pattern welded high carbon crucible steel, generally with long slightly curved blades with one sharp edge. A sharp back edge on the distal third of the blade known as “yalman” was introduced in later eras. In many texts, the Kilij is often cited as the Persians and Arab’s first introduction to curved blades. During İslamizaton of the Turks, the kilij became more and more popular in the İslamic armies. After the invasion of Anatolia this sword type was carried by Turkomen tribes to the future seat of the Ottoman Empire. During the Crusades, Turks of Anatolia were the first target to be attacked by the European armies, and their curved swords were misperceived by Europeans as the imaginative “scimitar of the Saracens”, the generic sword type for all “Orientals”. [*Warning; This is not a blade to be worn or presented near Kindred elders, as it was blade used again the Ottoman empire by the infamous ‘vampire’ Vlad the Impaler. Offense may be taken.]
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability •••)[Tags; 9-Again.][Effect; – ]
The sabre is a type of backsword with a curved blade, associated with the light cavalry of the Early Modern and Napoleonic periods. Originally associated with Central-Eastern European cavalry such as the Hussars, the sabre became widespread in Western Europe in the Thirty Years’ War, notably via the Croat light cavalry. In the 19th century, models with less curving blades became common and were also used by heavy cavalry. The sabre is a weapon in a strange place in the sense that it had one thousand and one variations, from the Mameluke sword to the Swiss saber, all in different variations based on hilt makeup, blade length and width, but mostly the region it was created in.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability ••)[Tags; – ][Effect; +1 Damage from position of height.]
Most “Mameluke sabres” were manufactured in Europe or America; their hilts were very similar in form to the Ottoman prototype, but their blades tended to be longer, narrower and less curved than those of the true kilij, while being wider and also less curved than the Persian shamshir. When looking at this blade, most are very bright and ornate, with inlays in the ricasso of the blade, inset jewels, handles very often made of ivory, and sometimes even gold chains or inlays along the handles. In short, the hilt retained its original shape and the blade tended to resemble the blade-form typical of contemporary Western military sabres. The Mameluke sword remains the ceremonial side arm for some units to this day.
(Damage 1. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability •••)[Tags; Fragile.][Effect; +1 to certain Presence rolls.]
The Swiss sabre is a type of backsword or early sabre design that was popular in early modern Switzerland. Swiss sabres have single-edged, very slightly curved blades which in the mid 16th century were set in regular sword hilts, including the variety of designs found in the region, with recurved quillions and/or rings and knuckle guards. By the late 16th century, specialized hilt forms begin to emerge, often with pommels shaped as a lion’s head, or plated with silver. Many include well-made if not ornate knuckle guards, in flourishing wire designs those seen on rapiers of the age. Some, mostly the larger hand and a half variants, instead had what was known as a side ring, or side nail. These were simply bits of steel made to stop sliding blades, while keeping the hand freer to drop or grab the handle.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability ••)[Tags; – ][Effect; – ]
Szabla Hussar Saber:
Probably the most iconic sabre outside of the USA, the Szabla is a weapon used by the Polish Hussars, and for good reason in both regards. The heavier, almost fully closed hilt offered both good protection of the hand and much better control over the sabre. Two feather-shaped pieces of metal on both sides of the blade called mustache offered greater durability of the weapon by strengthening its weakest point: the joint between the blade and the hilt. The soldier fighting with such a sabre could use it with his thumb extended along the back-strap of the grip for even greater control when ‘fencing’ A typical hussar Szabla was relatively long, with the average blade of 85 centimetres (33 in) in total. The tip of the blade, usually some 15 to 18 centimetres long, was in most cases double-edged. Such sabres were extremely durable yet stable, and were used in combat well into the 19th century, and remains a great trophy weapon of many Polish families who can claim Hussars in their bloodline.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; 9-again ][Effect; +1 Damage from position of height.]
The katana is generally defined as the standard sized, moderately curved Japanese sword with a blade length greater than 60 cm ( 23 1⁄2 inches). It is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, slender, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands. It has historically been associated with the samurai of feudal Japan. Western historians have said that katana were among the finest cutting weapons in world military history, a perfected theft and bastardization of the Chinese Dao. Despite much modern argument, there is no arguing with the cutting power and technique of the Katana, but it’s important to follow rule number one; a tool for every job. Katana are shorter and heavier than most swords, their guards are virtually non-existent, and they must be meticulously maintained due to their ‘hotdog in a bun’ forging style, of forging hard steel with an edge around a softer steel center. Despite it’s fatal flaws, a specialist with this weapon is incredibly effective, with many marital forms dedicated to this blade.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; – ][Effect; Durable.]
A typical ‘Egyptian khopesh’ is 50–60 cm (20–24 inches) in length. The blade is only sharpened on the outside portion of the curved end, while the blunted edge of the weapon’s tip also served as an effective bludgeon, as well as a hook. These weapons changed from bronze to iron in the New Kingdom period. The earliest known depiction of a khopesh is from the Stele of Vultures, depicting King Eannatum of Lagash wielding the weapon; this would date the khopesh to at least 2500 BC. The khopesh evolved from the epsilon or similar crescent shaped axes that were used in warfare. Note, however, that the khopesh is not an axe. The khopesh went out of use around 1300 BC, but in the 196 BC Rosetta Stone it is referenced as the “sword” determinant in a hieroglyphic block. Various pharaohs are depicted with a khopesh, and some have been found in royal graves, such as the two examples found with Tutankhamun. Despite it’s long resume, however, the khopesh died for a reason, as exotic as it is many swords have outclassed it since.
(Damage 1. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability •••)[Tags; Grapple.][Effect; – ]
A longsword is a type of European sword characterized as having a cruciform hilt with a grip for two-handed use 6 to 11 inches and a straight double-edged blade of around 33 to 43 inches, the “longsword” type exists in a morphological continuum with the medieval knightly sword and the Renaissance-era Zweihänder. It was prevalent during the late medieval and Renaissance periods (approximately 1350 to 1550), with early and late use reaching into the 13th and 17th centuries. Despite being such an iconic sword, like the scimitar and sabre, there are many different forms of the sword made so famous by tales of the valor of knights. Unfortunately The real ‘qualifiers’ for long swords are the size, handed-ness, and the straightness of a sword, such as that an arming sword is just barely too small and a Claymore or Zweihander is too large.
(Damage 3. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; Two-Handed. 9 Again.][Effect; – ]
The sword typical of the European high middle ages was a straight, double-edged weapon with a single-handed cruciform hilt and a blade length of about 28 to 31 inches. The type is frequently depicted in period artwork, and numerous examples have been preserved archaeologically. Practically however, it is said some blades are specialized, and some are the ‘trunks of the tree’, in that those specializations had to come from some general ‘trunk’ of that family tree. This is the arming sword. Starting from the early 9th century ‘Viking sword’, to the height of their popularity in the 10th – 13th centuries, and even somewhat less popularly all the way to the late 15th century as side-arms. Though many of this type used as side-arms were made of the estoc type, made not for slashing but for stabbing. Because of the generality of the blade, many classifications exist, and as such the arming sword has many of the world’s most famous and treasured swords under it’s name and banner.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability ••)[Tags; – ][Effect; – ]
The French estoc or English tuck was a type of sword in use from the 14th to 17th centuries. It is characterized as having a cruciform hilt with a grip for two handed use and a straight, edge-less, but sharply pointed blade of around 36-52 inches in length. Such swords averaged about 4 pounds with no specimen weighing more than 6 pounds, despite the extra steel that would be traditionally shaved off to make and edge staying present. The estoc was a variation of the longsword designed for fighting against mail or plate armor. It was long, straight, and stiff with no cutting edge, just a point. As armor improved, so did the methods of attacking the armor. Cutting weapons were losing their effectiveness, so crushing weapons such as maces and axes were utilized more and more in the battlefield. Thrusting weapons that could split the rings of mail, or find the joints and crevices of plate armor, like the estoc, were also employed. Long tapered swords could also be used as a lance once the lance was splintered. Thus was the estoc developed.
(Damage 1. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; Two-handed. Piercing 2.][Effect; – ]
A messer – German for “knife” – is a term for a class of single-edged sword defined by their knife-like hilt construction. While the various names are often used synonymously, messers are divided into two types. The “Langes messers”, or long knives, one-handed swords used by the Bourgeoisie class for personal self-defense, and were much like falchions. Then there is the Kriegsmesser, or ‘war knife’. They were curved weapons up to 1.5m long, used with one or two hands, and normally wielded by professional warriors of the 14th to 16th century, such as the venerated German mercenary band; The Landsknecht, who defeated 15,000 Swedish with just 1800 soldiers, and even participated in the sacking of Rome. The Kriegmesser is rather large, a cruciform hilt with wooden knife hilt construction true to its name, a sabre-like side guard, usually sloping down the hilt to protect the hand. Despite being a sword created during and after the age of plate armor, this was a historically devastating weapon, a marvel of Germany’s record as great engineers.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; 9 Again.][Effect; – ]
When mankind first rose, the spear was it’s very first weapon, and the axe was it’s very first tool. The hand axe was without a handle, but it was used as both a weapon and a tool, just as the axe has been used as through the ages. Building and defending the cities surrounded in towering trees, like the Scandinavian north, where the axe was more popularity and sustainability as a weapon than the sword. As weapons, the axe is much more easily made than the sword, all that needs forging a head to put on a piece of worked wood (replaced commonly with fiberglass or plastic in the modern age).
Tomahawks, bearded axes, Danes axes, and of course the iconic battle axes, many make the mistake of thinking of swords and axes as weapons side by side. Axes work more like hammers than swords, a weapon always swung where the pointed edge is used as a harsh wedge. Most often not used for cutting a man, but rather to cleave into his armor or break his bones over-top of his protection. As tools, they’re commonly found in storage sheds across the world in one form or another. Always at hand, and always deadly
“We’ll have to get you a sword,” I said. “When funds allow.” Snorri shook his head. “An axe for me. Swords trick you into thinking you can defend. With an axe all you can do is attack. That’s what my father named me. Snorri. It means ‘attack.’” He lifted the axe above his head. “Men think they can defend against me—but when I knock, they open.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Fools
A battle axe is an axe specifically designed for combat. Battle axes were specialized versions of utility axes, which had themselves been used as both tools and weapons since their inception. Many were suitable for use in one hand, where the off hand would employ a shield, while others were larger and were deployed two-handed. Both were specialized in crushing and cleaving enemy armor and shields. Axes designed for warfare ranged in weight from just over 0.5 kg to 3 kg ( 1 to 6 pounds), and in length from just over 30 cm to upwards of 1.5 m (1 to 5 feet), as in the case of the Danish axe or the sparth axe. Cleaving weapons longer than 1.5 m would arguably fall into the category of polearms.
(Damage 3. Strength 3. Size 3. Availability ••)[Tags; 9again.][Effect; – ]
A bearded axe, or Skeggöx refers to various axes, used as a tool and weapon, as early as the 6th century AD. It is most commonly associated with Viking Age Scandinavians. The lower portion of an axe bit is called the “beard” and the cutting edge of the bearded axe extends below the width of the butt to provide a wide cutting surface while keeping the overall weight of the axe low. The hook, or “beard” of the axe would also have been useful in battle, for example to pull weapons out of the defender’s grasp, or to pull down a shield to allow another attacker to strike at the unprotected defender. Used in the off hand to pull at weapons, or in the primary hand with the blade acting as a knuckle guard, this was a hallmark weapon of the viking era.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability •)[Tags; – ][Effect; – ]
The Dane axe is an early type of battle axe, primarily used during the transition between the European Viking Age and early Middle Ages. This long two handed axe is equipped with a wide, thin blade, with pronounced “horns” at both the toe and heel of the bit. Cutting surfaces vary, but is generally between 20 cm and 30 cm (8 and 12 inches).The blade itself was reasonably light and forged very thin, making it superb for cutting. The fatness of the body on top the edge is as thin as 2 mm. Many of these axes were constructed with a reinforced bit, typically of a higher carbon steel to facilitate a harder, sharper edge. Average weight of an axe this size is between 1 kg and 2 kg (2 and 4 pounds). Proportionally, the long axe has more in common with a modern meat cleaver than a wood axe. This complex construction results in a lively and quick weapon with devastating cutting ability.
(Damage 3. Strength 3. Size 4. Availability •••)[Tags; Two Handed, Reach.][Effect; – ]
A tomahawk is a type of single-handed axe from North America, traditionally resembling a hatchet with a straight shaft. The Algonquian Indians in early America created the tomahawk. Before Europeans came to the continent, stones were attached to wooden handles, secured with strips of rawhide. They were used as tools and weapons, often weighted to be throwing weapons as well as hand to hand. When Europeans arrived, they introduced the metal blade to the natives, which improved the effectiveness of the tool. Native Americans created a tomahawk’s poll, the side opposite the blade, which consisted of a hammer, spike or a pipe. These became known as pipe tomahawks, which consisted of a bowl on the poll and a hollowed out shaft. These were created by European and American artisans for trade and diplomatic gifts for the tribes. One side of the axe was used for peace, the other for war
(Damage 1. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability ••)[Tags; Thrown(A).][Effect; – ]
Bec De Corbin:
The bec de corbin is a type of pole weapon or war hammer that was popular in medieval Europe. The name is Old French for “raven’s beak” or “beak of the crow”. Similar to the Lucerne hammer, it consists of a modified hammer’s head and spike mounted atop a pole of varying length. Unlike the Lucerne hammer, the bec de corbin was used primarily with the ‘beak’ or fluke to attack instead of the hammer head. The hammer face balancing the beak was often blunt instead of being sharpened and multi-pronged, and the beak tended to be stouter; better designed for tearing into thinner plate armor, chainmail, or padded jackets. This proved to be deadly effective, and while it was often seen as a weapon to answer the creation of greater and greater armor. While this weapon was often built to look like other weapons of it’s type, it was built in just as many ways to simply be a war pick, a devastating ‘can opener’ of the knightly class.
(Damage 1. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; Piercing 1.][Effect; – ]
While they like to tout it is the sword that was the weapon of the nobility of old, it’s often proven that the dagger was much more the appropriate choice. Like modern times, the dagger was easily concealed, easily made, easily used, and the weapon of choice for dark deeds. Most daggers had short blades with a sharply tapered point, a central spine or fuller, and usually two cutting edges sharpened the full length of the blade, or nearly so. While some daggers were made only for the act of stabbing, and so didn’t have sharpened edges, most daggers also featured a full crossguard to keep the hand from riding forwards onto the sharpened blade edges.
Daggers in antiquity were more often held in the reverse ‘ice-pick’ grip to maximize stabbing power, as they had to often penetrate greater levels of personal armor. This was replaced by the standard grip in modern knife fighting, as the ease of countering the reverse grip made it a liability. As thrusting was greatly emphasized in the styles of fighting, the make of many daggers reflected this. Either by making daggers such as the stiletto with no cutting edge, or like the 12th century sword hilt dagger, have a quillion or guard that not only prevented slipping but used it to reinforce the motion of stabbing.
How do you solve a mystery? How do you write a book? The techniques for starting both are surprisingly similar. Find an intriguing question and, pen and dagger tucked under cloak, search for clues.
― Claire Cameron
A dagger is a knife with a very sharp point designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. Daggers have been used throughout human experience for close combat confrontations, and many cultures have used adorned daggers in ritual and ceremonial contexts. A wide variety of thrusting knives have been described as daggers, including knives that feature only a single cutting edge, such as the European rondel dagger or the Persian pesh-kabz, or, in some instances, no cutting edge at all, such as the stiletto of the Renaissance. However, in the last hundred years or so, in most contexts, a dagger has certain definable characteristics, including: a short blade with a sharply tapered point, a central spine or fuller, and usually two cutting edges sharpened the full length of the blade, or nearly so. Most daggers also feature a full cross-guard to keep the hand from riding forwards onto the sharpened blade edges.Dirks, Rondels, cinquedea, stiletto, almost every dagger fits into this category. White they don’t usually have the length necessary to have an effective cutting surface as slashing weapons, daggers have made their way as one of mankind’s greatest weapons and symbols.
(Damage 1. Strength 1. Size 2. Availability ••)[Tags; Thrown(A).][Effect; – ]
Balisong / Butterfly knife:
While the Philippines aren’t known for the greatest of weapon advancement, they came up with something truly unique in balisong. Better known as the ‘Butterfly knife’, the balisong is a folding pocket knife with two handles counter-rotating around the tang such that, when closed, the blade is concealed within grooves in the handles. Commonly used by Filipino people, especially those in the Tagalog region, it is a self-defense and pocket utility knife. In the hands of a trained expert, the knife blade can be brought to bear quickly using one hand. Flipping a balisong for art or amusement is very common. Unfortunately, for the same reasons as the switchblade, it is moderately restricted, even in urban areas of it’s home country. Despite this, it’s still a popular self defense and collectors weapon worldwide.
(Damage 0. Strength 1. Size 1. Availability •)[Tags; – ][Effect; +1 to Impressive Display.]
The main gauche – literally “left hand” in it’s native French – isn’t really a weapon in itself. It certainly can be, as it’s a dual-edged blade that can be used like any normal knife in combat. That betrays the tool’s original use, however, which is to serve as a parrying tool in fencing. Duelists hold the weapon in the left hand while wielding a rapier or épée in the right. The main gauche has a knuckle-guard that allows the fighter to deflect incoming close-combat attacks. If a character wishes to use the main gauche to help him parry incoming close-combat melee attacks, it grants him a +1 modifier to his Defense. However, this dagger doesn’t offset the –2 penalty from off-hand attacks unless the character has the Ambidextrous Merit.
(Damage 0. Strength 1. Size 2. Availability ••)[Tags; Guard.][Effect; -]
Hammers and Flails;
Hammers are the tools of the working man, but like the axe, they have been adapted and used as weapons since their invention in time immemorial. However, unlike the axe, they fell largely out of favor as weapons for a period, replaced by the sharpened steel of spear heads, daggers, and swords. Even cultures with very few materials such as the Maori, while still having the club much prefer the sharp, strapping sharp pieces of animals to wood such as the shark tooth paddle sword. The hammer resurged almost suddenly in the advent of armor, where slashing and thrusting weapons failed against ring and scale, a hammer simply pulverized what was underneath.
Most hammers and flails were constructed with wooden handles and iron or steel points of impact, often braced by metals along the shaft to prevent excessive breakage with the force of impact. Many hammers used by horsemen were mounted on poles, while those infantry were handed were much shorter, to facilitate the use of shielding. As well, the use of this weapon against heavily armored opponents was viable by the merits of how hard they hit, sometimes knocking those in full plate off their feet where they were vulnerable, and stunning or winding those without that crumple zone of protection.
“I have a hammer! I can put things together! I can knock things apart! I can alter my environment at will and make an incredible din all the while! Ah, it’s great to be male!”
—Bill Watterson, author of Calvin & Hobbes
The flail is a shorter weapon with a round metal striking head attached to a handle by a flexible rope, strap, or chain. Despite being very common in fictional works such as cartoons, films and role-playing games as the “quintessential medieval weapon,” historical information of the flail is scarce. A few doubt they existed at all due to the number of pieces sitting in museums that turned out to be forgeries, as well as the unrealistic way they are depicted in art. The haft is usually shown as approximately 1–4 feet long and the head can be a smooth metal sphere with some variants covered in spikes. Artwork from the 15th century to the early 17th century shows most of these weapons having handles longer than 3 ft and being wielded with two hands, but a few are shown used in a single hand or with a haft too short to be used two-handed. Media having created a weapon that is both unbalanced an ineffective.
(Damage 0. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; Inaccurate.][Effect; – ]
Warhammers are fine and good, even as pole weapons hammers have great potential for damage, but nothing could top the maul in the family of hammers. Akin to the sledgehammer in modern times, mauls were great pieces of lead or iron mounted to braced wooden hafts, sometimes with a sharpened point at the fore end, used to put the weight of the weapon into the stabbing of armored foes. Originally used as simple mallets to drive stakes into the ground, their history as anything but improvised weapons began and perservered in France especially. Parisians seized 3,000 during a rebellion in 1382 , and were even used by noble French men-at-arms and English Tudor archers. Requiring strength of arm to use, they were ironically used the most by unarmored or lightly armored soldiers. Some mauls were created with spikes on either side of the head, while others became splitting mauls, mauls forged with a blunt axe head on side. While these were rare, they did survive to the modern age, as splitting mauls can be bought in many hardware stores.
(Damage 2. Strength 3. Size 3. Availability •)[Tags; Knockdown. Stun. Two-Handed.][Effect; – ]
A mace is a type of club that uses a heavy head on the end of a handle to deliver powerful blows. It typically consists of a strong, heavy, wooden or metal shaft, often reinforced with metal, featuring a head made of stone, copper, bronze, iron, or steel. The head of a military mace can be shaped with flanges or knobs to allow greater penetration of plate armor. The length of maces can vary considerably depending on rather they were used by cavalry or infantrymen, or were made to be two handed. As well, the Morning Star is a variant of the Mace in that it’s essentially the same weapon, but sacrificing some of the weight on the head for several spikes. Both weapons were used more and more as time went on and armor got thicker. The modern age has even seen it’s use in the WWII trench club. The mace holds a place as a human symbol of governance, ceremonial maces holding positions in the courts of many world powers.
(Damage 2. Strength 3. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; Stun. Knockdown.][Effect; – ]
The nunchaku, often “nunchuks”, is a traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon consisting of two sticks connected at one end by a short chain or rope. The two sections of the weapon are commonly made out of wood, while the link is a cord or a metal chain. The nunchaku is most widely used in martial arts such as Okinawan kobudō and karate, and is used as a training weapon, since it allows the development of quicker hand movements and improves posture. Possession of this weapon is illegal in some countries, except for use in professional martial art schools. Allegedly adapted by Okinawan farmers from a non-weapon item, it was not a historically popular weapon because it was ineffective against the most widely used weapons of that time, and few historical techniques for its use still survive. For good reason. While Bruce Lee may have popularized the weapon, it takes great training and strength to turn the nunchaku into anything but a weapon used in showy displays.
(Damage 0. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability ••)[Tags; Stun.][Effect; -1 Damage if Dex =/= 3+.]
The chain whip is a weapon used in some Chinese martial arts. It consists of several metal rods, which are joined end-to-end by rings to form a flexible chain. Generally, the whip has a handle at one end and a metal dart, used for slashing or piercing an opponent, at the other. Cloth flags are often attached at or near the dart and handle ends, producing a rushing sound as the whip swings through the air. They also help stabilize the whip, enhancing the user’s control. This reduces the risk of the user inadvertently striking themselves. The rushing noise also helps the user with identifying the location of the other end, since the weapon moves too fast to be normally noticed by human eyes. The chain whip is heavy but flexible, allowing it to be literally used as a whip to hit, hook and bind an opponent, restrict his/her movement, and to deflect blows from other weapons. In some cases, the dart might be coated with a poison. The whip chain can be folded and hidden from view, making it an easy weapon to carry and conceal.
(Damage 1. Strength 2. Size 2. Availability ••)[Tags; Stun. Grapple.][Effect; -2 Damage if Dex =/= 3+.]
Polearms are traditionally weapons affixed to poles, from spears to halberds, cheap to make and incredibly easy to use. Spears themselves are reputed as the first objects created solely as weapons, where-as hand axes used by Neanderthals were used as tools as well. Spears began as thick sticks fashioned to a point with their points hardened over a fire, and were just as often thrown as used in on or two hands. These weapons evolved over time to fasten harder and sharper objects to the end, eventually so that the heads could even slash as well as thrust, all the way to the Svardstaf, a literal sword mounted to a short staff. Meanwhile an iconic weapon shared both by the west and east in ancient times, the hardened wood staff (Or ‘Bo’ in the east), remained to show mankind just how devastating the concept of the lever was.
Cheaply made, these were the weapons of the peasantry, often converted from tools, and requiring little to no training to use effectively. Longer poles even formed anti-cavalry measures in the Pike. These weapons however have not done well transitioning into modern times, overtaken by the bayonette at their advent. Spears now are used primarily as specialty hunting tools, by certain ceremonial guard, and as collectors items despite considerably lower flash than swords. They do, however, remain as deadly as they have ever been. Mankind will never forget the weapon that carried them out of caves.
And as I looked up, I was gazing on a hill, and in my spine I felt an icy, icy chill. And as I looked upon him, my heart was filled with fear. I was looking at a man sporting a funny crown, three nails, and a spear.
— Nate Rammer
Used in virtually every conflict up until the modern era, where even then it continues on in the form of the bayonet, the spear is probably the most commonly used weapon in history. The spear consists of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with fire hardened spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint, obsidian, iron, steel or bronze. The most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearhead shaped like a triangle, lozenge, or leaf. The heads of fishing spears usually feature barbs or serrated edges. Spears can be divided into two broad categories: those designed for thrusting in melee combat and those designed for throwing (usually referred to as javelins). The spear has been used throughout human history both as a hunting and fishing tool and as a weapon. Along with the axe, knife and club, it is one of the earliest and most important tools developed by early humans. As a weapon, it may be wielded with either one hand or two, and is historically paired with the shield in both it’s throwing and melee forms.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability ••)[Tags; Reach. Thrown(A)][Effect; – ]
A quarterstaff, or Bō staff, is a traditional Asian and European pole weapon which was especially prominent in England during the Early Modern period. The term is generally accepted to refer to a shaft of hardwood from 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7 m) long, sometimes with a metal tip, ferrule, or spike at one or both ends. During the 16th century quarterstaves were favored as weapons by the London Masters of Defense. Richard Peeke, in 1625, and Zachary Wylde, in 1711, refer to the quarterstaff as a national English weapon. The earliest form of the bō has been used throughout Asia since the beginning of recorded history, and has since appeared as a staple weapon in their culture. Both of these staves are very similar, though their use depending on the culture can be very different. Despite this, after a certain point in history the staff has been an underestimated weapon by the uninitiated, heavier and more armor making an almost all wood weapon seem pointless. Trips, spear like jabs, and devastating swings catching those neophytes off guard in sometimes fatal ways.
(Damage 0. Strength 2. Size 4. Availability •)[Tags; Knockdown. Reach. Two-handed. ][Effect; – ]
When one thinks of pole weapons, the Halberd is the first and foremost weapon that comes to mind in many imaginations, spear, axe head, and back spike mounted to five to six feet of wood pole, used to stab, slash, and pull down knightly riders. While many many other forms of pole weapons exist, none gained the notoriety this weapon had. Switzerland especially reveres the halberd, as it’s a weapon that a Swiss peasant used to end the Burgundian Wars in a single stroke, his head literally cleft in two as he rode through battle. Another story claiming the back-spike of a halberd had hit Richard the III of England so hard it pushed his helmet inside his skull, causing his death. The use of a halberd is widely documented in many martial texts, and the weapon itself saw extended use through the ages by many different cultures. The halberd evolved to be thrust as a spear, to be swung as an axe, and to be used as a strategic hook, making it an incredibly versatile weapon.
(Damage 2. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability ••)[Tags; Reach. Two-Handed. ][Effect; – ]
Used as a symbol just as much as a weapon and tool, the trident is no less effective. Having started as a fishing tool, meant to spear and hold struggling fish as they were pulled from the water, it became a symbol of the Greek god Poseidon and his Roman equivalent Neptune. Gladiators known as Retiarius brought this tool into combat along with nets, a parody of fishing and a statement to their trident wielding god. Construction of the trident for combat makes it a bit heavier than most polearms, the shaft usually made at least partially of steel, as it starts it’s life as a spear, fitted with the two outter prongs during assembly and forged into the center spear head with great heat. Other variants made from one solid piece found limited success as weapons, as they easily snapped. However, a properly trident is devastating, exit wounds using the characteristic barbs of the weapon to shred flesh on their way out, causing great bleeding. Though it sacrifices some reach due to it’s weight, it’s also useful for turning away the blades of swords by catching them in their prongs and twisting.
(Damage 2. Strength 3. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; Bleeding. Two-Handed. ][Effect; – ]
One of the few examples of non-lethal polearms is the man catcher, an esoteric type of pole weapon that was used in Europe as late as the 18th century. It consisted of a pole mounted with a two pronged head. Each prong was semi-circular in shape with a spring-loaded “door” on the front. This created an effective valve that would allow the ring to pass around a man-sized cylinder and keep it trapped. The man catcher was used primarily to pull a person from horseback and drag them to the ground where they could be pinned. Usually used in practices of capturing nobility for ransom, this weapon was made assuming the person is wearing armor, as it can easily injure the neck of someone not so covered. Similarly, the Japanese sasumata was and is used in the same matter, its forked head designed to pin the suspect’s neck, legs, arms, or joints against a wall or the ground. The sasumata currently has padded modern variants that are semi-flexible with blunt ends and other slightly modified geometry, designed to significantly reduce the chance of injury to restrained civilians. Once caught, a victim can try to escape by making a Strength + Brawl roll, but it suffers an additional –2 penalty (maximum of –5) from the pronged steel around their neck.
(Damage -1. Strength 3. Size 4. Availability ••)[Tags; Grapple. Reach.][Effect; – ]
Before guns existed, there were many ways in which mankind waged war from afar. England’s success was owed to the longbowmen, the Mongols conquest was on horseback with bow in hand, and to take down a castle great minds devised great machines that launched great mass across field. Bows and arrows themselves have been around longer than recorded history, and all but a few cultures have adapted them as weapons and tools of hunting. Along with cross bows, spears, and a scarce few other weapons made for throwing, death from afar has been a part of human history as long as death from behind and from the front have.
Having evolved alongside armor, the tactics and construction of bows changed to fit the times. Full plate armor for a time turned away most arrows, until the advent of the crossbow and it’s ability to shear into the plate of nobility without as much skill as an archer needed. Unfortunately, despite it being widely believed, the ‘bodkin’ type of arrows armor piercing was greatly exaggerated. Finally, the silence of many archaic forms of ranged weaponry left it still intact as a means of assassination, even after the musket came into it’s popularity.
“We call this a “bow”, Cap’n, and the thing that’s sticking out of that fellow’s head over on the other side of the trench is called an “arrow”. If you put them together just right, they’ll do all sorts of nice things to people who aren’t nice.”
― David Eddings, The Treasured One
A crossbow is a type of weapon based on the bow and consisting of a horizontal bow-like assembly mounted on a stock. Historically, crossbows played a significant role in the warfare of East Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. The introduction of the crossbow in ancient China caused a major shift in the role of projectile weaponry. The bow and arrow had long been a specialized weapon that required a considerable training, physical strength, and expertise to operate with any degree of efficiency. the crossbow was the first projectile weapon to be simple, cheap, and physically undemanding enough to be operated by large numbers of conscript soldiers, thus enabling virtually any nation to field a potent force of ranged crossbowmen with little expense beyond the cost of the weapons themselves. It’s survived well into the modern age as a simple easy hunting weapon, and alternative to firearms. Though some Militaries still use them in specialized and survival roles, from grapple head propulsion to silent killing machines.
(Damage 3. Range Long. Capacity Low. Strength 3. Size 3. Availability •••)[Tags; Firearms.][Effect; – ]
The bow and arrow predates recorded history, and is common to most cultures around the world in one form or another with the exception of Australia. The bow was an important weapon for both hunting and warfare from prehistoric times until the widespread use of gunpowder in the 16th century. Organised warfare with bows ended in the mid 17th century in Europe, but it persisted into the early 19th century in Eastern cultures and in tribal warfare in the New World. More specifically, smaller ‘short bows’ are very much attributed to the Asian cultures such as the Mongols, who were famous for using small bows on horse back, making their hit and run tactics effective and famous. Despite being smaller, these bows are known to be cheaper and slightly easier to use in terms of training and strength needed to pull back. Bows such as the Turkish Flightbow and the “Saracen” horn sinew warbow have proven that even the smaller models can be contenders against longer models, and they have survived to this day in the form of compound bows.
(Damage 2. Range Med. Capacity Low. Strength 2. Size 3. Availability ••)[Tags; Athletics or Firearms.][Effect; – ]
In the Middle Ages the Welsh and English were famous for their very powerful longbows, used en masse to great effect against the French in the Hundred Years’ War. These bows were made to be relatively the height of the user, if not a foot or two shorter, usually out of one complete piece of wood. While the English made it famous, large bows have been in use for far longer than the Hundred Year war. The flat bow, the yumi, and the recurve bow are all examples (though some rather extreme) of longbows used by varying cultures for both war and hunting. The nature of archery is at the same time very simple and very complex, where both athletes and hunters have different bearings on the same skill. Longbows also have an advantage in that they can be made to suit the person, a stronger person able to pull back a more taught string. Once these weapons were replaced by firearms, much of the art in how they were use was lost, but they remain tightly wound hunting tools, and easily made in many survival situations.
(Damage 3. Range Long. Capacity Low. Strength 3. Size 3. Availability ••)[Tags; Athletics or Firearms.][Effect; – ]
There exists a myriad weapons through the world that are simply unique, if not downright ineffective or recreational. Almost every culture has a weapon or weapons that are used in sport, ceremony, or as symbols, a strange shape that’s simply too odd to be used for anything but a very slim purpose set out for them. Then there are weapons that rely on their remoteness as a means of surprise, making it difficult to defend against them purely through the virtue of them being exotic, and those they fight against having no experience fighting against them. Things like the Japanese kusarigama, a sickle attached to a chain flail, or the indian Bagh Naka, a set of sharp claws set like inverse brass knuckles attaching to the pinky and index fingers.
These weapons by rarely used in open fighting or warefare in the times they came about, and as such they’d only be known of or kept by collectors or those of the culture they sprang from. While they are odd, however, many are still supremely deadly, even those that look harmless or ridiculous. Caution against the unknown is a statement of intelligence and not cowardice, after all.
“People are supposed to fear the unknown, but ignorance is bliss when knowledge is so damn frightening.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, The Laughing Corpse
While the ‘tiger claws’ of modern media don’t truly exist in the ways they are portrayed, there is one weapon that fits the bill. Indian made, the bagh naka is a claw-like weapon from India designed to fit over the knuckles or be concealed under and against the palm. It consists of four or five curved blades affixed to a crossbar or glove, and is designed to slash through skin and muscle. It is believed to have been inspired by the armament of big cats, and the term bagh naka itself means tiger’s claw in Hindi. It was a popular weapon among the Nihang who wore it in their turbans and often held one in their left hand while wielding a larger weapon such as a sword in the right hand. It was recommended that Nihang women carry a bagh naka when going alone to dangerous areas. Historically, it was even dipped in poison, as such an easily concealed weapon able to rip into skin with just a slap of the hand meant easy and fast delivery of deadly assassination poisons.
(Damage 0. Strength 1. Size 1. Availability ••)[Tags; Brawl. Bleed.][Effect; – ]
Cestus are ancient battle gloves first invented in ancient Greece, made of leather strips and often fitted with anything from iron bars to blades. Rome took this concept and took it a step further, turning cestus from simple gloves to a weapon worm from just before the elbow to to second knuckle, sometimes fitted with iron plates on the arms and very often with large ‘brass knuckle’ like fittings over the knuckles. This allowed for gladiator slaves to face off against those with weapons, and while it seemed to be very unfair to early historians, subsequent findings and practical testing found these weapons could easily stun and then disable a fully grown man. In fact, in Vergil’s Aeneid, the Sicilian champion Entellus was told to have beat his prize, a full grown bull, to death with his cestus as a glory sacrifice to the gods. While these gloves are devastating weapons themselves, they also allow for weapons to be held in the hands they are worn on, a gladiator who was disarmed by a trident or had his blade break on a shield able to continue fighting.
(Damage 0. Strength 2. Size 1. Availability •••)[Tags; Brawl. Stun][Effect; – ]
The whip is a tool traditionally designed to strike animals or people and exert control over them through the application of pain, and thus the fear of such. Unfortunately, the whip is another Hollywood weapon, most iterations of the weapon proving useless in all but the show of religious ceremonies and modern BDSM relationships. While some shorter whips have been modified to have lead or steel balls attached to the end, with longer rods, but these stray into the territory of flails or meteor hammer weapons.
(Damage -2. Strength 1. Size 2. Availability •)[Tags; Grapple.][Effect; – ]