PHB Ch6 Weapons

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The Weapons Table lists more than just the price of each item. It also gives other game information. Since each weapon is different, you should note this information separately for each weapon your character purchases or finds.

Weapon Size: All weapons are classed according to a size category—S, M, L, G, or H. Small (S) weapons are approximately two feet or less in size; medium (M) weapons are two to five feet long; large (L) weapons are generally six feet or greater in length. Giant (G) and huge (H) weapons are not found on the lists, since these are items normally used by ogres, giants, and even greater creatures. They are not items of equipment a PC can normally buy!

A character can always wield a weapon equal to his own size or less. Normally this requires only one hand, except for some missile weapons (bows and crossbows in particular). A character can also use a weapon one size greater than himself although it must be gripped with two hands. Beyond this size limit, the weapon is not usable without special means (most often magical).

Drelb the halfling (size S) can use a short sword with no difficulty (a size S weapon), or a long sword with two hands (a size M weapon), but a glaive (size L) is just too large for him to wield. Likewise, he can use a short bow but is unable to handle a long bow.

Type: Weapons are classified according to types—bludgeoning (B), piercing (P), and slashing (S). These types are used to determine armor type modifiers (if these are used). Weapons vs. Armor Type is explained in Chapter 9: Combat.

Speed Factor: Weapon speed is a relative measure of the clumsiness of the weapon. The lower the number, the quicker and easier the weapon is to use. Weapon speed is explained in Chapter 9: Combat.

Damage: All weapons are rated for the amount of damage they can cause to small- and medium-sized creatures (S-M) and larger-than-man-sized creatures (L).

Arquebus: This weapon may be disallowed by your DM and you must check with him before you purchase it. An arquebus is an early form of the musket, almost as dangerous to its user as it is to the target. To use an arquebus, you must have a supply of powder and shot and a piece of slow-burning match or cord. These items may or may not be commonly available. (Powder is treated as a magical item in these rules.) The weapon can be fired only once every three rounds, and then only if the character is not attacked while loading. When firing an arquebus, all penalties for range are doubled.

If the attack roll for the arquebus is a 1 or 2, the weapon backfires, causing 1d6 points of damage to the firer. It is also fouled and cannot be used again until it has been cleaned, which takes about 30 minutes. When a arquebus scores a hit, it normally does 1 to 9 points of damage on 1d10. When a 10 is rolled, the die is rolled again and this amount is added to 10. Each time a 10 is rolled, the die is rolled again and added to the previous total. Thus, in a rare instance, a single shot could inflict 37 points, for example, if three consecutive 10s were rolled, followed by a 7. The damage caused by an arquebus is never modified for a high Strength score.

Bows: Bows come in various shapes and sizes. The power of a bow is measured by its pull. The greater the pull, the more Strength needed to work the bow. Thus, it is possible for characters to have bows that grant them damage bonuses for high Strength (it is assumed the character has chosen a bow that has a greater pull). Likewise, characters with low Strengths suffer their usual penalties when using a bow (they are forced to use weaker bows or simply cannot draw back as far). The pull of a bow seldom prevents a character from using the weapon, only from gaining the full effect. The true test of a character's Strength comes in stringing a bow—the bow of a strong hero may simply be unstringable by a lesser man (as was Odysseus's).

Heavier pull bows are not normally any more expensive than standard bows. The exceptions to this are those bows that enable the fighter to gain bonuses for exceptional Strength (18/01 or greater). These bows must be custom crafted and cost three to five times the normal price. These bows are also difficult to string or use effectively for those without exceptional Strength. These characters must roll a successful bend bars/lift gates roll to string or use such weapons (again, think of the test of the suitors in Odysseus's household).

Arrows for long bows of all types are divided between lightweight flight arrows and heavier sheaf arrows. Flight arrows have longer ranges and are normally used in hunting. Sheaf arrows have a stronger metal head but a reduced range. They are often used in times of war.

Crossbow: Strength bonuses or penalties do not apply to crossbows, since these are purely mechanical devices. The hand crossbow is easily held in one hand and cocked with the other. The light crossbow, also called latches, must be braced against an object to be cocked with a lever mounted on the stock. The heavy crossbow, also called an arbalest, has a powerful pull and must be cocked with a cranequin (a simple winch or lever) that comes with the weapon. One foot is places in a stirrup at the end of the crossbow while the cranequin is worked. All crossbows fire quarrels or bolts and the correct size must be used with each weapon.

Lance: The different lances are rated according to size and sturdiness. Each type can be used only if the rider is on the same type of horse or a greater one. A man on a light war horse could not use a heavy horse lance, if only because the impact would bowl him and the horse right over! Furthermore, the heavy and jousting lances require that the rider is firmly in a saddle and using stirrups. The jousting lance is a heavy horse lance modified for use in tournaments, in which the desire is not to kill the opponent. The end of the lance is fitted with a special blunted tip intended to lessen the chance of wounds. Of course, good intentions often go awry, so there is still a chance of injury during a joust.

Mancatcher: This item is a highly specialized type of polearm designed to capture without killing a victim. It consists of a long pole with a spring-loaded set of sharpened jaws at the end. The victim is caught between the arms, which then snap shut. The mancatcher is effective only on man-sized creatures. The target is always treated as AC 10, modified for Dexterity. If a hit is scored, the character is caught. The caught victim loses all shield and Dexterity bonuses and can be pushed and pulled about. This causes an automatic 1d2 points of damage per round and gives a 25% chance of pulling the victim to the ground. The victim can escape on a successful bend bars/lift gates roll, although this results in 1d2 points more damage. A common tactic is to use the weapon to pull horsemen off their mounts, then pin them to the ground.

Polearms: A popular group of weapons during the ancient and Medieval periods were the polearms. Their length was a distinct advantage and, for the peasant, they were a relatively easy weapon to make. Thus, there came to be an abundance of polearms of different sizes and shapes. Due to their numbers, there is no standard system for naming polearms. The names used in the AD&D game might possibly be applied to other weapons elsewhere.

Because of their length, all polearms are infantry weapons and require two hands to use. They are almost always the weapon of the common peasant and soldier, who, lacking a horse and heavy armor, needs some weapon to keep the enemy's knights at bay. Thus, most polearms are intended to be used in close-packed formations that present a forest of sharp points and wicked blades to any knight foolish enough to charge.

Awl Pike: Essentially this is a long spear 12 to 20 feet long ending in a spike point of tapered spear head. It was a popular weapon during the Renaissance. Since the pike stuck out in front, men could be packed side-by-side in dense formations, and several rows of men could fight. Large blocks of pikemen made formidable troops. However, once the pikemen engaged in close combat, they normally dropped their clumsy awl pikes and fought hand-to-hand with short swords.

Bardiche: One of the simplest of polearms, the bardiche is an elongated battle axe. A large curving axe-head is mounted on the end of a shaft 5 to 8 feet long. It probably grew out of common peasant tools and was popular with them. One relative disadvantage is that the bardiche required more space to wield than a pike or a spear.

Bec de corbin: This was a highly specialized weapon of the upper classes during the Late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. It is an early can-opener designed specifically to deal with plate armor. The pick or beak is made to punch through plate, while the hammer side can be used to give a stiff blow. The end is fitted with a short blade for dealing with unarmored or helpless foes. The weapon is about eight feet long. Since the weapon relies on impact, a great deal of swinging space is needed.

Bill-guisarme: A particularly bizarre-looking combination weapon, the bill-guisarme is an outgrowth of the common bill hook. Mounted on a seven- to eight-foot-long pole, it has a combination of a heavy cleaver blade, a jutting back spike, and a hook or spike on the end. Thus, it can be used in several different ways. Like most polearms, it requires lots of room to use.

Fauchard: An outgrowth of the sickle and scythe, the fauchard is a long, inward curving blade mounted on a shaft six to eight feet long. It can slash or thrust, although the inward curving point makes thrusting rather ineffective. Its advantage is that a peasant can easily convert his common scythe into this weapon of war.

Fauchard-fork: This is an attempted improvement on the fauchard, adding a long spike or fork to the back of the blade. Supposedly this improves the thrusting ability of the weapon. It is still an inefficient weapon.

Glaive: One of the most basic polearms, the glaive is a single-edged blade mounted on an eight- to ten-foot-long shaft. While not the most efficient weapon, it is relatively easy to make and use. Normally the blade turns outward to increase the cutting area until it almost resembles a cleaver or axe.

Glaive-guisarme: Another combination weapon, this one takes the basic glaive and adds a spike or hook to the back of the blade. In theory, this increases the usefulness of the weapon although its actual application is somewhat questionable.

Guisarme: Thought to have derived from a pruning hook, this is an elaborately curved heavy blade. While convenient and handy, it is not very effective.

Guisarme-voulge: This weapon has a modified axe blade mounted on an eight-foot-long shaft. The end of the blade tapers to a point for thrusting and a back spike is fitted for punching through armor. Sometimes this spike is replaced by a sharpened hook for dismounting riders.

Halberd: After the awl pike and the bill, this was one of the most popular weapons of the Middle Ages. Fixed on a shaft five to eight feet long is a large axe blade, angled for maximum impact. The end of the blade tapers to a long spear point or awl pike. On the back is a hook for attacking armor or dismounting riders. Originally intended to defeat cavalry, it is not tremendously successful in that role since it lacks the reach of the pike and needs considerable room to swing. It found new life against blocks of pikemen. Should the advance of the main attack stall, halberdiers issue out of the formation and attack the flanks of the enemy. The pikemen with their overlong weapons are nearly defenseless in such close combat.

Hook fauchard: This combination weapon is another attempted improvement to the fauchard. A back hook is fitted to the back of the blade, supposedly to dismount horsemen. Like the fauchard, this is not a tremendously successful weapon.

Lucern hammer: This weapon is similar to the bec de corbin. Fitted with a shaft up to ten feet long, it is usually found in the hands of the common soldier. Like the bec de corbin, its main purpose is to punch through armor. The end is fitted with the long point of an awl pike to hold off enemy cavalry.

Military fork: This is one of the simplest modifications of a peasant's tool since it is little more than a pitchfork fixed to a longer shaft. With tines strengthened and straightened, the military fork serves well. The need for cutting and cleaving eventually often results in combining the fork with other weapons.

Partisan: Shorter than the awl pike but longer than the spear, the partisan is a broad spear-head mounted on an eight-foot-long shaft. Two smaller blades project out from the base of the main blade, just to increase damage and trap weapons. Since it is a thrusting weapon, it can be used in closely packed formations.

Ranseur: Very much like the partisan, the ranseur differs in that the main blade is thinner and the projecting blades extended more like tines of a fork. These can trap a weapon and sometimes punch through armor.

Spetum: The spetum is a modification of the normal spear. The shaft increases to eight to ten feet and side blades are added. Some have blades that angle back, increasing the damage when pulling the weapon out of a wound. These blades can also trap and block weapons or catch and hold an opponent.

Voulge: The voulge, like the bardich, is a variation on the axe and the cleaver. The voulge is little more than a cleaver on the end of a long (seven- to eight-foot) pole. It is a popular weapon, easy to make and simple to learn. It is also called the Lochaber axe.

Scourge: This wicked weapon is a short whip with several thongs or tails. Each thong is studded with metal barbs, resulting in a terrible lash. It is sometimes used as an instrument of execution.

Sword, Bastard: This sword is similar to a long sword in size and weight, but has a longer hilt. It can be used one- or two-handed. Use the speed factor and damage appropriate to the grip. If it is used two-handed, your character cannot employ a shield.

Sword, Khopesh: This is an Egyptian weapon. A khopesh has about six inches of handle and quillons. Its blade is then straight from the quillons for about two feet. The blade becomes sickle-shaped at this point, being about two additional feet long but effectively extending the overall length of the sword by only 1-½ feet. This makes the khopesh both heavy and unwieldy, difficult to employ properly, and slow to recover, particularly after a badly missed blow. Its sickle-like portion can snag an opponent or an opposing weapon.

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