Weapons in RPGs

So. A lot of the time combat is a major part, or at least a part, of RPG campaigns. Most often it involves more than just your fists, as those are not the most efficient means to defeat someone. But how can one handle the weapons themselves in the game? There are a few different answers to that.

1: Weapons are descriptions

In this variant the weapon used is purely fluff (flavor text) without mechanical benefits. It can be useful in very rules-light and/or heavily narratively focused games. In those what kind of weapon you use says more about your character than the usefulness of the weapon.

2: Weapons have different damage

In this variant all weapons are assigned a damage number or damage die. I feel that this alone is often both boring and limiting, as it might create superior and inferior weapons if damage scores are arbitrarily set and not compensated with useful abilities.

3: Weapons have different properties

In this variant weapons have properties that alters their situational powers. Heavy weapons punches through an amount of armor, long weapons can hold back shorter ones, shorter weapons are good when wrestling with people, and so on. If you use either this or the different damages, I feel that this is a much better choice.

And then… properties?

One can often combine these categories, and some do it better than others. Below are some thoughts about how one would differentiate pseudo-medieval melee weapons. These are mostly some kinds of general guidlines or ideas I have.

  • Swords. Versatile and balanced, pretty rapid.
  • Blunt Weapons. Blunt impact transfers through armor, but slower and tiring to use.
  • Axes or Picks. Mostly like blunt weapons, but bites into targets more.
  • Thrusting Polearms (spears). Can be used in formation. Fast and long reach.
  • Swung Polearms (glaives). Requires more space, powerful and long reach.
  • Knives. Short, possibly throwable. Good in close quarters. Easily concealed.
  • Flails. Hard to parry and heavy, but very tiring.
  • Fist Weapons. No additional reach, a very situational weapon.

In addition to all of this anything that isn’t a sword or knife is probably very bad for everyday carrying. The other weapons are heavy or get in the way, and are more pure battlefield weapons (or possibly tools).

That’s all for today, I think. Hopefully this helps someone, haha. This post was actually caused by my girlfriend, who suggested it and then couldn’t explain what she wanted in the post. Having only a title for it, I made this stuff up. Kek. Maybe I’ll make another post with a complete weapons system. We’ll see. Until next time!


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