ROLEMASTER WEAPON ATTRIBUTES

Copyright Ray Ward 1999

Rolemaster revolves around individual combat. Its mainstay is Arms Law and the weapon tables. Here are the usual statistics and a few new ones for the Arms Law weapons and a heap of other weapons too.

 

LENGTH

This is the standard length for the weapon. It equates to the weapon’s reach and is used in determining who gets in the first blow when opponents are closing to melee. This is a set value here and not a range as presented in Rolemaster. This is because in many cases even a minor variation in the length of a weapon leads to confusion as to which combat table to use. For example a dagger with a long blade could be considered a maine gauche (though without the parrying benefits) and use the maine gauche attack table. While a dagger with a short blade could be considered a knife and use the knife attack table. In the weapons listed there are a few distinct size progressions of a particular type of weapon. The main one is straight blades: knife, dagger, maine gauche, short sword, broadsword, longsword, bastard sword, two-handed sword, and greatsword. Another obvious one is sticks: short stick, cudgel, jo, quarterstaff, and pole.

 

WEIGHT

This is a standard weight for the weapon. It is the weight of the weapon in its basic form. This is a set value here and not a range as presented in Rolemaster. However the weight will vary from this standard depending on craftsmanship, materials used and enchantments. For example an Elvish dirwood magic quarterstaff could weigh nothing while a Trollish iron cursed quarterstaff could weigh 60 pounds.

 

FUMBLE

The highest value of the range that the weapon fumbles on. For example a 5 indicates a fumble range of 1 to 5; so a natural dice result for an attack roll of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 requires a roll on the appropriate weapon fumble table.

 

BREAKAGE NUMBERS

This represents the highest value of the range of Breakage Numbers. For example a 7 indicates Breakage Numbers of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. If an attack roll is made with the weapon and a natural double of a Breakage Number comes up the weapon needs to check for breakage. Using the previous example, breakage needs to be checked on a natural attack roll of 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66 or 77. An "A" is used for missile ammunition. It indicates the missile must check for breakage Automatically. That is, every time it is fired check for breakage.

 

WEAPON STRENGTH

If a breakage check is required make an open-ended roll and add the weapon’s Strength. If the weapon has a wooden haft (indicated by a "w") and it is being used against an opponent with an edged weapon, subtract 15 from this roll. If the weapon is a soft weapon (indicated by a "s") and it is being used against an opponent with an edged weapon, subtract 15 from this roll. If the result is less than 100, then the weapon breaks.

Note that in the case of missile weapons the weapon itself is not used to strike so they do not check for breakage as a weapon. Missile weapons check for breakage as an item. This uses the same resolution method as breakage for weapons however the Weapon Strength value is called the Reliability value. Reliability is used in the same manner as Weapon Strength when checking for breakage.

 

WEAPON SPEED

When using an initiative system for melee combat some allowance should be made for the differences in speed of attack between weapons. Some weapons are heavy and cumbersome (eg. war mattock) and some are light and fast (eg. rapier). The lighter weapons can take advantage of openings more easily and so tend to get in their telling blows earlier in the round.

The basic initiative system is one where an Initiative roll using 2d10 is made and the character's Quickness Stat Bonus is added giving an Initiative Score. When that score comes up in the Initiative countdown the character may perform their action (ie. attack, move, etc). If they are attacking in melee then a melee initiative score should be determined to see who strikes first in melee. It is usually just the normal initiative score minus the Weapon Speed for the character’s weapon.

 

MINIMUM STRENGTH BONUS

This refers to the minimum Strength Stat Bonus a character must have in order to wield a weapon effectively. A character may attempt to use any weapon they wish, but if their strength bonus is less than the Minimum Strength Bonus, then they receive penalties while wielding it.

The Offensive Bonus penalty is five times the difference between the wielder's Strength Bonus and the weapon's Minimum Strength Bonus. (eg. A thief with a Strength Bonus of 2 tries to use a Great Sword which has a Minimum Strength of 10. The difference is 10 - 2 = 8. Times five gives a total penalty of -40.)

In addition the Fumble Range of the weapon is increased by the difference between the wielder's Strength Bonus and the weapon's Minimum Strength Bonus. (eg. The above thief has a difference of 8. This means an additional +8 on the Fumble Range, making it 14 for the Great Sword.)

A few weapons have two values for the Minimum Strength Bonus. The two values are for weapons that may be wielded in one or two hands. The first value is the minimum strength bonus required to use the weapon in two hands, and the second is the minimum strength bonus required to wield the weapon in one hand. Some weapons are small (eg. dagger) and are not designed for two handed use and therefore do not have a value for using them two-handed. Some weapons require being wielded two handed (eg. polearms) and therefore do not have a value for using them one handed.

The role of this statistic is to correct an anomaly where an extremely weak character can wield a two-handed sword as easily as a dagger, even if in actuality they would have difficulty lifting such a heavy weapon.

 

WEAPON SKILL CATEGORIES

Skill in the use of weapons is broken into six different areas of development. Each Weapon Skill Category (WSC) is a separate way of employing weapons. Weapons are not restricted to one method of use and often fall into more than one category. If that is the case, each method of use is an equally valid skill when using the weapon in combat. This is a slight variation on the usual classification method, which seems to rely on how a weapon is constructed rather than the method (or skill) with which it is used.

One-handed Slashing (SL)

This is the most common weapon skill category. This type involves using edged and pointed weapons in one hand using cutting, slashing, thrusting, stabbing or hacking attacks. The weapons used usually have the weight concentrated towards the end that is held so that the attacking end of the weapon can be moved to attack and to block quickly and easily. When used in conjunction with a shield it allows a good defence, and if used in conjunction with another weapon in a two-weapon combination (sword and dagger being quite common) it allows for a good offense.

This skill category involves the highest degree of skill due to the weapons used being the quickest, most accurate and most versatile (no limits on parrying, useable in combinations or with a shield). The weapons used with this method generally require the least strength to wield but still do a significant amount of damage against all but the heavily armoured. Weapons wielded in this manner include swords and knives.

Note that edged or pointed weapons which have their weight concentrated at the striking end (eg. axes and picks) are used differently, and fit into the Crushing weapon skill category. Also note that some weapons normally wielded in two hands may be wielded using this method if the character is strong enough to handle them with one hand.

One-handed Crushing (CR)

Weapons used with this method rely on the weight concentrated in the head of the weapon being swung with a lot of force in order to crush the area struck. The attack method is one of crushing, bashing, staving, smashing or chopping. It is not very sophisticated. Parrying is usually ignored because the weapons are slow and cumbersome. Consequently they are often used with a shield in battle. Slashing weapons require careful aiming at weak spots in armour such as the joints, whereas crushing weapons, if swung with enough force are effective at any point of contact. Against the slower armoured opponents, the metal Crushing weapons - especially the flanged or edged ones - are very effective. Against the quicker unarmoured opponents these weapons are not so effective.

The weapons themselves are often readily available (eg. a tree limb, fence post or walking stick) and even the metal ones can be made quickly compared to swords, and the weapons are easy to maintain. Weapons wielded in this manner include clubs, maces, flails, and axes.

Note that some weapons normally wielded in two hands may be wielded using this method if the character is strong enough to handle them one handed.

Two-handed (2H)

This weapon skill category is the least subtle or technical in their use. These techniques involve grasping one end of a heavy object with both hands and bashing the opponent as hard as possible with the other. They are generally the most damaging and fearsome weapons. Two-handed weapons, of course, cannot be used with a shield and due to their slowness can not parry effectively. Therefore, in combat these weapons are used aggressively, with a mindset that seems to hold little regard for personal safety and is focused on the opponent’s destruction. While these weapons are harder to hit with, they penetrate through armour with relative ease. Weapons normally wielded in this manner are battle-axes, war mattocks, two-handed swords and large clubs and flails. However, characters who are too weak to wield a weapon that is normally considered one-handed, may be able to wield it effectively using this method.

Polearms (PA)

The weapons used in this weapon skill category have as the main component a haft along which the wielder’s hands may be moved in order to lengthen or shorten its reach, or spin the weapon. Polearms usually have a "business end" with a metal head mounted on it, and its purpose is to attack and keep the enemy at a distance. The polearm is rather defensive in that the aim is to attack the enemy before they get close enough to attack back.

Standard polearm training consists mostly of manoeuvring in groups using the support of the other polearms to make an impenetrable wall with which to meet opponents. For this to be effective, coordination as a group is more important than the actual wielding of the weapon itself. The unit manoeuvring and the polearm unit skills are covered in War Law. It is not however the concern of this weapon skill category. Rolemaster revolves around individual combat and this weapon skill category is the skill of using the weapon in individual combat. While using a pike in this fashion may be odd, spear and glaive techniques for individual combat were developed to a very high level in some Oriental societies.

In this context the polearm method of use involves using the whole length of the weapon by attacking and parrying with both ends of the weapon, and using any point along the shaft to block attacks, shifting hand positions to lengthen or shorten the weapon to attack at varying ranges, and spinning the weapon in order to strike with great force and create confusion. Thus weapons used like this include hafted weapons with a weapon head (halberd, spear, glaive, poleaxe, etc) and weapons without (quarterstaff, jo, pole, and three-section staff).

Thrown (TH)

This weapon skill category involves propelling a weapon directly by using ones arm. Some weapons are dedicated throwing weapons (eg. darts and shuriken) but really any weapon may be thrown. This attack method consists of grasping the weapon in an appropriate grip, balancing it to allow it a smooth flight, taking aim, and hurling it at the target. The purpose of these weapons is to stop, weaken or slow an opponent before they get to melee range, or perhaps to stop a fleeing opponent.

Missile (MI)

This weapon skill category covers projecting a missile by storing energy with a device, and at some later time, releasing it so that the projectile shoots toward a target. This is the smallest group of weapons and includes only bows, slings and blowguns.

 

WEAPON ATTRIBUTES TABLE

Weapon

Len(')

Wgt(lb)

Fum

Brk#

Stren.

Speed

Min. Str.

WSC

Aklys

1

1 ½

5

4

50s

1

-6

CR, TH

Ball and Chain

3 ½

5

5

7

70

4

0

CR

Bardiche

7

12

6

7

70w

6

4

PA

Bastard Sword

4

7

4

8

75

4

4 /10

2H, SL

Battle Axe

3 ½

8

5

8

70w

5

4 /18

2H

Battle Club

5

14

5

8

80

7

8 /24

2H

Beaked Axe

7

10

7

7

70w

6

4

PA

Bec de Corbin

8

10

6

7

70w

6

2

PA

Blackjack

1 ½

3

1

8

50s

1

-4

CR

Blowpipe

2

1

4

1

80

-

-6

MI

Dart

½

.05

 

A

50w

     

Bola

3

3

8

6

50s

4

-4

TH

Boomerang

2

2 ½

4

7

50w

2

-2

TH, CR

Broadsword

3

4

3

7

80

3

0

SL

Cat O Nine Tails

4

3

7

4

60s

3

-4

CR

Club

4

5

4

8

50w

4

-2 /6

2H, CR

Comet Hammer

8

6

7

7

60

4

0

CR, TH

Composite Bow

4

4

4

1

90

-

2

MI

Arrow

2 ½

.15

 

A

60w

     

Cudgel

3

3

3

8

50w

2

-2

CR, TH

Cutlass

2 ½

3

3

6

80

2

-2

SL

Dagger

1

1

1

6

80

1

-4

SL, TH

Dart (throwing)

½

½

2

6

40

0

-6

TH

Falchion

2 ½

5

5

7

80

3

4

SL

Fauchard

8

8

6

7

70

6

4

PA

Foil

3 ¼

2 ½

3

3

30

1

-2

SL

Footmans Flail

6

8

6

7

70w

5

2 /16

2H

Footmans Mace

3 ½

10

3

8

85w

5

4 /20

2H

Ge

3

5

8

8

60s

5

-2

TH

Gladiators Net

5

8

6

8

60s

6

-2

CR

Glaive

8

8

6

7

70w

6

4

PA

Great Flail

6

18

8

7

80

8

10 /24

2H

Great Sword

6

16

6

8

80

7

10 /26

2H

Guisarme

7

8

6

7

70w

6

2

PA

Halberd (Polearm)

7

12

6

7

70w

7

6

PA

Hand Axe

2 ½

5

4

7

70w

3

2

CR, TH

Hand Crossbow

1

2

5

3

60

-

-4

MI

Quarrel

½

.05

 

A

40w

     

Harpoon

6

6

4

6

70w

5

2

PA

Hatchet

1

2

2

7

50w

1

-4

TH, CR

Heavy Crossbow

3

12

5

3

80

-

6

MI

Quarrel

½

.2

 

A

70w

     

Heavy Spear

10

10

6

5

65w

7

6

PA

Horsemans Flail

3

5

5

7

65

3

0

CR

Horsem. Mace (Mace)

3

5

2

8

80w

3

-2

CR

Horsemans Pick

3 ½

4

4

7

60w

3

0 /2

CR

Javelin

5

3

4

5

40w

3

-4

TH, PA

Jo

4

3

3

7

50w

2

-6

PA

Katana

3 ½

5

4

7

85

3

0 /8

2H, SL

Knife

¾

½

1

5

70

0

-8

SL, TH

Kynac

2

2

2

4

80

1

-4

TH, SL

Kyotetsu-Shogi

1

5

7

4

50s

2

-2

SL,CR,TH

Lance

10

10

7

8

65w

7

6

PA

Lasso

30

5

7

4

50s

7

-4

TH

Light Crossbow

2 ½

7

5

3

75

-

0

MI

Quarrel

½

.1

 

A

70w

     

Light Javelin

3

1

2

5

40w

2

-6 /-2

TH

Long Bow

6

5

5

2

85

-

6

MI

Arrow

3

.2

 

A

60w

     

Long Kynac

3

3

3

6

80

2

0

SL, TH

Longsword

3 ¼

4

3

6

70

3

0 /2

SL

Lucerne Hammer

8

12

7

7

70w

7

6

PA

Main Gauche

1 ½

1 ½

2

6

70

1

-2

SL, TH

Man Catcher

6

8

6

7

70w

6

4

PA

Military Flail (Flail)

5

10

8

7

70

6

6 /20

2H

Military Fork

8

7

6

7

70w

6

2

PA

Morning Star

3 ½

8

8

7

70w

4

6

CR

Mullet

1 ½

2 ½

4

8

20s

2

-6

TH, CR

Nagamaki

5

8

7

7

75w

5

6 /22

PA

Naginata

7

6

5

7

70w

5

2

PA

No Dachi

5

8

7

7

75

5

6 /22

2H

Nunchaku

2 ½

2 ½

7

7

50w

1

2

CR

Partisan

8

8

6

7

70w

6

2

PA

Pike

15

10

6

5

60w

9

4

PA

Pole

9

10

6

6

75w

7

6

PA

Poleaxe

7

16

7

7

70w

7

8

PA

Quarterstaff

6

5

3

7

70w

2

-2

PA

Ranseur

7

6

5

6

70w

5

0

PA

Rapier

3 ¼

3

4

4

40

2

0

SL

Rope Dart

½

1

7

4

50s

1

-6

TH

Sai

1 ½

3

4

5

70

2

0

CR, TH

Scimitar

3

4

4

5

60

3

0

SL

Short Bow

3

3

4

2

80

-

-4

MI

Arrow

2

.1

 

A

60w

     

Short Stick

1 ½

1

2

8

60w

1

-8

CR

Short Sword

2

2 ½

2

6

80

2

-2

SL

Shuriken

¼

¼

2

5

60

0

-6

TH

Sling

4

.1

6

1

95

-

-6

MI

Stone

2"

¼

 

A

90

     

Sodegarami

5

7

5

7

80w

5

4

PA

Spear

7

5

5

5

50w

4

0

PA

Spiked Mace

3

7

5

8

75w

4

4 /8

CR

Staff Sling

6

2

7

2

85

-

-2

MI

Stone

2"

½

 

A

85

     

Steel Whip

6

3

7

7

60

2

-2

CR

Three Section Staff

7

6

7

7

70w

4

2

PA

Tiger Claw

2

1 ½

2

6

60

1

-6

SL

Tiger Hook

3

5

5

6

70

3

4

SL

Trident

5

6

6

6

40w

5

6

PA

Two-handed Falchion

4

10

6

8

85

6

8 /22

2H

Two-handed Scimitar

4

6

5

7

70

4

2 /10

2H

Two-Handed Sword

5

10

5

8

75

5

6 /22

2H

Usriev

5

8

7

7

70

5

6

2H

Voulge

8

12

7

7

70w

6

4

PA

Wakazashi

2 ½

3

2

6

80

2

-2

SL

War Fan

1 ½

3

3

7

80

2

-2

CR

War Hammer

3

5

4

8

80w

4

0 /2

CR, TH

War Mattock

4

7

5

8

70w

5

6 /20

2H

Whip

8

4

8

4

70s

6

-2

CR

Woomera

2 ½

2

6

7

50w

6

-2

TH, CR


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