New Weapon Combat Tables
Copyright Norman Schaschke and Raymond Ward ©2001
Edited by Rich Kirkland for The Guild Companion
Just as knives are the common version of daggers, the hatchet is the common version of the hand axe. While an adventurer wouldn't be chopping wood with a battle ready tomahawk, adventurers usually carry a small axe and should they need to use it as a weapon in an emergency, this table will accommodate them. A hatchet is good for chopping wood, good for fighting in melee and good for throwing. It is very useful.
This is a good opportunity to explain a simple rule I use to reflect the functionality of weapons depending on what they were designed to do. Basically each weapon can have three variations: the normal weapon version; the tool version; and the throwing version.
The normal weapon version is tougher than the tool version. It uses harder woods, and steel rather than iron as materials. It often has iron banding or studs to protect wooden parts to facilitate blocking. It is balanced so that it can change direction more easily to parry as well as strike. It incorporates guards, tines, hooks, spikes and rings to catch the enemy's weapon and do more damage.
The tool version is designed for chopping or hammering or cutting (as appropriate) and really that is all.
The throwing version is balanced for throwing, so its shape is slightly different from the normal weapon and tool versions. It is also usually less robust than the other versions.
So for a hatchet there is the hatchet (the normal weapon version, perhaps you could call it a fighting hatchet); the tool hatchet (designed for chopping wood, perhaps you could call it a wood hatchet); and the throwing hatchet (balanced for throwing in combat, and usually called a throwing hatchet).
The combat table is for the normal weapon version of the weapon. If you use the tool version in combat use a -10 penalty. If you use the throwing version in melee use a -10 penalty. If you use the throwing version as a thrown weapon use a +10 bonus.
It goes further, in that if you use a weapon version as a tool you receive a -10 penalty for the manoeuvre.
Specially crafted weapons could be created which may be used in melee and thrown with equal effectiveness. And similarly some specially created tools could be used as melee weapons without penalty (or melee weapons could be used as tools without penalty). A magical woodsman's axe that can equally chop down trees or opponents is an example. Note that this is a special ability and would be quite rare.
These definitions suit knives and axes quite well but take care when applying them to other weapons. I mean throwing weapons like darts and shuriken are the throwing weapon version so there is no bonus for having a "throwing" dart and I don't think there are melee or tool versions of these weapons. Swords are designed for fighting so the normal weapon version is also really their tool version. Also while they probably aren't much called for, there is no reason why you cannot have a throwing sword. Generally applying this rule is quite obvious however sometimes it requires some thought.
Please note that the non-standard statistics found on the combat table are explained in the article titled "Rolemaster Weapon Attributes" from the November, 1999, issue of the Guild Companion and additional clarification of Speed can be found in "Continuous Tactical Resolution" from the March, 1999, issue of the Guild Companion.
The smallest axe. While not generally thought of as a weapon, it is readily available, is quite easy to carry, and can be thrown quickly and for some distance. The American Indians made extensive and effective use of the tomahawk in fighting. While it is not very effective against armour and doesn't do much damage, it is more effective than a knife in combat.
Click here to see the Hatchet Weapon Chart.