The Art of Fighting Section 6: Thrown Weapons

Copyright Johs. Sondrup © 2011

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"Spears and axes would be thrown before two formations crash into each other in the hope of killing or wounding the opponents before they could enter into close combat."

Editor's Note: The following is the sixth in a series of 13 articles that enhance the combat rules for Rolemaster (RM2). It is our intention to publish another article in this series every month for the next year. This month's article describes a variety of thrown weapons. Next month's article will describe two-handed weapons.

Thrown Weapons

Thrown weapons have been used by almost every culture for hunting and warfare. Much like bows and crossbows, the battlefield use of the thrown weapon is markedly different from the way a hunter or adventurer would use it, and again it's a question of volley fire.

Spears and axes would be thrown before two formations crash into each other in the hope of killing or wounding the opponents before they could enter into close combat. As with bows, there was no great need to aim: As long as a warrior threw it in the direction of the opposite line, he was pretty sure of hitting something or somebody. It was not the precise throw that made the difference; it was the sheer volume of weapons hitting the opponent's line. This was also why most thrown weapons used on the battlefield could be thrown with an overarm throw like the spear or axe, since those weapons could be thrown by a line of soldiers.

Rolemaster accommodates this tactic: a stationary combatant trained with a throwing weapon may throw that weapon using 80% of his normal OB and still melee in the same round with only a -20 modification to his melee OB.

Thrown Weapons

  • Angon: The Frankish and Anglo-Saxon javelin, the angon had a long slender iron neck with a barbed head.
  • Boomerang: An Australian throwing club. If thrown correctly, and if it missed the target, the boomerang will return to the thrower.
  • Chakram: A flat metal disc with a sharp outer edge. It is a throwing weapon that was used by the ancient Sikh people of northwest India. It was also known as a war quoit.
  • Francisca: A throwing axe used by the Franks and later the Vikings and the Anglo Saxons. The francisca was notorious for its ability to skip across the ground and slam unpredictably into bodies and shields. If used in melee it strikes as a -10 hand axe.
  • Gaesum: A Celtic spear, the gaesum were large heavy spears that could be used for close combat or throwing. It featured a large barbed iron spearhead.
  • Hunga-munga or Mambele: An African throwing weapon with multiple blades that is thrown horizontally, making the weapon spin through the air. The multiple blades are positioned in such a way that the weapon always hits the target with a blade making the weapon easier to use. There are plenty of variations of this weapon because many tribes had their own design and name for the weapon. Trained users of this weapon were said to be able to sever an antelopes' legs at distances of up to 180 feet. On the down side, it's a rather clumsy weapon in melee where it strikes as a -20 hand axe.
  • Hurlbat: Solid steel throwing axes sharpened on all points to maximize the chance of injuring the target much like the African hunga-munga.
  • Kapak: A small Sumatran axe that was used as a throwing axe. If used in melee it strikes as a -10 hand axe.
  • Pilum (thrown): The pilum was a heavy javelin used by the Roman army. It generally had an iron shank with a pyramidal head. The pilum was designed to penetrate both shield and armour, wounding the wearer, but if they simply stuck in a shield they could not easily be removed. The iron shank would bend upon impact, weighing down the enemy's shield and also preventing the pilum from being immediately re-used.
  • Plumbata: Plumbatae were lead-weighted darts carried by the Roman infantry in the later period of the Roman Empire. Each soldier carried 5 of these darts.
  • Singa: A steel boomerang from Southern India.
  • Shuriken: A Japanese throwing star.
  • Throwing dagger: Used in various shapes around the world, the throwing dagger is a dagger that has been balanced for throwing.
  • Trombash: A Sudanese throwing stick. Made of hardwood, the trombash had an acute striking edge and a sharply upturned end. This weapon inflicted damage from the way it flew into a target, so it inflicted more damage when thrown than when used as a melee weapon. It was better suited to hurling than a normal club, and had a better range. Various other types of throwing sticks were used throughout Africa, but most had the same general appearance as the trombash and conformed to the same characteristics.
  • Verutum: A short javelin used in the Roman army. Unlike the heavier pilum used by the Legion, the verutum were used by light infantry. The verutum had either an iron shank like the pilum or a tapering metal head.
Thrown Weapons Table
Name of weapon Type Wt Len F Table Range modifications (in feet) Notes
1-10 11-25 26-50 51-100 101-150
Angon TH 3-4 6-7 4 Javelin 0 -10 -20 -40 -
Boomerang TH 0.5-1 1-2 4 Club 0 0 -10 -20 -30
Chakram TH 0.5 0.2 4 Armored Fist 0 -10 -30 - - Slash crits only
Francisca TH 1.5 1.5 3 Hand Axe 0 -15 -30 - -
Gaesum TH 3-4 6-7 4 Spear 0 -10 -25 -50 -
Hunga-munga TH 2-3 1-2 3 Hand Axe +5 0 -10 -25 -50
Hurlbat TH 1.5 1.5 3 Hand Axe +5 -10 -25 -40 -
Kapak TH 2 1 3 Hand Axe -5 -10 -30 - -
Pilum TH 3-4 6-7 4 Javelin -5 -15 -30 -60 -
Plumbata TH 1 2 3 Dagger 0 -10 -25 -40 -
Shuriken TH 0.5 0.2 4 Armored Fist +5 0 -30 - - Slash crits only
Singa TH 0.5-1 1-2 4 Hand Axe 0 0 -10 -20 -30
Throwing Dagger TH 0.5 1 2 Dagger 0 -10 -30 - -
Trombash TH 1-2 1-2 2 Club 0 -10 -20 -30 -
Verutum TH 2 4 3 Javelin 0 0 -20 -40 -80