This “Weapons” skill description is a general entry, similar to the general “spell” and “ritual” entries used in part to define the magick skills, as it must be to encompass the use of so many different weapons. It is used here to describe the way in which the myriad different weapon skills can be developed and employed.
In the distinctly medieval milieu of the game, social class and station will dictate the weapons and arms available to the character. The arms and weapons a Warrior will have available to train with is determined by his class and station. In medieval England, the Assizes of Arms determined the armor and weapons all able-bodied male citizens over the age of 16 and up to the age of 60 must acquire and maintain for the defense of the realm. It dictates of what type and extent, according to the value in yearly income of the lands each male citizen holds, or the value of their chattels (moveable goods). For most walks of life, this dictated the weapon skills they were allowed to practice and for what purpose they were allowed to be used, what must be maintained in the house as far as war harness. The character’s war harness is subject to review for proper care and maintenance once a year by the local representative of the king (bailiff, reeve, sheriff, bedel, etc.)
Historically, there were many martial art schools of “fence” to be found throughout the Middle Ages. These schools taught the fundamental elements of foot soldiery, self-defense and the use of weapons of one’s class, according to the Assize, as every able-bodied man of the realm was to be ready to participate in the defense of at least his own shire, and commonly the levies were called up to go to war in other parts of the realm, especially in the Welsh and Scottish campaigns. The player should know where his character falls on this schedule of requirements by this point. The Assize of Arms is one of the major reasons for including the average yearly incomes in the descriptions of the different levels of Class and Station. The character’s primary trade is most important in that determination, though of course his social class and station by birth will certainly have their influence, as it is unlikely that the trade is terribly far removed from the station by birth.
|Income/Chattels||Arms & Weapons Required to Maintain|
|“sticks & staves” long-handled farm tools, cudgels and quarterstaves|
|gambeson, staves & knives|
|3-10M||aketon, guisarme, sword & knife|
|iron cap, pourpoint, axe & lance/spear|
|iron cap, pourpoint, & lance, bow & arrows|
|£2||bow & arrow, sword & knife; constables : axe, sword & knife|
|£5||horse, bow & arrow, sword & knife|
|£10||horse, haubergellum (haubergeon or 1/2 hauberk); Hobelar : horse, aketon or plates, basnet or palet, gorget, iron gauntlets, lance, sword & knife|
|£15||Equip and mount a man-at-arms/sergeant, Hobelar|
|£20 †||horse & lorica (full hauberk)|
|£40 †||horse & lorica + 1 man-at-arms & 1 Hobelar|
† subject to distraint of knighthood
One of the most important distinctions is between those who must be mounted and those who travel by “shanks’ mares”, on foot. Horses are status symbols, expensive both to purchase and to maintain. Those who are expected to provide horses by the income level noted generally already own them, however. It is a mark of wealth and greater station.
Distraint of knighthood is the requirement and duty of those of a certain income level to seek out and take up the mantle of knighthood to aid in the defense of the realm. The player will please note that his character’s bearing of arms and armor will only be questioned when it does not seem to fit his social and/or professional situation.
The Warrior and Huntsman trades will favor the blades dedicated to war, the common sword, bastard sword, two-handed sword, back sword, saber, side sword, cutlass, falchion, and braquemart which are strong for the cut as well as the thrust, while the affluent commons and Courtiers or Courtesans will favor the smaller and lighter sidearms designed primarily for thrusting, such as the tuck sword, rapier, smallsword, foil and épée to protect their honor.
Aside from the dictates of the assize of arms, ALL citizens of the realm who could afford to do so were encouraged to practice archery, so the skills for the various manual bows (NOT mechanical crossbows) is available to all, especially for the members of the Huntsman trades. Carrying a bow and arrows around, however, the character must take care he does not fall afoul of the Forest Law. Skill with a sling is equally encouraged, especially among free commoners and the landbound in the rural districts. The fustibal, or sling-staff, is included in this allowance.
In addition, all weapons that originated or are slightly modified forms of farm tools (hoe, spade, mattock, pitchfork, billhook, sickle, scythe, etc.) is available to all commoner and even landbound characters equally as weapon skills. These generally do not involve much in the way of skill to use in battle, just a certain level of comfort in the hand and knowledge of the heft and configuration – and a will to commit mayhem on one’s foe. Though requiring a great deal of practice and skill, the quarterstaff is also a mark of the common classes, available to all, both free and landbound.
The player may include the bow, quarterstaff, knife and/or dagger, and Grappling/Wrestling/Brawling skills in his character’s Athletics bundle, or in his Finishing School bundle, as applicable. In the Finishing School bundle may be included up to (AWA ÷ 4) of the various Sword skills and the Shield skill, as well.
Many of the specialty weapon skills (blackjack or sap, garrote, cestus, cat-o-nine-tails, lash/quirt/whip, etc.) have a less than savory character and are actually the proper province of the Assassin, Knave and/or Rogue trades who commonly cultivate them. Only members of these trades or those who have direct ties to them (GM’s discretion) may take these sorts of weapon skills. The clandestine nature of the armaments concealed in the featherstaff dictate that it fall in this category of weapon, as well.
Taking the baling hook as a weapon skill will require that the character be of common birth and/or of the Assassin, Knave and/or Rogue trades and hail from a town where there is a significant group of stevedores handling freight, such as a river, canal, or sea port
For the purposes of the game, the weapons and their respective skills are divided between several classes and groups. For the purposes of the game, similarities in form and function grant the character the ability to use more than one weapon in a group when he is caught without that in which he was specifically trained. The Weapon skills and the groups of weapons falling under each are enumerated as follows.
Skills Weapons Included
Close Melée Blades, Cutting Knife, Butcher-/Cleaver (large)
Knife, common (small)
Blades, Thrusting Dagger, Poignard
Specialty Weapons Baling Hook
Large Melée Blades, Chopping Axe, Battle- (2-edged)
Axe, Bearded War-
Blades, Combination Sword, Back –
Sword, Common (“long”)
Blades, Cut/Slash Sword, Saber
Sword, Side –
Blades, Thrusting Sword, Foil/Epée
Sword, Small –
Sword, Tuck –
Bludgeoning Mace, Footman’s
Mace, Footman’s Morning Star-
Mace, Horseman’s, Morning Star-
Flails Flail, Footman’s
Flail, Morning Star -, Footman’s
Flail, Morning Star -, Horseman’s
(Thrusting) Lance, light
Specialty Weapons Cape
Ranged Missile Composite Bow
Hurled (marked “H” on App. D.2 roster)
(ANY) Off-Hand (any)
Each of the skills listed in the “Skills” column covers the use of a different selection of weapons. When the player finds a weapon in the “Weapons Covered” column he likes for his character, he must be sure to give his character the specific skill under which it is listed. A player who liked the broad axe and equipped his character with one would have to give him the Large Melee Chopping Blades, Axe skill to enable him to use it.
The player must note that the skill to Hurl a weapon with accuracy is distinct and separate from the skill to wield it by hand in the melée. Just because a character has learned to successfully wield a weapon in man-to-man battle does not mean he can take that weapon and hurl it through the air with equal deadly effect, too. In the above example, if the player also wanted his character to be able to Hurl that axe with deadly effect, he would have to give him the Large Melee Chopping Blades, Axe, Hurled skill, also.
In the same vein, if the character wishes to be able to wield a weapon in his off-hand, as opposed to his primary hand, as determined in the process of Character Generation, that is considered to comprise a separate skill, as well. In order to fight with a weapon in either hand, “Florentine” style, the character would have to have a primary weapon hand skill, usually a sword of some sort, and an off-hand weapon skill, such as a dagger, or even another sword skill.
For our example with the axe skill, in order for him to be able to fight with that axe in his off hand and also to be able to Hurl it with deadly effect in battle would require the character to have two additional weapon skills with it. It is possible for a character to have 4 different skills in the same weapon to ensure that he is able to use it any way he wishes during play – for the weapon hand, Hurled with the weapon hand, in the off-hand, and hurled with the off-hand.
The target or buckler is often used offensively as a weapon skill to balance the character’s weapon skill in his primary hand, but these are represented by and discussed under the Shield skill.
The style of fighting that involves the cultivation of skill with a cape in the off-hand for use as an entangling and defensive weapon is governed by the Brawling/Wrestling skill and SL.
The “Specialty Weapons” heading is not a group-skill like the other weapon group-skills. Each weapon under this heading is considered eccentric enough to need its own special skill which will not cross nor transfer to any other sort of weapon skill in any way. All weapons listed in that category must be taken separately, each as an individual skill.
The player and GM will please note that the difference between “combination” blades and “thrusting” blades is that the former have a strong edge and enough weight to cut and slash while still having a serviceable point for thrusting, favored for war though usually too wide in the point/blade to make piercing attacks through any armor except plain padding, while the strength of the former lies in the narrowness of the blade and its use for thrusting and piercing attacks through mail and the joints in field plate. Many of the latter do not even have edges with which to cut, and are in fact favored for civilian use in honor duels, rather than for war due to their lack of versatility, being best against unarmored opponents.
The weapon skills are flexible. Any weapon listed under the same skill noted as being the same sort of weapon (most notably swords or axes, maces or flails) can also be used by a character in a pinch, due to the fact that they are used in much the same way.
A character given the Melée Combination Blade weapon skill would have to be equipped with one of the six blades listed under that skill in order to make use of it in battle. On the other hand, if he lost his own sword during a battle, whichever of the six the player originally equipped him with, he would be free to pick up any of the other five types and the similarities in the construction and method of use would enable him to wield it with 3/4th’s his normal weapon SL. Our friend with the Axe skill above would be able to do the same with any of the axes listed along with his favored broad axe. The same is true of knives, maces, flails, bows, etc.
IF the character is in a tight spot and can only get his hands on a weapon that is listed under his skill but it isn’t of the same basic type, such as a Maul when he has a Mace skill, or a Mattock when he has an Axe skill, the character is able to use it, but only with 1/2 normal weapon SL.
In addition, some skills is allowed to cross the lines drawn by the skill designations. This is true where the character has a weapon for which the basic type is listed under more than one skill, most notably among the swords. Combination blades, by their very nature, require the character to learn more than one method of attack and defense to take full advantage of their characteristics, to wit, to cut, slash, and thrust. Thus, a character who loses his Combination blade (sword) in battle is allowed to pick up any Chopping sword (braquemart or falchion) or Thrusting sword (rapier, small sword, etc.) and use it at 1/2 normal SL.
One can NOT go from a braquemart or falchion to a combination or thrusting blade of any sort, however, though one could pick up an axe in a pinch when a braquemart or falchion gets lost in the fray.
All weapons are defined for use by their size, their weight, and their damage bonus, as described in the weapon notes following the equipment rosters in Appendix D.2 Weapons, where their specific uses are detailed, and also in the descriptions of the different sorts of attacks and actions in the tactical and combat rules in Part III. The Rules of the Game.
When wielding a weapon in battle against another armed foe the character may put up one of a number of defenses – Dodge, Block, or Parry. Dodges rely on a character’s AGL to get him out of harm’s way. Blocking is the act of putting one’s weapon directly in harm’s way and accepting the blow of a foe’s weapon on it so no damage can be inflicted, and is based on the character’s weapon skill. Parrying will also be based on the character’s skill with the weapon in hand, and is a maneuver designed to divert an in-coming attack by using the weapon to strike at and deflect the foe’s weapon in such a way as to cause it to pass by harmlessly.
The att. mod’s for determining the AV’s for all Weapon skills, regardless of type, are based upon the character’s CRD. The character’s Parry and Block AV’s are equal to his Attack AV with the weapon in question. For Melée Weapons skills (all) a bonus of 1 for every weight class the weapon is above “A” (Light) is also added.
IF a weapon can be used in more than one capacity (a hurled weapon can generally also be used in the Melée), the player should be sure to have the statistics for both uses recorded and at hand for easy reference during play.
IF the character is a member of one of the Warrior trades, a bonus is added to his weapon AV’s based upon his Savvy and/or Player skill(s), as applicable.
The bonuses for the Savvy and the Player skills will only apply in combat with living, intelligent humanoid foes, so the player should be sure to record his attack AV’s and Parry and Block DV’s both with and without the bonus in the two spaces provided for that purpose on the character sheet, so he doesn’t have to scramble about trying to figure out what bonus he added when the GM suddenly reminds him it doesn’t apply for the foe currently faced.
The DV for using weapon skills is equal to the DV provided by the Defense chosen by the character’s target in combat – Dodge, Block, or Parry, or Dodge alone for (most, not all) animal foes, or the sum of the defenses offered if the (humanoid) target chooses to use more than one at a time towards a particular attack.
Weapon strikes is conducted in normal tactical time, according to the character’s Rate of Action. These aspects of play is explained in detail in the tactical and combat rules in Part III. the Rules of the Game.