Weapons and Equipment

Adrian bolted the heavy oaken door behind her. She could already hear the sound of her pursuers' hatchets hacking away at it. She glanced at the remains of her longsword. It could be reforged -would be, it was her father's - but it wouldn't help her now.

As her eyes adjusted to the glooni, she looked around the room: no other doors and the window was a tiny grille. Then she spotted the weapons - aha, a guardroom! Her luck hadn't run out completely.

The dagger would be too light to handle hatchets and falchions. The rusty shortsword was crumbling. And the halberd was far too long for such close quarters. Standing in the comer, though, was a nastily hooked bill, not much taller than Adrian. That would do nicely!

Grasping the weapon across her body, Adrian turned toward the door, glad that she hadn't spent ail her time studying swordplay.

Purely unarmed fighting styles exist, but most traditional martial arts evolved for use in battles or duels involving weapons. Many were intended for armored warriors facing similarly clad opponents. These basic realities remain for today's combat styles, but art and sport forms often replace lethal weapons - or all weapons -with nonlethal ones, and armor is typically either nonexistent or designed specifically as training equipment.

Traditional or modern, lethal or nonlethal, the hardware used by the practitioners of many styles can be as complex as their tactics. Tomorrow's gear will probably be even more elaborate. See GURPS Ultra-Tech for futuristic equivalents to many items found in this chapter.

Cross-Cultural Encounters

Weapons don't evolve in a vacuum. They're optimized to meet the needs of a particular place and time. A fighter normally trains to use his culture's weapons to confront probable threats - meaning armaments common in his region and in nearby areas, especially those favored by enemy cultures. He'll rarely have experience wielding or facing weapons from distant lands and other times, much less those from far-off planets and crosstime! The GM decides how to handle this.

The simplest option is to assume that Melee Weapon skills include the ability to adapt quickly to new tools and threats. Those who know such a skill can use all of the weapons listed for it the Basic Set and Martial Arts -even completely alien ones - at no penalty. In armed clashes, the statistics and footnotes on the tables completely parameterize each weapon. To settle unlikely duels (bill vs. three-part staff, katana vs. rapier, etc.), follow the rules as written and ignore the weapons' provenance. For instance, in an affray between a gladius-wielding Roman legionary and a 16th-century rapierist, neither is penalized for lack of knowledge of the other's weapon. Moreover, if our legionary has a large Indian katar (wielded with Shortsword) and our rapierist has a Chinese jian (used with Rapier), neither suffers a penalty for unfamil-iarity with his own weapon, either.

On the other hand, the detail-oriented GM is free to rule that fighting with an unfamiliar melee weapon gives -2 to skill. See Familiarity (p. B169) for details.

If this is true, then it follows that fighting against an unusual weapon should also be challenging. This gives -2 to skill whenever a fighter directly engages a weapon that he has neither seen before nor trained against. This penalty doesn't affect attack rolls, but it does penalize Quick Contests (to disarm, feint, etc.) and give -1 to parry the unusual weapon. In most cases, both fighters will suffer these penalties, in which case it's best to ignore the effect on Quick Contests (it cancels out) and keep only the -1 to parry.

When using penalties for unfamiliarity, the GM decides which weapons are "familiar" and "unfamiliar" to fighters. He might use Cultural Familiarity (p. B23), boundaries on a map, or fiat. In some worlds, military and civilian weapons, the arms of different social classes, etc., might be mutually unfamiliar. Remember that this is a two-way street! You can declare that you're from an obscure culture so that everybody has -1 to parry your cool ethnic weapons . . . but you will have -1 to parry almost everybody else's weapons.

This isn't the same thing as familiarity with your opponent's fighting style. For that, see Style Familiarity (p. 49).

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