188.8.131.52 Defining Weapons
Weapons are objects, and all considerations discussed in Defining Objects apply to weapon definitions
as well. The distinguishing characteristic of weapons, as far as the
system is concerned, is that they have the object class `weapons'.
Entering this class causes the
As discussed earlier, you can and probably should
define some `third-tier' objects: objects that offer some significant
advantage over standard versions of the objects, and that are seldom
made available automatically with the
Below is an example in which we define a new type of dagger, in the process disussing issues pertinent to defining both weapons and third- tier objects.
Play Balance Considerations:
When defining third-tier improved objects, you should, of course, give some thought to the manner in which they will be improved, the consequences of this improvement on play balance, and what can be done to keep the object balanced with the rest of the system. For example, Strength minimums for weapons are an important component of play balance: large, heavy weapons do more damage, but require more Strength to use; if a player wants to take advantage of these weapons' greater damage-dealing capability, he will need to spend character develoment points to bring his character's Strength to the required level, sacrificing the opportunity to spend them on something else. On a fantasy world, with low tech weapons, a weapon that does a large amount of damage, 2d6 to 3d6, but has a very low minimum Strength requirement, 6 or lower, would very likely unbalance the system... A weapon that departs from norms this much should probably not be defined.
On the other hand, weapons (or other types of objects), that do not depart greatly from norms established by standard and existing weapons, and which are balanced in the sense that they have some sort of offsetting disadvantage, are all to the good... they give players a greater selection, and they make artisan characters more viable. The offsetting disadvantage can take a number of forms: negative adjustments to some property of the object, greater cost, or uncoded but significant disadvantages, such as making possession of the object illegal.
Using our example dagger... A standard dagger does 1d6-1 damage,
requires a minimum Stength of 4, can be used to parry, and can be used
as a thrown weapon. It costs 10 small coins, and can be used with
either the Swords or Knives skill (with the
==================================== >> What class is Ruiz Dagger? >> [Enter a class, or .h for help, or .q to quit] >> What is the weapons class value for Ruiz Dagger? >> [Enter a number, or .h for help, or .q to quit] >> Class entered. Do you want to enter another class? (y/n) ====================================
As indicated, the `weapons' class entry here is critical, and has significant effects on the system's behavior. Informational entries, while not required, are helpful. The dagger should also be given classes such as `melee weapons', `thrown weapons', and `blade weapons', to allow players and staff to find it easily within the database. The class value for all these entries should be `1'.
The `fencing weapons' class also receives special handling: if a weapon has the `fencing weapons' class, characters using the weapon will receive speed and parry bonuses, as discussed in Fencing.
==================================== >> What type of damage does this weapon cause? >> [Enter type, or .h for help, or .q to quit] >> Damage type set to 'conventional'. ====================================
As discussed in the sections on combat, all weapons do a particular type of damage, and all armor and shields are effective against one or more types of damage. All standard weapons do `conventional' damage; all standard weapons and shields are effective against `conventional' damage. In other words, with a base installation of Argo, `damage is damage'... the type of damage requires no special consideration. However, the `damage type' property allows for the definition of entirely new classes of weapons and defenses: high-tech weapons that do `cellular' damage, mentally-based weapons that do `psionic' damage, enchanted weapons that do `magically enchanced' damage. A world populated by supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves might have definitions and program modifications that track `resistent' as well as `conventional' damage: ordinary mortals would be vulnerable to either type, while supernatural creatures would be largely immune to `conventional' damage, with `resistent' weapons providing the only effective means to harm them.
Entering anything besides `conventional' at this prompt gives the weapon a very powerful advantage... You will need to be sure to offset the fact that ordinary armor and shields are useless against it by providing significant offsetting disadvantages. And, almost certainly, you will need to make other database entries that provide a balanced environment for such weapons: special skills and character advantages required to make use of them; skills and advantages that can be used to defend against them; armor and shields that are effective against them; special tools and materials required to make them, probably requiring significant effort to acquire. All these definitions take time and thought, but they will seldom be undertaken on a piecemeal basis: such special weapons are usually an integral aspect of the world's theme.
Because `conventional' is such a common entry, this prompt accepts abbreviated entries: for our dagger, we could enter `conventional', `conv' or `con', or even just `c' to indicate its damage type.
==================================== >> How much damage does this weapon do? >> [Enter dice to be rolled for damage, or .h for help, or .q to quit] ====================================
The damage entry should be a `dice string', in the standard Argo format: a number indicating the number of dice to be rolled, the letter `d', a number indicating how many sides the dice have, and, optionally, a positive or negative modifier to be applied to the total. Standard weapons use six-sided dice, but this is not required. And, unlike `paper and pencil' RP games, Argo uses nonphysical, abstract dice: there is no requirement to use only regular solids, such as 4-, 6-, 8-, 12-, and 20-sided dice. If it fits your conception of the weapon, there is no reason you could not use 3-, 5-, 13- or 27-sided dice. Some valid dice strings:
The internal Dice function can return negative numbers, as in the example of 1d16-2, which will occassionally return -1. The combat system, however, will discard a negative result and replace it with 0 zero... Weapons never do `negative damage' (which would in effect heal the target).
When assigning damage ratings to weapons, keep in mind that rolls utilizing a single die give a flat distribution of results, with any possible result being just as likely as any other, while rolls utilizing multiple dice generate a bell curve distribution of results: results closer to the middle of the range are more common than results at either extreme of the range. In the examples above, both 5d3 and 1d11+4 both generate results from 5 to 15, but the distribution of results will be very different. With 5d3, results in the range of 9, 10, and 11 will be very common, and results like 5 or 15 will be quite rare (1 in 243 rolls). With 1d11+4, 5's and 15's are just as likely as any other roll... 1 in 11. The more dice that are used in the roll, the `steeper' the bell curve becomes (that is, results close to the middle of the range become more common, and results close to the extremes become more rare).
So, you can to a certain extent make combat more consistent by using multi-die rolls... This may or may not be what you want. One possible rationale to apply in assigning damage levels is to presuppose that weapons which generate more energy do damage more reliably. For example, a you might give a small automatic pistol a damage of 1d7+2 and a large magnum revolver a damage of 8d2. The difference between the ranges is significant (3-9 vs 8-16), but the most important difference is not the range of possible results, but the distribution of actual results: You may make a lucky shot with the small auto, and do 9 points of damage, but you are just as likely to do 3 or 4 points. With the magnum, you will do about 12 points of damage almost every time you hit.
For the Ruiz Dagger, we want to keep the weapon in balance with the rest of the system: like a regular dagger, its damage is 1d6-1.
==================================== >> What Skill is rolled against when using this weapon? >> [Enter a Skill name, or .q to quit] >> Skill entered. >> Do you want to enter another Skill that can be used? (y/n) ====================================
You can specify one or several skills that can be used as the base for attack rolls made with a weapon. If multiple entries are made, the combat system will select the character's highest applicable skill. For example, if Antar has Swords 2 and Fencing 4, and the Rapier may be used with either the Swords or Fencing skill, his base chance to hit when attacking with a rapier will be his Physical skill plus 4, this being the highest applicable skill level he has. A good rule of thumb might be that simple weapons, like clubs, are usable with a range of skills, while ordinary weapons are usable with a single skill that is applicable to a number of weapons (such as the Swords skill, which can be used with daggers, foils, broadsword, great swords, etc.), and unusual weapons or especially complex weapons, or those requiring specialized training require a single skill that cannot be transferred to other weapons (the Whip and Boomerang defined in the standard database are examples).
Special skill requirements are a good way to give a third-tier object an offsetting disadvantage. The Ruiz Dagger as presented above does not require a special skill, but it is a bit more specialized than an ordinary dagger. We would enter `knives' as an applicable skill, but unlike the entry for Dagger the Ruiz Dagger would not have Swords as an applicable skill.
The Ruiz Dagger is meant to be a throwing weapon, but we don't have
to enter Thrown Weapons as an applicable skill. In fact, we probably
should not: if we do, a player with a high Thrown Weapons skill will hit
very reliably, whether he is using as a thrown weapon (with the
==================================== >> Is this a ranged weapon, such as a bow or gun? (y/n) >> Is this a thrown weapon, such as a throwing knife or shurken? (y/n) ====================================
Answering `yes' to the ranged weapon prompt will allow it to be used
The Ruiz Dagger is definitely a thrown weapon: we enter `yes' here.
==================================== >> Can this weapon be dodged? (y/n) >> Can this weapon be blocked? (y/n) >> Can this weapon be parried? (y/n) ====================================
These three yes/no prompts define which defense modes may used against the weapon. The low-tech weapons defined in the standard database follow a lose set of rules for defense modes: all three defense modes may be used against conventional melee weapons, thrown weapons, and `slow', muscle-powered ranged weapons, such as spears and javelins; however, `fast' missile weapons that make use of the mechanical advantage provided by simple machines (bows, crossbows, slings) may not be parried, only dodged or blocked.
On high tech worlds, there will probably be a wide range of weapons which cannot be dodged, blocked, or parried: they simply act to fast for the active defenses to be of any use.
Note that these prompts deal only with active defenses: the passive defence provided by armor is always in effect, assuming that the armor provided protection against the type of damage that the weapon causes.
The Ruiz Dagger is a very good throwing knife, but nothing about it would make it immune to active defenses: we would enter `yes' to all three prompts here.
==================================== >> Is this a one- or two-handed weapon? >> [Enter 1, 2, or .q to quit] ====================================
Enter `1' or `2' here, as applicable. The primary effect of this
entry is that it determines whether a shield may be used with the
weapon. If a character's readied weapon is a 2-handed weapon, the
Our Ruiz Dagger, naturally, is a 1-handed weapon.
==================================== >> Can this weapon be used to parry? (y/n) ====================================
The ability to parry an opponent is an important feature for a number
of weapon types, such as swords and polearms. Many, however, were simply
never meant to be used this way, even if it would be possible for
a fighter to thrust them between himself and an on-coming weapon: bows,
rifles, handguns, etc. And it would be physically impossible to parry a
blow with other types of weapons, such as a whip or blowgun. So, use
common sense and enter `yes' or `no' at this prompt. If a character's
readied weapon cannot be used to parry, Argo will not let him
Eliminating the capability to parry with the lightweight, guardless Ruiz Dagger is the primary means we are using to offset the improved chance to hit that it gives: we should enter `no' here.
==================================== >> What is the minimum Strength required to use this weapon? >> [Enter a number, or .q to quit] ====================================
Minimum required Strength levels are an important part of balanced play with melee weapons, and with low-tech weapons in general. You should try to keep to levels comparable with those defined for standard weapons when defining new weapons, unless an improved Strength requirement directly relates to the improvements motivating the definition of a third-tier weapon. High tech weapons will often have much lower Strength requirments. If a character's Strength is a non-issue for a given weapon, enter `1' as the requirement.
An ordinary dagger has a very low strength requirment: 4. We could
well posit that it requires a higher strength to throw the lightweight
Ruiz Dagger hard enough to do damage. But, would this make a real
difference in play? If we use the
==================================== >> What is the maximum range of this weapon? >> [Enter a number, or .h for help, or .q to quit] >> What is the range modifier of this weapon? >> [Enter a number, or .h for help, or .q to quit] ====================================
These prompts are only shown if you specify that you are defining a ranged weapon. The maximum range is the maximum distance, in meters, at which the weapon may be used. The range modifier is the interval at which negative modifiers are applied. A bow with a maximum range of 80 and a range modifier of 10 could (in theory, at least) only be used against targets that are 80 meters or closer. If the target is more than 10 meters away, a -1 modifier would be applied. If the target were more than 20 meters away, a -2 modifier would be applied, etc.
Note, though, that Argo does not apply these limits and
modifiers in coded combat with the
On the other hand, the properties are shown when a ranged weapon is
examined with the
==================================== >> Does this weapon require ammunition or charges? (y/n) ====================================
In a similar vein, Argo allows you to specify ammunition
(arrows, crossbow bolts, ammuntion of a given calibre) or charges (power
packs for weapons such as lasers or light sabres), but does not enforce
their use. If there is sufficient demand, a modified version of
asys-combat that enforces ammunition use and provides a
==================================== >> Does this object modify Abilities? (y/n) >> What is the category of this Ability? >> [Enter category ('stats', 'skills', etc), .n for none, or .q to quit] >> What is the instance of this Ability? >> [Enter instance ('str', 'mechanic', etc), or .q to quit] >> What is the level of this Ability? >> [Enter level number, or .q to quit] >> Ability recorded. Do you want to add another? (y/n) >> Does the object need to be readied in order to modify abilities? (y/n) ====================================
As discussed in Defining Objects,
ability-modifying objects open a wide range of possibilities. A
modification to the Thrown Weapons skill is central to our idea of the
Ruiz Dagger. By answering `yes' to the initial prompt here, `skills' to
the category prompt, `thrown weapons' to the instance prompt, and `1' to
the level prompt, we will have defined the Ruiz Dagger in such a way
that characters usuing it will have an effective Thrown Weapons skill
level 1 point higher when using this dagger. This modification will not
be shown on their character sheet, but will be applied when the results
You will need to think about the nature of the object and how it used when answering the `need to be readied' prompt. In general, you should say `yes' to this, in order to prevent players from accumulating many instances of an ability-modifying object and thus achieve unrealistically high abilities. Some objects, though, will need to be `always on', and will require an answer of `no' to this prompt. For the Ruiz Dagger, we should definitely answer `yes'.
==================================== >> Can players make this object? (y/n) >> Are any Abilities required to make this object? (y/n) >> NOTE: These are simply Abilities the character has to have. >> No rolls will be made against Abilities specified here. >> What is the category of this Ability? >> [Enter category ('stats', 'skills', etc), .n for none, or .q to quit] >> What is the instance of this Ability? >> [Enter instance ('str', 'mechanic', etc), or .q to quit] >> What is the level of this Ability? >> [Enter level number, or .q to quit] >> Ability recorded. Do you want to add another? (y/n) . >> Is one or more rolls required to successfully make this object? (y/n) . >> What tools are required to make the object? . >> What materials are required to make the object? ====================================
The process for defining the abilities, tools, and materials needed to create or repair an object, the rolls to be made, and the standard price to be charged is the same for weapons as for other objects.
For the Ruiz Dagger, we would specify at least one ability that that reflects the high degree of skill needed to make a fine weapon, such as a relatively high Armorer skill (at least 3 or 4), and at least one ability reflecting the artisan's specialized knowledge: a skill such as `Ruiz Family Lore', defined particularly for this purpose. Special materials such as `Toledo Steel' fit the conception of the weapon, both physically and in terms of it being a third-tier object that is somewhat difficult to come by. Properties such as the time required to make the dagger and its price should reflect its more rigorous manufacturing process as well. A standard dagger takes 2 days to make and costs 10 coins; 3 days to make and 20 coins would be reasonable values for the Ruiz Dagger.