Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Improbable Weapon User

"Mac Gyver Rule:" Other than for the protagonists, your choice of weapons is not limited to the prosaic guns, clubs, or swords. Given appropriate skills, you can cut a bloody swath across the continent using gloves, combs, umbrellas, megaphones, dictionaries, sketching tablets — you name it, you can kill with it. Even better, no matter how surreal your choice of armament, every store you pass will just happen to stock an even better model of it for a very reasonable price. Who else is running around the world killing people with an umbrella?

I had to write this post, if for no other reason than to show this brilliant panel from Girl Genius from many weeks ago.
I must start by being clear about the use of improbable weapons ... I'm all for it.  If no other weapon is available, I'd like to see more players taking advantage of what's immediately available: bar stools, small farm animals, 50' lengths of rope (bundled, of course), backpacks, filled money belts ... whatever.  If one does not happen to have a hand-axe, because its already been thrown in this combat, a full wine bottle will do.  I think its a shame that my characters don't resort to these things more often.
That said, there's a good reason why.  In reality, a thrown wine bottle doesn't aim for shit.  It doesn't turn like, say, a balanced knife.  This is true for every kind of makeshift weapon.  Good for that specific moment, when you need something, and that bassinet is very handy.  Not so good for the long haul.  The 'Shoveler' would be replacing his shovels on such a steady basis that it would make him think twice about that being his weapon of choice.  The same goes for continued use of cricket bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs and so on.  Yes, lovely weapons when used against unarmed people.  A golf club's survival time against a traditional long sword?  About one swing.
A great deal of effort is put into making weapons so that they are easy to handle, so that they balance well and so that they deliver a good, solid blow that the wielder doesn't feel.  Yes, a frying pan will open an enemy's skull, no question.  It's also damn hard to hold onto as a parrying weapon, its reach is a little short for convenience sake and - let's face it - the thing is hard to hang on your belt.
While I might be for immediate use of anything that comes to hand, I would put obstacles in the way of a character who decided to take 'kittens with sharpened claws' as a proficiency.  It would be all very interesting, no doubt.  And very funny.  I'm sure the character's enemies would be suprised ... just long enough to roll it over in their minds as their balanced spears impaled the character's organs.
This is about all I can say about this subject.  I know others bend towards the less prosaic, as the quote says ... but give me a mace any day.  Sort of like melting down the weight of the frying pan into an aerodynamic ball, fixing it to a longer stick and adding points.
Wait, that's more than 'sort of like,' isn't it?


Blaine H. said...

Only really had one player truly adopt the use nearly anything as a weapon mentality.

To him, grappling hooks, ten foot pools, his backpack with a rope tied onto it, steel toed boots (not being worn), and even the dress of the girl he was at the time once were all valid choices. To him, Jacky Chan was hero and inspiration.

The man might have carried maybe a magic dagger he picked up along the way, just to cut his way out of a monster... but that was about it. Other than that, chair and broken bottles were quite sufficient. Heck, even rocks off the ground did a pretty good job...

Honestly, need more people like that.

Shinobicow said...

Every since the Dark Cloud games I have always had a dark fascination with wielding medium-very large sized fish as weapons in RPG's. I like the Gamma World rules because it makes doing that SuPeR easy.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Some weapons would be better than others of course. That mandrel you grabbed in the jeweler's shop is better than the mandril you get from the zoo, for example. I might be able to combine the two, but then it would be a pet, and the subject of a different post.

Strix said...

"Yes, a frying pan will open an enemy's skull, no question. It's also damn hard to hold onto as a parrying weapon, its reach is a little short for convenience sake and - let's face it - the thing is hard to hang on your belt. "

Please excuse me while I go clean beer off my monitor, out of my nose and beard.

Wickedmurph said...

If I'm not mistaken, Caramon's girlfriend Tika Wayland was statted in one of the Dragonlance rpg's, and actually had a frying pan on her equipment list. I don't remember how much damage it did, though.

Tom said...

D8, All Sizes. No penalty to hit as she was proficient, which also granted her a +20% bonus to pummel foes with her shield.

And folks wonder why the Dragonlance series is pointed to as the beginning of the end of the golden age of gaming.