Heavier Weapons For Stronger Characters

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Every melee weapon and thrown weapon in GURPS has a minimum ST rating. Inherently, every weapon is thus limited to a maximum ST (equal to three times the minimum ST rating); see p. B270 for details.

The ST rating of a weapon is primarily based upon how heavy it is, relative to how it is wielded. Thus, there's no reason one cannot make, say, a heavier broadsword that requires more strength to use, but can also be wielded effectively in superhumanly strong hands.

  • Example: Bertha has ST 60, and thus cannot use a regular thrusting broadsword to its full effect. A normal thrusting broadsword requires ST 10, and thus is limited to a maximum effective ST of 30. Bertha needs a broadsword with at least a minimum ST 20.

To increase the weight of a weapon, choose the new minimum ST rating. Divide the new ST by the old ST, but don't round off -- this will be known as the ST Ratio. Since BL increases with the square of ST, weight must increase proportionately. Square the ST Ratio; that's how much heavier the weapon is.

  • 20 / 10 = 2, so the ST Ratio is 2, which squared is 4. Bertha's custom broadsword will weight four times as much as a normal one, or 12 lbs.

A heavier weapon will not only allow for more ST to be used, but it will also do slightly more damage by virtue of its extra weight. Look at how much weight has been added to the weapon. If it is less than three pounds heavier, the weapon does the same base damage. Otherwise, look up the extra weight on the Linear Measurement column of the Size and Speed/Range Table (p. B550), reading "yards" as "pounds"; if the difference falls between two values, use the smaller one. The value in the Size column of that line should be added to the damage that the weapon does.

  • Bertha's sword weighs 9 pounds more than a normal broadsword would. Since 9 falls between 7 and 10, we look at the "7 yd" line, which has a Size entry of +3. So the huge broadsword does sw+4 cut or thr+5 imp based on Bertha's ST.

The price of the new weapon should typically be set by the GM. A reasonable guideline is to multiply the price by (ST Ratio times 1.5) squared. If the character decides to make the weapon personally, multiply the materials cost by the ST Ratio squared, and apply the ST Ratio (rounded down) to the Smith rolls as a penalty. Note that realistically, most smiths will compensate for that penalty by taking extra time (p. B346) to eliminate it.

  • Bertha's new sword will probably cost around nine times the normal price (2 x 1.5, squared), or $5400. That's assuming she can find a blacksmith qualified and willing to make it -- the smith's costs will be four times what they normally are, and all of his skill rolls will be at -2 to create this weapon (which he can overcome by taking four times as long to make the sword).

Optional Rule: Reach

If the weapon is being made of incredibly dense materials, etc., there is no need for it to be any bigger. However, it may be made of normal materials, only larger, especially if the character's massive ST comes from large size. If this is the case, Reach will be altered as well. Take the "average Reach" of the weapon in each mode, treating a "C" weapon as 0.25 (e.g., a knife would have an average swing Reach of 0.5 and an average thrust Reach of 0.25; a quarterstaff has an average swing or thrust Reach of 1.5) and multiply it by the square root of the ST Ratio.

The results will have to be interpreted somewhat by the GM. If the weapon originally had a continuum of Reaches, just recenter the continuum on the new Reach, rounding down (e.g., if a glaive, which normally has "Reach 1-3", and thus an average Reach of 2, when thrusted becomes "Reach 5.2" by these rules, the new Reach would be centered around 5, becoming "Reach 4-6"). If the weapon originally had a single Reach, it is usually acceptable to write it as a continuum with a Reach just above and just below the new value (e.g., an axe which is upgraded to "Reach 2.32" by these rules can be written as "Reach 2, 3").

Note that a weapon this large incurs an additional penalty to Holdout equal to the increase in maximum Reach. Though realistically, Holdout skill -- for anything, not just weapons created with these rules -- should be modified by the inverse of the character's Size Modifier, as a larger character can more easily conceal larger objects.

  • If Bertha's sword is heavier because it is huge, it will have an increased Reach. Broadswords normally have Reach 1 in all modes of use. The square root of her ST Ratio is 1.4, which raises her new Reach to 1.4. Per the suggestions above, she writes it as "Reach 1, 2". Any attempt to conceal her sword would be at -5 instead of the normal -4 for a broadsword, due to the +1 increase in maximum Reach.

Another Example

If Bertha doesn't mind the extra encumbrance and expense, she could have a similar sword made with minimum ST of 60; the ST Ratio is 6. The sword would weigh 36x normal (6 squared), or 108 pounds. The sword is 105 pounds heavier than a normal sword, which falls between "100 yd" and "150 yd" on the table. Using the lower value, the sword adds +10 to base damage, doing sw+11 cut or thr+12 imp. It would probably cost around 81 times as much (6 x 1.5, squared), or $48,600, to have comissioned. If Bertha was making this herself, the materials would cost 36x as much and she would be at -6 to her Smith skill rolls. If the sword is heavy because of sheer size, it would have "Reach 2, 3" and the penalty to Holdout skill would be -6.

Note that these rules were both influenced by and reproduce small portions of similar rules presented in GURPS Mecha, T. Bone's GLAIVE rules, and Sean Punch's unofficial musings on the subject.

Tangent: Armor for High-SM Warriors

For humanoids, armor weight should (more or less) scale with surface area. The easiest way to approximate this is to take the height of the bearer in yards and divide by 2 (or take the height in feet and divide by 6). Square the result. This is how much heavier that person's armor should be. Note that this also works for smaller humanoids without change; the result will be a fraction.

  • For example, a person with Gigantism is usually SM +1 and thus 3 yards tall. 3 divided by 2 is 1.5, and 1.5 squared is 2.25. Therefore, the armor (as well as clothing and such) of someone with Gigantism should weight 2.25 times as much as that of a normal person.
  • Someone with Dwarfism at SM -1 will typically be 1.5 yards tall. 1.5 divided by 2 is 0.75, and 0.75 squared is 0.56. So the armor for a genetic dwarf should weigh a little more than half of the value quoted in the rules.

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