Tactical Foundation

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- Weapons and Armour -

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Weapons and Armour

Humans are exceptionally good at developing tools to enhance their killing ability and to aid in the defence of themselves. These tools are the tools of war, and give a great advantage to the wielder. Since their inception there has been a constant arms race between human populations to not only overcome another's defensive technologies, but to find way to nullify another's attacks. This has lead to many weapons and armour becoming obsolete as technology advanced, and those who got left behind often perished. There are certain eras to which certain technologies belong, and the weapon and armour lists for use with Warspike are categories according to a given era.


All weapon stats are derived from a mixture of real weapon stats, experience and guesswork. Where possible real world stats and measures are used, but some weapons have abilities that are subjective in regard to game mechanics. In these cases I have looked to the experts with a given weapon, such are the 'The Arma' for inspiration on medieval and Renaissance weaponry in Europe, to approximate effects.


I hope to include the works of Talhoffer on Longsword combat, in the Technique Tiers and elements of the concepts in the Tactical Tier.

Swords above are marked with the Oakeshott Typology

Weapon configurations

Hand weapons are designed to enhance a Trooper's stats in hand to hand combat. The tools give modifiers to the Trooper's base characteristics make them more effective in combat. There are several types of weapon grip which are combined with various impact heads.



  • 1-Hand swing (1-H/S): Swords, aces, maces
  • 1-Hand thrust (1-H/T): Dagger, Short Sword, Warpick, Stiletto
  • 2-Hand swing (2-H/S): Swords. Axes, Maces, Mauls
  • 2-Hand thrust (2-H/T): Estoc
  • 2-Hand swing wide grip (2-H/S/WG): Polearms
  • 2-Hand thrust wide grip (2-H/T/WG): Spears, Pikes, (Longsword while Half-Swording)

These grips mount various impact heads, which determine the type of damage. The grips are an important part of the weapon as each grip has a particular advantages and disadvantages, and promotes a different style of combat (in the Tactical Augmented rules some weapons can be used in several roles, like adding a ricasso is a two-handed sword means it can be used like a polearm (2-H wide grip).


Swing grip weapons give a bonus to strength (due to leverage of the swing), but are slower and easier to defend.


Thrust grip weapons give no bonus to strength (but this is usually offset by the impact head being piecing type, which does not require much strength to damage), but are fast and direct and harder to defend (shield help!)


Weapon codes: 1-HS/3 (where 3 = reach, and strength modifier due to leverage)



The reach of a given weapon is categoried into bands. These bands are derived from the overall length of the weapon, but also takes into account how the weapon is wielded, and the various grips used.


In close combat Reach determines which Troopers will get to strike first in a confrontation. Longer weapons give the wielder the opportunity to strike down those with shorter weapons before they can properly engage. This confers a huge advantage to the wielders of longer weapons. It is a daunting prospect for a Trooper to take on opponents who wield weapons with a longer reach.


Working it out: Reach is calculated in relation to one quarter the average length of the humans human's arm or 15cm. This is derived from the distance between the hand and head when in mid bare hand parry (point of contact), which works out around half the arm length, combined with reaction time distance and power, and a further reduction for safety margin. Most blades fall into this 15 cm increments (with +5cm tacked on - see notes).


Natural Reach: The base reach of a Trooper is equal to their Stature. For most human warriors of Stature:6 this works are a reach 6. This is roughly 3 feet measured from the centre of the body line to the tip of the finger of an outstretched strike while in a side stance. This may sound over stretched, but is works out as a similar distance for a punch when combined with a smaller forward step. (If in a 'face on' stance then the reach is reduced by 2 (some boxing styles, Sword and Buckler), and if reversed it is reduced by 4 (such as a shield bearer leading with the shield)).


The basic armament of a human is their natural weapons, these are fists and are considered to have a reach equal to their Stature. There is no enhancement of reach for natural weapons, and a fist as a weapon is considered '+0'.


In most games of historical battles where most humans in each army average out to Stature:6, this natural reach can often be effectively ignored. However it is important to remember is is there, because if the Troopers of Stature:6 engage Troopers with a higher or lower stature is will affect the reach band.


Enhancement of Natural Reach: A short dagger, which does add a bit of length, is considered to be band 1; as an opponent can still parry the arm of the dagger wielder rather than the dagger itself (parry). A Dirk (over 20cm) is much harder to deal with, as the are over the average distance of the bent human arm, and the human has to move in order to evade with parry (parry+dodge), such weapons are considered to have a reach of '2'. Early Baselards have a blade length of up to 40 cm and an unarmed human can no longer practically parry the arm of the Baselard wielder (as it is too long) or adequately evade and parry them in close combat. This means they are long enough to be considered well outside arm range, and count as reach of '3' (no parry, only dodge).


Bonuses: Each half foot (6" or 15cm) of weapon length gives +1 statue bonus for then purposes of 'reach' and 'swing leverage' (impact) - write up weapon leverage information to go with reach information.


Reach Comparison table


Blade Length
Example of Blade (sword classifications)
0-20 cm
Stiletto, Misericorde (12th+), F&S fighting knife (20th) , U.S. Marine Raider Stiletto, Shield
21-35 cm
Long knife, Cinquedea, Dirk, Bowie knife, Buckler
36-50 cm
Baselard (early 15th), Cinquedea, main-gauche,
51-65 cm
Baselard (late 15th), Gladius (early)
66-80 cm
Gladius (late), Viking Sword, Arming sword, Spatha, Great Knife, Falchion, Sabre, Kopis,
81-95 cm
Longsword (13-17th), Schiavona (16-17th), Great Sword (13th), Black Bill min (5' 14-16th),
96-110 cm
Estoc/ Tuck, Longsword (Great Sword 13-17th), Rapier, Highland Claymore (16-17th)
111-125 cm
Bastard Sword, Rapier, Black Bill max (6' 14-16th),
126-140 cm
Zweihänder (16th), Flammenschwert (flaming sword),
141-155 cm
156-170 cm
171-185 cm
Forest Bill* min (8' 14016th)
186-200 cm
201-215 cm
Forest Bill* max (9' 14-16th),
186-230 cm
186-245 cm
Pike* min (up to 1700)


Notes: Most weapons seem to top out around the higher end of each category, so allow a bit of leeway and add 5cm. Incidentally '5cm' is equivalent of 2" which according to the Romans is the depth of a fatal stab wound to the celiac plexus (solar plexus). It seems many blades top out at the higher end of each of the reach categories plus 5cm (just long enough to get the job done)


Notes: * Pole arms do not actually have the reach band as above due to some of the pole being used as a grip (which is ignored in the swords etc.) and should be reduced by the width of a wide grip, or about two feet (4 bands). This puts a short forest bill at about band: 8, and a long forest bill at around band: 10.


Notes: These reach bands are for full extension 'Lunge' attacks, if a Trooper is armed with a shield and they are orientated towards the enemy and presenting the shield forward as their primary defence, then the reach of their weapon is reduced by a step back, or around 50-60 cm, or -3 bands. This means that if a Trooper is using a shield some weapons like fists and short daggers can't be used to directly attack their opponent as they are too short to reach past the lead shield and make up the distance while maintaining their guard, They can attack but are limited to the full extension lunge attack and that is not a good option.


Notes: However, longer weapons can not be used at short ranges and if those with shorter weapons can close the gap, they often force those with longer weapons to discard those longer weapons and draw a secondary weapon. (special rules for close techniques are in the Tactical Augmented rules, like long swords and grappling at the sword, half-swording etc. Half-swording greatly reduces the rand band of the weapon, and can even be used to 'grapple' or used like a quarter staff and take the range band all the way down to '+0'! )


Use by Band

Each weapon band has it specific uses, and are designed and optiomised to that task they are used for.


Band 1: weapons are stealth 'take down' weapons. They are short enough to be used in close, often with surprise and using the other hand to restrain and silence the target with a strangle hold from the rear. Such short weapons are not impeded by close proximity to the target and function well in a grapple. These are often 'commando' knives like the SAS sued in WWII.


Band 2: weapons are slightly longer and are frontal attack weapons designed to take down someone who is unarmed with relatively little danger to the wielder (hard to parry and dodge). However they are not perfect in that role and are primarily defensive weapons, as an unarmed man will not wish to take on another armed with a Dirk or Bowie Knife. The wielder can improve their chances of not being countered by being defensive and only attacking the arms of aggressors as they attack, of slashing at their guard to make them back off. These weapons can be used as stealth/ grapple weapons but they are awkward due to their length.


Band 3: is a domination weapon over the unarmed. It has far to much reach to be parried or evaded in close quarters. A person using this can attack with impunity as it is virtually impossible to parry and can only be evaded and dodge, and that means maintain proper distance. If facing an opponent who also has a similarly size, we get the first true evasion knife fighting styles.


Band 4: This is excessive vs unarmed, and is a response to other who have weapons. This is part of the arms-race, where armed warriors sought to gain an advantage in combat. Another aspect is the rise of the Shield in warfare, and these weapons are a little to short to use with effective shield technique.


BAND 5: True war swords. Almost all war swords used throughout history in conjunction with a shield fall into this band. It is long enough to be used effectively with a shield, and as the shield is providing the bulk of defence and often shields clash, the war sword never really got any longer until the shield became obsolete due to Plate Armour.


Band 6+: These weapons turn up as shield use declines.


The Art of Leverage: Cut and Thrust

The length of a weapons also provides another benefit, that of leverage. This can only be taken advantage off when a Trooper takes a swing at their opponent. It is the swing that allows the wielder to make use of a weapons leverage ion order to increase the power of the strike's impact. Thrusts with a weapon do not gain any benefit from leverage as all the power is in the push, and a Trooper can only push so hard (roughly equivalent to, and no more than, a punch).


At first this makes weapons based on the principles of leverage and the swing attack to be all powerful. While it is true a good hewing (a swing with an edged weapon) attack can cleave through flesh with ease, decapitating and disembowelling with one fluid motion, there are disadvantages. The greatest vulnerability of the swing is that it is slower than a thrust and much easier to see coming and parry. Thrusting weapons also have the advantage of reach, as it is the very tip that is the business end, whereas a sword's strike area for a swing is about two thirds the blade length (and maces and warhammer are often shorter than an arming sword) Thrusting weapons may lack impact power but they are often piecing weapons and while they do not benefit from leverage, a piecing weapon is still highly effective.


Like all techniques in combat, it is knowing when to use them. In general terms, hewing is great for mowing down lightly armoured troops, whereas piecing is good for overcoming armour (longsword and the half-swording technique).



  • For each full 6" of weapon length, the power of a swing attack is increased by 1 point (+1 strength). This means an arming sword with a reach band of 5 will give +5 to stature for working out reach, +5 to stature for working out hewing attack impact but +0 for working out thrust impacts.

This is in line with the stature increase conferred by reach (technically the hewing strike point of the sword is not the tip, and hence the full length should not be used to calculate leverage but around two thirds - but that's ignored in tactical). In tactical is can be said that the reach bonus is the same as the leverage bonus, and in effect increases stature.


What makes a huge difference is the type of impact the weapon delivers. Piecing weapons (thrusting) require much less energy to penetrate armour than a hewing (swing) weapon. So while a thrust weapon lacks raw power, it is still just as lethal. For more information see Damage Type below.


//Design note: In warspike their are no bonuses to strength for damage type, a sword and an iron bar of the same length and weight with have the same bonus to a swing attack. The edged/ blunt effects are handled separately.


Range - Missile Weapons

All missile weapons use the first digit of the band, to work out 'Range', so band:13 = Range:1, band:6 = Range:0 (or point blank) and band:35 = Range:3.


Missile weapons table



All weapons for war are made for the job, and make any human an effective killer. Often in war games the damage element is overly focused on, slowing play and reducing the game to a crawl, instead in this game we focus of other aspects of combat to teach what warriors really aim for. To give a basics of combat tactics and technique. Therefore in the core rules is it assumed that all weapons are sufficient for the task and all will kill (i.e. stun and follow through or strike weak points).


No warrior would bother hacking through armour if their weapons are not up to the task, and would switch to other methods to get the job done (more than one way to skin a cat!). For example, with the advent of plate armour it was pointless to try and hew or slash with a Long Sword and technique like half-swording and morte-striking came it, where the long sword is also used in bind far more like a quarterstaff. Warriors are fighting men and it should be assumed that they are trained and clever. We will not be going by the hollywood version of combat (which is a joke). these rules have real combat in mind (and it's dirty!).


Spear (two handed) - the ultimate weapon. Great range, and with the two handed grip amazing flexibility combined with torque (wide grip) and power. This weapon does it all and in the hands of a skilled opponent it will beat any other weapon (the Estoc/ Tuck can be used in a similar manner to a spear, and is in effect a metal spear). Even if a person gets past the spear range the wield switch to quarterstaff mode and the weapon can be used in close with binds. Similar the best.


So why wasn't is the only weapon? One word: Arrows.


Quart staff, much like a spear in many respects but without the pointy end. It doesn't really need it, a Quarter staff is quite capable of splitting skulls and it can be used to thrust like a spear used with two hands. The Quart staff can even by used as a two handed maul.


Spear (one handed) - Oh my god this sucks. Even tucked under the arm for stability it is unbelievably ease to overcome with a sword and a bit of body barging. A one handed spear is useless, but it is good for one thing and one thing only - stopping cavalry.


Sword (hand weapons)


Dagger - these a lethal and a good hammer punch with a dagger will go through plate! Stilettos will slip through chain with ease, and can get into areas that other weapons have trouble finding. Daggers are up close and personal, the grapple weapon of choice and the 'finisher' of many a knight.


Damage Type

Various weapon designs cause various types of wound. Some types of wound are intrinsically more lethal at the same impact energy.


Blunt (B): These weapons cause blunt trauma. The body finds blunt trauma the easiest to absorb out of all the damage types. Unless a blow breaks a bone or dislodges a joint, these wounds are the quickest to recover from and usually do not inflict lasting damage. If the blow does break a bone then the wound is far more serious. The area is effectively destroyed and huge secondary damage is caused by the sharp bone fragments piecing blood vessels and causing internal bleeding. Usually light clubs are used for pacification as they cause pain, and people overcome by numbers assume a defensive fetal position to protect vitals, yet the punishment is much easier to judge and most likely non-lethal. Heavy clubs are dangerous, though they are an all or nothing weapon.


Edged (E): These weapons cause deep lacerations and are very dangerous. Of all the weapons types these are the most often lethal due to the horrendous amounts of damage they can do. Often a good blow can hack down to the bone severing major blood vessels and causing huge amounts of blood loss. A very strong blow can even sever limbs decapitate. However the main purpose most edged weapons are intended for, such as the sword, is a slashing draw cut. Disembowelling is an effective killer, disables and doesn't blunt the blade.


Piecing (P): These weapons cause puncture wounds and impale. The body has the least resistance to this type of damage, but unless something vital is struck they often have limited effect. Only impacts to the body and head have a better than average chance of cause significant damage. Limb impact are often flesh wounds and unless a blood vessel is directly piece do not cause huge blood loss.


Prototype rules on Damage


Ranged Weapons

The weapons use two characteristics that are similar for troops, which is mass and speed (or move and size). This is used to work out impact (much the same as if some one shoulder charged).


This is a measurement of a projectiles ability to penetrate armours.

  • Level I : .22 or a musket ball
  • Level II : 9mm handgun.
  • Level III : Text
  • Level IV : Text

Brown Bess

Brown Bess: British army musket .75 caliber flintlock musket

Standard use: One shot per turn (30 seconds), but can be increased with training Youtube

Accuracy 50% at 100yards for man sized targets, 75% at 100 yards for cavalry.

Movement: M: 10,000

>[1,000 fps or 1052 fps Youtube (or 30,000'/ 10,000 yards per turn)]

Size: 1/180 or 0.0056 st or S:0.0056

>[545 grains one ounce (oz) is 437.5 grains. about 1 1/4 oz. or 1/13 of lb or 1/180 st (stone)]

Impact: 56

>[(10,000/ 180 to get impact in stone)]


A musket ball has M:10,000



A shield are effectively 'mobile cover' which allows the wielder to hide behind. An incoming arrow, bullet or weapon strike that is on target will often be blocked by the shield. The shield make it much harder to damage it's wielder.


Shield Cover (SC): This is the amount of cover a shield gives. It is expressed as a fraction out of 10. So a shield with SC:1 covers about 10% of the body when standing, and a Shield with SC:10 would cover the entire body when standing. There are a few caveats;



  • A shield of SC:5 or greater is large enough to crouch down behind and offer complete cover. The Romans and Greeks of antiquity both used this tactic to great effect. A crouching Trooper can double their shield's SC.
  • With indirect fire, where arrows rain down from the heavens, the amount of target available from the top is greatly reduced, and as a simple rule of thumb is that the SC is doubled to reflect this.

Armour Rating (AR): This is the strength of the shield. The higher the Armour Rating the stronger the shield. Some weapons are so powerful that they can penetrate a shield through to the barer underneath, even if the shield provides full cover. Another consideration is mobility, a Trooper can carry only so much weight before they become immobile.



This is a measurement of armour effectiveness, in the modern era the armour value is equal to real world armour levels used in bullet resistant/ proof armours.


Armour Levels

  • Level I : Primitive armours*
  • Level II : Will stop a 9mm.
  • Level III : Immunity to 9mm.
  • Level IV : Text

* Primitive armours include a range of armour that do not stand up to modern firearms. These include leather armours, chain (with heavy canvas under layers) and plate armours. In general terms, leather reduces the effectiveness of weapons strikes, chain converts the lethal hewing damage of swords into blunt trauma and nullifies crafty slashing attacks, and plate converts edged and piecing damage into blunt trauma.


Note: modern bullet proof vests will not stop a knife impale. They are class one but have a special rule vs light and fast projectiles. Whereas normal metal armour is unable to withstand high velocity/ energy impacts, a vest will. Therefore the basic non-plate bullet proof vest falls in with the primitive armours, as it does not protect against all attacks.


Note: High energy impacts. Special materials can deal with high speed impacts which usually get special bonuses for penetrating mental armours. They will not stop slow moving weapons with weight behind them such as a knife thrust. Bullet proof vest convert high impacts into blunt trauma. The amount they can convert is expressed as a number, and if this number is equal to or over the high impact bonus, the bonus is nullified and the shot is resolved at base strength blunt trauma (still enough to drop a person for a round!)


Note: If the fire power level is equal to the armour level the target is not killed but instead is disabled (shock and blunt force trauma). In the limited time frames of the game, being disabled is effectively a 'kill' however they are not removed as they can be used by snipers as 'bait'.


Flexible (F): These armours are flexible and rely on the human body to support the armour. Generally they convert various edged and piecing impacts into blunt impacts, which is much easier form the body to absorb. They are also good at countering bite attacks from animals, stopping the teeth from penetrating though to the flesh. A list of impact conversion is given for each armour design.


Rigid (R): These armours are self supporting and distribute the impacts over a larger area. They convert edged and piecing impact into blunt impacts, but they also distribute that blunt impact for over a larger area, This gives bonuses to the armour, which can completely nullify some attacks (one-handed swords making slashing or hewing attacks are practically useless against medieval plate armour).


Hybrid (H): These armours have small solid plates that distribute the impact, attached to a flexible backing. They are not as effective as hard armours. These armours are often the forerunners of Plate armours and include scale, banded and patch. They also include semi-rigid armours such as heavy leather. Usually these armours are good at stopping piecing attacks (and in the modern sense high impact bullet proof vests).


Tactical Foundation: Organisation >

Copyright © Philip Sibbering 2007-2013. WarSpike™ is a Trademark of Philip Sibbering.

This file last modified 06/25/16