Weapons In Roleplaying Games

Posted on July 15, 2015 By

I recently built a character for a friend’s Shadowrun campaign. It’s my first time playing Shadowrun and so far I generally like the system, but one thing that bugged me was the primacy of the katana.

In the core rulebook for the 5th edition, swords of all stripes from the roman gladius to the monstrous flamberge are all lumped together as a single weapon; except for the katana. For some inexplicable reason, the mighty and awesome katana does more damage and has better armor penetration than any other sword. This annoys me somewhat: if a rapier and a claymore are both similar enough to a tulwar or a jian to merit having the same game stats, why in the world does the katana stand out? It makes no sense in my mind. The katana just isn’t that different from other swords.

Pathfinder has the opposite problem. Between the core rules, all of Paizo’s official supplements, and all the third party content, Pathfinder has accumulated dozens of weapons with differences so minor and arbitrary that it seems like the only reason for it is to pad out the equipment section of the latest book.

It seems to me that a better approach would be to create a list of general weapons based on rough size and usage, and allow the player buying the weapon to customize it by adding certain features like hooks or back spikes.

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