Friday, February 28, 2020

[Guest Post] Bronze Age weapons & armour

[Steve is back with weapons from the ancient world. I have included some of his explanatory notes to me, some may find them useful to add a bit of detail. I wish I could just transcribe our conversations, but I'm not spending my time doing that! -HDA]

Part One - Prehistory


Javelin, Amentum - Greeks used a twisted leather thong attached to a javelin to extend the throw similar to an atlatl, but without the finickiness of loading it onto the branch, as the thong was just affixed to the javelin.  As it untwisted, it also imparted spin.

Javelin, Pilum - You'd best know what this one is.  Heavy, hypodermic looking javelin that the legion is famed for.  Fucked with shields and over-penetrated to strike men who used them on account of their design.

Dolabra - The real weapon that built the empire, the legion's entrenching tool. Mattock/pickaxe.

Xyston - A normal Macedonian spear.

Gastraphetes - Greek crossbow that would have allowed them to span a draw weight greater than they could have by hand, by pushing down on a mechanism that then pushed back up against the string, bracing it against their belly ("belly bow").

Epsilon axe
Epsilon axe - Shaped like the Greek character epsilon.

Labrys axe - Presumably ceremonial, associated with Minoan religion, therefore all minotaurs carry greataxes in D&D.

Kontos - The first light lances.

Sarissa - Alexander's Macedonian pike.

Falx - Dacian terror weapon, the first two-handed weapon Romans encountered. They temporarily up-armoured the dacian legions to counter it with banded iron armguards (manica), greaves, and reinforced helmets. Thus we have Roman segmented iron half-plate, if only for a short window.

Rhompheia - Basically the same thing.

Sica - Thracian shortsword, associated with assassins. This is the root of the word "Sicario."

Dory - The hoplite spear. 300 Spartans, phalanx warfare, etc.

Khopesh - Weird Egyptian bronze sword that developed out of axes, like a cut out epsilon axe

Spatha - Roman cavalry sword, longer than a Gladius, ended up becoming the main armament of the late empire, influenced the development of the migration period sword/Viking sword/Carolingian sword, would eventually stiffen and taper and develop into the arming sword.

Falcata/Kopis - Leonidas' sword, different name depending on whether you're Spanish or Greek.  Like a big Kukri knife.

In case it's not obvious for the armours I tried to use plain English to describe them. Breastplate instead of Cuirass, etc. So a segmented iron breastplate here is a "Lorica Segmentata" should you want to get that in-depth.

Simple Melee dmg notes
Club D4 B light or versatile
Dagger, bronze/pugio D4 P finesse, light
Handaxe, bronze D6 S -
Greatclub D8 B two-handed
Javelin D6 P thrown (30/90)
Javelin, amentum D6 P thrown (30/120)
Javelin, pilum D6 P thrown (20/60), near miss disables wooden shield
Mace, bronze D6 B -
Pick, dolabra D6 S/P versatile
Quarterstaff D6 B two-handed
Sap D4 B finesse, light, knockout
Sickle D4 S light
Spear, bronze/xyston D6 P thrown (20/60), versatile
Simple Ranged
Crossbow, hand-spanned D6 P ammunition (60/120), loading (1), two-handed
Crossbow, gastraphetes D8 P ammunition (80/160), loading (1), two-handed
Dart D4 P finesse, thrown (20/60)
Shortbow D6 P ammunition (80/160), str 11, two-handed
Sling (stone) D4 B loading (0), ammunition (30/90)
Sling (dart) D6 P loading (0), ammunition (30/90)
Sling (bullet) D6 B loading (0), ammunition (30/120)
Martial Melee
Battleaxe, epsilon/labrys D8 S versatile
Lance, kontos D6 P reach, thrown (10/30), versatile
Pike, sarissa D8 P heavy, reach (15 ft, cannot attack 5 ft), two-handed
Polearm, falx/rhomphaia D12 S heavy, two-handed
Shortsword, gladius/xiphos D6 P light
Shortsword, machaira/sica D6 S finesse, light
Spear, dory/trident D6 P reach, thrown (10/30), versatile
Sword, khopesh/spatha D8 S -
Sword, falcata/kopis D8 S/P -
Whip D4 S finesse, reach, knockout, no opportunity attacks
Martial Ranged
Net - special, thrown (5/15)
Shortbow, recurved D8 P ammunition (100/200), str 13, two-handed

Light: Ideal for off-hand use when dual wielding.
Versatile: May be used in one or two hands. Roll the next higher die for two-handed damage.
Finesse: May use DEX modifier in place of STR for attack/damage rolls.
Heavy: Small creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls.
Reach: Adds 5 feet to striking distance, unless more is indicated.
Ammunition/Thrown: A ranged weapon. The first number is short range (attacks incur no penalty), the second is maximum range, in feet.
Loading (x): Require the user to spend an indicated number of actions reloading the weapon. If the number indicated is 0 it can be fired once per round, but no more.

Light Armour AC notes
Quilted linen 11+dex -
Breastplate, leather 11+dex -
Breastplate, linen 12+dex -
Heart protector, bronze 12+dex -
Medium Armour
Hide armour, crocodile 12+dex (max 2) -
Mail shirt 13+dex (max 2) stealth disadvantage
Scale shirt, bronze/iron 13+dex (max 2) stealth disadvantage
Breastplate, segmented iron 14+dex (max 2) stealth disadvantage
Breastplate, bronze 14+dex (max 2) -
Half-plate, bronze 15+dex (max 2) stealth disadvantage, str 13
Half-plate, segmented iron 15+dex (max 2) stealth disadvantage, str 13
Heavy Armour
Suit of bronze plate 17 stealth disadvantage, str 15
Shield, bronze +2 -
Shield, wooden +2 -

Pictures are from books by Osprey Publishing. Check them out, really great stuff!
Here is a video that bears on the previous entry in this series (Prehistoric weapons). Making an atlatl spear-thrower:

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