Wednesday, March 13, 2013

GURPS Combat Choices: Cutting/Impaling Weapons Chart

Here's a table I've drawn up in preparation of analysis of some thrust/swing mechanics. It shows all the weapons from Basic Set, GURPS Martial Arts, and GURPS Low-Tech that have listings for both thrusting-impaling damage and swinging-cutting damage. It's mostly swords, plus some polearms and a couple of oddities.

Thrust-2 Thrust-1 Thrust Thrust+1 Thrust+2 Thrust+3
Swing-3 Small Knife, Balisong Main-Gauche Katar
Swing-2 Large Knife, Bladed Hand
Swing-1 Kukri Long Knife Saber, Light Edged Rapier, Large Katar, Shotel Large Katar (LT)
Swing Small Falchion Shortsword, Cutlass Jian, Edged Rapier, Shortsword (LT), Cutlass (LT) Pata
Swing+1 Falchion Katana 1-handed, Late Katana 1-handed, Cavalry Saber, Backsword, Qian Ku Ri Yue Dao Broadsword, Longsword 1-handed, Bastard Sword 1-handed Longsword 2-handed
Swing+2 Large Falchion Dao Katana 2-handed, Late Katana 2-handed Naginata 1-handed, Bastard Sword 2-handed, Duelling Bill, Duelling Glaive
Swing+3 Glaive, Naginata 2-handed, Greatsword, Bill
Swing+4 Duelling Halberd, Light Horsecutter
Swing+5 Halberd, Heavy Horsecutter

Note that in Low-Tech, some weapon stats changed. Shortswords, cutlasses, and large katars were bumped up one level in thrusting damage, and one-handed use of the naginata was removed.

Two trends really stand out in this table. On a diagonal axis running from upper left to lower right, weapons go from small to large. Not surprisingly, bigger weapons do more damage.

On the other diagonal, from lower left to upper right, weapons go from more choppy to more stabby. (I hope I may be excused for lapsing into technical jargon there.) On one extreme, a falchion has barely any point to it at all, and is nearly an axe. On the other extreme, the katar and the pata are about as far as you can go toward specialization in stabbing while still retaining a cutting edge. I think these two diagonal axes are more important to understanding how the weapons got their stats than the stats themselves are, and if I knew how to do it, I'd rotate this table 45 degrees and make a diamond-shaped chart with size running top to bottom, and choppy vs. stabby running left-right. Sadly, my HTML skills are not up to that.

Another thing that this chart shows is the effect of enchantment and weapon quality. Add Puissance +1 to any weapon, or make it Fine quality, and you move one space diagonally down and to the right. So a Puissance +1 jian becomes, as far as damage is concerned, a broadsword. Very Fine or Puissance +2 moves you two spaces, so a Very Fine small knife hits like a saber -- but it's rather expensive and you still can't parry with it.

In my next post on this subject, I'll crunch a great big pile of numbers and see what I have to say about swinging versus thrusting damage for these weapons.


  1. It might be fun to color-code the weapons, so you can see which ones are Parry U, or two-handed, or become unready, or have Parry F. Just so you can see the progression towards "high damage = less weildy" at the bottom-right and the reverse at the upper-left.

  2. That's not a bad idea. I had thought of color-coding them by skill, but some weapons are multiple-skill, and it didn't seem to add a lot. "Weildiness" would be a useful addition, though. I'll have to revisit it when I have access to the books.

  3. It's an interesting artifact of the constraints you've put on the chart (only swing/cut and thrust/imp in the same weapon) that if you do Swing +3 or better, you automatically do Thrust + 3. Which makes sense, I suppose, given that's the damage for spears and long spears, and the effect ought to be similar.

  4. Was thinking about the blank spaces as well, and the upper-right quadrant could get some loving if you included spears and other thrust/impale "only" weapons that allow for a tip slash...

    1. Clearly I'm going to have to revisit this chart later. I with Blogger made it easier to make HTML tables.