Age of Heroes
Below are the weapons of war used in the Ancient World.
Note: Greek spears have a spike on the back end which deals 1d4 damage if used as a weapon.
A masterwork weapon is a finely crafted version of a normal weapon. Wielding it provides a +1 enhancement bonus on attack rolls. You cannot add the masterwork quality to a weapon after it is created; it must be crafted as a masterwork weapon (see the Craft skill). Masterwork ammunition is damaged (effectively destroyed when used. The enhancement bonus of masterwork ammunition does not stack with any enhancement bonus of the projectile weapon firing it. Even though some types of shields can be used as weapons, you cannot create a masterwork version of such an item that confers an enhancement bonus on attack rolls. Instead, masterwork armor and shields have their armor check penalties reduced by one or their Maximum Dexterity Bonus increased by one.
- Masterworking any item adds 600 sd to its base cost.
In the Greek lands, those warriors who supported the heavy infantry used missile weapons on the battlefield. Bows and arrows were not the most popular choice, though they were widely used. The ranged weapon of preference in Greece was the sling, with the javelin and the hurled rock used for close-range combat. Archery was nonetheless of major importance and many of the victories of Athens were attributed to the success of the citizens’ bow attacks. In Egypt and Assyria, by contrast, the bow was the master of the battlefield. The military power of Egypt is attributed to the skill, speed and sheer overwhelming number of its arrow attacks. Egyptian bow technology was inventive and ahead of the rest of the world for a long time. The artificers of the Egyptian people used their skill to improve on the simple curved length of wood, creating a variety of recurve bows that enabled their archers to fire their arrows further than before.
The horn bow is made from two antelope horns, joined by a single piece of wood at the center. Horn bows are described by Homer in the Iliad, though we must allow him some poetic license as some of the bows he mentions would not actually have worked. A horn bow has very limited range compared to other types of bow.
This unremarkable bow is the sort that a villager of Bronze Age Greece might employ or a common warrior of Egypt in the Old Kingdom. It could also be made in the wild with little difficulty. It is made from a shaped, bent length of wood and a strand of sinew or other cord.
Composite Self Bow
Composite bows were one of the greatest military innovations of the ancient world. When a bow is drawn, the outside face stretches and the inside face is compressed. Instead of making a bow with the same material all the way through, ancient artificers made bows with elastic material (such as sinew) on the outside face and springy material (such as horn) on the inside. This took advantage of the different kind of work done by the different parts of the bow, allowing much more powerful shots. A character with a composite bow may add his Strength ability score bonus to the damage done by the arrow. Composite bows were in use to an extent in the Old Kingdom, though (for game purposes) the recurve version does not appear until the New Kingdom was established.
Composite Recurve Bow
This was the bow that made Rameses the Great victorious at the Battle of Quadesh. A recurve bow larger than a self bow and is made so that it bends outwards at the ends, adding additional power and range to the bow shot.
A sling is a simple leather loop fashioned for hurling stones. Your Strength modifier applies to damage rolls when you use a sling, just as it does for thrown weapons. You can fire, but not load, a sling with one hand. Loading a sling is a move action that requires two hands and provokes attacks of opportunity.
Tipping an arrow with a sharpened bone point is the standard way to make such an article in the ancient world. Bone is plentiful and easy to sharpen, though it is brittle and does not offer the best penetration. Bone-tipped arrows are the kind that a primitive tribe (such as barbarians) will be most likely to use. A culture that uses bone-tipped arrows will usually use ivory-tipped arrows as well, though these will be kept for the best archers, so that they are not wasted.
Ivory is a much better substance for tipping an arrow with than bone. It can be filed to a sharper point and is less likely to shatter on impact. As there is much less ivory available than bone, these arrows are only issued to the best archers in an army. Ivory-tipped arrows receive a +1 enhancement bonus to their damage roll.
Arrows tipped with bronze heads are the best kind available. The needle-sharp bronze can easily rip through all but the toughest armor and cause horrific internal injuries. It is even possible for a bronze-tipped arrow fired from a composite bow to punch straight through a shield and into the arm of the wielder. Bronze-tipped arrows receive a +1 enhancement bonus to their damage roll. In addition, they are the only weapon that has any effect upon an armor (but not a shield) Coverage check; the slim, hard bronze heads are exceptionally good at turning armor aside. The DC for the Coverage check to see whether armor has caught a bronze-tipped arrow or not is 21 rather than 20.
This is a simple bronze-headed axe, designed to be thrown at a target.
A javelin is a slender spear, shaped for throwing. It can be used in hand-to-hand combat as a stabbing weapon without penalty. Standard practice is for a Greek light infantryman to carry two javelins as well as his spear and short sword. Egyptian warriors carry javelins in their war chariots, using them for close-up combat in preference to bows.
This variant design of the javelin is slightly lighter than the regular article and incorporates a throwing loop, so that the wielder can hurl it to a greater distance. The lesser mass means that the javelin is easier to throw further but does not strike with so much force when it reaches its target.
It may come as a surprise to modern readers to learn that hurled rocks were an extremely common sight upon the ancient battlefield. In Homer’s Iliad, frequent mention is made of heroes fighting with rocks that they pick up and throw at one another. This was not seen as any less honorable than transfixing a person with a spear. Some warriors even specialized in rock throwing, as the extract from Tyrtaeus makes plain. In the frenzy of combat, any warrior would use a stone if he had to. As spears and javelins frequently shattered on impact, it became necessary to find other weapons and a flung rock was as good as anything else. The table below gives the weapon statistics for thrown stones. The heavier a rock is, the more mass it has and the more damage it inflicts upon impact. You must have a certain minimum level of Strength in order to throw a stone effectively. You add your Strength ability score bonus to the damage from a thrown stone. As thrown stones are not shaped for throwing, all attackers who do not have the Rock Hurler feat are treated as non-proficient with them and receive a –4 penalty to their attack rolls when using them.
These weapons are used in hand-to-hand combat in the ancient world.
A dagger is a long knife used for stabbing or slashing, common to all cultures in the world of Ancients. You get a +2 bonus on Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal a dagger on your body. See the Sleight of Hand skill for more information.
This is an iron short sword used by Persian troops. It is only eighteen inches in length at most but has sharpened edges as well as a keen point, meaning that it can be used to slash or stab.
Cretan Stabbing Sword
This unusually slim weapon, which is up to three feet long and made from bronze, is an ancestor of the rapier. It is a long, slim blade used for stabbing rather than slashing. Its use should be restricted to Cretans if the Games Master wishes to be historically stringent. You may use the Weapon Finesse feat to apply your Dexterity ability score modifier to your attack roll with a Cretan stabbing sword, instead of your Strength modifier.
A stone axe is a primitive cutting tool, made from sharpened flint bound to a wooden haft. It is more commonly used to chop wood than to attack other human beings.
Bronze Cutting Axe
The bronze axe is a significant improvement upon the stone version, with a good metal edge that is used to hack at the limbs of enemies.
Bronze Piercing Axe
Historically, the piercing axe was developed as a response to the increased use of helmets. Often, the only armor that a Bronze Age opponent would wear was a helmet, which often made the difference between life and death. As a helmet is more efficient at warding off slashing damage than piercing damage, a simple weapon was created to take advantage of this fact. Piercing axes are rather like short-handled picks.
A wooden club is simply a length of wood that can be swung and used as a weapon.
A stone mace is little more than a club. A heavy, shaped rock is bound to a wooden haft with strips of hide. In the Egyptian version, a disc of stone with a hole in the centre is fixed to a wooden handle. By the time of Ancients, only relatively primitive peoples use stone maces.
A very common weapon in the Middle East, the bronze mace is a heavy sphere of bronze on a wooden haft. The strength and weight of the bronze mace-head lend additional force to the wielder’s blows. A +1 enhancement bonus is added to the weapon’s damage rolls.
This crude weapon is simply a length of wood (from two to four feet long) with the end chopped to a point, hardened in fire. It is the simplest form of spear there is. It can be used as a thrown weapon but it is not at all aerodynamic, so the thrower is automatically treated as non-proficient with it and receives a –4 penalty to the attack roll.
Short Thrusting Spear
This simple spear has a point of sharpened bone, flint or ivory. A spear can be thrown. If you use a ready action to set a spear against a charge, you deal double damage on a successful hit against a charging character.
Bronze Tipped Shortspear
This is the typical spear used for close-up fighting by Greek warriors. A spear can be thrown. If you use a ready action to set a spear against a charge, you deal double damage on a successful hit against a charging character. Bronze tipped spears have a +1 enhancement bonus to their damage rolls.
Bronze Tipped Long Spear (Reach)
This is the spear used in a phalanx, the primary weapon of a Hoplite. A long spear has reach. You can strike opponents 10 feet away with it, but you cannot use it against an adjacent foe. If you use a ready action to set a longspear against a charge, you deal double damage on a successful hit against a charging character. Bronze tipped spears have a +1 enhancement bonus to their damage rolls.
Sarissa (Bronze Tipped)
The sarissa was developed by Alexander the Great to be the ultimate spear weapon for use in phalanxes. It is essentially a 20 foot long spear, so huge that it has to be wielded two handed. A sarissa may be used to attack opponents up to 20 feet away, but cannot be used against an adjacent foe or a foe that is closer to hand than twenty feet away. Bronze tipped spears have a +1 enhancement bonus to their damage rolls.
A trident is a three-pronged bronze spear. This weapon can be thrown. If you use a ready action to set a trident against a charge, you deal double damage on a successful hit against a charging character.
A net is used to entangle enemies. When you throw a net, you make a ranged attack against your target. The defender cannot use a Shield Defense check to ward the attack off and must avoid it with Active Defense if he can. A net’s maximum range is 10 feet. If you hit, the target is entangled. An entangled creature takes a –2 penalty on attack rolls, a –4 penalty on Dexterity, can move at only half speed and cannot charge or run. If you control the trailing rope by succeeding on an opposed Strength check while holding it, the entangled creature can move only within the limits that the rope allows. If the entangled creature attempts to cast a spell, it must make a DC 15 Concentration check or be unable to cast the spell. An entangled creature can escape with a DC 20 Escape Artist check (a full-round action). The net has 5 hit points and can be burst with a DC 25 Strength check (also a full round action). A net is useful only against creatures within one size category of you. In order to be thrown effectively, a net must be folded up. The first time you throw your net in a fight, you make a normal ranged attack roll that cannot be warded off with Shield Defense. After the net is unfolded, you take a –4 penalty on attack rolls with it. It takes 2 rounds for a proficient user to fold a net and twice that long for a non-proficient one to do so.
A labrys is an axe with two bronze cutting heads shaped like half-moons. Versions sized for single-handed and double-handed use exist. The labrys is not often used in actual combat, being more of a ceremonial weapon. It dates back to Minoan Crete, where it is believed to have been the sacred symbol of an ancient Goddess about which too little is known. The labrys is the traditional weapon for witches to use.
The kopesh, referred to as the ‘weapon of victory’, is the bronze sickle sword of ancient Egypt. It has a curved blade and is used for hacking. Unlike an actual sickle, the blade is sharp on its outer edge. Egyptian troops usually wield a kopesh for close-up combat.
Short Stabbing Sword
The Greek infantry used this sword before their weapons and armor were revised and the kopis (see below) replaced it. It is essentially a long dagger, designed to be shoved between the joints of the opponent’s armor.
The kopis, or Greek sabre, is a backup Hoplite weapon. It is a short curved sword used for slashing. Standard Hoplite fighting strategy is to butcher one’s enemies at a distance by using long spears, then switch to the kopis to finish them off if they should manage to come closer than the spear’s reach.
This is a double-edged, pointed Greek sword, used in the classical era. It is the sword designed by the Spartans to be used in the close quarters of the phalanx when your spear was lost or broken; and was their side-arm of choice. It bears the distinctive leaf blade and is much heavier near the end, allowing it to be effective both at stabbing and slashing.
A whip deals non-lethal damage. Any attack with a whip that connects with armor (following a successful Coverage check) is blocked altogether. The whip is treated as a melee weapon with 15 foot reach, though you don’t threaten the area into which you can make an attack. In addition, unlike most other weapons with reach, you can use it against foes anywhere within your reach, including adjacent foes. Using a whip provokes an attack of opportunity, just as if you had used a ranged weapon. You can make trip attacks with a whip. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop the whip to avoid being tripped. When using a whip, you get a +2 bonus on opposed attack rolls made to disarm an opponent (including the roll to keep from being disarmed if the attack fails). You can use the Weapon Finesse feat to apply your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier to attack rolls with a whip.