Cultural Weapon Groups


Weapon groups were first introduced in the Complete Fighter’s Handbook, and sort weapons by similarity – if you are proficient with the long sword, you are also familiar with the bastard sword, because both are similar enough to belong to the same weapon group. You can group weapons in other ways as well. This blog presents a way to sort weapons by how various groups and cultures use them together across the Tablelands. So rather than grouping weapons by type – swords, bows, clubs, polearms etc. – they are instead grouped by common background – Tyrian infantry weapons, Urikite cavalry weapons and the like.

The idea is that someone who has trained with the Tyrian infantry as part of their background, for example, will have spent a great deal of time working with a specific set of weapons common to that background. This approach allows players to add colour and diversity to their characters, and gain familiarity with a broader selection of weapons.

Here’s how it works – and these rules are summarised in the pdf attached below, as always:


Weapon Group Affinity

All characters start play having affinity with one cultural weapon group – the one that most closely matches their background. The character should choose any starting weapon proficiencies from that cultural weapon group.

Warriors are proficient with all weapons, but still choose a cultural weapon group with which they have affinity. This is relevant if the warrior wishes to specialise in the new fighting styles described hereafter.

It is also relevant to gladiators, who can gain weapon expertise in an entire cultural weapon group for a single weapon proficiency slot.

Every time a character gains another weapon proficiency slot, they can gain affinity with another cultural weapon group at no cost, with the DM’s approval. The character needs to have been exposed to or established some connection with the culture in question through play.

A character can also gain affinity with a cultural weapon group at any time by spending a weapon proficiency slot.


Familiarity

All characters are automatically familiar with any weapon related to a weapon they are proficient in. As noted above, weapons are related if they are part of the same cultural weapon proficiency group.

For example, if a character has affinity with the Tyrian infantry weapon group and is proficient in the use of the long sword, then they are familiar with the warhammer because they’re part of the same cultural weapon group.

Familiarity is not as good as proficiency, but it beats not knowing anything about a weapon at all. Characters only suffer half the normal non-proficiency penalty when attacking with weapons they are familiar with. They may attempt any normal attacks (the familiarity penalty still applies), and suffer no initiative or rate of fire penalties.

Familiarity does not allow the wielder to use any special weapon attacks that require proficiency in the weapon.

As noted above, gladiators can gain expertise in an entire cultural weapon group at the cost of a single weapon proficiency slot.


Cultural Weapon Group List

Here are some sample cultural weapon groups for use in your game:

Aarakocra Lancer

Javelin

Lance

Long bow

Net

Spear

Spear, long


Balican Legionnaire

Dagger

Dart

Javelin

Net

Sword, hook

Talid


Balican Navy

Dagger

Harpoon

Net

Sword, short

Trident

Wrist razor


Bard

Bard’s friend

Blowgun

Dagger

Garrotte

Master’s whip

Widow’s knife


Draji Eagle Knight

Dejada

Hawk hatchet

Javelin

Long bow

Spear, long

Sword, khopesh


Draji Jaguar Knight

Dejada cestus

Javelin

Long bow

Spear, long

Sword, two-handed

Wrist razors


Dray Enforcer

Crossbow, hand

Dagger

Javelin

Mancatcher

Morning star

Sword, bastard


Dwarf Defender

Battleaxe

Crossbow, heavy

Handaxe

Sword, long

Sword, short

Warhammer


Elf Raider

Composite long bow

Composite short bow

Dagger

Long bow

Short bow

Sword, short


Gulgan Champion

Dagger

Long bow

Shield, spike

Spear, double-bladed

Sword, bastard

Talid


Gulgan Judaga

Blowgun

Long bow

Net

Spear

Staff-sling

Sword, mandible


Halfling Hunter

Blowgun

Composite short bow

Dart

Dagger

Short bow

Sling


House Guard

Club

Dagger

Short bow

Spear

Sword, long

Sword, short


Jozhal Runner

Axe, hand

Dagger

Dart

Short bow

Sling

Sword, short


Lizardfolk Kreel Rider

Club

Harpoon

Javelin

Lance

Spear

Trident


Nibenese Phalanx

Crusher

Datchi club

Gouge

Spear, long

Sword, two-handed

Tortoise blades


Nibenese Shocktrooper

Bard’s friend

Cahulaks

Dragon’s paw

Gouge

Singing sticks

Tortoise blades


Nikaal Explorer

Blowgun

Club

Javelin

Spear

Sword, long

Tkaesali


Pterran Pterrax Rider

Javelin

Lance

Puchik

Slodak

Spear

Thanak


Raamin Kuotagha

Bard’s friend

Chain whip

Garotte

Sword, hook

Whip

Whip, master’s


Raamin Mansabdar

Club

Club, great

Mancatcher

Net

Scourge

Whip


Ssurran Trader

Alhulak

Carrikal

Spear

Spear, long

Sword, mandible

Tortoise blades


Tarek Berserker

Axe, great

Club, great

Handfork

Heartpick

Sword, great

Wrist razors


Tari Tunneller

Blowgun

Dagger

Knife

Short bow

Sling

Sword, short


Thri-kreen Kak

Chatkcha

Gythka

Ko•

Kyorkcha

Lajav

Zerka


Tribal Warrior

Alhulak

Blowgun

Carrikal

Knife

Short bow

Sword, mandible


Tyrian Guard

Cahulak

Crossbow, heavy

Dagger

Lotulis

Mancatcher

Sword, long


Tyrian Infantry

Dagger

Puchik

Short bow

Spear

Sword, long

Warhammer


Urikite Cavalry

Dagger

Flail, cavalry

Javelin

Lance

Short bow

Sword, short


Urikite Scout

Dagger

Flail, infantry

Hamanu’s staff

Long bow

Staff-sling

Sword, long


New Fighting Styles

Just like in the standard rules, characters can specialise in different methods of fighting by spending a weapon proficiency slot. Below are two new fighting styles for the cultural weapon proficiency group system. Each bullet point costs one weapon proficiency slot.

These styles are used with the cultural weapon proficiency groups. A character must have affinity with one or more cultural weapon groups to specialise in these fighting styles.

Cultural Affinity Fighting Style

This fighting style details basic applications of cultural weapons groups, improving a character’s skill with weapons in those groups.

  • Cultural Familiarity: You suffer no non-proficiency penalty for any weapon that is part of a cultural weapon group you have affinity with.

  • Improved Expertise: Gain a +1 bonus to damage with one weapon with which you have expertise in a cultural weapon group you have affinity with.

  • Manoeuvre Expert: Gain a +1 bonus on CMB checks with all weapons in the same cultural weapon group.

  • Well-Practised: Reduce the speed factor of all weapons in a cultural weapon group you have affinity with by one point.


Cultural Excellence Fighting Style

This style expands a character’s command of cultural weapons, developing the scope of benefits when using culturally related weapons.

  • Broad Approach: When you specialise in a weapon, you gain expertise in two other weapons in the same cultural weapon group.

  • Cultural Adaptation: Add two weapons to a cultural weapon group you have affinity with.

  • Cultural Overlap: Pick a weapon that is part of a cultural weapon group you have affinity with. You now have affinity with another cultural weapon group that also contains that weapon.

  • Well-Maintained: Weapons in a cultural weapon group you have affinity with never risk accidental breakage.


OK, give this system a whirl in your own game and let us know how it plays. And if you come up with your own weapon groups, please share!

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