Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weaponizing the Non-Weapons From Page B12

I don't like saying that people playing games unlike mine are doing it wrong or that not caring about the things I care about is a mistake, and yet I am compelled to express a....LOSS that occurs from an attitude of only passing interest to the non-weapon-armor-and-dogs section of most DND-ish equipment lists, at least from a lot of the players I encounter at work (and sometimes my own!). There are people who run much stricter, more hardcore games than I do, and I suspect that top-down micromanaging of equipment details (down to copper pieces and XP parts) on behalf of busybody DMs and min-max players led to a lot of the casual dismissal of the equipment list, hand in hand with the codification of skill and tool proficiencies as the editions did their unhaltable dance across the ages. At its worst your Fighter would have to choose between being the Fighting Stuff Guy and the Rope Guy because he only had so many points to spend.

That's the reputation anyway. That's what you hear from message board horror stories. It's nothing I've ever encountered. There does seem to be an ambivalence on my end though. I can understand it at Encounters, sort of, where so much in the details is hand-waived to expedite things in the time frame allowed, but conversation with regulars and walk-in betrays a "if it isn't a weapon or protection or magic then who needs it" atmosphere.

To which I respond, Luke Skywalker's utility belt and a broken pair of handcuffs are what make the entire second half of Star Wars possible as opposed to filling that time watching their corpses ash away in the Death Star's incinerators.

Peter Cushing fought the baddest bad guy ever with a series of broken sticks.

Every fantasy movie or western, do the villains shoot every citizen or stab every citizen OR do they just personally kill the few that get in their way while they light the entire city on fire? Fire does not give a fuck. And even without getting into shit like War-Ladders and Ball Bearings and Caltrops we find ourselves a lot of bad ass adventure fodder. While I wait on my overdue order from Alliance, here's a bunch of cool stuff you can do with just the bare bones equipment list from D&D Basic.

Backpack- 5g. Fill with rocks, swing. Empty, slip over enemy's head to blind. Fill with hornet's nest, throw.

Flask of Oil- 2g. Apply to stairs or landing or corridor juncture, remembering to avoid. Light and throw. Apply and light. Hold it in your mouth, spit at flame source held by another (save vs Breath to not burn face off).

Hammer, small- 2g. Even tools like this can be deadly. See Oldboy. If your base punch damage is 1, then base small hammer damage would be d2.

Holy Symbol- 25g. Worn as an amulet or necklace? Garrotte. Big and impressive? Use to bludgeon. Small and light? Throw. Shiny and metal? Use against demons, or file to a point.

Holy Water- 25g. Smash the bottle like Road House and give the zombies a Glasgow Smile.

Iron Spikes- 12/1g. Put at bottom of small drop (5-20') and push people onto them. Use against prone victim like Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Use to root tied/chained victim to one location, either to secure and incapacitate or leave until dead. Use to burn vampires and elves.

Lantern- 10g. Bludgeon. Use to start fires.

Mirror (hand sized)- 5g. Use against demons (your game's demons ARE revealed and repelled by their own reflection, right?) or to test for vampires. Break and use glass to stab.

Rations- Misc. Youuuuu could try to choke someone to death with them but really extra rations are just there to be poisoned and left for wandering creatures to eat and die.

Rope (50')- 1g. 1g?! Dude. Bonds. Nooses. Lariats. Nets. Tie 'em up and leave 'em for dead. Improvised bridle. Improvised whip. Torture scene from Casino Royale. Holding something heavy above a vulnerable position until cut. TRIPLINE. Tarzanning into an orc's chest cavity. Marking your path like Theseus. Tie a big rock to the end and make your own flail. Elaborate Scooby Doo traps. I could go on forever listing all the useful and dangerous ways to use rope without even mentioning securing containers or loads, or mentioning climbing. If you're not investing more in rope than you are in daggers then you're prepping to play a very different game from the one I'm running and most BX/oldschoolish people were designing.

Sacks- Misc. Tie creatures up in them and throw them down stairs or into rivers. Tie creatures up in them with other vicious, toxic, poisonous, or just mean-ass creatures. Fill with rocks and drop from height. See also Backpack.

Shield- 10g. Shields can't usually be thrown like Captain America unless your character is also preternaturally strong thanks to drugs. Bashing like a club or using two-handed to decapitate someone, or just gluing spikes or saw blades to it? Sure, go A-Team on it. Honestly just using it to help knock someone the hell down would be a great advantage. You'll lose your AC bonus from the shield when you do this, unless you have another shield in your other hand. You'll look like an idiot or a Mega Man bad guy (same thing) but it's better than nothing when improvising during an escape.

Thieves' Tools- 25g. Traps can be set or reset, guys, and a lot of people in prison have died from shivs a lot less sophisticated than a broken lock pick.

Tinder Box- 3g. Man you can start fires with this, why do I have to explain how useful and dangerous this is? Ogami Itto, man.
Torches (6)- 1g. SIX! Speaking of fires, torches are the best weapon. They can do a couple points of damage from whacking when they're blown out, sure, but they can set things the fuck on fire, dazzle or blind enemies in unlighted passages, and provide light, warmth, and scare animals. Best of all a spent torch = charcoal, so you don't even have to buy chalk! You WERE buying chalk, right?

Water/Wine Skin- 1g. Another great place to put oil, poison, or my personal favorite, SAND: a helpful dungeon exploring tool when finding your way and checking for footprints and an effective tool for temporarily blinding your enemies. Also treacherous to slip on when applied to stairs or slopes.

Wine (1 qt)- 1g. Sure you can poison it but I recommend offering it freely in order to weaponize your enemy's drunkenness. Getting captured with a lot of wine on hand is the first step to escaping from a tower filled with slitted throats.

Wolfsbane (1 bunch)- 10g. Okay first off that is way too much for Wolfsbane, you can grow that shit. You can find that shit. That shit growing all over the place and being everywhere is a big problem because, pro tip: it's not just super deadly for vampires and werewolves. You may know it by the name aconite or monkshood. It's poisonous as shit and can quickly be deadly. The best part is that, like you might expect if you peek frequently at Mother Nature's monster manual, it's gorgeous, so you can always keep some around as ornamentation and decoration and many people (foreigners, non-agrarians, or city folk) may be none the wiser.

Wooden Pole (10')- 1g. You can find a 10' stick in the woods for free. Try it. Find a stripling, own a knife, boom: free poles. 10' poles can be sharpened or have daggers tied to the end (ROPE) to improvise spears. Their ends can be lit on fire to make Super Torches, or burn at both ends for whatever the hell Firelord is always carrying. When broken in two, congratulations, you have two batons/clubs.  When whole and unmodified it is a quarterstaff. In fact page B12 doesn't even have a listing for staff/quarterstaff/whatever so that's definitely what this is.