Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones........

There are some good supplements out there that contain lots of information on various kinds of armor, weaponry and equipment. I often used these supplements in my games- primarily when designing a world setting but also as flavor for items the characters come across. Instead of just finding a longsword or a dagger or a shield, how about a Ninjato sword ( ninja sword) used by the Black Hand Assassins of Lo'h, an Iron Throwing Knife commonly used by the dark skinned warrior men of Zhuma or a Lantern Shield used by the Elite Night Watch of the Lord Emperors Palace of the city of Malabar.

Giving your items a little flavor now and then can help to enrich the setting,  make mundane objects seem appealing and interject some mystery into story ( "what is a Ninjato doing here all the way from the city of Lo'h"). You can apply these same "historical" arms, armor and equipment to races to help differentiate them from humans for instance. Movies like the Lord of the Rings did a great job of really identifying that the items ( weapons, armor, items, etc) used by elves was very different than those used by dwarves or the riders of Rohan.

Items can be used in a campaign/story to convey cultural/racial differences but also class/cast differences ( "That's a Knights Great Sword, what is a common adventurer/tomb robber doing walking around with a Knights Great Sword. Are you a Knight?" asks the local militia suspiciously). Also if your trying to set the tone of the Age you are playing in, then a crossbow for instance would not exist in the Bronze Age setting  ( unless you wanted it to I guess). So items found in the adventure can also convey ancient history without necessarily having to be powerful magic items (" Wow, all these skeletons posses the ceremonial armor and obsidian edged war clubs used by the Jaguar Warriors of the Tekunakan. They were wiped out  nearly 500 yrs ago, I believe we may have found an ancient Tekunakan burial site"). You can also use items like this to introduce lost technologies into your game ("You find a sword, but its not made of bronze like swords you know to be, it is made of a hard shiny silver metal and seems stronger (steel). Whom or what crafted this item is unknown but details of its manufacture is surely beyond anything you possess knowledge in").

Below are some great supplements that I have found very helpful in introducing this kind of flavor into my games:

Arms & Equipment by Troll Lord Games 
Arms and Equipment Guide by Wizard of the Coast 
(d20 rule mechanics, but plenty of good info and ideas for any game style)
"Historically Accurate" works put out by Osprey Publishing

Great collection of work by Palladium

2nd Edition AD&D Arms & Equipment Guide

From Stone to Steel by Monkeygod Enterprises
( contains rules in back for d20 style mechanics)

...And a 10- Foot Pole, a complete guide through the ages of arms and equipment and day to day items
by I.C.E.

Aurora's Whole Realms by TSR
A Sears catalog of goodies for your everyday adventurer

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