Cats Have No Lord

Scrounging the Stars: Weapons and Armor

Before jumping into writing the adventure that started this project, I've been a bit stuck on how to handle the variety of weapons I envision appearing in this galaxy, as I'd like to include some cool ones in the adventure itself. I've joked that the core idea is astronauts with swords, and that's really not far off. The goal is that a character rolled up with the standard Cairn tables could hop on a spaceship and hold their ground in combat against someone with an exotic alien weapon. After all, a sharp dagger at the right joint on an armored spacesuit will have the same effect as that dagger slipping between the joints in a set of full plate.

I toyed a bit with more "advanced" weapons in Midnight in Bonetown by framing them as relics, but I'm not really happy with that for this context, where I want the fancier weapon types to be ubiquitous.

In trying to figure it out, I looked some at the great work Adam has done with advanced weaponry rules in Monolith. I also went back to Electric Bastionland, particularly looking at Chris's advice about balance (p. 308) and big impact (p. 299).

What's resulted when I finally sat down to write a version of this is a combination of the weapon classes and big impact effects from Electric Bastionland but re-scaling the damages of particular weapons to match their damage output in Cairn and taking some of Adam's ideas about weapon tags as well.

The intention is that more advanced weapons will typically have several advantages over the more traditional ones without making any of the traditional weapons useless:

  1. They will typically provide a higher damage at a lower weight (not bulky or sometimes even petty)
  2. They will be more effective against armor, particular traditional armor types
  3. They will more often have unique qualities dealing additional damage

The weapon qualities are the tricky part, and definitely need some playtesting, but I currently like the idea that they only take effect on an attack that causes ability score loss, in most cases ensuring continuing damage if the target succeeds on their critical damage save.

Anyway that's enough of an introduction, and I'll let what I've written speak for itself below. All is subject to change and expansion as I get feedback and experience with the rules and work more on them.

Scrounging the Stars: Weapons

Weapon Classes

Simple: d6, Bulky

Bow, Farming and Mining Tools, Staff

Common: d6

Dagger, Cudgel, Standard Pistol

Standard:d8, Bulky

Crossbow, Standard Rifle, Spear


Sword, Mace, Flail, Energy Pistol

Heavy: d10, Bulky

Halberd, Longsword, Energy Rifle



Shield (+1 Armor)

Helmet (+1 Armor)

Gambeson (+1 Armor)

Brigandine (1 Armor, Bulky)

Chainmail (2 Armor, Bulky)

Plate (3 Armor, Bulky)


Energy Shield (+1 Armor)

Helmet (+1 Armor)

Kevlar Undersuit (+1 Armor)

Light (1 Armor)

Medium (2 Armor)

Heavy (3 Armor, Bulky)

Weapon Qualities

Weapon qualities may be applied to any weapon type or to ammunition in the case of ranged weapons via a variety of technical and magical modifications.

Weapon qualities causing ability score loss only take effect on a hit that would reduce the target's HP below 0 or in situations not involving HP.

Acid: Deals d6 STR damage each round until cleaned off. Melts most materials.

Ballistic: Ignores Simple Armor.

Blast: Affects all targets within a noted distance.

Bloody: Melee weapon modified with serrations, vibrating blade, or other methods to make a bloodier cut. Deals d2 STR damage each round until bleeding is stopped.

Bulky: Two-handed or awkward to carry, requiring 2 inventory slots.

Energy: Ignores all armor except Advanced Medium and Heavy.

Fire: Ignites target, dealing d6 STR damage each round until extinguished.

Ice: Freezes target, dealing d6 STR damage each round until thawed.

Petty: Extremely light, does not require an inventory slot.

Poison: Deals d6 STR, DEX, or WIL damage depending on type.

Shock: Target drops weapon and takes d6 DEX damage.

Stun: All attacks by target are impaired for d4 rounds.

Slow: Cannot move and attack in the same round.

Weapon Ranges

All ranged weapons are effective within the typical scale of combat involving a mix of melee and ranged weapons.

In the case where the ranged weapon will be fired from a considerable distance away from the target, either in or out of combat, advanced weapons (energy rifle) have the longest range, followed by standard weapons (standard rifle), and with traditional weapons (bow and crossbow) having the shortest range. The warden should use their best judgement in ruling on acceptable ranges.

Example Weapons

The galaxy is full of an wide variety of strange weapons combining the weapon classes and qualities described above. Below are a few example weapons, but almost any combination is possible.