Improvised Weapons

Hi everyone, just an announcement that I am currently back in the GMing saddle, running a Pirates x Mythology campaign. That means in a few weeks (I’ll be publishing on a delay so the group doesn’t see any spoilers) I’ll be posting “how it went in my head vs. how it went on game night” writeups on Mondays, and continuing to post hands-on stuff on Thursdays. I hope my techniques/mistakes are something you can learn from!
- GMGenie

We all love improvised weapons, but sometimes it’s hard to decide how much damage they should do, how durable they are, etc. – and when you’re in the middle of an action scene, who wants to thumb through the rulebook to find out?

As you know, my rule for handling action encounters is “how would it work in a movie?” Improvised weapons in movies tend to function more like special, one-time powerups than actual, damage-dealing, weapons. (the Fate RPG has a beautiful mechanic for this, called a ‘boost.’) So here’s a ‘quick and dirty’ chart of the basic kinds of improvised weapon, according to how they work in movies.

Candelabra: Blocks most weapon attacks. (standard fighting roll. Breaks if the roll is a tie or a ‘close’ success)

Net: As we know from the movies, there is no way to escape from a net, and it takes no special training to throw one. A net immobilizes any character it is successfully thrown at for the duration of the encounter. (standard throwing action).

Vase: When successfully smashed over a head, a vase (and other breakable objects like flower pots or bottles) instantly knocks any character out; helmets work as protection only for important NPCs. (standard fighting roll, or intelligence roll – to strike at the right time)

Chain: Securely grapples any weapon or body part it strikes. (standard throwing action)

Chair: Functions as a shield (standard fighting roll, or defend roll. Breaks only on a failure) or it can function as a one-time knockout weapon, like a Vase. (standard fighting roll)

Torch: creates an empty hex of space wherever you point or swing it. (standard fighting roll, or agility roll)

Movable furniture (table): Pushing a table across a room shoves anyone on the other side of it backward, and effectively prevents them from making any attacks against you. (standard strength roll)

Curtain: Immobilizes any character it is thrown over for at least one round - for some reason, they’re a lot easier to escape than nets. (standard attack roll, to cut it down)

Tippable furniture (bookcase): knocks down anyone it touches, and turns the space where it fell into a bottleneck. (standard strength roll)

Throwable furniture (like a barrel): Knocks down anyone it touches, but does not create a bottleneck. (standard strength roll.)

Throwable object (like a mug): Knocks down the nearest enemy and effectively removes him from the encounter. (standard throwing roll)