The Basic Design Process simply involves choosing the exact construction material, length, weight and shape from the parameters listed within the Archetype Description, and assigning the resultant Arm a name. When this information has been recorded on the Societal Arms Sheet, the process is complete. In the Advanced Design Process, Arms variations such as construction material, length, weight, shape, balance, and quality are traced as they effect one another, and the consequences of these modifications are then represented numerically within the Arm's specific Utility Profile. In this case, the resultant numerical values may differ from those found within the Archetype Utility Profile, and these values reflect the individual Utility of the specific Arm which has been created. Because it is the numerical values of the Utility Profile which are used within the Mechanical System of Combat Resolution, Arms which are described using Advanced Design techniques suffer or enjoy realistic consequences as a result of specific feature modifications.
If the Narrative Group wants to design specialized Arms to flavor the campaign setting, but does not require the additional realism which is obtainable through modifying the Profile values, then they should employ the Basic Design Process and embellish the description wherever they deem reasonable. After all, the basic Archetypes presented within the Arms Encyclopaedia, group weapons according to their most significant collective design features. In most cases these Archetypes should differ enough from one another statistically so that all but the most die-hard of players will be satisfied with the degree of realism that they reflect. But for those players who wish to include the realism associated with subtle variations of Arms Design, the Advanced Design Process offers many guidelines.
Whether using the given Archetypal Profiles or those individually derived by the Narrative Group, the Arms Profiles which result (though differing statistically) will not speed or slow Combat Resolution. The difference in time occurs when defining of Profile statistics, not when using them during play. For this reason, novice players may wish to begin by using the standard Archetypes (and their numerical Profiles) and add specialized Arm variations later. For those players who have absolutely no interest in the statistical aspect of Combat Resolution, the Designers of ARIA suggest that they try using the Narrative System for Combat Resolution presented earlier within this book. As that system does not employ the information presented within this chapter, those with purely Narrative interest may want to skip this section altogether.
Beginning with the basic Arms Archetypes assigned during the Selection Process, Arms Design explores the specific purpose and nature of each Arm Archetype in order to custom tailor a variety of specialized Arms which reflect the particular ambiance of the Society which manufactures or imports them for domestic use.
The four stages of Arms Design are as follows: Stage 1 - Definition of Arms Purposes, Stage 2 - Description of Arm, Stage 3 - Evaluation of Craftsmanship, Stage 4 - Determination of Utility Profile.
The Following guidelines are intended to isolate the specific Design Specifications and Features of the Archetype that the participants want to modify. In many cases, the modifications which are possible within this chapter require additional modifications to several related design features.
In other words, many of the design features (such as weight, shape, length, etc.) are linked to other elements of the Arm Profile (such as Damage Potential, Arm Speed, and Minimum Strength) so that modifying certain features tends to have physical consequences which may - at the option of the Narrative Group - be reflected in the numerical values of the Arm Profile.
By following a linear process of Arms design, modifications may be traced, and their mechanical consequences determined so that the modifications will have realistic or relevant consequences in the event of a Combat situation.
Defining the Purpose of the Arm is the first step toward its creation. Once the purpose has been identified, an initial Design may be conceived. It is in the Conception stage of the Design Process that a skilled designer shows his experience. For it is the seasoned designer who will know which Design Features, Materials, and Construction Methods will best achieve the Purpose for which the Arm is to be Designed.
Because it is not the intention of this Chapter to study the craft of Arms smithing, but rather to Design Arms which will add flavor to the Narrative Environment, the Process of Arms Design begins with a Selected Arm Archetype.
Using this Archetype as a model, the Designer may create either an original Class of Arms or an individual, Unique Arm Specimen by simply modifying certain Design Features which are common to all Arms classified within the particular Arm Archetype. Complete descriptions of Arms Archetypes are given within the Arms Encyclopaedia. Familiarity with the Archetype selected for modification will facilitate and quicken the Design Process.
Generic Arms Specimens may also differ from their Archetypal model in the emphasis that they place upon Secondary, Other, and Special Attack Modes. While all Archetypal Specimens will evince the same Primary Attack Mode, they may or may not exhibit design features which facilitate similar Secondary, Other, or Special Attack Modes.
Alternately, a Unique Arm Specimen may not demonstrate specialized Design Features, but rather exhibit unusual Materials, Construction, or craftsmanship which pronounce it to be an Arm of exceedingly high Quality. If a Unique Arm is not created as a result of a personal request or commission, its existence could also indicate that the Arm is a prototype for mass production which did not/ has not yet occurred for one reason or another.
An Arm's ability to perform an Attack Mode depends upon the Design Specifications and Features which facilitate that purpose. Certain Specifications or Features are better for achieving particular Attack Modes than are others. For this reason, Secondary, Other, and Special Attack Modes are often chosen according to the Specifications or Features which must be present to perform the Primary Attack Mode. The following descriptions offer guidance on this matter.
Chopping Attacks depend largely upon the Length, Weight, and heavy-ended weight distribution to inflict damage. For this reason, Chopping Arms often are designed so that they are also able to perform Crushing Attacks which require similar Design Specifications. Occasionally, Chopping Arms will be equipped with a long spike surmounting the tip of the haft. Because their heavy-ended Weight distribution does not seriously inhibit the Arm's ability to Thrust, Design Features such as end-spikes are sometimes included for performing subordinate Thrust Attacks.
Clubs (including Maces, and Staves) and Flails are the Greater Arms Archetypes which depend upon heavy Crushing Attacks to inflict mortal wounds. Because Crushing attacks rely upon heavy end-weighting of the Arm, they are compatible with Chopping Attacks in terms of their required Design Specifications. Many Arms which Are designed primarily for either Chopping or Crushing attacks will possess Design Features which allow the Arm to perform the alternate Mode of Attack. Single-edged Axes are a good example of an Arm which combines Chopping and Crushing in its function. While the Bladed Pean is a Design Feature which is crafted primarily for Chopping Attacks, the blunt back of the Arm's head may be used to Crush as a Secondary Mode of Attack. Because both Chopping and Crushing rely upon a heavily weighted end or head, these two Attack Modes are Complimentary. Like Chopping Arms, Arms designed for Crushing may be equipped with an end-spike which may be used for Thrusting Attacks. This effects of this Design Feature are discussed more thoroughly under Thrusting Attacks.
Because Slashing Arms are usually designed with a long, sharp blade, they need only an additional Point to be useful for Thrusting Attacks. It is for the ancillary purpose of Thrusting that Straight blades are often preferred to Curved blades. While both blades are easily ground to a sharp point, Curved blades lack the linear strength required to support the force exacted from a good Thrust attack. It is for this reason that Curved bladed Sword, while better for Slashing, are often rejected in favor of less efficient Straight bladed Swords which may Thrust as well, if not better, than they can Slash.
The Design Features, such as a long blade and sharp point, which make Knives effective for Stabbing are often compatible for Slashing Attacks. Only non-edged Poignards may not be used for auxiliary Slashing Attacks. Because Knives are not very heavy, the Slashes which result from them usually do little harm excepting the blood loss and shock which may result from light lacerations. However, if used to Slash the throat or similar vital area, the blood loss which results may easily kill the victim though the mortal event may be delayed.
Because Thrusting relies upon a sharp point, Arms designed for this purpose are often equipped with an acutely pointed blade which may also be used for Slashing. Swords and Spears, which possess edged blades of varying lengths, often serve the ancillary purpose of Slashing. Only non-edged Arming Swords, and certain varieties of the Lance or Pike cannot perform Slashing Attacks with some degree of competence.
In the case of Hurled and Projectile Arms, the ability to penetrate comes primarily from velocity. The relatively light weight of Javelins, Darts, Arrows, Bolts, and Bullets allow them to achieve very high velocities when Hurled or Projected at an enemy. Melee Arms such as Lances, also rely on the velocity of the charging horse, but depend largely upon the weight of the Arm, wielder, and the horse to Pierce with equal force. Whether derived from Velocity or Weight, the ability of an Arm to Pierce comes primarily from the manner in which it is used rather than inherent Design Specifications.
Most other Arms may also be used for Guarding. Though rarely designed specifically for such purposes, offensive Arms may generally be employed to perform one of three guarding maneuvers, called Parries. While offensive Arms perform Blocking and Diverting Parries much as Shields do, they may also be used to attempt Disarming Parries. Each of the three Parry maneuvers available to Arms are described according to the Design Specifications and Features which enhance their performance.
Arms which do not possess Disarming Design Features may be used in a more traditional, if not more primitive, manner. In the case of such Arms, the wielder performs a Disarming Parry by directly Attacking the incoming weapon with the greatest force possible. Heavy-ended Arms are best suited for performing this type of Disarming Parry.
The Length of Ranged Arms should be detailed according to the Arm Description of the Archetype. In the case of Thrown Arms, Arm Length refers to the measurement of the thrown Missile. The Arm Length of Hurled Arms refers not only to the Missile, but more importantly to the Missile Launcher. In the case of Bows Length refers to the height of the Bowstave when it is unstrung. Crossbow Length is divided into separate measurements, one for the unstrung bowstave and one for the Stock. For aid in determining the Lengths of particular Arms refer to the Arm Archetype descriptions in the Arms Encyclopaedia.
Arm Weight is also a key factor in determining utility factors such as the Arm Handling and Minimum Physical Strength required to wield an Arm effectively. See Arm Handling and Strength Requirement for further information regarding these factors.
Weight Distribution is important in determining both the Damage Potential and Speed of the Arm. Arms which are Heavy-ended are best suited to Crushing and Chopping Attacks, while Balanced Arms are generally better for Slashing, Thrusting, and Stabbing Attacks. For purposes of Guarding, centrally Balanced Weight Distributions are ideal because Arms which are so weighted are generally more maneuverable. See the Melee Arms Design Specification Summary to determine the Ideal Weight Distribution for a particular Arm Archetype.
Personas always have the option of attempting to use more or fewer hands than are suggested for a particular Arm. Assuming the Arm's grip or handle is long enough to accommodate such Handling, Personas may use two hands even if only one is required by the Minimum Strength Requirement. See the Minimum Strength Requirement table for guidance.
The Minimum Strength Requirements listed apply to the suggested mode of Arms Handling. If an Arm is listed as having a Double-handed Handling Mode, and a Persona wishes to use it Single-handedly, he/she must possess double the required Physical Strength. If a Persona wishes to use two hands to wield a Single-Handed Arm, the grip of the Arm must be long enough to accommodate such usage. See Arms Handling for further guidance.
Physical Strength Requirement
Remember that the Arms Archetype profiles listed in the Arms Encyclopaedia offer the basic statistics for Iron (or Iron and Wood in the case of Composite Arms) weapons. As such, the values presented therein represent a "standard" for Iron and Wood Arms. Moreover, all Arms in the Encyclopeadeia are considered to represent average types of Standard Quality in regard to Materials and Craftsmanship. If so desired, the Narrative Group may retain the values but establish that they represent a Bronze and Wood Standard rather than Iron. Or the values could represent a Poor, Substandard, Good, or Exceptional overall Arm Quality so long as that stipulation remains constant. The idea here is that so long as all Arms are constructed with the same materials and quality (or differences are not considered to be important), the values presented in the Archetype Profiles will serve as an objective Standard. It is only when Arms of varying materials clash that realism suffers from using a single standard to represent the outcome of material conflicts.
If the Narrative Group wishes to employ multiple Arms Materials and Qualities within their Narrative Environment, and to define the differences among these materials as they pertain to Combat Resolution, then they may find the proceeding guidelines useful. Even if other aspects of the Utility Design Process are being used, it is not absolutely necessary to employ the suggestions provided herein.
The Range and Damage Profiles for these Arms are detailed within this section because factors such as Weight and Length are not as important as Construction in determining Hurled and Projectile Arm Profiles. If additional guidance pertaining to any of the information presented hereafter is desired, refer to the Family, Greater Archetype, and Archetype descriptions provided within the Arms Encyclopaedia.
The following passages list the Materials which are potentially available for Arms Construction. Remember that the Materials available within a particular society depend on a number of factors which are handled within the Arms Selection chapter. Refer to the Societal Arms Sheet to choose the Materials that are available within the Society where the Arm is manufactured.
Stone - Aside from Wood, Stone is the first Material used by Man for the construction of tools and Arms. The earliest types of Stone used for manufacturing Arms include Chert and Flint. Both of these are types of quartz, and they are easy to break into sharp fragments by repeated tapping with a stone or Bone baton or billet. The flakes which result from billet-chipping are commonly irregular in shape, but sharp on many edges.
These flakes can be shaped in a process called retouching. Retouching involves using a smaller and softer billet, usually made from Wood or Bone, to tap off portions of the flint where they are not wanted. By continuing this process on both front and back of the intended blade, the shaper can achieve a very sharp, though quite uneven, edge.
Early man is quite economical in his use of Stone for tools and Arms. When shaping a stone core into an axe celt or knife blade, he collects the dross flakes to later shape into small arrowheads. It is likely that the first Stone Arms were short Hand-axes, slim flake Knives, and flake-tipped Arrows. Though the flint and chert used to create these Arms could be retouched to form sharp edges, Flake blades tend to crack and dull after repeated striking against hard surfaces.
Stone is divided into three basic categories: Unshaped, Shaped Core, and Flake. Unshaped Stone is suitable for Crushing Attacks only. Mace Heads and Sling ammunition are common Arms which are constructed from Unshaped Stone. Shaped cores are useful for Chopping, Slashing, and Thrusting Attacks. Stone Cores are commonly employed in the manufacture of primitive Axe heads and Knife blades. Stone Flake is useful for small knife blades and arrow points. Long flakes break easily when used for Thrusting and may splinter if used against hard surfaces. For this reason, Flake tipped arrows are only marginally useful against Armored opponents. See the Material Suitability Table for evaluating the suitability of Stone for performing various Attack Modes.
Wood - Along with Stone, Wood is one of the earliest materials employed by Man for the crafting of Arms. In general, the use of wood is reserved for the construction of weapon Hafts and Shield Boards or Frames, uses which remain popular throughout the Medieval Period. Earlier, however, Man often relied solely upon sharpened wooden sticks for both Arrows and Spears.
Certain primitive Societies hardened these wooden-tipped Arms by applying sap and heating the point in smoldering coals. See the Material Suitability Table for evaluating the suitability of Wood for performing various Attack Modes. The employment of Wood for Arm hafts is covered under "Arms Breakage".
Bone - The use of Bone for Arms Construction occurs after the use of Stone and Wood but before the appearance of Metals. As a material for constructing tools, Bone is superior to stone because it could be carved and drilled to fashion small hard implements which required complex shapes. Needles and fishhooks are good examples of this usage. Though not as hard as Stone, Bone can be shaped into smooth edges and points. When considering bone as a construction material, it is useful to think of Bone as a very hard wood. As such, it is lighter than Stone and many types of Wood, but is much harder, and less likely to fragment or splinter.
Bone, like Stone, is primarily useful for constructing bladed and pointed Arms. A good craftsman can hone a sharp edge and smooth point from Bone (including Horn and Antler); and for this reason Bone is most useful for Thrusting, Slashing, or Piercing Attacks. Against harder Materials, however, Bone tends to dull quickly; and when used for Missile heads, Bone may shatter if it strikes a harder surface. Bone is also useful for Crushing attacks, but its light weight does not make it useful for weighting Arm heads. See the Material Suitability Table for evaluating the suitability of Bone for performing various Attack Modes.
Leather - Leather, or generic Animal Hide, is used frequently in the construction of Arms Grips and holding Thongs. It is its use for constructing Shields, however, that is important in the process of Arms Design. When used to cover Wooden Board Shields, leather serves primarily as a canvass for Heraldic Symbols rather than as an increased defensive Feature.
But for Frame Shields, Leather is all important. Stretched tautly over a Wooden or Bone Frame, several layers of Boiled, Lacquered, or Painted Leather can provide ample protection while allowing the Shield to be light and maneuverable. For the purposes of Designing Frame Shields, consider all Leather to be Standard in both its Suitability and Material Quality.
Copper - Copper Ore, being first used during the Chalcolithic or Copper-Transitional Age, is one of the softest metals used for manufacturing Arms. Unlike Lead, which is softer and heavier, Copper is strong enough to be used for small blades and points. When cold forged, a process in which the Copper ore is hammered into shape without first being heated in a fire or furnace, the strength and hardness of Copper increase remarkably; and Cold-forged Copper was used to create longer (up to 24 inches) metal blades.
Cold forged copper is lighter and more brittle than other metals such as Bronze and Iron, but it is the first material which is truly suitable for the construction of Daggers, Dirks, and Shortswords. It is interesting to note that most of Copper Blades which have been unearthed appear to have been designed for Thrusting. While many of their points had been snapped or broken, early Copper blades rarely display dents and scars along their edges which would be expected had they been used for cutting or Slashing attacks. For further information, see the Material Suitability Table to evaluate the suitability of Copper for performing various Attack Modes.
Lead - Lead is perhaps the metal least used for the construction of Arms. Being very soft and heavy, Lead bends easily and does not retain a sharp edge. Able to be melted over a hot fire however, Lead is one of the easiest metals to cast. Casting is a process which involves melting a metal into a liquid state so that it may be poured into a shaped mold. Casting allows Lead to be quickly and uniformly shaped. Were lead less malleable, it might enjoy utility in a variety of Crushing Arms because of its great weight.
Unfortunately, however, Lead tends to lose its shape when it strikes hard surfaces with great force. It is therefore useful only for arms which do not depend on Shaped design features to cause damage. For this reason, Lead is commonly employed to weight Clubs, a function which does not suffer should the lead be dented or otherwise malformed through repeated blows. Simple Mace Heads can be created quickly and inexpensively by casting lead in a spherical mold and inserting a bulbous handle while the lead retains its molten sta. When the lead cools, it hardens around the handle's bulb, preventing the head from flying off during combat. Lead is also occasionally used to weight Truncheons by drilling a hole into the wooden haft and pouring the molten metal into the hole where it is allowed to harden.
Bronze - Bronze is created by amalgamating Copper and Tin; Brass, by alloying Copper with Zinc. Of the two materials, Bronze is more commonly employed for the crafting of Arms, as Brass alloys are much softer. The qualities evinced by Bronze depend largely on the ratio between Copper and Tin which is present in the alloy. Most Bronze Arms will possess approximately eight parts Copper to one part Tin (this percentage rendering the most durable alloy).
Aside from Iron, Bronze is the most universally applicable metal used for constructing Arms. Being nearly as heavy as Iron, Bronze is equally suitable for the construction of Heavy-ended Crushing and Chopping Arms such as Axes, Maces, and certain Hammers. Bronze does not, however, hold and edge as well as a carbonized Iron; nor does it have the strength and flexibility required for the construction of durable, long (over 30 inches) metal Blades. Long Blades made of Bronze may snap or shatter if struck a hard blow with a heavier weapon.
While it is true that Bronze is less malleable than good Iron or Steel, Bronze can theoretically be shaped into rather complex shapes. The absence of advanced Bronze Arms such as Flails, Warhammers, Poleaxes, and Swordstaves, is a result of the more primitive Design Technology which is usually available to Bronze using Societies rather than unsuitable materials.
If for some reason, a society has the need for such advanced Arms Archetypes and the technology to create them, it is possible to substitute Bronze if Iron is scarce or allocated for other uses. To determine the suitability of Bronze for various Attack Modes, refer to the Material Suitability Table.
Iron - Shortly after is discovery, Iron became the favored material for the construction of tools and Arms. Though pure Iron ore is a rather soft metal, it becomes extremely hard when it is combined with carbon. When man first heated lumps of Iron ore in simple charcoal fires, he unknowingly added Carbon to its composition. When heated in Charcoal fire pits, Iron gains Carbon molecules from the Carbon-rich charcoal, thus becoming Carbonized. It is interesting to note, however, that only a minuscule amount of Carbon is required to harden Iron Ore. In fact, larger amounts of Carbon actually begin to soften the Iron, though never making the metal as soft the pure ore.
Iron may be used to make any Arm which requires metal in whole or part of its construction. See the Material Suitability Table to determine the general usefulness of Iron for constructing Arms of various purposes.
Steel - By regulating the amount of Carbon which is added to the Iron Ore (a process initiated in Western Europe during the High Medieval Period, Mankind) creates Steel, the strongest and most widely useful metal known to date.
While good Steel will certainly contain less than one percent Carbon, 20th century Steel often contains less than one tenth of one percent Carbon in its total composition. Steel is stronger, harder, and generally more flexible (and less brittle) than any of the earlier metals. As an improvement made to Iron, Steel can be used to manufacture any Arm which can be made from Iron.
Moreover, Steel can be used to create lighter, or finer metal blades than can be manufactured from Iron. This makes Steel preferable to Iron for the construction of most Swords and Polearmes which are heavier and slower when made from cruder Iron. See Material Suitability to for further assistance.
Special Materials - In a fantasy environment, any number of additional Construction Materials may be available for Arms Design. Frequently these include mythical metals such as True-Silver, Mithril, Adamantite, etc., which may be magical or semi-magical in nature. Alternate substances such as the teeth, claws, horns, and scales of mythical Creatures may be substituted for simple Horn and Bone. Perhaps mythical Wood or Stone samples will be included. In essence, Special Materials which will be available for Arms Design depend entirely upon the whimsy of the Narrative Ensemble. If such materials seem appropriate given the individual nature of the Narrative Environment, their properties should be described prior to their use, and they should be evaluated in terms of Suitability and Quality. The Material Suitability and Material Quality tables provide good bases for such evaluation. For a more detailed treatment of Magical Arms Materials, watch for Canto IV Fabled Magic.
The Material Suitability Table evaluates Materials according to five generic Suitability categories. Whether a Construction Material is considered Poor, Substandard, Standard, Good, or Exceptional for the construction of particular Design Features which facilitate certain Attack or Defense Modes depends largely upon the innate properties of the Material, and its variational Quality (see Material Quality for further information.) The values which accompany the Suitability grades will be used later in this chapter to determine the Overall Quality of the Arm being Designed.
For example, the Material Quality of Iron evaluates the general quality of a particular sample of Iron in relation to the standard set by other samples. The Quality of a given Iron sample will be either Poor, Substandard, Standard, Good, or Exceptional only in relation to most Iron samples. A particular Iron sample will not therefor be considered Good because it is being compared to Stone Flakes. It may be considered Good, however, because its carbon content has been carefully regulated, and its unworked state has undergone preliminary forging or purification.
All Materials are evaluated according to five generic categories of Quality. The Quality of a given Material sample may be either Poor, Substandard, Standard, Good, or Exceptional. It is important to note that a particular sample can include enough of the Material to construct as few or many Arms as stipulated by the Mythguide or Arm Designer. For Unique Arms Specimens, the amount of material in a sample is unimportant because a "sample" always includes enough material to construct at least one single Arm. In the case of a Generic Arm Class, however, Quality may either be considered a random occurrence or a Construction Standard. If Arms are being designed for an entire Society (or portion thereof), it is recommended that Material Quality be chosen as a Construction Standard which applies to all Arms of the variety being Designed.
The Material Quality Table assigns point values to the generic Quality categories. These will be used to determine the Overall Quality of the Arm later in this chapter.
The Quality of Craftsmanship is evaluated on the same generic scale used to estimate Material Suitability and Material Quality. If the Craftsman is known, use his/her Vocational Reputation as an indication of the Quality which is reflected in his/her finished Arm products. If the Armsmith has not been established simply assign a Quality grade to the Arm. Though Standard Qualities are most common, even a novice craftsman may luck into creating an Arm of Good or Exceptional Quality.
Hurled Arms rely on quality Craftsmanship to render the material supple (in the case of Slings) and to fashion fitting or holding devices in the case of Throwing Sticks. For these Arms evaluate Craftsmanship according to the guidelines provided for Melee Arms.
Bows and Crossbows depend more upon the Craftsmanship to achieve their purpose than do any other Arm Archetypes. In all but the most advanced societies, the simple Selfbow is the preferred bow due to the simplicity of its single, uniform Material composition. The English Longbow, which is the paragon of the Self Bow Archetype, demonstrates that if suitable Wood is available, there is no reason to bother with more complicated Bow Archetypes.
Backed Bows, Built Bows, and Composite Bows all historically result from the lack of a suitable Wood sample from which a powerful Longbow may be constructed. For this reason, inferior materials such as soft wood, bone, horn, sinew, and leather are adapted for bow construction; and as the result of ingenious Design and Craftsmanship, achieve similar if not better results. For a detailed description of Bow and Crossbow constructions see the appropriate entries in the Arms Encyclopaedia.
The Quality of Craftsmanship for Bows and Crossbows is evaluated on the same scale as are other Arms Archetypes. But rather than receiving simple numerical values, the Quality of Craftsmanship effects the Draw Weight, Range, and Damage Potential for Bows and Crossbows depending upon the Archetype in question. See the appropriate tables to determine the effects of Quality on the Draw Weight, Range, and Damage Potential of Bow and Crossbow Archetypes.
It should be noted that Hurled Arm Launchers (Throwing Sticks, and Staffsling only), Bowstaves, and Crossbows should never be used for Parrying unless there is absolutely no other defense available. These Arms are intended solely for launching Missiles from afar and are not capable of withstanding a forceful impact. Though the effects of such an impact might not be readily perceivable, the damage sustained may cause the bowstave to be less efficient if not truly dangerous should it snap under the strain of the draw.
Arm Breakage is evaluated in terms of a Breakage value. Estimating Arm Breakage requires a general knowledge of the Construction Method and techniques used to craft and assemble the component parts of the Arm. Arms Family and Greater Arm Archetype descriptions presented in the Arms Encyclopaedia provide specific information relating to the Construction Method and related techniques used to manufacture Arms. If necessary, refer to the appropriate Family, Greater, and lesser Archetype descriptions for further information.
To determine the Breakage value of a particular Arm, refer to the appropriate table. Bladed Arms, Hafted Arms (including Polearmes), and Shields are each handled on a separate Table.
- The Book of the Sword
The means by which Mankind defends himself play an important role in the histories of all societies. Whether defending his tribal hunting grounds, or expanding to conquer his neighbors' fertile pastures, Man relies on artificial Arms to preserve his own existence in the manner he deems most appropriate. Because physical conflict constitutes a crucial element in most fantasy literature and games, the designers of ARIA recommend that the Narrative Group carefully choose the Arms Archetypes which will be available within the campaign environment. To facilitate this end, the following chapters offer advice (in the form of sequential questions and procedures) which pertains to the Selection and Design of Arms Archetypes.
The information and advice presented in the following chapters requires that the Narrative Group have a detailed concept of the campaign environment. If the Group has used Canto I: Epic Societies to create the home society of the Lyric Personas many of the considerations presented herein will be familiar. If Canto I is not being used, the Narrative Group may still find the following material useful; and in fact, may find that they have further defined their conceptualized Environment by fully engaging the selection procedure. In either case, the designers of ARIA suggest that the Narrative Group use only as much of the information as is necessary to fulfill their individual needs. While employing the full content of this chapter will certainly yield a rational selection of Arms Archetypes for a given society, rationality and realism are not everyone's cup of tea. Hence, we invite you to deviate from the Arms selection procedure according to your individual group's needs and desires.
It is the purpose of this chapter to guide the Narrative Group through a process which will render a rational selection of Arms Archetypes which will be available within the particular society which has been designated for campaign use. While most fantasy games present an array of Arms which complement a predetermined setting, ARIA provides a comprehensive Encyclopaedia of Arms Archetypes from which particular Weapons may selected and modified to suit the unique environment embraced by the Narrative Group.
Because various Groups employ diverse settings, the proscribed Selection procedure is necessarily broad-based. This does not mean, however, that the resultant selection will be general or non-specific. Rather, the Selection Procedure embodies a list of general questions and considerations which will, if applied to a particular society concept, yield a selection of Arms Archetypes which is both specific and unique to the campaign environment employed by the Narrative Group.
In addition to providing a unique selection of Arms Archetypes, the following procedure yields an appropriate selection. Whether the society in question is based in historical realism or fantastic possibility, the arms Selection Procedure will render a logical array of Arms Archetypes which may be further specialized and detailed within the Arms Design Chapter of this book. By defining weapon aspects such as Size, Shape, Material Composition, etc., the Narrative Group will need only to name the resultant Arm to achieve a weapon which is both unique and appropriate to their individual campaign setting. If this amount of detail is not desired by the Narrative Group, then it is recommended that they simply Select the basic Arms Archetypes from the Arms Encyclopaedia, and use their accompanying statistics for Combat Resolution. If Arms composed of material other than Iron and Wood ( such as Stone, Bone, Copper, Bronze, or Steel) are being used by the Narrative Group, then the Encyclopedic Archetype statistics need to be modified according to the general guidelines presented in the chapter concerning Arms Design.
The selection of Arms for the campaign environment can be that simple. If, however, the Narrative Group has taken great care to create a Rational campaign setting, then the process of selecting appropriate Arms may become somewhat complicated or confusing. As there are many aspects which coalesce to manifest a particular societal concept, so the selection of Arms existing within a society result from the conjunction of those same determining aspects. For example, Interaction plays a large role in determining how far and how quickly a society evolves Technologically. Because the types of Arms available to a society depend partially on the Technological advancement of the society and partially upon the Technology of neighbors with which it interacts and trades, both Interaction and Technology determine which Arms might be available to the society in question. It is evident from this example that societal factors such as Technology, Interaction, and Trade work together to create a setting which is predisposed to evincing certain Arms technologies and specimens which vary according to the degree and nature of the same factorial relationships.
Though it is not difficult to trace logical conclusions concerning Arms Selection from individual societal factors (if those factors have been predetermined by the Narrative Group), the relationships among these factors often appear to create vicious circles in which one determinant seems to influence another which reciprocates by exerting influence of its own. To continue our example, let us suppose that a primitive society regularly interacts and trades with a technologically advanced, neighboring society.
Unless there are specific reasons which prevent Technology from passing between societies, it is likely that the primitive society would begin to evolve technologically. Even if manufacturing technology is slow to be adopted by the primitive society, the knowledge pertaining to the use of Advanced Arms would not necessarily be so slow (Consider Native Americans learning the use of the firearms which they could not build themselves).
Therefore, while the low initial Technology of the primitive society might indicate that Iron weapons should not be found within the society, high Interaction and Trade might contradict this conclusion. The process of Selecting Arms for the Narrative Environment is rife with such possible contradictions; and in fact, the involved cyclic pattern which emerges can be defined as Technological evolution.
Because Arms Selection implies a limitation to possibility, the selection procedure requires that a particular time frame be designated in order to forestall the cyclic evolution which occurs when many factors are considered in relation to one another. For this reason, it is recommended that the societal factors be carefully delineated in their current states so that the selection possibilities can be narrowed according to the history of the society and future developments (i.e. evolved Arms types) immediately ruled out. For assistance in delineating a society according to its various relevant determinants see Canto I: Epic Societies. Thus we are left only with the history of the Narrative Environment (which is detailed to greater or lesser degree by the description of its current state) to provide the evolutionary possibilities which limit and suggest appropriate Arms Selection. In other words, it is not necessary to fully detail the historical evolution of Arms Archetypes in a given society; rather, it is necessary only to detail the selection of Arms which is available in the present.
The Process of Selecting Arms generally involves assigning various Arms Archetypes to a Society in a manner which is appropriate to that unique social environment. More specifically, the Narrative Ensemble must decide upon the number and types of Arms which will be available given the overall disposition of the society in question. While the process for selecting Arms should be rational, it need not lack creativity. It is the purpose of the Selection Process to place Arms Archetypes, not specific Arms, within the Narrative Environment. Specific Arms, which may be named and described by the Ensemble, are created by custom tailoring Arms Archetypes to match the originality of the Narrative Environment. The process for Designing Arms is detailed in the following Chapter.
If performed in detail, the selection process should always yield a final grouping of Arms Archetypes which seems appropriate to the individual Society being considered. If the resultant selection does not 'feel right' to the Ensemble, the designers of ARIA suggest that it be amended so that the majority of the players are satisfied. If this can be achieved without following the Selection Process detailed hereafter, it may be possible to save time by simply choosing Arms Archetypes from the Arms Encyclopaedia which appears at the end of this book. The following Steps are merely guidelines, and experienced players may want to review them only to bring the martial element of their Narrative Environments into clearer focus.
The basic Stages of the Selection Process are as follows: Stage 1 - Definition of Arms Ideology, Stage 2 - Definition of Potential Selection, Stage 3 - Narrowing the Potential Selection, Stage 4 - The Apportioning of Arms.
Given the Society's prevailing Philosophical Orientation, what is its ideological position regarding the manufacture, acquisition, and employment of Arms? Given its philosophical and material objectives, to what extent does the Society rely on military prowess to achieve those ends? Is the Society self-sufficient or does it need to take from others to provide for its general welfare? How does the society protect the lifestyle it enjoys? Does it view Arms as necessary for defense, but primarily evil, or does it cynically perceive warfare as a practical or efficient means to achieve certain ends?
Assign either Standing Forces, Provisional Forces, or No Forces to the Society. Within that category, choose one subdivision as the most prominent type of force.)
For example, if a society has learned how to alloy Copper and Tin to create Bronze but has very little Copper available to it, the Society is cannot construct more Copper/Bronze tools or arms than its Resource surplus allows. Moreover, even if the society has a vast supply of Iron, it cannot manufacture Iron Arms because it does not know how to exploit Iron. In this case, the Society would be forced to rely on Wood, Stone, Bone, and Lead for Arms Construction unless it could gain more Copper or Bronze through Foreign Trade and/or Acquisition.
As a general rule, all Societies will have enough resources to construct limited quantities of Arms that fall within its technological capability. Whether a society chooses to use scarce resource for the construction or Arms, or whether it reserves them for the manufacture of tools depends largely on the Society's Arms Ideology and Posture.
Some societies may decide to spend great amounts of wealth to obtain a wide variety of the best Arms available to them, while others may consider these Arms too expensive and/or unnecessary. While a Society bent on Conquest may decide to extensively train their Standing Militia to use the most specialized and complicated Arms available, a Peaceful society might rely on simpler weapons which require almost no training and could be wielded adequately by the citizenry in times of crisis. One society could focus on Arms which are effective when used on horseback, and another might concentrate on long ranged Arms to repel its invaders. There are myriad possibilities and each relies entirely upon the rationality and purposes of the Society in question. The following Questions will aid in determining which Arms a society is likely to select from the gamut of Arms which is potentially available to it.
The following questions are intended to assist the Ensemble in solidifying their conceptualization of the Society's Ideological Posture. When Determining the Ideological Impact of Arms Posture at the end of this section, answers to these questions should be used to modify or adapt the suggestions provided on the Tables.
This concludes the basics of Arms Selection. The remainder of Stage 3 provides numerous considerations which can be used to further narrow the Potential Selection of Arms and to position those Arms within the Society.
If the Ensemble has a clear conception of the Society, they may want to skip the following sections. At this point it will suffice for the Ensemble to simply assign Arms from the Potential list(s) to their Narrative Environment. However, if the group has enjoyed the Selection Process thus far, it may wish to skim the following guidelines to gain further insight into the factors may also effect Arms Selection.
To get a feel for Arms Purposes, the Ensemble may wish to peruse the Arms and Armor Encyclopaedia found at the end of this book. The Encyclopaedia describes the functions and purposes of Arms in some detail within the Archetype Family headings. The following Tables summarize much of the information presented in the Arms Encyclopaedia and classify Arms Archetypes according to their general and specific purposes/usage.
Arms which are not considered Military Arms, fall into the category of Civil or Mundane Arms. While Civil Arms are by definition allocated for public usage, the exact groups or individuals who are authorized to own or employ Civil Arms must be considered. Whether apportioned to military personnel or private citizens, Arms can seriously threaten domestic stability when possessed by irresponsible and/or criminal individuals. For this reason, many societies have laws and governances regarding the right and authority to bear Arms. Depending upon their individual situations, histories, and ideologies, Societies handle the Apportioning of Arms very differently from one another.
Given the availability of Arms and the Society's position regarding them, what individuals or agencies are authorized to manufacture, trade, and possess Arms within the domestic province? Considering the previous Selection factors, what are the extenuating circumstances present within the Society which contribute to the overall societal treatment of Arms? How does the need for national defense compare to the potential for internal violence, crime, or rebellion? How is the stability of the State effected by the Possession of Arms?