Weapon Proficiencies

NOTE: Weapon Proficiencies ARE NOT COMBAT RELATED SKILLS. There is no need for a skill roll prior to employing a weapon. The probability of success is built into the character class combat tables.

Weapon Proficiency by Character Class

Class Initial Number Non-Proficient Penalty Added Weapon Proficiency Per Level
Adept 2 -5 1/5
Mystic 2 -4 1/4
Medium 1 -5 1/6
Rogue 3 -3 1/4
Fighter, Military 4 -2 1/3
Fighter, Non-Military 3 -2 1/3
Outdoorsman 3 -2 1/3
Sportsman 2 -2 1/3


Firearms fall into three broad categories as far as determining proficiency. Each type is a separate proficiency.

Muzzle Loaders: While cartridge firing weapons have been widely available for the last thirty to forty years, muzzle loading weapons still exist and ammunition can still be purchased. That said, it is entirely possible to go your entire life without handling or firing an old fashioned muzzle loader. And though most people will have a fair inkling on the loading procedure, being able to actually load and fire one proficiently, safely, successfully and accurately takes some training and practice. Once you have learned how to handle and load, and especially measure the charge for a muzzle loader, adapting to other types is relatively easy. But the over all category of Muzzle Loader is a stand alone proficiency. Note: Cap and Ball revolvers, though not technically a muzzle loader, require the Muzzle Loader proficiency to safely and properly measure the powder charge for each ball.  NOTE: A Muzzle Loader requires a FULL Standard Round (30 seconds) to reload.

Hand Guns: Hand guns or pistols come in a variety of types, muzzle loaders, breech loaders and revolvers, the general skill of aiming and firing such a hand gun is the same for all three. Hand Gun proficiency allows any of the three types of pistol to be shot. Though the Hand Gun Proficiency includes the loading (and unloading) of cartridge revolvers and cartridge breech loaders (Derringers) Cap&Ball Pistols and Revolvers are considered Muzzle Loaders and you MUST have that proficiency to safely load (but not shoot) a cap&ball pistol of any kind.

Long Guns: This proficiency entails handling, aiming and firing ANY of the general types of long guns. Rifles, carbines and shotguns, whether they are Breech Loaders, Repeaters or Muzzle Loaders. Handling, stance and aiming are the same with long guns regardless of the type of action that the weapon has. There are differences in handling and stance between a rifle and a shotgun, but skill with one quickly leads to familiarity and comfort with the other. Note: You must have the Muzzle Loading proficiency for long gun muzzle loaders.

Heavy Weapons

There are several weapons that fall into this category, each is a separate Weapon Proficiency.  All are ‘Crew Weapons’ in that they require more then one person to efficiently operate them.  Operating one alone (if possible) will be at a minus ranging from -1 to -5, depending on the weight and complexity involved.

Muzzle Loading Cannon

These come in a variety of sizes, from one pounder on up to monster siege guns.  Despite the size differences, loading and firing is essentially the same, though the big ones need a lot of extra hands and muscles!  A typical field gun needs a minimum of four to load, site and fire it  and most need a crew of six or eight.  The really big guns may have a dozen or more crew to operate them.  Rifled muzzle loader cannon are the most common type in the British Army and Navy and very common in most other militaries as well.

Breech Loading Cannon

At this point in time there are several Breech Loading systems used in cannon.  Being familiar with one does not imply immediate knowledge of the others.  -2 to initial use of an unfamiliar loading system.  Though after some usage the differences will iron out.

British, American and French soldiers will be most familiar with Screw Type breech loaders that use the ‘Three Motion Block’ which are somewhat slow to operate. (Though many times faster then a muzzle loader!) with the powder charge and the projectile separate.  German military favor a Horizontal Sliding Block and a metal cased charge.

Quick Firing Guns

There are several designs of Quick Firing Gun, which also includes early machineguns.  Operating and maintaining these new and complex weapons is a separate proficiency for EACH type.  These guns are either Mechanically Operated, usually by turning a crank, or automatic, using the recoil of a discharge to operate the mechanism.

Gatling Gun

The Gatling gun is a rapid-firing multiple-barrel firearm invented in 1861 by Richard Jordan Gatling. It is an early machine gun.  It is a Mechanically operated weapon, powered by turning a crank. With six barrels revolving around a central shaft (although some models had as many as ten).  As the handwheel is cranked, the barrels rotate clockwise and each barrel sequentially loads a single cartridge from a top-mounted magazine, fires off the shot when it reaches a set position (usually at 4 o’clock), then ejects the spent casing out of the left side at the bottom, after which the barrel is empty and allowed to cool until rotated back to the top position and gravity-fed another new round.

Gardner Gun

The Gardner gun, invented in 1874 by William Gardner of Toledo, Ohio formerly a captain in the Union army during the American Civil War.   It is a type of mechanical machine gun. It has one, two or five barrels, and is fed from a vertical magazine or hopper and is operated by a crank. When the crank is turned, a feed arm positions a cartridge in the breech, the bolt closes and the weapon fired. Turning the crank further opens the breechblock and extracts the spent case.

Nordenfelt Gun

The Nordenfelt gun is a multiple-barrel organ gun that has a row of up to twelve barrels. It is fired by pulling a lever back and forth and ammunition is gravity fed through chutes for each barrel. It is produced in a number of different calibres from rifle up to 25 mm (1 inch). Larger calibres are also used, but for these calibers the design simply permits rapid manual loading rather than true automatic fire. The weapon was designed by a Swedish engineer, Helge Palmcrantz. He created a mechanism to load and fire a multiple barreled gun by simply moving a single lever backwards and forwards. It was patented in 1873.  The first quick-firing light gun (cannon) was the 1-inch Nordenfelt gun, built in Britain from 1880. The gun is expressly designed to defend larger warships against the new small fast-moving torpedo boats in the late 1870s to the early 1880s and is an enlarged version of the successful rifle-calibre Nordenfelt hand-cranked “machine gun.” The gun fires a solid steel bullet with hardened tip and brass jacket.


A mitrailleuse is a type of volley gun with barrels of rifle calibre that can fire either all rounds at once or in rapid succession. The earliest true mitrailleuse was invented in 1851, ten years before the advent of the Gatling gun. It was followed by the Belgian Montigny mitrailleuse in 1863. Then the French 25 barrel “Canon à Balles”, better known as the Reffye mitrailleuse, was adopted in great secrecy in 1866. It became the first rapid-firing weapon deployed as standard equipment by any army in a major conflict.   A steel block containing twenty-five 13 mm (.51 calibre) centre-fire cartridges is locked against the breech before firing. With the rotation of a crank, the 25 rounds are discharged in rapid succession. The sustainable firing rate of the Reffye mitrailleuse is 100 rounds per minute and its maximum range is about 2,000 yds.  Largely considered obsolete now, it is still found in French colonies and has been used in Mexico in their wars against the Yaqui tribes.

Maxim Gun

The Maxim gun is a recoil-operated machine gun invented by Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim in 1884; the weapon became the first automatic firearm in production by Vickers, which used .303 British ammunition and a recoil-operating firing system, and required water cooling. Trials demonstrated that the Maxim can fire 600 rounds per minute. Compared to modern machine guns, the Maxim was heavy, bulky, and awkward. A lone soldier can fire the weapon, but it is usually operated by a team of men, usually 4 to 6. Apart from the gunner, other crew are needed to speed reload, spot targets, and carry and ready ammunition and water. Several men were needed to move or mount the heavy weapon.

QF 1 pounder “Pom Pom Gun”

The QF 1 pounder, universally known as the pom-pom due to the sound of its discharge, was a 37 mm British autocannon, the first of its type in the world. Hiram Maxim originally designed the Pom-Pom in the late 1880s as an enlarged version of the Maxim machine gun. Its longer range necessitated exploding projectiles to judge range, which in turn dictated a shell weight of at least 400 grams (0.88 lb), as that is the lightest exploding shell allowed under the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868.  It is built under the Maxim-Nordenfelt label.


Bows & Crossbows

Bows, long, short, compound or composite are a single Weapon Proficiency.

Bows as weapons of war or hunting have largely fallen into the dustbin of history.  However, archery as a sporting event is still practiced especially in the public schools and colleges and some poachers employ them for stealthy hunting.

Crossbows, light or heavy, are a single Weapon Proficiency.  Crossbows as weapons of war have largely vanished from the battlefield except in very rare cases where a ‘quiet’ weapon is needed.  However, crossbows and their cousin the Prod are often considered ‘the poacher’s friend.’  The ability to shoot game without drawing the attention of the Wardens or property owner is invaluable.  The prod, which is a crossbow modified to shoot a stone or lead bullet, is popular for small game like rabbit and squirrel since it does not tear up the flesh and skin as a bolt or a bullet from a gun would.  Usually the prod shot stuns the small animal so that the shooter can then dispatch it easily.

In general, bows and crossbows will be treated like ‘short ranged’ guns. Specifically, a Bow (long, short, compound or composite) and a Light Crossbow, are treated as a Breech Loading gun and a Heavy Crossbow is treated as a Muzzle Loading gun for combat purposes.

A Bow may may be loaded and shot TWICE in a combat round. (10 seconds) Once at the beginning of the round, per initiative and once in the second half of the round. (Unless the initiative roll was too high to complete it in the round.)

A Light Crossbow (that is cocked by a simple pull and does not require a separate device) may be loaded and shot ONCE in a Combat Round (10 seconds)

A Heavy Crossbow or device that requires a windlass crank or detached lever, requires one full co loaded and shot ONCE in a Standard Round. (30 seconds.) If the weapon is unloaded at the start of the round it can be loaded and able to shoot at the end of the round. If the weapon starts the round loaded it may be shot as initiative dictates but will not be reloaded until the same segment of the NEXT round.

Bows and Crossbows may be employed in Aimed Fire, Snap Shots, Rapid Fire, Panic Fire or Covering Fire as a firearm of their type.


The changes in combat and military technology has reduced the variety of swords that once graced the battlefields. Heavy broadswords, two handed swords and their cousins were largely designed to overcome armor and shields. Now that armor is mostly found in museums, so to are the weapons intended to defeat it. Swordsmanship, especially fencing, is still a standard skill for a gentleman, especially an officer, but the advent of revolvers and repeaters has greatly reduced its importance on the battlefield.

Modern sword play is about speed and strength. Whether the attack is a slash or a thrust its success depends on the speed and skill that delivers it. Similarly, the defense against such an attack, the parry and footwork, are dependent on speed as well. Consequently proficiency with a sword falls into one of two styles. Slashing Weapons and Thrusting Weapons. An edged sword intended to slash can still thrust and a pointed thrusting blade can have an end that is capable of slashing. But the styles of fighting will emphasize one over the other, though both types of attack exist in all styles.

Slashing blades tend to be heavier and sturdier then thrusting weapons, since emphasize of the attack is a swing and parrying such attacks often require blocking the blade rather then deflecting it. Thrusting attacks emphasize penetration and their defense is largely a matter of deflection. A skilled swordsman can use either type of weapon, but generally have a preferred style.

Slashing Blades: In this category are sabers, cutlasses, scimitars and hangers. The saber in particular comes in a variety of variations, primarily in regards to the curve of the blade, its length and how pronounced the point is. The saber is the principal sword of any military officer, regardless of service branch, and most enlisted troops. The strength of the swordsman is just as important as the dexterity since he may be required to beat down an opponents blade and when facing an enemy with a light thrusting blade, the heavier saber or slashing sword may even break the enemy’s blade when it is used to block the slashing attack in defense. (See Damage Notes)  A Fighter who specializes in Slashing Blades may improve his or her Armor Class vs Melee Attacks (only) by 1.

Thrusting Blades: These are primarily rapiers, small swords (sword canes) and other light, slim and concealable swords. Length varies. Some thrusting swords are edged along some or all of the length. Others have unusual profiles, triangular, wedge or half moon to add strength while keeping weight down as well as producing more pronounced wounds. Dexterity is important in using a thrusting blade. Both the attack and defense rely on speed to drive home or parry. A Fighter who specializes in Thrusting blades receive a +1 damage bonuses when driven into the enemy’s torso.  All torso attacks with a thrusting blade have an increased chance of striking a vital organ and thus doing more damage. (See Damage Notes)

Mounted Swordsmanship: Cavalry is still a part of war and learning to utilize a sword while mounted is a skill and proficiency unto itself. Generally it is ONLY available to Fighters who were, or are, cavalry. To learn Mounted Swordsmanship one MUST have the Swordsmanship Proficiency AND be able to ride.

Batons, Walking Sticks and light clubs can be utilized with the Swordsmanship proficiency.


Fencing is a proficiency that can be learned by any class. There are several limits attached to the proficiency.

To learn fencing the character MUST have a Dexterity of 15 or better and MUST already have Swordsmanship as a proficiency.

The fencer may not wear armor, speed is of the essence!

The fencer is limited to Rapier, Saber or ‘small sword’ for fencing.

Level of Fencer AC bonus vs Melee Weapon Combat bonus to Hit
1-3 +1 +1
4-6 +2 +1
7-9 +3 +2
10-12 +4 +2
13-15 +5 +3

A fencer’s level is his/her class level.

When fighting opponents armed with weapons (other than missiles), the fencer gains bonuses to his armor class, simulating his superior skill in deflecting/parrying blows. The fencer CANNOT PARRY bullets, bolts or arrows, rocks, etc. It DOES effect thrown knives, hatchets, spears, etc.

A fencer may make 2 attacks per round (like a Fighter) with his fencing weapon only. This benefit does not mean that a Fighter trained in fencing gains any extra attacks!

If forced to use an improvised weapon, ex: a baton, walking stick, poker or similar sized object that is about the same weight/heft of a saber or rapier, a fencer may use it to parry, gaining the AC bonus vs Melee Weapon while using it. The fencer DOES NOT gain any Combat Bonus to Hit or extra attacks.

This is a proficiency that is available ONLY to characters who are, or were, Infantry or Marines. It allows a properly equipped rifle with the appropriate style bayonet to be used as a spear in melee combat and it allows the user to defend against another bayonet or spear attack.
A bayoneted rifle CANNOT be thrown as a spear! It is a melee combat weapon only, though it is possible to fire the rifle while equipped with the bayonet. Only a breech loader or repeater rifle can be reloaded for a second or further shots while the bayonet is in place. To reload a muzzle loader the bayonet must be removed OR it will take an extra round to reload the weapon.
To use a bayonet the rifle must be designed to accept one. This means that the muzzle is shaped to fit and attach the type of bayonet designed for it. Examples include socket, clip, sword and so on. Different armies use different style bayonets, so typically a French bayonet will not fit an English rifle. Military rifles are built to handle the blows of bayonet fighting without being damaged. Shotguns and carbines are not made to accept a bayonet. Rifles made for the civilian market, especially tubular magazine repeaters cannot be equipped with a bayonet.

The bayonet itself, when not attached to the rifle, may be used as a large dagger or a short sword if it is a Sword Bayonet.
Using a bayoneted rifle is a two handed attack.
As with other melee weapons a Fighter may make two attacks per round with the bayonet.
If the rifle is loaded the fighter may shoot at anytime in the round but only at the opponent he is facing. If he shoots WHILE the bayonet is fleshed in his enemy, after a successful To Hit with the blade, the Fighter rolls a d20. On ANY RESULT EXCEPT 1 it is an automatic Hit. (1 represents a misfire.) This is treated as a Point Blank Shot. Damage is automatically considered Critical in that it is applied DIRECTLY to the Target’s Health (CN) NOT Hit Points. (There is no dodge or twist to avoid some portion of the damage in a Point Blank shot.
When fighting an opponent with another bayonet equipped rifle, or a spear, the Fighter may use his weapon to parry attacks giving him a +2 to AC vs the enemy’s melee attack. This DOES NOT apply to the enemy firing his/her bayonet tipped rifle! However, the bayoneted rifle MAY be used to parry a spear that is thrown at the fighter, PROVIDED that the fighter is facing the spear thrower and sees it coming. This adds +1 to the defender’s AC vs the thrown spear.
If the Fighter looks away from his opponent in a bayonet fight, for example to shoot at another enemy, his attacker may make an Opportunity Attack against him.

Other Weapon Proficiencies

Knife or Dagger Fighting
Typical blade lengths run from 4 to 12 inches (much larger and a single edged knife is treated as a hanger (short sword) and a double edged as a small sword.
The proficiency involves the cut and thrust of a knife fight and throwing the knife. Throwing is a Skill that can be added to this proficiency.

Mace, Cudgel, Maul
This refers to a heavy, weighted club or cudgel as well as a properly designed mace or morningstar. (As opposed to the slim, balanced walking sticks and police batons.) These weapons, along with such improvised weapons as masonry or blacksmith hammers, wrecking bars, sledge hammers, the blunt side of a woodsman’s axe, etc are weapons of strength and power, doing exclusively lethal crushing damage.

Club, Baton, Single Stick, Walking Stick
These lighter clubs also do crushing damage, but because of their lighter weight and greater control, they can be employed to administer non lethal damage.  The use of these weapons is closely relate to Swordsmanship, however someone trained in this as a specific proficiency will find switching to an edged weapon, with a specific ‘direction’ of use, awkward.

Woodsman’s Axe, Long Axe, Pickaxe, Mattock
These two handed weapons do strictly cutting/slashing damage.  Throwing is a Skill that can be added to this proficiency.

Hand Axe, Hatchet, Hawk
One handed axes that are light enough to throws and can be controlled enough to do non lethal damage in hand to hand combat.  Throwing is a Skill that can be added to this proficiency.

Sling Shot
The classic Y slingshot that has been a favorite of youth everywhere. Though it does minimal damage a well placed shot can be painful, perhaps even fatal, especially to small game. It is also silent and unlike a traditional sling, needs little space to operate.

The traditional pouch and cords are able to sling a rock or sling bullet at very high velocities (much higher then a sling shot) with possibly fatal damage. It has a longer range then a sling shot and is easier to conceal. It requires sufficient room to swing and makes a ‘swooshing’ sound as the user winds up to speed.

Javelin & Spear Throwing
A staple of Track & Field competitions, many University students (Fighters) will have had an opportunity to learn to throw the javelin. The Competition javelin is very light, made for distance throws rather then close combat so anytime the sport javelin is used in melee there is a 50% chance it will break when struck or striking.  A javelin used in close combat is treated as  a spear for proficiency.  NOTE: This proficiency is for Throwing a Javelin or spear.

Staff, Spear and Javelin Combat
Staff fighting has largely fallen away in popularity, though some country folk still carry one, and use it, though its primary purpose is stock handling and herding. Use of a spear (or javelin) in hand to hand combat is very closely related to the staff and they are virtually indistinguishable for game purposes.

Sap, Blackjack, Cush
Short, flexible, weighted or shot loaded clubs that are primarily used to subdue with attacks from behind. Popular with street ruffians and muggers, and plainclothes police, they are, usually, non lethal, though the gallows has taken many an accidental killer.

A whip deals nonlethal damage. It deals no damage to any creature with an armor bonus of +1 or higher or a natural armor bonus of +3 or higher. The whip is treated as a melee weapon with 15-foot reach, though you don’t threaten the area into which you can make an attack. In addition, unlike most other weapons with reach, you can use it against foes anywhere within your reach (including adjacent foes).
Using a whip provokes an attack of opportunity, just as if you had used a ranged weapon.
You can make trip attacks with a whip. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop the whip to avoid being tripped.
When using a whip, you get a +2 bonus on opposed attack rolls made to disarm an opponent (including the roll to keep from being disarmed if the attack fails).
NOTE: The Weapon SKILL ‘Useful Whip’ allows the user to use the whip in ways other then combat. Examples: Swing over a pit from an overhead anchor, snuff a candle, break a fragile item, knock something over, pull a small item to you… The difficulty modifiers will be determined by circumstances.  See Combat Skills for more details.