Edge of Inspiration: That Cutting Edge

Edge of Tomorrow provided a lot of inspiration, but I think we’ve done enough of that. I was thinking about talking about the movie Krull, because I think there’s a lot of inspiration there also. One piece of inspiration is that very special weapon – the Glaive. And then I thought: “wait, a weapon? Edge? Tee hee.”

So welcome to another Edge of Inspiration, but this time talking about the cutting edge – weapons. These are all weapons that provided a lot of inspiration to my gaming, most of which came very early in my gaming career.

Let’s start with the Glaive from Krull. This thing was cool because it was part ninja throwing star, part switchblade, and part guided missile. What’s not to love about that? I saw Krull before I started playing AD&D, but once I got the Player’s Handbook, I saw that the Glaive wasn’t a glaive, which is weird. Still, I of course had a character with exactly that weapon. When we went through the ICE Middle Earth sourcebook, the Court of Ardor, an enchanted axe became a very similar weapon for one of my character’s, lacking only the switchblade effect of the retracting blades.

And then there’s the Mindsword from Hawk the Slayer. That weapon had a very cool design, and among my group of gamers, became the standard image of a bastard sword – oh AD&D and your misappropriated naming conventions. There really wasn’t much to this sword except that it looked very light and had some kind of psychokinetic power. That was enough – given that Hawk the Slayer was my go-to RPG movie until the 13th Warrior came along – for the Mindsword to inspire many an imitation.

While it’s actually a rip-off a lightsabre, Thundarr the Barbarian’s Sunsword fit much better into D&D. We didn’t really know too much about lightsabre’s at the time, so the Sunsword’s wealth of abilities – cutting through anything, deflecting anything, having some kind of anti-magic effect – made it a much preferable weapon. And when one was to enter someplace without weapons, well, that’s just a decorative icon that looks like a hilt.

Finally, of course, there’s the Ranger’s bow from the D&D cartoon. All of the character’s had something magical, and while the Thief’s cloak of invisibility was cool – and may have actually been a cloak of immaterialness, if such a thing exists – it was that rockin’ fire-arrow launching bow that I ripped off. Again, like the Sunsword, such a magical bow could have a host of abilities, not just flaming arrows of flame.

These days, my RPG imagination is fired mostly by modern weapons, as my playing is mostly High Plains Samurai. Originally, my character – Mauser – had two Mauser C96s (Broomhandles) that were based on the .45 M1911A1s used by Orson Randall in the Immortal Iron Fist. Mauser channeled his Chi through them and he did so in very imaginative ways. The game has had a couple of re-skins, and now Mauser is a totally non-powered bounty hunter, who nonetheless has a special weapon – a Mare’s Leg, copied from the one carried by Steve McQueen’s character in Wanted: Dead or Alive. He’s also got a longarm – naturally a full length Winchester 1892.

I’ll bet you’ve each got a media property weapon that you’ve had your character use in some RPG or another. It’s one of the joys of games of the imagination.

You find more Edge of Inspiration articles here.

You can read more about Krull on Wikipedia or IMDB.

You can read more about the Court of Ardor here.

You can read more about Hawk the Slayer on Wikipedia or IMDB.

You can find one adaptation of the Mindsword here.

You can read more about Thundarr the Barbarian on Wikipedia or IMDB.

You can read more about the D&D cartoon on Wikipedia or IMDB.

You can read more about High Plains Samurai here.

You can read more about Orson Randall here.

You can read more about the awesome the Immoral Iron Fist here.

You can read more about the Mare’s Leg on Wikipedia.

You can read more about Wanted: Dead or Alive on Wikipedia or IMDB.

Excessive Skills of Pandora

Pandora Excess, in order to emulate the gameplay of the Borderlands computer games, is going to need to have skills. The skills (also known as weapon proficiencies) in Borderlands are all weapons related, and in a tabletop RPG, one needs a wider selection. As such, Pandora Excess will have both Weapons Skills and Mundane Skills.

The skills I’ve included so far are:

Weapons Skills: Assault Weapons, Demolitions, Melee, Pistols, Shotguns, Sniper Weapons, Sub-machine Guns, Thrown, and Unarmed.

Mundane Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Awareness, Bluff, Concentration, Cryptography, Disguise, Fortitude, Gaming, Handle Animal, Influence, Knowledge (Arcana), Knowledge (Crime), Knowledge (Current Events), Knowledge (Humanities), Knowledge (Religion), Knowledge (Science), Mechanics, Medicine, Navigate, Sneak, Survival, Willpower

The Mundane list is pretty long, and one approach I’m considering is removing the Knowledge skills and having Knowledge tied to the class.

And, yes, there will be classes. Classes are also an integral part of Borderlands.

So, any suggestions on skills to include or exclude?

Running and Gunning on Pandora

Weapons in Borderlands create a problem for me in adapting the game to a tabletop format. Guns are very important in Borderlands, while melee weapons are there but are invisible except when used. All the guns have an intricate variety of interacting statistics while melee weapons just exist and cannot be replaced.

But there’s more: in Borderlands, characters had Weapon Proficiencies that improved with use. These were lost in Borderlands 2, which instead focused on gaining “rewards” that improved the use a variety of weapons or devices – like shields.

So I have three problems that I either need to ignore or create systems to address: weapon stats, proficiencies and skills.

I definitely think weapons are going to need stats something similar to what exists in the games, but there’s another stat not in the game that I would like to incorporate: range. It seems, playing the game, that this is an intrinsic property of weapons that is not overt. I would make it so. Elemental weapons are also very important, so that would need to be incorporated. Melee and ranged weapons will be treated the same, so you will have knives, long blade, katanas, etc. alongside revolvers, pistols, assault rifles, etc.

I dislike the “magic economy” of D&D (especially editions 3 and 4), in which PCs could go into a shop and buy a magic wand or weapon. So while having vending machines and occasional vendors is an important part of Borderlands, being able to purchase special weapons will not be part of Pandora Excess. Random tables will assign the stats to found weapons, and the player (not the GM) will roll on those tables, making each one unique.

I’m going to use a skill and feats system, so basically a melding of the Borderlands and Borderlands 2 approach. The Skill Trees and “rewards” would be counted as “feats” while the weapon proficiencies will be a basis for the Skills system, though given this will be an RPG and not just a first-person shooter, I will need to expand on those.

So, yes, this is going to be a robust system, closer to D&D than to Lady Blackbird, but I’ve come to terms to with that.

You can find out more about Borderlands here.

You can find out more about Pandora Excess here.

You can find out more about D&D here.

You can find out more about Lady Blackbird here.