15 April 2014

So Old My Dice Have Gray Pips

An exchange with Siege about knives and GURPS smacked me in the face.

I've been GURPSing since it was Man-To-Man in 1985; even longer if you consider that we were dabbling with the lineal ancestor to GURPS, The Fantasy Trip in about 1980 or so.

In the intervening 29 some odd years I've accumulated a lot of inside baseball information about what the rules mean when they say something like "large knife" that's not actually stated in the published rules.

It's easy to forget that not everybody knows this stuff!

When I forget it makes what is meant to be an amusing aside a condescendingly snide remark.

Back to knives...

The knife classifications were not defined well in the original game and the names were sometimes at odds with historical names.

You can infer some of the inconsistency by noting that a machete uses the knife skill, not shortsword or axe-mace.  A kukri uses axe-mace and is treated like a hatchet...

Knife bayonets are usually given large knife stats, but fit the published definition of small knife better... Sword bayonets actually fit the description of large knife, but as far as I know there's no published stats on any sword bayonet yet.

Jim Bowie's cutlery actually matches the published definition of short sword (or a falchion if using Low Tech) better than large knife...

The good news is 4e has fewer places where these contradictions occur...  The bad news is they didn't fix them all.


  1. About every RPG system I know of has quirks and glitches. Warhammer FRP, 1st ed. was fairly glitch-free, but get on a forum about it sometime and look up the "Naked Dwarf Syndrome."

  2. I'm still torn on the small knives, High Tech lists tactical folders and TL5 switchblades as having the same stats as a small knife. Machete using knife actually makes a lot of sense, since a lot of them do seem to be sized more like very large beater knives. Usually the cultures that use 'em regularly have them in place of cleavers, so I can see it. There's a lot of overlap between the definitions of things, and things that are very close but just slightly different. Makes things far more complicated if you're trying to pick an actual real world thing and fit it into the rules instead of "I purchase the shortsword on page whatever".

    As I was going into on my page, even deriving things from the definitions they GIVE doesn't help clarify things all that much (like trying to figure out the size of Large and Small knives based on the range they give for Long knives).


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