13 June 2024

I Had A Theory

I was sitting here wondering why there's a hammer head on my warhammer.

Crushing damage in GURPS is objectively worse than impaling.

Especially when you give that impaling an armor divisor.

What's the purpose of that hammer head?

There's been some speculation that flanged maces were intended as weapon breakers.

Could that be the reason for the hammer face?

So I grabbed the GURPS books and went to see if it'd be effective.

Going against the typical arming sword broadsword...

It's -4 to hit that blade.

But let's say you hit.

A ST 12 warrior will do 2d cr with the hammer face.  2-12 points of damage  with an average of 7.

The sword has a DR of 6, HT and HP of 12.  Because it's treated as homogeneous, getting it down to 0 HP is enough to cause serious problems.  18 points to do it in one blow.

That's not going to happen unless a critical hit happens.

A flanged mace isn't really any better at this task...  It does 2d+1 cr.  3-13 points of damage with an average of 8.

It's probably too complicated for GURPS.  There's documented accounts of men breaking their sword over their thigh when they were surrendering.  The rules don't reflect this well.


  1. I don't know about weapon breaking and whatnot but it does put additional weight behind the spike when you use it. Making it look like a hammer face is probably so it's also useful against say unarmored levies?

    1. I like that idea.

      I am a bit surprised that so many things like this are firmly during historical times and there's hardly a word written about it from when they were being used. We have physical examples of the weapons and some artwork; but nothing stating the intention of the designers. <-- Sure fire way to get a link to what I say isn't there.

      I've seen books showing how to fight with swords and polearms, but maces and martel de fer... nada.

    2. I would guess that like lot of things, the authors of the period assumed everyone knew and didn't write it down.

  2. Also agree about the hammer being useful for less-armored opponents.

    But there's places where the hammer is still more effective than the pick against armored opponents. Whut? Well, the pick will have a chance of getting stuck or entangled, while the hammer will just deal crushing blows without penetration.

    As to flanged maces, that's most likely to concentrate the blow rather than spreading it out.

    1. When pi = 3, a flange, spike, knob and smooth ball are all equally crushing damage.

  3. I think sometimes we work to hard to assign reason to historical design when the reason may have been because guys have always been guys…

    “Know what would be badass? If my halberd (or whatever) had a f-ing’ hammer on the back…”

    “Yeah… we’ll check out this s—t, my mace has little blades all over it… slipped the village blacksmith an extra sawbuck and he added them on for me on the DL. Won’t see another like it in all of Lower Saxony”

    Some weapons mods turned out to be effective (if inadvertently) and survived through history, and others turned out to be like the KaBar pistol bayonets of their day.


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