Equipment Houserules


If your head is unprotected, critical hits deal double damage. Ordinary helmets are enough to protect your head, but muffle your hearing and impose a -1 penalty to surprise rolls while worn. Heavier helmets give a 1 in 6 chance to negate a critical hit entirely, but they restrict vision to a 90 degree arc and impose a -3 penalty to surprise rolls. Wealthy knights often wear masterwork helms with a hinge that allows them to switch between a light and heavy helmet as a free action.

Regardless of what type of helm you wear, donning or removing your helm takes half an action. A called shot to a heavy healm with a blunt metal-headed weapon (such as a hammer or mace, but not a club or quarterstaff) will require an item saving throw. If failed, the wearer is blinded and the helm can only be removed by a blacksmith or with a Bend Bars/Lift Gates check (one check per person).

Melee Weapons

When attacking with a bearded weapon such as an axe or a khopesh, you can make an attack against AC 4 to hook your opponent's shield, then make an opposed strength check to rip it from their hands. If you fail, they can't use their shield this round but take no other penalties. If you succeed, their shield is disarmed.

When attacking with heavier weapons such as axes, hitting a shield usually damages it (splintering it or even breaking it after enough wear and tear), while blades and lighter weapons just skid off.

When full-defending with a broadsword, cutlass or rapier you gain an additional +1 bonus to AC.

The lucerne hammer and bec de corbin are particularly adept at puncturing through plate-mail armor. When used as a piercing weapon, these get a +2 bonus to-hit against field plate, plate mail and full plate mail armor. The military versions of these weapons are also fitted with pike heads that allow them to function as a spear or pike when set to receive a charge. This makes them very threatening and cumbersome for a civilian or traveller to carry, however.

Ranged Weapons

As with melee weapons, ranged weapons have a weapon speed. For weapons with a ROF of 1 or less, this is handled exactly as a melee weapon is. For weapons with a ROF of greater than 1, it is handled as multiple attacks for fighters are - attacks are staggered. For example; the weapon speed of a longbow is 8 with a ROF of 2/1. This means that everyone in combat who is using a longbow fires their first arrow on their modified initiative (1d10+8). They fire their second arrows at the end of initiative. If someone was throwing darts in the combat (ROF 3/1), their first dagger would fly with the first arrows, their second dagger would fly with the second arrows, and their third dagger would fly after the second round of arrows.

There is an exception to this; the weapon speed of a ranged weapon consists primarily of the time taken to load the weapon, in the case of weapons that need to be loaded with ammunition. For a crossbow, if your crossbow has been loaded beforehand, then the weapon speed of the crossbow is considered to be 1 the first time you fire it. For a bow, if you already have an arrow nocked to the bow, then the weapon speed of the bow is considered to be 1 until you have fired it. Likewise, thrown weapons have a speed of 1 if an action is held to throw them.

Enchanted ranged weapons that fire ammunition do so with exceptional accuracy and power; however, they do not confer magic onto their ammunition. A +1 bow that is firing mundane ammunition would not pierce the hide of a werewolf, for example - you need magic ammo for that. This downside is made up for by the fact that enchanted ammuition can be combined with an enchanted ranged weapon for even higher bonuses.


Beyond standard shooting and the benefits granted by the Missile Weapon Style or by specialising, there are more complex tricks that may be attempted with a bow. This kind of impressive maneuver is most commonly practised by the elves, as they are legendary for their bowcraft and their fighters are very often specialised in the longbow.

A broken-charge shot allows an archer with an arrow nocked and an action readied to interrupt a mounted charge with an arrow by shooting at the mount. Unless the mount is well-trained in the ways of combat and dealing with pain, this will break the charge if it hits. When a charge is broken in this way, the rider must make a land-based Riding NWP check. If they fail, they are hurled to the ground for 1d4 damage.

A stapling shot can be used to pin someone to some soft surface such as wood or plaster with an arrow. The target in question must be next to such a surface, and if they move before the shot is fired, it is wasted. The shot imposes a +1 penalty to weapon speed and a -4 penalty to-hit, but the target is pinned if hit. Pinned targets may not move from their position, and take a -2 penalty to AC and attack rolls. They must spend a round to tear themselves free. If they have not done so after three rounds have passed, they will have torn themselves free from the exertion.

The trick shot is a catch-all - it is a generic called shot (+1 to weapon speed, -4 to-hit) that allows for all kinds of creative shots to send a message to an enemy. For example, the archer may knock a hat off, fire at the ground directly in front of the target, send an arrow an inch from someone's ear, or shoot a fleeing orc in the behind. The DM may alter the penalty to-hit as he sees fit, depending on the difficulty of the shot. If the archer misses, the shot either flies off harmlessly or hits their target - if the latter, it deals 1d3 point of damage.

As per the rules, shortbows and composite longbows can be fired from horseback. Just as normal, you may fire at your normal ROF if you do not move, or move up to half your maximum speed and fire with a reduced ROF. If you take the Horse Archer style, which counts as a weapon proficiency, you may move at your mount's full speed and get a 1/2 ROF, or move at up to half of their speed and get a full ROF.


Crossbows in AD&D are sorely underpowered. The real limiting factor of the crossbow is its expense (compared to relatively cheap shortbows), its complexity and its extremely slow rate of fire. Crossbow quarrels have a higher mass and velocity than arrows, punching through armour with ease, and the arbalest(heavy crossbow) even outranges a longbow. They were also popular throughout history because they could be used with very little training.

Light crossbows deal 1d6+1 damage, while heavy crossbows deal 1d8+1 damage. Ranges and ROF remain the same. The penalty to-hit for nonproficiency is halved when using a crossbow, to reflect their ease of use. Light crossbows ignore 2 points of armour at short range; heavy crossbows ignore 5 points of armour at short range and 2 points of armour at medium range.

Hand crossbows gain no armour penetration. There is a special variant of the hand crossbow, the repeater crossbow. This fires at a rate of 2/1 with the same range and damage as a hand crossbow. It is found amongst the drow and certain eastern societies, and is exceedingly expensive - at least 1,000 gp.

A light crossbow can be cocked by any character with a Strength of 10 or higher. A character with a Strength of 14 can draw a heavy crossbow using a belt-hook, whereas a character with a Strength of 18 can draw a heavy crossbow unassisted.

Special Weapons

Dwarven Greataxe

For human-sized creatures, a battleaxe is about as big an axe as can be reasonably wielded. Anything large becomes too heavy to swing properly and too brittle to use without breaking. For dwarves and gnomes, however, this is not so much a limitation. The dwarven greataxe can only be used by a dwarf or gnome - the handle and general proportions aren't right for man-sized creatures. It is a long-handled weapon like a felling axe, but can be wielded without being much more cumbersome than a battleaxe. Its head is heavy and powerful like a halberd, but it can be wielded and is forged so that it will not shatter. Despite this, these axes are much more likely to break than normal battleaxes and must be frequently replaced.

As a weapon, the dwarven greataxe is somewhere between a battleaxe and a halberd. It deals 1d10 slashing damage, 2d6 against large-sized creatures. It is only medium-sized, however, and does not have a halberd's reach. It has a weapon speed of 8 - making it faster than a halberd, but slower than a battleaxe. Dwarven greataxes are sold by many dwarven smiths and cost around 50 gp.


Designed for use in combat against cavalry and in other situations where a cutting weapon is less effective, the estoc resembles a bastard sword or two-handed sword. Their sides are blunted and they taper to a very sharp point, making them perfect for use against heavily armored opponents. In many ways, they are like a more warlike variant of a rapier.

The estoc is identical in terms of damage to a bastard sword or two-handed sword. However, their damage type is piercing instead of slashing. The estoc requires patience to use and is difficult to wield effectively; as such, estocs have a +1 speed penalty compared to ordinary weapons of that type.


Regularly used by law enforcement or those hunting beasts, the mancatcher is a very effective tool for capturing man-sized creatures. Smaller creatures will simply slip out, while larger ones do not have the right stature to be captured by it. There are two varieties of mancatcher: the first is a simple wooden catch-pole that captures a victim the same way a dog's head can fit through a pair of bars - this type usually costs 10 gold pieces due to the skill required to make them properly. A less humane and more complex steel variety is sometimes used, which uses a spring-loaded "door" mechanism and is often lined with spikes on the inside. This requires a skilled engineer to create and can cost anywhere from 50 to 400 gold pieces, depending on quality.

When attacking with a man-catcher, their armor is ignored and their natural AC is used (usually 10). The only adjustments to this are those granted by Dexterity or by their shield, which can be used to ward off the attack. A successful hit means that the mancatcher has slipped under the victim's arms and ensnared them; if the mancatcher is of the spiked variety, this will automatically deal 1d2 damage for every round that the victim is trapped. If a hit is scored on a rider, they are automatically dismounted. The victim can then be pushed and pulled around at the whim of their capturer, and even pulled to the ground; the latter requires that the captor win an opposed Strength check.

On their round, the victim of a mancatcher cannot do anything that requires intense concentration, since they are being constantly jostled and jerked around. They can attack those in melee range, use items, and so on, but do not have the mobility required to operate a bow. The only way to escape the mancatcher's grip is make a successful bend bars/lift gates roll, which can be attempted each round. Success means that they have broken the mechanism and freed themselves from captivity; wooden catchpoles will be utterly destroyed by this, while metal mancatchers may be fixable depending on the quality of the mechanism. If they have a weapon free, they can also try to break the haft by making an attack against AC 10; a total of 16 points of damage will destroy it. Note that the spined version will deal 1d4 damage to anyone attempting this.

A mancatcher can be used as a quarterstaff in times of need, but is very slow and cumbersome to fight with, dealing 1d6 points of bludgeoning damage with a speed of 9.


A flask of oil, when thrown, breaks on a roll of 1-13 on a d20. It deposits an amount of oil that can be lit to deal damage. A direct hit will cause 2d6 points of damage on the first round and 1d6 damage on the second round. An indirect hit (within 5 feet) will simply cause 1d6 damage for 1 round. A potter can convert a flask of oil into a clay grenade for 1 silver piece - this breaks on a roll of a 1-18 when thrown, and includes a linen fuse that will cause the oil to catch light as soon as it breaks if lit.

Both flasks of oil and grenades can be thrown with a ROF of 1. However, lighting the fuse on a grenade takes 1 round unless you have a lit taper or firepot to hand. Once lit, the fuse will last for 1 full round. Longer fuses can be used to increase this time up to 3 rounds. If a fuse runs out in your hand, it will burn the oil and break the grenade, dealing 1d6 damage. Grenades are a lot more fragile than oil flasks - unless kept in a special padded container or a bolt of soft cloth, falling or being knocked over will warrant a saving throw to see if they break.

Parrying Daggers

There are two types of parrying dagger; the main-gauche and the swordbreaker. Either can be used in the off-hand, granting a "free parry" every round in exchange for the penalties for dual-wielding; for that matter, an ordinary dagger can be used in the same way. Parrying daggers, however, are specially designed for the task.

A main-gauche is fundamentally an ordinary dagger, but with an elaborate hilt and a large, flat blade. This may take the form of an exaggerated, curved guard, or it may be a basket hilt. This makes them especially good at catching sword blades, giving a +1 bonus to attempts to parry or disarm. A main-gauche can be had for as little as 5 gp, though they are often made as part of a matched set with a rapier, and can be very expensive indeed.

A swordbreaker is a rare expansion on the function of a main-gauche; a long dagger lined with deep, serrated notches. This modification makes it unwieldy as a ordinary weapon (speed 5, 1d4 damage), but it grants a +1 bonus to parry/disarm attempts, which increases to +2 against bladed weapons. The complexity of this kind of weapon also means that it can be difficult to find, and costs about 20 gp.


The rapier is a slender blade somewhere between a shortsword and a longsword. It is popular with sailors on the Sea of Pearls, as well as with nobility, and is frequently used without armor. As a weapon, it is strongly associated with blade dancers.

Rapiers generally cost 15 gp; a rapier has a speed of 4 and deals 1d6+1 damage to M-sized enemies, and 1d8+1 damage to L-sized enemies. Although they have a sharp edge, rapiers are fundamentally piercing weapons. Many rapiers are fitted with a basket hilt; this increases the price 25 gp, but provides a +1 bonus to parrying and disarm attempts.


An unusual weapon that is difficult to use well, a whip can nonetheless be effective in the right circumstances. Whips cannot be used without a proficiency, and cannot deal damage against opponents in field or full plate mail, or monsters with no exposed spots. Whips come in 15 and 25-foot varieties. The 15-foot version can be used on enemies between 5 and 15 feet away; the 25 foot variety can be used on opponents between 10 and 25 feet away. A whip cannot be used without at least 5 feet of "swinging room" around you. The 15-foot variety has a speed of 6; the 25-foot variety has a speed of 8. Both deal 1d3 damage, or 1d2 against large opponents.

Although it does not do much damage, the main appeal of the whip is its range and versatility. A whip can be used to grapple, disarm and even parry from a distance. Furthermore, anyone who attempts to leave a whip's range provokes an attack of opportunity.