Kobold Press

Old Hat Monsters: Signature Weapons

Ghost Goblin by Chris McFannA good gaming session has a few of the same elements as some traditional wedding receptions. Both are a gathering of friends in a festive atmosphere, likely with food at some point. As with one wedding tradition I could name, each session could feature “something old” and “something new.” Those familiar with my series here at Kobold Press know my favorite way to make nostalgic classic monsters new is to use templates to create an unexpected twist. This is not going to be one of those articles.

To extend the wedding analogy one more step, our “something blue” this week is the signature weapon of the various monstrous races—you’d be blue, too, if you had to wield the goblin’s weapon! Less is sometimes more; after the jump we’ll discuss what works and we’ll also propose a few changes to the monster weapon rack.

I’ll start on a positive note by looking at an existing weapon I think exemplifies what you want to accomplish when you give your monsters a weapon in the first place. Ideally the weapon should make the monster more threatening without becoming a player character’s next favorite toy. Maybe the best of these is the kobold sweeper.

Your kobold needs a feat to use any tail-based weapon, but this one is most certainly worth the cost. First your kobold gains an additional attack with the tail sweeper; it deals 1d6 damage and can be used in conjunction with a trip maneuver, but it does not leave the kobold vulnerable to dropping it if counter-tripped. A kobold with a few levels could easily enhance this fighting style with Improved Trip, Weapon Focus, and Agile Maneuvers. For this weapon, I’d make no change.

From best to worst: Can we spend a moment contemplating just how truly bad the dogslicer wielded by goblins is? It’s a short sword with holes cut out to lighten the weapon, which serves no real purpose other than to make it fragile enough to shatter on a roll of a natural 1. As if goblins weren’t handicapped against normal adventurers enough, we have to give them an unreliable weapon? Simply put the dogslicer on a polearm, rule that because the blade is so light it can still count as a finesse weapon as well as a reach weapon, and suddenly the goblin has a weapon worthy of something other than a rubbish bin. You can even keep its fragile nature intact, and it’s still a far better weapon for our green little brothers.

Now from small to big: The ogre hook sounds like it should be a bad to the bone weapon. It’s described as being basically a crude hook used as a tripping weapon. It doesn’t mention a pole, but it is oversized and requires two hands to use. It suffers from several issues. First, you can trip with any weapon currently, so this needs a bonus of some sort: Let’s call it a +2 to trip. Although I realize the larger version sized for ogres does more damage, it’s not oversized for them, so we can make this a one-handed melee weapon for Large creatures, leave the damage (1d10) alone, and let the trip bonuses stack for the rare ogre who wields two weapons. More likely it will allow you to grant your ogre a shield—maybe making it hard enough to hit to be something other than a heavy bag for your party’s melee character.

Let’s go from ogres to orcs: The orc has no signature weapon. We could change that. Orcish longbows can perhaps all have a mighty +2 property but with the caveat that they need to be greased daily or they lose their suppleness and become fragile. Orcish arrows should be barbed. Since Pathfinder has no hard and fast rules for barbed arrows, it takes a DC 18 Heal check to pull them out without causing an additional 1d8 damage. If left in the wound, they are grooved and greased by animal fat, providing a channel to cause 1 point of bleed damage per unattended arrow every round.

And, finally, for gnolls: Gnolls are getting some love every week by my fellow contributor Peter von Bleichert. Allow me to add to those fine efforts by discussing the flind bar. This was once a three-section staff rather than a nunchuck, which I think makes a better option. Increase the damage to 2d4 bludgeoning, add a +2 bonus to disarm maneuvers, and allow the weapon to ignore shields. In real life, this was part of the reason for the pole and chain weapons to begin with—when they strike a shield from the side they bend around and still strike their target.

10 Replies to "Old Hat Monsters: Signature Weapons"

Tom Benton

June 5, 2013 at 12:05pm

the drider!

Tim B.

June 5, 2013 at 1:35pm

I like your suggestions. I’m going to have to give them some thought to see how I might convert them (I’ve been running 13th Age, lately). I haven’t focused on giving monsters a signature weapon, but will have to give that more thought in the future.

Derek B.

June 5, 2013 at 3:56pm

I’d like to see some items for the giants (namely frost, fire, and storm), as well as prices for all the above, and their category (exotic, martial, simple, etc).

I’d also like to see a vishkanya exclusive item, as well as a specific dwarf monk weapon that you can flurry with. Monks have their own weapons, dwarves have their own weapons, but there’s no hybrid of them despite the fact that so many monk builds include dwarves. You’d think at least one of them would have altered something.

frank gori

June 5, 2013 at 5:01pm

Drider- Forked scythe its a regular scythe with a reinforced y-fork and 2 heads, deals 4d4 costs double all other aspects are the same as a normal scythe, is a -2 to hit with though to to slightly awkward placement. (exotic)

Dwarf monk specific- My build used a reinforced and spiked skull cap, there is absolutely nothing in monk description that says you have to punch or kick, my dward monk used “flurry of head butts” usually after grappling a foe. Basically house ruled up one catagory on unarmed attacks and piercing and on a nat 1 you knock yourself dazed for the rest of the round.

I’ll think on the rest (giants ect) and come back to this…

Frank Gori

June 6, 2013 at 7:47am

Frost Giants are so inexorably linked to norse mythology I guess I just don’t see them going outside the weapons they normally use which is mainly martial anyway.

Hill Giants are stupid and clubs are fine for them.

Fire Giants rather than getting new weapons I’d think about giving them all metal weapons that if they have time they sore in such a way that they deal fire damage. For some reason I like the idea of a red hot spiked chain as it gives reach, can entangle and would just give a cinematic fight.

Vishkanya have some nice choices already but I’d add a crooked staff to give them a little something different. Basically its a normal staff with a hook attachment at one end used by shepards for herding. Normal staff damage with option to trip with a +3 bonus.

Mike Franke

June 6, 2013 at 8:27am

Keep up the good work! I always thought the Drow should have a better signature weapon than the hand crossbow. Drow are already weak in hand to hand plus their preferred range does almost no damage. The Drow need a melee wapon that accentuates their dex while downplaying their lack of strength and con.

Frank Gori

June 6, 2013 at 9:06am

If you like my stuff here and would like to see some fiction check the link in my name… As to the drow, I’d simply give them a katar as a racial weapon it suits them and is finessable, Punch dagger that scissors open for more damage is very drow IMHO.

Gary W.

June 6, 2013 at 11:37am

How about Lizardmen and Yuan-Ti? Someone has to speak for the scaly kind (other than the kobolds, of course).

Frank Gori

June 6, 2013 at 12:38pm

Vishkanya and Yuan-Ti are pretty darn similar, pretty sure Yuan-ti is snakemen specific to forgotten realms while Vishkanya is snakemen for pathfinder…

As to Lizardfolk any weapon they carry has to swim well so I’d so the water proof crossbow as a racial weapon, bolos, nets, and the sai. I like the sai for them because you could use i to pin someone in the water with your net or to the earth by striking the foot. I might even go so far is to make a call shot feat for that…

William C. Pfaff

June 8, 2013 at 2:45pm

This is the kind of article that keeps me coming back to the ‘ol Kobold. Well done!

Switch to our mobile site