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Old 05-29-2023, 10:14 PM   #11
Polydamas
 
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blind Mapmaker View Post
I've been going through the Low-Tech weapon table again and run into the problem of finding stats for using an actual Pickaxe in combat. The Pick in the weapon table in Basic set and the one in Low-Tech share stats and those have been unchanged at least since Low-Tech for 3rd edition. But while I took the pick in Basic to be a pickaxe, the description in Low-Tech (p. 60) makes it clear this is supposed to be the weapon of war. From the weight and one-handedness I assume it's closest to the Horseman's Pick (Wikipedia-Link).
Yes, the authors of GURPS Basic Set were probably thinking of the steel-headed warhammers with back spikes which appear in western Europe after 1400 when they created their entry for a Pick (TL 3). The basic concept is much older, it was common in the Eurasian steppes and Iran in Scythian times. Here is a picture of one from Iran around 500 BCE (the weapon-bearer behind the throne).

I would give the kind of pickaxe that you use to break up earth or clay a penalty to hit (its too big and heavy, weapons for fighting have to me nimble because trees don't dodge or parry), require two hands, and give it stats similar to the Axe in GURPS Low-Tech but imp instead of cut if you strike with the spike. Maybe +1 damage for being two-handed.
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Old 05-30-2023, 01:43 AM   #12
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

First off, thanks to everybody for chiming in. This is really the forum at its best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
We have evidence for the pickaxe being used by the Assyrians to break apart cities back in TL 2. They just don't seem to have much used them as weapons.

The actual weapon use picks have much shorter spikes than an agricultural pickaxe. At a guess, this is to make it strong enough to be useful against armor, and reduce the chance of getting stuck in things. [/snip]
Both seem reasonable. The old LT lists it as TL 2 and I know the Romans used them. Iron tools to slow down tool degradation seem like a signature TL 2 technology. And spike length has its limits when going after humans instead of stone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
I've spent entirely too much time using a pickaxe/mattock for gardening, breaking concrete, etc. Admittedly, non-combat uses, but enough that I have a good sense of the tool's balance, reach and heft compared to actual weapons or weapon-like objects I've used in sport melee combat.

[/snip]

What most people think of as a pickaxe is actually a pickaxe/mattock or pickaxe/adzes (depending on the exact shape of the non-pick end). It's actually what the Assyrian on the far left is using in the picture that Anthony referenced. These sorts of tools can be treated as a Warhammer which can be turned 180 degrees to do sw/cut damage like a Greataxe.

Due to duller edges/points and design optimized for all-out attacks (strong) against unsuspecting bits of rock or earth, a garden variety pickaxe or pickaxe/mattock can be treated as Improvised (-1 to hit & damage) if you carry it into battle.

[/snip]
Thank you very much, it's always good to have some-body with first-hand knowledge of the subject. I'm leaning towards using this with the addition of cheap quality for breakage purposes and adjusting the price accordingly.

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Originally Posted by mburr0003 View Post
I think there might be a mattock in one of the Horrors... but I could be wrong.
There's a mattock attached to a zombie stat block on p. 155 that has 1d+2 damage, which would mean it's based on the pick. Not my favourite reference material though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
Action 5 p29 covers pickaxes. Kind of.

A pickaxe falls under Two-Handed Axe/Mace, along with felling axe, broad axe, and splitting maul. Those weapons get Weapon Table entries with TH penalties noted (none for felling axe, -3 for broad axe and splitting maul). A pickaxe is described as "clumsy" but gets no Table entry, and no TH penalty is noted.
Gosh, I always forget Action exists. Why did my search engine not find it? I guess that what happens when you use the wrong exclusion terms on your search. To hit is given as -3 in the text, which does seem a little excessive for the 8 lbs. version and Pursuivant's experience speaks against it too. Maybe I go for -2 purely for game-mechanical reasons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
Suggested damage [/snip] (Those would be older damage stats from BS, not the newer sw+4 stats from Low-Tech, etc.) [/snip]

Treat a pickaxe as a combo great axe/warhammer. Stats (using more modern damage stats):

8 lb.: sw+4 cut / sw+4 imp, ST 12

To remove the "clumsy" penalty, pay for a pickaxe that's a proper weapon/tool combo. I don't think there's a single rule somewhere covering this. As possible models to follow, the combo axe/shovel ("combat shovel") and hand weapons that double as climbing tools (Climber's modifier) come to mind. But those are for DF/DFRPG, and aren't necessarily realistic...
[/snip]
I'll work something up with LTC2. Currently I don't have a lot of interest in the bigger versions or hand-waving stuff. I play a lot of fantasy, but with a realistic veneer. It's not for any character (yet!) - I really only went through the tables to have an easy way to input stuff in my excel character sheets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Yes, the authors of GURPS Basic Set were probably thinking of the steel-headed warhammers with back spikes which appear in western Europe after 1400 when they created their entry for a Pick (TL 3). [/snip]
Seems like they did and I think it works fine as a horseman's one-handed weapon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
I would give the kind of pickaxe that you use to break up earth or clay a penalty to hit (its too big and heavy, weapons for fighting have to me nimble because trees don't dodge or parry), require two hands, and give it stats similar to the Axe in GURPS Low-Tech but imp instead of cut if you strike with the spike. Maybe +1 damage for being two-handed.
I thought so at first too, but I think the others and Action 5 convinced me otherwise. Though maybe I shouldn't rely too much on that book - it is quite cinematic. I need to ruminate on this a little and make a couple of different versions.

Thanks again everybody. This has been a most useful exercise!
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Old 05-30-2023, 04:03 AM   #13
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

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Originally Posted by Blind Mapmaker View Post
To hit is given as -3 in the text...
Ah, you're right, it does say "-3". One of those things I missed while looking right at it.

I'm drawn toward a simple -1 instead, simply as it's the penalty used here and there for camp hatchets and hammers, machetes, crowbars, and other tools that take a penalty when used as weapons. But Action 5 does like to place larger penalties on a lot of things.
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Old 05-30-2023, 08:23 AM   #14
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

Okay, here's my take based partly on both editions of Low-Tech, Action 5 and everybody's contributions.

Let's start with what most people think of, when they hear pickaxe:

I'm starting with weight 7 lbs. and TL 2 from LT for 3rd Ed. The price of $18 seems low compared to adze and tool-grade hand-axe that both weigh in at more than double that.

Weight and two-handed nature put it in a similar position to the warhammer as Action 5 and several posters point out. LT (for 4th Ed.) gives sw+4 imp, ST 12‡ and a nice round price of a hundred bucks. The Cheaply Balanced option brings this down to $40 and already gives a -1 to skill, not only to hit, so it'll reduce parry for any even skill level. I would agree with Pursuivant that damage should be reduced by one since it's not really meant for combat use. I'd call that a wash price- and weight-wise since it does have tool use instead. I'll also lose the bonus for targeting chinks in armour since it's not a weapon of war - the high damage should make it useful still. Adding in an armour-divisor of (2) vs. stone is really niche in most cases, but you never know when you run into a golem. It balances out IMHO.

Low-Tech Companion lets us add an axe blade to the warhammer for a pound and $30. Since the actual pickaxe already has something like that and it is not technically a full-size axe blade, I'll split the difference and use half that. I'm also a little uncomfortable with straight great axe cutting damage, because of the really small and perpendicular blade. So I'm using the Long Axe (more historical anyway) instead and reduce the damage by one again for sw+2 cut.

So I end up with the following stat-line for :

Pickaxe (pick side): Damage: sw+3 imp | Reach: 1, 2* | Parry: 0U | Cost: $46 | Weight: 7.5 lbs. | ST 12‡ | TL 2
Pickaxe (axe side): Damage: sw+2 cut, rest the same.
May get stuck.
Changing side takes a ready action.

I think the cost is likely too high and I'd drop that to $40 or even $30 (if you're at TL 8 that seems to fit the home depot prices). I'm not too sure about reach either: 1, 2* seems high for stuff that averages about a 90-95 cm length. Maybe Pursuivant has a better idea whether that fits? Not that it is a huge thing game-wise with the necessary ready action.

Now for the one-handed mining tools that may have been more common in ancient times and were still in use right up to mechanised mining. You can see these here, here and here (one earthsci.org link, two wikipedia ones). I call this one a Miner's Pick since I'm not sure about the English name (the German word is Keilhaue and no I didn't know about this before doing some research):

I'll take the GURPS pick from LT as the basis and add Cheaply balanced for -1 to skill. I'd say it is less unwieldy so you could probably go with just -1 to hit instead, but that seems a little confusing and would make it more expensive than the pickaxe. The damage is reduced by one (those Horseman's Picks look quite a bit heftier in the head) and the bonus for targeting chinks in armour falls alongside. So I get this:

Miner's Pick: Damage: sw imp | Reach: 1 | Parry: 0U | Cost: $28 | Weight: 1.5 lbs. | ST 10 | TL 2
May get stuck.

Not completely sure about the TL, but metal tools should probably stay in TL 2 or be an advanced TL 1 technology. Adjust price to match the pickaxe.

In conclusion: the Pickaxe would be a nice if dangerous choice for a slave rebellion facing armoured foes. You'd have to rely on your dodge score. The Miner's Pick is considerably less interesting against anybody wearing more than token armour, but you can use an (improvised) shield together with it. Once you got ST 12 or more it looks quite nice again.

Thoughts or comments are very welcome. Thank you, folks!
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Last edited by Blind Mapmaker; 05-30-2023 at 09:55 AM. Reason: corrected Miner's Pick damage
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Old 05-30-2023, 10:53 AM   #15
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

Warhammers ARE picks. At the time the word "hammer" referred to the sharp, pointy end. The flat, bludgeoning part was called a "poll". Another word for warhammer is "pollhammer", because it is a hammer (spike) with a poll on the back.

The pickaxe or mattock is covered here
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=63236
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Old 05-30-2023, 12:04 PM   #16
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

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Originally Posted by mburr0003 View Post
I think there might be a mattock in one of the Horrors... but I could be wrong.
That may be the reference I was thinking of
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Old 05-30-2023, 12:48 PM   #17
Blind Mapmaker
 
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
Warhammers ARE picks. At the time the word "hammer" referred to the sharp, pointy end. The flat, bludgeoning part was called a "poll". Another word for warhammer is "pollhammer", because it is a hammer (spike) with a poll on the back.

The pickaxe or mattock is covered here
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=63236
Thanks for chiming in. Not being a native speaker, I wasn't sure about the nomenclature at the beginning, but I think we settled that more or less (and I'm going to use the German terms in my own games, of course). For what it's worth the modern-day mattocks I've seen are a good bit blunter than the pickaxes.

The thread you link to did unfortunately not quite wrap it up neatly (and also predates Low-Tech for 4th ed). The actual damage and other stats are missing. What I'm taking from it is a strong inclination of not treating the blade as a Great Axe and here I agree.

Action 5 and a lot of folks in this thread here do think cutting damage is justified though, so I went with that, but reduced it to show its unwieldy profile and general bluntness. You could also go one further and say the whole -3 to hit from Action 5 should apply to the cutting damage, but that is making things a little confusing. I'd rather change it to crushing and raise the damage a bit again, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to know what it should be and the only real reference we have is Action 5.
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Old 05-30-2023, 01:53 PM   #18
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

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Originally Posted by Blind Mapmaker View Post
Action 5 and a lot of folks in this thread here do think cutting damage is justified though, so I went with that, but reduced it to show its unwieldy profile and general bluntness. You could also go one further and say the whole -3 to hit from Action 5 should apply to the cutting damage, but that is making things a little confusing. I'd rather change it to crushing and raise the damage a bit again, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to know what it should be and the only real reference we have is Action 5.
A pickaxe should absolutely be capable of cutting damage, because one head is an axe head (it's a pick on one side, axe on the other). The sharpness question is more about the pick side. Arguably, a blunt pick should probably do something like Huge Piercing rather than Impaling, as it's similar in function to a bullet (it crushes tissue in its way rather than basically cutting a narrow channel like a sharp tip would, but penetrates deep into flesh and leaves a wound channel on account of having a lot of force behind it), but it's a lot simpler to just call it impaling even if it's technically a bit blunt (I also suspect armor that is more protective against cut/pi than cr/imp would have difficulty with this kind of "piercing" damage, as you don't have a fast, light projectile that basically smashes itself against the target - a pick is going to stay intact when hitting such). Having dullness subtract a point from damage is keeping with GURPS trends, so that's probably a good idea - consistently, a sharper edge/point gives higher damage for cutting and impaling weapons (it's why such weapons get a damage bonus for being Fine, Very Fine, Obsidian, Tempered Glass, recently sharpened with a Dwarven Whetstone, etc). Douglas Cole's "The Broken Blade" suggests a wound modifier between that of crushing and cutting for relatively-blunt cutting weapons, but you don't really need to get that deep into the woods for the axe head, and that wouldn't really be appropriate for the pick head either.

I will note that another way to make a pickaxe-type weapon in GURPS is to start with a pick (for one-handed use) or warhammer (for two-handed use) and add an axe head using the rules from LTC2 (or start with an axe of some flavor and add a pick head). If you don't have access to a book that has stats already out there for an agricultural (that is, one designed as a tool rather than as a weapon) pickaxe, you could basically take an agricultural pick and add an axe head (or agricultural axe and add a pick head). Those rules can be useful to cover a lot of weapons that aren't in the book - one of my personal favorites is to add a poll to a pick or warhammer (use the poll against mooks, the pick - which gets stuck on a hit - on tougher foes).
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Old 05-30-2023, 11:28 PM   #19
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

Thanks for your thoughts, Varyon. As a mostly low-tech combat person, I forgot about piercing. There are some more reasons not to do that: a) hardly any melee weapons use piercing (a beak as a Striker is, I think, the only thing listed on the Basic Set tables), b) you need to keep some additional wounding modifiers straight in your head. But your reality check is probably the main thing. As its use spans the ages the issue of running into bullet-resistant armour cannot be ruled out either.

I am fine with the pick side (-1 damage for dullness) though and more worried about about the axe blade since the thread DanHoward linked seems to point towards it not doing cutting damage. I've had a lot of thoughts about this, but so far I kind of agree with you that it should count as an axe. It might be a relatively narrow and relatively blunt axe for modern comparisons, but it is very close to the standard stone age and bronze age axe-heads (Wikipedia link). This type continued to be in use, but more "flashy" thin- and broad-bladed axes are what we think of as axe in fantasy. It's important to keep in mind that the latter are not the only or even the standard option.

I dropped damage for the axe side an extra point, because the perpendicular blade makes it more awkward to use for full effect and I think it makes shallow scrapes a bit more likely. However, I'd be more than happy to be convinced to remove that. It's as much for game balance as anything else and game balance might be overdoing it for a weapon that will not be terribly attractive except in niche builds that need to scramble for starting funds.

I did use LTC2, by the way, and just hand-waved the lowered damage and lost armour-penetration with the fact that this is also a useful tool. Pity there isn't a more comprehensive weapon-building system that includes a couple of more features that aren't all combat-oriented. Still very good compared to what fantasies other systems offer.
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Old 05-31-2023, 11:03 PM   #20
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Default Re: [Low-Tech/Basic] Pick: War Club or Pickaxe

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Originally Posted by Blind Mapmaker View Post
Thank you very much, it's always good to have some-body with first-hand knowledge of the subject. I'm leaning towards using this with the addition of cheap quality for breakage purposes and adjusting the price accordingly.
I wouldn't call any tool designed for serious, long-term labor Cheap-Quality. A well-made agricultural or mining tool is designed to survive years of constant use and a certain amount of abuse.

Of course, you get what you pay for. I'd call just about any unpowered garden or yard implement you get at a big box hardware store "Cheap-Quality" regardless of price. Those sorts of tools invariably break, bend or otherwise fail under stress.

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Originally Posted by Blind Mapmaker View Post
There's a mattock attached to a zombie stat block on p. 155 that has 1d+2 damage, which would mean it's based on the pick. Not my favourite reference material though.
It's in the ballpark, however. A typical two-handed pickaxe or pick/adze/mattock/whatever weighs about 5-8 lbs. and has a haft about 1 yard long, so anything axe-like or mace-like in the same range will be good enough.

I could easily see a -3 to hit for an 8 lb. pickaxe/whatever if you're not familiar with it or are trying to use it at Reach 2. Typically, you'd cancel that penalty with AoA (Determined) or a Telegraphic Attack with a full "John Henry" style windup.

A -2 penalty seems a bit more reasonable if you only attack at Range 1 and primarily use a Defensive Grip. As a weapon, a pickaxe is incredibly, unforgivingly tip-heavy and just doesn't move with the same agility as a purpose-built weapon with similar balance. That makes it great for delivering maximum force blows to stationary targets but a real liability if you need to quickly switch from attack to defense or are trying to get through a brief gap in your opponent's defenses.
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