Thursday, October 6, 2016

Totally Not Lightsabers

They're just handing out these things these days!

As I've mentioned before, Mailanka has been doing some musin' over on his blog on his Star Wars with the serial number filed off setting, Psi-Wars as an example of how to set up a campaign that captures the feel of the setting of a move of TV show without having to also deal with all the baggage that comes with playing in a setting based off of a movie or TV show. Now while he's be dropping gold with the posts like he's a gawd damned alchemist for a while, this post where he covers ways to spice up GURPS patented lightsaber knock offs, Force Swords, got me thinking. Could I take this a step further and reverse engineer how they're stated up to make a Force Sword Design System? Well... ok, since I  made a blog post about this... I think the answer to that is a little obvious but still! Follow me after the jump and I'll show you how to stat up your very own custom Force Swords!

Below I cover how to design your own custom Force Swords. I also give some extra options how to stat up more interesting Force Glaives as well as Force Whips. See Ultra-Tech pg. 166 for all the rules concerning Force Weapons.

First think up a good theme and concept for you Force Sword. Do you want something like a knights broadsword or swash buckling saber for your space pirate? Don't be afraid to use real world swords for inspiration.

Example: Let's make an example of what a first generation force blade might of looked like. Making it large and clunky and clunky like a Force Sword Zweihänder that's used 2 handed sounds about right.  

Skill Used 
While Ultra-Tech just used the Force Sword skill for all of its examples, GURPS Martial Arts introduced the idea of variant Force Sword skills so as an optional rule you can create your own variant skill based on the Force Swords Reach or way is used. If you do you should note it Force X (DX-5, or Force Sword at -3 or any other Sword Skill at -3) where X is the variant skill type.

Some examples:
  • Force Knife (DX-5, or Force Sword at -3 or any other Sword Skill at -3) for Reach is C, 1 or smaller weapons.
  • Force Shortsword or Smallsword (DX-5, or Force Sword at -3 or any other Sword Skill at -3) for Reach 1 weapons.
  • Force Two-Handed Sword (DX-5, or Force Sword at -3 or any other Sword Skill at -3) for Reach 1, 2 or larger. 

Example: Since we want a large Zweihänder style Force Sword Force Two-Handed Sword (DX-5, or Force Sword at -3 or any other Sword Skill at -3) works.

Tech Level
First pick your Force Swords TL,  this will effect its weight, energy efficiency and how long a power cell can power it. A Force Blade can be TL10^, TL11^ or TL12^. 

Example: Since we're making a first gen Force Sword it makes sense for it to be TL10^.

Pick Your Reach
The longer the weapons the reach the farther back you can keep your foe but the heavier the Force Swords blade projector is going to be.

The reach options are:
  • Reach C: About the size of a small knife. Can only hit targets in close combat with you. -1 to Parry.
  • Reach C, 1: About the size of a normal combat knife. Can hit targets either in close combat or 1 yard away. -1 to Parry.
  • Reach 1: About the size of a small sword. Can only hit targets 1 yards away.
  • Reach 1, 2: About the size of a standard broad sword. Can hit a target 1 or 2 yards away. Can be used one or two handed.
  • Reach 2: About the size of a great sword. Can only hit targets 2 yards away. Can be used one or two handed.
  • Reach 2, 3: A extremely long Force Sword. Can hit a target 2 or 3 yards away. Must be used two handed.
  • Reach 3: Think Final Fantasy but lightsaber. Can only hit a target 3 yards away. Must be used two handed.
Example: Since we want our Force Sword to be a large two handed Zweihänder style weapon a Reach of 2 sounds about right.

Force Swords do tight beam burning damage with a (5) armor divisor. 8 dice of damage is about average for a Reach 1, 2 one but going as high as 10d wouldn't make a TL11 Force Sword unreasonably heavy. Force Swords weight goes up with the Cube of the number of dice of damage it does.

Example: Since this is going to be an very early example of a Force Blade we want it to be impressive for its time but not out shine later TL11^+ models so a damage of 8d-1 or 7.65 dice of damage should do. So our Force Zweihänder  will do 8d-1(5) burn.


Weight in lbs. = D^3×0.003×Rm×TL

D is the dice of damage the Force Sword does.

Rm is 0.3 if Reach C; 0.5 if Reach C, 1;  0.7 if Reach 2; 1 if Reach 1, 2; 1.5 if Reach 2; 2.3 if Reach 2, 3 and 3.5 if Reach 3.

TL is 2 at TL10^, 1 at TL11^ and 0.5 at TL12^.

Example: Our Force Zweihänder  does 7.65 dice of damage, has Reach 2 and is TL10^ and there for weighs in at 7.65^3×0.003×1.5×2 or 4lbs. 


Cost in GURPS $ = D^3×19.5×TL

D is the dice of damage the Force Sword does.

TL is 2 at TL10^, 1 at TL11^ and 0.5 at TL12^
For Force Swords that have Reach C, 1 and greater, it can include an variable blade length option for 1.05× the cost. Taking a Ready action allows you to adjust your blades length from C up to its full Reach. TL11^ and up only. 

Example: Our Force Zweihänder  does 7.65 dice of damage and is TL10^ so it costs 7.65^3×19.5×2 or $17,391.80 which we'll round up to a neater $17,400. Since our Force Zweihänder  it cannot add the variable blade length option but if it could it would cost $17,400×1.05 or $18,270 which we would round up to $18,300. This would let is adjust its blade Reach from as short a C and all the way up to its max of  2.


A single C cell will power your Force Sword for (153,600/D^3)×TL seconds. 

D is the dice of damage the Force Sword does.

TL is 0.125 at TL10^, 1 at TL11^ and  5  at TL12^.

Adjust the duration by changing the size and the amount of power cells used. See Ultra-Tech pg. 18-20 for more.  

Note that  the entry for the Force Blade on Ultra-Tech  pg. 166 is in error over the power cell it uses. There is no way a weapon that weights half a pound total can also have a 0.5 C cell in it. And the fact that the C cell only powers a much lower powered force blade for the same duration as the 8d Force Sword which makes this a typo. The Force Blade should be powered by 4 B cells for 300 seconds.   

Example: Sine our Force Zweihänder  does 7.65 dice of damage and is and early TL10^ Force Sword a C cell will power it for (153,600/7.65^3)×0.125 or 43 seconds. Note quite what we'd want to rely on int a prolonged duel for the fates. So to give it a little more lasting power and to help enforce the image of this being a ancient first generation Force Sword let's have it powered by a D cell power pack hung from the hip that charges it through a cord that plugs into it's hilt. The D cell lest the Force Zweihänder last for more reasonable 430 seconds.


This is 0 for most Force Swords but -1 for Reach C, 1 and Reach C swords. 

Example: Since the Force Zweihänder  has a Reach greater than C, 1 it has a Parry of 0. 


The ST stats given to the Force Weapons in Ultra-Tech do not line up with line up with the ST stats of melee weapons from later books and should be updated. 

  • The Force Sword should have ST 5.
  • The Force Blade should have ST 4.
  • The Force Saber (GURPS Martial Arts pg. 215) should have ST 4.
  • The Force Glaive should have ST 9†. 
See GURPS Low-Tech Companion 2: Weapons and Warriors pg. 15 and 16  for how to figure a melee weapons ST stat. Treat Force Swords Well Balanced. 


Example: Since our Force Sword isn't going to  have its power cell attached to it, it only weighs 4lbs. Since it's meant to be used 2 handed, according to Weapons and Warriors we multiply its weight by 2/3rds which drops it down to being just under  3lbs. Looking at the table we see that a weapon under 3lbs should have a ST of 8 but since Force Swords are counted as being balanced we drop down the ST by one to a ST of 7†. 

Stating it Out
Once you got main stats worked out take a look over at
Mailanka's post and Ultra-Tech add anything you and then just write out its stat line.

Example: Since this is supposed to be an original model Force Sword I'm not going to add any extra options but since it's supposed to be powered by hip mounted power pack attached to the sword via power cord, we might as well stat up the cord. Now Ultra-Tech is oddly silent on how to stat up a power cord for a power cell, all the examples of gear that's powered by separate power pack glosses this over so we're going to have to improvise. Scanning the book, Optical Cables seem like a go proxy for a heavy duty power cable. A yard and a half of length seems about right making the cable weight about 0.015lbs and it costs $0.15.

Two-Handed Force Sword (DX -5, Force Sword at -3 or any other Sword at -3)
TL    Weapon                    Damage         Reach Parry    Cost         Weight   ST      Notes
10^    Force Zweihänder  8d-1(5) burn       2          0        $17,400       4         7†       [1]

[1] Powered by hip mounted D cell pack that plugs into the weapons hilt. Powers the sword for 430 seconds of activation. The power cord that attaches the D cell to the weapons has DR6/2 (use the higher against crushing damage and the lower against cutting damage), HP2 SM -12,  weighs 0.015lbs and costs $0.15.

Force Glaives and Force Hatchets 
Now, admittedly the idea of using a long shafted weapon in a world with force swords is kinda of a tactically stupid idea (well... maybe...), but... also admittedly the mental image of a legion of decked elite royal guards is also kinda cool. Now the example Force Glaive Ultra-Tech is really just a glaive in name only. It's stated up pretty much like a TL11 Reach 2, 3 9d Force Sword with 2 C cells and just given an interesting description, which is a bit of let down. 

So let's make, making Force Glaives a little more interesting. Technically this can also be used to make Force Axes if you use a shorter reach. First build a Reach C Force Sword as normal then decided how long it's shaft is going to be. This will determine how much the shaft weighs, costs and its HP. Minimum size is Reach C, 1 (for obvious reasons).

  •  Reach C, 1:  2lbs, $120, HP10.
  • Reach 1:         2.5lbs, $150, HP11.
  • Reach 1, 2:     2.9lbs, $175, HP11.
  • Reach 2:         3.3lbs, $200, HP12.
  • Reach 2, 3:     4lbs,  $250, HP13.
  • Reach 3:           5lbs, $300, HP14.
 The shaft's DR is 16 at TL10, 24 at TL11 and 32 at TL12.

Of course, this poor, poor shaft is still awfully vulnerable to normal force weapon but fret not! For deep with in the terrifying digestive tract of the dangerous Ffo'kconk'paehc asteroid beasts of Negialon VIII forms a rare mineral that's near invulnerable to force weapons blades called  Romar'tplot! For ×5 the cost, the shaft of a Force Glaive or Axe can be made of  Romar'tplot, this gives it 3 levels of harden against the armor divisor of a Force Weapon. 

For 1.05× the cost you can make the shaft collapsible. Taking a Ready action allows you to adjust your blades length from C, 1 up to its full Reach.  

When figuring a Force Glavies ST, treat them as  but Tip Heavy. If they have Reach 2 or greater they also become Unbalanced. Reach 1, 2 and longer tend to be Two-Handed. 

Also don't forget to give them unique skills if you want to add a little extra variety such as Force Polearm for Glaives or Force Axe/Mace or Two-Handed Axe/Mace for Axes

Force Whips

Now what about Force Whips?  These just seem to stated up like TL12 Reach 3 Force Blades.

So to handle this, they always have Reach 1-8*,  have Parry -2U and cost ×4. Rm is always 3.5.  Treat them as being Tip Heavy while figuring their ST. Other stats are as for Force Sword.

Uses Force Whip (DX-5, Kusari at -3, Monowire Whip at -3or Whip at -3). 


Bonus Content: Stating Power Cord
On my blog thread on the GURPS Forum, Emerald Cat noted that things would run a bit smoother if I added the cords DR, HP and SM to my write up. And he's right. The problem is Ultra-Tech gives no information how how stat these things for its Optical Cable write up so I had to come up with something on my own. So after some quick musing over the problem I came up with something that seems to work so I figured might as well  share with you all what I came up with.

Weight and cost are as for an Optical Cable on pg. 44 of Ultra-Tech. This does not go down with TL since the power loads it can handle goes up.

DR is 3/1 (with the higher DR being against crushing damage and the lower being against cutting damage) at TL8, DR4/1 at TL9, DR6/2 at TL10, DR9/3 at TL11 and DR12/4 at TL12.

 HP is based on weight, treat a cord as being homogenous.

Since a cord is long thin object that's smaller in 2 of its 3 dimensions you use the smallest dimension for determining its SM. I peg the cord at being about 1in across for a SM -12.

The cord can handle the output of any battery up to Very Large at TL8 and up to a E power cells of  the same TL as the cord is at TL9+.

Edit Part II!!
Got some more excellent feed back form the forum on these power cord stats, including  a suggestion for some armored power cords... so, here you all go!

Armored Power Cord
An armored cord weighs 0.3lbs and costs $42.30 per yard of length. All other rules are as for normal Power Cords.

It gives DR5/2*† at TL8, DR12/4*† at TL9, DR18/6*† TL10, DR 24/8*† at TL11 and DR30* at TL12.


†The higher DR value protects against piercing and cutting damage, the lower value protects all other damage.


  1. Good system! Not sure about Glaves being "Tip Heavy" though; how heavy could the emitter be?

    "[A] long shafted weapon in a world with force swords is kinda of a tactically stupid idea"

    Yeah, you'd be right, except at least in Star Wars "lightsaber resistant" material seems...often suspiciously common. At least, from the bits of the EU I've read, anyways.

    Force Whips was basically taking it to the far end of the absurd for me, in the EU. I mean, it was never crazy logical to begin with

    1. Also, I'm somewhat fond of the "light foil" from somewhere in the Comics EU - not read that comic, but I am familiar with them. I think I may take some time this evening to stat it up as a "sister article" to this one. I may be biased, however, since I fence smallsword!

    2. For the tip heavy part, swing a balanced sword around and then try swinging a broom brush side up. The broom will feel "lagger" as you swing it. Even though the brush doesn't weigh a lot, even a tiny bit of weight that far from a weapons center of gravity can have a significant impact.

      And I agree with the Force Whips... I almost didn't include them heh.

      And go for that foil-saber, I'd love to see my articles being put to use!

    3. For anyone who finds this at a later date:

  2. Nice work but please, less hate towards the Force Whip; in the form of the Cohe Wand it was the iconic Paratwa weapon.

    The Cohe Wand is the signature weapon of the Paratwa, as much an identifying feature as Dirty Harry's magnum or a Jedi knight's light sabre. A cohe is a sleek black ovoid-shaped weapon, designed to fit easily in the hand, about 12cm long by 10cm wide. A metallic needle protrudes from the business end. When activated, the cohe wand emits a beam of black light, which tends to whip about in a disturbingly random manner (there's a popular urban legend about an inexperienced user who activated a cohe wand and emasculated himself). The beam can extend to a maximum range of forty metres, although only the final 50cm is dangerous; the rest of the beam is quite harmless. The active part of the beam, however, is a terrible weapon. No armour can defend against the energy of a cohe wand, though energy shields such as a crescent web can absorb the energy as normal. A Cohe beam can slice or pierce, cauterising as it goes. The Jeek Elementals even perfected a kill technique called the Lariat, in which the beam encircled the victims neck and contracted like some ultra-sharp garotte. The beam is quite flexible, and can be directed around obstacles such as simple cover (hiding behind a pillar would be futile), or directed into the vulnerable side ports of a crescent-web. Experienced users can even throw a beam up a spiral staircase to impale a target trying to escape, or use the wand to perform rudimentary surgery, such as removing lodged bullets or subcutaneous implants. The beam is controlled by subtle hand pressure on the egg, making the Cohe wand a difficult weapon to control, requiring exhaustive practice.

  3. Also, wrt to hafted weapons with an energy blade might the problem be fixed by generating a force shield effect around the weapon's shaft? If shaped force fields are around this should be justifiable.

    1. That could also work. I might looked into adding that option once I do a post on force fields.

      Also sorry about the force whip hate, I've just never been found of them personally heh.