Thursday, September 15, 2016

Alternate Force Swords

Star Wars includes a lot more than just generic lightsabers, and GURPS follows suit with a surprisingly rich variety of force swords, if you know where to look, and it also includes options for building our own variations.

Force Sword Rules

Force Sword Parries: Force swords, because they are "energy", can parry other energy attacks, like blaster bolts, without risking destruction.  But how much can they stop?  Can you parry a tank laser? If the Death Star fired its beam at Alderaan and a Jedi had been at the contact point and lifted his lightsaber to parry the attack, would it have worked?  I must imagine there's an upper-limit to how much a lightsaber can parry.  As a sword cannot parry more than 3x its weight without risking breakage, let's say that a force sword can parry an attack that does up to 3x its damage.  What about weapon master or power-blow?  Well, I'm all for a character exerting his will, strength and skill into a force sword, increasing its effective damage, and parrying intensely powerful attacks.

Thrown Weapon (Force Sword) deal 8d(5) damage, with an Acc of 0, a 1/2D of 0.5xST and a max range of ST. If a character has TK-Tether for his sword he may return it to his hand from any distance after a throw with a Ready maneuver or a Fast-Draw roll of -4. If he has sufficient TK-Grab to lift his force sword, he may also return the weapon to his hand with a Ready, or a TK-Grab skill roll at -4.

Force Sword Shove: Hard. Defaults to Force Sword -2. After parrying or being parried by another force sword, instead of doing a beat, the character may shove the character. This works exactly like a beat, except its effects target the character's body. That is, the character is forcing the character off-balance.

Force Sword Quality and Modification

Must all Force Swords be exactly identical?  Of course not!

Blade Color: I currently have no plans on giving color a mechanical effect on a force sword, but I note that color plays an important role for Paths, so a character following the Path of the Rebellious Beast, for example, gets a bonus because he has a red force sword.

Variability: UT166 has rules for variable  force swords which can vary from C to 2.  Use either the Reach Mastery or Lightning Fingers perk to change it without a Ready maneuver.

Standard Ultra-Tech Options: In principle, there's no reason we can't use the rugged, Styling, Disguised or Expensive (though you don't get much bang for your buck with Expensive).  I'd avoid Cheap in this context.  A slightly heavier force sword for half the price is too good of a bargain.

Vented Lightsaber
Standard Blade-Quality Options: Balanced (either Cheap or Fine) is a perfectly fine option, granting +1 to your Force-Sword skill. Styling is also fine, as we expect force swords to be beautiful.  

But what about Fine or Very Fine?  Or Cheap?  Kylo Ren's lightsaber has its strange blade and vents because it's a poorly made lightsaber, which means quality definitely varies.  Blade quality impacts damage and the ability to resist damage.  I propose the following:
  • A cheap force sword does -1 damage per die, is 1.5 times as heavy, and has +2 ST requirement. -0.6 CF.
  • A fine force sword does +1 damage per two dice and is +1 HT.  CF 3.
  • A very fine force sword does +1 damage per die, and is +2 HT. CF 19.
  • A hypothetical super-fine force sword does +1damage per die, is armor divisor 10, and is +2 HT. CF 29.

Alternate Force Swords

Ultra Tech 166 gives us three variations of the Force Sword (though I'm going to ignore the Force Whip).

The Force Blade: A smaller weapon, somewhere between a shortsword and long knife in size, the fact that it can operate in close combat gives is a certain edge, as does the substantially lower cost!  It lacks some parry capability, which means it's best off when paired with something.  None of my styles makes explicit use of one, though the Swift Form and Rim Force-Swordsmanship could both make good use of one.  Star Wars has something called the "Shoto" which serves a similar role.

The Force Glaive: A long spear ending with a force blade, similar to a "lightsaber pike"  They offer extended reach and superior damage, but require you to use two hands to wield properly.

Personally, I'm skeptical of the Force Glaive as a weapon.  The most dangerous thing for a force sword wielder is another force sword wielder, and were I faced with a force glaive wielder, I'd just chop through that long staff of his and presumably destroy his weapon.

But if you wanted to use one, I suggest using Naginatajutsu as the basis of your technique.  Allow Staff skill for a defensive grip, and use Force Sword for a "pole arm" grip.

The Force Saber: Found on Martial Arts page 215, the Force Saber is an alternative to the Force Sword that uses the Force Saber skill, which is DX/A.  The Force Saber deals 7d(5), has a reach of 1, costs $6000 and uses the Fencing rules.  Given the focus on single-handed attack and the ability to easily parry, I thought they made an excellent fight for the Graceful Style and Rim Force-Swordsmanship.  What's described seems typical of Dooku's lightsaber, with its curved hilt presumably to facilitate the deft swordsmanship of Makashi.

A force blade might also use the Force Saber skill.  Such a weapon might deal 5d(5), have reach C,1, Parry +0F, weight 0.5 lbs, and cost $4,000.

Double-Bladed Force Sword: I honestly find these things silly and exceedingly dangerous, so you'll note I've not included them in any of my martial arts, but someone, somewhere, disagrees with me and really wants it, so this is the place to discuss it.  Low-Tech Companion 2 discusses the double-ended sword on page 18.  You can use a double-bladed force sword with either Force Sword or Staff.  It must be held with two hands, has +2 to parry, deals 7d(5) damage with either end.  When wielded with Staff, treat it as being in a Defensive Grip.  When wielded with Force Sword, treat it as a Force Sword that is both in a standard grip and in a reverse grip for the purposes of making a back strike only.  As for style, I would probably look at quarterstaff styles for a place to begin.  Cost is $30,000, it weighs 5 lbs, and it requires ST 5.

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