Weapon Types (Game Design)

Weapon Types

In the previous post I created some basic weapons and briefly touched on weapon types. Today I will go into more detail for each of the weapon types. Besides daggers, one-handed and two-handed weapons have equivalent weapon types, with two-handed variants being heavier, slower, and doing more damage. I will talk about each weapon type light, sharp, blade, blunt, grouping one and two handed variants together.

In this post I will talk about how each of the weapons is presented in Skyrim, briefly how they were used historically, and how we can represent them within the game mechanics.


Daggers – Light

Daggers are large knives often used by thieves and assassins. Mages and necromancers often carry them as a backup in case they get cornered. Their small size makes them easy to conceal and maneuver. Because of their small size we will consider them [Light] weapons.

Daggers of Skyrim

They may not do much damage but a skilled user can gain a lot of benefit from a nimble knife. In The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim daggers are extremely useful in 2 situations.

  1. Dual Wielding
    • Daggers can be used to dramatically increase weapon attack speed while holding two weapons. This can lead to massive amounts of damage using dual power attacks.
  2. Sneak Attacks
    • Daggers benefit from perks in the Sneak skill tree more than any other weapons. Bows can do 3x damage for a sneak attack, and other weapons can get up to 6x damage. Daggers can gain a massive 15x damage multiplier for sneak attacks making them one hit kill most creatures.

As you can see even within the game Daggers do not deal much damage but have some insane synergies. We can show these synergies by giving daggers more chances, either through dice, effects, or perks, to generate additional advantage when attacking That advantage can then be spent in combination with other perks or abilities to boost effects rather than just increasing damage.

For example we could give a Glass Dagger a flat +3 Advantage bonus. Regardless of what the dice result is, the attacker will have +3 advantage to spend with their perks or abilities. Perhaps the character has a Sneak Attack ability that allows them to use advantage to remain hidden after the attack resolves.


Swords / Greatswords – Sharp

Swords are the lightest of the weapon types. They will take less stamina to use then other weapon types.

By design, swords are used for quick slashing motions or thrusts. The sharp point and light weight means that they are maneuverable. Most of their damage comes from deep stabs on the opponent.0

One-Handed Swords of Skyrim

Based on the general style in which swords are used I will give them the [Sharp] keyword. They are much more effective at taking out unarmored or lightly armored targets. After doing some research on swords and their intended combat style I have decided that Skyrim takes a fairly accurate approach to swords perks. Swords specific perks allow the user to land critical hits which do extra damage to the target. Swords gain much of their power from stabbing which is a bit more difficult To do (accurately) than just wildly swinging. Critical hits give the feel of correctly executed attacks that deal extra damage.

Two-Handed Great Swords of Skyrim

Dealing critical hits may require a large amount of advantage in order to trigger. Characters that are more skilled (generate more advantage) will gain more use out of them.


War Axes / Battle Axes – Blade

Axes are the next step up from swords in terms of weight and damage. Axes have large curved blades suited to causing deep gashes. Generally used for hacking at limbs and causing deep bleeding wounds. I feel that Skyrim gets the perk for axes right by adding a bleeding effect that deals damage over time. We will give them the [Blade] keyword.

One-Handed War Axes of Skyrim

There are many games that implement a damage over time effect like bleeding or poison that continue to deal damage to the target after the attack has completed. We will continue that trend by adding a ‘Bleeding’ status effect. This effect or buff will cause the target sustained damage over time. The easiest way to do this is to add a ‘Bleeding’ status card that says something to the effect of “At the start of this character’s turn it takes 2 damage, discard this card”. Then our axe could have an effect like “3 advantage=cause target to bleed”

Two-Handed Battle Axes of Skyrim

I really like how Imperial Assault handles bleeding. The bleeding card reads: “for each action taken other than the one listed below, take 1 damage; action: discard this card”. This gives players an option, do you skip one of your actions this turn to stop the damage, or do you push through the damage to complete your objective? This compounds with each bleeding effect also. If a character has 2 bleeding tokens, they can get rid of 1 on their first action, but by doing so they did not take the action listed on the second bleeding card, and they take 1 damage. I really like how the game design forces players to make a choice here.


Maces / Battle Hammers – Blunt

Maces and Hammers are the heaviest of the weapons in Skyrim. They have a perks related to negating armor. It took me a little reading to understand why maces and hammers, [Blunt] weapons, would negate armor. Here’s the scoop. Heavy armor blocks bladed and sharp weapons really well. A mace on the other hand doesn’t try to get through the armor. The mace hits the target and attempts to damage, crush, and deform the armor. A single blow from a mace would resonate through the armor making the wearer feel the blow much more than say a blow from a sword. The ability for the mace to deform the armor also reduces maneuverability and makes the armor more of a hindrance.

One-Handed Maces of Skyrim

In that regard it makes sense that maces would have the ability to neglect armor during attacks. This could be accomplished in a few ways through our game mechanics. Our first option is to downgrade the defense roll of our target. Downgrading could either mean removing a defense dice, or replacing a defense dice with one of lower strength, such as degrading a challenge dice to a difficulty dice. The second option would be to have triggered affects or flat bonuses that reduce the amount of damage a roll can block. Imperial Assault has a pierce keyword that negates a number of ‘blocks’ the opponent rolls.

Two-Handed Battle Hammers of Skyrim



We’ve taken a look at the major weapon types in the game and come up with some interesting ways to make them feel unique but remain true to their function.

Light – Low Damage, Generates additional advantage to combo with other abilities

Sharp – Excel at dealing damage to lightly armored targets with proper handling

Bladed – Medium weight, causes bleeding damage

Blunt – Excels at damaging armored targets by ignoring or reducing it’s effectiveness