Roleplaying Improvised Weapons
August 25, 2016 6:17 AM   Subscribe

I've created a character for a roleplaying game that takes place in a modern urban supernatural setting. She is a crafty, street smart hacker who is not strong but is very dexterous and good with her hands. She specializes in improvised weapons. What are some weapons that would make sense for her?

Looking for both long-term weapons she can use in multiple situations (sturdy knife, for example) as well as short-term weapons that she would only use in a pinch (chair leg, Molotov cocktail, Millwall brick ). Bonus points for weapons that make use of her hacking skills.
posted by lieber hair to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Slingshot, taser.
posted by smoke at 6:20 AM on August 25, 2016

Knitting needles, bike lock (chain or U), broken bottles.

Curling iron and soldering iron are ways to get heat damage, as is the spray can+zippo flame thrower.

I like the idea she can turn busted phones and other electronics into either actual explosives or zappy things like a taser.

Cold damage is harder, certain fire extinguishers maybe.

For surprise attack a ball point pen or Bobby pins can be just pokey enough to be deadly.

Consider a pole arm - sure it's a little heavy but should make use of Dex and keep her a little safer against normal range hand weapons. I'm thinking shovel or garden rake, but forks would be more traditional.

Nb these are all for the fantasy context, most are not great weapons IRL ;)

The first Bourne movie has tons of this stuff for further inspiration (but not the book).
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:57 AM on August 25, 2016

Shovel, umbrella, pens, belt. Monkey fist (which has the added bonus of being a rope as well)

I also like the idea for turning various electronics into things,
posted by mrgoat at 7:01 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Zip guns of every kind - up to and including a cheap homemade shotgun.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:06 AM on August 25, 2016

It occurs to me that general monster categories matter here. E.g If it is mostly zombies, making poison gas with ammonia and bleach won't help. So maybe give us a few more context clues?

Also like the monkey fist/rope. Really, with high enough Dex, a few hundred feet of paracord is the only weapon you need :D
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:06 AM on August 25, 2016

Best answer: Got vampires? Code that generates crosses on convenient displays (TVs, phones, etc). (I'm thinking about that old Hammer film where van Helsing faces down the vampire by crossing a couple of candlesticks). LED torch, with the LEDs swapped out for UV ones. Colloidal silver water pistol.

Honestly, there are so many ways to kill a vampire it's amazing they've survived this long.
posted by Leon at 7:19 AM on August 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you can find a weapon/gadget summary of each episode of MacGuyver then that might help.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 7:22 AM on August 25, 2016

Response by poster: The game uses the World of Darkness system, but beyond that I have no idea what the storyteller/DM has in mind, so it's hard to guess what kind of combatants she would be facing. Our setting is present-day DC. For mortals, it might be security guards, gang members, or police officers. For the supernatural foes, it really could be anything. If I had to guess, it might be ghosts or human magic-users.
posted by lieber hair at 7:27 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A pouch full of steel ball bearings (1"-1.5" in diameter) are useful weapons in general. You can throw them individually to break things &/or people parts.

The pouch itself can be outfitted with a hand-strap and then you've got the equivalent of a slapjack - very potent.

They can be strewn on the ground to trip up feets and boots and make for general confusion.

They can be used with a sling or slingshot as well (either a high tech one or something as simple as a dishtowel).

As far as hacking goes, special ones could be equipped with nano-tech cameras, or EMP generators, explosives, tasers, super-magnets, etc.

Have fun!
posted by jammy at 7:30 AM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

A collapsible baton or pepper spray are good normal weapons to pair with the knife.

Even if she's not strong, she could use a garrote if she got the drop on someone.

Hardware chain or bicycle chain as a chain whip.

Baseball bat plus nails and/or chain.

Nerf gun dart launcher.

SuperSoaker full of gasoline or alcohol to prep a target, flare gun or fireworks to ignite.

Fashion a taser by wrapping electric fence wire around a something like a bat, truncheon, or axe handle. Wire it to a car battery in a backpack.

Ball bearings or marbles to make opponents trip.

I like the idea of a MacGyvered mancatcher.
posted by Boxenmacher at 7:30 AM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cable ties.

The plastic 'zippered' kind can be easily daisy-chained, are fantastically strong, can be used to subdue or garrot an enemy, are very light to carry in bulk, and are innocuous to explain ownership of.

Also during medical emergency can be used as temporary tourniquet.
posted by Faintdreams at 7:47 AM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Rey (who is herself a crafty, street smart hacker) made excellent use of her quarterstaff in the last Star Wars, both as an all purpose tool and as an asskicking device. (Smack em with it! Use it as a counter lever so you can kick em up high in the face! Sweep it around and knock someone's legs out from under them!) There are a number of stabby or techhy mods that could conceivably be made to such a weapon to increase its killability.

Yes I would really like to see a quarterstaff lightsaber ok. Disney can you heeearrr me?
posted by phunniemee at 7:54 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

She wraps tape or cloth around the neck of a (neckthrough) bass guitar and weilds it like a bat or club.

She drops a fistful of batteries into a sock and swings it like a blackjack. (Bonus damage when the batteries start breaking and leak acid on her opponents -- but shortly thereafter the sock also dissolves and the weapon is therefore useless. Also potential acid backsplash.)

She opens a swingline stapler and slaps staples into the skin of her assailant. Not deadly, but distracting and painful.

She breaks in half the handset of an old phone with heavy magnets in it and fashions a bolo out of the halves and a shoelace or some paracord or cat-5 wire.

Our setting is present-day DC.

She SWATs the hell out of them.
posted by gauche at 8:08 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

A silk scarf with weighted ends is a completely innocuous analogue of manrikigusari which is a nicely versatile weapon. And it is a pretty good improvised weapon skill as all you need is a pair of small matched weights and something flexible to attach them to.
posted by Mitheral at 8:50 AM on August 25, 2016

Best answer: google stuff like "urban SERE" and "urban escape and evasion". not all weapons have to be offensive. something like this kit: ITS Urban Kit contains folding saws, wire blade, handcuff shim, ceramic razor, kevlar cordage, steel wire, and a compass.

kevlar cordage is super awesome, not just as cord, but you can also use it as a saw for plastics since it has such a high melting point. like these Kevlar Escape Laces. Add in a lock-pick kit and a couple of flashlights and your character has what they should always carry.

You could combine Raven's (snowcrash, makes bamboo spears) style with the pipe spears the centaurs use in Elegy Beach, and have your character specialize in making spears out of basic construction materials. plastic and metal pipes, etc. It is kinda what i'd do in real life if i was trapped out somewhere with no firearms. Spears, dart throwers, kitchen knife on a pvc pipe spear. Don't carry weapons, carry tools to make weapons.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:42 AM on August 25, 2016

Hard drive on a cable. Swing it around and WAP!
posted by sexyrobot at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2016

Best answer: You might also start by thinking of some more conventional weapons she might use and then figure out how you'd improvise that from her environment.

I'm thinking that a person like that would always carry a really good multi-tool, maybe a small set of precision tools (small screw drivers with the weird bits and the like), and if she knows she'll be heading into danger, some manner of good, all purpose knife. I'm thinking something like the KA-BAR the US Marines use or the SOG Seal knife used by the Navy Seals. They're generally useful tools and can be attached to all manner of things to make other weapons.

I also like the quarter staff idea. It could have hidden compartments for thumb drives, attach a blade to make it a pole-arm, the macgyvered taser mentioned above (since it's fiction you could probably fudge it a bit and power it via some kind of high-tech battery instead of a car battery).

Another idea I just thought of, could she carry a lithium polymer (or some other bleeding edge battery tech) battery pack with her? That way, every time you have an idea for some improvisation, you don't have to worry about where it gets power from. It would also be handy if she finds a device to hack with a dead battery, it could be used to bypass certain security systems, or to electrocute something given the right combination of conductors and insulators in an environment.
posted by VTX at 10:25 AM on August 25, 2016

Best answer: If it's a part of this character, I think I'd make the executive decision to rely on using perception checks or whatever this system has to look for weapons when the situation arises. Then, especially if you've got a fun DM, you can see what happens with stuff you find and, I dunno, hack together a tazer and a supersoaker or whatever.

In other words, in the interest of roleplaying, I'd decide in advance to just wing it.
posted by cmoj at 10:41 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stealth/silent stuff. Eg riffing on Smoke's "slingshot, taser" suggestion, she makes a silent launcher for shock slugs.

Perhaps converting a CO2 pistol for use with drug-delivery ammunition (with a creative range of drug options in her ammunition). GPS-tracker ammunition, etc.

My take would be that for max DPS, then the most efficient equipment for that will always be off-the-shelf. (Homebrew struggles to compete with ex-military equipment on that front). So if you're building something custom, it should have some additional purpose / use that makes it more interesting and potentially more useful than something that is focused on DPS.
posted by anonymisc at 11:37 AM on August 25, 2016

Best answer: If there is a supernatural component to the game world, perhaps take a page from Charles Stross' Laundry Files series that posits that magic is just math - and computers can do math - so certain hackers are able to do magic through their PDAs/smartphone.
posted by porpoise at 11:47 AM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

A cheese grater would make an absolutely vicious close quarters weapon.
posted by sammyo at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2016

> Cable ties.

For a pretty cool demonstration, Romeo Must Die (zip tie specific scene starts about 1:40) has a scene demonstrating what can be done with a fistful of zip ties kept in the belt loops of a pair of jeans.

There are a few more scenes of improvised weaponry elsewhere in the movie, too.
posted by porpoise at 2:23 PM on August 25, 2016

As for using environmental objects dextrously to augment hand to hand combat, especially against multiple foes, Jackie Chan is absolutely the master of this.

Ladders are both offensive and defensive weapons. I can't remember which film - it might have been Rumble in the Bronx - but he used a shopping cart to devastating effect.

Jet Li also commonly includes this aspect in some of his fights. I think he uses it quite a bit in Black Mask.

Jason Stratham in - Transporter? - strips down and spills machine lubricant oil everywhere (and all over himself), jams his feet into bicycle pedal clips for traction and goes to town.
posted by porpoise at 2:45 PM on August 25, 2016

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