Japanese Weaponry

By Colin Chapman.

[Webmaster's note: a lot of the Ninja weapons are written up as just causing Impairment without any note of how much. I'd assign about one point of Impairment per five points of Damage that would otherwise be assigned; base Damage on the wielder's Reflexes. Toughness will count in some cases, but if the weapon attacks the eyes, say, I wouldn't count it.]

Common Weapons


This long spear features a long, length of weighted chain attached to its butt. (+4/NA)


The Naginata is a bladed staff, featuring a short, single-edged, lightly curved blade. A highly regarded weapon, it was often crafted with exceeding quality, and was the weapon taught to many female nobles to use in defense of their homes. In many cases, a skilled practitioner of Naginatajutsu was said to be more than a match for many samurai. (+4/NA)


This polearm features a broad, curved blade. (+4/NA)


The Yari is a spear that features a long, straight, double-edged blade. (+4/NA)


The Hoko polearm features a slightly curved, single-edged blade, and a small hooked blade. (+4/NA)


The tetsubo is for all intents and purposes a BFClub. At around 1.9m long, it's a sure favourite with many Japanese Big Bruisers. Shaped like a long, narrow baseball bat, the business end features long iron strips, lined with studs. (+4/NA)


This hand-axe features a spike opposite the cutting blade. It was used by the Japanese Yamabushi monks. (+4/5)


A 2m pole-axe used by the Yamabushi. Peace-lovin' guys, aren't they? (+4/NA)


The prime contender for the "I'm a BFSword and you'd better not mess with me" stakes. Imagine a katana, scaled up so it was 1.9m long, and you've got a No-Dachi. (+5/NA) Yep, I've given it +5 damage, but I also limit its use to characters of Str 8+. Anyone with lower Str suffers a -1 AV penalty.


The longsword used by the Samurai, and worn with the Wakizashi as part of the "Daisho" (long and short). At least one famous samurai was known to have used the Daisho as paired weapons. (+4/5)


The shortsword favoured by samurai, basically a shorter version of the katana. (+3/4)

Ama Goi Ken

This straight, double-edged shortsword was the weapon of choice in many Japanese temples. (+3/4)


It's a knife, dude! (+2/2)


This war fan featured iron bars, and was used for parrying and signalling. So, you think it's a softie's weapon, eh? Tell that to the many Shoguns who used 'em. (+1/2)


This is a very short throwing spear.(+2/3)


It's yer basic run of the mill staff. (+3/NA)

Ninja Weapons

Ninja favoured concealability, versatility, and practicality in their weaponry. If the clans still survive today, they wouldn't hesitate to use modern firearms (silenced of course).


The Ninja sword is perhaps their most consumate weapon. In style it looks like a Wakizashi, albeit slightly longer and with a straighter blade. Its scabbard featured a removable end-cap so it could be used as a breathing tube or blowgun. Cord was often wound around the scabbard and could be used as a rope. The handle of the sword itself usually featured a secret compartment, holding blowgun needles, or an eggshell grenade. No Ninja should be without it. (+4/4)

Kusari Gama

While not a strictly Ninja weapon, it was certainly favoured by many of them for its versatility. The Kusari Gama is a Kama sickle, with a length of weighted chain attached behind the head. Blows could be made with the chain or blade, but commonly the chain would be used to entangle and disable the target, enabling the user to close in and strike with the kama. (+3/4)

Kyoketsu Shogi

Similar to the Kusari Gama, the Kyoketsu Shogi was purely a Ninja weapon. Instead of a kama it featured a twin-bladed knife, one balde of which was hooked. Instead of the chain it used rope, and was weighted with a heavy iron ring. The rope was longer than the kusari Gamas chain enabling the weapon to be used as a short rope and grapple as well as a weapon. (+2/3)

Manriki Gusari

The Manriki Gusari is a length of chain weighted at both ends. Used well it was spun with great force and was capable of causing significant blows or entangling an opponent. It was highly concealable, being easily hidden under a sash. It was also very cheap and easy to make. (+3/3)


Ninja often threw handfuls of caltrops behind them to hobble pursuers. Damage is more Impairment than anything else. (-/1 for 5) Ninja can use Fix-it to conjure these up.


Ninja climbing claws. They featured a strap of leather around the palm from which 3-4 short spikes protruded. They could be used as makeshift weapons, but mainly they should give a +1AV bonus to any climbing attempts. (+1/1)


Throwing stars! Used to deter pursuit rather than as effective weapons. (5 damage total/1 for 4)

Eggshell Grenades

Filled with pepper powder, metal shavings and nettle extract, these were thrown at opponents to blind and irritate them. Ninja can use Fix-it to come up with these. Damage is Impairment only. (-/1 for 2)

Fukumi Bari

Mouth needles. The Ninja used these by rolling their tongue into a tube and blowing a handful of them into the face and eyes of any opponent who was up close to their face. Once again, damage is Impairment, but damn, it'd hurt. (-/1 for 20. Enough for 4 attacks).


This was a small, box-like blowpipe, used at very short range (a few foot at most) to blow irritating powder (see eggshell grenades) into the face of targets. (-/1)


It's a blowgun! Yay! It varied in length but could often be dissasembled for better concealability. Any damage would be due to poison. (-/3)

Shinobi Zue

It looks like a staff, until with a quick twist it protrudes a blade and is now a spear! (+3 staff, +4 spear/NA)

Okinawan Weapons

Most of these were developed from farming and other common implements as they were banned from owning weapons by the Japanese. The following are all used in Te ("Hand," the original form of Karate).


It's a staff! Usually about 6" taller than the user. (+3/NA)


Don't laugh, this was the weapon of a Te master. A skilled user could best a katana wielding samurai. Imagine it being thrust into your throat... Thought that'd wipe the smile of yer face. (+3/NA)


'nuff said. (+2/1)


Developed from a rice flail, it's two lengths of wood connected by a cord or chain. You've all seen it in use. (+3/3)


This was developed from a sickle. It was often used as a paired weapon. (+3/4)


This was developed from a rice-husking tool. It's a straight bit of wood about the length of your forearm with a handle attached. It's often used in pairs and is excellent to parry with. Oh yeah, and police nightsticks are almost identical. (+3/4)


This is a length of iron bar with a time on either side to catch blows. It was used in pairs, and contrary to belief it rarely featured a sharp point. (+2/3)

Last modified: May 2nd, 1997; please send comments to durrell@innocence.com.