Super fights can get a little nuts in comics, and so they should in Phoenix. Streets get ripped up. Cars get thrown. Buildings topple. Because Strength scores can be well above the human range, the normal Improvised Weapons rules aren’t always applicable, which is why we’ve created special rules for this game.
You can use any portable object as a weapon in a pinch. In most cases, you can either use it as a mélêe weapon or a ranged weapon. You take -4 penalty on your attack roll when you wield or throw an improvised weapon. An improvised weapon is not Mélêe, Ranged, or Exotic, so Weapon Proficiency feats cannot offset the -4 penalty, but the Improvised Weapons and Improved Improvised Throwing feats can.
Size and Weight
You can wield/throw objects either by size or weight, whichever is larger (i.e., beneficial to the wielder/thrower).
- Size Category: You can wield/throw in one hand an object of your size category or smaller, and you can wield/throw in two hands anything one size category larger than yourself.
- Weights: You can wield/throw in one hand an object that is half your Light Load or less, and you can wield/throw in two hands anything that is your Light Load or less. (Note that the power Mighty Lifting does indeed increase your Light Load!)
However, if your improvised weapon is four or more size categories different than your own, then you can’t wield it at all. You simply don’t have the leverage or fine control that would be necessary. A Fine-sized hero trying to lift a car is going to have a hard time finding something to grab, even if she has the Strength to do it. A Colossal-sized hero trying to throw a baseball will probably just crush it between thumb and forefinger.
Improvised weapons do damage based on their size or weight, whichever is greater. For damage by size category, see the table below (note that we’ve added a new size category “Ginormous,” because Colossal wasn’t big enough). For damage by weight, the rule of thumb is 1d6 per 100 lbs. / 45 kg. GMs can and should use their judgement to adjust these damage amounts based on factors such as the weapon’s weight (heavier/lighter than their size category) or awkwardness (e.g., a telephone poll makes a fantastic club).
Unlike real weapons, improvised weapons are not designed to absorb damage. They tend to shatter, bend, crumple, or fall apart after a few blows. An improvised weapon has a 50% chance of breaking each time it deals damage to anything its own size or larger.
An improvised thrown weapon has a Range Increment equal to your Strength score, rounded down to the nearest 5 ft. (i.e., Strength 18 is 15 ft., Strength 32 is 30 ft.). Also, increase the range increment (and multiply the Strength increase) if you are larger than Medium sized.
- RIs by Size Category: Large: 15 ft. (Str x1.5), Huge: 30 ft. (Str x3), Gargantuan: 60 ft. (Str x6), Colossal: 120 ft. (x12)
If you throw something that is larger by one size category or more than the target(s), then it is an area effect. You target the space they’re in (Defence 10), and they roll Reflex for half damage (DC = 10 + your attack bonus).
Thrown objects generally lose their kinetic energy and fall to the ground when they hit their targets, but if the object in question is more than twice the weight of the target, it will continue to fly along its vector for two range increments before it starts to plummet. An object that can roll, due to a round shape or sufficiently robust wheels, might continue for another range increment, but unless it lands on a slope or gets some other help, it will stop at that point. GMs are encouraged to eye-ball these numbers and to not get too wrapped up in real-world physics.
Objects that can roll (or have wheels) can be “thrown” along the ground. Their range increments are 20 ft. plus Strength bonus (as above).
You can also drop heavy objects from heights, in which case you roll a normal ranged attack. The attack has no maximum range because it eventually just hits the ground.
Improvised Weapon Damage
|Ginormous||18-wheeler, private jet, small building, hummer||16d6|
|Colossal||pick-up truck, shed, utility pole||12d6|
|Gargantuan||dumpster, pop machine, very small car||8d6|
|Huge||10-foot ladder, mailbox, oil barrel, park bench||4d6|
|Large||garbage can, TV set, office chair, tire iron||2d6|
|Medium||brick, briefcase, bowling ball, hockey stick, guitar||1d8|
|Small||big rock, drill, helmet, fire extinguisher, flower pot||1d6|
|Tiny||small rock, mug, screwdriver, wrench||1d3|
|Diminutive||ashtray, CD case, paperweight||1|
|Fine||coin, ball-point pen, computer mouse||–|
This section lists three large objects that are common to urban spaces and that super-powered characters tend to throw around and hit each other with: dumpsters, utility poles, and vehicles. Any object that requires two hands to wield or throw can be wielded/thrown with one hand if you have the Over-Sized Weapons feat.
This object is an industrial-sized garbage container known by several different names, but “dumpster” is the common term in the US based on the name of one of the major companies that suppliee them (which is why they’re often called “biffies” in Canada). They take up two five-foot cubes (i.e., they’re more or less 5-ft high, 5 ft. wide, and 10 ft. long), and they weigh about 600 lbs empty and 1500 lbs full.
Dumpsters require two hands to throw because they’re awkwardly shaped, but they’re on wheels, so they can be pushed along the ground as if you were throwing them. It takes a move action to grab and lift one over your head, and a standard action to attack with it.
This object can be a telephone pole, lamp post, or the like. To snap a utility pole off and use it as a giant bat, you have to attack the pole to break it, and then you have to use a move action to grab the pole off the ground or catch it as it falls; thus, it’ll take a full round to arm yourself with such a weapon. The attack needs to do 25HPs of physical damage to the base of the pole, and the pole has Defence 10. You can break the pole as part of a full-attack action, but you’ll still need a move action to grab it.
Utility poles come in wood and steel, and are typically 70 ft. tall (23m). Wooden poles are about 2200 lbs (1000kg) and Hardness 5. Steel poles are about 1100lbs (500kg) and Hardness 10.
These are familiar objects―motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses―that superheroes and villains sometimes throw at each other. There’s a great deal of variety when it comes to the weight of various vehicles, so the weights below are listed as ranges, and GMs can decide what weight to apply depending on what kind of vehicle they’re describing. Cars, trucks, and buses also have to be lifted/thrown by their frames, not by a non-load-bearing part such as a bumper or door. For game purposes, this means that you have to lift cars with two hands, and it takes a move action to grab and lift one over your head, and a standard action to attack with it.
- Motorcycles: 300 to 400 lbs (135 to 180kg).
- Cars: 4000 to 8000 lbs (1800 to 3600kg; from compacts to sedans).
- Trucks: 6000 to 10,000 lbs (2700 to 4500kg; from light trucks to heavy-duty trucks).
- Buses: 20,000 to 30,000 lbs (9000 to 13,500kg; from a small school bus to city bus).