Saturday, April 2, 2016

B is for Bolas of Blasting

[over the course of the month of April, I shall be posting a topic for each letter of the alphabet, sequentially, for every day of the week except Sunday. Our topic this month? Magical weapons for a B/X campaign. All such weapons are +1 to attack and damage rolls unless, unless specifically noted otherwise. Each of these weapons should be considered unique items]

B is for Bolas of Blasting.

Bolas are a throwing weapon consisting of a number of weights held at the ends of interconnecting cords. While there is no uniform design for bolas, the bolas of blasting are of the boleadora variety, consisting of three weights, each at the end of a single cord, with one cord longer than the other two. Bolas have been used in both hunting and warfare for centuries, by American cultures ranging from the indigenous Patagonians in the south to the Inuits of the far north.

For B/X play, bolas may be used by any class able to use a sling. They have the same encumbrance and effective throwing range as a hand axe, and cost 2-3 gold pieces where available. Bolas are used during missile combat; a successful attack roll inflicts normal damage (1D4 points if using variable weapon damage) and will entangle a target that fails a saving throw versus paralysis. If the attack roll is a 20 (including bonuses for dexterity and enchantment), the weapon has wrapped around a target's neck and a failed save indicates the creature has been concussed and stunned for 2D4 rounds. A stunned creature may take no action. An entangled creature falls prone and cannot move until the bolas are removed (a humanoid may spend a round to untangle itself); prone individuals suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls. The entangling and stunning effects of the bolas will not function against creatures of ogre size (4 hit dice) or larger, though normal damage may still be inflicted.

The bolas of blasting have been specially enchanted to make sure that when a target is taken down, it stays down. When the weights of the weapon strike each other with sufficient force, they release an explosive blast capable of shattering flesh and bone. To achieve this effect, the weapon must be thrown with sufficient power and achieve a good "wrap" (represented by a normal entangle or stun result, i.e. a successful attack roll and a failed saving throw by the target). The blast inflicts 10-40 points of damage (D4x10) and will hobble the legs of an entangled target (by fracturing leg bones) or decapitate a target that would normally be stunned. Unlike normal bolas, the blasting effect of the bolas of blasting will effect even large creatures of 4 to 6 hit dice (up to troll size); the weapon's blast ability cannot be used against creatures with 7 or more hit dice as they are too large to wrap effectively.

Bolas, including the bolas of blasting, have no effect on incorporeal monsters like wraiths, specters, and shadows. Creatures that are unaffected by sleep and mind control (like undead) cannot be stunned by bolas.

Channel your inner gaucho.


  1. Question/Clarification:
    So in the case of a creature unaffected by sleep/mind control, struck by a cast which would have stunned a creature susceptible to such; the blast is not triggered?

    1. @ David:

      The blast is triggered by the weights wrapping and striking each other. It is only the stunning of (non-magical) bolas that is ineffective against the undead.

      For example, a bolas that wraps up on a zombie's neck and head isn't going to concuss the creature...but the Bolas of Blasting will blow the top half of the creature to smithereens. A zombie is pretty much fodder for the Bolas of Blasting (their saves aren't very good, i.e. they shamble along slowly unaware or uncaring of potential danger).

      Hope that helps!