Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guide to Berk: Weapons

If you see this sign in Berk, don't stop. Run, because you're about to be beaten with it. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
While in Berk, it is a good idea to be armed at all times. You never know when you might run into a pack of Gipsters after your unfiltered cigarettes, some Vegan Cannibals who hate you for being made of meat, or a grumpy Bearcoon who thinks it's dinnertime. Often just the act of carrying a blade or sidearm and looking like you can use it is enough to convince most prowling gangs to go after easier prey, at least in the more habitable parts of Berk. In the Deep City or the Unsettlement, if a gang looks at you funny it's best to kill a few to show them you mean business, and then kill the rest just to be sure.

The need for being armed at all times is weighed against the rarity of firearms. Weapons left over from before the First Event are often low on ammo and in bad repair, making them dangerous to own and fire. Exotic weapons from the Between-Time are even rarer, with the added consideration that any group who is trying to accumulate technology will target anyone seen carrying a high-tech weapon. This explains why most of the weapons in Berk are makeshift close combat weapons or simple ranged weapons like javelins made of rebar or slings made of a pair of skinny jeans.

It's impossible to classify the weapons of Berk, as they come in as many varieties as there are people in the city, but a lot of weapons fall into some general categories:

Improvised Melee Weapons

The most numerous weapons in Berk are improvised melee weapons. These can be made of anything, but usually function as spears, clubs, and/or hammers. A metal chair leg is a common club, while street signs are often pulled up both for the stronger hitting power and added hilarity. One especially hefty mutant gang leader enjoyed beating people with an expired parking meter, though the humor was no doubt lost on the lummox.


Most swords in Berk are cheap stainless steel replicas designed for display, left over from before the First Event. These swords bend easily and lose their edge almost immediately, so they are guaranteed to be all but useless after a fight or two. True swords are much rarer and are treasured by those that own them. Anyone walking about with a well-made saber had better be on very good terms with Russian Werewolves, as the Werewolves prize sabers above all other weapons. Similarly, someone with a samurai-style blade had better be prepared to fight any Gibsons he or she meets.


Machetes are sometimes considered the unofficial primary weapon of many specialist gangs in Berk. For this reason, Librarians are often seen carrying machetes. They provide good protection while also serving as excellent tools for a variety of purposes. If someone is planning on exploring the Deep City, a machete is the perfect tool for cutting through the rubble of civilization to loot what little remains.


Like machetes, axes are favored because they are not just weapons but also useful tools. Well, most of them are. Many raiders enjoy wielding enormous double-headed axes that can't chop wood, but can chop people like wood (which they prefer to chop anyway).


Knives are useful primarily because of how small and easily portable they are. Since you can carry a knife will almost no extra effort, why not carry one, or several? What else are you going to eat your salami with? Just keep it sharp, in case a Bearcoon catches a whiff of your salami.


Rifles are accurate at long range, and some are rugged enough to still be in firing condition after two apocalypses. Many rifles in use in Berk today are converted versions of older models. Bolt-action or single-shot variations of popular pre-Event weapons are common, as they have fewer moving parts and go through less precious ammunition. The love Gibsons bear for certain types of rifles is famous, so anyone carrying those weapons would be wise to try to disguise that fact. More than one quick-thinking adventurer has disguised an Ay-Kay as a less desirable rifle (say, the FN "Fail"), at least until it fired with the distinctive Ay-Kay sound guaranteed to bring Gibsons running.


The shotguns that survive in Berk are almost all break-action single- or double-barreled varieties. Their reliability and stopping power are great boons for survivors, and shotgun shells can be easier to come by then rifle ammunition.

Energy Weapons

Weapons from the Between-Time are almost always energy weapons. Popularly known as Kenners, energy weapons have wildly varying specifications. Some can manage only a few weak shots on a single charge, while others can lay down devastating fire for an hour before going dry. The former is the norm, though. Word spreads quickly about any lone warrior with a high-functioning Kenner, bringing predators and scavengers from across the city. Meanwhile, someone with a weak Kenner capable of only a few shots will often use the weapon just because of the availability of ammunition, as these weapons can often be charged from gas-powered generators or solar arrays. Librarians have a famous stockpile of Kenners, while gangs like the Gibsons and the Russian Werewolves turn up their noses at these weapons that they see as unnecessarily complicated and more trouble than they're worth.

Exotic Between-Time Weapons

Kenners are not the only weapons created during the Between-Time. More exotic weapons survive. These often seem to be unique, whether because they were prototypes or because no other examples of those weapons survive. These weapons run the gamut from rifles that use magnets to fling metal flechettes to chainsaws with laser blades. These weapons are the prized possessions of the most technically-minded survivors, as only people with great knowledge of forgotten technology can hope to keep these one-of-a-kind weapons functioning.


Grenades and other explosives are among the rarest types of weapons in Berk, simply because it's hard for them to have survived this long without being used. There are stories of a single raider chief keeping her entire pack cowed into submission with the threat of a lone grenade.

The Riddle of the Between-Time

Many survivors who have heard tales of the Golden Age between the First and Second Events wonder, if it was the age of peace and cooperation that everyone seems to think it was, why did so many weapons and war robots get produced? One common response is that it was force of habit: scientists had gotten used to creating better weapons out of every newly available technology, and they just could not help themselves. Others believe that the Golden Age simply was not as rosy as people make it out to be, and point out that many of the mutants in the world today can be traced back to the First Event.

A more sinister possibility is whispered by some of the more pessimistic Librarians, though few outside of the Great Library have heard rumors of it. They make knowing allusions to the impending Second Event and wonder whether the stockpile of wonder weapons and fighting robots may have been preparation by the Earth's united geniuses against some unknown force or entity that brought about the Second Event. If this is the case, the Librarians can't help but wonder which side won, and whether there will ever be a second round...


  1. "chainsaws with laser blades"

    I need one o' them.

  2. Don't you have one already? I thought everyone had one. Did... did nobody tell you?

  3. Oh, dang. I have two. Sorry, Doomfinger. I must have grabbed yours by mistake.

  4. Please send it right away. I live near the Spikehorn boonies and have not heard of such things before.