A Hunter's Weapon
As much as a Hunter is defined by their background, upbringing and experiences throughout their life, they are equally as defined by their weapon. In many cases, it is a partner, a lifesaver and a tool that accompanies them from life to death. Weapons in Vallistra are very unique. Through many years of evolution, different weapons have become unique to one another, a meld of different eras creating the perfect Hunting tool. It is said that a Hunter’s weapon can be seen to be so much like the Hunter themselves that if they were lost from one another, another person could easily pair the two together as if they were twins.
A Hunter’s weapon can be described as a Ship of Theseus. A Hunter never discards or changes their weapon entirely, but instead goes through extensive periods of modification throughout their life, changing parts of it until all of its original parts have changed to become something entirely new, yet the weapon itself had not been replaced. Hunter’s extensively modify their weapon, changing its functionality, features and properties as they become stronger, until it completely meshes with them to create a perfect working unit.
A weapon in Vallistra is composed of multiple parts, but they fall into two broad categories: cores and templates. The core of a weapon can be compared to the ‘heart’ of the weapon which gives it life. From the core, other parts of the weapon join onto it, and these are called templates. When templates are attached to the core, it creates a completely functional weapon. We will go over these two categories separately.
In Vallistra, cores are the central part of the weapon. They are composed of a variety of different materials, ranging from wood or metal, or perhaps even bones harvested from dead Beasts. The term ‘core’ doesn’t particularly conjure any imagery, but rather it is the central construction of the weapon. The core essentially defines the characteristic features of the weapon. For example, a weapon with a wood core will have mostly wooden construction with templates providing the different functional features of the weapon. The core can be thought to be the housing of the weapon.
There are three different types of cores. These are: Grip Cores, Receiver Cores and Hybrid Cores.
Grip cores look like sword handles, and can range in various sizes. They can have a variety of melee templates attached onto them. Grip cores are the only cores able to attach Beast Triggers which are discussed in a later section.
Receiver cores are the opposite, and instead look like a rectangular block from which firearm templates can be attached onto. Receiver cores are the only cores able to use Bullet Phials which are discussed in a later section.
Hybrid cores are a combination of Grip Cores and Receiver cores, being able to accept melee and firearm templates. They do not have the particular special features that the former cores do, but it is unique in that it is the only core type that uses the Switch feature.
Templates are parts that attach to the core to create the final weapon. Templates can be thought to be ‘features’ that are inherent in a particular type of weapon. For example, a sword template attached to the core would make it have the properties and appearance of a sword, while a mace template attached to the same core would make it have the properties and appearance of a mace.
There are two types of templates available: Melee templates and Firearm templates. Melee templates come in many forms but essentially are melee weapons. Firearm templates are similar, being firearm types that attach onto a weapon.
By placing cores and templates together, a Hunter’s final weapon emerges. These can take a variety of forms, and are often unique creations that are markedly different from any other Hunters. In addition, weapons also have secondary templates – special features that allow the weapon to be further customised, creating a weapon that truly reflects Hunters themselves.
A Hunter’s weapon can come from almost anywhere, but the source does not necessarily determine the quality of the weapon. The various parts of the weapon – both the cores and the templates make up the final quality of the weapon. However, it is not only the construction and material quality of the weapon that makes it suitable – but how well it suits the Hunter. The best weapon in the world that is much too heavy for a particular Hunter would be less effective next to a Hunter with a weapon that suits them well. For this reason, the quality of a weapon’s parts is determined by three different aspects. Construction quality, or how well the weapon is crafted, Material quality, or the particular grade of material, and Suitability, or how well the weapon suits the Hunter themselves.
Cores and templates often come in a vast variety of quality, with training artisans creating imperfect cores that become scrapped or reforged and reworked and master artisans creating almost perfect pieces of art. A Hunter’s weapon is not defined by where it comes from, but rather what a Hunter chooses to do with it.
At the top end of the scale, wealthy parents can choose to have an artisan craft a weapon for their child so that they may realise their maximum potential. The cost of exotic materials and the best of artisans could cost decades worth of income from even wealthy individual. Superior exotic materials, usually harvested from beasts are incredibly rare and expensive to gather due to the risks involved. However, surprisingly, most parents of wealthy standing will choose not to do this.
Instead, they opt to build a reliable and well-crafted weapon using far more ordinary parts. The reason for this is not due to the cost, but instead the image. A Hunter wielding a weapon that uses materials that require skill to obtain far beyond what they have is often an indicator of a bad Hunter that requires compensation in other areas. It is seen as shameful or laughable when a Hunter’s skills do not match up with the weapon’s materials.
Hunter’s with a Hunting Heritage will often inherit a weapon from their grandparents, or an ancestor who has passed or is no longer able to hunt. These weapons are often ill-fitting but are reforged and refined to fit the adopting Hunter. These weapons often contain parts that use exotic materials to forge. However, as opposed to the former paragraph, Hunters who use adopted weapons are not always looked down upon.
These weapons often have a particular character to them due to the many years of wear. This gives the indication that it is an adopted weapon. At the same time, these weapons may be signature weapons. Weapons are often forged in very different ways, with various materials that ultimately make up a unique weapon. The unique combination of core and template may be signature of a past Hunter. Some ‘signature weapons’ are more famous than others, and famous ones can indicate that a particular Hunter has a rich Hunter Heritage.
For others who do not inherit a weapon, with enough money lower quality parts can be bought and put together for a fee that will create a weapon. Some training artisans, or even master ones will often do this for a discounted fee or pro bono for some individuals who are aspiring Hunters but do not have the appropriate means.
Many parts that are not reforged are often discarded as well. These discarded parts are deemed of too poor quality material to be reforged and are often found in scrapyards where they are used for other purposes. Weapon materials are usually the finest available to reduce the risks of failure during a Hunt. Discarded parts can be put together with some effort to create a weapon that is less robust, but still functional.
In many cases, Hunters using poorly constructed weapons are looked at with pity. With a worse weapon, the Hunter is more likely to die due to the weapon possibly failing in a critical moment. Hunters who use these weapons take the most risk, not only against Beasts which present a great danger, but the operation of their weapon itself is a great challenge too.
A Hunter’s weapon can take on many different design aspects, and it is entirely up to the Hunter. The design of a weapon is composed of its appearance, its functionality and its mechanisms. Recall that a weapon’s design is made up of its core and templates. All weapons can only use one template at any time, but can switch between templates to create a different mechanism of function. For this section, we will build a weapon up. A Hunter chooses a Hybrid Core, a Greatsword Template and a Heavy Firearm Template. The weapon can only be a greatsword or a firearm at any given time, but can switch between these functionalities.
The first aspect of a weapon design that needs to be considered is its overall appearance. The appearance defines the weapon’s looks and ultimately its characteristics and functionality. The weapon also needs a name. For the above example, let’s call the weapon Gram. Next, how the templates and core fit together needs to be considered. Gram is a greatsword when pulled out of the sheath, but when inserted, it forms a devastating sniper that can fire piercing rounds. The appearance and construction needs to be considered as well. Gram itself is made out of steel, with a black grip and pommel. The sheath is a shining black.
The second aspect of a weapon design is how it functions. The functionality describes how the weapon works overall. Using the example above: Gram’s core is the Grip Core of the sword, and it contains half of the firing mechanism. The sheath contains the rest of the firing mechanism as well as its ammunition. When Gram is inserted into its sheath, the firing mechanism is complete, and piercing rounds can be fired from the end of the sheath using a trigger that pops out of the Grip. Ultimately, the functionality of the weapon describes how it is used by the Hunter.