Archives of Nethys

Pathfinder | Starfinder

Armor | Weapons
Augmentations | Computers | Hybrid Items | Magic Items | Technological Items | Traps
Other Items

Advanced Melee | Ammunition | Basic Melee | Grenade | Heavy | Longarms | Small Arms | Sniper | Solarian | Special
Critical Hit Effects | Special Materials | Special Properties | Weapon Fusions


Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 168
An adventurer’s weapon can be all that stands between them and death. Weapons primarily deal damage, and some have additional special properties. Some weapons also cause specific critical hit effects, which are listed in the weapon tables and described beginning on page 182. See Critical Hits on page 245 for information.

Holding and Wielding Weapons

Melee weapons are categorized by how many hands are required to properly wield them. For ranged weapons, all small arms require one hand, longarms and heavy weapons require two hands, and special weapons are categorized by the number of hands required to wield them.

You can attack with a weapon (or threaten an area with it, for all melee weapons except unarmed strikes) only if you are wielding it with the correct number of hands. When the rules refer to wielding a weapon, it means you are holding a weapon with the correct number of hands and can thus make attacks with it. For example, if you are holding a small arm in your hand, you are considered to be wielding the weapon. If you are carrying a longarm in one hand or wearing a holstered weapon, you are not wielding it. You can carry a two-handed weapon in one hand, but you can’t make an attack with it while doing so.

Changing how you hold a weapon is a swift action. You are only considered to have as many hands as your race has actual functional hands or similar appendages (two for most races, but four in the case of kasathas and some other characters). Even if you could hold two weapons in the same hand, you can’t use the hand to wield both weapons. For example, a human with a power battleglove on one hand can still make ranged attacks with a longarm, but he can’t make melee attacks (and thus does not threaten any spaces) while doing so. As a swift action, the human can switch to hold his longarm with only one hand, allowing him to make attacks with the battleglove, but while doing so he can’t make longarm attacks.

Weapon Sizes

Weapons are built to be easily held and used by both Small and Medium creatures. Weapons can be built for use by smaller creatures but generally cost twice as much (since they require special miniaturization technology). Weapons can also be built for use by larger creatures with no increase in price. A Small or Medium creature trying to use a weapon built for a creature that is Tiny or Large suffers a –4 penalty to attack rolls. Weapons designed for creatures Diminutive or smaller, or Huge or larger, generally cannot be effectively used by Small or Medium creatures.


Weapons often employ electrical charges (typically stored in batteries), cartridges of ammunition, or individual missiles. A weapon’s capacity measures what size battery it uses or the number of cartridges it can hold, and its usage is how much ammunition it uses with each attack. You can use launchers to fire their corresponding missiles, which must be loaded individually. Reloading a weapon or inserting a new battery (including ejecting a spent cartridge or battery if necessary) takes a move action.

Weapons that use standard ammunition (arrows, charges, darts, mini-rockets, petrol, rounds, scattergun shells, etc.) are sold preloaded. For weapons with other forms of ammunition (such as grenades), ammunition must be purchased separately.


This type of ammunition includes bullets (often called rounds or shells), bolts, darts, mini-rockets, pellets, and other physical projectiles with any necessary casing and propellant. Cartridges are typically either contained in a multi-cartridge magazine or loaded into the weapon individually; a weapon is assumed to come with enough magazines that you can load spare ones for reloading the weapon in battle. If you buy more cartridges than can be held in a single magazine of your weapon, the purchase includes additional magazines of the same capacity, up to the number needed to fit all your cartridges into magazines. The same rules apply to petrol for flame weapons.

Rounds are standardized by weapon type. For example, small arms all use the same size of round, but you can’t use a small arm round in a longarm. Most projectile weapons fire one cartridge per attack unless they have special firing modes that shoot multiple cartridges in a short time.


This ammunition powers energy or projectile weapons using charges stored in batteries. Since each energy weapon varies in intensity, stronger weapons use up more charges per shot. You can restore a weapon’s charges by attaching it to a generator or a recharging station (see Professional Services on page 234) and thereby recharging its battery, or by swapping out its battery for another fully charged battery.

Recharging a weapon’s battery from a generator takes 1 minute per charge restored, and using a recharging station takes 1 round per charge, but swapping out a battery takes only a move action. Most batteries can hold 20 charges, but some high-capacity versions made of rare materials can hold more (see Table 7–9: Ammunition).

A weapon’s battery cannot be recharged to hold more charges than its capacity. A weapon that holds a high-capacity battery still works when a lower-capacity battery is inserted into it, but if a battery has fewer charges remaining than the minimum number required to fire a shot, the weapon doesn’t fire.

In addition to weapons, batteries can be used to power a wide array of items, including powered armor and technological items.


This special ammunition is loaded and fired one at a time, and it includes arrows and explosive rounds fired from launchers. Some weapons that fire missiles have the quick reload special property (see page 182), allowing you to draw the ammunition and fire it as part of your attack or attacks. Attacks with missile weapons often have the explode special property (see page 181).

Improvised Weapons

If you’re using an object that wasn’t meant to be used as a weapon, treat it as a club. You don’t add your Weapon Specialization bonus damage (if any) when attacking with an improvised weapon. At the GM’s discretion, the object might deal a different type of damage or not be treated as archaic (see page 180), and in rare cases a GM might decide a nonweapon functions as a specific weapon (such as an industrial grinder functioning as a fangblade). In such cases, attacks with the weapon take a –4 penalty to the attack roll because of the awkward nature of attacking with something designed for another purpose.

Targeting Armor Class

Whether you compare an attack roll to the target’s Energy Armor Class (EAC) or Kinetic Armor Class (KAC) depends on the type of damage the weapon deals. In rare cases, a weapon’s damage type can be magically altered with weapon fusions (see page 191), but this never changes whether a weapon targets EAC or KAC.

If the weapon deals only energy damage, the attack targets EAC. Energy damage generally includes acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic damage, though it also potentially includes magical or exotic untyped energies.

If the weapon deals only kinetic damage, or if it deals both energy and kinetic damage, the attack targets KAC. Kinetic damage generally comes from attacks that deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, as well as damage from crushing, constriction, or the impact from falling.

For more about EAC and KAC, see Armor Class on page 240.

Weapon Damage

The energy and kinetic damage types are described below, including the abbreviations for each that appear in the weapon tables in this chapter. Weapons that deal multiple types of damage have an ampersand between the types (such as “B & E” for a weapon that deals bludgeoning and electricity damage). For such weapons, half the damage dealt is one type, and half is the other (if the damage done is an odd number, select one damage type to round up, rounding down the other damage type normally).

Energy Damage

The following types of damage are energy damage. Other, rare forms of energy damage exist, and such weapons specify whether they target EAC in their descriptions.
  • Acid (A): Damage dealt by corrosive substances and effects.
  • Cold (C): Damage dealt by ice and cryogenic energy.
  • Electricity (E): Damage dealt by lightning and other electric shocks.
  • Fire (F): Damage dealt by flames, lasers, and extreme heat.
  • Sonic (So): Damage dealt by loud noise or damaging frequencies.

Kinetic Damage

The following are types of kinetic damage.
  • Bludgeoning (B): Damage from blunt force.
  • Piercing (P): Damage from spikes, bullets, and punctures.
  • Slashing (S): Damage from blades, claws, and sharp edges.

Weapon Types

The weapons in the above sections are grouped into types, and they are further divided into categories within each type. Most weapons belong to both a weapon type and a weapon category. For example, a zero pistol is both a small arm and a cryo weapon.

Weapons of the same type are of similar size and have similar mechanical properties. Weapon types include basic melee, advanced melee, small arms, longarms, heavy weapons, sniper weapons, grenades, and special weapons. Ammunition and solarian weapon crystals are also listed here.

The weapon tables linked above are arranged by weapon type, as described in the sections below.

Weapon Categories: Weapons fall into subgroups that indicate how a given weapon deals damage. Weapon categories include cryo weapons, flame weapons, laser weapons, plasma weapons, projectile weapons, shock weapons, and sonic weapons. When a weapon doesn’t fall into a specific category, it is listed in the weapon tables as an uncategorized weapon. The weapon descriptions on pages 183–190 are arranged primarily by weapon category.