A basket hilt is a metal guard that wraps around the swordsman's hand. It is intended to protect the hand from blows, and can itself be used as a weapon. Basket hilts are first available at TL4. They can be used on any weapon, including two-handed weapons. A basket hilt weighs one pound, has PD3 and DR5 and adds 25% to the cost of a good weapon.
A basket hilt costs the same no matter the quality of the weapon. For example, a good broadsword costs $500. A basket hilt for it costs $125. A fine broadsword costs $2,000, but a basket hilt for it still costs $125.
Before 1450, basket hilts were rare. After 1450, they were the most common kind of hilt. They replaced the gauntlet as protection for the sword hand. Most armors made after 1450 have only a ``bridle gauntlet,'' to protect the off hand. A normal basket hilt will not allow wearing a gauntlet on the sword hand; one could be custom built so that a gauntleted hand would fit.
A basket hilt changes the balance and grip characteristics of a weapon. There is a -2 penalty for unfamiliarity until the user spends one day familiarizing himself with the different feel of the hilt.
Punching with the Hilt
The hilt of a weapon can be used in fighting. With any weapon larger than a dagger, a blow with the pommel is +1 to punching damage, but -2 to hit. Punching with a basket hilt is +1 to damage and -1 to hit. The hilt can only be used as a weapon in Close Combat. Using the hilt as a weapon is not at -2 for close combat, but any other use of the weapon is.