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Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?


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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Ok, just looked a falchion up and apparently it's simply a slightly curving, wide-headed sword reminiscent of a scimitar but perhaps less curved. It's notable for its variation apparently.

 

How wrong could they have got it?

 

Oh, looks about like this:

 

Functional_Swords_Sinbad_Scimitar_Swor_2006_92.jpg

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

I see swords like those in the attached image in shops and in fantasy art a lot, and I always wonder, are they based on anything that's ever actually been used as a weapon? In particular, the longer, top-most sword.

 

If so, where, when, and how would it be used?

 

Or are they purely the work of imagination, and fairly useless in a real melee?

 

They're definitely fantasy blades, but whether or not they're useless in a melee depends on what from & how they're made, and whether or not the person using them knows how to use a blade. For the most part, someone who has actual, real edge-awareness and makes a point to study the weapon can use it in an effective way, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's more or less effective than weapons that have existed for centuries.

 

As the blade is there, in that picture, I'd say for the most part it's pretty flimsy. I'm a bladesmith (primarily knives), have made the study of blade steel an important part of my life, and can tell you that (most) factory-pressed 440 stainless steel never sees a heat treatment in its life, and because of that it's primarily decoration. It could be heat treated properly and be fairly lethal, but such steel isn't good for a sword - heat treated or not. Stainless steel in any length longer than a big knife (9" or so) reaches its shock point, where if you were to harang it into something, or defend a sword blow using the thing, it would break - IF it were heat treated. If not it'll just bend and fill up with gouges.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

There are a fair number of historical blades that could be mistaken for fantasy weapons, like the Dacian Falx. More of a polearm with a curved blade that was sharpened on the inside of the curve, rather than the outside.

 

I remember reading somewhere that it was the inspiration for the elven blades used on the battlefield scenes in the LotR movies. I've always thought it would be cool to have a sword-length weapon that was half "hilt" (haft?) and half blade -- only perhaps a bit less curved.

 

Seems like the Zulu used something like that, too; looked like a long-bladed spear with a shortened haft. No idea what it was called... or really if what I remember is accurate. Could just as easily be something implanted by Hollywood. :P

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

There are a fair number of historical blades that could be mistaken for fantasy weapons' date=' like the Dacian Falx. More of a polearm with a curved blade that was sharpened on the inside of the curve, rather than the outside.[/quote']

 

Nothing strikes me as particularly fantastical there. Not that unusual of a shape and there are many blades that are sharpened on the concave edge. Plus, the design seems practical.

 

Seems like the Zulu used something like that, too; looked like a long-bladed spear with a shortened haft. No idea what it was called... or really if what I remember is accurate.

 

It's called an Iklwa.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Hmm yes. I take your point. Hey kids' date=' can you spell 'balance issues'?[/quote']

 

That is primarily a cavalry weapon, made for slashing down at someone as you ride by. "Hassan CHOP!" is about right...:D

 

Edit: But yes, it is nothing like what would historically be called a Falchion.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

That is primarily a cavalry weapon' date=' made for slashing down at someone as you ride by. "Hassan CHOP!" is about right...:D[/quote']

 

I imagine that would be akin to using a large axe from horseback. As a general rule, cavalry sabers tend to be thin, one handed blades. Length and curvature depends on a number of factors...

 

The only "weapon" I've seen that comes close to matching the picture I posted above was a two handed blade designed for beheading prisoners.

 

Otherwise, it's pure Hollywood as far as I know.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

There are a fair number of historical blades that could be mistaken for fantasy weapons' date=' like the Dacian Falx. More of a polearm with a curved blade that was sharpened on the inside of the curve, rather than the outside.

 

The Falx is just a weaponised sickle, similar to the way medieval peasants made billhooks and flails from farm implements (in fact the Romans called the smaller version of the falx a sickle)

 

I remember reading somewhere that it was the inspiration for the elven blades used on the battlefield scenes in the LotR movies. I've always thought it would be cool to have a sword-length weapon that was half "hilt" (haft?) and half blade -- only perhaps a bit less curved.

 

The designers said in an a interview I saw that it wasn't based on any specific weapon, but that they were inspired by some asian weapons (no specific names). The closest matches I can think of are the Nagamaki (basically a cut down naginata)

Richard-Stein-Nagamaki.gif

 

or the chinese Dadao (literally "big sword", but more popularly known as "Bandit encampment sword" after a famous folkloric character who uses one)

HW1012Close-dadao.jpg

 

cheers, Mark

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

That is primarily a cavalry weapon, made for slashing down at someone as you ride by. "Hassan CHOP!" is about right...:D
That quote was my immediate thought as well. But hey, if you find yourself facing down a cartoon duck and rabbit maybe it's the weapon you want in hand?

 

While I'm in a thread surrounded by weapons experts, are there real world edged analogs to the tonfa-esque blades Kroenen was sporting in Hellboy?

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

It seems there was a medieval European weapon similar to the nagamaki, but it's nomenclature is non-existent and it's provenance very scarce. The one place I've seen it is in the Maciejowski Bible:

 

otm10va&b.gif

 

Being used by the knight in the brown surcote on the left. He's clearly wielding itwo-handed from horseback. It's got a blade like a glaive, but the grip/haft is very short.

 

Given that medieval iconography is often not the best source for period details, I would be doubtful about this weapon, except that the Mac Bible is generally considered on of the best sources for images of 13th century military life (although the violence depicted is exaggerated - these were Bible stories for illiterate noblemen; sort of a superhero comic of the day).

 

Interestingly enough, my parallel edition of "The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny" translates the old French "glaive" as "sword." Which makes me think our medieval forebears weren't overly concerned with the niceties of nomenclature.

 

On the weirdly shaped blades front, there are also some pretty wicked looking falchions depicted in the same work:

 

otm3va.gif

 

Almost dead center, the figure in quilted armour with green sleeves, wielding the weapon two-handed.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

While I'm in a thread surrounded by weapons experts' date=' are there real world edged analogs to the tonfa-esque blades Kroenen was sporting in Hellboy?

 

Well, there are now, but they are not based on any historical weapon that I know of.

 

I'm pretty sure the "Mandarin-Duck Double-Hooks" are actually a modern wu shu weapon, but you might want to look those up.

 

The Chinese did, however, use a large tonfa like weapon made of wood that had pointy sharpened ends. Name escapes me at the moment though...

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Not exactly what you are looking for...

 

Here are a bunch of real weapons, all pole arms, but with interesting "blades" and "ends".

http://www.pbase.com/bschrempp/image/90989178

 

This one has some interesting stuff in the background.

http://www.pbase.com/bschrempp/image/90989182

 

I took thess pictures in the Tower of London museum.

 

 

Bob

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Very cool! :thumbup: Do you happen to know what the second one from the left is called? I find it very interesting.... :)

 

Well, technically speaking it's just a heavy lump of wood or metal with some spikes driven through it: the whole "what kind of a weapon is this" is often pretty meaningless, given that many weapons were one of a kind.

 

That said, while the above is accurate, it's not very helpful. On the off chance I decided to be helpful, I would probably class it as a spiked club, Lucern Hammer or a Godentag, all being "spiky or beaky hitting heads on a long stick". :D

 

FWIW, L->R they are three "Spiked club/Lucern Hammer/Godentags", a partisan, a .... bill-guisarme? Possibly a glaive? A spetum, a halberd, a bill (or a Fauchard) and a bardiche.

 

Note that Bardiches are also often lumped in under guisarme, and that in medieval times, a halberd could be any kind of largish axe and a bill pretty much any kind of pointy-blade-on-a-stick. :D

 

cheers, Mark

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Part of what interested me in this, besides pure curiousity, is that there's a character in the FNIP who needs a somewhat unusual but very functional weapon.

 

I think I'm just going to stick with the sword that has about 30" of straight/pointed blade and yet has a full two-handed hilt.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Part of what interested me in this, besides pure curiousity, is that there's a character in the FNIP who needs a somewhat unusual but very functional weapon.

 

I think I'm just going to stick with the sword that has about 30" of straight/pointed blade and yet has a full two-handed hilt.

 

What style of fighting is the player interested in his character having? If you can give some idea (sneak fighter, big bruiser, Tank, etc) we might be able to suggest unusual, but realistic weapons for him.

 

Also, what's a FNIP?

 

cheers, Mark

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

I see swords like those in the attached image in shops and in fantasy art a lot, and I always wonder, are they based on anything that's ever actually been used as a weapon? In particular, the longer, top-most sword.

 

If so, where, when, and how would it be used?

 

Or are they purely the work of imagination, and fairly useless in a real melee?

 

They look like yataghans, and they were used in real combat in the Middle East, Caucasus, and Central Asia. Though the middle one does seem to have an overly-long hilt.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

What style of fighting is the player interested in his character having? If you can give some idea (sneak fighter, big bruiser, Tank, etc) we might be able to suggest unusual, but realistic weapons for him.

 

Also, what's a FNIP?

 

cheers, Mark

 

FNIP = Fantasy Novel in Progress. (Perhaps I should add a "supposed" in there, I don't have much energy to work on the thing most days.)

 

The protagonist needs a cutting/stabbing weapon that takes advatage of her quickness, works in both offense and defense, and can be easily switched between hands.

 

I was looking at that weapon in the picture and thinking that something vaguely like it, but with more a functional interface between blade and hilt, and with a much less curved and artsy hilt, would be a possibility.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Sorry, Kristopher, I've been busy on other threads...

 

There are several weapons that could serve, but they span across literally millenia of time. A bit more information on the nature and tech level of the world might help...

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Sorry, Kristopher, I've been busy on other threads...

 

There are several weapons that could serve, but they span across literally millenia of time. A bit more information on the nature and tech level of the world might help...

 

The tech level of the world is, in general, that of the peak of the Romans, with variations how developed fields are depending on which culture you're looking at (to avoid a five page tangent, I'll leave it at that). The protagonist's people sit at a sort of crossroads of trade, and have access to concepts and techniques from around the world (OK, one tangent, ship-building is one example of a technology better than the Romans had). It's hard to say this in a concise manner without sounding cliched, but they're also an old, old people with access to the the knowledge of past ages.

 

So... anything you want to suggest, I'm sure it would fit in.

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Re: Odd Swords -- Real or Fantasy?

 

Okay. If we're looking at a Roman tech level, metallurgy is still a bit on the primitive side. Swords rarely reach more than 3' overall, because the steel of the time won't support longer weapons structurally.

 

The swords of the time range from the classic Celtic longsword, the Roman Gladius, the Falcatta, the Greek Hoplite-style short swords, and the actual historical Khopesh (not to be confused with the D&D version). All are pictured here: http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/ancient-swords.html Go ahead and take a look, I'll wait here.:D

 

Now, two things jump out. First, not one of those swords have very much in the way of a handguard. That is typical of all weapons of the time period. You block with the shield, and attack with the sword. Later guards were developed for occasions where one might be fighting without a shield.

 

The other thing is that neither the celtic longsword nor the Falcatta have points worth speaking of. That's because they are primarily slashing and chopping weapons - the Falcatta in particular has very nearly as much chopping power as an axe!

 

That leaves us with the various Greek and Roman shortswords, and the Khopesh.

 

The Greek and Roman swords were very well designed for use in tight formations. The primary attack form was the thrust, and the long, tapered points facilitate that well. Additionally, the 'cutting tests' performed on the website I linked to show that they also have a fair amount of cutting power - bearing in mind that these are generally pretty big, strong guys doing the testing. Your female protaganist may have a bit of trouble duplicating those results, :D but these swords are still plenty lethal in the cut.

 

But then, there's still the Khopesh. Looks kinda crude there, that old, tarnished bronze weapon. The blade, being sickle-shaped (but with the edge on the outside of the curve) gives it a primitive appearance, and so it was judged a primitive, clumsy weapon by historians - a footnote in the evolution of swords, as it were.

 

Then recently, someone made up a modern one and handed it to an experienced medieval combat reinactor... And the assessment was a true revalation. It swings like a dream, and has a slash or chop much like the falcatta, but the reinforced point - and that subtle angle between the hilt and the point - make it stab like the best Gladius, only a bit longer (bonus!).

 

The khopesh was recently featured on a Discovery or History channel special about Egyptian weaponry, I wish I could find a link to it off hand (you might try searching for it yourself, my google-fu seems rather weak tonight). Add into that the ability to use the curve of the sickle-shape to 'hook' an opponent's shield and wrench it out of position, and you have one heck of a weapon system!

 

If you're looking to give your character a taste of the exotic, a Khopesh might be the way to go.

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