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Ask me about swords.

Discussion in 'Research' started by Anders Ämting, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Besides, the real issue isn't being strong enough to swing the sword: It's swinging the sword without being pulled off balance by the weight and falling over. Even if you have superhuman strenght, there is a limit to how much weight you can hold in your hands before it unbalances your own body's weight via simple physics.

    But again, if you put a sword like this in your story, odds are you don't care that much about realism anyway. And that's fine. We're fantasy writers, after all.
     
  2. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Yeah. Sorry if I sounded selectively nitpicky; of course the whole thing is Rule of Cool, 'nuff said. I just like looking for the path of least resistance when I'm putting some magic together, finding some ways to enchant away just part of the problem and work with the rest.

    And, no rest for the wiki. :(
     
  3. KorbentMarksman

    KorbentMarksman Minstrel

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    I have a question about the quality and accessibility of metal underwater. There's a technologically advanced underwater city in my story called Ictethys, which is considerably more advanced than us but still commonly uses rapiers and maces to supply the military. My question is whether or not large quantities of high-grade steel would be accessible to a city built underwater? I know this isn't technically a sword-making question but it is to do with metalwork.
     
  4. Makes sense. Guns probably isn't a very good idea in a large pressurized underwater dwelling.

    Not really my field - you'll have to find a geologist to properly answer this one.

    To produce steel, they'll need iron and carbon. I'm guessing iron shouldn't be that hard to aquire, but I'm not sure where they'd get their carbon. They would need to have both an iron mine and a coal mine in the same general area, I guess.

    There may also be some very particular problems inherent to running underwater smelting plants and forges. I imagine anything that risks polluting or reducing the air supply is very tightly regulated.
     
  5. Scribe Lord

    Scribe Lord Minstrel

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    What would be the best type of sword to use on horse or camel back? Any particular shape? These would be used in a desert area.
     
  6. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    The usual theory is a curved blade, since you're more likely to ride past someone and slash than stab, plus a curved blade's more likely to roll along the body as you pass. Not everyone agrees with that, though.
     
  7. Meyer

    Meyer Minstrel

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    I agree with Wordwalker and that is the justification used in GoT for the Dothraki weapons.


    Strictly theoretical, but what would be the ideal sword for duels or massed combat for someone who is 7' tall with an average to slightly above average reach? Strength is not a limiting factor.
     
  8. I have no idea about camels but for horsemen, it would depend a bit on what type of cavalry we are talking (light or heavy) and how these people conduct cavalry warfare, or which real-life culture they most resemble. Practically the only thing all cavalry swords have in common is that they tend to be longer than swords intended for use on foot. Otherwise, they can be curved or straight, very heavy or pointy for lance-like charges, or both, and so on.

    Big, big can of worms, really. At one point all the armies in Europe were really undecided on the merits of straight vs curved, slash vs thrust and so on. There doesn't seem to be a clear cut answer.

    There may be some advantages to curved swords when fighting on horseback, particularly in terms effective range in close melees, but most cavalry swords were straight for several hundred years before the saber gained popularity. So, it seems either way is doable.

    More often than not, your ideal sword size is measured by your own body size anyway. So, as long a your weapon, body and fighting style all suit each other it probably doesn't matter how large you are.

    In other words, there's probably no such thing as an ideal sword type for a certain size of body. You would simply use whatever is the most suitable weapon for your time and region.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  9. Meyer

    Meyer Minstrel

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    So using a 5' to 6' claymore/two handed sword would be believable? Or would a hand a half bastard sword be preferable?
     
  10. That depends entirely on the context, what your character is trained to use, etc. No one sword is really "better" than any another, though you can have preferences or trends.
     
  11. Meyer

    Meyer Minstrel

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    This particular character is a monster/witch hunter. He makes use of various firearms, throwing axes, and a shortsword. I'm just debating as to what his "heavy" melee weapon should be: a greatsword, warhammer, or battleaxe.

    I suppose as long it is well written and I don't do anything silly like a greatsword slashing through plate it will be okay.
     
  12. I'm getting a bit of Renaissance feel here, and if he mostly hunts witches and monsters, it doesn't seem likely that he encounters opponents in heavy armor very often. Something like a nice all-around bastard sword would probably be a good choice. Or maybe something like a kriegsmesser - that is, a large two-handed saber - if he needs to take someone's head off in a hurry.

    Warhammers are mostly anti-armor weapons, and large battle axes would be rare in an era with guns. There's polehammers and poleaxes, of course, but there's the question of how your guy carries all these weapons around. Pole weapons, and similar stuff like longaxes, pretty much has to be carried around by hand, while a sword can be carried in a sheath.
     
  13. LadyofKaos

    LadyofKaos Scribe

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    I want to use swords & daggers for promotional purposes with my book. Do you favor any one website that sells these items over another in regards to quality? I can't afford to go high dollar but at the same time do not want cheap imitations.
     
  14. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris Scribe

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    Anders, Totally awesome thread! I've only read a few pages in and have learned a lot already. So have you written a book about swords? If not, it seems like you should.

    So, here's my question: I need a sword for my next novel that hails from the Middle East around the years 30 to 40 AD (or CE, if you prefer). I understand it needs to be a Roman-type sword, but beyond that I'm fuzzy on the details. Can you suggest what the design and style of the sword should be?

    Also, my sword will have been passed down through the centuries and I'm thinking about giving it an "upgraded" blade sometime in the 1600's in the Central American region (around Henry Morgan's time). I understand it was common for the wealthy to "upgrade" their swords at that time and gemstones and gold were plentiful in Central America then (before they were carried off to Europe or by pirates). Any suggestions on what an "upgraded" blade might be made of, or look like?

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and sword-wisdom here. :)
     
  15. Meyer

    Meyer Minstrel

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    Thanks for your advice Anders.
     
  16. What exactly is your budget?

    Tricky question, and I'm not sure I can give a good answer. It's not a region and time period I'm familiar with. If it's actually a Roman sword, I understand it would probably look much the same as other swords within the empire. If it was actually made in the middle east (where in the middle east, exactly?) it may have Persian or Parthian influence, or resemble an acinaces.

    That only thing I can say for sure is that it would be double edged and probably relatively short. Wish I could go into more detail than this but my sources seem to have failed me.

    A sword from the first century AD surviving until the 1600s is very unlikely. Most people at that time probably didn't know what a roman sword looked like, and carrying one into battle would be kinda like a modern soldier carrying an arquebus.

    If it did survive, it would have at least received a rehilting at some point or a few to reflect the changing fashions. More likely it might also have been reshaped or cut down to a dagger, etc. People back then weren't anywhere near as reverent of old swords as we like to imagine - most would have prefered something more cutting edge, pun intended.

    As for "upgrading" your weapon with gold and jewels, that would mainly be something you'd see from wealthy nobles and the like. Such weapons probably wouldn't have been intended for combat but used as fashion accessories and as a way to brag about his crazy rich you were. Your average pirate would have been more likely to pry the jewels off a fancy dagger or sword and sell them for rum money.

    Gilded, jewel studded swords were basically not much different from gilded, jewel studded guns of today - surely such things existed, but it wasn't something you would see on an actual battlefield.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  17. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris Scribe

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    Anders,
    Thanks for the awesome reply. Clever pun - heh heh. In the good-old-days swords were brut, bloody slashers and stabbers, not magical icons, eh? Watching one of the more realistic sword-fighting movies is depressingly sobering. So much for the mystique of swords.

    Wow, those gilded, bejeweled guns at the link you provided are really something. Showpieces for sure. The sword showing up in my novel will hail from Jerusalem, so standard Roman issue. It's to be an icon that's been hidden away, not used for fighting, but also not gilded or jewel-encrusted--actually pretty plain looking. There will be pirates: Henry Morgan and his men. From what I've read his men certainly would pry out the jewels, especially near the end of their "careers." What I'm thinking of doing is giving the sword an upgraded blade shortly after Morgan's time. I'm not sure where I read about the upgrading of blades and hilts; might have been in Esquemeling's (sp?) journal, which was an eye-witness account to Morgan and his antics. Where I read about the wealthy of that time and place "fancy-ing up" their swords was probably some more writings from the era.

    Thanks again for your comments.
     
  18. Valentinator

    Valentinator Minstrel

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    If the steel is 4 times lighter (all other physical characteristics being equal) does it make sense to make swords 4 times bigger?Does it make sense to use light steel instead of normal steel? Which changes in weaponry we could expect with introducing light steel in medieval European culture?
     
  19. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    I'll let other people work out the balance (pun, of course) of what quarterweight steel might mean to weapons.

    But I think the biggest game-changer might be in using it for shields-- most shields were primarily wood, not only for economy but because an all-metal shield could be exhausting to fight with. But that meant the shield got chopped up in each battle and risked breaking when you needed it. Now if the shield was steel-strong but only a quarter as heavy...

    And the non-military uses for that kind of miracle metal could be much further-reaching. I assume it isn't actually stronger or cheaper to work than steel (the two big factors), but just having it lighter might make opportunities that dragged society toward an industrial revolution.
     
  20. Sia

    Sia Sage

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    How would most of the population in my world being left-handed affect the way swords are made (I think 'forged' is the proper term) ?
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2013
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