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Naming Your Weapons

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Greybeard, May 25, 2011.

  1. Greybeard

    Greybeard Minstrel

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    Do you prefer to name important weapons, such as special swords and daggers? How do you approach choosing names for them?
     
  2. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

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    Well, if it's some sort of magical weapon and/or has a long background story a name might be suitable. I don't know how others feel about this, but for me, there's a rather great danger to slid away into the ridiculous if this is overdone. Very special weapons yes, but the hero's relatively ordinary, well-made sword? No.
    I haven't had anything like this in any of my own stories yet, but if I did, I'd either try to link the name to something to do with the weapon's backstory something like "Elric's Bane" (only a quick example ;)) or I'd look for a term in the language of the people who've created the weapon.
     
  3. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Very few of my stories have much fighting in them, and the ones that do tend to be magical fights anyway, but I've read stories with named weapons, and my opinion is about that of Amanita's. A unique sword (one made by a legendary blacksmith, one that is cursed, one that once belonged to a great fighter) could logically deserve a unique name. Your hero choosing to name his sword out of... ego, perhaps? Or that same sense that makes men name their cars? That just comes off as silly, or else kind of egotistical.
     
  4. The Realm Wanderer

    The Realm Wanderer Troubadour

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    I actually love named weapons. No idea why, I just do. That being said, not every weapon deserves a name, just ones important to the character's background, his emotions or a plot point. But yeah they're awesome, like Thor's Mjolnir :D
    I'm naming my main character's weapon, which is also a hammer very much like Mjolnir (can't help it, I just think the beast is awesome). My character's weapon deserves a name because the person in question forges it himself from a metal not of his realm.
     
  5. Derin

    Derin Troubadour

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    I don't think I've ever named a weapon, unless the character develops a pet name for it. Unless it's a unique magical item of huge significance, I see no point. Even if it belonged to a legendary fighter or something, it seems more logical to call it "Galaneth's sword" than "Lightning". How many real-life weapons do you know that actually have names? (Battle vehicles, maybe.)
     
  6. The Realm Wanderer

    The Realm Wanderer Troubadour

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    It would be useful during a fight scene, if you were to go into detail. Like, rather than saying "Their swords clashed in a flurry or sparks", you could say "He brought 'Lightning' down and a flurry of sparks erupted from it as it met with the enemy's blade".
    To quote a line from the new Game of Thrones series "All the best swords have names you know."
     
  7. Poppa Weelee

    Poppa Weelee Dreamer

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    Three words: Bianca the Crossbow. If you can't name your weapon who has killed millions (by Varric's estimate anyway) of baddies, you don't deserve a name yourself!
     
  8. Derin

    Derin Troubadour

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    I don't know, it's too easy to fall into the "check out how awesome this scene is because of my AWESOME LANGUAGE!" trap if you name everything. I prefer your nameless example above, because with a little editing it'd look interesting and fit nicely into a paragraph. A page of sentences like your second example would probably make me put the book down. But maybe that's just me. I don't see the point unless the weapon is truly remarkable, as in demon-possessed or a legendary prophesied artefact. Or if the character just likes to name their weapons in an "I call her Vera" sort of way.
     
  9. Donny Bruso

    Donny Bruso Sage

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    Personally, I tend to agree with Derin. Unless the weapon is a direct gift from the gods, forged out of something incredible, or has lineage and history dripping off the pommel, it doesn't need a name. However, Derin does raise an interesting point with his Firefly reference. Just because you as an author believe this, does not mean your characters do. Jayne Cobb is a fantastic example of your stereotypical male adventure companion. If you can't eat it, fight it, spend it, use it as a weapon, or couple with it, he doesn't care. Only exception being his god-awful hat. But such a man would totally name his weapons, regardless of their worthiness to carry a name.
     
  10. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    It's wonderful fantasy theme, and as said above I think it should be reserved for only the finest of weapons - either magical or at least masterful works in their own right.

    Naming a weapon elevates it nearly to the position of being a real character in the book. Your description of the weapon, and its impact on the story, should respect that.
     
  11. balthore

    balthore Scribe

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    Long ago I wrote a story that revolved around seven weapons that were forged in the "who knows how long distant past". Encased within each was the "warrior soul" of a God. The God who's soul was put into each weapon got to name the weapon. An apt time to have a named weapon.

    The Dwarven God had his soul put into a giant Warhammer he used to carry. He named it Thud because...and I quote... "...cause dats da sound it made when it hit someone..."

    Have to love the simple logic of a Dwarf with a hammer.
     
  12. Derin

    Derin Troubadour

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    Now they're weapons with justifiable names. (Your dwarf god sounds adotable.)
     
  13. Kriegskanzler

    Kriegskanzler Acolyte

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    I usually name my weapons after a certain value, like "Valor." I did a short story once when the protagonist had dual swords. The two swords were "Faithful and True."

    Turning these words into another language seems cool, too. I once named a mobile suit (yes, those big robot things) RDBK-01 Hornisse. The story was an end-times story and Germany was producing these robots. "Hornisse" means Hornet.
     
  14. Hans

    Hans Sage

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    If your world is any similar to medieval Europe most swords are mass produced. They are not primary weapons but side weapons. Used when everything else fails. No need to name these types of weapons.
    On the other hand many nobles had individually produced duel swords. I can easily see a duel master naming his weapon. Be it sword or gun or anything else.

    The situation was slightly different in Asia. They had less good quality iron which first lead to less iron armor. And in consequence of this a different sword style. Also less mass produced iron or steel weapons and relatively more individually produced swords. Which meant the average Asian sword was better than the average European sword. Which could possibly mean more named swords in relation to the sword total.
    But that quality difference fades away when you only look at high class swords. On the contrary, one should think European sword smiths had more experience in sword making. Just European swords where not that highly optimized for cutting. Ever tried to cut through chainmail?

    So a named individual sword? Yes.
    A named soldiers sword? The soldier might do it. But officially no.
     
  15. Derin

    Derin Troubadour

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    Negotiation and compromise would be awesome swords. "Let us resolve this with negotiation and compromise!"
     
  16. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

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    I think if I give a weapon a name, it will have a personality and a life and voice of its own, seems only fair.
     
  17. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

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    The following doesn't only apply to you but also to others who've posted similar things. Why would you want to give a weapon a personality? It's a tool for killing and nothing more. (If it doesn't have some interesting and important backstory.)
    I don't know but in my (not really fully fleshed out) battle scenes, the characters don't care about their guns' "personalities" or anything of the sort but only about them working properly. And if they do, every type they're trained to use and is effective in the situation, is fine to them.
     
  18. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

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    Kinda my point. :) A bit over the top, and maybe a bit too sarcastic as I have a habit of. I have atypical weapons invented for my world that have names like a sword or scimitar but none called Glamdring or Hellblade. Nouns instead of names I guess.
     
  19. Poppa Weelee

    Poppa Weelee Dreamer

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    Or Jessie, Zaeed's former assault rifle in Mass Effect. Also, weapons having personalities are all well and good until they get to be like Robot Santa Claus from Futurama and judge everybody naughty so the hack, slash, shoot, perforate, immolate, or other wise ruin the day/month/year/eternity of their wielders.

    And that's 2 sci-fi references in a fantasy forum. Cuz that's how I roll.
     
  20. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    Personality for a weapon can be both real or imagined. There have been fantasy weapons which were thinking entities in themselves, and thus have a personality. Or they can be simple inert objects that take on some effects of personality to their wielders (think Perrin's axe in Wheel of Time).

    Either way, it can serve the story well. As for a weapon being 'a tool for killing' - sure. And a ship is just a thing that floats on water - we still name them. The bare function of a thing is rarely spectacular - but its history, its effect on the psyche of characters, and its symbolism often are.
     
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