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Naming Your Weapons

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

  1. Hans

    Hans Sage

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    On a lower level one could argue different weapons have different properties. A different size, different weighting and so on. That's especially true for weapons that are individually crafted for one customer.
    The average swordsman wouldn't notice this. For him a sword isn't the primary weapon anyways, as I wrote above. But a master fighter will. He fights better with his own weapon that the smith matched especially for him, than with any other sword. Maybe that's what the duelists talk about when they talk about the personality or character of a sword.

    And then, depending on the world, it could be that things that are used with dedication over a period of time awaken in some sort. I think the Japanese have a believe system where old items get some awareness over time. There it needs centuries, but you could shorten that in your world.
     
  2. balthore

    balthore Scribe

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    Another situation I thought of when naming a weapon would be needed is in the case of an animated weapon. If you have a weapon with a true personality, you can't just call it "hey you"...might hurt it's feelings.

    Waaaaay back we had a Warhammer RP session, and the GM had a animated Battleaxe running around named Glave. Was a lot of fun to have a giant floating axe following you around to fight with you, except in a forest. In a forest the dice favored the axe attacking trees instead of enemies. Good for firewood, bad for protection.
     
  3. Imperialis

    Imperialis Acolyte

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    The use of naming weapons as a plot device has always been a point of some contention with me and my friends. You can go back to El Cid and Tizona or Musashi's Okinaro "Big Oar" (look up Musashi vs. Kojiro), but this desire to add artificial meaning to a weapon by naming it is a cheat out. Look at Drizzt and Icingdeath, besides showcasing R.A. Salvatore's inability to name things well (Leonard of Quirm is to engineering what Salvatore is to writing, brilliant but terrible with names), or the abominably named Twinkle. They just show up, and Drizzt calls them that in a bout half chapter and ever onward. You don't just get a sword and then name it a week later, but at least he names Icingdeath after the dragon he took it from, that's okay, if a little lame. But it's the implied "history" ones I can't stand. Another Salvatore piece, Taulmaril the Heartseeker, is never even given any backstory, just a bow some hero had. This goes back nearly to Tolkien, but at least he went back with the Silmarilian and gave some serious backstory to Glamdring and Orcrist. If a weapon has a name, it had better be able to talk, have a backstory that the reader can learn about, or get named over the course of years in the story, not before it, not in between stories. As for everyday weapons, I think the general consensus is that you wouldn't name a weapon you just got, or is meaningless, or is a basic iron sword made by the same blacksmith as everyone elses'.
     
  4. M.A.N.

    M.A.N. Scribe

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    I'm working on a story where my protagonist uses a cane or walking stick. He has to because of a bad knee.
    The cane is of course a terrific weapon and maybe I'll call it ... I dunno ... "Bob"? Or "Butler"? Yeah, that's it.
     
  5. Poppa Weelee

    Poppa Weelee Dreamer

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    How about Smackey?
     
  6. M.A.N.

    M.A.N. Scribe

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    Smackey? I like it!
     
  7. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    I suspect it would strongly depend on the character and the world as to whether weapons are named. A family, for example, may pass down a sword from generation to generation and it may have picked up a name..or maybe not. I recall in The Broken Sword, by Poul Anderson, one of the first fantasy novels I recall reading, the antagonist named his battle axe Kin Slayer, simply because that is what he'd done with it--not necessarily on purpose with every such killing.

    I've only ever named one weapon in my writings...it's simply called the Blood Sword. It's an ancient manevolent weapon controlled and wielded by the Royal Family of Keesee. There is a history behind the weapon and an apt reason it is called the Blood Sword A(or at least I thought so). But all of the mercenaries and warriors I've written, none have never taken to naming their weapon.
     
  8. BeigePalladin

    BeigePalladin Sage

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    not exaclty a new series, but close enough since the renamings new :D

    I think named weapons depends on the context of the setting. In a song of fire and ice (the series game of thrones is from), most people name their weapons, so it's quite common and believable. in a setting where no other weapon is name, it comes of at egotistical. I generally'll accept it in those circumstances for unique weapons, or if every weapon from the same range/forging is named the same.

    It can be a powerful emphatic technique if used in the right context, with the right words and not stupid names. As mentioned above. this is mostly useful in worlds with little magic/magic is less important as 'he swung Ice at the mage, who blew him away with a fireball' sounds crap... unless I phrase it like this I suppose:

    'Heroticus, with a chilling roar, thrust Ice towards the mage. His onslaught was melted by a mere gesture from the robed woman, as a wave of fire washed over him - stilling his enthusiasm'

    also, undertones are good :D

    I also like names when they're relevant to the namers personlity and use of the item, or for the plot hook maguffin if it's important.
     
  9. The Realm Wanderer

    The Realm Wanderer Troubadour

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    I meant the tv series, not the actual book. I'm more than aware the book series is not new. :)
     
  10. arbiter117

    arbiter117 Minstrel

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    Naming a weapon should be the same as naming a character. Mentioning a bartender is different than naming the bartender Bill. If he is simply mentioned, he is part of the scenery and not important, but if he has a name he has some importance, maybe a lot of importance before the character met him (he was a great fighter back in the Great War) or maybe he will have some future importance (he gives the main character sage words that sends the character on his quest to sell the finest brandy in all the land!)

    Naming the sword draws attention to the sword and its story. Where has it been? What will it be used for next? Take Bilbo's sword Sting or Gandalf's Glamdring. Those swords have history as old as Middle Earth! Their blades turn blue when orcs are close! Both swords will be used throughout the Hobbit and LOTR story lines and are rather important in their own right.
     
  11. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    In my stories I give special and curious names to the magical weapons that my Mages throw (it's not fireballs or lightning, it's other stuff) names are always very important, and giving the perfect name to every thing in your worlds is very good to make your story better =) However, I have never given special names to the magical swords, at least, not a name for every sword!!
     
  12. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    In my fantasy novels, only one sword has a name, the Blood Sword. It's a malevolent weapon with a history. The only other weapon named is the Shard Staff.

    Some of the soldiers and mercenaries certainly name their swords, just like folks today sometimes name their cars or trucks. But the POV character doesn't use a sword very often (he's not well-trained) and carries a boar spear--which he's more proficient in using. Over the course of the two novels, he's lost/dropped, had broken in combat or otherwise had to replace his spear.
     
  13. Leif GS Notae

    Leif GS Notae Closed Account

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    It isn't an ego thing, it is blessing your weapon with power by taking a piece of you (devotion, love, bloodlust, whatever) and granting it to the blade. Some societies demand that level of connection with your weapon while others have no care for it.

    Even enemies can name their opponent's blade, right? I've read many a book and heard many a scenario when frightened soldiers speak in hushed whispers about the righteous hero and his hammer/blade/axe/whatever, giving it a name to fear.

    This is about power. The power you give to the piece is the power you take out of it. However, it isn't for everyone, right?
     
  14. I'm looking forward to writing something where I get to name swords. My current NIP's main story thread is the introduction of magic to the world, so it's not like there's a huge history of famous magical swords ;)
     
  15. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    I have to admit that I rarely give names to weapons–and when I do, it's almost always some dreadful pun or other. Of course, since most of the puns tend to involve more than one language, no one gets them. But that's okay. I do. :D
     
  16. Naming swords and other weapons is certainly a historial reality - it was very common in the iron age and there are a ton named swords in Celtic legends, Norse myth, the Song of Roland, etc. One should remember that back then, the sword held a high personal value for the owner. It was the symbol of a free man, and if a warrior found himself in posession of a nice blade, it wasn't unusual for him to give it a name. Excavated viking swords often have names engrave upon them.

    I don't really agree with the approach of only naming magical and/or extremely important swords. If people are naming swords at all, it's probably going to be a cultural thing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
  17. ScipioSmith

    ScipioSmith Sage

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    I'm doing that as well! My mentor figure has two swords named Duty and Piety, which are the two cardinal virtues he possesses and is fond of pontificating on. Also it means that when he dies and his swords pass to his adopted son he has handed on his duty (to protect the Empire) and his piety (devotion to the God-Empress) in a literal as well as metaphorical sense.

    I'm also of the opinion that named weapons make it easier to write fight scenes, since proper names feel less repetitive than descriptive names. For that reason I was going to have the hero name his swords Gabriel and Simon, but eventually decided that was a bit too cute.

    I'm trying to find a name for the Naiad girl-next-door's greatsword, something pidgin Latinish with an oceanic flavour, but I can't come up with anything that sounds good.
     
  18. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I like to name things that have distinction. I know that historically people would've named their swords - they would've named their houses, too - but I think it quickly becomes overkill for the readers.

    Mostly I don't name a lot of my weapons, but in one setting there's a tradition of naming their swords after their first kill with the blade. Still, the readers don't really get to see those names very often.
     
  19. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Ha~~~ I'm thinking of having the main character in the story I'm writing name his sword "Sword," simple, no nonsense, just his style. (and yes, he's the type of guy to name his dog "Dog")
     
  20. Corvus

    Corvus Scribe

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    In my world I have powerful (or not so much) artifacts. Various mystical objects whit magical powers more often then not made by the gods that all have names. If for no other reason so that people can refer to them. Often these names also reflect what kind of power the weapon has. For instance my MC-'s sister has a saber coaled The Soul Stealer, it's an ancient weapon that can absorb the souls of the dead to make itself stronger.
    Normal weapons only have names if they have important history.

    Normal weapons don't need names, there's no need for it.
     
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