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Questions about fantasy weapons and weapon design

Nighty_Knight

Troubadour
@Nightly_Knight

“Yes, less durable. Because it will hold its shape much better, but when it does reach a point it has to move it will crack, break, or even shatter. That’s a big reason sword steel is hardened between HRc45 and HRc65. Too much higher than HRc65 or so and it will be too brittle. Less than HRc40 and it’s just iron. Some swords like katanas often have two different steel hardness, the sharp blade will be about 60 or so and the spine of the blade will be more like 45 or 50. That way the blade sharpness will retain better but the overall blade will still have some flex to it.”

“Also, lot depends on the steel being used to begin with. I don’t know enough about the metallurgy but as I understand spring (like 9260) and tool steel (such as T10) are used in some of the highest quality swords these days.”

I’m gonna be honest chief. I don’t know nearly enough about sword making and metallurgy to understand what terms like HRc45 mean, but from what I gathered from your answer, swords need to flex a little bit in order to avoid breaking from being swung around to aggressively. Am I correct in saying this?
Pretty much.
 

pmmg

Vala
Well, I am not going to counter on much of this anymore, other than on weight. I see no real difference between an army with steel shafted spears vs one with wooden ones. I am sure both can get their spear-work done with the weapons on hand. I think the value of material would only start to show after prolonged use. If one was an adventurer type and had a spear, they could not expect it would take no impacting blows to the pole over much use. It would have to be considered. I think it would be best if it had some flex, but...not enough to not think it effective.

The weight of weapons however will matter.

If all things else are equal, one with a titanium long sword vs one with a steel one will suffer from the weight difference. One common use of swords is to knock an opponents sword away to create opening to strike. A lighter weapon will have a much harder time of this. If I swing down on your head, and you pull your sword up to parry, and your sword is the titanium one, the first thing that will hit your head will not be my sword, but your own (not that I would ever do that of course ;)). If the reverse is true, the heavier sword will still more likely not be forced down. The light weapon will simply hit with less force than a heavier one. Being able swing it faster will not act as as great a multiplier as weight. But it is true being lighter, it may be quicker and less wearing. So maybe you could get in an attack quicker, depending on a thousand other factors that equate to just how it goes.

If I was trying to break armor, and heavier weapon would be better.

If titanium was used to make armor...that might be an ideal use for it.

Titanium may be a difficult material to work with, but there are already titanium swords and knives so its not impossible.


I had an additional thought on air in weapon craft. With the ability to control, I could create a type of blast furnace effect, and if I could shape the air, I might even be able to cause the air the cycle back on itself, creating a strong blowing bubble of heat over the furnace, and not escaping out of it. Thus the metal gets super hot, but the worker does not. Meaning, they can probably work longer without wearing down.


Also, I dont think carbon fiber is made by just heat. I mean...they are fibers. They are probably spun.
 
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Electro Queen

Minstrel
Nighty_Knight

So let me get this straight. If someone swung Peter Francisco’s Claymore into a Plywood table, that would take less damage than Cloud’s Buster Sword if you did the same thing with it?
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
pmmg

“Titanium may be a difficult material to work with, but there are already titanium swords and knives so its not impossible.”

Yeah that’s the thing about Titanium. There’s a lot of information about it online, but so much of it seems to contradict itself. I’ve heard a lot of people say that Titanium is extremely brittle in comparison to steel, but both Wikipedia and a few guys on Quora say otherwise. YouTube videos focusing on Titanium swords don’t help either in regards to collecting information. like, Titanium is both difficult to sharpen and even more difficult to stay sharp right? Well how do you explain videos like this where it pierces trees and cars without breaking?



Tbh though, I’ve kinda given up on the idea of making weapons out of Titanium. It just seems like too much effort to go through, even with access to magic that would make building with it easier. My characters have access to Carbon Steel anyway, and THAT right there is a banging material to make any weapon out of. Outside of my potential giant swords, the only weapon I feel like Titanium may be even somewhat good for is a mace but considering Man at Arms was able to make a functional Sauron mace out of Carbon Steel, I’m doubtful about even that. I guess I’ll just have to wait to talk to someone more experienced in metals and their properties before I can be truly sure.

“I had an additional thought on air in weapon craft. With the ability to control, I could create a type of blast furnace effect, and if I could shape the air, I might even be able to cause the air the cycle back on itself, creating a strong blowing bubble of heat over the furnace, and not escaping out of it. Thus the metal gets super hot, but the worker does not. Meaning, they can probably work longer without wearing down.”

Another great suggestion. Thx 🙏


“Also, I dont think carbon fiber is made by just heat. I mean...they are fibers. They are probably spun.”

You are correct. I was just thinking about how a carbon fibre spear shaft could be repaired with fire magic if a part of it broke off.
 

pmmg

Vala
Well...its hard to research anything anymore. You cant even get people to agree the sky is blue.

If I find one source, who's to say they got it right?


Near as I can tell, titanium is not really stronger than steel, and is harder to maintain (I.E. re-sharpen if it got blunted). But harder in that it does not flex, and it is lighter.

Steel is kind of in the sweet spot between hardness and flexibility. I think Titanium would be good for a breast plate.

I dont see any vids doing a straight comparison of steel vs titanium sword. Think there would be some. The titanium sword in the vid did flex pretty good and come back. But I bet it still breaks before a steel one would. Since its home-made, I could not know more about its quality.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
pmmg

“Well...its hard to research anything anymore. You cant even get people to agree the sky is blue.”

I know right? I typed in ‘Is titanium as strong as steel?’ On Google and the first thing I saw was a wall of text saying that titanium is equal to steel in strength but lighter than it in weight. But then when I typed in ‘Is titanium weaker than steel?’, it told me the exact opposite of what I previously read. The internet has officially gone from a reliable vault of information to a labyrinth of confusion that SOMETIMES leads you to the truth.

“Near as I can tell, titanium is not really stronger than steel, and is harder to maintain (I.E. re-sharpen if it got blunted). But harder in that it does not flex, and it is lighter.”

I still find it really confusing that steel is more durable than titanium due to it being bendier. Like seriously, how does that even work?

“Steel is kind of in the sweet spot between hardness and flexibility. I think Titanium would be good for a breast plate.”

Why a breast plate specifically? Just curious.

“I dont see any vids doing a straight comparison of steel vs titanium sword. Think there would be some. The titanium sword in the vid did flex pretty good and come back. But I bet it still breaks before a steel one would. Since its home-made, I could not know more about its quality.”

I think Skallgarim (a similar YouTuber to Shadiversity) made a video about the advantages and disadvantages titanium has compared to steel in regards to weapon and armour design. It’s an hour long though, and there aren’t any timestamps so I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.
 
Barring magic materials, just stick with steel. The best weapons in my world aren't steel, but, there are specific reasons. One step above steel is, basically, an elementally infused iron/steel. Beyond that is only one thing, latchu, but it is elementally hardened volcanic glass created under specific geologic conditions. It becomes unbreakable and has the peculiar quality, when forged, of creating a point or edge that will begin to penetrate metals before coming into contact with the metal... for instance, scoring the rust off a wagon wheel by passing within an inch or so. Devastating weapons, but exampels of these weapons date to the Age of God Wars and are extremely rare.

Steel is tried and true. Puncturing a car (at least parts of it) with titanium is simple enough. Chopping a tree with a titanium sword? So what. Kind of makes me question the edge geometry here, heh heh. Fun play time, but mostly meaningless.
 
Regarding air, you can use it to power all kinds of machines. Just think steam engine, but then replace the steam with air flowing. Also things like pistons and pumps, they can all be powered by air. And you can use air to cut as well. Just focus enough of it in a single spot and you can cut. Or sandblast something.

As for swords, I think you're looking for the wrong properties in swords. Being strong or light isn't the main thing for a swords. It's actually the combination of weight (not too heavy and not too light), flexibility, ability to retain an edge and so on that makes a good sword. It's a compromise. And that is what steel offers, and why it's such an amazing material for a sword.

Depending on the type of sword, swords need to be a fair bit. Rapiers are the more bendy type of sword, but just for illustrative purposes:
05-lunge-with-penetration.jpg

(from Max Your Lunge - Guy Windsor, that's an actual training rapier, and you can probably get it to bend more). You need the flexibility to make sure it doesn't break under stress, either when you hit something or when something hits it.

The thing with heat treating is not so much to do with temperatures and the like (though it's done through temperature), what you actually do is change the crystal structure of the metal to give it a different property. I'm not an expert on titanium, but if titanium simply doesn't have those kinds of properties, then you can't heat treat it.

I saw a mention somewhere in the topic of bludgeoning weapons being heavy. That isn't really the case though (except for the silly Sauron flail thing). They are top-heavy, which means that almost all of the mass is concentrated in the head of the weapon. This gives it a lot of power on the strike, but comes with the downside that it's more difficult to manoeuvre. But they're not really heavier than a sword (which again aren't actually all that heavy).
 
The titanium sword certainly flexes when hitting the car door, but for a blade that broad and thick I question other characteristics of the titanium used when compared to steel.
 

Nighty_Knight

Troubadour
Nighty_Knight

So let me get this straight. If someone swung Peter Francisco’s Claymore into a Plywood table, that would take less damage than Cloud’s Buster Sword if you did the same thing with it?
If you can even count Clouds buster sword as an actual sword. That thing is more like a cleaver for cutting heavy objects. Clouds sword is big and dense enough I think it would take more than a plywood table to harm it. That and do we ever really know the quality of Clouds sword. Could be surprisingly flexible for its size. Just because it is big, doesn't mean the steel is extremely hard.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
Prince of Spires

“The thing with heat treating is not so much to do with temperatures and the like (though it's done through temperature), what you actually do is change the crystal structure of the metal to give it a different property. I'm not an expert on titanium, but if titanium simply doesn't have those kinds of properties, then you can't heat treat it.”

I have a sinking feeling I already know the answer to this, but I don’t suppose there’s any way, even hypothetical, to give titanium the properties it needs to make practical, war-ready weapons out of?

“I saw a mention somewhere in the topic of bludgeoning weapons being heavy. That isn't really the case though (except for the silly Sauron flail thing). They are top-heavy, which means that almost all of the mass is concentrated in the head of the weapon. This gives it a lot of power on the strike, but comes with the downside that it's more difficult to manoeuvre. But they're not really heavier than a sword (which again aren't actually all that heavy).”

I remember reading somewhere online that maces could weigh anywhere from 5 LBS to 15 LBS but I don’t know how true that actually is. Also the point about bringing up Sauron’s mace was that, because it’s possible to create a cool-looking, practical fantasy weapon out of ordinary steel, I may not have any need whatsoever for titanium weapons in my world.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
Nighty_Knight

“If you can even count Clouds buster sword as an actual sword. That thing is more like a cleaver for cutting heavy objects. Clouds sword is big and dense enough I think it would take more than a plywood table to harm it. That and do we ever really know the quality of Clouds sword. Could be surprisingly flexible for its size. Just because it is big, doesn't mean the steel is extremely hard.”

Tbh, that remark was more of a joke than anything else. I actually don’t know what kind of sword Cloud’s weapon constitutes as. I wanna say it’s a fantastical executioner’s sword (which were also far too heavy to use in an actual fight), but it honestly looks more like a giant butcher’s knife to me.
 
I have a sinking feeling I already know the answer to this, but I don’t suppose there’s any way, even hypothetical, to give titanium the properties it needs to make practical, war-ready weapons out of?
I'm afraid we've reached the end of my metalurgy knowledge. I don't know.

However, I think you might be asking the wrong question. No one had an issue with Captain America using a Vibranium shield which is pretty much magical and unbreakable, or Wolverine having Adamantium claws which come out of his hands. I don't think people will give you crap if you go with "magic made it possible to have titanium swords with property X". That's a good enough explanation. If you don't want to go down that route, invent your own adamantium and go with that.

Another example. In The Way of Kings, by Sanderson, they have these huge magical swords, which appear if the owner holds out his hands for 10 heartbeats. Yes, they find out towards the end of the book what exactly they are. But for the first 2/3 of the book (which is something like 250k words, or about 3 regular novels), the characters, and the readers have no clue. They just are the way they are. And that's fine for readers.

So create your titanium swords, make them something you can only create using fire magic, and run with it.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
It’s been awhile since I’ve added anything to this thread but a thought has just occurred to me.

If Titanium is worse than steel at forming and maintaining an edge, how about making a titanium sword blade/spearhead/mace head out of titanium, and then melding a sharpened steel edge onto them? Would that work?
 

pmmg

Vala
Titanium and steel can be bonded together. With enough work, I am not sure why one could not cause a work to be titanium in one area, blend, and then become steel in another. I dont think its as simple as just melting them together though.

Just gonna say, I dont think your readers will question very much the materials. Titanium swords are a thing.

Also, just because titanium is more difficult to sharpen, does not mean it cannot be sharpened.
 
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