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Fun sword info

PostAuthor: llhht » Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:32 pm

I'm not looking to change what the Avlis setting calls weapons, just putting out some interesting info for anyone looking to discuss their RL equivalents:

A quick note before you read: Gary Gygax mislabeled longswords and "bastard swords" in D&D. A longsword in D&D is actually an arming sword. A bastard sword is a long sword. The post below mentions some common misworded items and where they came from. Among these is the correct naming of a claymore. This is an example of what that word actually refers to:

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And now the post: http://hemaforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=4827

Let me know if you have any more questions! I spend way too much time researching and teaching HEMA.
Last edited by llhht on Mon Apr 04, 2016 9:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: ArtOfLight » Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:24 pm

I could be wrong...but I think I remember that shortswords typically had between a two and a half foot blade to a three foot blade (not including hilt), arming swords (which D&D calls longwords) were between three and a half to four feet and longswords (which D&D calls bastard swords) were between four feet and four and a half feet. Claymores varied in weight and size but generally were longer than five feet (blades) with the weight of the sword being heavily tilted toward the upper half of the blade.

Longswords were actually wielded two-handed, not one (usually) and arming swords were often used as back-up weapons for soldiers and Roman Centurions.

Someone else probably knows a lot more about it than me and could correct anything I've misstated here.
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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: Kandi_Nulein » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:42 pm

I've seen a few claymores, longswords ect at various Live Action RPing events.

Claymores are uber heavy!!
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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: llhht » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:14 pm

ArtOfLight wrote:I could be wrong...but I think I remember that shortswords typically had between a two and a half foot blade to a three foot blade (not including hilt), arming swords (which D&D calls longwords) were between three and a half to four feet and longswords (which D&D calls bastard swords) were between four feet and four and a half feet. Claymores varied in weight and size but generally were longer than five feet (blades) with the weight of the sword being heavily tilted toward the upper half of the blade.

Longswords were actually wielded two-handed, not one (usually) and arming swords were often used as back-up weapons for soldiers and Roman Centurions.

Someone else probably knows a lot more about it than me and could correct anything I've misstated here.


I practice and research this stuff, so good comments!

1. Shortswords are not a thing. Ever. It is just a category Gygax made up from blades of that length (typically long knives). The examples that we have of that length were so wildly different in use that it doesn't make much sense to categorize them in that way. With the advent of the internet, there has been tremendous strides in research on these subjects since the 70's, so I don't hold any fault.

2-3: Arming swords and longswords had roughly the same length blade. These were not churned out in a factory in china though, so examples are all over the place. Average weight for both is 2.5-3.5lbs. Blade length in the 35-42ish" range. Hilt is the main difference, going from around 6-8" for an arming sword, and generally around 10" for a longsword. Arming swords were quite popular throughout medieval history, though the Roman blade wouldn't be classified as such due to shorter blade length and typical lack of useful crossguard/quillons.

4a. A claymore in Scotland referred to the picture I posted above, a basket-hilted broadsword. A scottish war sword, which has been called a claymore in very recent times for some reason, was actually called a claidheamh dà làimh (Two-Handed Sword).

4b. Swords of any type were never weighted towards the blade like that. Your hilt and pommel solely exist to counterbalance the blade so you can actually swing and maneuver it. These are still comparatively heavy though, in the 5-8lb range. I don't have time to dig up a lot, but here is a general example of a sword of that size; the spanish montante: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhNnwby--yQ. Note that while they are still swingable, they are quite cumbersome weapons. The few records we have of their use were for high end bodyguards (spinning about an enormous sword in front of a rowdy crowd is quite intimidating!), and then reduced to half-swording it as a makeshift spear in a close range fight.

5. Longswords are two handed weapons. There are many times to use one one-handed, though that is typically when your off-hand is occupied:

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Again, let me know if you have any more questions! If you're interested in anything further, I study and run a school that teaches the system of Fiore de'i Liberi, focusing on grappling, dagger, longsword, and spear.
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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: llhht » Mon Apr 04, 2016 6:52 pm

Now for some general fun facts:

Standard arms for a conscript/levy was a spear. Standard arms for a man-at-arms was a spear or some sort of polearm (halberd, pole-hammer, etc.). Standard arm for a knight on foot was a polearm. Pole weapons were your rifles of the day. The tremendous leverage of that long pole gave the wielder a chance of piercing things (spear, point of polearm) or concussing the hell out of the person hit (polearm). Armor was incredibly effective at the time, but the physics of an 8 ft long lever are hard to overcome.

Modern researchers are still on the fence on the practical purpose of arrows. A standard period gambeson (padded armor) was anywhere from 15-30 layers of linen thick, according to sources. I can't find the particular video I was looking for, but a modern or historical bow shooting at both 70 & 90lb draw typically does not penetrate linen that thick. The few that went through were less than an inch in. Add proper, riveted maille (chainmail) and you drop that chance to near none. Add plates, and you see where I'm going.

Maille was amazing. It was the universal choice of armor from the Roman periods up until firearms superseded armor for a reason. I despise the videos these guys make, but this is a wonderful example of what proper maille can do as far as piercing protection: https://youtu.be/xw3lcgIAwLk?t=9m11s.

Plate is it's own category of greatness. Joint mobility was your biggest tradeoff here, especially from pauldrons. A key misconception of plate is it's weight. A quality set of armor (including plate) made for someone not especially big/small/short/tall was typically around 30lbs total. This armor was also tied and distributed over your body, and not simply hanging like a backpack. So not particularly heavy, and nowhere near as encumbering as typically shown.

Swords! No matter the sword, no matter the period, no matter the continent (I'm looking at you, katana!) a sword cannot cut through metal. Maille alone renders a sword completely worthless for cutting. This is just science. Steel cannot slice through steel. Despite this, there are times that your sidearm sword was used in an armored fight/duel. That's when half-swording came into play, turning your fancy sword into a small spear to attempt to pierce weak spots in the armor:

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Back to work, so I'll post more later!
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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: surfer69 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:42 pm

Love this thread. A couple of others in the same vein:

Greatswords

Spears

More weapon posts, please.
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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: llhht » Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:11 pm

Swords!

Contrary to movie and book belief, a standard blade for a person carrying a sword through the middle ages up through the renaissance period was the...*drumroll*

Messer!

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(with a preference for the dussack in Germany for a time)

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Both are precursors to the later sabre. Now while longswords were cool and a defining weapon of the late medieval period, they were actually only in use for a little over 100 years. Sabres alone were the primary sidearm of choice for nearly 300 years (early 17th to very early 20th century), and it isn't much of a stretch to include messers, falchions, dussacks, and so on into that lineage of weapon (a single edged, curved blade with a moderate blade length). While I previously made mention of how incredibly effective armor was, you must keep in mind that the VAST majority of armies were simply armed peasants. Swords of any type are peasant killers. With the rise of gunpowder, encumbering armor became a detriment to modern armies, so swords again became an effective skirmish weapon (until the invention of cartridges).

For fun, here is a video demonstrating one of the premier Polish Sabre fencers/researchers in the world, Richard Marsden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5w2Mh6CyXo
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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: ArtOfLight » Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:34 pm

Awesome, thanks for the information. Shows how little I actually knew, despite what I thought I knew. Good stuff!
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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: llhht » Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:39 pm

Staves!

Again, unlike our old kung-fu movies would like us to believe, staves were not fought with using an even grip in the center while twirling and whacking. The only real difference in the style of a staff, spear, and polearm is whether or not they have things attached to the end(s).

Examples of all sorts from Joachim Meyer:

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Poleaxe by Fiore (displace theirs down, thrust to face):

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Fiore poleaxe with a false wooden head filled with blinding power:

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My favorite line:
"My most noble lord, my Marquis, there are some vicious things shown in this book that you would never do. I show you them purely to aid your knowledge."

His notes on said blinding power:

"This is the powder that you use in the poleaxe drawn above. Take the sap of the spurge, and dry it in a warm oven to make a powder. Now take two ounces of this powder and one ounce of powder of fior d'preda, and mix them together. Now load this powder into the poleaxe shown above. You can do this with any good caustic powder, but you won’t find a better recipe than the one in this book."

Fiore spear (the crowned one is beating aside the other's thrust, followed by a face thrust):

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The crowned one above starts from this guard, The Iron Door/Gate:

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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: llhht » Mon Apr 04, 2016 9:00 pm

And a bit of cross weapon goodness, which isn't discussed often.

Fiore recommends either short stave/stick or a sword in one hand and dagger in the other against spear, to quickly displace a thrust and rush in to commence the stabbing:

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Re: Fun sword info

PostAuthor: llhht » Mon Apr 04, 2016 9:25 pm

General weapon info:

If you're ever wanting to do light research on a random medieval/renaissance weapon's usage, Mair has an incredibly dense compilation treatise of basically every oddity that is known to exist.

If it isn't on his weapon list (and his teachings are known for quantity rather than quality), then likely there is no actual sourced method of using that weapon. Anyone or anywhere that shows how to use unsourced weapons is simply making things up, either entirely or (hopefully) interpolating based on other similar sourced weapons.

http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Paulus_Hector_Mair

Oddities include sickle, scythe, flail, peasant staff (a tree branch), and the intriguing long (dueling) shield.
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