Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Research for a novel- versatile swords Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next 
Author Message
R Ashby





Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Fri 12 Feb, 2010 11:01 pm    Post subject: Research for a novel- versatile swords         Reply with quote

Hello all! I've recently finished a fantasy novel and I'm going back and tweaking a few details before I send it off. One thing I was hoping to add in was a bit more accuracy in the weapons I have put in, particularly swords.

The main character is an assassin, a girl who is trained first in rapier-type fencing, but then gets kidnapped and trained as an assassin. As an assassin, she uses a katana, as it is good for close-in sort of work, but also more powerful than "ninja" swords (boring to write about).

While the katana is fine for the bulk of the story, she eventually needs to get a more versatile weapon. So here's my question.....

Assuming that you had access to all swords, regardless of era and origin, and also that you could face opponents wearing hardened leather, mail or quilted armour with plates, what weapon would you choose for maximum versatility? A sort of "jack of all trades" blade.... I particularly wanted something that was good for cutting and thrusting, and something with a bit of reach.

A one-handed sword combined with a dagger would work as well.

I had thought of hand-and-a-half swords as being appropriate- good for thrusting through mail and leather armour, but also good for slashing. But then one-handed knight's sword with a dagger could be a good combination.

Anyhow, if given a choice of all swords, what do you think would be most versatile?

Thanks!
View user's profile Send private message
Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 12:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I'm no expert, but I'll throw my 2 cents in.

Longswords (two-handed western swords, in case you weren't sure, such as here: http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...hotos.htm) are known for their versatility, but that is on the battlefield. Waving around a four foot long piece of metal might be difficult indoors and if you're going for a ninja-like feel in your story and have her running around inside that is a big problem. This problem wouldn't be that much less using a hand-and-a-half as you suggest.

Were I to be doing ninja stuff and expected to find myself in swordfights (frankly I'd rather avoid a actual fight, see below), I might consider a short messer, which is a German sword shaped somewhat like a knife. See here: http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...photos.htm

That one looks a bit bigger than what I'd want, with a shorter hilt, but you get the idea. It is a short sword, relatively speaking, largely meant for a chopping attack lower down on the blade, yet capable of slicing action near the tip and thrusting with the end. See here for a video of how it was generally used: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38sVdx7nzhQ

As you can see, many of the techniques were intended for the up close and personal fight. One might say they're used somewhat like a katana (especially if you grab it with two hands), but if you're like me, you'd rather your character be a little unique, which the messer is perfect for. How many characters in popular media have you seen with katanas? How about messers?

In conclusion, were I aiming to be an assassin, I would think having to use a sword means I screwed up. If I can't shoot my target with a crossbow or something at range, poison them, or sneak up and stab them by surprise with a dagger, then it probably isn't a one-man job. I'm not crazy enough to try fighting my way through multiple bodyguards, so if I am in a swordfight it probably means I flubbed my escape after the kill. Therefore, having a big fancy sword that weighs me down and bangs into things when I'm sneaking around doesn't make much sense. I'd rather keep it big enough to get me out of trouble if needed, but small enough to stay out of my way otherwise.

Hope that was helpful. Looking back over this post I see I'm making quite a few assumptions about what your character does when doing her job. Maybe if you gave a little more detail I would make more sense.
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 1:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Historically, assassins did not use swords: and with good reason.
.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
R Ashby





Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 3:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ha! Some author I am- I didn't explain myself very well. She starts off as an assassin but them becomes more of a mercenary/adventurer type.

As an assassin, she uses a range of weapons- a bow, daggers, sai, etc, but carries a katana on missions where combat is a likely, and only uses it when she must. The assassin part of the story is relatively minor though, and when she leaves the circumstances that have her working as an assassin she breaks her sword as it was given to her by a bad guy.

I'll have a look at a messer. Thanks!
View user's profile Send private message
Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 3:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That makes more sense. Carrying around a sword when you're out to assassinate someone is sort of like packing an RPG along with your sniper rifle. If all goes well, you shot the target in the head from a half mile away and took off before anyone even figured out what direction the shot came from.

As an aside, trying to look for "assassin"+"sword" on Google is a waste of time. Assassin's Creed this and Assassin's Creed that. On the plus side I wound up watching Assassin's Creed: Lineage on YouTube. I don't think it's too bad a "movie", but I also kind of liked the movie 300, so my taste is in question. Wink

Given your story line, I'm going to say messer is still a good choice, since it is a single-edged curved sword much like the katana (some messers look almost like katana blades on western style hilts) and someone used to the katana might be more interested in it as opposed to a straight-bladed longsword or such.
View user's profile Send private message
Joel Chesser




Location: Oklahoma
Joined: 23 Oct 2003

Posts: 714

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 4:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I were in your character's shoes I'd go back to the rapier or find another katana. I would want to go "Adventuring" into dangerous situations (I assume, otherwise she wouldn't need a sword) with a weapon type I was not familiar with when i was versed in two fighting styles already. I assume that you are thinking of the rapier as a thrusting weapon. It is, but it does not loose it's ability to cut. Some rapiers have broader blades and would be well suited to that, thus making them a versatile cut and thrust weapon. Just my two cents. Good luck!
..." The person who dosen't have a sword should sell his coat and buy one."

- Luke 22:36
View user's profile Send private message
R Ashby





Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 5:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joel Chesser wrote:
If I were in your character's shoes I'd go back to the rapier or find another katana. I would want to go "Adventuring" into dangerous situations (I assume, otherwise she wouldn't need a sword) with a weapon type I was not familiar with when i was versed in two fighting styles already. I assume that you are thinking of the rapier as a thrusting weapon. It is, but it does not loose it's ability to cut. Some rapiers have broader blades and would be well suited to that, thus making them a versatile cut and thrust weapon. Just my two cents. Good luck!


Maybe an espada ropera? Didn't they have broader blades?

Interesting- food for more thought. A messer is pretty good- a cleaver-like sword- would do some pretty graphic damage, but then a rapier is light, elegant, more artistic. Hmmm......
View user's profile Send private message
Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,229

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If enemies will have armor, stick with either a longsword or a falchion or messer with a pronounced needle like tip.
View user's profile Send private message
R Ashby





Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
If enemies will have armor, stick with either a longsword or a falchion or messer with a pronounced needle like tip.


Yes, mail and oiled leather so far, and some quilted-type armour with plates sewn in.
View user's profile Send private message
Chad Arnow
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Likes: 21 pages
Reading list: 231 books

Spotlight topics: 15
Posts: 9,135

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is your story taking place in some part of earth's history (if so, which period and what place?)? Or is it a complete fantasy world? If it's a complete fantasy world, what's the level of technological advancement in terms of crafts, building materials, etc.?

I ask because weapon-making technology goes along with many other technologies. For example, if your world has the technology/metalworking skill to make a fancy mechanism like an elaborate lock on a chest, they have technology to make a more complex sword.

If they're lucky to be doing basic wood-work and masonry because technology is lacking and the world is primitive, then they likely don't have the skill/ability to make complex metal shapes like a rapier guard. Unless magic is involved. Happy Is magic involved?

Just trying to gauge where you are so we can help you find a weapon that fits your time period.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Zac Evans




Location: London
Joined: 26 Dec 2006

Posts: 151

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It would seem you want her to move on as a character but you don't really want to go too far with that. I would either give her a sabre, so its halfway between a katana and a rapier, or give her a rapier and parry dagger, so its like she's going back to her roots, but moving on at the same time.

The final possibility is to move the other way and give her two Wakisashi (sp?) or one and a Tanto. This would represent that she has accepted her new training as an assasin, choosing smaller more intimate weaepons which can be easily concealed.

Hope this helps.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,072

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A small hand-and-a-half sword like the albion constable / mercenary

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...ry-xva.htm

This gives you the versatility and usefulness in defense as well as attack, of a longsword, great deal of strength, but is smaller and much handier, and very very lethal in the thrust. Could also be used with a buckler in a pinch which is even more defensive. (if she is usually fighting unarmored a buckler is a good idea)

That said for an assassin, maybe something like a stiletto makes more sense.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,072

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, as a model for your character, you should really read up on La Maupin, one of the best fencers in the history of France, a notorious lecherous drunken brawler... and a girl. She was also a talented opera singer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_d%27Aubigny

http://www.eldacur.com/~brons/Maupin/LaMaupin.html

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 4
Posts: 3,932

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I get the impression that your character is living in an alternative history where a particular sword type doesn't have to have ties to a particular time and place.

If you want a sword that can cut and thrust, explore the type generally known as a sidesword. - http://www.myArmoury.com/review_cf_at_ss.html -

Another sword you might like is the 17th century Walloon with a 36 inch blade. - http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ht=walloon - One use was as an early cavalry sword; it was also the first general issue military sword with the French army in the late 17th century.
View user's profile Send private message
Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,494

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 12:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Research for a novel- versatile swords         Reply with quote

R Ashby wrote:

While the katana is fine for the bulk of the story, she eventually needs to get a more versatile weapon.

...

I particularly wanted something that was good for cutting and thrusting, and something with a bit of reach.


A katana makes for a fine cut-and-thrust sword, but is short. So, with "versatile" mostly meaning more reach, and perhaps better performance against armour, a longsword. (As already suggested.) Or, for even more reach, but less effect against armour, a rapier (also already suggested).

Both about the same size, at about the upper size limit of practical wearability. Neither are convenient weapons. But any bigger, for even more reach, and you'd be carrying it, not wearing it.

If it is a weapon to be taken along for special purposes, with the katana (or whatever) retained as a sidearm, then a short spear or polearm fits the bill, except for not being a sword. 6 foot spear, the mystery Viking "halberd"/aetgeir/hewing-spear, very versatile and effective weapons, but not wearable (and not swords). Note that the 6 foot staff and quarterstaff are basically the bladeless versions, and have similar techniques. The cunning assassin would realise the value of the staff with concealed blade. This is probably not the kind of suggestion that would help you in a final light pre-submission modification of your MS, though.

(But why would an assassin use a sai, essentially a non-lethal weapon? Perhaps for kidnapping, or if killing people other than the target is bad for some reason?)
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
R Ashby





Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow- excellent input, thank you!

Technology is variable in the story- she is in an alternate-earth, sort of like the Conan stories, and the various countries range from stone-age to renaissance-level technology.

I had thought of developing a new sword altogether, or at least designing a sword just to fit her character, as nothing ever seems to be truly new.

Returning to a rapier would make an interesting circuit, but she is changing, not reverting, thouygh this does not really matter that much. I just wonder how a rapier would do against some one with leather armour and a long-sword- I could see her making lots of hits on the opponent but having difficulty making quick dispatches. I would think a mercenary would want something heavier.


I thought long and hard about sabres- an interesting weapon, smaller than what I had considered, but still very interesting. Would a sabre cut through/puncture mail?

A messer, a longsword or a hand-and-a-half sword still seem the best choices to me, though a walloon seems to be a really interesting weapon as well.

Thank you all for the help so far, and thank you for the links!
View user's profile Send private message
R Ashby





Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 2:43 pm    Post subject: Next Question         Reply with quote

This is great everyone- you all are really helping me sort this out. With this sortt of writing, decisions like weapon types really make the character grow- like Conan, Luke Skywalker and even Rob Roy.

My next quesrtion is, how effective would a lighter blade like a walloon or a rapier, coupled with a dagger, be against heavier weapons such as an axe, a spear or a hand-and-a-half long sword? I've seen some you-tube footage of fights along these lines, but they seem pretty restrained, and it is unclear who has the advantage.
View user's profile Send private message
R Ashby





Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
By the way, as a model for your character, you should really read up on La Maupin, one of the best fencers in the history of France, a notorious lecherous drunken brawler... and a girl. She was also a talented opera singer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_d%27Aubigny

http://www.eldacur.com/~brons/Maupin/LaMaupin.html

J


That is outstanding! What a fascinating person. Thanks!
View user's profile Send private message
Zac Evans




Location: London
Joined: 26 Dec 2006

Posts: 151

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 3:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An assasin doesn't go through armour but around. Interesting cuts that ruin enemies days and are much less obvious. My friend studies battlefield ninjitsu, and apparently one of the main targets on an opponent was their thumb. Sever that and it doesn't matter how big their sword is. I would say if you wanted to emphasise her skill, then first you have to make her seem weak. A feeble seeming weapon and lack of armour should do the trick. Then you can really work the fight scenes with deft cuts and feints instead of just crushing through armour with an awesome sword.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,072

PostPosted: Sat 13 Feb, 2010 3:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R Ashby wrote:
Wow- excellent input, thank you!

Technology is variable in the story- she is in an alternate-earth, sort of like the Conan stories, and the various countries range from stone-age to renaissance-level technology.

I had thought of developing a new sword altogether, or at least designing a sword just to fit her character, as nothing ever seems to be truly new.

Returning to a rapier would make an interesting circuit, but she is changing, not reverting, thouygh this does not really matter that much. I just wonder how a rapier would do against some one with leather armour and a long-sword- I could see her making lots of hits on the opponent but having difficulty making quick dispatches. I would think a mercenary would want something heavier.


You are thinking about swords all wrong. You might want to read some articles on this website. Most swords, rapiers, longswords, arming swords, cut-thrust swords, and katanas, weighed around the same - around 2-4 lbs. Actually a typical rapier is probably heavier than most of the others by a few ounces.

Also leather armor... is basically a DnDism. Didn't really exist as such, though lamellar could be made of leather (or more precisely, rawhide made of water buffalo skin) particularly in an Asian context.

Quote:

I thought long and hard about sabres- an interesting weapon, smaller than what I had considered, but still very interesting. Would a sabre cut through/puncture mail?


No sword is going to be very good at piercing mail. The pointier thrusting weapons are the only ones which have a chance to pierce it, you really can't cut through it with any sword.

Quote:

A messer, a longsword or a hand-and-a-half sword still seem the best choices to me, though a walloon seems to be a really interesting weapon as well.


That walloon sword is in the family of the smallsword, which is probably what you are thinking of when you talk about a rapier. The two weapons tend to get conflated in role playing games and computer games and Sci Fi channel tv shows and the like. This is a smallsword, which had many other similar variants including that waloon sword, it is a fairly modern weapon which became popular in the (late) 17th and 18th Century:



These are rapiers, which date back to the Renaissance:




Rapier is the meaner grandfather of the smallsword, it's almost a foot longer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapier
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smallsword

Quote:

Thank you all for the help so far, and thank you for the links!


We all like to help when we can.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Research for a novel- versatile swords
Page 1 of 4 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum