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C. Stackhouse




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 7:49 am    Post subject: Why all the ill will towards "exotic weapons"         Reply with quote

I know that there is a common saying in this forum "If exotic weapons were any good, they wouldn't be exotic" and ever since it's creation has become somewhat cliched.

But honestly why all the derision towards them? Razz

I also want to see a list of 'exotic' and 'non-exotic' weapons so I can see your opinions on what makes a weapon 'exotic'.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 7:56 am    Post subject: Re: Why all the ill will towards "exotic weapons"         Reply with quote

C. Stackhouse wrote:
I know that there is a common saying in this forum "If exotic weapons were any good, they wouldn't be exotic" and ever since it's creation has become somewhat cliched.

But honestly why all the derision towards them? Razz

I also want to see a list of 'exotic' and 'non-exotic' weapons so I can see your opinions on what makes a weapon 'exotic'.


First of all, that saying is hardly common. It was introduced in the last week or two (at the most), and has caught on only a little bit. In fact, I've only seen it uttered a handful of times (at the most). Common is a stretch, as is cliched.

Second, a list of exotic and non-exotic weapons is going to be somewhat subjective without strict definitions. What is exotic in one era/location may be commonplace in another. Not everyone's definition of exotic is the same.

Happy

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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I have never noticed any negative comments of exotic weapons and I have got to agree with everything Chad had to say.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 8:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan every once and a while would post a really interesting piece or two from one of his books that were generally quite exotic. There was one incredibly decorated rapier and dagger set that doubled as clocks.

I don't think most people have any ill will against exotic weapons. I for one am fascinated by bizarre historical pieces. What I think happens, though, is that many are used to people who want recreations of their favorite fantasy weapons, which often were created with no understanding of how real weapons should work. Because of this, they react a little strongly to weapons that are not very conventional.

I think you'll find plenty of people (myself included) who think exotic weapons that are historical are incredibly fascinating.

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Hank Reinhardt
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 8:44 am    Post subject: exotic weapons         Reply with quote

As it has been stated, I'm not sure what is meant by exotic weapons. The term I usually use is "fantasy" weapons. I use this term to mean weapons that do not have a historical background (that we know about). This is very broad, and can mean a sword with a standard blade, such as a Viking sword, but with a guard, pommel and crossguard that usually goes with a 16th century sword, or it can mean a really stupid sword with curves and blades all over the place that comes from Pakistan. During what is called "The South Indian Flambouyant Period" (1650-1850 approx.) there were a lot of swords made with these elaborately curved blades and were really scary looking, but most were useless as a weapon. My particular hate is the fantasy sword with a standard straight blade, and this enormous guard and pommel, generally filled with carvings, that add nothing to the sword itself except to make it heavy and awkward to use. All of the Conan swords from the movies were this way. We sold them at MRL, (after all we were there to sell as well as educate) but I hated them as being too heavy, and just about completely useless.
But fantasy swords that are still useful are different. I've made a few myself just to have soemthing different. Will try and take some pictures and post some of them.

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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What truly is exotic? Many of the weapons we consider exotic today may have been quite commonplace back in the day. Our historical sources are limited on these things so making judgements to this effect can be pretty difficult.

It's always a wise policy to participate in any venue for more than a few days before making a judgement on what's common or cliche.

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The "saying" is mine, and was invented less than a month ago...
I have been nagged by a feeling that I might have been a bit hard handed on poor mr Stackhouse, and it seems i was right.. Sorry about that...

So the thread should be "Why does Elling say bad things about exotic weapons?"
Wich is, basically, to be devil's advocate.
Its probably an overcompensation/reaction to my RPG background. In most RPGs, exotic weapons are always cooler and better.
So, thus, someone needs to stand up for the standard sword, and the other weapons that have proved themselves efficient and simple enough to become universal.
In short, remember that even though a weapon is cool, it does not mean it is effective.

Other than that, I have nothing against them. Big Grin

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C. Stackhouse




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ok Razz I just joined the forum in the last two weeks and I guess the posts I have been reading made it look as if the phrase was used fairly often. But please don't let that golden phrase become cliched and dull.Happy
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling;

Taken in context I think your saying is very useful for stimulating debate and can be seen as true in a general way, but as with any rule there can always be exceptions to the rule.

In general: We have swords, spears, axe, halberds, maces that in their usual simpler versions make up the bulk of hand held weapons. There can be more exotic versions of these and there can also be the even more exotic weapons that don't easily fit in one of these types.

Now if we eliminate pure fantasy weapons that are poorly designed we can have unusual weapons that might be very effective if one has trained specifically for them but almost useless if just picked up by an untrained person.

Some exotics might only work in the hands of an exceptionally strong or agile person.

A viable and complex weapon that needs special training but can't do much more than simpler and very common weapons would tend to stay exotic and rare not having obvious advantages for general use.

Also, a weapon that might be unusual for one culture might be very common in an other.

The Chinese seemed to be very inventive creating many " weird " looking weapons like things looking like a War rake or
like a metal tree branch with multiple small branches and hooks. Or large wooden Mauls or large spherical hollow maces with spikes all over. Various multibladed crescent shaped weapons looking a lot like a Klingon Bathlet ...... Eek! Laughing Out Loud

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow! Jean that link you posted, these guys apparently retail the old Medieval Torture sword! That one should definitely go in an exotic weapon hall of fame somewhere... Happy It's an oldie but a goodie! Happy


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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

C. Stackhouse wrote:
ok Razz I just joined the forum in the last two weeks and I guess the posts I have been reading made it look as if the phrase was used fairly often. But please don't let that golden phrase become cliched and dull.Happy


Please excuse me for saying this but simple and to the point: Read more.

Look at my own posts. I keep buying pieces that are, well, downright ugly. They're historical. But they're odd. Many people find the continental basket-hilts that I've been enjoying lately to be strange and unattractive. For me, these odd things are quite enough to whet my appetite and make me want to understand them.

Then of course there's the hundreds of discussions on this very forum about "exotic" and strange pieces from the historical record.

I don't know the context of the original post that Elling used the phrase. But for me, I don't care. This topic's context is is a different matter.

So, like you say, what is exotic? Are we talking about fantasy pieces that never existed? Are we talking about uncommon historical pieces? What is good vs. bad? A phrase like "If exotic weapons were any good, they wouldn't be exotic" doesn't mean anything. To that I'd ask, "good at what?"

I try hard to keep the main ingredient on these forums being the effort of defining context. Let's not forget that.

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe because a duck is a duck no matter how much it wants to be something else.
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"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Last edited by Joe Fults on Tue 06 Dec, 2005 12:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 12:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ;

Now that sword does look like what I would consider " fantasy / impractical " and O.K. if one likes exotic shapes for it's own sake: Not that I want to criticize someone who likes something like this, it all depends on ones collecting objective.

I didn't do much more than GOOGLE Bathlet and picked the first site where I found a Pict of one: I guess I will have to go back to just have a look myself. Eek! Laughing Out Loud

Nathan;

If I remember correctly the phrase: "If exotic weapons were any good, they wouldn't be exotic" was in the context of weapon use and extreme designs might not have become more generalized because they did not have obvious advantages over simpler designs. Sort of a theory of natural selection for weapons design: If taken as a truth the expression may be too dogmatic, as a HMMMMMMM that's an interesting idea ! I sort of liked it.

So the phrase shouldn't be applied to what a weapon looks like or it's simplicity or complexity, only the functional aspects in the original contexts.

But in another context a weird and maybe ugly historical weapon that might be doubtfully good as a using weapon can be a very interesting object of study for all sort of reasons and it might be more interesting than a more mainstream one.

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Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Tue 06 Dec, 2005 1:01 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Hank Reinhardt
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 12:54 pm    Post subject: exotic weapons         Reply with quote

That sword Russ posted has got to be one of the ugliest and most useless things I have seen in a long time! A special bargain at $7.95!!! I would not consider that an exotic nor yet a fantasy weapon, just a ridiculous one.
In the Brooklyn Ethnographical Museum, there is a beautiful wooden sword. Now I spent seveal hours looing at it, and trying to find ways in which I could trade for it, steal it, or just sack the whole damn museum and take it. Alas, such was not to be. The blade was a slim curved piece of dark polished wood. The handle appeared to be wrapped in some type of cord. Along the belly (edge) of the blade there was a groove. Inset into the groove were shark's teeth. They were glued and wired into place. Now that is an exotic weapon. No good against steel armor, but if they had had steel, they would have been making steel swords. But for what it was, it was beautiful and deadly. Maybe I need to add here that I am interested in all hand weapons.
Another thing about exotic weapons, particularly the Chinese and the Japanese. Most of their strange and exotic weapons, Manriki Gusari and others, were intended for self defense and or dueling purposes, Pretty much useless in warfare, which is what most weapons are designed for.

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C. Stackhouse




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 1:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:


Please excuse me for saying this but simple and to the point: Read more.


You need not excuse yourself, I actually just got into studying medieval history. I took the course last year for a high school credit and it peaked my interest. This year I have been reading on some stuff, yet the libraries near me are poorly stocked and as we all know the internet CAN have it's inaccuracies. (Yes i know books can too, yet they are far more common and incorrect on the internet.)

So don't worry as time goes on my posts will become less and less...remedial Razz. I will try to research topics more thouroughly, just try to bear with a curious n00b who gets 3 hours of sleep in between work and school.

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In retrospect, the statment should have been "If unusual weapons where over all more efficient, they would me more usual."

Though it is somehow flattering to have coined your own Law, I should try to formulate it better... Worried

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 1:56 pm    Post subject: Re: exotic weapons         Reply with quote

Hank Reinhardt wrote:
That sword Russ posted has got to be one of the ugliest and most useless things I have seen in a long time! A special bargain at $7.95!!! I would not consider that an exotic nor yet a fantasy weapon, just a ridiculous one.


Yep it's absolutely a classic. I've only seen a few to "match" (or maybe I should that need to have a match applied to it) this one. I think someone used to have a collection of such things...

Do you happen to have a picture of the sharks toot sword?

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 1:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling;

The modified version is more precise than the original version that " sounded " snappier.

I still think your'e on to something there as long as one leaves room for exceptions to the rule: "If unusual weapons where over all more efficient, they would me more usual."

Sort of has that " Sound of one hand clapping feel to it "

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2005 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guys, I really don't want to get into the habit of bashing this stuff. We'll leave that to the other sites, ok?

If somebody finds pleasure in owning and collecting an $8 item that has a blade and hooks, so be it.

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PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2005 3:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I tend to think of exotic weapons as weapons that:

A. Seem to be designed to fulfill one or two overly specific functions, perhaps to the point of making them impracticle for most combat, or the very specific job they perform becomes obsolete. The thought being "Gee, these guys have really big shields, I'll design something that attacks OVER the shield - HAHA, victory is mine!!"

B. Weapons that are designed to fulfill too many roles, thus becoming unwieldy to all but the most rigorously trained. These are weapons that seem to be designed by a comittee, and come out looking like Frankenpolearm. Speed and fluidity are lost in the persuit of percieved flexibility. The thought being "Gee, I don't know what I'm going to face tomorrow, I need a tool to stab, slash, hook, and crush, with a built in crossbow - HAHAA victory is mine!"

C. Improvised weapons that sound great to those who have never tried to stay alive whilst using them. The war maul, or the "war scythe", for examples. I really really don't want to get hit with one, but that doesn't make it the kind of weapon a professional soldier would choose to use. The thought being "Gee, if I ever hit these guys with this, they're not getting back up. HaHaaah, victory is mine!"

D. Ceremonial/Symbolic weapons, perhaps never intended to do anything beyond conveying an idea. The labrys, which as far as I know was usually made of soft metal such as gold, too thin to withstand the rigors of battle, but designed to convey an ideal, or a religious concept. I've read that most Nodachis (spelling?) were gifts to temples, and were seen as signs of great skill in the maker, but only a fool would try to save his own life with one by choice.

E. Weapons that make no sense outside the context in which they are used. John Keegan makes note in the History of Warfare that certain pacific islanders would fight to would, so that the injured would be alive later for ritual killing. If you have never wounded a man just so you could kill him later, you'd probably think the weapon was just ineffective at killing. Context matters.

I like Ellis's original remark. It's not as precise, but it made me chuckle, and it started a discussion. Big Grin

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