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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Joined: 14 Mar 2015

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PostPosted: Thu 01 Aug, 2019 3:27 pm    Post subject: Questions about Viking Swords Balance and Construction         Reply with quote

Hi, I was revisiting some material to adapt a viking sword to an RPG, but became troubled by things I unexpected. First, I thought the guard of the viking sword featured an important role in its balance, but Simon Coupland's Carolingian Arms and Armor in the Ninth Century just mentions that the edge tappering as fundamental for shifting the center of gravity towards the handle, making it more maneuverable and faster. So: was there any alteration in the handle's weight compared to the previous spathae? Does it matter at all?

My other question relates to the fact that, besides the edge tappering and its implications, is there any difference between viking sword and pre-800 dC swords? I got the impression that migration-era swords were slightly longer and thicker, don't know if it's true.

Finally, not entirely related though: does a falchion or other cleavers actually needs some center of gravity care in their construction?

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Thu 01 Aug, 2019 6:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Any increased weight on the handle (cross, pommel) is going to alter the static center of gravity on a sword, which dominates how it feels when held out motionless. But there's more to it than that; there's kinematics and dynamics, the properties of an object in motion and how it responds to an externally applied force. The blade is the dominant feature of a sword, so the distribution of mass along the blade will have a big impact on how it behaves in motion. Increased profile taper (width) and distal taper (thickness) toward the tip has a big impact on mass distribution, reducing inertia toward the tip where it counts the most. A sword that accelerates or decelerates more easily in response to a manual torque on the handle will feel more maneuverable.

Regarding Viking swords, one notices an increase in profile taper around the the 9th century, associated with the transition from Geibig type 2 to types 3 and 4. You can find more info on this here: https://myArmoury.com/feature_geibig.html
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Tyler Jordan





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PostPosted: Sat 03 Aug, 2019 6:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What kind of RPG is it that you need to drill down into this level of detail? Consider me curious.
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Craig Johnson
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Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Aug, 2019 7:12 am    Post subject: Great Answer         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Any increased weight on the handle (cross, pommel) is going to alter the static center of gravity on a sword, which dominates how it feels when held out motionless. But there's more to it than that; there's kinematics and dynamics, the properties of an object in motion and how it responds to an externally applied force. The blade is the dominant feature of a sword, so the distribution of mass along the blade will have a big impact on how it behaves in motion. Increased profile taper (width) and distal taper (thickness) toward the tip has a big impact on mass distribution, reducing inertia toward the tip where it counts the most. A sword that accelerates or decelerates more easily in response to a manual torque on the handle will feel more maneuverable.

Regarding Viking swords, one notices an increase in profile taper around the the 9th century, associated with the transition from Geibig type 2 to types 3 and 4. You can find more info on this here: https://myArmoury.com/feature_geibig.html


This is an excellent answer. It would have taken me a couple of paragraphs :-) the only thing I will add to the info is when we are teaching blade making to folks one of my rules is the blade feels good in the hand even if there is no hilt. If you depend on the hilt to adjust the sword it wont work very well.

Craig
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Aug, 2019 8:52 am    Post subject: Re: Questions about Viking Swords Balance and Construction         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Finally, not entirely related though: does a falchion or other cleavers actually needs some center of gravity care in their construction?

Yes, of course, just the same as any other kind of sword. Falchions are no heavier or cruder than double-edged swords, and are used in largely the same manner (and by the same people, at that). They're not axe-like brute force choppers, nor inexpensive peasant weapons, contrary to what pop culture media sometimes like to claim.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Joined: 14 Mar 2015

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PostPosted: Sun 04 Aug, 2019 3:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions about Viking Swords Balance and Construction         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Finally, not entirely related though: does a falchion or other cleavers actually needs some center of gravity care in their construction?

Yes, of course, just the same as any other kind of sword. Falchions are no heavier or cruder than double-edged swords, and are used in largely the same manner (and by the same people, at that). They're not axe-like brute force choppers, nor inexpensive peasant weapons, contrary to what pop culture media sometimes like to claim.


Considering what was said before, though I'm not discrediting the complexity of the Falchion, a two-edged pointed sword isn't considerable more complex to make? I mean, the blade is thicker, you don't have to care with problems relating to the point and somehow I think one-edged swords are stronger than with two. I know that were double-edged swords of poorer quality than most falchions and messers, but theorically the Falchion wasn't a more cheaper and less complex alternative to the traditional sword? Of course, knights and nobles had falchion n' buckler fencing as sport, but the idea I got from manuscript and historians is that most English Archers (to quote an example) would have a falchion as their sideweapon, while the men-at-arms would often has a longsword, or then an arming sword as their most common picked sideweapons. Something that might have make me more convinced on that is that fact the first falchions appearing in the Morgan Bible (the Godenak) are crude and simply made weapons, but I'm always open to discussion
------------
Tyler Jordan wrote:
What kind of RPG is it that you need to drill down into this level of detail? Consider me curious.


Fantastical medieval history (basically you have the same medieval states, with some fantasy addings). You can basically have a normal campaign in a German Feud or be part of a Swedish army invasion of an Elven Kingdom through Finland as a scottish mercenary pikeman.
Though I do not claim to have the most historical fencing-based RPG, but I tried to conciliate what I could retaining simplier mechanics. If you had interest, I might send you a PM, or you send, whatever. Since I cant use some BB Code resources, I'll explain quickly:
There are different types of sword based on their damage, weight, effects and so; a regular sword (based on Norman-type or latter Arming-swords) was 50 points of damage + half of your Strenght mod + half of your Dexterity mod (letality is based both the quality of the weapon and your personal habilities); a Viking Sword has more base damage given it's edge power but its fencing is more based in strenght than dexterity (you give a quarter of Dex mod in critical roles). A Migration Era Sword hasn't much hand control due to its point of balance (something I've read in articles) so it's historicall use is like when Thedoric slew King Odoacer: his chop open the King's body from should to belly; more strong base damage, but only uses Str mod, but critical roles give 2x the damage against unarmoured enemies. As swordsmen have special feats due to their proficiency (eg: Focused atks in armor gaps), faster swords may give more attacks than a Germanic Spathae, depending on how fast you're compared to your enemy.

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2019 12:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Great Answer         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
J.D. Crawford wrote:
Any increased weight on the handle (cross, pommel) is going to alter the static center of gravity on a sword, which dominates how it feels when held out motionless. But there's more to it than that; there's kinematics and dynamics, the properties of an object in motion and how it responds to an externally applied force. The blade is the dominant feature of a sword, so the distribution of mass along the blade will have a big impact on how it behaves in motion. Increased profile taper (width) and distal taper (thickness) toward the tip has a big impact on mass distribution, reducing inertia toward the tip where it counts the most. A sword that accelerates or decelerates more easily in response to a manual torque on the handle will feel more maneuverable.

Regarding Viking swords, one notices an increase in profile taper around the the 9th century, associated with the transition from Geibig type 2 to types 3 and 4. You can find more info on this here: https://myArmoury.com/feature_geibig.html


This is an excellent answer. It would have taken me a couple of paragraphs :-) the only thing I will add to the info is when we are teaching blade making to folks one of my rules is the blade feels good in the hand even if there is no hilt. If you depend on the hilt to adjust the sword it wont work very well.

Craig


Thanks Craig.

Having said that, I do think hilt pieces have a secondary-level influence on dynamic handling. I noticed this in a recent purchase of an historically-inspired Viking piece that has a very dimunitive cross and pommel (or upper/lower guard if you prefer) compared to the normal-sized blade. As a result the sword is pretty light, around 2.2 lbs, but the piece has a lot of 'blade presence' for its size. I'd put that feeling down to the centre of mass being further away from the hand, so there's more torque required to rotate it with the wrist. But like I said, that's secondary. Overall, the piece handles very well.

So going back to the original question, I doubt a small change in cross style had a percievable impact on the handling of Viking swords. It would take a major change in mass distribution to do this.
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Sat 10 Aug, 2019 2:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I became aware of this especially after I aquired bare blade Albion uses for their Reeve/Bayeux. So light and agile even without fittings. So, when I ordered custom fittings for it based on the famous spanish Ulfberht (the widlass tried to replicate) I specifically asked for them to be as light as possible and the result was my favourite onehanded sword for handling and cutting. Albion Gaddhjalt is second, and it is also a light blade with light fittings, but has a great punch because it is long and PoB is quite far out. But handles great because of low total weight.

Historically, pre 800's sword fittings were often mostly organic and very light and balance HAD to be achieved with good blade mass distribution. After 800 sword makers could help themselves a bit more with fittings, but still, a good sword has a blade that needs minimum help of fittings for mass distribution. Most big and bulky metal fittings are hollow. Profile taper can be used for mass distribution, of course, but in "viking" age it is not so dramatic to have a big influence...
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Aug, 2019 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's not that hilt components do not influence balance; they do so of course, and many bare blades are not good swords yet. But there are things you can't alter with hilt components, and therefore some defects of the blade that you won't be able to fix with hilt assembly. The most salient one is the "blade mass", the amount of mass that must be overcome when you move for example the blade node. No matter how much mass you pile on the hilt, you'll never make that part lighter, and you could even make it marginally heavier.

The hilt component that has the most influence on balance, dynamic and static, is the pommel. The cross is secondary - which is why you see pommels that have mass and not just ergonomics, but crosses that are mostly structural and seldom purposedly heavy.

Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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