1. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    Alternatives to a sword

    Discussion in 'Research' started by EllBeEss, Apr 24, 2014.

    In my current WIP the MC is around 15 in a semi-medieval fantasy world. She isn't particularly strong or tall but does have some training in combat. Originally I had her using a longsword but since she isn't in a position to have anything except basic weapons and I've read that swords took a lot of time and effort to produce (making them infeasible as a standard weapon) I'm looking for alternatives.

    I have been googling this extensively but everything I can find doesn't talk about the strength required to use the weapons.

    Many of the suggestions that keep coming up aren't really suitable. The most common suggestions I've found are bows (I would like to have other alternatives), knives/daggers (I can't see a teenage girl with a knife surviving very long against someone with a naturally longer reach and a better weapon) and a longsword.

    If anyone can point me in the right direction or give some advice I would really appreciate it.
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    What about a sling? With stones? (Think David and Goliath.) This wouldn't work in really close combat, but she could certainly practice and become accurate at several paces away. It's also cheap to produce.

    Or something along the lines of numchucks. Two heavy pieces of wood or metal connected by a chain or rope? Again, would require practice, but they are incredibly effective if used properly.

    If you're creating a fantasy world, you don't need to stick to just 'western' ideas of weapons. Milk the lot. Poisoned darts? Tons of things she could come up with for various situations. Notice that all of these are easy to carry around, as well.
     
  3. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I should probably broaden my search a bit. :) Thanks those are some good ideas.

    I did think poisoned weapons at first but most of them kill through infection rather than immediately. So they're good for making sure you have one less enemy to fight next time yet not so good when it comes to saving your life then and there. I'm trying to keep most weapons realistic so poisoned weapons aren't an option.
     
  4. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You could google ‘kunst des fechtens’, or German medieval combat and ‘messer,’ and to go with it: ‘fussringen’, that is medieval grappling. She’d still have to train a lot, like with any combat discipline, but she might be able to get a bigger dagger more easily than a longsword.
    Reach matters if she’s small, but if you don’t want to do the bow and arrow thing…
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, South American Indians have used poisoned darts for centuries, and they kill pretty quickly. (I've seen videos where they shoot the dart into some animal (monkey) up in a tree, and the animal drops out of the tree more or less instantly.) I don't know what the poison is ...I suspect it might be had from the backs of those colourful frogs that are so deadly to touch ...but they are manufactured in very primitive circumstances, not in some modern laboratory. I believe the poison paralyzes the victim, or causes all the muscles to relax to where they no longer function.

    Here's a link that might give you some ideas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow_poison
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
  6. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Pole arms were cheaper produce because of their wooden shafts. So something like a halberd might fit your criteria.
     
  7. Bryan Romer
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    Plothog almost had it. The most common weapon used by non-nobles with lots of money and influence, was the quarterstaff. It served as a hiking stick and could be used to carry loads, and so was not obviously a weapon. Most medieval societies had laws against peasants carrying arms. That is why weapons like the Tonfa were invented. The Tonfa originated as the handle of a milling wheel and thus a legitimate possession for a non-warrior.

    The next most obvious would be a short to medium knife. Forks and spoons were not commonly used in those times, but most people had a knife for hunting, skinning, and cutting up food.

    Slings were common, but useless in close combat.

    A common makeshift weapon (but quite deadly) was a stone or lump of metal tied into the end of a piece of cloth and swung like a club. Great skill or strength was not required and could double the reach. In case of trouble, untie the knot drop the stone, and you just have a rag.
     
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  8. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    You could have a katana, a cutlass, etc. Not all swords have to be super heavy.
     
  9. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    I would say polearm. Either a stave or a light version of a pike. I don't know if naginata is mixing it up too much, but it is an effeminate weapon.

    If you really want to go exotic, I believe there was a south-american weapon that was a club with sharp stones creating a slicing edge. http://whitneycarter.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/battlecraft-9-unusual-weapons-from-the-past/ Actually, this article also mentions hook-swords.
     
  10. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    A katana weighs about the same as an average European sword, and has the disadvantage of needing both hands to use.
     
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  11. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Well, there you go. :)
     
  12. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    A bow staff. It's perfect and it works well for defense and a person who is flexible and athletic.
     
  13. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    How about a club. Simple, cheap, versatile. Doesn't take a lot of strength to use. Can be as simple as a piece of wood with a knot on one end to an ornate mythryl artefact.

    Or you could go with my favorite, the spikey chain-ball.
     
  14. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    There is also the morningstar, but it can be rather heavy.
     
  15. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    I'm assuming she's poor, so the following weapons/tools are things she would likely have access to:

    Slings: Shepherds use these.
    Club: like I said...
    Hatchet: peasants gotta cut down trees.
    Scythe: it's a farm tool.
    Spear: any long handled farm tool could be remade into a spear.
    Mace: a club with piece of metal on the end. Likely cheap, soft metal, not folded steel like the sword of a nobleman. Unless she lives in a metal-poor area there is no reason to assume simple iron tools would be unavailable.
    Hammer: smiths use hammers. Smiths' hammers are not great weapons and would be awkward for a weak person to use that way. Still...
    Staff: short like a cane, long like a quarter staff, it's just a piece of wood.
    Javelin: not the ornate ones like the roman legions carried, just a short spear for hunting.
    Knife: single sided blade, a few inches long, cheap iron, for hunting or carving.

    These are all good, realistic options.
     
  16. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For a club to be really effective, though, it has to have some mass, and that means it takes strength to use.
     
  17. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Without weight it would be a paddle. She could spank them to death.
     
  18. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    An atlatl is a primitive weapon which is basically a solid sling for throwing darts or short spears. Again, just a piece of wood with more pieces of wood. Stone tips are perfectly serviceable.
     
  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think @Bryan Romer has got it. A quarterstaff is cheap, light, can be wielded fast if the user is skilled, and doesn't appear to be a weapon at first glance.

    And that idea of a stone in a bag is good, too. "A tube sock full of wood screws" kind of thing. Simple but VERY effective.
     
  20. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Not really. That's the whole idea behind these kinds of simple machines you know. Leverage or something. You don't have to be terribly strong to get a good whack if you use a weapon. Thus the appeal of weapons. I'm assuming she's not weak as a kitten, having had combat training, and can handle a weapon that weighs a few pounds. You guys are talking about bows; those require much more raw strength and skill than any of the weapons I mentioned, as well as being harder to maintain and more expensive.
     
  21. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Nah I think the bow staff would be better. All she has to do is find a piece of hard but flexible wood. Then just wrap some cloth around one end to give it a little bit of weight, and there is your weapon. It is perfect for keeping distance between the attacker and the wielder.
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, but once again, it's a long-distance weapon. It's used for increasing the range of a spear or dart. Cheap, but not effective in close-quarters combat.
     
  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, you can get in a good whack, but if you're not strong, you can't get the thing to move with much acceleration. Someone with equal or even lesser strength, but armed with a long knife or light sword, will do you in before you can land your first blow. They can move their weapon faster.
     
  24. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    So? I got the impression she wasn't a front line soldier.
     
  25. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Also, you realize your argument is stupid, right? Of course someone who is strong and has a better weapon has an advantage. But the question wasn't "What is a weapon this character could use that would definitely be better than a strong guy with an awesome sword?"
     

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